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6781180 Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (126 sites)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) discusses how Trump's second impeachment trial differs from the first. Aired on 02/12/2021.
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Trump's Second Impeachment Has 'Much More Realistic Prospect Of Conviction' | MTP Daily | MSNBC

Convict Trump or face dire damage to democracy, prosecutors say  Salt Lake Tribune
... Trump gave his supporters - long before the White House rally that unleashed the deadly Capitol attack as Congress was certifying Biden's victory.
riot at the US Capitol, which left five people dead, including a Capitol ... as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
A trial is being held to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is guilty of ... a deadly mob of his supporters when they stormed the Capitol on Jan6, violently breaching security measures and sending lawmakers into ... Washington police officers who had served in Iraq said that the Capitol riot ...
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald. 3:13 p.m.: About 10 minutes after rioters are photographed on the Senate ...
The House managers spent hour after hour methodically tying the former president directly to the violence at the Capitol on January 6. Congresswoman ...
Next week, when most Senate Republicans refuse to convict Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as they surely will, there can be ...
Congressional Democrats are torn over whether to try to punish Donald Trump by censure or move on completely from the former President after the Senate likely acquits him on a charge of inciting the January 6 Capitol riot, possibly as soon as this weekend.
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photo Credit: Screenshot video Kremlin.ru

A lot is currently going on in Russia, with one of the most discussed topics being the detainment of Navalny and replacing his suspended sentence with an actual jail sentence. We will not discuss the legal peculiarities of Russia, nor will we talk about how the international community will most likely agree to impose new sanctions against Russia. We will talk about how Putin’s Russia is deliberately taking the path of self-isolation.

Yes, you read that correctly – Russia, i.e. Putin, is rapidly heading towards self-isolation. And it makes sense if you think about it. Essentially, Putin can only remain in power if Russia becomes isolated from the rest of the world. We could be witnesses to attempts to create a new version of North Korea.

Of course, there are no official documents or decrees issued by Putin that clearly state something like this, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.

What is needed to ensure the existence of an isolated regime? Such regimes are based on three pillars – the army, internal forces (both law enforcement and legislative institutions) and propaganda/agitation.

We’ve talked plenty about Putin’s announcements regarding armaments. If weapons can be generally divided into defensive and offensive ones, Putin’s Russia is establishing its defense doctrine based on its offensive weapons. This means that currently one of Russia’s most important tasks is to ensure, or at least create an illusion, that the Russian Armed Forces are capable of engaging in combat on any level. Naturally, supplying the army significantly worsens the livelihoods of the regular people. Is Putin concerned about such trifles? I don’t think he is. We can compare the current situation with the arming of the USSR in the early 40-ies and during the Cold War when USSR citizens were drowning in poverty because all of the money was used for armaments and to ensure that no one can freely leave the happy USSR.

What concerns internal forces, these can be divided into two segments – internal law enforcement structures and legislative institutions. If we look at the eagerness of law enforcement to suppress protesters, it’s clear that neither Putin, nor Lukashenko have to worry about this aspect. Law enforcement remains loyal. However, Putin should remember history, i.e. that during all the important events of Russia, the army and the police have sided with the people.

What concerns legislative institutions, this is where Putin can feel the safest. Currently, there are 441 State Duma deputies, and 335 of them represent the party United Russia. For those who don’t know, Russia is one of the unique nations where someone first became president and only then a party was established. Moreover, parties are usually created to achieve particular goals or “ideals”, regardless of its leaders, and United Russia was purposely created to support Putin: the charter of the party states that it’s goal is to support the president. This means that Putin can be certain that the legislative system is working for him. In Russia, legislature is more intended to be an imitation of democracy, but in reality it accepts and obeys Putin’s wishes.

For instance, a draft law is being reviewed that would amend Russia’s Criminal Code to punish (with a jail sentence of up to five years) those that falsify facts about World War II. Naturally, falsification in the sense of Russian law means any opinion that doesn’t correspond with Putin’s views. Another example – Putin has asked the State Duma to pass a law that forbids comparisons between Nazi Germany and the USSR. Does anyone have any doubts that Putin’s wish will be fulfilled? Lastly, everyone is aware that due to Russia’s actions it’s officials are being subject to different sanctions. Do you think that Russian officials then try to understand what they did wrong and attempt to improve in order to live in harmony? No, of course not, instead the Russian State Duma is considering to pass a law that would intend criminal punishment for persons that discuss sanctions being imposed against Russia. This means that, for example, if a foreign official or a regular citizen expresses an opinion that sanctions should be imposed against Russia because of its actions, they can get punished in Russia. Great idea, isn’t it? There is no doubt that the law in Russia is intended to blindly serve Putin.

Let’s look at propaganda/agitation. In order for any propaganda to be effective, it needs to be spread as widely as possible and any other opinions must be simultaneously silenced. And it’s well-known fact that if you begin brainwashing people at an early age, it will only be a matter of time until they truly believe you.

This means that it’s crucial to begin explaining to people what is right and wrong as early as possible. In Soviet times, schools had political information classes where children were taught about the wishes of the leaders of the party. Putin has expressed numerous times that he wants to resurrect the USSR. This is impossible on the same geographical scale, but it can still be done in the current territory. There is no need to reinvent the wheel – just use the previously acquired experience. In response to the high participation of pupils and students in the recent protests against the jailing of Navalny, Russian schools will now have a special post, i.e. advisor to the teacher whose responsibility will be to suppress such sentiments. A source close to the Russian Presidential Administration revealed that the participation of young people in the protests was discussed on the “highest level” and that the administration decided to activate “all of the existing projects concerning this issue”. Well, we’ve covered propaganda and agitation – in Russia already since the first grade until the graduation of a university young people will be told that Putin is great, Russia is friendly and everything outside of Russia is rotten. Just like in the good old Soviet Union.

What is the situation regarding the freedom of speech and media freedom in Russia? You’ve probably heard – the situation is prefect, i.e. these things simply do not exist.

What concerns the freedom of speech, in 2020 Russia was ranked 149th out of 180 countries. North Korea was ranked 180th.

The country is run by state propaganda and agitation, but there is one obstacle – the internet. Of course, the internet can be subject to control, but not completely. So, what is the solution here? The answer is – just turn off the internet. It may sound impossible, but Dmitry Medvedev has already talked about this, saying that if necessary Russia is legally and technologically ready to disconnect form the world wide web.

What can we conclude from all this? First, Putin has ensured that the army serves as an instrument of deterrence, and not because of its defensive potential, but because of its offensive capabilities. Even if these capabilities are non-existent, it’s important to make others believe in them.

Second, law enforcement authorities in Russia are vast and, at least for now, loyal to Putin. Moreover, legislators are ready to fulfill all of Putin’s wishes.

The media publishes only pro-Putin information, and if someone tries to express a different opinion, they are quickly silenced. An in order to ensure future stability, Russia has decided to brainwash children from a very young age. The only thing that could hinder this is the internet. However, the internet cannot be a problem if there is no internet.

You have to agree that such a situation cannot accidentally come together. This is the result of deliberate actions, and these actions are inevitably moving Russia closer to self-isolation. Nothing from the outside will be allowed in Russia. Can Putin truly benefit from such a situation? I would say yes, because he is fully aware of what could happen if the regime isn’t isolated. Putin’s Russia and North Korea already had numerous similarities, but it now seems Putin wants Russia to become indistinguishable from its ideological sister.

The article Putin’s Russia En Route To Self-Isolation – OpEd appeared first on Eurasia Review.



547536 Eurasia Review

6597559 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)
In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police ...
John Katko opened up today about his personal experience during the Jan6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, describing how he spent the hours after the insurrection with ... On that same day, Katko said he would vote to impeach Trump for inciting the insurrection. ... 2021 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights ...
Former FBI official, a Navy veteran, is 'key figure' in Jan6 ... 11, 2021 at 1:45 p.m. PST ... 6 Capitol breach, as U.S. prosecutors alleged Thursday that he organized a group of trained fighters ... prosecutors allege, when he hosted members at his Virginia home for a pro-Trump protest that turned violent.
Coronavirus live: 'all hypotheses still open' on virus origin, says WHO; Greece extends lockdown

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WHO chief makes statementGreece widens lockdown to more regions to halt Covid spread

5.13pm GMT

Greece has extended the full lockdown imposed on metropolitan Athens earlier this week to more regions of the country in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections, the deputy civil protection minister said.

Reuters reports:

Effective on Saturday, the region of Achaia in the northwest of the Peloponnese peninsula as well as Euboea, Greece’s second-largest island after Crete, will be in lockdown until 22 February at least, authorities said. This means schools, hair salons and non-essential retail shops will close.

“The epidemiological picture countrywide shows a steady deterioration,” Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government, told a news briefing.

5.03pm GMT

Italy reported 316 Covid-related deaths on Friday against 391 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 13,908 from 15,146 the previous day.

Some 305,619 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 292,533, the health ministry added.

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Germany's Merkel stands by Russia pipeline that US opposes  Bay News 9

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6597550 1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites)

File photo of Myanmar Tatmadaw soldiers. Photo Credit: DMG

On February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military - known as the Tatmadaw - invoked Article 417 of the 2008 constitution, dismissed State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and arrested her and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, thus putting an end to the country’s ten-year experiment with democracy. 

The coup followed weeks of unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, first from the losing Tatmadaw’s proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and then from the military itself. The allegation of electoral fraud used to justify the coup is a mere charade, all the more flimsy coming from the military that organized in 2008 a sham referendum to approve an undemocratic constitution and, two years later, a highly controlled election - boycotted by the NLD - in which the unpopular USDP obtained a dubious victory that marked the beginning of the transition.

Military Dominance 

Myanmar has a long history of being dominated by a ruthless military. When it achieved national independence in 1948, the numerous ethnic and religious divisions quickly posed a problem for the first Prime Minister U Nu. Civil war erupted across the country within the first year of Burmese independence. 

Ultimately, the army would wrest political control in 1958 with promises of a “caretaker government” that soon gave way to decades of brutal military rule, with the army faced off against communist and ethnic insurgencies. In total, the country has experienced five decades of military dictatorship: the first one lasted from 1958 to 1960 and the second lasted from 1962 to 2011. 

Myanmar underwent a transition from direct authoritarianism after the election in 2010 when power was transferred to a nominally civilian government in 2011. The transition was, however, only partial, as the new government of President Thein Sein and the USDP originated from the Tatmadaw, came into power through a flawed election, and governed on the basis of the military-designed 2008 constitution that curtailed the democratic capacities of the civilian administration. 

Three key provisions of the constitution guaranteed the army’s continuing sway. First, the constitution gave the military control over the three key security ministries - Defense, Home Affairs, and Border Affairs. Second, it reserved 25% of parliamentary seats - one in four - to soldiers handpicked by the commander in chief. 

Third, it granted the Tatmadaw total power over its own affairs, as well as blanket immunity against any prosecution for the crimes routinely committed in the several wars against ethnic armed groups in the periphery of the country. Fourth, all constitutional amendments must garner the support of at least 75% of sitting MPs, virtually impossible, given the army’s strategic chunk of assembly seats. 

The 2008 constitution was seen as heralding a new age of democracy since the absence of a constitution has been a defining feature of Myanmar’s governance framework. The country was ruled for 36 years - first from 1962 to 1974 and then from 1988 to 2010 - without a constitution. The latter period was an era of direct military rule by decree, although the military claimed to be a transitional government. 

Khaki Capitalism 

Myanmar has a system of military-dominated capitalism, earning the label of “khaki capitalism”. Military enterprises, established in the 1950s, have been some of the earliest and largest Burmese commercial conglomerates. Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) are military enterprises which continue to remain central players in Myanmar’s post-2011 economy.  

Military conglomerates are a major source of off-budget revenue for the military and a main employer of retired soldiers. Yet, few veterans receive more than a small piece of the profits from MEHL. The vast bulk of dividends instead disproportionately benefit higher ranking officers and institutions within the Tatmadaw.  

Obligatory or semi-coerced contributions from active-duty soldiers are a source of cash flow for MEHL, effectively constituting a transfer from the government budget to the military’s off-budget entities. Despite receiving 14% of the government budget in 2017 - 18, the military claims that MEHL and MEC are necessary as they deliver off-budget revenues that reduce the military’s demand on the government budget.

The Myanmar military also maintains murky links to the jade industry through subsidiaries and front companies - all this making up a lucrative trade for the top generals. MEHL is heavily involved in jade through their subsidiary Myanmar Imperial Jade (MIJ). MIJ is at the apex of additional subsidiaries with profits flowing back to military regiments, battalions and generals. Tatmadaw outsources mining licenses to their cronies - such as KBZ Group, who mine jade for the military and reap the jade profits through commercial bank. 

Immediate Trigger 

The immediate trigger behind the coup has been the landslide victory registered by the NLD in the November 2020 general elections. Despite many barriers and with voting banned in many ethnic areas, the NLD won a second term very convincingly. While the NLD is not inclined toward enacting structural reforms against the military, the latter may have felt threatened by the “excesses” of democratization, namely the ability of a party to construct a complete hegemony on the electoral arena. 

Since November 2010, when she was released from house arrest, Suu Kyi has been the dominating presence in Myanmar’s struggle to free itself from military rule. On the basis of her political ancestry (Aung San, her father, played a key role in the country’s fight for freedom from British rule) and the immense public support she commands, Suu Kyi has come to create a strong political pole in the country. 

Confident of popular support, Suu Kyi has sometimes crossed the barriers set by the military. To take one example, when she was barred from the presidency by a clause in the constitution that prevents those with close foreign relatives from reaching the highest position - her two sons are British citizens - she created the position of “state counselor” and reserved for herself the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In March 2020, Suu Kyi’s party proposed a constitutional amendment to allow her to become President, something the military clearly could not accept since they designed the constitution specifically so that she could never be president. As Suu Kyi was growing more powerful, the military decided to put a stop to this before it was too late.

Charting a New Path 

In response to the coup, tens of thousands of protesters have marched daily in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s biggest cities and the demonstrations have spread throughout the country - including the capital city of Naypyitaw. These demonstrations are the inevitable result of Suu Kyi’s popularity. To ensure that these protests succeed, a new path needs to be charted - one that does not emulate the submissive politics of NLD. 

Instead of confronting the Tatmadaw, the NLD thinks that by doing the junta a favour, they will hopefully grant them the minimal democratic reforms it wants. But it is crystal clear that they will never grant democratic reforms that truly threaten their power and privilege, thus this liberal path reveals itself as nothing but complicity in the efforts of the ruling class to deceive the masses. The only way to remove the junta from power is through revolutionary praxis that defends the oppressed masses from the authoritarian capitalist system under which they live. 

The article Understanding The Coup In Myanmar – OpEd appeared first on Eurasia Review.



547536 Eurasia Review

6919734 Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites)


Air Force leaders announce new review of extremism in service
The Air Force’s top leaders on Thursday announced a new assessment of extremism in the service while calling on airmen and guardians to stand against extremist views.“The vast majority of us – whether active duty, guard, reserve, or civilian –...

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  3. Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies now offering COVID-19 vaccines: Here's what you need to know  CBS News
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'The attack was done for Donald Trump,' says Rep. DeGette

Democratic congresswoman Diana DeGette told the senators - serving as jurors in the trial - that the rioters' 'own statements before, during and after the attack made clear the attack was done for Donald Trump and to fulfill his wishes.'

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Impeachment: Trump knew mob was 'ready to attack,' Raskin says

Lead impeachment trial manager Rep. Jamie Raskin on Thursday said Donald Trump "knew that egged on by his tweets, his lies and his promise of wild time in Washington," his most extreme followers would attack the U.S. Capitol.
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Congressman David Cicilline argued that Donald Trump's actions incited a ‘lawless mob’ to attack the Capitol on January 6. ‘He was trying to become king and rule over us, against the will of the people and the valid results of the election,’ Cicilline said

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FBI asks for help in identifying rioter amid impeachment trial | TheHill  The Hill

6882227 “fbi and trump” – Google News

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Michael Novakhov's favorite articles on Inoreader
1:49 PM 2/11/2021 – FBI investigates the Counterintelligence aspects of the Capitol Riot
https://thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/149-pm-2112021-fbi-investigates.html
FBI probing if foreign governments, groups funded extremists who helped execute Capitol attack

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FBI probing if foreign governments, groups funded extremists who helped execute Capitol attack https://t.co/vwl3V8w0BL

— Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) February 11, 2021

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1:49 PM 2/11/2021 – FBI investigates the Counterintelligence aspects of the Capitol Riot

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This contradicted his earlier claim to reporters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But in a different way, she fit right in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing on personal pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The price of insurrection

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

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

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

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

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

That changed as the 2020 election approached.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan said she was reluctant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Michael_Novakhov
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Just like their leader
WASHINGTON, DC
default_profile_photo.pngnocko
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Most of their acute economic problems seemed to mature under Trump’s admin. How was more Trump going to help them? Very confusing.
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  • Many of the Capitol riot defendants have something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 
  • A Washington Post analysis found that a substantial number of defendants had money woes. 
  • The documented financial problems include bankruptcies, debt, foreclosures, and unpaid taxes. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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NextEra didn’t share Santee Cooper lobbying efforts. SC senators look to require it  The State

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Pigs show behavioral and mental flexibility in a new study using video games  SlashGear
A man who shot and killed himself out of U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne’s Irving home Wednesday was a former staffer and GOP activist, the...
A subdued year for Germany’s Carnival, thanks to the virus  Biloxi Sun Herald

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  4. Man who killed himself outside of Rep. Van Duyne’s Irving house was a former staffer  The Dallas Morning News
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NPR News: 02-11-2021 3PM ET



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ProPublica’s series “The NYPD Files,” which uncovered abuse and impunity inside the New York Police Department, won the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim Award for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting. The multimedia package was recognized in the “series” category of the prize, which is administered by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College.

ProPublica’s Eric Umansky, Joaquin Sapien, Topher Sanders, Derek Willis, Moiz Syed, Mollie Simon, Lena Groeger, Joshua Kaplan, Lucas Waldron and Adriana Gallardo contributed to the project.

The series’ first story, by deputy managing editor Umansky, began last Halloween, when his wife and daughter were headed home after a night of trick-or-treating and saw an unmarked police car hit a Black teenager who was running with a group. Miraculously unharmed, the teen got away. Police then hauled away a completely different group of Black boys — a 15-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old — who were detained for hours before being released without explanation. When Umansky tried to find out whether the Police Department would investigate the cops’ actions, he discovered all the ways the NYPD is shielded from accountability.

Umansky built up sources at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates complaints against NYPD officers, and learned how allegations about the use of force seldom resulted in serious discipline. In 2018, the most recent year of complete data, the CCRB looked into nearly 3,000 allegations of violence; only 73 were substantiated. The most severe punishment, loss of vacation days, was meted out to nine officers.

Details were kept secret by 50-a, a state law that has barred the public from seeing police discipline records. But in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, nationwide calls for reform prompted New York legislators to repeal the law. Soon after, Umansky filed a request for the records of every police officer who had at least one substantiated complaint. He had the data days later. A team of developers — including Willis, Syed and Ken Schwencke, the editor of ProPublica’s news applications team — moved quickly to create an online database that could be searched by readers.

The database, called “The NYPD Files,” made public thousands of police discipline records that New York kept secret for decades. It provided an unprecedented picture of civilians’ complaints of abuse by NYPD officers. According to the records, more than 200 officers still working at the NYPD have had five or more substantiated allegations against them. There are nearly 5,000 allegations of “physical force” and more than 600 of “gun pointed.” Readers can search police complaints and use the information to request details on cases from the CCRB. ProPublica also made the data available for download by anyone.

ProPublica went on to use the disciplinary data we published to do more crucial stories. Reporters Sapien and Sanders worked with Willis to identify several high-ranking NYPD commanders who had been promoted again and again despite long records of serious civilian complaints. Umansky and research fellow Simon showed that the NYPD frequently withholds evidence from civilian investigations into police abuse. Developer Groeger, engagement reporter Gallardo, Umansky and Simon detailed how NYPD commissioners have used their total authority over discipline to set aside recommendations from the CCRB and even officers’ own guilty pleas. Umansky and visual investigations producer Waldron explored how officers keep killing people in crisis with few consequences. Kaplan and Sapien revealed the even greater lack of accountability that exists for officers working undercover to police the sex trade; they have repeatedly been accused of making false arrests and engaging in sexual misconduct. The consequences fall almost entirely on the city’s people of color, as almost everyone arrested for prostitution or soliciting is non-white.

The “NYPD Files” has resulted in significant moves toward change. After unions sued to keep discipline records secret, a federal judge cited our data and asked union lawyers, “Are you asking to put that particular genie back in the bottle?” Then she ruled in favor of allowing disclosure of further records. New York’s City Council also recently proposed sweeping reforms to reshape and increase accountability at the NYPD, including shifting final disciplinary authority away from the commissioner.

Following our investigation of how prostitution is policed in New York City, the Brooklyn district attorney announced he is moving to vacate more than 200 warrants related to prostitution and dismiss the underlying charges. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill repealing an anti-loitering law that had been used to justify prostitution arrests because of the clothes people wore or how they stood on the street, which came to be called the “walking while trans” ban.

See a list of all the winners here.

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Day 3 of former President Donald Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial

ABC News’ correspondents Jonathan Karl, Dan Abrams, Kate Shaw and more share their thoughts on the third day of presentations for the impeachment trial.

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Puerto Rico to get billions for storm aid, reconstruction  KABC-TV
Puerto Rico Would Reportedly Run Out of Cash by 2029 Over Debt Payment Plan  The Weekly Journal

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., spoke Feb. 11 as House impeachment managers continued to present evidence for why the Senate should convict former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.

Lieu refuted Trump’s legal team’s claim that the former president was denied due process in his swift second impeachment. “When you see a crime committed in plain view, prosecutors don’t have to spend months investigating before they bring charges,” Lieu said. “I note that in this case, in fact, hundreds of people have been arrested and charged by prosecutors for the violence on Jan. 6. There was no reason for the House to wait to impeach the man at the very top that incited the violence.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., spoke Feb. 11 as House impeachment managers continued to present evidence for why the Senate should convict former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.

Raskin argued that Trump’s legal defense does not hold up. “There is no First Amendment defense to impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. The idea itself is absurd,” Raskin said. “And the whole First Amendment smokescreen is a completely irrelevant distraction from the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors governing a president who has violated his oath of office.”

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WATCH: ‘What is impeachable conduct, if not this?’ Rep. Raskin says

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., spoke Feb. 11 as House impeachment managers continued to present evidence for why the Senate should convict former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.

Impeachment was created to discourage officials from committing “dangerous offenses” against the country they were elected to represent, Raskin said. He said lawmakers should hold Trump accountable for the consequences of how he used his elected office. “What greater offense could one commit than incite a violent insurrection at our seat of government during a peaceful transfer of power?” Raskin said, adding, “What is impeachable conduct, if not this?”

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Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. spoke Feb. 11 as House impeachment managers continued to present evidence for why the Senate should convict former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.

Raskin said Trump is not protected by the First Amendment for inciting the insurrection — a key part of his defense. “The First Amendment does not create some super power immunity from impeachment for a president who attacks the Constitution in word and deed while rejecting the outcome of an election he happened to lose,” he said.

Raskin said Trump’s actions threatened the First Amendment and the fundamental American right to vote.

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Michael Novakhov's favorite articles on Inoreader
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AdventHealth to discuss health disparities in Black, Latino communities  WESH 2 Orlando

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But in a different way, she fit right in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Post obtained hours of video footage, some exclusively, and placed it within a digital 3-D model of the building. (TWP)

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

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

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

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

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

Playing on personal pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The price of insurrection

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

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

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

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

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

That changed as the 2020 election approached.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan said she was reluctant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Who are the ultimate authors and masterminds of the Capitol Riot plot and who are the Trump’s handlers? Putin? Russia? The New Abwehr? Germany? All of the above? – Google Search google.com/search?q=Who+a… nymag.com/intelligencer/…


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Who are the ultimate authors and masterminds of the Capitol Riot plot and who are the Trump’s handlers? Putin? Russia? The New Abwehr? Germany? All of the above? – Google Search google.com/search?q=Who+a… washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/0…


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A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble washingtonpost.com/business/2021/…


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capitol rioters financial problems as counterintelligence risk – Google Search google.com/search?q=capit… bostonglobe.com/2021/02/10/nat…


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LIVE: Trump impeachment trial - Day 3

On the third day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, House impeachment managers, including Rep. Jamie Raskin, Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Stacey Plaskett, present their arguments. The impeachment managers will have up to eight hours to finish making their case. Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, will have up to 16 hours to present their arguments.
#TrumpImpeachment #DonaldTrump #CapitolRiot

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The Bloodiest Chapter of the Arab Spring Is Only Just Beginning to End  VICE
What does Covid mean for the future of pandemic movies?

2633.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=8

A year of coronavirus may have dented Hollywood’s enthusiasm for films about deadly outbreaks, but the genre has a history of mutating and returning

Of all the things this wretched disease has taken from us, the pandemic movie ranks among the least essential. But, for a few years at least, we should brace ourselves to elbow-bump the genre goodbye.

In 2021, we all know exactly what a pandemic is. And, for the most part, it is nothing like the movies. The undead do not roam the streets. Infected monkeys are not leaping from host to host. The vaccine was created without Brad Pitt having to tiptoe gingerly through a zombie-infested laboratory. As tragic as Covid has been, it has manifested itself mainly in the form of endless drudgery, with everyone stuck at home or following arrows around supermarkets. Unless there emerges a bizarre public hunger for films in which tired parents try to connect their tablets to Google Classroom during a phone call with their boss, it is hard to think that anyone will want to watch the reality of this pandemic reflected back at them.

Continue reading...
"You Have 3 Choices" - How One Crypto Skeptic Sees The World
"You Have 3 Choices" - How One Crypto Skeptic Sees The World

Authored b Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“The value of assets may go down...”

Botcoin, Tesla and Sentiment trading 

There was a great chart doing the rounds on Linked-in yesterday – showing how Bitcoin and Tesla have moved in apparent lockstep since the market turned around in March. It attracted loads of comment – balanced between those who saw them both as examples of speculation gone mad, and those who discern serious value and “time-has-come” acceptance in both “assets”.

I’m almost apologetic writing about Tesla and Grotcoins again and again – there are really important things going on out there in terms of inflation, the bond market, and disbelief, but I it’s important to try to understand there is nothing normal about today’s markets. There is nothing in market experience like the current run of speculative assets (well not since… the South Sea Bubble, The Louisiana Company, The Railway Bubble, LTCM and Enron…)

You could spend a lifetime arguing about the multiple unfamiliar social factors underlying the present market, and what’s driving such fervid moves. I suspect the real reasons for the market’s current valuations have as much to do with sociology, headology (the study of FOMO), and what-to-do-in-lockdown-ology, as they do to convential analyis.  

What is driving markets? Is it the implied promise of central banks and government to keep bailing out markets? Is the sheer volume of money chasing assets? Is it the fear of inflation driving investors to seek inflation hedges? Or is it bored millennials grasping at straws? Is it an increasing sense that beating Wall Street at its own game is revolution? From my perspective the frenzy around meme driven stocks like Gamestop, Cryptocurrencies and Messianic stocks like Tesla (driven by belief in Musk rather than facts about the company) are all part of the same thing – crowd behaviour, which is ultimately all about how sheep behave.

Or, is it the current madness a reflection of how debate, conversation and dialog are breaking down in modern society? I’ve noticed so many people don’t listen anymore.. they just talk and talk. The ability to actually think things through to a logical end seems to be diminishing. Instead, folk learn what they think they need to know from social media and fake news reinforcing their prejudices 

I can understand why lots of folk now think I’m too old and out of touch to have any valid modern investment opinions – it says so on Zerohedge posts. (The BBC binned me from financial commentary for being “Pale, Male and Stale” a number of years ago.) But, I still got a tenuous grasp on financial comment sense, a scarce resource when it comes to crypto currencies. 

Yes… Buttcoin is terribly clever. Yes.. it might replace fiat currencies if fiat currencies collapse – but so could cowrie shells. I think if you end up stuck in a desert and arrive at the proverbial oasis, the proprietor will sell the last bottle of water to the traveller with the gold bar rather than the one brandishing a crypto-wallet. 

I am told – repeatedly – the moment for Bitcoin has arrived. Widespread adoption by Pay-pal, Morgan Stanley, Ruffer etc, all give it enormous credibility. And to capstone its arrival – now you can buy a Tesla with bitcoin. No. You can’t. You will pay the Bitcoin/dollar rate for a Tesla. BC is not a means of exchange, and knowing the way investment bankers think, I can guarantee Morgan Stanley was simply hedging itself when it made some positive grunts. Investors who are long BC were either playing dice or desperate.  

And when I read the current No1 top market’s favourite analyst saying Bitcoin will go to $400,000 on the basis every corporate treasury could end up with 10% of assets in Bitcoin… I have to laugh. It aint going to happen. When corporate treasuries become Monte Carlo gambling shops, them we really will be in trouble.. 

I am not going to waste my morning ranting about Bitcoin. It’s not just me. There is a piece by Nouriel Roubini in the FT: Bitcoin is not a hedge against tail-risk. It’s worth a read, but broadly says much of the same things I wrote earlier this year in “Gosh who would have thot” about BC inconsistencies, or a more general critique back in November: Get Real About Bitcoin

Meanwhile, I am sincerely thankful for the Tesla shares in my portfolio (a happy accident of forgetting to change dividend reinvestment instructions when I sold my main block years ago), but dashed if I believe in its current hyperbolic value. 

To be blunt, I’m much more interested in what GM, VW, Hyundai, Toyota and Lucid are doing in the new auto and EV space. I’m thinking Lyft and Waymo rather than Tesla for automous driving, but who cares what I think… The fanboys have ascribed all value in the EV, Autonomous, and Battery space to Tesla – which is brilliant. It means the other names are cheap. 

Tesla makes fine cars, but if you want to believe that a company with such a spotty profit record, fragile growth prospects in an increasingly crowded competitive space, and a poor environmental and governance record, is worth so much… be my guest.  

Whatever, Tesla and Bitcoin have made investors seriously rich. And yes, it hurts, when I get tweeted to enjoy “staying poor” because I didn’t buy them. Yet, I console myself that most of the now fantabulously wealthy holders and believers are mere lucky followers. They know no what they do. They will be scalped if they don’t get out in time. 

But I also suspect a fair number of holders of these speculative bets have played a blindingly smart game – correctly reading the market’s mindest and placing bets accordingly. Many of them will hold exactly the same beliefs about the fragility of the crypto ecosystems, or the overvaluation froth of Tesla. Their success has been to play the Sentiment game. 

Which is why this spoof job advert is so brilliant (well I think it’s a spoof…) It’s for the role of “sentiment trader” at Cindicator Capital (which is a “quantitative crypto fund powered by hybrid intelligence”). The role of the sentiment trader will include:

  • Spending most of your time on Reddit, Discord  chats, and Twitter to feel the pulse of the tens of millions of retail      traders; 

  • Opening six-figures OTM options trades with the firm’s own capital; 

  • Trying your best to prevent our risk management from having a heart attack. 

Among the required skills will be: Clear, unbiased thinking that defies authority, a refined taste for memes and a sense of humour, and critically, “NO higher education in economics or finance. Alternatively, prove that you’re free from any mainstream financial brainwash.”

It’s a clever joke, correctly picking up the current market reality that anything we took to be true of markets is now irrelevant. Playing to the flow of the crowd is new game. You can see that across markets – it’s what thought-leaders say and do that is leading the markets. Its most obvious in Elon Musk’s clever manipulation of Bitcoin, its there in the statements of SPAC sponsors promising a big acquisition in the Canabis space who then buy a Space-focused company instead. It’s there in the voices of crypto fantasists. 

You have three choices. 

i) Be part of the herd and willy-nilly follow the noise and froth around speculative assets – eventually you will be rounded up, driven into a big lorry and taken to a grim looking building…. 

ii) Be part of the pack, and play the sheep on the way up and down, or

iii) Stand aloof from it all, suffer FOMO, but stick to investing in what you know and understand… 

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/11/2021 - 09:25
The coup in Myanmar and a fight for democracy – podcast

A military coup in Myanmar has removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sent tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets. Rebecca Ratcliffe describes how the country risks turning back the clock to the decades of military dictatorship and economic isolation

Protesters in Myanmar have taken to the streets in huge numbers this week following a military coup that removed the civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. An estimated 100,000 people gathered in Yangon on Wednesday, a day after police instigated the most violent scenes yet.

The Guardian’s south-east Asia correspondent, Rebecca Ratcliffe, tells Rachel Humphreys that the coup once again returns Myanmar to military rule, a decade after it began withdrawing to civilian politics. The most recent elections in November 2020 had given the party of Aung San Suu Kyi a mandate to continue ruling but the military disputed them, without evidence, as fraudulent.

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Will the Crown inquiry lead to a shakeup of Australia’s casino industry?

On Tuesday, an independent inquiry found that Crown Resorts – Australia’s largest gaming and entertainment group – is unsuitable to hold a casino licence in the state of New South Wales. Reporter Anne Davies steps through the key findings and outlines what this could mean for both Crown Resorts, and the future of the casino industry in Australia

You can read all of our coverage of the Crown inquiry here.

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From the archive: PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain – podcast

We are raiding the Audio Long Reads archives and bringing you some classic pieces from years past, with new introductions from the authors.

This week, from 2017: Oxford University graduates in philosophy, politics and economics make up an astonishing proportion of Britain’s elite. But has it produced an out-of-touch ruling class? By Andy Beckett

• Read the text version here

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Inside the trial against the 'Ndrangheta - Italy's biggest mafia syndicate

Guardian journalists Lorenzo Tondo and Clare Longrigg discuss the trial against the ‘Ndrangheta, the largest mafia trial in three decades. At the centre is Emanuele Mancuso, son of boss Luni Mancuso, who has been revealing the clan’s secrets after accepting police protection

The Guardian’s Lorenzo Tondo tells Rachel Humphreys about the trial against the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia syndicate who are Italy’s most powerful organised crime group. The trial has 900 witnesses testifying against more than 350 people, including politicians and officials charged with being members of the syndicate. All eyes will be on Emanuele Mancuso, who has been revealing the clan’s secrets after accepting police protection. He is set to testify against his uncle, Luigi Mancuso, said to be the region’s most powerful mafia figure.

Rachel also talks to the Guardian journalist Clare Longrigg, who has written several books on the mafia. Clare tells Rachel about the history of the ‘Ndrangheta and how they have been become so powerful, predominately through a global network of drug trafficking.

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How the long fight for slavery reparations is slowly being won – podcast

In a suburb of Chicago, the world’s first government-funded slavery reparations programme is beginning. Robin Rue Simmons helped make it happen – but her victory has been more than 200 years in the making. By Kris Manjapra

• Read the text version here

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Inside LA’s Covid crisis

Guardian US correspondent Sam Levin visits Martin Luther King Jr community hospital in Los Angeles county, an area battling one of the worst Covid outbreaks in the US

Southern California is by many measures battling the worst Covid catastrophe in the US. In Los Angeles, one person is contracting Covid every six seconds, a person is dying every eight minutes and one in 17 residents may now be infectious. Hospitals are so overrun that officials have directed ambulances not to transport patients who have little chance of survival, and some crews are waiting eight hours to offload patients.

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OMB Director nominee Neera Tanden appears before Senate Budget Committee for a confirmation hearing.

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6781182 Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (10 sites)
From: PBSNewsHour
Duration: 15:00

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Ca., spoke Feb. 10 as House impeachment managers made their case for why the Senate should convict former President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.

Lieu said Trump ran out of non-violent ways to hold onto power, and turned to the mob who attacked the Capitol. He noted the many instances in which Trump called out Republican elected officials who stood with voters and did not try to overturn the election results, including vice president Mike Pence, who was a specific target of some of the insurrectionists.

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Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., spoke Feb. 10 as House Democrats made their case for why the Senate should convict former President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.

Dean discussed the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to fight the results of the Nov. 3 election after it was called for Joe Biden, which focused on a number of states including Pennsylvania and Georgia. In some cases these efforts resulted in threats directed toward election officials and their families, including Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was pressured by Trump to “find” the exact number of votes that had gone to Biden.

“Senators, we must not become numb to this,” Dean said. “Trump did this across state after state, so often, so loudly, so publicly. Public officials like you and me received death threats and calls threatening criminal penalties all because Trump wanted to remain in power.”

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The Fed says US unemployment is actually about 10% - nearly double the official rate and matching the worst of the Great Recession
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell arrives to speak to reportersin Washington, U.S., March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Reuters

  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that the actual US unemployment rate is likely higher than its officially recorded level of 6.3%.
  • The Fed chair said adjusting federal data to reflect certain trends would cause it to be nearly 10%. 
  • It's a level nearly twice as large as the official rate and one matching the worst of the Great Recession a decade ago.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that US unemployment is about 10% - or nearly twice the officially recorded rate. That roughly equal to Great Recession levels more than a decade ago.

The Fed chair made the remarks in a speech on strengthening a battered labor market at the Economic Club of New York. He said the economy was still nearly 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels, and most of the pain has fallen on the lowest-income workers.

The latest jobs report showed the economy recovered 49,000 jobs in January, a meager amount after the US lost 227,000 jobs in December. The official unemployment rate dropped to 6.3%.

But Powell also indicated the labor market was in worse shape than previously thought. He said that the US had a long way to go before reaching full employment, a situation when every one looking for a job is able to get one.

The unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he said, doesn't take into account the millions of people who left the labor force due to the pandemic as well as those misclassified in federal data. Powell said adjusting the data to reflect those trends would likely push the jobless rate much higher.

"Correcting this misclassification and counting those who have left the labor force since last February as unemployed would boost the unemployment rate to close to 10 percent in January," Powell said.

That's the same unemployment rate as it stood in October 2010, as the US economy slowly recovered from the wreckage of the financial crisis.

It didn't reach that level again until the pandemic swept the US, sending the unemployment rate surging from a half-century low of 3.5% in February 2020 to 14.7% in April, its worst since the Great Depression. It has fallen since then.

Powell downplayed the risk of inflation, saying a burst of consumer spending once the pandemic subsides would probably be short-lived. Powell also said that restoring the nation's economic health would need a broad push from the federal government and private employers.

"It will require a society-wide commitment, with contributions from across government and the private sector," he said. "The potential benefits of investing in our nation's workforce are immense."

His remarks may strengthen the Democratic resolve to push through President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue package without any Republican votes. Democrats are aiming to enact it by early March, ahead of the expiration of enhanced unemployment insurance.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, called Powell's assessment "bleak" in a statement. He added it "reiterates the need for the strongest possible benefits package in our COVID relief bill."

The Biden proposal includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $400 federal unemployment benefits through September, a bigger child tax credit, and assistance to state and local governments among other provisions. It also includes a $15 minimum wage which would be phased in over several years.

That element has triggered strong Republican opposition and even some centrist Democrats are reluctant to back it. Republicans argue the move would cost jobs, and most Democrats say raising wages will benefit workers and the economy.

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated a $15 minimum wage increase would put 1.4 million Americans out of work, while lifting 900,000 people out of poverty.

Democrats are using a legislative maneuver with strict budgetary rules to approve the Biden plan with a simple majority vote in the Senate. It is uncertain whether the wake hike will clear the guidelines governing the process.

"It's gonna be in reconciliation if I have anything to say about it - the only way we're gonna get it passed," Sanders told Insider on Wednesday. The Vermont senator also appeared to dismiss the idea of attracting any GOP support for it, saying, "There are no Republicans who are interested."

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On the Media: Its Tax Time!

Few clichés are as well-worn, and grounded in reality, as the dread many Americans feel towards doing their taxes and the loathing they have for the IRS. But as much as the process is despised, relatively little is known about how it could be improved. Pro Publica's Jessica Huseman said that's largely because tax prep companies keep it that way. Brooke spoke to Huseman in 2017 about what an improved system might look like and how tax prep companies work to thwart any such changes.

One of the primary roadblocks to change, said Huseman, is an organization called the Free File Alliance, a public-private partnership whereby private tax companies agree to provide a free service for most Americans in exchange for the IRS not offering any such service itself. Brooke spoke with Tim Hugo, Executive Director of the Free File Alliance, about whether it is really the best way to help American taxpayers.





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8611 On the Media

210210-impeachment-mc-1140_cec7393510345

  1. Trump impeachment trial Day 2 kicks off with the case against him, more video expected  NBC News
  2. Trump unhappy with his impeachment attorney's performance, sources say  CNN
  3. Editorial: Trump’s defense pits technicalities against the terrible truth  San Francisco Chronicle
  4. It is both right and foolish to try Trump  The Week
  5. Trump lawyer Castor's impeachment trial defense was inept. But he already told us that.  NBCNews.com
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News
Russia detains Jehovah's Witnesses, searches properties in new criminal case  Reuters
The Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish acronym) divulged its key priorities while the government ...

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Consumer price index data show US core inflation eased in January, but analysts are debating what comes next.
USA Radio News 021021 Hour 09
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COVID-19 Vaccines Could Add Fuel To Evolution Of Coronavirus Mutations
A person receives a COVID-19 shot in Federal Way, Wash., at a vaccination clinic for the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington held on Feb. 4.

COVID-19 vaccines appear to work against the new coronavirus strains, though scientists are warily watching a variant first seen in South Africa. Vaccines may need updates to keep pace with the virus.

(Image credit: David Ryder/Getty Images)

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France Stalls Between Slow Covid Vaccine Rollout and High Infection Rates

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Coronavirus numbers have plateaued despite months of economically damaging restrictions, and vaccinations still lag behind other European countries, leaving many French with an uneasy feeling of being stuck.
The call, a transcript of which was obtained by TIME, provides the clearest picture yet of Giuliani's attempts to pressure the Ukrainians
Russia wants key Alexei Navalny ally arrested, issues warrant across former Soviet republics  ABC News

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Брюссель недооценил сложности, связанные с вакцинацией населения. Об этом заявила председатель Еврокомиссии Урсула фон дер Ляйен. По ее словам, производство одобренных в ЕС препаратов отстает от плановых значений.

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Putin castigates state bureaucracy for ‘playing the numbers game, tweaking statistics’  TASS
How will imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexsei Navalny affect opposition to Putin?  University of Illinois News
NPR News: 02-10-2021 9AM ET



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6597490 NPR News Now

Jorge Jraissati

Diplomacy, Americas

The Biden administration has to not only identify and address the interests of the main stakeholders of this conflict but also reevaluate and monitor the effectiveness of its geoeconomic and diplomatic tools.

There have been reports stating that the Biden administration is willing to negotiate with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro; a negotiation that would consist of dropping the American sanctions in exchange for free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela. If these reports are true, then the Venezuelan crisis will not be resolved anytime soon, as no sanctioned and unpopular regime would ever take that deal, but just use it to gain time and legitimacy.

President Joe Biden and his advisors ought not to be thinking about negotiations. Instead, they should be thinking about building a framework of incentives designed to nudge a political transition. To do this, the new administration has to identify and address the interests and weaknesses of the main domestic and international players of this conflict. To do this, it has to reevaluate and monitor the effectiveness of the geoeconomic and diplomatic tools at their disposition, so these can be used in a timely, coordinated, and effective manner towards political democratization and economic liberalization of Venezuela.

Biden’s Stance on Venezuela

Since the campaign trail, President Biden and his team have expressed their concern for the humanitarian crisis taking place in Venezuela, even calling it “the biggest diplomatic challenge” that their administration will face in the Western Hemisphere.

As such, President Biden has been asked about his strategy on this matter, answering that his administration will not only increase sanctions on “the regime and its supporters” but also “push for stronger multilateral sanctions.” President Biden has also confirmed that his administration will continue recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president and that he will work alongside the international community to help Venezuela’s neighbors like Colombia in managing the migratory crisis that the Venezuelan situation is creating in the region.

The Alleged Negotiation

However, Bloomberg reported that the Biden administration is not interested in increasing the scope of its sanctions, but in opening channels of communication with Nicolas Maduro and his regime. Specifically, the report says that Biden is preparing a team to negotiate the dropping of the American sanctions in exchange for holding free and fair elections in Venezuela between Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition. 

The first problem with such an idea is that free and fair elections cannot be held in such conditions. Because as long as Maduro is in power, Venezuela will not have the conditions for a real presidential election. For instance, real elections cannot be held with a state that intimidates voters, with an electoral commission that is completely politicized, or with all politicians in exile, in jail, or afraid to speak up.

The second problem is that the Venezuelan regime will simply not jeopardize its political power just for the removal of the American sanctions. Because if real presidential elections were held, the opposition would win by a landslide. This is the reason no sanctioned regime would take this deal, not Cuba, not Iran, not Venezuela. In fact, this option was already discussed and disregarded in a series of secret negotiations that the regime and the opposition had in 2019, with Norway being the intermediary of such negotiations.

Building a Framework for the Transition

Eventually, the United States will have the opportunity to actually sit and negotiate a transition towards democracy in Venezuela. However, in order to do that, America has to build the conditions for such an outcome to occur.

To do this, the Biden administration has to first identify what are the key interests and weaknesses of the main domestic and international stakeholders of the Venezuelan conflict. This would allow the United States to design a framework that nudges these actors into pursuing a peaceful and democratic transition in Venezuela. By major international stakeholders, I refer to allies like Colombia and Israel, as well as Maduro supporters like Russia, Cuba, and Iran. And by domestic actors, I refer to the Venezuelan military, the opposition, and those in the regime willing to cooperate.

To address the interests of these players, the United States has to reevaluate the diplomatic and geoeconomic tools at its disposition. By geoeconomic tools, I mean the use of economic tools to achieve geopolitical objectives.

Specifically, regarding its diplomatic tools, if the Biden administration wants to reestablish Barack Obama’s policy on Cuba, this can be used as leverage given the influence that Cuba has on the Venezuelan regime. 

Likewise, the United States should put the Colombian government at the center of the decision-making given their experience at conflict-resolution. Colombia is also the country that has been affected the most by the migratory crisis of Venezuela, with more than a million Venezuelan now living in Colombia. The Venezuelan crisis could also jeopardize Colombia’s peace process with the FARC.

And regarding the geoeconomics of the Venezuelan crisis, the Biden administration ought to reevaluate the economic, political, and geopolitical effectiveness of the different sanctions on Venezuela. For instance, while the financial sanctions have been highly effective and desirable, America’s energy sanctions had the unintended consequences of increasing Iran’s influence in Venezuela, which is an argument I made at National Review.

Similarly, the energy sanctions also made the Venezuelan state entirely dependent on illicit sources of income, which has its own consequences. Overall, the policy of sanctions has to be implemented by the Treasury Department in a timely manner, monitored by the State Department in a systematic manner, and applied in coordination with the other tools at the disposition of the administration, such as its ability to influence the policies of the European Parliament regarding Venezuela, which should expand the scope of its financial sanctions.

Ultimately, the main takeaway policymakers in Washington should take from this article is the necessity of formulating and implementing a foreign policy on Venezuela that goes beyond isolated mantras. Because these are not dogmas that should be followed as an act of faith, nor policies that should be used to score political points domestically. These are foreign policy tools that should be used strategically, and only when the conditions are set for their success, which is a lesson that can be learned from studying the foreign policy of Henry Kissinger, from his opening to China to his policy of détente with the Soviet Union.

Based on this thought process, my recommendation to the Biden administration is that it should focus right now on building the necessary incentives so that a political transition in Venezuela becomes a desirable scenario not only for natural allies like Colombia or the Venezuelan opposition but also for key supporters of the regime, from Russia and Cuba to the Venezuelan military and the country’s business elite. 

This can be done if the different institutions of the United States work in synergy on building the incentives mentioned above, maybe under the coordination of a separated group or commission focused on Venezuela. If this is not achieved, the Venezuelan conflict will continue; and with it, the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis will keep destabilizing the region, the Venezuelan state will maintain its connections with states like Iran, and overall, the situation will end up undermining the leadership of the United States at the international stage.

Jorge Jraissati is a Venezuelan economist and the president of the Venezuelan Alliance, an international non-profit that explains the causes, analyses the consequences, and brings about solutions to the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Jorge has spoken on this issue at universities like Harvard, NYU, and Cambridge.



278402 The National Interest

6597559 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)

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