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I Know Why Haredi Jews Joined Neo-Nazis at the Trumpist Riot

When I found out that an old friend from my former Jewish Haredi community had participated in a violent coup to overthrow the government, I felt pain, anger and despair. But I didn’t feel surprised.

For the last five years, I’ve looked on in horror as more and more people from that community have been sucked into the cult of Trumpism. From embracing the tenets of white nationalism to the beatings of two Haredi whistleblowers instigated by the Haredi world’s own little Trump, Heshy Tischler, Trumpism has become an infection within the world I once called home.

That infection was raging on Jan. 6, when my friend, who I’m not naming here because the only attention he deserves is from the FBI, joined buses full of Orthodox Jews from New York—including Aaron Mostofsky, the young man in the animal pelt costume seen taking a police officer’s shield and who was arrested days later—to join the neo-Nazis, QAnon conspiracists, and white nationalists at the day’s protests that became a riot. My friend had always struck me as quiet and shy. Not the kind of person who would attend any sort of political protest, let alone an armed insurrection.


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Author: Elad Nehorai

Feds say Chicago man charged with entering US Capitol during attack posted photo outside Nancy Pelosi’s office

CHICAGO — A Chicago man was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging he participated in last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, posting a photo of the plaque outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ransacked office.

Kevin Lyons, 40, of the Gladstone Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side, was charged in a criminal complaint in Washington with misdemeanor counts of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Authorities said he also took phone videos while in the building.

He was arrested at his home in the 5500 block of North Mason Avenue and appeared via a telephone link from jail before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes, who ordered him released on a $10,000 recognizance bond.

As part of the conditions of release, Fuentes ordered Lyons to have no contact with anyone involved in the Jan. 6 riot or anyone planning “any act that would impede or disturb the normal course of business” of Congress or any other federal agency.

Lyons spoke quickly when asked if he understood each condition, at one point laughing as he said, “I understand and agree, your honor.”

His court-appointed attorney, Lawrence Wolf Levin, did not address the charges during the hearing.

Before the incident at the Capitol, Lyons had posted a message on his Instagram account stating “STOP THE STEAL” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s false claims the election was stolen. He also posted a map showing he was headed from Chicago to Washington with a caption that read, “I refuse to tell my children that I sat back and did nothing.”

It appears from that account that Lyons works as an HVAC technician.

According to the 12-page criminal complaint, Lyons was interviewed by the FBI in Chicago two days after the riot. At first, he was “evasive” about whether he’d been at the Capitol, saying he’d had a “dream” where people were being herded by a mob and there was “a lot of banging on doors” and “paper being thrown about.”

Agents then confronted him with a photo he’d posted to Instagram and then deleted showing the name plate outside Pelosi’s office with the caption, “WHOS HOUSE?!?!? OUR HOUSE!!”

“Wow you are pretty good, that was up for only an hour,” Lyons said to investigators, according to the complaint.

Lyons then admitted he had indeed entered the Capitol but claimed he’d been swept up by the mob and that there was “very little that he could do to escape the crowd because he weighed 140 pounds,” according to the complaint.

Lyons told agents he walked into the building through a set of rear doors and wandered to the Rotunda to get his bearings. He went up to the second floor but didn’t go to the House chambers because he didn’t know where it was located, according to the document.

He said when he entered the “big boss” office — a reference to Pelosi — he saw a broken mirror and up to 30 people inside. A Capitol police officer then entered with his gun drawn and ordered them out, according to the complaint. Lyons said he put his hands over his head and walked out of the building and to his car, and then returned to Chicago.

At the request of the agents, Lyons uploaded the videos he’d taken of the incident to YouTube and later sent a link to investigators.

“Hello Nice FBI Lady,” Lyons emailed a special agent on Jan. 9., according to the complaint. “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Podium Guy” was an apparent reference to Adam Johnson, 36, who was charged with participating in the riot after he was allegedly caught on camera carrying the House speaker’s lectern.

Neighbors on Wednesday said Lyons had lived in an upstairs apartment in the quiet block and worked for a local heating and cooling company. His company repair van was still parked out front Wednesday afternoon.

Lyons’ Instagram profile, meanwhile, contained numerous posts decrying Chicago violence and the recent civil unrest over police shootings of Black people.

Most of the other Instagram posts that remained accessible Wednesday had to do with Lyons’ work in HVAC: his tools, scenes from his jobs around the city and inside jokes aimed at fellow HVAC workers.

In others, he showed off his guns, including one photo of a firearm resting between his legs as he sat in the driver’s seat of a car. “All I want in life is to bring people comfort,” he wrote. “Please don’t make me bring the pain.”

In October, he posted a photo of what purported to be an arrest report. Lyons wrote in the caption: “Schaumburg PD didn’t appreciate me taking the fight to Antifa today,” he wrote.

Another post showed Lyons carrying what appeared to be a black pistol and wearing a gas mask and flak jacket with the words “HVAC TECH” on the vest. “Just donning my P.P.E. to run service calls in Chicago,” he wrote in the caption.

Court records show Lyons’ only Cook County conviction was a misdemeanor battery dating to 1998. Details on that incident were not immediately available. He also was charged in 2014 with obstructing an officer after allegedly “taunting” police who were arresting someone else after a traffic stop. That case was dismissed shortly after it was filed.

Lyons is the second person from the Chicago area to be charged with directly participating in the events last Wednesday, when supporters of the Republican president stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from ratifying the electoral vote for President-elect Joe Biden, leading to the deaths of a police officer and four others.

Last week, Bradley Rukstales, of Inverness, then-CEO of a Schaumburg tech firm, was charged in U.S. District Court in Washington with being part of the same mob.

———

(Chicago Tribune’s Paige Fry contributed to this report.)


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Feds say Chicago man charged with entering US Capitol during attack posted photo outside Nancy Pelosi’s office

CHICAGO — A Chicago man was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging he participated in last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, posting a photo of the plaque outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ransacked office.

Kevin Lyons, 40, of the Gladstone Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side, was charged in a criminal complaint in Washington with misdemeanor counts of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Authorities said he also took phone videos while in the building.

He was arrested at his home in the 5500 block of North Mason Avenue and appeared via a telephone link from jail before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes, who ordered him released on a $10,000 recognizance bond.

As part of the conditions of release, Fuentes ordered Lyons to have no contact with anyone involved in the Jan. 6 riot or anyone planning “any act that would impede or disturb the normal course of business” of Congress or any other federal agency.

Lyons spoke quickly when asked if he understood each condition, at one point laughing as he said, “I understand and agree, your honor.”

His court-appointed attorney, Lawrence Wolf Levin, did not address the charges during the hearing.

Before the incident at the Capitol, Lyons had posted a message on his Instagram account stating “STOP THE STEAL” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s false claims the election was stolen. He also posted a map showing he was headed from Chicago to Washington with a caption that read, “I refuse to tell my children that I sat back and did nothing.”

It appears from that account that Lyons works as an HVAC technician.

According to the 12-page criminal complaint, Lyons was interviewed by the FBI in Chicago two days after the riot. At first, he was “evasive” about whether he’d been at the Capitol, saying he’d had a “dream” where people were being herded by a mob and there was “a lot of banging on doors” and “paper being thrown about.”

Agents then confronted him with a photo he’d posted to Instagram and then deleted showing the name plate outside Pelosi’s office with the caption, “WHOS HOUSE?!?!? OUR HOUSE!!”

“Wow you are pretty good, that was up for only an hour,” Lyons said to investigators, according to the complaint.

Lyons then admitted he had indeed entered the Capitol but claimed he’d been swept up by the mob and that there was “very little that he could do to escape the crowd because he weighed 140 pounds,” according to the complaint.

Lyons told agents he walked into the building through a set of rear doors and wandered to the Rotunda to get his bearings. He went up to the second floor but didn’t go to the House chambers because he didn’t know where it was located, according to the document.

He said when he entered the “big boss” office — a reference to Pelosi — he saw a broken mirror and up to 30 people inside. A Capitol police officer then entered with his gun drawn and ordered them out, according to the complaint. Lyons said he put his hands over his head and walked out of the building and to his car, and then returned to Chicago.

At the request of the agents, Lyons uploaded the videos he’d taken of the incident to YouTube and later sent a link to investigators.

“Hello Nice FBI Lady,” Lyons emailed a special agent on Jan. 9., according to the complaint. “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Podium Guy” was an apparent reference to Adam Johnson, 36, who was charged with participating in the riot after he was allegedly caught on camera carrying the House speaker’s lectern.

Neighbors on Wednesday said Lyons had lived in an upstairs apartment in the quiet block and worked for a local heating and cooling company. His company repair van was still parked out front Wednesday afternoon.

Lyons’ Instagram profile, meanwhile, contained numerous posts decrying Chicago violence and the recent civil unrest over police shootings of Black people.

Most of the other Instagram posts that remained accessible Wednesday had to do with Lyons’ work in HVAC: his tools, scenes from his jobs around the city and inside jokes aimed at fellow HVAC workers.

In others, he showed off his guns, including one photo of a firearm resting between his legs as he sat in the driver’s seat of a car. “All I want in life is to bring people comfort,” he wrote. “Please don’t make me bring the pain.”

In October, he posted a photo of what purported to be an arrest report. Lyons wrote in the caption: “Schaumburg PD didn’t appreciate me taking the fight to Antifa today,” he wrote.

Another post showed Lyons carrying what appeared to be a black pistol and wearing a gas mask and flak jacket with the words “HVAC TECH” on the vest. “Just donning my P.P.E. to run service calls in Chicago,” he wrote in the caption.

Court records show Lyons’ only Cook County conviction was a misdemeanor battery dating to 1998. Details on that incident were not immediately available. He also was charged in 2014 with obstructing an officer after allegedly “taunting” police who were arresting someone else after a traffic stop. That case was dismissed shortly after it was filed.

Lyons is the second person from the Chicago area to be charged with directly participating in the events last Wednesday, when supporters of the Republican president stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from ratifying the electoral vote for President-elect Joe Biden, leading to the deaths of a police officer and four others.

Last week, Bradley Rukstales, of Inverness, then-CEO of a Schaumburg tech firm, was charged in U.S. District Court in Washington with being part of the same mob.

———

(Chicago Tribune’s Paige Fry contributed to this report.)


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Meredith Anding Jr., member of the ‘Tougaloo Nine,’ dies

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Meredith C. Anding Jr., a member of the “Tougaloo Nine,” who famously participated in a library “read-in” in segregated Mississippi 60 years ago, has died. He was 79.

Anding was diagnosed with leukemia and had been sick since March, his son Armaan Anding said. He died Friday in Brandon, Mississippi.

The Tougaloo Nine were students at the historically Black institution Tougaloo College who staged a peaceful sit-in at Jackson’s white-only library on March, 27, 1961. It is widely considered the first student protest of segregation at a public institution in Mississippi.

Anding is the second member of the Tougaloo Nine to die, after Ameenah Evelyn Pierce Omar in 2010.

Inspired by lunch counter sit-ins in other southern states like North Carolina, Mississippi students decided to target the state’s publicly-funded libraries.

Students noticed there were major disparities between what resources were available at Jackson’s library for Black residents, George Washington Carver, and the library for white residents, Jackson Public Library. Materials were generally secondhand at the Black library and many books that students needed for class assignments were missing.

On March 27, 1961, nine students first visited the Black library requested books they knew were not available. They then visited Jackson Public Library and searched for the books.

When they sat down and began to read, the library staff called the police. The students refused to leave. They were arrested and charged with breach of the peace.

The undergraduates spent the night in jail. The next day, Jackson college students picketed the Tougaloo Nine’s arrest and were met by police with clubs and dogs.

When the students were released, they were greeted by applauding Black community members outside the courthouse. Again, policemen with nightsticks descended on the crowd. Two men — including a Black pastor — were bitten by police dogs.

In 1962, spurred by the protests, the American Library Association membership adopted a new policy that opened up membership to everyone regardless of race. In response, Mississippi and several other southern states withdrew from the association.

Armaan Anding said his father inherited his passion for social justice from his father, who was a member of the NAACP and his aunt, civil rights pioneer A. M. E. Logan.

Logan, known as the mother of Jackson’s Civil Rights movement, was a businesswoman who opened her home to Freedom Riders.

“Being a part of the movement, supporting the movement, that was really embedded in their family’s DNA,” said Daphne Chamberlain, Assistant Provost and Assistant Professor of History at Tougaloo College who was close with Logan.

Armaan said his father joined the NAACP youth chapter and developed a relationship with Medgar Evers, who recommended him to participate in the Tougaloo protest. Evers, a prominent Mississippi activist, was later assassinated in 1963.

Anding, who was raised in Myles, Mississippi, attended Tougaloo from 1961 to 1962. After participating in the Tougaloo Nine protest, Anding lost a private loan and had to drop out, his son said. He joined the Air Force, serving for four years. He returned to Tougaloo in 1969 to finish his degree.

Anding then moved to Buffalo, New York, to attend the University of Buffalo and earned his master’s degree in mathematics. There, he met his wife of 50 years, Maurice Anding. He taught at the State University of New York and Niagra University until his retirement in 2007.

Anding’s son described him as cheerful, easygoing and calm. Anding had a deep love for the outdoors, especially camping and fishing.

In recent years, Anding and his wife moved back to Mississippi to be closer to family.

Anding remained involved in the Tougaloo community, attending events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the protest. He was present at a dedication of a Freedom Trail Marker at the site of the protest in 2017.

Anding, like other members of the Tougaloo Nine, felt the Tougaloo Nine should have received more recognition for their place within the civil rights movement in Mississippi, his son said.

After the Tougaloo Nine protest, the college became known as “cradle of the Civil Rights Movement” in Mississippi and a “safe haven” for activism, said Chamberlain, who studies children’s effect on the movement.

Tougaloo holds an annual “read-in” demonstration around March 27 to remember the Tougaloo Nine. The school is in the process of planning a 60th-anniversary celebration this year to honor the activists.


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What we know about those arrested after the Capitol riots

Many of President Donald Trump’s supporters who participated in the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week weren’t shy about making their identities known.

As rioters climbed over the barricades and entered the building, people — often maskless — livestreamed the events, posted pictures to social media and paraded around the building, smashing windows and destroying property as members of Congress hid.

Now, federal authorities are using the images some rioters posted to make arrests as more information comes to light about who stormed the Capitol.

Here are some of the people who were part of the melee.

Richard Barnett

A supporter of President Donald Trump sits in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images

An image of Richard Barnett — captured with his foot on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — quickly went viral last week. Barnett looked relaxed as he reclined in an office chair and as he later took an envelope from her office.

I wrote her a nasty note,” Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, was reported to have said by a New York Times reporter who tweeted that he spoke with Barnett after he left Pelosi’s office.

He was arrested Friday in Arkansas on federal charges of entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry and theft of public property, the Justice Department said.

Barnett said that he knocked on the door but was swept inside by other rioters.

His hometown’s mayor, Kurt Maddox, condemned his alleged actions, saying, “It’s a shame something like this is what puts you in the public eye.”

Jake Angeli

A protester screams “freedom” inside the Senate chamber after the Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Jake Angeli was among the people whose images became the public faces of the riot. Donning a fur hat with horns and American-flag inspired face paint, Angeli stormed the Capitol bare-chested and gloated in the aftermath.

“The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks and retreat into their underground bunker, I consider that a win,” Angeli, 33, said last week.

Angeli, whose legal name is Jacob Anthony Chansley, is a QAnon-supporting YouTuber who also was among the pro-Trump protesters who gathered outside the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix on Nov. 5, claiming that the election was stolen.

He was arrested Saturday in connection with the riot. Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said Angeli was charged with “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.” Before he was taken into custody, Angeli compared his actions to those of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

“What I was doing was civil disobedience,” he said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. … I walked through an open door, dude.”

Leonard Guthrie

Leonard Guthrie of Cape May, New Jersey, attended the protest and doesn’t blame Trump for the violence.

Guthrie, 48, told NBC Philadelphia that he didn’t enter the building and that he was arrested after he crossed a police line, admitting that he “disobeyed a law.”

Calling the protesters who stormed the building “stupid,” Guthrie said their actions were “not what this was about.”

“This was about revival. It wasn’t about kicking doors,” he said, emphasizing he didn’t believe Trump incited the violence.

In some of his public posts, Guthrie talks about the threat of the loose collection of activists known as antifa: “We may be called tinfoil hat groups, but I’ll wear my tinfoil knowing my family and militia family is ready just in case.”

Guthrie, who didn’t return requests for comment, was arrested the day of the riot and charged with unlawful entry. He was released overnight, and on his drive home, he hit a deer.

“Nice end to what started out as a God-filled day,” he said of the collision.

Mark Leffingwell

Mark Leffingwell was charged Thursday with assaulting a federal law enforcement officer.

The Justice Department alleged that Leffingwell “entered the Senate side of the Capitol and when stopped by law enforcement, struck an officer in the helmet and chest.” He was also charged with unlawful and violent entry.

Leffingwell, of Seattle, was released on personal recognizance to his wife, NBC affiliate KING of Seattle reported. Leffingwell couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Eric Gavelek Munchel

Protesters enter the Senate Chamber of the Capitol on Wednesday.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Eric Gavelek Munchel, whom the internet dubbed the “zip-tie guy,” was arrested Sunday on federal charges.

Munchel, of Tennessee, was “charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds,” the Justice Department said. It is not clear whether Munchel has an attorney.

Munchel, a former bartender in Florida, was photographed in the Senate chamber wearing a mask and carrying plastic restraints known as flex cuffs.

“Photos depicting his presence show a person who appears to be Munchel carrying plastic restraints, an item in a holster on his right hip, and a cell phone mounted on his chest with the camera facing outward, ostensibly to record events that day,” authorities said.

Derrick Evans

West Virginia Republican state Del. Derrick Evans leaves court after being arraigned Friday in Huntington, W.Va. Evans livestreamed himself rushing into the U.S. Capitol with a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters on Wednesday.Sholten Singer / The Herald-Dispatch via AP

One of the people who forced members of Congress to hide from the riot was himself a legislator.

The man, Derrick Evans, a Republican state representative in West Virginia, was arrested by federal authorities Friday on charges of entering a restricted building and violent entry.

Evans “streamed live to his Facebook page a video of himself joining and encouraging a crowd unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

In the video, which has been deleted, Evans shouted: “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” according to authorities.

“Bring the tear gas. We don’t care,” Evans is heard yelling. “We’re taking this country back whether you like it or not. Today’s a test run. We’re taking this country back.”

At another point, he is heard asking, “Where’s the Proud Boys?” referring to the far-right, all-male self-described group of “Western chauvinists.”

As rioters pushed past officers, Evans said on the stream that he hadn’t touched anything and that he was just watching. Evans told people not to vandalize before yelling, “Patriots inside, baby.”

In a Facebook post defending his actions, Evans said he was there as an “independent member of the media.”

The West Virginia Democratic Party called for Evans to resign. Before his arrest, his attorney said he wouldn’t be resigning, because “he was exercising his First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and film a historic and dynamic event.”

But Evans resigned Saturday in a short letter to the state’s governor, which provided no comment beyond the announcement.

Adam Johnson

A protester waves to a photographer as he carries a lectern in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Adam Johnson, 36, was charged with entering or remaining in any restricted building, theft of government property and violent entry on Capitol grounds after he was seen carrying the House speaker’s lectern through the Capitol.

Authorities said they found Johnson, of Parrish, Florida, through a “search of open sources,” as his image carrying the lectern was blasted across the country.

In the picture, Johnson smiled while wearing a Trump hat.

Johnson, the father of five children, was released Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“He’d like to just get home to his family,” his attorney, David Bigney, told the Times.

Johnson and his attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Aaron Mostofsky

Supporters of President Donald Trump walked down the stairs outside the Senate Chamber as violence erupted at the Capitol after demonstrators breached security and stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

The son of a New York judge was among the rioters.

The man, Aaron Mostofsky, wore furs while storming the Capitol. A spokesperson for his father, Judge Shlomo Mostofsky of Kings County Supreme Court in Brooklyn, confirmed to Law360 that it was, indeed, his son pictured in the Capitol.

In an interview with the New York Post during the riot, Aaron Mostofsky, who gave only his first name, said he stormed the Capitol because the election was “stolen.” The Post said Mostofsky was holding a Capitol Police riot shield, which he claimed he had found on the floor.

He was spotted by the Post leaving his house Friday, and it is unclear whether charges are being brought.

A representative for his father, the judge, didn’t respond to requests for comment.


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Author: Ben Kesslen and Didi Martinez and Adiel Kaplan and Jareen Imam and Caitlin Fichtel and Rima Abdelkader

Syrian mercenaries tell BBC that Azerbaijanis used them as ”cannon fodder” in NK

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 10, ARMENPRESS. Syrian mercenaries who participated in the war against Artsakh unleashed by Azerbaijan told BBC how they were used as ”cannon fodder”.

”We were told that our mission will be patrolling Azerbaijani borders as border guards. We were offered 2 thousand USD monthly for that job. We agreed but when we arrived in Azerbaijan, we were taken to the frontline the next day’’, a Syrian mercenary told BBC.

According to him, there were 30 of them in that section of the front line, and after walking 50 meters a rocket fell near them.

”Endless shooting lasted nearly 30 meters. Those minutes seemed to be a century. At that time I regretted for coming to Azerbaijan”, he said.

The mercenaries told the reporter that death was everywhere and they were used as ”cannon fodder”, while the probability of survival was only 1%.

The Syrian mercenaries that participated in the war against Artsakh were sent by Turkey, which has been confirmed by Russia, France and a Pentagon source of the USA.

Maya Harris aided effort to boost husband’s attorney general bid

Maya Harris has participated in conversations with allies aimed at boosting her husband’s candidacy for attorney general, according to people familiar with the calls.

Harris, the sister of Kamala Harris, is married to Tony West, the chief legal officer at Uber and former U.S. associate attorney general in the Obama administration.

Allies have floated West’s name as a possible contender to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official, but others have ruled him out of contention because he is related to the vice president-elect. His work as Uber’s top lawyer, given the company’s legal troubles, have also raised concerns about his ability to fill the role.

Maya Harris has worked in Democratic politics for years, including serving as chair of her sister’s presidential campaign, which collapsed in December amid infighting between warring factions. She also worked as one of three senior policy advisers to Hillary Clinton on her 2016 campaign after working at the Ford Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. Maya Harris is extremely close with her sister, but she did not hold an official position on the Biden campaign after Kamala Harris joined the ticket.

“Maya Harris is not waging a campaign for her husband as the next attorney general,” a Kamala Harris aide said.

The aide added that Harris and West requested and participated in an ethics briefing to ensure they would abide by all Biden transition guidelines. Maya Harris and West declined to comment.

West is not considered to be a front-runner for Biden’s pick, but he has received some buzz for the position. Biden’s top contenders for attorney general include former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, former Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who lost his reelection bid in November. Biden said Monday he planned to announce his selection this week.

Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who has represented the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake, publicly advocated for Biden to select West in a USA TODAY op-ed late last month.

“In my view, there is no one more uniquely qualified for this role given this significant moment in history than Tony West, the brother-in-law of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Crump wrote.

In the Obama administration, West served as the third-highest-ranking official and ran the department’s civil rights division. After leaving the administration, he joined PepsiCo in a senior role before decamping for Uber. The ride-hailing service has faced a litany of lawsuits in recent years, including some over its use of gig workers, as well as over sexual assault and safety issues.

Beyond his legal work, West’s relationship to Kamala Harris is likely a nonstarter for many Democrats, who have eviscerated President Donald Trump over the last four years for elevating his family to key White House positions. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are both top advisers to the president. The foreign business entanglements of Biden’s son, Hunter, were a flash point during his presidential run, and Biden has shown he is eager to avoid any conflicts of interest in his administration.

“My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise, that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict, with the appropriate distance from, the presidency and government,” Biden said in an interview with CNN last week.

The Sultanate Participates in GCC Culture Undersecretaries Meeting

Muscat, Nov 11 (ONA) — The Sultanate, represented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, participated today in the preparatory meeting of the GCC Culture Undersecretaries.

    The Sultanate was represented in the virtual meeting by Sayyid Said bin Sultan Al Busaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for Culture.

     The meeting discussed a number of topics, including the executive plan for the GCC Cultural Strategy, joint Gulf cultural events, the Center for Translation and Arabization that the Sultanate will host.

      The meeting also discussed areas of joint cultural work between the GCC states, a number of friendly countries and international cultural bodies and institutions, in addition to following up the implementation of decisions of the  GCC culture ministers’ 23rd meeting.

Ends/MN/AH

These white women voted for Trump in 2016. They’re having second thoughts.

Eight college-educated white women who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 participated in their final focus group with a Republican pollster on Tuesday.

Only one said she would vote for the president again.

Over the past two months, Republican pollster Sarah Longwell, who founded the group Republican Voters Against Trump, has been following nine undecided voters, college-educated women, who ranged in age from 30 to 60. She convened them four times, first in September and again after the first presidential debate, followed by the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now, finally, one week out from the election.

The result: Four of the original nine said they were voting for Joe Biden — one of the women, who was from Wisconsin, wasn’t able to attend the final meeting but told Longwell she planned to vote for the former vice president. (The remaining three Biden voters were from Pennsylvania and North Carolina.) One from Texas planned to vote for Trump again. Three from Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida were undecided, vacillating between voting for Biden or third party. And one from Pennsylvania said she planned to vote third party.

“The trend as we’ve gotten closer to the election has been just how many people aren’t voting for Trump again,” said Longwell.

She added that the phenomenon of a shy Biden voter is “much more likely to manifest” than a shy Trump voter.

Trump to Biden

One of the women from Pennsylvania who decided to vote for Biden said she liked his stance on renewable energy and climate change articulated at the second debate. But what really stood out to her was Biden’s response at the end of the debate when the candidates were asked what they would say to people who didn’t vote for them at their inaugural address.

“The fact that he took the time to say we’re an American nation, I’m not red, I’m not blue,” the first Pennsylvania voter said. “Donald Trump didn’t address any of that.”

The second Pennsylvanian who landed on Biden, said it came down to the coronavirus. “The latest thing with Trump’s administration was they said that they can’t contain it,” she said, appearing to refer to recent comments by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. “It sounded like they’re not even going to try to contain it.”

The pandemic was also the deciding factor for the North Carolina voter, who said “it really all started for me with the Covid diagnosis.”

Trump’s comments that the public “shouldn’t let it interrupt our lives” and that they “should move on,” were “a big problem,” said the woman from North Carolina. “Because a lot of people have died, are dying, [and] are still getting sick.”

The cocktail of therapies Trump received during his battle with the virus in early October, the North Carolina voter added, is not accessible to “the rest of us.”

“That’s not what would happen to my grandmother, your grandmother or anyone else’s.”

The one sticking with Trump

For the Texas voter, it was all about sticking with the “devil you know.”

“And Kamala Harris kind of scares me cause I think she’s going to be pulling the strings behind Joe,” she said. “We’ve got two old guys running and I do think as a person, probably Biden is a lot better person than Trump. I can’t stand Trump, but I’m just trying to go with policies, or you know, the platform.”

Pressed by Longwell on what policies she was talking about, the voter from Texas said, “trade, issues with China and taxes.”

Biden or third party

The women who were undecided, appearing to lean either third party or toward Biden, had little positive to say about the president. But some said they thought Trump performed better during the second debate.

The one participant from Florida said deep down she would feel “definite relief” if Trump lost.

“I really think I might like to see Biden win the election, but I don’t fall in line with Biden politically, in any way shape or form,” the Florida voters said. “An anti-vote … that may be where I end up.”

Another undecided voter from Arizona said she agrees with Biden’s main positions but “I don’t agree with the far liberal Democratic push that I think is going to follow him.”

“[Biden] just doesn’t come across yet as a strong leader,” she continued. “Trump is an ass, but he can hold himself.”

The one Pennsylvanian who was undecided but appeared to be leaning toward voting for Trump said she’s starting to reflect about her past voting record with Republicans. “Some days I can literally sit down and be like, I think the Democratic party might actually be more, pro-life not pro-baby, but pro-life.”

“Democrats do a better job of caring for life outside the womb in terms of immigration policy and health care for women,” she said. But Biden’s support of abortion rights appeared to be holding her back.


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Author: Laura Barrón-López

They caught thousands of flying squirrels in Florida and sold them illegally, cops say

Four Florida men and two men from Georgia participated in a scheme to illegally catch and export to Asia flying squirrels and other protected species.

Following a months-long investigation, the men were charged with 25 felonies, including racketeering and money laundering, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission press release issued Monday.

FWC investigators arrested the men between April and August. One suspect in the case is still free.

“With the exception of one individual, all those involved have been arrested, so we felt it was the right time to highlight this case,” said Shannon Knowles, an FWC spokeswoman.

The FWC received a tip in January about people trapping flying squirrels in a rural area of Marion County in Central Florida. Contrary to their name, the nocturnal rodents don’t fly, but, rather, glide from tree to tree.

They are protected under Florida law, but nevertheless are a popular animal in the international pet trade, according to the FWC release.

“Over the next 19 months, FWC investigators pieced together an elaborate scheme in which flying squirrels were illegally captured by poachers in multiple counties throughout Central Florida,” Knowles said.

They were then sold to a licensed wildlife dealer in Bushnell in Central Florida, who marketed them as being bred in captivity.

According to the FWC, the poachers caught as many as 3,600 squirrels in less than three years using up to 10,000 traps throughout Central Florida. The FWC estimates the international retail value of the animals exceeds $1 million, and that the wildlife dealers grossed as much as $213,800.

Buyers from South Korea traveled to the United States and bought the squirrels from the wildlife dealer in Bushnell, according to the press release. The South Koreans would transport the squirrels to Chicago in rental cars.

From Chicago, the squirrels were flown to Asia “by an unwitting international wildlife exporter,” the press release states.

After a while, couriers from Georgia took over for the South Koreans. One would fly to Orlando, rent a car and drive the animals to Atlanta. From there, another courier would drive them to Chicago.

“Each of the new participants would not know the identity of the other suspects,” Knowles said.

FWC investigators later learned the suspects were also selling other protected animals, like freshwater turtles and alligators.

“Documents were falsified, concealing the true source of the wildlife,” Knowles said.

The FWC was aided in its investigation by the Illinois Conservation Police, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.

Charged in the case are: Rodney Crendall Knox, 66, of Bushnell; Kenneth Lee Roebuck, 59, of Lake Panasoffkee (near The Villages); Donald Lee Harrod Jr., 49, of Bushnell; Vester Ray Taylor Jr. 40, of Webster; Jong Yun Baek, 56, of Marietta, Georgia; and Ervin Woodyard Jr., 40, of Greenville, Georgia.

The press release also states there is an “unnamed fugitive” in the group, and that more charges and arrests may be coming.


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