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Former pope Benedict, 95, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down, is “very sick,” his successor Pope Francis said on Wednesday.

“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church,” Francis said in a surprise announcement in Italian at the end of his weekly general audience.

“Let us remember him. He is very sick, asking the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end,” Francis said, speaking in Italian.Advertisement · Scroll to continueReport an ad.

There was no immediate comment from the Vatican on the state of Benedict’s health. Phone calls to the former pope’s residence in the Vatican were not answered.

Until a few weeks ago, those who had seen Benedict said his body was very frail but his mind was still sharp.

One of the latest known photographs of Benedict was taken on Dec. 1, when he met the winners of a prize for theologians named after him. He was seated and looked exceptionally weak.

Since his resignation, Benedict has been living in a former convent inside the Vatican gardens, with his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, and a few other aides and medical staff.

Benedict announced his intention to resign on Feb. 11, 2013, shocking a meeting of cardinals. He said he no longer had the physical and mental strength to run the Church.

He formally stepped down on Feb. 28 that year, moving temporarily to the papal summer residence south of Rome while cardinals from around the world came to Rome to choose his successor.

Francis, the first pope from Latin America, was elected to succeed him on March 13, 2013.

While Francis has often praised the former pope, saying it was like having a grandfather in a home, the presence of two men dressed in white in the Vatican was at times troublesome.

Conservatives looked to the former pope as their standard bearer and some ultra-traditionalists even refused to acknowledge Francis as a legitimate pontiff.

Benedict, the first German pope in 1,000 years, was elected on April 19, 2005 to succeed the widely popular Pope John Paul II, who reigned for 27 years.

Cardinals chose him from among their number seeking continuity and what one called “a safe pair of hands”.

For nearly 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was the powerful head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

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Don Lemon ‘Screamed’ at CNN This Morning Co-Host — Leaving Her in Tears and the Crew ‘Rattled’

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Tensions on the set of “CNN This Morning” have recently boiled over, with Don Lemon allegedly “screaming” at co-host Kaitlan Collins off-camera during an ugly December incident that has left the cast and crew rattled ever since, The Post has learned.

According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, the 56-year-old Lemon approached 30-year-old Collins following the show’s Thursday Dec. 8 broadcast — and unloaded on her in front of staffers as he accused her of “interrupting” him on air.

“Don screamed at Kaitlan, who was visibly upset and ran out of the studio,” one source with knowledge of the skrimish said.

News of the explosive incident made its way up to CNN CEO Chris Licht, who is said to have been appalled by Lemon’s behavior, according to a source. A second source said a producer talked to Lemon at the behest of Licht and told the anchor to take the next day off to “cool off.”

The following night, the three co-hosts were slated to get drinks and arrive together at a White House Christmas party for the press, a source said. But the pre-party gathering never happened after the emotional day and they trickled in to the bash separately, an insider with knowledge said. After the party, Lemon had a late-night dinner with his agent, Jay Sures, according to sources.

The situation was especially awkward because Collins — a rising star who had most recently served as CNN’s youngest chief White House correspondent — is also represented by the powerful and well-connected Sures. While he dined with Lemon, Collins met up with the show’s other co-anchor Poppy Harlow, the sources said.

“At this point, Kaitlan wants to be on set with Don as little as possible,” a source with knowledge of the situation added. “It’s messy.”

A rep from CNN declined to comment on the incident but said: “In just three months, these anchors have created a compelling morning show that breaks news and drives the conversation.”

The Dec. 8 blowup wasn’t the first sign of trouble at “CNN This Morning” since the show’s Nov. 1 launch. A week earlier, Lemon got into an awkward dispute with Collins and Harlow on air, arguing that the US men’s soccer team should get paid more than the women’s team despite the mens’ relative lack of success at the World Cup.

The dustup made headlines, with the Daily Beast quoting Lemon saying the men were “more interesting to watch” — a comment Lemon quickly walked back and insisted was a joke.

Late last month, Eric Hall, executive producer of “CNN This Morning,” was reportedly ousted from the helm of the show and moved to a new role at the 11 p.m. hour of “CNN Tonight.” CNN didn’t comment on the move. Earlier this week, the network tapped former CBS producer Chris Russell to replace Hall.

Collins and Lemon, meanwhile, have been on set together less frequently since the purported dustup. Lemon was most recently sent to Memphis to quarterback coverage on the death of Tyre Nichols. Collins had been working remotely from Washington DC on and off in January.

A CNN rep said Collins has been on assignment as she also serves as the chief correspondent for the show, adding: “The intent was always for the anchors to get out from behind the news desk, and they are doing an extraordinary job taking viewers inside the most important news stories of the day.”

To address tensions, a second source told The Post that “Don has been given notes” by the show’s producers “to not talk so much, to let other people talk.”

“Don’s a bossy guy and difficult to work with — even he would admit that. He was a solo act before. He doesn’t want to be in Destiny’s Child,” the source added, referring to the music group headlined by Beyoncé in the early aughts.

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US Government Monitoring Chinese Spy Balloon over Northern States — China Responds

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The U.S. government is monitoring a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been moving over northern states over the past several days.

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing on Thursday afternoon that the U.S. government has detected a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental U.S.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now. The U.S. government to include Norad, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information,” Ryder said.

A senior defense official said that the U.S. government is “confident” that the surveillance balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China.

The defense official said that the balloon was recently over Montana and that officials were considering bringing it down with military assets, but they decided against doing so because of the risks associated, adding that President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation and asked for military options.

“You did see reports yesterday of a ground stop at Billings Airport and the mobilization of a number of assets, including F-22. The context for that was that we put some things on station in the event that a decision was made to bring this down while it was over Montana. So, we wanted to make sure we were coordinating with civil authorities to empty out the airspace around that potential area. But even with those protective measures taken, it was the judgment of our military commanders that we didn’t drive the risk down low enough. So, we didn’t take the shot,” the official said.

A well-placed senior U.S. official told Fox News that the government is still considering a variety of options with how to deal with the Chinese spy balloon, saying that the options presented to Biden and his national security team included concerns that if the military did shoot down the balloon, there could be civilian casualties the ground.

The White House hasn’t ruled out shooting the balloon down if it were deemed safe to do so, according to the source.

According to the source, there’s more than just a balloon, and heavy equipment would come crashing to the ground if it were to be shot down, creating a large debris field.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin convened a meeting with senior Department of Defense leadership Wednesday to discuss the balloon, and it was decided not to take military action due to “the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field,” the official said. At the time, Austin was visiting Camp Navarro in the Philippines, which is around 2,000 miles from China.

The balloon’s discovery also comes as the U.S. and Philippines agreed to increase its military presence within the islands amid escalating tensions between China and Taiwan.

The senior defense official said that the government has been tracking the balloon for “some time” and said it entered U.S. airspace a “couple of days ago.”

While maintaining that the balloon doesn’t present a military threat to the U.S., the official said that it likely isn’t gathering any information of significant value to the People’s Republic of China.

“They’re trying to fly this balloon over sensitive sites, one of which was just mentioned to collect information,” the official said, adding that it’s not the first time that a balloon “of this nature” has been over the U.S.

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WATCH: AOC Suffers Meltdown – Screams Racism, Smacks Her Book – Over Omar’s Committee Exit

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Rep. Cori Bush accused Republicans of ‘white supremacy’ as she and other left-wing members of the Squad condemned their efforts to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Omar was removed from the committee after losing a largely party line vote 218 to 211.

But her left wing colleagues offered a fiery defense of their comrade, who had been accused of making antisemitic comments.

‘This institution is better because of her leadership and the foreign affairs committee benefits from her perspective,’ she said.

‘So let’s talk about what’s really happening.

‘Republicans are waging a blatantly Islamophobic and racist attack on Congresswoman Omar and I’ve said it before I’ll say it again: The white supremacy happening is unbelievable.’

Before the vote count was handed down, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned the GOP for what she said amounted to ‘racism and incitement of violence against women of color.’

‘Don’t tell me this is about consistency. Don’t tell me that this is about a condemnation of antisemitic remarks…This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America,’ the fellow Squad member said.

And Rashid Tlaib broke down as she said: ‘Congresswoman Omar, I am so sorry that our country is failing you today through the chamber.

‘You belong on this committee.’

She raised her voice in a howl as she was told her time was cut off.

‘You belong on this committee,’ she half sobbed, half screamed before her microphone was cut off.

WATCH:

Democrats screamed ‘no’ before the GOP completed Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bid to get the Squad member removed over her history of comments comparing Israel to Hamas and the Taliban and saying the relationship between the Jewish state and the U.S. is ‘all about the Benjamins’ in 2019.

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Project Veritas Exposes Pfizer Director Expressing Concerns over Vaccine-Related Menstrual Cycle Changes

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In a video released by Project Veritas on Thursday, Pfizer Director of Research and Development, Strategic Operations and mRNA Scientific Planning Jordon Trishton Walker revealed that the company was concerned over reports that women’s menstrual cycles were affected by the Covid-19 vaccine.

Walker told the undercover journalist that the company “still have to do the monitoring” for vaccine-related issues over time, but added, “so, there haven’t been any problems so far, but we’ll see.”

“I hope nobody is growing three legs or something like that,” the Project Veritas journalist quipped.

“yeah, or like the entire next generation’s super f*cked up. Could you imagine the scandal? On my God. I would take Pfizer off my resume” Walker responded.

After a cut, Walker said, “There’s something irregular about their menstrual cycles. We will have to investigate that down the line, because that is a little concerning.”

“Because, if you think about the science, it shouldn’t be interacting with, you know, it’s called the hypothalamus, pituitary, gonadal axis. You know, the hormones that regulate their menstrual cycles and things like that. And the vaccine shouldn’t be interfering with that,” Walker added.

After pressing from the journalist as to whether this was happening and whether it should, Walker said that “there is something happening,” but the company doesn’t know what.

Walker later added, “I hope we don’t discover something really bad down the line.”

“I hope we don’t find out that somehow this mRNA lingers in the body and like — ’cause it has to be impacting something hormonal to impact menstrual cycles,” Walker said.

Walker said later in the conversation that “if it does come back down the line that there was something wrong with the vaccine, then obviously people will criticize the big push” that the government, society, and jobs placed on people to get the jab. “The scale of that scandal would be enormous.”

During the conversation, Walker also revealed that Pfizer is trying to move past Covid with mRNA vaccines, with uses “not just for viruses” including in oncology and “gene editing.”

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WATCH: Ron Klain’s Farewell Speech Dissolves Into Tears — Over A Rock

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Ron Klain had a small boulder to cry on as he delivered a farewell address marking his exit as White House chief of staff.

At an event Wednesday in the East Room, Klain choked up as he talked about the “best job” he ever had, standing next to his boss President Joe Biden. Klain got emotional throughout his remarks, and toward the end, held up a small souvenir rock in his hand and tearfully explained its significance to him.

“This plain and simple rock was given to me a year ago on one of our darker days — by Louisa Terrell,” Klain said, referring to the head of White House legislative affairs.

“And it’s always symbolized to me the fact that this team has been rock solid in their support of our agenda and the president,” he added. “We’ve never wavered. We’ve been as solid as a rock. And so I ask you today to continue to play that role. I ask each and every one of you to continue your jobs as the rock of this White House, this administration, and this presidency. That’s our mission.”

Klain then introduced his successor as chief of staff, Jeff Zients, before giving Biden a hug while those in attendance applauded.

Earlier in the event, the president introduced Klain by sharing how they have been working together for decades, stretching back to when Biden was a senator.

“I knew the moment he started, he was a once-in-a-generation talent. And that’s not hyperbole,” Biden said. “He’s a fiercely brilliant intellect. And again, those of you who work with him know it to be true. And just as important, he has a heart as big as his head,” he added, prompting a round of laughter.

During his remarks, Klain expressed effusive praise for Biden and touted a number of accomplishments. “I learned everything I know about how to be a good father from Joe Biden,” he said. “He’s the best father I know and the best role model I know.”

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Biden’s New Adviser is a Climate Alarmist Who Suffered an ‘Acute Mental Health Crisis’ After Trump’s 2016 Victory

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The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. The board counts among its alumni a Medal of Honor recipient, a steel magnate, a secretary of defense, a retired admiral, and a former state governor.

Joining the board Thursday per President Joe Biden’s apparent wishes: Kim Cobb, a climate alarmist who was admittedly left bedridden as a result of the American people’s election of former President Donald Trump in 2016.

Biden announced his intention to appoint Cobb to the PIAB on Jan. 26.

Cobb noted that she has “much to learn” but hopes “to contribute to the critical work of this esteemed Board.”

Cobb’s biography, lifted from her Brown page and included in the White House’s statement, is seeded with potential clues concerning the president’s decision.

Cobb is a climate scientist who has repeatedly appeared on CNN to discuss the specter of anthropogenic climate change. She co-authored an alarmist UN report in 2021 that simultaneously held that various allegedly man-made climate trends under way are now irreversible and it is still imperative that the world transition off fossil fuels.

Cobb has served as director at both the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Global Change Program at Georgia Tech.

Extra to her background in politically charged weather science, Cobb also “champions diversity and inclusion in all that she does … and enjoys frequent exchanges with policymakers about climate impacts and solutions,” according to the White House.

Outside her past role as ADVANCE professor for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Cobb has made a show of her ideological bona fides on Twitter, where she has underscored her support for BLM; her belief that “racial justice and equity are inseparable from climate action”; and her support for hiring on the basis of skin pigmentation or sexual preference.

While climate change is her apparent nemesis, Cobb’s weakness is evidently democratic electoral results that she finds unfavorable.

In a 2019 interview with the leftist publication Mother Jones, Cobb reflected on that moment, years earlier, when she learned of Trump’s resounding defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Cobb had traveled by fossil-fuel-consuming vehicles to an idyllic atoll in the Pacific Ocean, 1,300 miles south of Hawaii. She had gone to collect coral skeletons in hopes of establishing historic ocean temperatures suggesting a tendency of weather patterns to change over time. Trump’s victory made her scientific beachside getaway especially trying.

“I was diving with tears in my eyes,” said Cobb.

Soon, the news that the American people chose someone she did not like because they prioritized issues besides the weather proved too much for Biden’s new intelligence adviser to bear.

“I had the firm belief that Washington would act on climate change and would be acting soon,” she said. “When Trump was elected, it came crashing down.”

Cobb claimed that upon returning home to Atlanta, she could not get out of bed, having suffered “an acute mental health crisis.”

She would reportedly sob sporadically and obsess over the question of “how could my country do this?”

Ultimately, she had to confront the possibility that “there was a veritable tidal wave of people who don’t care about climate change and who put personal interest above the body of scientific information that I had contributed to.”

Apparently, Biden may be willing to subordinate American interests to the body of “scientific information” Cobb and other climate scientists peddle in.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that Cobb’s appointment reflects the Biden administration’s “whole-of-government approach” to addressing fears about climate change, noting that one of the first things Biden did as president was make climate alarmism “central to United States foreign policy and national security.”

In a 2021 fact sheet, the Biden administration stated, “The climate crisis is reshaping our physical world, with the Earth’s climate changing faster than at any point in modern history and extreme weather events becoming more frequent and severe.”

Cobb appeared to audition for the role in a November CNN interview in which she tearlessly denigrated the previous administration, lauded the Biden administration’s ambitions, and discussed statist measures to clamp down on emissions:

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Chris Pratt Drops Huge News About ‘The Terminal List’

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Chris Pratt dropped huge news on Thursday about the status of his hit show “The Terminal List” when he posted a clip on Instagram of his character sailing away to a new destination.

The 43-year-old actor didn’t caption the video he posted for his 41 million followers, but the shot picks up where the show left off at the end of the first season. In the clip, his character, Navy SEAL James Reece, is on board the same boat from the end of the first season — hinting at a new mission for the second season.

At one point the camera pans down to a map, making a reference to where he’s headed. Pratt’s character holds down the map with one hand and the camera focuses on the location “Mozambique” and “NIASSA.” The clip ends with him turning the wheel of the boat in a new direction as the shot fades out.

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Reading through the comments, followers seemed more than thrilled to learn that Reece was headed out on another mission after barely surviving his last one which started with the murder of members of his SEAL team and his family.

One comment that definitely stood out was from the official account for “The Terminal List” which read, “Do you believe?”

Former Navy SEAL and “The Terminal List” author Jack Carr also commented on the post with the emoji of the official flag of Mozambique, a southeast African country.

On Wednesday, Deadline reported that it had learned that Amazon had indeed finalized a second season of the hit series.

The eight-episode first season was a huge hit for Amazon, scoring the No. 2 spot on Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streaming ratings chart, the outlet noted. The show is about “a former Navy SEAL officer” who “investigates why his entire platoon was ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission,” a description on IMDb reads.

In September, Pratt and Carr hinted that fans would be getting another season when the Marvel star appeared on Carr’s podcast “Danger Close,” as The Daily Wire previously reported.

“To the rabid fans of ‘The Terminal List’ out there, you have nothing to worry about,” Pratt shared. “We love you and appreciate your support. It’s our life’s mission to make sure you can come back to the well. We are working away.”

Carr replied, “There may be some cool stuff on the horizon being discussed.”

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People Who Think Themselves Unattractive More Likely To Keep Wearing Mask: Study

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A report comprised of three studies showed that people who thought they were less attractive were more likely to wear masks.

The report was derived from three studies conducted by the Department of Psychology and Center for Happiness Studies at Seoul National University in South Korea. The first two studies found that people who thought they were good-looking were less willing to wear a mask; they were less likely to believe that mask-wearing made them look better. The third study found that their belief was stronger in situations where they needed to deliver a favorable impression.

“Research shows that individuals who perceive themselves as more (vs. less) attractive possess more socially desirable attributes … have higher self-esteem … and enjoy better mental and physical health,” the study stated.

The study claims that “as essential cues that signal (un) attractiveness (e.g., facial symmetry) … can be censored with a mask, mask-wearing might critically influence how one’s attractiveness is perceived. … relatively unattractive individuals are deemed more attractive with masks … previous findings suggest that mask-wearing enhances perceived attractiveness among unattractive individuals, while the opposite is true for attractive individuals.”

The study points out that in South Korea, the term “ma-gi-kkun,” was coined to refer to people who intentionally wore a mask to give a more favorable impression; the study cites the American term “mask-fisher” to mean the same thing.

“We expect that individuals who perceive themselves as attractive (unattractive) will be less (more) likely to endorse the belief that wearing a mask enhances their perceived attractiveness,” the study states, concluding, “Our results consistently demonstrated that self-perceived unattractive individuals were more willing to wear a mask, as they believed it would benefit their attractiveness.”

The Daily Mail reported that the people examined in the study were Americans recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk and the average age of those in the study was 33 years old.

According to an Ipsos report from early December, roughly half of the Americans they surveyed reported wearing masks “at all times or sometimes when on an airplane.” 39% of respondents said they wore masks at all times or sometimes when on public transportation or in a rideshare; 33% said they wore masks at all times or sometimes in grocery stores. 85% of respondents said that the COVID-19 virus would not go away during their lifetimes.

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30-Year-Old Republican New Jersey Councilwoman Shot Dead Outside Her Home

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A local councilwoman in New Jersey was killed during a shooting outside her home Wednesday evening, according to officials.

Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, a Republican, was 30 years old and described by Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick as “dedicated member of our Borough Council who was truly committed to serve all of our residents.”

A 911 call reported shots fired around 7:22 p.m, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said. A female, identified by New Jersey Globe reporter David Wildstein as Dwumfour, was found dead in her vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds.

“This is an active and ongoing investigation anyone with information or surveillance footage of the area is asked to call Detective Rebecca Morales of the Sayreville Police Department at 732-727-4444 or Detective Michelle Coppola of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office 732-745-3477,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Kilpatrick called the shooting a “despicable criminal act.”

A Facebook account for Detective Juan Rodriguez and Pastor Doctor Nelia Rodriguez also reported that Dwumfour was killed.

“We are so heartbroken to announce that our friend, Councilwoman from Sayreville, part of our HRC (Human Relation Commission), our personal friend, a woman of God Eunice Dwumfour was [murdered] tonight in Sayreville,” the couple wrote.

They added, “She was an amazing friend, a woman who loved God. We were just at our HRC meeting January 5th 2023 and I just saw her this morning at the store. I remember saying to her I see you at the HRC meeting tomorrow, not knowing tonight was going to be the end of her life. I can’t stop crying. She was 30 years young and full of life.”

It is not immediately clear if she was the intended target of the alleged shooting.

“Beyond her dedication to our community, I can share that she was a woman of deep faith and worked hard to integrate her strong Christian beliefs in to her daily life as a person and a community leader,” Kilpatrick continued. “On a personal note, I can’t adequately express my feeling of sorrow at the loss of a friend.”

Community organizer Charles Kratovil also reported the death.

“A huge loss for the Sayreville community as Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour was shot and killed at approximately 7:20pm causing a crash near Samuel Circle & Check Avenue,” Kratovil tweeted.

He added, “I personally knew her to be a very kind person and public servant. May she rest in peace.”

According to her LinkedIn, Dwumfour was a scrum master, with a background as an IT Business consultant.

Dwumfour was elected to the Borough Council in 2021, and her term was set to run from January 2022 through December 2024.

She received a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies from William Paterson University, located in Wayne, New Jersey.

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Pelosi Endorses Schiff For Senate — with One Caveat

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Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for Senate if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) chooses not to seek re-election in 2024.

The longtime Democratic leader chose Schiff over Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), who announced a Senate campaign last month, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who is widely expected to join the race.

If Feinstein decides not to run, “I will be supporting House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, who knows well the nexus between a strong democracy and a strong economy,” Pelosi said in a statement Thursday. “In his service in the House, he has focused on strengthening our democracy with justice and on building an economy that works for all.”

Local media described the development as “the strongest sign yet that Feinstein will not seek re-election.”

In a statement of his own, Schiff said he is “honored to have earned” Pelosi’s support. He said after Pelosi made clear her stance, 20 current and former members of the California delegation also endorsed his campaign for Senate.

Schiff, whose district includes parts of Los Angeles County, announced his campaign for Senate two days after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) removed him from the House Intelligence Committee over accusations of repeated lying. Schiff called the move “petty, political payback” for his participation in investigations into former President Donald Trump.

Pelosi said the United States is at a “crossroads” leading up to the 2024 election, casting the Democrats as the defenders of democracy and freedom while characterizing Republicans as being beholden to special interests.

“Ever since I supported Adam in his race for Congress in 2000, I have known his commitment to putting the American Dream in place for everyone,” Pelosi said in her statement. “Coming from a family of immigrants, Adam has dedicated his life to public service. Every time I have asked Adam to take on the tough fight against extremist forces, he has responded with integrity, strength and success.”

Feinstein has not yet shared whether she will seek another term. She told Bloomberg News late last month she would share her plans “in the spring sometime.”

At the age of 89, Feinstein is the Senate’s oldest member, and in recent years her colleagues have raised concerns about her mental fitness. She raised less than $600 in the last three months and has under $10,000 in her campaign account, The Hill reported Wednesday.

In her statement, Pelosi praised Feinstein as an “iconic” senator with a “remarkable legislative record.” Feinstein “has my whole-hearted support” if she does decide to run for re-election, Pelosi added.

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‘Let’s Start Treating Each Other with Respect’: Biden Pleads for Unity as GOP Prepares Hunter Investigation

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President Joe Biden issued a plea to Republicans and Speaker Kevin McCarthy to ‘treat each other with respect’ – as the GOP prepares to investigate him and his son Hunter.

He sat alongside McCarthy at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, after their White House showdown over the debt limit, and said: ‘Let’s just sorta, kinda, join hands a little bit.

‘Let’s start treating each other with respect. That’s what Kevin and I are going to do. Not a joke.

‘We had a good meeting yesterday. I think we got to do it across the board. It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree – fight like hell. But let’s treat each other with respect.’

Republicans are planning to start their probe into the Biden family’s influence peddling and Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals after his State of the Union address next week.

Biden’s appeal to GOP sentiments came hours after Hunter sent letters to prosecutors, urging them to target critics who had shared his laptop with the media.

Biden’s call also came as both chambers of Congress have ratcheted up the partisan infighting.

Later in the day, House Republicans will hold a vote to kick Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a practising Muslim, off the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her past comments critical of Israel.

The vote comes in retaliation after Democrats last year booted far-right GOP lawmakers from committees over their incendiary, violent remarks.

Biden didn’t answer DailyMail.com when asked about his call for respect, given the investigation his son is facing and the Omar vote.

But, in his remarks at the breakfast, he acknowledged that tensions were high.

‘Love thy neighbor as thyself. That’s the hardest one. I think. At least it’s hardest here,’ Biden said. ‘Didn’t used to be hard.’

‘I’ve been here a long time, but it seems to be getting harder. It’s easy to say. It’s hard to do,’ he added.

‘My prayer for this prayer breakfast is you started to see each other again, look at each other, travel with each other again. Argue like hell with each other again, but then still go to lunch together.’

Biden, who spent 36 years as a senator representing the state of Delaware, joked about his long service to the country.

‘I know I don’t look it – but I’ve done it for a few years,’ he said to much laughter.

Even as lawmakers came together Thursday morning in the Capitol complex, they prepared to take battle stations later today and in the days to come.

In addition to the vote on Omar’s removal, House Republicans are gearing up to go after the president’s son.

The House Oversight Committee has scheduled a February 8 hearing on Hunter Biden’s laptop and Twitter’s attempt to suppress a New York Post story on it.

The hearing will be the day after President Biden’s State of the Union address, in which he will lay out his vision for the country for the next year. He is expected to issue a call for bipartisanship.

Hunter’s legal team has gone on the offensive by sending letters to state and federal prosecutors urging criminal investigations into those who accessed and disseminated his personal data.

They also sent a separate letter that threatened Fox News host Tucker Carlson with a defamation lawsuit, The Washington Post reported.

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Top Biden Economic Adviser to Leave White House

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Brian Deese, the top White House economic adviser to President Biden for the past two years, will depart the White House in the coming days, the president announced Thursday.

Deese served as the director of the National Economic Council and helped craft Biden’s economic agenda. He was also a key player in negotiations with Congress on major legislation Biden signed during his first two years in office, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which contained several of Biden’s major priorities on climate change and health care.

“When I took office, we faced high unemployment, an economy in crisis, and main streets shuttered across the country. I knew we needed to not just get families back to work and businesses re-opened, we needed to rebuild our economy so no one was left behind,” Biden said in a statement.

“For the past two years, I have relied on Brian Deese to help me do just that,” Biden continued. “Brian has a unique ability to translate complex policy challenges into concrete actions that improve the lives of American people. He has helped steer my economic vision into reality, and managed the transition of our historic economic recovery to steady and stable growth.”

Biden credited Deese with playing an integral role in passing some of the most significant pieces of economic legislation of his term thus far, including the bipartisan infrastructure law that was passed in 2021 and the CHIPS and Science Act, which was passed last year and will boost manufacturing in semiconductor chips.

Deese, who had been commuting to Washington, D.C., from New England, where his wife and two children live, had been rumored since last year’s midterm elections to be a likely candidate to depart the administration.

He joins former chief of staff Ron Klain as the second major Biden White House official to depart in the new year.

It is not yet clear who will replace Deese to lead the National Economic Council. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard and Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo are considered two of the likeliest candidates.

Deese departs his role at a time when Biden and his team are bullish on the economy ahead of a likely 2024 reelection campaign. They have repeatedly pointed to low unemployment numbers and steadily falling inflation over the past few months, which have soothed some recession fears among economists.

But Deese’s replacement will still contend with an uncertain economic outlook and will be involved in a looming fight with congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

Lawmakers likely have until some time in June to reach a deal to lift the debt ceiling before the federal government defaults on it debt. Economists have warned that a default, or even the specter of it, would send the economy into a tailspin, reducing government services, roiling markets and damaging the country’s credibility.

Biden on Wednesday met with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to discuss the debt ceiling. McCarthy emerged optimistic about a potential agreement, while the White House said Biden indicated he would be open to discussing spending cuts as a separate issue from raising the debt limit.

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CDC Warns Not to Use Eye Drop Brand as It Investigates Death, Infections Across 11 States

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking people to stop using a brand of artificial tears that could be behind dozens of infections across the U.S.

The CDC says lab and epidemiological evidence have tied the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears to a multi-state cluster of Pseudomonas aeruginosa patients, but the investigation is ongoing and there is not yet a definite link.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria live in the environment, are highly resistant to antibiotics and can cause infections in the blood, lungs (pneumonia) and other body parts. Often these cases occur after surgery.

The CDC is investigating at least 50 cases in 11 states that have led to hospitalization, permanent vision loss and even one death. The cases are located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington.

While working to determine the cause of the illnesses, CDC investigators found that the majority of people used artificial tears, with EzriCare being the most popular brand. Investigators identified the drug-resistant bacteria in open bottles of the drops, the CDC said. Testing of sealed bottles is ongoing.

“CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete,” according to a Jan. 20 news release.

EzriCare said in a statement Wednesday that they were not aware of any testing that definitely linked the eye drops to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but said they stopped selling the product.

“To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product, the company said in a statement on its website. “We also immediately reached out to both CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they may have of us.”

A 2019 report found that 2,700 people in the U.S. died from Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections and another 32,600 were hospitalized.

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Dr. Peter McCullough Unbowed After Winning Legal Case: ‘Wouldn’t Do Anything Different’

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A district judge vindicated Texas cardiologist and outspoken COVID vaccine critic Dr. Peter McCullough on Wednesday, dismissing a lawsuit filed against him approximately two years ago by his former employer Baylor Scott and White Health system.

McCullough, dubbed a prominent purveyor of COVID misinformation by his detractors, was sued by the health system two years ago for allegedly violating a separation agreement and bringing the Baylor Scott and White Health name into the media. Associate Judge Tahira Khan Merritt of the Judicial District Court Dallas County dismissed the suit with prejudice.

“This is a strong victory for freedom of speech and fair balanced publication and media presentation of clinical data as it has emerged over the course of the pandemic crisis,” McCullough told The Daily Wire. “My analyses and conclusions have been accurate, consistent, and have always been my own, not those of any institution.”

Baylor accused McCullough in the $1 million lawsuit of “reputational harm,” stating that McCullough gave several media interviews and was published in journals that mentioned Baylor as an affiliate even though he had parted ways with the employer.

Baylor Scott & White Health told The Dallas Morning News in a written statement at the time of the filings that McCullough’s views don’t represent those of the health care provider.

“The lawsuit was filed to enforce this separation and avoid public confusion,” the statement said. “We take very seriously our responsibility to be a trusted source of medical information in the communities we serve.”

Yet, representatives for the cardiologist asserted McCullough never stated he was employed by the health system and that it was third parties who referenced the relationship.

“The lawsuit, in a sense, represented a form of intimidation and professional reprisal, and I feel vindicated by the dismissal,” McCullough said.

The Daily Wire reached out to Baylor Scott and White Health for comment but received no reply.

McCullough participated in health system task forces, led research activities on COVID for the health system, and teamed with government officials throughout the early days of the pandemic in 2020. Prominent medical journals published peer-reviewed studies of McCullough’s early treatment and response to the COVID health crisis.

In response to his work, McCullough claims the health system decided not to renew his contract, which was “tantamount to termination” without reason or due process. Following the non-renewal, McCullough said he negotiated a settlement agreement that made way for the lawsuit.

“I’m glad it’s behind us,” he said. “The process was draining,” he continued, adding that he believes the lawsuit was designed to injure his professional career.

“Moreover, it was a message to other doctors to follow a narrative,” he said. “And that narrative is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for physicians in terms of a narrative that directs doctors not to treat patients early for COVID-19 and to continue to support and recommend emergency use authorized COVID-19 vaccination, despite mounting data that the vaccines have a very unfavorable safety profile.”

McCullough became a controversial figure in the medical field amid the global pandemic, which prompted medical associations and legacy media to discredit his promotion of hydroxychloroquine and other early treatments.

In December 2021, the cardiologist appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast where he made a number of claims about information surrounding treatments for the coronavirus, including questioning the efficacy and safety of the vaccines and how the pandemic started.

“When I graduated from medical school, I took the Hippocratic Oath, which said that, above all, I would do no harm to any patient, and I would do everything in my power to help each and every patient,” McCullough said. “I’ve done that throughout the pandemic — not only with my personal patients — but through my public statements in my work as a public figure to help as many people in the world as possible, helping them avoid hospitalization and death with COVID-19 illness and helping them avoid injury, disability and death with COVID-19 vaccination.”

“I think this is a very important stance — I wouldn’t do anything any differently,” he said. “Whether there was a lawsuit or no lawsuit — this is very important. The question on the table is, ‘Why can’t all doctors in America in the world say that?’”

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Surprise Oscar Nod Leads to Investigation, Criticism of No Black Best Actress Nomination

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Actress Andrea Riseborough’s surprise best actress nomination for her brilliant performance in the little-seen film “To Leslie,” which meant that the category had no black actresses, triggered an investigation by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and condemnation from a black film critic.

“To Leslie” earned a paltry $27,000 when it was released in October, but many Hollywood stars who saw the film praised Riseborough’s work, including Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams, and Kate Winslet, with the latter calling the performance “the greatest female performance onscreen I have ever seen in my life.” But some black critics expressed their fury that performances by black actresses did not receive a best actress nod.

“What does it say that the Black women who did everything the institution asks of them — luxury dinners, private academy screenings, meet-and-greets, splashy television spots and magazine profiles — are ignored when someone who did everything outside of the system is rewarded?” film critic Robert Daniels wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Nigerian-American director Chinonye Chukwu wrote after the nominations were announced,

Meanwhile, the Academy launched an investigation into whether a campaign for Riseborough’s nomination broke any of the Academy’s rules. The Academy scrutinized the efforts of actress Mary McCormack, who is married to “To Leslie” director Michael Morris, and her manager, Jason Weinberg, who represents Riseborough, to elicit support from Hollywood friends to push the film.

Additionally, actress Frances Fisher consistently praised the film, suggesting people vote for Riseborough’s nomination since “Viola, Michelle, Danielle & Cate are a lock for their outstanding work.”

Actress Christina Ricci slammed the investigation, writing in a later-deleted post, “Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money wasn’t spent to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is being met with an investigation. So it’s only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition? Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me.”

But on Tuesday, the Academy announced it would not rescind Riseborough’s nomination. “The academy has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded,” Chief Executive Officer Bill Kramer declared. “However, we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly.”

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Male Accused of Raping Girls Ages 4 and 9 to Serve Less Than 180 Days in Jail – Not Required to Register as Sex Offender

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A 20-year-old Minnesota man accused of raping two girls, ages 4 and 9, when he was around 16 years old will serve less than 180 days in jail and up to 30 years of probation. He will not have to register as a sex offender, and the charges against him will be dismissed from his criminal record at the completion of his probation, the Post Bulletin reported.

Mohamed Bakari Shei faced three felony first-degree charges in two rape cases involving minor victims. Shei was initially charged in 2019 after he was accused of sexual assaults against a 4-year-old and 9-year-old girl when he was 15 and 16 years old.

The court documents revealed that one of the underage victims reported in April 2020 that she had first been raped by Shei on Mother’s Day in 2018 at a residence. The girl informed the police that Shei had promised to give her money and buy her toys.

In June 2021, a second underage victim told authorities that Shei had raped her multiple times at the same residence.

In December 2022, Shei entered an Alford plea, which meant that he did not admit guilt of the sexual assault crimes, but he did admit the jury would likely convict him based on the evidence.

According to Shei’s lawyer, James McGeeney, the court could not sentence Shei to serve jail time because it would violate the plea agreement.

On January 30, 2023, District Judge Jacob Allen disagreed with McGeeney and sentenced Shei to serve, with good behavior, 116 days in the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center and 30 years probation. The judge also ordered Shei to undergo a sex offender program and complete 200 hours of community service.

Shei’s plea deal called for a stay of adjudication and two of the three charges to be dropped. After the completion of Shei’s probation, all charges against him will be dismissed and removed from his criminal record.

One of the victims and several family members spoke during Monday’s sentencing hearing. “There is no moving on or getting over it, I’ve tried,” stated one of the victims.

“Some day you will have to answer for this egregious act against a child,” said a family member of one of the girls.

“I hope you heard what was said in this court today,” Allen told Shei. “The conduct they described and the way it affected them should be something that haunts you.”

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Hunter Biden Finally Admits Infamous Laptop is His

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First son Hunter Biden’s lawyers admitted late Wednesday that the infamous laptop the now-52-year-old abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop in the throes of his crack cocaine addiction does indeed belong to him.

The revelation came in a petulant letter from Hunter’s lawyers seeking a criminal probe into what they called, attempts to “weaponize” its contents.

In the 14-page letter to Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Biden attorney Abbe Lowell claimed that repair shop owner John Paul Mac Isaac “unlawfully” accessed Hunter’s laptop data and worked with former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to “weaponize” sordid and incriminating contents on it against Joe Biden.

“This failed dirty political trick directly resulted in the exposure, exploitation, and manipulation of Mr. Biden’s private and personal information,” Lowell wrote.

“Mr. Mac Isaac’s intentional, reckless, and unlawful conduct allowed for hundreds of gigabytes of Mr. Biden’s personal data, without any discretion, to be circulated around the Internet.”

Mac Isaac took possession of the laptop and hard drive late in 2019 after trying and failing for months to notify Hunter that the device was ready to be picked up. Once the shop owner saw the laptop’s contents — including emails detailing influence-peddling involving then-Vice President Joe Biden and videos of the younger Biden smoking crack and having sex with prostitutes and his work subordinates — he alerted the FBI.

The feds picked up the laptop in December 2019, but not before Mac Isaac made a copy and gave it to Giuliani’s personal lawyer, Robert Costello.

Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of the hard drive in October 2020.

Lowell’s letter singles out Mac Isaac, Giuliani, Costello, former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler, Bannon associate Jack Maxey, and founder and CEO of cyber analytics firm XRVision and former aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) Yaacov Apelbaum as parties who gained unauthorized access to the laptop’s contents and disseminated it to the media and lawmakers.

“We believe that the facts and circumstances merit further investigation as to whether the conduct of Messrs. Mac Isaac, Costello, Giuliani, Bannon, Ziegler, Maxey, and Apelbaum violated several provisions of Delaware’s criminal code – including, but not necessarily limited to, computer-related property offenses … theft … possession of stolen property … and misapplication of another’s property … Each of these offenses, if violated, has the potential to be a felony, depending on the value of the property in question,” Lowell writes.

Letters were also sent by Hunter Biden’s lawyer on Wednesday to the Justice Department’s National Security Division and the IRS.

“I think with Congress starting investigations next week, it’s a scare tactic,” Mac Isaac told The Post Wednesday.

“The flak is heaviest when you are over the target!” he added.

The House Oversight Committee will commence hearings next week on Hunter Biden’s alleged influence peddling, and claims he cashed in on ties to his then-vice president father to rake in millions from foreign companies, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the panel, told the National Press Club on Monday.

Ziegler, who worked as aide to Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and has published the laptop’s data on his Marco Polo USA website, told The Post on Wednesday that the letters were a “desperate attempt” by the Biden family to get the spotlight away from “their crimes.”

“With respect to the letters from the President’s son pleading with his daddy’s agencies to target those who expose his blatant criminality, Kevin Morris did not get a lot of bang for his buck,” Ziegler told The Post, referencing Hunter Biden’s fixer and “sugar brother,” Kevin Morris, who allegedly lent the president’s son $2 million to help pay off his overdue federal taxes and has become the architect of Hunter Biden’s legal and media strategy.

“You’d think that Morris would spend $1,400+/hour on an actual tax attorney when funding Hunter’s legal misadventures, which Abbe Lowell is not,” Ziegler said.

“The letter to the IRS about Marco Polo is full of speculations and basic misunderstandings about the case law surrounding 501(c)(3) organizations. Hopefully, federal and state investigators will see this for what it is: a desperate attempt by Hunter and his family to get the attention off of their crimes,” he added.

Costello told The Post that Lowell’s allegations were “ridiculous” and a sign of “desperation.”

“This letter is a ridiculous attempt to intimidate that will not succeed. It is the product of desperation by Hunter Biden because they know judgement day is coming for the Biden family,” he said.

Costello points out that Mac Isaac has a “signed work order that gives [him] authorization to examine the hard drive and the property is deemed legally abandoned after 90 days. It is the property of John Paul Mac Isaac.”

Mac Isaac said it’s no coincidence the letter from Hunter Biden’s lawyer comes just as House Republicans are ready to open probes into the president’s son.

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Republican Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Top Biden Official

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Republican Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs introduced articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Wednesday over his handling of the surge of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Under Mayorkas’ leadership, federal authorities at the border have seen record surges in illegal migration, with December marking the highest month on record with more than 250,000 migrant encounters. That led Biggs to introduce the impeachment articles alongside more than one dozen of his Republican colleagues.

Biggs also centered his decision around the surge in drugs, particularly fentanyl, coming over the southern border. CBP seized more than 14,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border in fiscal year 2022 and more than half of that in the first three months of fiscal year 2023.

“The actions of Secretary Mayorkas have made the border less secure and encouraged aliens to enter the United States illegally, instead of taking actions to maintain operational control of the border. His actions have subverted the will of Congress and the core tenants of the Constitution,” the resolution introduced Wednesday states.

Republican Texas Rep. Pat Fallon introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas on Jan. 3. Biggs also first introduced impeachment articles against Mayorkas in August 2021 in the last Congress, accusing the secretary of “dereliction of duty in protecting our nation’s borders constituted high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Then-Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledged Nov. 22 to impeach Mayorkas if the secretary failed to resign from his post.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” DHS said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation at the time.

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which have not been overhauled in over 40 years,” the department then added.

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WH Refuses To Say If FBI Searching More Biden Locations For Docs, Won’t Disclose How Many Seized

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The White House refused to say Wednesday whether federal law enforcement officials were searching other locations associated with President Joe Biden as they search for classified material in their criminal investigation into the president.

The news comes after the FBI seized materials from Biden’s beach home in Delaware on Wednesday afternoon while conducting a four-hour search of the residence. Biden’s personal attorney claimed that the materials were not classified.

Ian Sams, senior advisor to the White House Counsel’s Office, was asked by a reporter if the FBI has conducted any searches of any other locations associated with the president that the administration is aware of.

“Look, I think we’re providing information as this goes on and answering questions about the search activities as they’ve been happening,” Sams said. “I don’t want to speak too much to the DOJ’s practices in an ongoing investigation. I can say, you know, that we have cooperated fully, though the president’s personal attorneys have provided information to DOJ.”

Sam tried to portray that the administration was being transparent about searches that have been taking place, however, it never disclosed that the FBI searched Biden’s former office at the Biden Penn Center back in November.

Sams later said that he did not want to “speak too much to the Justice Department’s decision-making and their activities.”

When asked if the White House believes that there are more classified documents that are out there connected to Biden, Sams would not answer the question.

Sams again tried to paint the administration as being transparent, claiming that it has offered “unprecedented access” to Biden’s homes and office. However, this claim is misleading as federal law enforcement officials were prepared to have a judge sign off on a warrant to search the property.

When asked how many classified documents have been seized by the FBI, Sams did not answer the question.

Sams could not say if the White House told the National Archives that they could not issue a press release about the discovery of classified documents.

Sams was later asked again about the FBI potentially searching other locations associated with Biden and was asked if the reason that he refused to answer the question was that he knew the answer. Sams would not answer the question.

Classified documents connected with Biden were first found in his former private office at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C., on November 2, less than a week before the 2022 midterm elections. Since then, Biden’s attorneys have located more classified documents at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on multiple occasions: an unspecified number found in the garage on December 20, one document found in Biden’s study on January 11, and five more found in the study on January 12.

Federal officials confirmed two weeks ago that they found more classified material during a 13-hour FBI search of Biden’s home on January 20.

CNN reported last week that while Biden’s team claimed it was cooperative in dealing with the Department of Justice, federal investigators were prepared to get a search warrant if Biden did not consent to being searched.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed former U.S. Attorney Robert Hur — who served during the Trump administration — to serve as special counsel in the investigation after the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch, who was assigned to do an initial review of the case, recommended to Garland that a special counsel be appointed.

CNN described the special counsel investigation by Hur as a “full-blown criminal investigation.”

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Tom Brady is About to Cause Fox Drama with $375 Million Contract

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And just like that, the retired Tom Brady transitions from being considered the greatest player in NFL history to the most interesting person in sports television.

It is not only that he is Tom Brady, but the situation that he and Fox Sports have created is intriguing. As The Post exclusively reported, Brady has a 10-year, $375 million contract with the network to be its No. 1 NFL game analyst alongside Kevin Burkhardt.

If the prospects of Brady in the booth weren’t juicy enough, the man who has kept Brady’s seat warm and will call Super Bowl LVII with Burkhardt a week from Sunday, Greg Olsen, has been really good at the job.

If Olsen throws for the booth version of four touchdowns during Eagles-Chiefs, then the intrigue will only grow stronger.

The way it is set up now, Brady can jump into the No. 1 booth when he is ready. It is possible he could go for a gap year, but he very well could be calling the top games next season.

As for this Super Bowl, which is on Fox, all indications are that network executives will not put him in the booth. They know it would be stupid and unwise with their $375 million investment to try a three-man setup for the first time with 100 million people watching. If Brady was unsteady, he would immediately create more questions as to why Fox is replacing Olsen with him. And that investment might quickly look poor.

What seems entirely possible and a wise move for both is for Brady to be part of Fox’s pregame. Who wouldn’t want his star power and knowledge to bring more shine to the endless analysis and features that will lead into Feb. 12?

There have been some feelings from important people in the business that Brady signed the Fox deal as a hedge and that he may never call a game. After Joe Buck and Troy Aikman fled for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” for contracts that totaled $165 million and some change, Fox Sports did what it historically has done — swung for the fences. The money kept rising and rising until Brady’s total broadcasting contract ended up higher than the around $330 million he made as a quarterback.

Is this going to be a passion for Brady? It doesn’t feel that way initially. There is nothing like playing, but he has talked about being like Johnny Miller was on golf. If he is that cutting, that would be a must-listen.

As for Olsen, the prevailing wisdom is he may get a raw deal. We are a long-run contrarian on this point of view. He is 37 and is making around $10 million a year. When Brady arrives, Olsen will be slotted down to the No. 2 spot on Fox’s depth chart and will make in the $3 million range. That is still a tremendous job.

But Olsen has his future in his hands. His contract, according to sources, allows him to leave if there is a No. 1 job around. He could end up being this generation’s Cris Collinsworth — having a long, lucrative career, despite not having played quarterback or for the Cowboys or in New York. People love an underdog — especially if the person delivers.

Brady’s announcement makes the media aspect of the Super Bowl that much more juicy, which is why Fox Sports wanted him — he is a star among stars.

And so Brady walks away from football to become the most interesting person in sports media, because, even with a $375 million contract in hand, Brady has already proved that “What’s next?” is not so easy to figure out with him.

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