The explosive revelations regarding Hunter Biden’s business dealings with the corrupt and now-defunct Chinese energy company CEFC have been largely dismissed by mainstream media outlets as part of a “disinformation campaign.”
However, the media was not always studiously silent about the questionable relationship between CEFC and the Biden family. In fact, back in 2018 (before Joe Biden became the Democratic nominee for president), the New York Times ran a damning piece on the arrest of former CEFC head Ye Jianming and his efforts to bribe foreign officials around the world, including specifically the Biden family.
Among other explosive facts from the New York Times report, the story alleges that when U.S. authorities closed in on CEFC and took one of Mr. Ye’s emissaries into custody, one of the first phone calls he made was to Joe Biden’s brother James, in an attempt to show how politically connected he was. According to the Times:
In a brief interview, James Biden said he had been surprised by Mr. Ho’s call. He said he believed it had been meant for Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son. James Biden said he had passed on his nephew’s contact information.
“There is nothing else I have to say,” James Biden said. “I don’t want to be dragged into this anymore.”
The report also details that Ye began cultivating a relationship with the Biden family in 2015, when Biden was still Vice President. The report states that an aide to Ye met with Hunter Biden during that time frame, and that Ye himself met with Biden at a hotel in Miami in 2017. The report states that, “Mr. Ye proposed a partnership to invest in American infrastructure and energy deals,” which is exactly what is detailed in many of the text and email messages that were released throughout the day on Thursday.
At the time, the Times noted that, “It is unclear whether Hunter Biden struck any business deals with CEFC or Mr. Ye. Through his attorney, Hunter Biden declined to comment.”
The Times story makes clear that, prior to Biden’s run for president, Hunter’s relationship with CEFC and the possibility that he was roped into CEFC’s shady web was a legitimate story, and that many of the details contained in emails and texts that have been attested to by Tony Bubolinski were verified by reporting at the time.
According to documents obtained by Fox News, the infamous laptop purportedly owned by Hunter Biden was subpoenaed by the FBI in December 2019 as part of a money laundering investigation.
The laptop in question has been at the center of a firestorm of controversy after the New York Post ran a story alleging that a copy of the laptop’s hard drive, which was provided to them by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, contained emails from Hunter Biden to his foreign business partners, in which he appeared to leverage his relationship with then-Vice President Joe Biden and in which his partners claimed to have successfully obtained a meeting with Joe Biden due to Hunter’s efforts.
The story gained additional traction when social media giants Twitter and Facebook took extreme measures to suppress the spread of the story before any efforts were made to ascertain whether or not it was true. The New York Post’s Twitter account remained locked for at least a week after publication of the story, and angry Republicans have promised lawsuits and congressional investigations into Facebook and Twitter’s efforts to thwart spread of the story.
Now, however, the subpoenas, which have been obtained by Fox News, indicate that the nature of that investigation was one into money laundering, although it is not yet clear who the target of the investigation was, or what role the contents of the laptop might play in that investigation.
The subpoena, which was dated Dec. 9, 2019, is addressed to John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of the Mac repair shop where Hunter Biden allegedly left the fateful laptop in question. The subpoena directs him to give testimony and also seems to indicate that a laptop was taken into possession by the FBI.
In response to the news, a spokesman for the Biden campaign intimated to Fox News that the money laundering investigation may have been into Giuliani’s dealings, rather than Hunter Biden’s.
“The Attorney General of Delaware’s office indicated that the FBI has ‘ongoing investigations regarding the veracity of this entire story.’ And it would be unsurprising for an investigation of a disinformation action involving Rudy Giuliani and those assisting him to involve questions about money laundering, especially since there are other documented inquiries into his dealings,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates said.
Additionally, an attorney for the Biden campaign commented, “Criminal investigations of Russian disinformation campaigns that include the witting participation of American citizens like Rudy Giuliani often involve investigation by the FBI of whether the American has received payment for these activities that would implicate the Federal Money Laundering statutes.”
It should be noted, however, that United States intelligence agencies, including the Department of Justice and FBI, have forcefully indicated that the laptop is not part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
The evidence that Big Tech has its thumb on the scales in favor of liberal and/or legacy media publishers is so overwhelming at this point that no reasonable person should contest it.
The list of major figures banned by Twitter and Facebook is over 90% filled with conservative and/or pro-Trump figures. It is also facially obvious that Facebook’s allegedly independent fact-checkers disproportionately target conservative publishers. Additionally, FEC records clearly demonstrate that the employees of both Twitter and Facebook are overwhelmingly liberal and pro-Democrat.
Still, liberals frequently contest it. If you want a decent roundup of liberals making this insane claim, this Politico article from September contains a few examples. Against the mountain of evidence that conservatives are treated differently and worse by the Big Tech companies, the liberals making this argument frequently point to lists that purportedly show that conservative publishers are getting more traffic from social media sources.
In the first place, as the Daily Wire noted Wednesday, this isn’t even true. It is usually true that the Daily Wire is number one on the engagements list, followed by Fox News; however, if you add all the total engagements for left-leaning sites on the top 25 list, they actually outnumber engagements for right-leaning sites.
However, even if this argument were true, it would entirely miss the point. Even if conservative sites were actually dominating traffic on Facebook, it would not constitute proof that Facebook is actually trying to help conservative sites. Anyone who would make such an argument simply doesn’t understand what it’s like to live life as a conservative.
See, if you are liberal, you have a billion places you can go to find news and information that is presented to you in a manner that reinforces the correctness of your beliefs. For starters, you can consume the news from any of the broadcast networks and all the cable networks, with the occasional exception of Fox News. Alternately, you can read pretty much any newspaper in the country, except for the New York Post and the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal. If that isn’t enough for you, you can just watch pretty much every television show and movie that’s produced and be rewarded with material that reinforces your liberal beliefs. And in 2020, you can get bonus reinforcement from watching any sporting event in the United States and find athletes and teams happily validating your liberal beliefs.
Conservatives have long been forced into a kind of cultural and informational underground when it comes to sharing their beliefs. One of the things liberals have never understood about the success of Rush Limbaugh is that it largely existed because, for a period of many years, Limbaugh was almost the only major figure in the media who was saying things conservatives believed. If you’ve been a conservative for any length of time, you know that virtually the only way conservative ideas get disseminated is through person-to-person contact, because the mass media certainly goes out of its way to avoid helping.
By all accounts, social media traffic to liberal sites should be beating traffic to conservative sites even more than it is, with the patently uneven treatment afforded conservative publishers. The only reason that conservative sites are even close is that conservatives have spent decades waging informational guerilla warfare against virtually all of popular culture. Sharing content that is scoffed at by smug people who purport to be gatekeepers of truth is something that anyone who’s ever voted for a Republican for president is used to doing.
Conservatives do not enjoy an advantage with big tech companies, no matter how many times liberals make this clearly false claim. What irritates liberals is that despite a years-long campaign to stifle conservative publishers on social media, those publishers are still punching at a roughly equal weight to their liberal counterparts.
It isn’t enough to many liberals that liberals control almost all of broadcast media and pop culture; it’s offensive to them that there’s literally any venue where center-right ideas can disseminate. And so they have pressured the Big Tech companies to take every measure in the book to suppress the spread of those ideas, and the Big Tech companies have willingly complied. And still, center-right sites are almost as popular as liberal ones.
The reason for that is simple: Conservatives are used to being forced underground, and no matter how far down they are pushed, they’ll still find ways to share their ideas. This is the world liberals have created, and conservatives have adapted to it.
Stanford professor and Nobel laureate Michael Levitt has been disinvited as a keynote speaker at a conference dedicated to his field of expertise, allegedly because of his controversial views regarding the efficacy of many of the measures that have been taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Levitt, he was disinvited due to concerns expressed by other speakers about his views on the COVID-19 pandemic. In a tweet, Levitt noted that the conference was not expected to discuss the pandemic and that he did not plan for his remarks to include any discussion of the pandemic.
Thanks for your support.
I had no intention to talk about COVID19; it is not the theme of the meeting. All my work… https://t.co/aFk9TLgdMt
Levitt has sparked controversy this year by arguing that the lockdown measures instituted to combat the coronavirus pandemic would likely lead to more deaths than the pandemic itself. He has also argued that many countries are vastly overcounting coronavirus deaths, and that it is unjustified to include all individuals who died with the coronavirus in the official death counts.
He has also caused controversy by asserting that controlling the panic associated with the pandemic is as important as controlling the pandemic itself.
Recently, he has also waged a crusade against what he perceives as a scientific censorship campaign that is being waged, with the help of Big Tech, against anyone who does not toe the current line on how to control the pandemic.
I was wrong: it is clearly happening. https://t.co/WsKZf9Xeme
Levitt has also aggressively championed the work of his Stanford colleague Dr. John Ioannadis, who has faced criticism for estimating that the infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is much lower than was believed at the start of the pandemic.
The organizers of the Biodesign Research Conference did not return a request for comment on this story.
For the second time in as many weeks, Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons was pressed for his views on court-packing during the Sunday morning talk shows. And for the second time in as many weeks, Coons indicated that Democrats will almost certainly attempt to pack the Supreme Court — as well as take other measures — as retribution against the Republicans for confirming President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, including potentially Amy Coney Barrett.
In a Sunday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Coons stated that he’s “not a fan” of court-packing, but made clear that he would support such a measure if Republicans proceed to confirm Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
“We have a few weeks here to see whether there are four Republicans who will step back from this precipice,” Coons said in response to a question about whether he favors court-packing.
“It is the Republican majority that’s responsible for racing forward with this extreme unqualified nominee, unqualified because of her extreme judicial philosophy, and that is who should be bearing the brunt at the ballot box in this election. We need to focus on that, and then if we happen to be in the fact pattern where we have a President Biden, we’ll have to look at what the right steps are to rebalance our federal judiciary,” Coons continued.
Although Coons had by this point made his position obvious, Tapper continued to press whether Coons’ mind was “open” to adding justices to the Supreme Court, to which Coons responded, “Yes.”
This isn’t the first time that Coons has suggested that there is something improper about a Republican Senate confirming the judicial nominees of a Republican president, as it is expressly permitted to do by the Constitution. The previous Sunday, when Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked if he favors court-packing, Coons responded, “I’ll tell you, for the last four years I’ve seen unprecedented court-packing. … Instead of passing a COVID relief package that will help millions of Americans who are unemployed, who have been infected, whose businesses or employers have closed, we are focusing on jamming through Judge Barrett. I think this constitutes court-packing.”
Of course, if Barrett is confirmed, she will become the ninth justice on the Supreme Court, which is a clear indication that her confirmation would not constitute court-packing, as the term has been understood since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.
Multiplerecent polls have confirmed that the American public is solidly opposed to adding more justices to the Supreme Court.
I get the feeling that they at last realize that they are in trouble; I don’t think they yet realize how serious that trouble really is.
On the one hand, it’s possible to sympathize with companies like Facebook and Twitter, who have had to deal with their executives being frog marched in front of congressional committees for having the temerity to have built a social media ecosystem where center-right articles can be shared and disseminated.
Liberals really hate this and have engaged in a yearslong bullying campaign targeting the social media giants, as well as their advertisers. The message has been clear: Suppress right-wing viewpoints or we will make you feel pain. Their stated purpose is to make sure that the social media giants are not helping to spread “false information,” which of course to them means any viewpoint they don’t agree with.
On the other hand, the social media giants should have realized long ago that nothing they could possibly do would be enough to placate the liberal mob, short of outright banning all center-right publications. Until the world reverts to the way it was prior to the internet, when the flow of all information was gatekept by legacy media outlets that were 90% staffed with Democrats, they will never relent.
Left-wing pressure, plus ideological blinders, plus overconfidence in an eventual Joe Biden victory equals a situation where Facebook, in a moment of truly extraordinary arrogance, sent a spokesman to Twitter to declare that the Post’s story would be throttled even before a fact-checker had looked at it. The spokesman didn’t even bother to remove his work history — which consisted almost entirely of working for organizations dedicated to helping Democrats win election — from his Twitter bio.
I am sure that Facebook and Twitter probably want nothing more than to be left alone, free from constant government oversight and meddling in their jobs. What they seem to not realize is that there’s exactly one group of people who has been fighting for that result: The free-market libertarians who are increasingly politically homeless but still to some degree remain in an uneasy alliance with the Republican Party.
Those people have been waging a fierce fight for the proposition that tech companies should be able to do with their platform as they wish, since they built it. Further, they have argued that allowing the government to meddle in the content moderation policies of the social media companies will inevitably backfire when and if Democrats control the government.
The tech companies’ actions this week have made that fight an impossible one to win. Anger at the haughtiness and patent unfairness of the social media companies among folks on the right was already near a boiling point, and the New York Post debacle has pushed the temperature past the tipping point.
I can say with almost complete certainty now that the Josh Hawleys of the world are going to decisively win this fight within the Republican Party, free market principles be damned. After this week, there will no longer be a meaningful part of any major political party that stands up for the right of Twitter and Facebook to run their companies as they see fit.
The government, being the government, cannot be trusted to manage the tech companies fairly. If human history teaches us anything, it is that the day the government injects itself into the moderation policies of the Big Tech companies, those companies will promptly become de facto government censors for the political party that is then in power.
The tech companies might not be scared of that result just yet. After all, in their minds, the government is probably going to be almost completely run by Democrats in three months’ time anyway. And they might well be right about that.
What they fail to realize, because they are poor students of history, is that control of power in the United States is and always will be cyclical. No matter how firmly one of the major political parties grasps power, they always eventually lose it. The GOP looked like it was headed for perpetual electoral domination after the Civil War, and they were wrong. The Democrats looked like they were headed for perpetual electoral domination after the Great Depression, and they were also wrong. As recently as 2008, Democratic strategists confidently predicted that demographic trends spelled an ever-shrinking minority for the GOP, only to watch their party get trucked in the 2010 and 2014 midterms, as well as the 2016 presidential election.
Neither party, quite frankly, is capable of being responsible with too much power. Even if Democrats take control of the White House and both chambers of Congress in November, as they are currently favored to do, it is inevitable that they will overreach. Probably, this will happen sooner rather than later. Their voting base practically demands it. And when that happens, American voters will put Republicans back in power.
On that day, employees of Facebook and Twitter will wake up and discover, to their horror, that it’s no longer Democratic bureaucrats who are watching over them and helping them to determine what is allowed on their platforms, but Republican bureaucrats. And they will wail and scream at the unfairness of it all, and how they are being forced to act as mouthpieces for the Republican Party.
And they will have no one but themselves to blame.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by the New York Post, a Wisconsin man has been charged by Wisconsin authorities with multiple crimes after he reportedly admitted to having fired the first of a number of fateful shots that rang out in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the night of Aug. 25.
According to the Post, 35-year-old Wisconsin native Joshua Ziminski and his wife both admitted to detectives that Ziminski fired a “warning shot” into the air immediately before Rittenhouse allegedly shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum during a tense night of protests. The detectives are the same detectives who have been in charge of investigating Rittenhouse’s activities on that evening.
Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree murder, among other charges. His attorneys say he was acting in self-defense.
The shot fired by Ziminski was a pivotal moment in the evening and may have played a key role in the violent events of that night. As noted by the New York Times, which exhaustively reviewed available footage of Rittenhouse from that evening, Rittenhouse appears to have been fleeing an increasingly agitated mob of protesters until he was cornered in the lot of a car dealership. Video taken of the shooting appears to show that right before Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum, there was a nearby muzzle flash and gunshot sound from the same direction that Rosenbaum was charging.
According to detectives, that gunshot was fired by Ziminski, who was seen on video “holding a black handgun” immediately before the attack, then was seen walking into the Ultimate Gas Station lot — which is adjacent to the car dealership where the Rosenbaum shooting occurred — with his “arm pointing the gun upward towards the sky.” Videos of the shooting appear to show Rittenhouse turning toward the sound of the shot and seeing Rosenbaum charging at him, whereupon Rittenhouse fired several close-range shots at the charging Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have said that the gunshot allegedly fired by Ziminski was what caused their client to believe that his life was in danger. Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinness, who was on the scene and witnessed the shooting firsthand, also stated that the sound of the gunshot was when Rittenhouse “went from running away to aiming his weapon.”
After Rosenbaum was shot, Rittenhouse then fled an even larger group of pursuers. In the course of that flight, he fatally shot 26-year-old Anthony Huber, who chased him down and tackled him in the street, and also shot and wounded Gage Grosskreutz, who appears to have pulled a handgun on him.
Ziminski’s attorneys did not return a request for comment to the New York Post. He has been released on bond and is scheduled to have a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 4.
It is by now not a surprise to find the media deliberately mischaracterizing the judicial opinions of conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. One particular claim that has been leveled against current nominee Amy Coney Barrett, however, deserves further examination.
The claim, as advanced by the Associated Press and amplified by liberal legal figures in the media like Jill Filipovic, is that Barrett once ruled that being called the N-word by your supervisor does not constitute a hostile work environment, which is obviously a position that no reasonable American would espouse.
The first clue that Barrett’s opinion is being grossly mischaracterized can be found in the fact that none of the other judges who reviewed the case dissented from it in the slightest. Indeed, Barrett’s opinion merely affirmed the decision reached by district judge Edmond Chang, who was appointed to the bench by former president Barack Obama. Neither of the other judges on the three-judge appellate panel uttered a peep even in concurrence. The idea that four separate federal judges signed off on an facially racist position without a word of dissent ought to be so obviously laughable that no reasonable person would reprint it.
Yet here we are.
The actual facts of the case indicate that the plaintiff had no real shot of proving his case of racial discrimination. As detailed at length in Judge Barrett’s opinion, the plaintiff was deemed to be an unsatisfactory employee virtually from his first day on the job, invoking the ire of almost all his supervisors with unsatisfactory performance — and worse, a number of incidents in which the health and safety of his coworkers were threatened due to his negligence. His performance was so obviously unsatisfactory that he did not make it through his employment’s probationary period.
The incident involving the use of the N-word, in fact, occurred after the Illinois Department of Transportation had already decided to fire him. According to the uncontested facts in the opinion, the department began proceedings to terminate the plaintiff’s employment on Jan. 4, 2013. Almost two weeks later, when those proceedings were nearly concluded, one of Smith’s supervisors (who was also black — a perhaps salient fact that was omitted by the Associated Press) learned for the first time that Smith was contesting his termination by alleging that he was the subject of racial discrimination.
This supervisor, who was understandably irked by this transparent last-ditch diversionary tactic (and was, as a reminder, also black) called the plaintiff a “stupid-ass n*****.”
The case did not examine the question of whether this was a good choice of words or even whether it was racial harassment for a black supervisor to use it against one of his black employees. Indeed, Barrett wrote in her opinion that the supervisor’s use of the word “plainly constitutes race-based harassment.” Rather, the issue in the case centered on whether the use of the epithet “altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment.”
Under binding Seventh Circuit precedent, in order to satisfy this test, a plaintiff had to show “not only that a reasonable person would find the workplace hostile or abusive as a result of Colbert’s slur, but also that he himself perceived it that way.” The plaintiff’s case was dismissed because he failed to offer any testimony that would have even suggested that he was bothered by his black supervisor’s use of the N-word, separate and distinct from the fact that he was generally bothered by the fact that his supervisors always seemed to be yelling at him.
As Barrett noted (again without dissent), “Smith did not even try to make that showing — he points to no evidence that Colbert’s slur caused him either additional or different distress. Without evidence that Colbert’s outburst changed Smith’s subjective experience during his last two weeks at the Department, a reasonable jury could not resolve the hostile work environment claim in Smith’s favor.”
The case, then, did not turn on whether it was OK or legal for a supervisor to use the N-word against one of his employees, but rather whether the plaintiff had offered sufficient testimony to meet a legal test that was imposed by binding Seventh Circuit precedent. Not only had the plaintiff not submitted sufficient testimony on that score, he had submitted none at all. Therefore, multiple federal judges ruled that his case should be dismissed.
The implication that Barrett, as a judge, condoned or passed over the use of the word in the workplace is simply false.
To hear the media tell it, President Donald Trump tried to kill us all yesterday.
In case you missed it, after being cleared to leave by the medical professionals who were caring for him, Trump returned to the White House — his home — on Monday and emerged onto his own outdoor balcony, removed his mask, and waved.
In spite of the fact that Trump was, yet again, a) outside, b) on the premises of his own home, and c) not within six feet (or, from what I could tell, 60 feet) of anyone, the condemnation of Trump was swifter and perhaps more hysterical than usual.
CNN predictably led the pack, with one on-air host actually suggesting that the shot of Trump removing his mask shouldn’t be shown because “that’s going to kill people.”
Actually, it’s not at all clear that CNN led the pack, because some reactions were even more hilariously over-the-top.
This is one of the most despicable scenes in modern American political history. It reveals the depths of his narcis… https://t.co/wKjwzfoqDU
Of course, it goes without saying that diseases — even airborne ones — require proximity for transmission. A person who has COVID-19 (or any other contagious disease) does not just breathe a noxious cloud of disease that disperses infinitely until it finds someone to infect.
There’s a maximum distance that disease-carrying aerosol droplets can travel in the air, and it’s less than 6 feet, which is how we came up with the whole 6-feet-of-social-distancing thing. Which is also why the president standing outside of his own home with no people even in visible range represented literally zero threat to anyone.
Compare, if you will, the contrast with how the president’s behavior was received with the way defiance in the face of literally any other disease would have been received. If a person who has cancer posts that they aren’t going to let fear of cancer dominate their lives, they are rightfully lauded as brave.
Same goes for people who have HIV, or Hepatitis B, or whatever. If you get a disease, even a contagious one, you’re not SUPPOSED to cower in fear of it. You should take reasonable precautions to prevent spreading it to others, yes, but no one is lauded for going inside and hiding indefinitely, as President Trump is apparently now expected to do.
A different set of rules applies, however, to COVID-19. According to the media, you’re supposed to cower in fear of it. Consider the statement that so many have objected to: Trump did not say that you should not fear COVID, or take any precautions regarding COVID whatsoever; rather, he said that you shouldn’t allow fear of COVID to dominate your life.
To paraphrase Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit,” every time you step out your front door, you incur risks. You incur risks that you will die in a car wreck, catch an infectious disease (other than COVID-19), get mugged, or have any number of other terrible things happen to you.
Now, your response to that can be one of three things. One, you can just sit in your house and live in fear — which will probably not extend your life anyway because you’ll soon be dealing with crippling depression and a bevy of health problems that are caused by inactivity. Two, you can completely ignore all dangers and take no precautions at all to protect yourself, which is also not advised. Three, you can determine that you’re going to take reasonable precautions like driving the speed limit, wearing seat belts, and carrying a reasonable means of self-defense, but not let fear of the outside world dominate your life.
The president’s message Monday encouraged Americans to take the third course when it comes to the coronavirus. For all of American history, this has always been considered the laudable course of action.
And let’s be real for a minute: We are never going to rid ourselves of the coronavirus completely. Even after a vaccine is developed, it’s going to remain around and be dangerous to vulnerable populations, much like the flu. No magic pill is coming that is ever going to make this disease vanish from the face of the earth, now that it’s been loosed on the world. We are all going to have to decide whether we will allow fear of it to cripple us indefinitely, or if we will determine that, while we should take reasonable precautions to prevent unnecessary spread of this disease, we won’t let fear of it dominate us.
I don’t agree with everything Trump says, or even most of the things Trump says. But I agree with him 100% on this. And before this year, I couldn’t have imagined anyone disagreeing with the principle.
Thirty-seven years ago Saturday, an incident occurred that very nearly ended life on earth as we know it. That’s not hyperbole or exaggeration; the events of Sept. 26, 1983, actually nearly caused nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union when a faulty Russian detection system erroneously declared that the United States had launched nuclear missiles. Only the gut feeling of a lone Russian military officer saved the world from probable nuclear holocaust.
Many of the details of the story are shrouded in mystery and dispute, as they often are in a paranoid communist government. Communist governments — particularly of the Russian variety — are loath to admit error, particularly of the kind that involves nuclear weapons. Thus, the official explanations and results of the Soviet investigation that followed must be taken with several healthy grains of salt.
As best as can be determined (or frankly, guessed), however, here is what happened on that fateful day in 1983. A freak alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds detected by a Russian satellite was interpreted as a nuclear missile launch and triggered an alarm inside a bunker near Moscow, where Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov of the Soviet Air Defense Forces was on duty. Petrov’s orders in this case were clear: He was to immediately notify Yuri Andropov, the paranoid leader of the Soviet Union.
Against the backdrop of world events as they were then unfolding, which included the recent Soviet downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007 (which had a United States congressman on board) and NATO’s announced decision to move Pershing II missiles into Western Europe in order to increase first-strike capabilities against the USSR, such a notification would have resulted, almost without doubt, in the USSR launching an immediate retaliatory strike against the United States. United States doctrine, in turn, would have been to respond to such a launch with a retaliatory strike of its own. Who knows how many millions of lives would have been lost in the ensuing destruction?
Fortunately, however, Lt. Col. Petrov was not a man to follow instructions blindly. Years later, Petrov would explain that he did not follow orders and immediately notify superiors because “I had a funny feeling in my gut. I didn’t want to make a mistake. I made a decision, and that was it.” Petrov declared that the computer’s signal was likely a false alarm, based in part on the fact that the computer had detected the launch of only five ballistic missiles, and he believed that if the United States were really launching a pre-emptive attack, the launch would have been more substantial.
“When people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles. You can do little damage with just five missiles,” Petrov thought to himself.
For several tense minutes, Petrov and his staff waited. The satellites had detected the launch early, but if it were genuine, the radar would soon also pick up the missiles. When the radar ultimately failed to show any actual incoming missiles, Petrov began to breathe easier and confidently assured his comrades in the bunker that the alarm was false and should not be reported up the chain of command.
Years later, Petrov would recall what he thought during those agonizing moments of waiting to see if radar would confirm that the missiles were real and not merely a computer glitch: “[W]e knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time, that the Soviet Union’s military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay. All I had to do was to reach for the phone, to raise the direct line to our top commanders — but I couldn’t move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan.”
It is difficult for people living in 2020 to understand how close the world came to a nuclear holocaust on that day. The Soviets’ radar capability was extremely limited at the time, and their satellite system lagged far behind the United States’. This meant that the Soviets knew that they would have at most minutes — not hours — in which to consider whether to launch a retaliatory strike. In the Soviet thinking of the time, there would not have been time to double- or triple-check the genuineness of the alarm; the missiles would have had to be launched immediately or not at all.
Additionally, the Soviet government under Andropov was almost unimaginably paranoid about Ronald Reagan and was convinced that he intended to launch a first strike against Russia.
With all of this added together, it is almost a certainty that if Petrov had followed orders, nuclear missiles would have been launched at the United States on that day.
Petrov, of course, was not exactly thanked by his government, which interrogated him relentlessly about the events of that night. Officials ultimately refused to reward him in any fashion, because to do so would have been to admit errors in their nuclear warning system, which would have embarrassed the Communist Party. He retired early from the army and lived in relative obscurity for years, caring for his wife, who later passed away due to cancer. He reportedly suffered a mental breakdown in the late 1990s and blamed the Soviet military for making him a “scapegoat.”
He passed away in 2017 due to pneumonia at the age of 77. As of 1997, he was so poor that he was forced to grow his own potatoes for food — apparently forgotten by the world he had most likely saved. Later in life, he was given some awards and recognition for his heroism, but none of these were in any way substantial.
Generally, when fictional stories are written about people who save the world, they are about people who take heroic actions. In Petrov’s case, his heroism consisted mostly of refusing to take action.
The report released last week by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron painted a convincing picture of a clearly justified police shooting. According to the report, the cops clearly knocked first and fired into Taylor’s apartment only after one of the officers, Sgt. John Mattingly, was shot first by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
Based on these facts, the shooting appears to be a tragedy but not a criminal homicide. Walker, for his part, appears to have had a legitimate belief that he was defending his girlfriend from an intruder (who might well have been Taylor’s apparently dangerous drug dealer ex-boyfriend whose bad information led to the evening’s tragic events). The police, having been shot first, had no reasonable alternative but to return fire.
Sounds like an open-and-shut case, right? Not so fast. Since Cameron’s report was issued last week, a steady trickle of facts has emerged that casts doubt on the integrity of the investigation and the truthfulness of the Louisville Police Department.
The first revelation that generated questions about the investigation actually dropped this month and centers around the use of body cameras. In 2012, the Louisville Police Department began a massive research project on the effectiveness of body cameras in certain test units. The researchers concluded that outfitting every officer on the force with a body camera would “yield several positive results for police personnel and for police-community relations including a reduction in use-of-force, reduction in civilian complaints, and reduction in assaults on officers.” The department accordingly launched a very public program designed to ensure that all patrol divisions, SWAT, and K9 units would immediately be equipped with body cameras.
So when the Taylor shooting first became a source of public controversy, the immediate question everyone asked was, “What does the body camera footage say? Let’s see it.”
The public was told by former LMPD chief Steve Conrad that the officers in the particular division that carried out the raid were somehow not wearing body cameras. A person possessed of even minimal foresight could have predicted that sending police to bust down the door of a suspected drug stash house in the middle of the night would lead to exactly the kind of scenario where having a body camera would be handy to avoid exactly the kind of scenario that is being played out. Yet LMPD insisted that there simply was no body camera footage available because somehow none of the officers present was wearing one.
That, however, has turned out not to be true. In response to a public records request from Vice News, police turned over a large volume of crime scene photos from the night of Taylor’s shooting. One of them captures Detective Tony James, who was present for the raid, clearly wearing a body camera over his right shoulder. Myles Cosgrove, the officer who fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor, was also photographed, and a body camera harness was clearly visible, but the body camera itself was nowhere to be found.
The LMPD has repeatedly refused to explain even whether James’ camera was turned on, and if it was not, why it was not, nor why Cosgrove was wearing a body camera harness apparently without a body camera.
Additional footage taken by body cameras of the patrol officers and SWAT teams who arrived later at the scene show that the officers involved in the raid committed several flagrant violations of LMPD policies that are designed to ensure the integrity of investigations into officer-involved shootings, leading to questions about the integrity of the crime scene and of the witness statements that were taken after the fact.
Notably, for obvious reasons, officers who are involved in a shooting are prohibited per LMPD policy from being involved in the investigation of those shootings and are furthermore explicitly required to be promptly separated from the scene and paired with a “peer support” escort who can both comfort shaken officers and also vouch for the fact that the officers did not fabricate evidence or otherwise adulterate the crime scene.
Videos taken of the shooting aftermath show that this policy was flagrantly disregarded, particularly by the now-terminated Hankison and Cosgrove, and that the SWAT and Public Integrity Unit officers who were there complained aloud about the officers they were investigating still being “in the mix” and even actually in the active crime scene. One of the other officers involved in the raid was also observed to have left the scene and been canvassing witnesses.
At the risk of overstating the obvious, it is not good to have cops who are under investigation for a shooting mucking around alone at the scene of the shooting for hours after the fact or speaking alone to potential witnesses, if for no other reason than to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the investigation.
This is especially important because of the controversy surrounding the critical question of whether officers knocked and announced themselves as police. Police say that they found a witness who corroborates their claim that they knocked. That witness, Aaron Sarpee, initially told police on March 21 that he did NOT hear officers identify themselves as police.
He was unequivocal — he saw the police cruisers outside and he saw some of the officers in uniform, but no one identified themselves as police when they knocked.
The Only Witness Who Heard Police Announce Themselves at Breonna Taylor’s Door Changed His Story
Two months later, in a May 15 interview, Sarpee told PIU investigator Sgt. Amanda Seeyle, “It’s been so long now. … I remember some of it,” and eventually told her that he heard someone say, “This is the cops.” Meanwhile, against this admittedly shaky testimony, over a dozen other witnesses allegedly stated that they did NOT hear anyone announce themselves as police. We still do not know whether any of these witnesses’ statements were provided to the grand jury or considered in their deliberations, or if any of them testified in front of the grand jury.
Finally, it should be noted that ballistics information released over the weekend does not support AG Cameron’s claim that Walker shot first and struck one of the officers. The ballistics report from the LMPD PIU was not able to match the bullet pulled from the thigh of Sgt. Mattingly. A separate FBI ballistics report has not yet been released. Cameron said last week that friendly fire had been ruled out as the source of the bullet that struck Mattingly because Walker’s gun was a 9mm and the officers involved in the raid were issued .40 caliber weapons. However, Walker’s attorney claims that a review of Hankison’s file indicates that Hankison was also issued a 9mm weapon; when the Louisville Courier-Journal requested to review those records, it was stonewalled.
I am not claiming that I know for sure what happened on the fateful night that Breonna Taylor was shot. But the problem is, it’s difficult for anyone else to make that claim, either. And the conduct of the LMPD on that night (and since) has opened the window for those who are skeptical of police who have an obvious motive to lie or shade the facts to forever disbelieve the narrative that the LMPD is now offering us. And the end result of these actions will only be to continue to erode the bond of trust between police and the citizenry that is necessary for all of us to live in peace.
Two reporters from the conservative website the Daily Caller were arrested during the protests in Louisville, Kentucky, Wednesday night, and thus far authorities in Louisville appear determined to detain and charge them just like other suspects who were arrested as part of a mass sweep to enforce the city’s curfew.
The report from the Daily Caller indicates that reporters Shelby Talcott and Jorge Ventura were arrested as part of a massive sweep conducted by police, who reportedly did not respond to the reporters’ repeated insistence that they were members of the press.
Prior to their arrest, Ventura and Talcott recorded and tweeted some of the scenes of chaos in Louisville as they unfolded.
Another look at the scene in #Louisville. Multiple people arrested. Unlawful assembly declared. Stay tuned for more… https://t.co/0tMuGzskrb
Wednesday night, Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Ingersoll tweeted that he had notified the Louisville Metro Police Department that Talcott and Ventura were members of the press and that he expected them to be released shortly. Later, however, Ingersoll expressed his frustration that the Daily Caller’s reporters were going to be processed in exactly the same manner as the rioters they were covering.
Update: The Louisville doc tells me @ShelbyTalcott and @VenturaReport will be processed and charged like everyone e… https://t.co/ygiurNJdSq
However, as of Thursday, the reporters had not been released and no one from the Daily Caller had been permitted to talk to either Talcott or Ventura, leading Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel to criticize the treatment of the Caller’s reporters and to threaten a lawsuit if the reporters were not permitted to exercise their First Amendment right to report on an ongoing news story.
In the thread, Patel noted that, unlike other media outlets, the Daily Caller has taken care to interview police and get their side of the story and tell it in a balanced way.
at more protests and riots and none have done a more balanced job of telling the public what is happening. We a… https://t.co/QH5ERw8S2n
The city of Louisville is bracing for a night of civil unrest as hundreds if not thousands of protesters have already taken to the streets in response to the grand jury’s decision not to issue charges for two of the three officers involved in the March raid that led to Breonna Taylor’s death. The third officer was charged for his actions in firing shots into the neighboring apartments, but not for anything related to Taylor’s death.
Shortly after the decision was announced, a scene unfolded that displayed the extent to which Louisville remains on edge about the contentious case.
A man just nearly pulled his gun in reaction. Crowd had to stop him. Louisville is on edge https://t.co/R0WxTQQ8EO
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Wednesday that he planned to sign an executive order that would have the effect of banning the sale of all passenger cars that run on internal combustion by 2035, while banning the sale of light and heavy-duty vehicles that run on gasoline by 2045.
According to a statement on the governor’s website, Newsom believes that this order will “move the state further away from its reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs and spurring economic growth.”
Newsom’s statement also bullishly predicts, “By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars.” The statement also calls on the California legislature to cease issuing new fracking permits by the year 2024.
The text of the order itself states that “the climate change crisis is happening now, impacting California in unprecedented ways, and affecting the health and safety of too many Californians.” The order further explicitly states that the COVID-19 pandemic should be viewed as an opportunity to reshape the California economy in line with environmentalists’ goals, claiming that “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the entire transportation sector, bringing a sharp decline in demand for fuels and adversely impacting public transportation,” and “as our economy recovers, we must accelerate the transition to a carbon neutral future that supports the retention and creation of high-road, high-quality jobs.”
The order also makes it clear that, while the goal is to achieve a total end to the sale of combustion-engine automobiles in 2035, the California State Air Resources Board is expected to take incremental steps beginning immediately to gradually reduce the sale of gasoline-powered engines.
The Panglossian predictions about the ease with which Californians will be able to transition completely away from gasoline-powered vehicles should perhaps be viewed through the lens of the success of California’s initiative to fuel its power grid entirely with renewable energy sources. California’s grid is currently unable to provide reliable power to residents, and only federal intervention (including the use of fossil fuel-burning ship engines) has provided even moderate stability during the crisis.
As President Donald Trump quickly moves ahead to nominate a replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Democrats had hoped to halt that process in its tracks by convincing at least four Republicans that Trump’s nominee should not even receive a vote before the election. Those hopes likely took a mortal blow on Tuesday when Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) announced that he is not opposed to confirming a nominee in an election year and that he would vote on Trump’s replacement “based upon their qualifications.”
Thus far, Democrats have only been able to secure “no vote” commitments from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins among all the Republicans in the Senate. Democrats had hoped to secure similar commitments from Senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), or Chuck Grassley (Iowa), but one by one those hopes have been dashed. Democrats had remained hopeful that Romney might defect, given his contentious relationship with Trump (and his willingness to cast a “yes” vote on Trump’s removal from office after the post-impeachment trial in the Senate earlier this year), but Romney issued a statement on Tuesday indicating that he intends to give the nominee a fair hearing and that he will not object to confirming a qualified nominee.
My statement regarding the current Supreme Court vacancy: https://t.co/6YO0dPWWXc
In his statement, Romney said, “My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent. The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
Romney continued, “I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”
It remains possible that one or more Republican defections may emerge during the confirmation process, particularly if Democrats are able to unearth previously unknown damaging information about the eventual nominee. However, it appears certain for now that the nominee will at least be given a full hearing before the Senate.
It is widely anticipated that Trump’s nominee will be either Amy Coney Barrett, who currently serves as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, or Barbara Lagoa, who currently serves as a judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Most observers believe that Barrett is the favorite to receive the nomination, particularly after news broke that Trump met with her on Monday. Trump has indicated that he also might have a face-to-face meeting with Lagoa when he travels to Florida later this week.
Regardless of who Trump ultimately picks, his nominee is sure to be fought tooth and nail by Democrats, who remain furious that Merrick Garland was not given a hearing after former President Barack Obama nominated him to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia after Scalia’s death in 2016. Democrats have already begun to attack the records of Barrett and Lagoa, and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) have promised that they will not support any nominee until after the election.
Despite those defections, it looks increasingly likely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be able to cobble together enough votes to ensure that President Trump’s nominee will receive a full hearing and floor vote, absent any surprise defections or damaging revelations during the confirmation process.
President Donald Trump reacted to the news of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing after speaking at a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota.
News of Ginsburg’s passing broke as the president was delivering a campaign speech that repeatedly stressed the importance of re-electing him so that he could nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court, leading many liberal media figures to scold the president for remarks they said were in bad taste. However, it appears that President Trump was not notified by his staff about the news and that Trump learned of it for the first time when the media asked him for comment.
President Trump on death of Justice Ginsburg: “She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that…She led an amazing life. W… https://t.co/HFwmrboLLs
In response to a question from a reporter, a visibly shaken Trump responded, “She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that. I just… you’re telling me now for the first time.”
Trump took a moment to compose himself and went on, “She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I’m actually sad to hear that. I am sad to hear that. Thank you very much.”
Trump then turned and walked away from reporters. According to several reporters present in the pool, reporters asked Trump as he walked away whether he plans to attempt to nominate a replacement justice before the election, but Trump did not respond to or acknowledge those questions.
During Trump’s speech, while he was unaware that Ginsburg had died, Trump touted Republican Senator Ted Cruz as a potential Supreme Court nominee in the future. “I’m putting Ted Cruz as one of the people for the Supreme Court,” Trump said. “Ted’s the only man I know who could get 100 votes from the Senate. Every single senator is going to vote for him. He’s a great guy, a brilliant guy.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death was barely announced before speculation began to run rampant on the internet about whether Republicans will attempt to confirm a nominee to replace her prior to the 2020 election.
The speculation is perhaps understandable. Most polls show President Donald Trump trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the general election, and a number of Republican senators in swing states are also trailing their Democratic opponents, meaning that Democrats believe that waiting until after the election will substantially increase the chances that a justice more to their liking will end up taking Ginsburg’s place on the Supreme Court.
Republicans currently control 53 seats in the United States Senate, so they theoretically could force a nominee through before the election. In light of all this, some senators who are considered likely swing votes have already been approached by the media and asked if they plan to allow a vote on a replacement for Ginsburg.
One Republican senator, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, has already indicated that she will not support such a vote.
Alaska’s @lisamurkowski said today she won’t confirm a new SCOTUS justice until after the inauguration day. Fair is… https://t.co/LkjvXh47w6
Murkowski’s remark that “fair is fair” is presumably a reference to the fact that Republican senators did not allow a hearing for former President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 during an election year.
Murkowski’s position does not come as a surprise. Murkowski was asked about the possibility in August, back when it was merely a hypothetical, and she said then that she would not support such an attempt.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says it would be a “double standard” to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before 2021 & “would not support it.”
If both ssenators hold true to their positions, and no Democrats defect, that would mean that even two more Republican defections would doom any attempt to confirm a replacement for Ginsburg on the Supreme Court before the election.
A letter that was probably intended as an exercise in self-flagellation designed to placate angry protesters might soon have serious consequences for Princeton University, according to a report from the Washington Examiner.
The genesis of the letter appears to have been a series of protests at and around Princeton University that occurred in early June in response to the May 2 death of George Floyd. The protests prompted Princeton to rename its public policy school to remove reference to former president Woodrow Wilson, who was a notorious racist. They also prompted Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber to promise that the University would undertake some soul searching with respect to how the university could help combat systemic racism.
In its continuing effort to wear the hair shirt, Eisgruber released a letter on Sept. 2 that set forth the efforts that had been undertaken by the school thus far. During the course of this letter, Eisgruber made a number of claims about the university that were doubtless intended to mollify protesters, including statements like, “Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies,” and “Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself.”
In response to these admissions, the Department of Education felt compelled to open an investigation into all this racism in order to ensure that Princeton was not receiving funds in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that, “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the letter states:
Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false.
The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made. Finally, the Department is further concerned Princeton’s many nondiscrimination and equal opportunity claims to students, parents, and consumers in the market for education certificates may have been false, misleading, and actionable substantial misrepresentations in violation of 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(3)(B) and 34 CFR 668.71(c). Therefore, the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, in consultation with the Department’s Office of the General Counsel, is opening this investigation.
The Department’s letter purportedly asks Princeton to disclose what evidence it used to determine that the university is racist and to identify every person who has been discriminated against at Princeton in violation of the law. The letter requires Princeton to produce documents and also to make school officials available for an interview.
Princeton University spokesperson Ben Chang provided TheBlaze with the following comment in response to the Department’s letter:
On September 16, we received a letter from the Department of Education requesting information about Princeton’s nondiscrimination practices.
The letter was the Department’s reaction to President Eisgruber’s update to the University community outlining the steps we are taking to address systemic racism at Princeton and beyond. Princeton has long been committed to creating and maintaining a community where all can thrive, and stands by its representations to the Department and the public that it complies with all laws and regulations governing equal opportunity, non-discrimination and harassment. This work is core to the University’s teaching and research mission, and we are vigilant in our pursuit of equity in every aspect of our programs and operations. The University also stands by our statements about the prevalence of systemic racism and our commitment to reckon with its continued effects, including the racial injustice and race-based inequities that persist throughout American society. Attracting talent from every sector of society is crucial to our academic mission, and we will continue to lead on these issues.
The University will respond to the Department of Education’s letter in due course. It is unfortunate that the Department appears to believe that grappling honestly with the nation’s history and the current effects of systemic racism runs afoul of existing law. The University disagrees and looks forward to furthering our educational mission by explaining why our statements and actions are consistent not only with the law, but also with the highest ideals and aspirations of this country.
A new study from a professor of medicine at Boston University suggests that getting plenty of Vitamin D can reduce your chances of catching the coronavirus by at least 54%. Of course, the best and most easily absorbed source of Vitamin D for humans is good, old-fashioned sunshine — suggesting that the best way to avoid the coronavirus is to leave your house and spend adequate time outdoors.
Dr. Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, announced the findings after studying blood samples collected by Quest Diagnostics from more than 190,000 individuals who had been tested for the coronavirus from all 50 states. They found that individuals who had low levels of Vitamin D in their blood had a 54% higher positivity rate than those who had adequate Vitamin D in their blood.
According to the Boston Herald, Holick said, “People have been looking for the magic drug or waiting for the vaccine and not looking for something this simple.”
Moreover, the study found that the risk of getting coronavirus continued to decline as Vitamin D levels increased, suggesting a direct correlation between Vitamin D levels and resistance to the coronavirus.
As vitamin supplementation has increased in processed foods, many vitamin deficiencies have virtually disappeared in America, but Vitamin D deficiency remains relatively common — partly because there are few naturally occurring foods that contain Vitamin D, and partly because Vitamin D can be more difficult for the body to absorb when ingested orally.
Scientists regard the most efficient method of Vitamin D production to be sun exposure, which, of course, comes with a trade-off of an increased risk of skin cancer, particularly if proper sun precautions are not taken.
Holick theorized that the reason Vitamin D might provide resistance to the coronavirus is that Vitamin D suppresses the release of a protein called Cytokine in the body. Excessive cytokine can cause a condition known as cytokine storm, which is a cause of morbidity in COVID-19 patients.
Holick told the Herald that a Vitamin D deficiency alters the immune system, making one more likely to get upper respiratory infections. He also encouraged individuals who are unable to get adequate sun exposure to supplement their diet with Vitamin D, which he called “perfectly safe.”
Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police union — which is the largest union representing Chicago Police Department officers — has been working without a contract with the city since 2017. Talks with the city had previously stalled when the union’s prior president demanded an 18% raise — with back pay — over three years.
The union elected a new president, John Catanzara, earlier this year, which led some to hope that the contract impasse might end.
That hope may prove to be short lived.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightftoot’s office sent the FOP a proposed contract on Tuesday that provided for a 10% raise over a four-year period, but which also included a lengthy list of police reforms that would increase civilian oversight of the police department and provide for anonymous complaints between officers, the Sun-Times reported.
Currently, complaints against officers must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit, which reform advocates say makes police less likely to act as whistleblowers against their comrades.
Catanzara’s response, according to the Sun-Times, was to storm out of the negotiating session and promise a “financial only” counteroffer — and to threaten that any city council member who voted against it would find themselves facing an election against candidates who are bankrolled by the police union.
“We will be taking names. We will be slating candidates. … We will have a $1 million-a-year PAC going forward starting next year. And in 2023, there’s going to be a day of reckoning for these aldermen who think they can skate by under the radar and say they support the police, but do nothing. We’re gonna see who shows up and who wants to do the right thing by the men and women of this police department who have absolutely been champions this whole summer and used like rented mules at the drop of a hat with no consideration whatsoever. Well, it’s time to pay the piper,” Catanzara said.
Catanzara declined to elaborate to the Chicago Tribune on which of the specifics in the mayor’s reform plan he found objectionable, but he did say that he felt that it would weaken police officer’s rights when faced with disciplinary actions. He also expressed outrage that the city negotiated contracts with the city’s teacher’s union and firefighters before completing contract negotiations with the police.
“We are not taking the short end of the stick…We’re last in line when the teachers should have been last in line,” Catanzara said.
Referring to the city’s firefighters, Catanzara said, “Firemen get to go back to their firehouse and wait for the next call, no matter how long they’re working. Police don’t have that luxury. They’re out there standing on foot posts for 12 or 14 hours. No bathrooms in sight. Women have to go find a dumpster to squat behind to go the bathroom. Getting s*** thrown at us. Fireworks shot at us. Spit on. .… Our profession is a harder profession — especially in this day and time. And we need to be treated and compensated accordingly.”
Catanzara was also not impressed with Lightfoot’s claim that the city is facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall in 2021.
“I basically told them our members are not gonna take it over the barrel because you guys delayed us intentionally for three years now. And now, because, `Woe is me. We’re poor,’ now, we have to take it on the chin. That’s not gonna happen,” Catanzara told the Sun-Times.
Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzer sounded the “alarm” Tuesday regarding the possibility that Illinois may have to cut 5% from its budget next year, which he described as a “nightmare scenario.” He also pleaded with the federal government for a bailout package to help avert such a “nightmare.”
“Until Republicans in Washington decide otherwise, middle class, working class and poor families across our state and across the nation will likely suffer from cuts to public safety, education, human services and environmental safety — and the potential layoffs will make the economic recession worse,” Pritzker said. “I can promise you that, for everyone and anyone who got into public service who actually wants to serve the public, this is a nightmare scenario.”
Meanwhile, Illinois Republicans had little sympathy for Pritzker’s pleas, saying that they warned Pritzker months ago that the state’s revenues, which are anticipated to reach only $37 billion, were woefully inadequate to pay for the governor’s $42 billion budget package.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, House Republican leader Jim Durkin said, “House Republicans repeatedly warned the Democrats in May about this looming catastrophe — budgeting for $42 billion in spending with only $37 billion in revenue.”
Pritzler warned that the budget shortfall could lead to “thousands” of layoffs. The city of Chicago has also faced a severe budget shortfall this year, leading mayor Lori Lightfoot — who has engaged in a frequent war of words with President Donald Trump — to propose a budget that includes severe cutbacks for 2021 in order to make up for a shortfall this year.
Of note, Illinois has consistently lagged behind most of the rest of the country, and federal guidance, when it comes to allowing economic activity to resume in the state. This means that many Illinois small business owners have had to cut their budgets by 100% specifically because of orders issued by Pritzker and his administration, as opposed to the “nightmare” 5% potential state budget cut bemoaned by Pritzker.
For their part, Illinois Republicans promised to work with Democrats to fix the budget hole, though they made it clear that they accepted no responsibility for the shortfall.
Durkin told the Sun-Times, “The $5 billion hole, created by the Democrat-controlled government, was to be filled on a wish and a prayer through a Congressional bailout that never happened. This may be the worst budget in recent memory. My caucus will gladly return to Springfield to fix this disaster with a reality check on our finances and hopefully avoid further damage to our state.”
For months, liberals who have fought against all attempts to reopen the economy have insisted that it would be irresponsible to allow any public activity (other than riots) until a vaccine is developed and distributed.
Now that it seems possible (albeit unlikely) that such a vaccine may be ready for distribution, many of those same people have shifted gears to say that any vaccine released under the oversight of the Trump administration is not to be trusted anyway — and now Bill Gates has joined the chorus of liberals actively attempting to undermine public confidence in any potential vaccine and thus discourage participation in a vaccination program.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Gates said that he doesn’t trust either the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for public oversight of vaccines, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when it comes to providing responsible oversight over the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails. The FDA lost a lot of credibility there,” Gates said. Gates’ comments were an apparent reference to controversy over the effectiveness of blood plasma in treatment of the coronavirus.
Gates went on, “Historically, just like the CDC was viewed as the best in the world, the FDA had that same reputation as a top-notch regulator. But there’s been some cracks with some of the things they’ve said at the commissioner level.”
Gates did say in the interview that he eventually expects a safe and effective vaccine to emerge from the process, but he did not elaborate on what might cause him to trust the FDA’s or CDC’s oversight of the process.
Presumably, however, a change in the White House would cause Gates to change his tune, as Gates has been a strong proponent of vaccination for other diseases worldwide.
Gates is far from alone among liberals in this refrain. Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris stirred controversy earlier this month when she stated that she would not take any vaccine that was released before the election. “The View” cohost Joy Behar likewise engaged in some conspiracy theorizing last week when she stated that she would not take the vaccine until Ivanka Trump took it first.
Multiple sources are reporting that the City of Louisville plans to announce on Tuesday what is being described as a “substantial” financial settlement in order to avoid further litigation with the family of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers on March 13.
In addition to the financial aspects of the settlement, the city is also expected to agree to a series of police reforms requested by the family, including a policy that all warrants be approved by a police commander before they are submitted to a judge for approval.
Additionally, a Jefferson County grand jury is expected to weigh possible criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting this week.
The lawsuit, which was filed on April 27, alleged that Louisville police officers were negligent in the execution of a warrant for Taylor’s apartment and that they used excessive force. An amended complaint subsequently claimed that Louisville police were attempting to clear out the block where Taylor lived in order to gentrify it, an accusation which the city has strongly denied.
Taylor’s case has served as a flashpoint for a series of protests that have roiled Louisville and fed the flames of anti-police protests nationwide. Although the warrant in question listed Taylor’s name and address, it was clear that police’s investigation was centered on a suspected drug dealer named Jamarcus Glover, who had already been arrested by police at a location 10 miles from Taylor’s residence before the ill-fated raid on Taylor’s apartment. It remains unclear why Taylor’s residence was listed on the warrant, and no drugs or money were found in her apartment as a result of the raid.
Police claim that they knocked and announced themselves before entering Taylor’s apartment, but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has claimed that he and Taylor had no idea who was at their door on the night of the raid and that they believed they were being victimized by attempted robbers. When the door crashed in, Walker fired a shot at what he believed were the intruders, striking one of the officers in the leg. Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of the police officer, but those charges were later dropped amid public outcry.
Two of the three officers involved in the raid returned fire, killing Taylor. One of the officers, Brett Hankinson, has been fired by the police department after an investigation determined that he repeatedly fired “blindly” into the apartment. The other two officers involved in the raid have been reassigned to administrative duty while the case is being investigated.
Taylor’s case has rocked the city of Louisville and its police department and led in part to the dismissal of police chief Steve Conrad. Protesters have demanded that the other two police officers in the raid be fired and charged with murder and have also sought other reforms to the Louisville Police Department.