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A group of five American lawmakers landed in Taiwan on Sunday in an unannounced visit just days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) set off controversy with China following her trip to the self-ruled island.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, served as the leader of the surprise delegation.

The other four members included Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), and Don Beyer (D-VA), along with Republican Rep. Amata Radewagen of American Samoa.

The visit came following Markey’s visit to South Korea to reaffirm the U.S.-South Korean Alliance. Markey met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and other national leaders earlier Sunday in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan on a separate flight to join the other U.S. lawmakers.

“The U.S.-South Korea alliance is based on shared values and interests – from nuclear disarmament to the fight against climate change, and our commitment to this important relationship is stronger than ever,” Markey said in a statement.

“Through my meetings with President Yoon and other senior government officials, it was evident that our two countries are prepared to meet existential and pressing global challenges head-on. The size, diversity, and lethality of North Korea’s weapons continues to grow, as does its threat to our allies in the region. In my meetings and my visit to the DMZ, we discussed how to continue multilateral pressure and diplomatic efforts to reach a solution that ensures the American people and our allies are safe from a nuclear Kim regime,” he added.

The American delegation to Taiwan comes just 12 days after Pelosi’s controversial stop on the island. Chinese officials pushed back with threats ahead of the visit, and with military tests occurring near Taiwan after her departure.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” Pelosi said during her visit with Taiwan’s president. “America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Taiwan’s government scrambled its air reconnaissance patrol forces and ships after the Chinese government simulated an island invasion on Saturday as part of its fourth straight day of military training.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Taiwan government detected 14 Chinese ships and 20 planes in the Taiwan Strait. Fourteen of those planes crossed the median line toward the island of Taiwan, which sent the country’s military into action.

President Joe Biden addressed the retaliation on August 8 while visiting victims of recent floods in eastern Kentucky.

“I’m not worried but I’m concerned that they’re moving as much as they are,” said Biden. “But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more than they are.”

  • Rose says:

    Nothing to see here. They are going to finish off the deal Pelosi started and Paul Jr started on chips…

  • k says:

    Let’s “NOT” forget Pelosi failing to mention her son going w/her on this trip.

    ​​Paul Pelosi Jr., who received 700,000 shares of Borqs Technologies as compensation for his services, became the second-largest investor after CEO Pat Sek Yuen Chan​ ​​when other company insiders sold ​their ​​shares i​n June 2021​​, the Daily Mail reported, citing Security and Exchange Commission filings.

    As of March 2022, Pelosi Jr. still owned around 147,000 shares — or about 0.07% of outstanding shares, also worked for the company, which has a market value of about $22 million, in a board of consultancy role. ​

    Wondering if Beijing carried through w/ sanctions against Pelosi and how they would cancel or suspend talks with the US on climate change, military relations and anti-drug efforts.

  • John says:

    So the Democrat demonic vile satanic one world order pigs will guarantee a nuclear third world war why they hide in the underground bunker in Wyoming 600 ft under the ground let’s all make sure they never make the trip there they need to experience what they created for us

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    Biden Announces $36 Billion Bailout for Union Pension Plan



    President Joe Biden announced Thursday he will pump $36 billion into a union pension plan to prevent drastic benefit cuts for pensioners, just a week after he signed a railroad labor deal opposed by several union organizations.

    The announcement marks the largest federal award for retiree pensions in history and is funded by Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, according to the White House. The $36 billion will go to the Central States Pension Fund, which is for mostly Teamster union members.

    The $36 billion amounts to about half of the available federal funds for pension relief under the American Rescue Plan. The pension fund, which covers 350,000 members, was at risk of cuts as high as 60%, but the White House said the fund will now be stable until at least 2051.

    “Thanks to today’s announcement, tens of thousands of union retirees and workers in states like Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri can go to bed tonight knowing their pension they worked so damn hard for is going to be there when they need it,” Biden said. He spoke at the White House with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.

    Biden’s announcement came a week after he negotiated a labor agreement with railroad companies that did not include paid sick leave. Four unions insisted that more paid sick days must be added to the deal, including the Teamsters’ maintenance union, but Congress passed the plan without extra sick time in order to avoid a strike.

    Giancarlo Sopo, a Republican strategist, said Biden’s decision is a makeup call to his union allies that he disappointed last week.

    “Joe Biden is using taxpayer coffers as his political piggyback to ameliorate his tensions with the Teamsters after failing to fight for the paid sick leave that workers wanted and, quite frankly, deserved,” Sopo told Fox News Digital.

    The White House said the timing of the announcement was related to a Dec. 10 deadline for awarding pension relief.

    “We are highlighting it because it is the largest award of the Special Financial Assistance program,” a White House official told Fox News Digital.

    Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, said a bailout to failed pension plans is pointless without reform to ensure the program can last on its own.

    “Once again, Biden is paying back his Big Labor allies to the detriment of taxpayers and the 90 percent of American workers who have chosen not to affiliate with a union,” Mix told Fox News Digital. “Long before COVID, union officials have been mismanaging plans like the Teamsters Central States fund, which makes it especially offensive that the pandemic has been used as an excuse for this bailout.”

    Biden has declared himself the most pro-union president in history. He filled several positions at the National Labor Relations Board, the nation’s top labor arbiter, with influential union leaders such as Jennifer Abruzzo, a former attorney for the Communications Workers of America. He has pushed Congress to pass the PRO Act, which would end right-to-work laws in more than a dozen states that ban union membership as a term of employment.

    Labor unions donated $27.5 million to Biden’s campaign in 2020.

    Clark Ballew, the director of communications for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which opposed Biden’s railroad agreement, said the pension funds are a relief to workers after they failed to win additional sick days.

    “We cannot claim that the president’s decision this morning was directly influenced by our push in Congress last week, those fellow Teamsters worked incredibly hard for years to obtain this victory,” Ballew told Fox News Digital. “But if the public browbeating we put on the miserly railroads last week in Congress helped with the Teamster pension gain this morning, then that is good. That is a win in our book.”

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    Here Are the Top 10 US Cities Where Immigrants Are Thriving



    More than 1 in 5 people residing in the United States have come from abroad to find opportunities in every corner of the country, but 10 cities stand out as the best places for newcomers to thrive.

    The George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative in Dallas ranked every city across America in terms of the well-being of immigrants who lived there, according to a report published Thursday. The term “immigrant” was defined as a foreign-born person, regardless of legal status, and they comprise 23% of the U.S. population.

    The 10 places where immigrants are thriving are split across the north and south, leaving no one part of the country overwhelmingly more or less favorable than another.

    Positive factors that determined a city’s well-being for immigrant populations included major technology hubs, college towns, and mid-Atlantic and Midwestern metropolitan regions that have “been intentional in welcoming immigrants and helping them thrive,” the report read.

    California, a sanctuary state that does not allow local or state law enforcement to work with federal immigration police to arrest illegal immigrants, had two cities on the list, including the top-ranked San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan region.

    The Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland, region followed in second place, and the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley region in California was in third place.

    Two other metropolitan areas (Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington, and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia) rounded out the top five.

    Smaller cities from the Southeast, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions filled the bottom half of the top 10.

    1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
    2. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland
    3. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California
    4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
    5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C./Maryland/Virginia
    6. St. Louis, Missouri/Illinois
    7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    8. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina
    9. Jackson, Mississippi
    10. Cincinnati, Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana

    The report explained that it was by no coincidence that smaller cities were moving up as top spots for immigrants and that it was largely due to immigrants already living in the U.S. choosing to relocate from larger cities.

    “Newly arriving immigrants tend to choose metros mostly on the East and West coasts and urban enclaves with large concentrations of people from the same origin country — consistent with more than a century of history,” the report read. “But immigrants making secondary moves within the United States are disproportionately moving away from traditional gateways into metros in the Sun Belt, Great Plains, and Mountain States — and to suburban counties.”

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    Top Democrat Senator Blasts Biden Over Releasing Terrorist for Griner



    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed President Joe Biden Thursday for releasing notorious terrorist Viktor Bout in exchange for Brittney Griner.

    Griner, who has a criminal record in the U.S. stemming from a domestic violence incident several years ago, was arrested in Russia back in February on drug charges, charges to which she pled guilty.

    In exchange for Griner, Biden released Bout, a Russian weapons trafficker who was convicted on terrorism charges back in 2011 for trying to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of missiles to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for the purpose of shooting down U.S. Military helicopters.

    “This should be a moment of deep reflection for the United States government to recognize we have a serious problem with hostage-taking of Americans,” Menendez said in a statement. “The Russians and other regimes that take American citizens hostage cannot pretend that there is equivalence between the Brittney Griners of the world and people like Viktor Bout, the so-called ‘Merchant of Death.’ Nothing could be further from the truth, and we cannot ignore that releasing Bout back into the world is a deeply disturbing decision.”

    “We must stop inviting dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans overseas as bargaining chips, and we must try to do better at encouraging American citizens against traveling to places like Russia where they are primary targets for this type of unlawful detention,” he continued.

    Menendez’s statement mentioned U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who was not rescued by the Biden administration from his jail cell in Russia.

    “My heart also goes out to the families of other American citizens in Russian prisons and labor camps, including Paul Whelan,” the statement concluded. “They have my renewed commitment and determination to use the power of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to secure Mr. Whelan’s safe return and to continue fighting for the release of all Russian political prisoners, like Vladimir Kara Murza, and all other unjustly detained Americans.”

    Whelan slammed the Biden administration during a CNN interview after the announcement was made that Griner was the one who was going to be freed.

    “I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” Whelan said. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”

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    Video Emerges of Brittney Griner Being Swapped for Russian Terrorist; Critics Instantly Notice Problem



    Video emerged Thursday afternoon of Brittney Griner being swapped on a runway for convicted Russian terrorist Viktor Bout after Democrat President Joe Biden agreed to the trade.

    The video showed Griner, who is wearing a red jacket, walking across the tarmac with three men while Bout walked toward her with a man standing next to him.

    Bout shook the hands of a couple of people in the video before an obvious cut appeared in the film. The footage then resumes just moments later showing Griner walking away from Bout.

    Critics online instantly noted the cut and that it appeared as though Griner was posturing herself to shake Bout’s hand right when the footage was cut.

    “There’s a jump cut here at :13 as everyone is shaking hands and hugging and right before it looks like Griner maybe going in to shake hands with Bout?” political commentator Stephen L. Miller tweeted. “Probably not great optics there to have your star prisoner swap shaking hands with the most notorious arms dealer on the planet.”

    Bout was convicted on terrorism charges back in 2011 for trying to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of missiles to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for the purpose of shooting down U.S. Military helicopters.

    Newsmax host Rob Schmitt agreed, writing: “You can tell Griner went in for a handshake with Viktor Bout and it was completely edited out.”

    “Watch her body language just before the edit,” he added.

    The prisoner swap generated widespread backlash, including among Democrats, who noted that Bout was a very dangerous man and that by agreeing to the swap, President Joe Biden was effectively incentivizing rogue regimes to detain Americans overseas.

    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed Biden, saying, “This should be a moment of deep reflection for the United States government to recognize we have a serious problem with hostage-taking of Americans.”

    “The Russians and other regimes that take American citizens hostage cannot pretend that there is equivalence between the Brittney Griners of the world and people like Viktor Bout, the so-called ‘Merchant of Death,’” Menendez continued. “Nothing could be further from the truth, and we cannot ignore that releasing Bout back into the world is a deeply disturbing decision.”

    “We must stop inviting dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans overseas as bargaining chips, and we must try to do better at encouraging American citizens against traveling to places like Russia where they are primary targets for this type of unlawful detention,” he continued.

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    WATCH: Pope Francis Breaks Down in Tears for the Suffering in Ukraine



    Pope Francis struggled to speak on Thursday as he was overcome with emotion while praying for peace in Ukraine, before a crowd cheered him on to finish.

    Appearing near the Spanish Steps in the centre of Rome during an annual Christmas visit to venerate a statue of the Virgin Mary, Francis leaned over and choked up, unable to speak precisely as he arrived at the part of the prayer.

    He said: ‘I would have liked to have brought you the thanks of the Ukrainian people -‘

    He began to tremble as he mentioned the Ukrainians and he had to stop speaking. As the crowd of thousands of dignitaries, clergy and ordinary Romans realised the pope was overcome with emotion, they broke into applause and urged him on.

    After a long pause of 30 seconds, Francis continued the prayer, picking up from where he left off: ‘- the Ukrainian people for the peace we have so long asked the Lord.’ When he resumed the prayer, his voice was cracking.

    ‘Instead I must present you with the pleas of children, elderly, mothers and fathers and the young people of that martyred land, that is suffering so much,’ he added.

    The moment came during the pope’s annual visit to the Spanish Steps, which falls on the December 8 feast day dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The day is a national holiday in Italy, and the pope was joined by Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri.

    The event marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season in Italy.

    After reading the prayer on Thursday at the statue near the Spanish Steps, the pope greeted people in the crowd, including journalists.

    When one of journalists mentioned to Francis that she had seem him overcome with emotion, he responded: ‘Yes. It (the war in Ukraine) is an enormous suffering, enormous. A defeat for humanity.’

    Since Russia invaded its neighbour in February, Francis has mentioned Ukraine in nearly all his public appearances and grown increasingly critical of Moscow.

    On Wednesday, he compared the war in Ukraine to a Nazi operation that killed some two million people, mostly Jews, in the first years of World War Two.

    And in September, Francis said Ukraine was being ‘martyred’ and slammed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ‘monstrosity’ in the war.

    That same month, the pope revealed he had been involved in efforts to release 300 Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia.

    Speaking at the time, he said he received ‘Ukrainian emissaries’ at the Vatican, including a military chief who brought with him a list ‘of more than 300 prisoners’.

    He made the remarks on September 15, a week before Russia and Ukraine carried out an unexpected prisoner swap involving almost 300 people – the largest since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

    The pope said:’They asked me to do something so that an exchange could be made. I immediately called the Russian ambassador to see if something could be done, if an exchange of prisoners could be expedited.’

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    First Gen Z Person Elected to Congress Whines When Rental Application Is Denied Over His Poor Credit



    The first member of Generation Z to be elected to Congress complained that his rental application was denied because of his poor credit.

    Community organizer Maxwell Alejandro Frost won a U.S. House seat for Florida, but he’s having trouble finding a place to rent in Washington, D.C.

    “Just applied to an apartment in DC where I told the guy that my credit was really bad. He said I’d be fine. Got denied, lost the apartment, and the application fee,” tweeted Frost from his official social media account.

    “This ain’t meant for people who don’t already have money,” he added.

    Members of the House get paid about $174,000 a year. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in D.C., according to Rent.com, is $2,435.

    Frost went on to explain that he had bad credit as a result of the expenses he incurred while running for Congress.

    “Didn’t make enough money from Uber itself to pay for my living,” he tweeted. “For that primary, I quit my full time job cause I knew that to win at 25 yrs old, I’d need to be a full time candidate. 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. It’s not sustainable or right but it’s what we had to do.”

    Socialist Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York had a similar complaint when she was first elected, saying that she could not afford the rent in D.C. before obtaining her first congressional paycheck. She then complained when Fox News hosts mocked her and her wardrobe.

    Here’s more about the first Zoomer congressman:

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    Parents Caught Up in After School Satan Club Controversy Speak Out



    As controversy roils a Virginia town over a planned Satanist after-school club, organizers and parents on both sides of the issue spoke to Fox News Digital to share their perspectives.

    The city of Chesapeake has recently drawn national attention as the center of a firestorm sweeping the southeastern Virginia community after The Satanic Temple has attempted to establish an After School Satan Club (ASSC) for kids at the local B.M. Williams Primary School.

    ‘Fear and indoctrination’

    “Regarding parents who are upset about the club, I would like them to know that we are here because we have worked with educators to develop an after-school program that is engaging and fun and helps young minds grow and thrive,” June Everett, an ordained minister in The Satanic Temple and campaign director of ASSC, told Fox News Digital.

    Maintaining that ASSC “fosters creativity and projects [that] are often designed to benefit the community and promote empathy,” Everett said The Satanic Temple attempts to establish such clubs “as a constructive and positive alternative to other religious after-school clubs that often glorify fear and indoctrination.”

    Everett said she was first led to The Satanic Temple five years ago after her first-grader “was traumatized by his classmates on the playground one day, and they were attendees of the Good News Club that was taking place at the public elementary school he was attending at the time.”

    “I picked him up from school one afternoon, crying and upset after he was told that he would burn in hell away from his mommy and daddy and Molly, our dog at the time, if we didn’t accept Jesus Christ into our hearts and start going to church,” Everett continued. “I knew there was a Good News Club [there] at the time, and this prompted me to start researching them more, and I realized that this is their goal: to use children who attend the club to proselytize to their peers.”

    “Satanism truly has made me a better person, a better friend, a better parent and a much better contributing member of society.”

    Everett, who earlier this week resubmitted an application to establish an ASSC in Chesapeake after the original sponsor withdrew, said the congregation at her local chapter of The Satanic Temple took her in “with such open arms.”

    “I had never met such genuine, non-judgmental people in my life,” she said. “Satanism truly has made me a better person, a better friend, a better parent and a much better contributing member of society.”

    Everett said she believes that “the evangelicals” in particular emphasize fear and indoctrination in their approach, citing that the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s (CEF) stated mission for the Good News Clubs they sponsor is “to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.”

    ‘We emphasize the goodness of God’

    Lydia Kaiser, a spokesperson for the Missouri-based CEF, could not comment on the specifics of Everett’s situation because she was not involved, but she described as “typical” the accusation that Good News Clubs browbeat children into Christianity. Their curriculum materials for children, however, emphasize God’s goodness and do not contain vivid descriptions of hell, she told Fox News Digital.

    “We believe that there is a physical place called hell, we believe all that the Bible says about it,” said Kaiser. “But when we’re talking to children, the way we describe it is ‘separation from God.’”

    “You don’t need all the scary description,” Kaiser continued. “We don’t want to scare children into making a decision. We want them to desire a relationship with God. That’s our goal. And so we emphasize the goodness of God, how much God loves them and wants to forgive them for their sin and be their friend, their Savior and their Lord.”

    “We try to draw children into a relationship with God by describing him as good, and the bad we describe as separation from all of that,” she added.

    Kaiser, who noted that parents are welcome to observe what goes on at after-school Good News Clubs, parried arguments that children are too young to reflect on spiritual issues by pointing out how children are expected by adults to learn other basics of human existence such as a healthy diet and personal hygiene.

    ‘The real danger’

    Stephen Mannix, who said he has served for about 15 years as the chairman of his local CEF chapter in the Virginia Tidewater region, said he plans to speak about the ASSC brouhaha at next week’s scheduled school board meeting in Chesapeake.

    “They say they don’t have any religious content, but it’s bigger than that,” Mannix told Fox News Digital of the Satan clubs.

    ASSC claims not to teach of a personal devil, but rather serves as a place where young students can learn about benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, creative expression, personal sovereignty and compassion.

    Both Mannix and Kaiser believe that since The Satanic Temple started its ASSC campaign in 2016, it has been using the 2001 Supreme Court decision in Good News Club v. Milford Central School to stir up hysteria in various places that sponsor Good News Clubs until school boards feel compelled to shut down after-school clubs altogether.

    The case ultimately rose to the Supreme Court after an upstate New York school district denied an application to a Good News Club on the basis that “the kinds of activities proposed to be engaged in by the Good News Club were not a discussion of secular subjects such as child-rearing, development of character and development of morals from a religious perspective, but were in fact the equivalent of religious instruction itself.”

    The Supreme Court’s opinion, which was written by former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled in favor of the Good News Club, noting that restrictions on speech in a “limited public forum” such as a public school must not discriminate on the basis of the speaker’s viewpoint.

    The school district’s attorneys in the case argued that having a religious club on public school property, even after school hours, would violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by leading children to believe that the school or the government was somehow establishing a particular religion.

    The Court shot that argument down, writing: “Finally, even if we were to inquire into the minds of schoolchildren in this case, we cannot say the danger that children would misperceive the endorsement of religion is any greater than the danger that they would perceive a hostility toward the religious viewpoint if the Club were excluded from the public forum.”

    The Satanic Temple “does not believe in introducing religion into public schools and will only open a club if other religious groups are operating on campus,” according to their website.

    “We are only doing this because Good News Clubs have created a need for this,” Lucien Greaves, cofounder of The Satanic Temple, told The Washington Post in 2016. “If Good News Clubs would operate in churches rather than public schools, that need would disappear. But our point is that if you let one religion into the public schools you have to let others, otherwise it’s an establishment of religion.”

    “The danger becomes this lie of a secularized space that bans and censors and tells Christians to go home,” said Mannix. “That’s where the real danger is.”

    Kaiser and Mannix pointed out the short shelf life of Satanist clubs as an indication of their intention merely to sow discord in an attempt to shut down competing Christian clubs.

    Everett confirmed to Fox News Digital that only four clubs are currently active in the U.S., pending the approval of a fifth in Chesapeake.

    ‘Wearing down the inhibition of children’

    “They say that they don’t actually teach kids about Satan,” Kaiser said of the Satan clubs. “They say it’s more about humanism and so-called tolerance, which is ironic when they’re actually being intolerant, trying to get us kicked out.”

    “But they have an 8,000-pound statue of Satan with two little elementary-aged children looking at it adoringly,” Kaiser continued. “If every time the story was run, they would show a picture of this mascot, people would be able to judge for themselves whether they’re trying to appeal to children with Satanism.”

    “They’re wearing down the inhibition of children so that they’ll think it’s fine to attend a truly satanic event when they’re older,” she added.

    The statue Kaiser referenced, which The Satanic Temple unveiled in 2015, cost $100,000 to make and has featured repeatedly in its public campaigns. Standing at nearly 9 feet tall, the bronze figure depicts a boy and a girl gazing up at a winged, goat-headed hermaphrodite known as Baphomet, which has historically been presented as a satanic symbol.

    Based on an 1856 sketch of the “Sabbatic Goat” by French occultist Éliphas Lévi, the statue is replete with occult symbolism representing the union of supposed binary opposites such as human and animal, male and female or good and evil.

    In Lévi’s original depiction, the figure was androgynous, but Greaves told the BBC in 2015 that in their iteration, Baphomet’s breasts were removed to avoid wading into cultural gender debates. He noted to the outlet that the original drawing’s “male-female dualism” is represented instead by the two children.

    ‘At their wits’ end’

    Citing “the heightened emotional situation in our city” following the recent mass shooting at a local Walmart, the original sponsor of the ASSC in Chesapeake withdrew her name this week, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Other organizers promptly resubmitted the necessary paperwork and still aim to roll out the ASSC at the primary school on Dec. 15.

    Aspen Nolette, a local parent and founder of Chesapeake Parents for Freedom, said the ASSC has caused an “uproar” in her community and that parents are increasingly wearied by what is going on in public schools.

    “People are extremely upset, they’re extremely disturbed, I think,” Nolette told Fox News Digital. “In the nation right now, you’ve got boys attempting to go into girls’ bathrooms. You saw what happened in Loudoun County, Virginia, and the assault that happened there because of that. You’ve got pornographic books and graphic novels in our schools that parents are extremely upset about because we have laws about distributing pornography to children.”

    “And now you’ve got After School Satan Clubs. From what I’ve seen, and I’ve been involved in this for a couple of years, parents are at their wits’ end,” Nolette added. “The Satan clubs seem to be where they drew the line.”

    Go deeper ( 6 min. read ) ➝


    ‘Suffered Immense Cruelty’: Former NYPD Officer Gets 25 to Life for Killing Autistic Son



    A former New York City police officer was sentenced Thursday to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of his young son.

    Michael Valva was found guilty by a jury last month on five charges related to the January 2020 killing, including endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree murder.

    Prosecutors argued Valva forced his 8-year-old son Thomas and his older brother, both of whom had autism, to sleep in the family’s frigid Long Island garage as temperatures dropped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Jurors were also told that Valva screamed at and struck Thomas as he died of hypothermia in the garage, according to WABC.

    The defense had argued during the case that the death was an accident, and Valva’s then-fiancée, Angela Polina, gave him the idea to put the children in the garage as punishment for urinating and defecating in the house. Polina is charged with murder, and her trial is still pending.

    “This guilty verdict will not bring back 8-year-old Thomas, who suffered immense cruelty at the hands of his father, the same person who was entrusted to protect, provide and unconditionally love Thomas and his older brother Anthony,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, per NBC New York.

    “No child should ever have to endure such evil acts. While there is nothing that we can do to bring Thomas back, we are satisfied with the jury’s decision,” Tierney added.

    Local reports said Valva was crying as he read a statement to Judge William Condon, who was also emotional.

    “I don’t think you intended to kill Thomas, not at all,” Condon said to Valva. “But there is no getting around that Thomas and Anthony lived their lives in constant duress in the place they should have felt safest, their own home.”

    “An 8-year-old boy who right now should be getting excited for Christmas is dead, I speak for everybody out there, we can never let this happen again,” the judge also said.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    ‘Twitter Files 2’ Reveal Secret Suppression of Conservatives — Elon Musk Announces Big Change Coming to Twitter



    The second installment of the so-called “Twitter Files” was released Thursday evening after the company turned over documents to a journalist who then started to publish the findings on the platform.

    Musk released internal company communications through journalist Matt Taibbi on Friday about the company’s censorship of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 presidential election and about how the platform removed content at the behest of the Democrat Party.

    However, Taibbi’s release of the documents was somewhat muddled because one of the people that he was reporting on, former Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker — the same Jim Baker at the center of Trump-era drama at the FBI — was the person who was vetting the content that was being sent to Taibbi. Baker was subsequently fired by the company after this was revealed earlier this week.

    The second installment of the Twitter files was released by Bari Weiss in a similar manner that Taibbi released his installment of the files, slowly tweeting out content, making people wait several minutes before the next tweet was published, which annoyed many users.

    “A new Twitter Files investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss tweeted. “Take, for example, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending.”

    “Or consider the popular right-wing talk show host, Dan Bongino (@dbongino), who at one point was slapped with a ‘Search Blacklist,’” Weiss continued.

    Weiss further noted that another major conservative account was hit with a “Do Not Amplify” restriction.

    Weiss highlighted how executives at the company, including leftist Vijaya Gadde, then-Head of Legal Policy and Trust, had previously denied that the company took these actions.

    “The group that decided whether to limit the reach of certain users was the Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET. It often handled up to 200 ‘cases’ a day,” Weiss said. “But there existed a level beyond official ticketing, beyond the rank-and-file moderators following the company’s policy on paper. That is the ‘Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support,’ known as ‘SIP-PES.’”

    Weiss then documented how the popular conservative account Libs of TikTok was censored by the platform.

    Elon Musk’s Response

    Following tonight’s release of the Twitter Files Pt. 2, Twitter owner Elon Musk went online to comment on the findings.

    Elon took a veiled shot at his former head of censorship, Yoel Roth.

    And he also fired a tweet out on his former top censor Vijaya Gadde who openly lied to the public while she was censoring conservatives.

    And Elon announced a BIG change to the Twitter platform.

    Elon and his engineers are working on a software update that will notify users of their true status so you will be able to see if you are shadowbanned, and the reason why and how to appeal.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Same-Sex Marriage Bill Heads to Biden’s Desk: Here Are the 39 Republicans Who Voted for It



    The House of Representatives gave final approval to the Respect for Marriage Act Thursday. The bill, which passed 258-169, is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.

    Every single Democrat voted for the legislation, as did 39 Republicans. Most Republicans (169) voted against the measure, while 1 voted “present” and four did not vote.

    The Senate passed the bill, 61-36, last week.

    The bill seeks to codify the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Biden is expected to sign it into law.

    The House previously voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act in July. All Democrats voted in favor (220), while 157 Republicans voted against. Forty-seven Republicans joined their Democrat colleagues in voting for the bill.

    These included Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Republican Conference; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Scott Perry, R-Pa.; Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.; and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

    Rep. Perry appears to have walked back on his decision to vote for the bill. Perry said in a November interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins that he did not have much information on the bill before it went up for a vote in July. “This bill did not come through committee in the House—it came directly to the floor,” said Perry. “We were given a choice, as we understood it… to vote either against traditional marriage or against interracial marriage.”

    Perry explained he had to vote on the bill almost immediately. “I calculated incorrectly … that my long-standing support of traditional marriage would be understood, and I didn’t want to vote against interracial marriage.”

    Remarking on the upcoming Senate vote, Perry said: “Now they’re going to offer some kind of amendment… but this literally destroys religious freedom.”

    Twelve Senate Republicans who previously supported the bill joined all 50 Senate Democrats in voting for its final passage last week. Among these Republican senators were Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mitt Romney of Utah.

    Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced a religious liberty amendment to the Senate version of the bill. “The [Respect for Marriage Act’s] leading proponents amended the bill by adding protections for religious service attendance and the solemnization of marriage,” Lee wrote in a November op-ed. “But those protections are inadequate to address many of the gravest risks posed by this bill, particularly those threatening the tax-exempt status of religious non-profits.”

    Lee’s amendment, which garnered 48-49 votes, failed to meet the 60-vote requirement to pass the Senate.

    Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, introduced his own amendment in the House Rules Committee last week. The House Rules Committee ruled his amendment—which would have offered protections for those who believe out of religious or moral conviction that marriage is a union between one man and one woman—out of order on Monday.

    “The House Rules Committee blocked my common-sense amendment to the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. In doing so, Rules Committee Democrats silenced the American people’s voice in the House chamber and put our fundamental rights in the crosshairs,” Roy said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.

    Roy said that “not a single committee held a hearing, heard from witnesses, or deliberated the details of this legislation” before the vote, so members of Congress “will be forced to vote up or down on a bill that they were not allowed to amend or even seriously debate.”

    “No free American should have to live in constant threat of having their life upended and ruined in court for holding millennia-old religious beliefs,” Roy added. “Further, every Americans deserves to know whether their representative wants the federal government to target people of faith.”

    Here are the Republicans who voted for the bill, according to preliminary reports. Most also voted for it in July, but some did not:

    Kelly Armstrong (N.D.)

    Don Bacon (Neb.)

    Ken Calvert (Calif.)

    Kat Cammack (Fla.)

    Mike Carey (Ohio)

    Liz Cheney (Wyo.)

    John Curtis (Utah)

    Rodney Davis (Ill.)

    Tom Emmer (Minn.)

    Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.)

    Mike Gallagher (Wisc.)

    Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.)

    Mike Garcia (Calif.)

    Carlos Gimenez (Fla.)

    Tony Gonzales (Texas)

    Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio)

    Jamie Herrera Beutler (Wash.)

    Ashley Hinson (Iowa)

    Darrell Issa (Calif.)

    Chris Jacobs (N.Y.)

    David Joyce (Ohio)

    John Katko (N.Y.)

    Nancy Mace (S.C.)

    Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.)

    Peter Meijer (Mich.)

    Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa)

    Blake Moore (Utah)

    Dan Newhouse (Wash.)

    Jay Obernolte (Calif.)

    Tom Rice (S.C.)

    Mike Simpson (Idaho)

    Elise Stefanik (N.Y.)

    Bryan Steil (Wis.)

    Chris Stewart (Utah)

    Mike Turner (Ohio)

    Fred Upton (Mich.)

    David Valadao (Calif.)

    Ann Wagner (Mo.)

    Michael Waltz (Fla.)

    Here’s a list of House Republicans who previously voted for the bill but voted against it on Thursday:

    Cliff Bentz (Ore.)

    Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.)

    Brian Mast (Fla.)

    Dan Meuser (Pa.)

    Scott Perry (Pa.)

    Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.)

    Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.)

    Finally, two Republicans who supported the bill in July did not vote Thursday (Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger and New York’s Lee Zeldin), while Burgess Owens (Utah) voted “present” on Thursday after voting “yes” in July.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    House Passes $858 Billion Defense Bill That Reverses Military Vaccine Mandate



    The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday authorizing $858 billion in national defense funding, including reversing the U.S. military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

    Lawmakers approved a final version to repeal the mandate through the passage of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense bill.

    The 4,000-page legislation advanced with a solid bipartisan majority, 350-80, which requires the Pentagon to rescind the Covid vaccine mandate for active duty service members within 30 days of its enactment.

    The bill also includes several policy provisions, including a 4.6% pay raise for military service members, strengthening defense strategies using air force, land warfare, cybersecurity, and increasing U.S. support for Ukraine and NATO, as reported by CNN.

    While the bill would remove the vaccine mandate for U.S. troops, it would not reinstate service members who were discharged or had their benefits slashed for refusing to be immunized against COVID.

    On Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby asserted that President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin opposed repealing the Defense Department’s vaccine mandate.

    “Secretary Austin’s been very clear that he opposes the repeal of the vaccine mandate, and the president actually concurs with the secretary of defense,” Kirby stated, adding that Biden “continues to believe that all Americans, including those in the armed forces, should be vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 … Vaccines are saving lives, including our men and women in uniform.”

    Part of the language in the new NDAA will order the Pentagon to find a means of compensating service members punished for refusing to be vaccinated.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Tuesday night that the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate for the U.S. military would end.

    “The end of President Biden’s military COVID vaccine mandate is a victory for our military and for common sense,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Last week, I told the president directly: it’s time to end the COVID vaccine mandate and rehire our service members.”

    White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that President Biden would “look at the NDAA in its entirety, and make his judgment on that” on wether he would sign the bill.

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    Paul Whelan Speaks Out After Brittney Griner Released from Russian Prison



    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.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝


    Here’s How the CDC Used a Backchannel with Twitter to Control the COVID Narrative



    Twitter set up a portal for government officials and “stakeholders” to submit posts that allegedly contained COVID-19 misinformation for Twitter to review, according to documents released by America First Legal (AFL) on Tuesday.

    Twitter officials used the portal to track online posts for review, and invited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials to enroll, according to documents AFL obtained through its litigation against the CDC. Twitter’s Todd O’Boyle enrolled the CDC’s Carol Crawford in the portal in May 2021 after she sent an email labeled “COVID Misinformation” with links to several Twitter posts who wrote about microchips and “vaccine shedding.” O’Boyle described the channel as “the best way to get a spreadsheet like this reviewed.”

    O’Boyle wrote in his response that he agreed that her submissions were “important trends to note” and assured her Twitter would review them.

    On Sept. 2, Crawford emailed O’Boyle that a CDC “Lab alert” regarding PCR testing was allegedly “misinterpreted and was shared via social media.” Crawford then flagged the hashtag “pcrtest” to be monitored.

    Crawford also asked for Census Department officials to be able to use the Twitter portal to flag COVID-19 misinformation, according to the documents.

    “Also, would there be any issues or complications stemming from flagging COVID misinformation on the portal using the existing census.gov accounts that have access?” Crawford wrote May 24.

    “In recent months, millions of Americans have witnessed the peeling of the ‘misinformation’ onion. Beneath each layer of shocking details about a partnership between the federal government and Big Tech is yet another layer of connections, conspiracy, and collaboration between power centers that seek to suppress information from the American people,” Gene Hamilton, America First Legal vice-president and general counsel, said in Tuesday’s press release. “We are proud to play a leading role in fighting for the rights of all Americans and revealing this vital information to the American people.”

    Tuesday’s announcement was the fourth set of documents AFL released about COVID-19 censorship. The other sets released by AFL revealed additional information about how the government censored information about the COVID-19 pandemic, “built the evidentiary record showing that CDC specifically sent Facebook and Twitter-specific posts to take down, throttle, censor, or flag,” and linked the CDC’s guidelines on in-school mask mandates to “political polling by liberal dark money group The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF),” according to the press release.

    KFF “is a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy,” according to it website.

    KFF received funding from platforms including Google and Twitter and its officials have served in both the Biden and Obama administrations, a November AFL press release claimed. Drew Altman, KFF president and CEO, claimed in an August 2021 email to Biden officials that mask mandates in school were popular and those who opposed the policy ” is “made up of the usual suspects” who are “large enough to make some trouble,” AFL revealed.

    O’Boyle, Crawford, the CDC, the WHO, Facebook, Google, KFF and Twitter did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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    Celine Dion Reveals Heartbreaking News About Her Health



    Iconic singer Celine Dion revealed Thursday that she is suffering from an incredibly rare disease that prevents her from currently performing.

    The singer, who shot to international stardom after her duet with Peabo Bryson for “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991, stated she has been diagnosed with stiff-person syndrome (SPS), a progressive disease that leaves its victims as “human statues” who cannot walk or talk, according to the Daily Mail.

    SPS currently has no cure, although treatments can slow its progression. Last spring, Dion canceled the North American dates of her Courage World Tour, three months after she canceled her Las Vegas comeback.

    “Hello, everyone,” Dion said softly. “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reach out to you. I miss you all so much and can’t wait to be on stage talking to you in person. As you know I’ve always been an open book and I wasn’t ready to say anything before but I’m ready now.”

    She then revealed ongoing health problems, including the rare neurological disorder.

    “I’ve been dealing with problems with my health for a long time and it’s been really difficult for me to face my challenges and to talk about everything that I’ve been going through,” she said. “Recently I’ve been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called the stiff-person syndrome which affects one in a million people.”

    She said that the condition had caused spasms that made it difficult to sing.

    “While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms I’ve been having,” she acknowledged. “Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal chords to sing the way I’m used to.”

    Tearing up, Dion, who has three sons from her marriage to her late husband René Angélil, said her family was giving her hope.

    “It hurts me to tell you today that this means I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February. I have a great team of doctors working alongside me to help me get better and my precious children who are supporting me and giving me hope,” she said. “I’m working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again but I have to admit it’s been a struggle.”

    “All I know is singing,” said Dion, who became a singing sensation in Canada barely in her teens. “It’s what I’ve done all my life and it’s what I love to do the most. I miss you so much. I miss seeing all of you, being on the stage, performing for you. I always give 100 percent when I do my shows but my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now.”

    “For me to reach you again I have no choice but to concentrate on my health at this moment and I have hope that I’m on the road to recovery. This is my focus and I’m doing everything that I can to recuperate. I want to thank you so much for your wishes and love and support on my social media. This means a lot to me. Take care of yourselves. Be well. I love you guys so much and I really hope I can see you again real soon,” she concluded.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    WaPo Claims ‘Shark Week’ Has Too Many ‘Men Named Mike’ And ‘Lacks Diversity’ – Mike Rowe Responds



    Former “Shark Week” host Mike Rowe had a few thoughts about a recent Washington Post article claiming that the Discovery Channel’s regular summer event “lacks diversity” and “overrepresents men named Mike.”

    Rowe, who hosted the annual week-long event in both 2006 and 2008, responded to the Post’s assertion by crowd-sourcing a response via social media. Having not yet had his coffee, he explained, he needed a little outside help.

    “Good Morning. As a white male named Mike who hosted Shark Week more than once, this headline caught my eye in The Washington Post,” Rowe began, explaining that he had come across the article while in New York City to promote another new season of the show that made him a household name: “Dirty Jobs.” The new season, he noted, is set to premiere on Discovery on Sunday at 8 p.m.

    “I have not yet had my coffee, or time to formulate a cogent response, but in the course of promoting a new season of ‘Dirty Jobs,’ (Sunday at 8pm on Discovery,) I suspect I might be asked to respond specifically to this headline,” Rowe continued, calling on his fans to make suggestions as to how he should respond.

    “If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below,” Rowe added, warning, “Unless of course, you’re a white guy named Mike. I think we’ve all heard quite enough from you …”

    Rowe concluded the message with a postscript reminding fans once again about the upcoming Sunday premiere of the new season of “Dirty Jobs” — and then added a second postscript, musing, “Gotta wonder how former Shark Week host, Mike Tyson, is taking the news …”

    During 2020’s Shark Week, Tyson participated in a stunt labeled “Rumble on the Reef,” during which he placed a shark into tonic immobility by grabbing it by the nose. “I am champion of the shark!” Tyson shouted upon his success.


    Yet another “Mike” — history’s most decorated Olympian of all-time Michael Phelps — has also appeared as a part of Shark Week programming in 2017, “racing” against a great white shark.


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    Jennifer Lawrence Claims She Was First Ever Woman to Lead an Action Film – There’s Just One Problem



    Jennifer Lawrence said that before “Hunger Games,” no one “had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie.” But there’s just one problem with that. It’s not true.

    During Variety’s Actors on Actors interview, the 32-year-old actress claimed she was the first woman ever to be cast in the lead role of an action film when she landed the part of Katniss Everdeen in the 2012 hit dystopian movie.

    “I remember when I was doing ‘Hunger Games,’ nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead,” Lawrence claimed.

    Lawrence spoke with fellow actress Viola Davis, who did not push back against the claim.

    “It just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies,” Lawrence added. “To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.”

    For as far back as the 1980s, many women have landed action hero lead roles, such as sci-fi action heroes like Linda Hamilton in the monster 1984 hit “The Terminator,” and Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” in 1986.

    There were also female action stars like Bridget Fonda in 1993’s “Point of No Return,” and Geena Davis in “The Long Kiss Goodnight” in 1996. Not to mention actresses such as Angelina Jolie in 2001’s “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill: Volume 1” in 2003, and Milla Jovovich in “Resident Evil” that same year.

    At one point in the interview, Lawrence also discussed how her career has changed since becoming a mother while making her new movie “Causeway.”

    “I made the movie right before I got married,” the actress shared. “And then we had the pandemic. Two years later, I’m pregnant, we go back, and we make the rest of it. It was the scariest thing in the entire world to think about making a family. What if I f*** up? What if I can’t do it? And I was so scared that I would f*** it up. And it was so interesting to make a movie where I’m feeling so scared and feeling this mirrored in Lynsey.”

    “Every day of being a mom, I feel awful. I feel guilty,” she added. “I’m playing with him and I’m like, ‘Is this what he wants to be doing? Should we be outside? We’re outside. What if he’s cold? What if he’s going to get sick? Should we be inside? Is this enough? Is this developing your brain enough?”

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    Florida GOP State Representative Indicted in Fraud Involving COVID Relief Funds



    The Republican Florida lawmaker was indicted on fraud charges Tuesday for allegedly participating in a scheme to defraud the government of COVID-19 relief funds.

    State Rep. Joe Harding is facing two counts of wire fraud, two counts of engaging in monetary transactions with funds derived from unlawful activity, and two counts of making false statements to the Small Business Administration related to the scheme, according to the federal grand jury indictment against him.

    The maximum punishment for each sentence is 20 years in prison for wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering, and five years for making false statements. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is set to go to trial on Jan. 11.

    Prosecutors accuse Harding of using dormant companies to apply for more than $150,000 in pandemic-related relief loans from the Small Business Administration between Dec. 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021 and using fake bank statements as supporting documentation on his loan applications.

    The 35-year-old state representative from Ocala was elected to the Florida House in 2020 and sponsored legislation banning discussions related to gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools up until the third grade.

    The legislation, derided as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by liberals, sparked protests and was opposed by Disney, Central Florida’s largest employer. The bill was signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in March of 2022.

    Harding, who is free on bond, will be tried at a federal courthouse in Gainesville, Florida, before District Judge Allen Winsor in a trial scheduled to begin early next year.

    The charges against Harding carry a maximum penalty of 70 years in prison.

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    Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Being Under Congressional Investigation



    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded Wednesday evening to the news that she is under congressional investigation by claiming that she takes ethics “incredibly seriously.”

    “The Congresswoman has always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations, or other special interests,” Ocasio-Cortez’s office claimed in a statement. “We are confident that this matter will be dismissed.”

    The House Ethics Committee announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon that Ocasio-Cortez was under investigation over a complaint that they received over the summer.

    “The Acting Chairwoman and Acting Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics have jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 23, 2022,” the committee said in a statement.

    The statement said that the “mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”

    No information was released on why the committee was investigating Ocasio-Cortez.

    Ocasio-Cortez was the subject of two complaints submitted to the committee last year over her attendance at the Met Gala, the New York Post reported.

    One complaint alleged that Ocasio-Cortez violated rules because she accepted free tickets to the event, which would normally be allowed if it was a charity event and the tickets were provided by the organizers, the report said. However, the Post noted that the group that filed the complaint alleged Ocasio-Cortez should not have been allowed to accept the ticket because “invitations are controlled by a for-profit company” and “tables at the event are similarly sponsored by corporate entities.”

    The second complaint alleged that the dress Ocasio-Cortez wore to the event, which featured giant red letters stating, “Tax The Rich,” constituted accepting a gift that she was not allowed to accept because it was “directly related to AOC’s ‘position with the House’ as a highly visible and controversial Member.”

    Despite borrowing the dress for the event, The Washington Free Beacon reported that Ocasio-Cortez did not report receiving any gifts in 2021 aside from a $3,000 engagement ring from her then-boyfriend, Riley Roberts.

    The report added that the committee was also investigating outgoing Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for allegedly violating ethics rules by soliciting an invitation for the event.

    “If they’re going after Representative Carolyn Maloney for her soliciting a free ticket to the gala, worth $30,000, surely AOC is a target for more scrutiny,” National Legal and Policy Center attorney Paul Kamenar said.

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    Brittney Griner Released in Prisoner Swap for Convicted Russian Arms Dealer



    WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian prison in a prisoner exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to multiple media reports Thursday morning.

    President Joe Biden said Griner is safe and on her way home during an address Thursday with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, and Vice President Kamala Harris. He thanked the United Arab Emirates for helping facilitate Brittney Griner’s return home.

    “She’s lost months of her life,” he said.

    “We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for four years,” Biden said. The United States offered a deal to Russia over the summer to repatriate both Griner and former Marine Whelan, who is serving a hard labor sentence after being arrested in 2018 and convicted of espionage.

    “This was not a choice about which American to bring home,” Biden said. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case different than Britney’s, and while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up.”

    Griner pleaded guilty in July to drug charges after she was arrested in February in a Moscow-area airport for having a cannabis vape in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in prison and sent to a forced-labor camp.

    Biden did not mention the reported prisoner swap during his address Thursday morning.

    Bout, a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel, was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill Americans and provide material support to terrorists, including the Colombian FARC guerilla army. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder called Bout “one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers” and said his “arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades.”

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    Federal Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation Into Disgraced FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried: Report



    U.S. prosecutors have reportedly opened a criminal investigation into whether disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, a prolific Democrat, committed financial crimes that led to the collapse of the company last month.

    The New York Times reported that the investigation is centered around examining if Bankman-Fried “steered the prices of two interlinked currencies, TerraUSD and Luna, to benefit the entities he controlled, including FTX and Alameda Research, a hedge fund he co-founded and owned.”

    Federal prosecutors and officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are also investigating if Bankman-Fried broke the law by transferring FTX’s customer funds to Alameda, the report said.

    The same entities were already investigating whether the company broke money laundering laws long before the company’s public collapse, Bloomberg News reported.

    FTX, which is headquartered in the Bahamas, was launched in 2019 and had accrued more than one million users by 2022. Users suddenly demanded $6 billion in withdrawals after an article published by CoinDesk revealed last month that the two arms of Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency empire, FTX and Alameda Research, had significant overlap on their balance sheets in the form of the cryptocurrency FTT, which FTX invented.

    The disheveled 30-year-old went from boasting a $15.6 billion net worth to having “no material wealth” over the span of approximately two days.

    When asked late last month during an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Dealbook Summit whether he had ever lied during his time at FTX, Bankman-Fried responded, “I don’t know of times when I lied, I think, look, there are certainly times when I was acting as a, um, as a representative, as a marketer for FTX.”

    “I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone,” Bankman-Fried claimed. “I saw it as a thriving business and I was shocked by what happened this month.”

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

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