Here are the top stories for Sunday, December 15th: Comey acknowledges "sloppiness" in Russia probe; Teens arrested in mall shooting; Volcano search comes up empty; A joyful win on a painful anniversary in Newtown, Connecticut.
- The Independent
Local newspapers turn on Lauren Boebert as 68 state politicians demand investigation into Capitol riot role
Lauren Boebert is under fire for sharing details about the location of the House speaker during the Capitol riots
- Associated Press
A retired Air Force officer who was part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week carried plastic zip-tie handcuffs because he intended “to take hostages,” a prosecutor said in a Texas court on Thursday. The prosecutor had argued that Brock should be detained, but Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton said he would release Brock to home confinement. Cureton ordered Brock to surrender any firearms and said he could have only limited internet access as conditions of that release.
- The Week
Federal prosecutors in a new court filing reportedly point to "strong evidence" that rioters who stormed the Capitol building last week aimed to "capture and assassinate elected officials."The prosecutors included this assessment while asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, one of the men who was arrested and charged following the deadly Capitol riot, Reuters reports."Strong evidence, including Chansley's own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government," the prosecutors wrote.Supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol building on the day Congress was meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden's election win, leaving five people dead. Trump was subsequently impeached for a second time for "incitement of insurrection" after delivering a speech calling on his supporters to march to the Capitol building.The prosecutors in the filing reportedly wrote that the charges against Chansley "involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government," adding that the "insurrection is still in progress." They also revealed that Chansley, who was photographed wearing horns at Vice President Mike Pence's desk, allegedly left a note for Pence that warned, "it's only a matter of time, justice is coming," Reuters reports. The filing, Politico writes, "spells out clearly the government's view of an ongoing 'insurrection movement' that is reaching a potential climax as Biden's inauguration approaches." More stories from theweek.com Do Democrats realize the danger they are in? America's rendezvous with reality What 'Blue Lives Matter' was always about
What happened: The officer attended the riots in Washington D.C. and is accused of "penetrating" the Capitol, Click2Houston reports. During a press conference on Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo discussed the officer in question. According to the New York Post, the officer — who was not named publicly by Acevedo — was placed on administrative leave.
- The Independent
Steve Bannon was considered one of the main architects of Trump’s 2016 campaign
- Associated Press
In the week since a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol, the House has impeached President Donald Trump. Twitter and other social media sites have banned Trump and thousands of other accounts. Officer Eugene Goodman isn't saying whether he thinks he saved the Senate, as many of the millions who've viewed the video believe.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has postponed a confirmation hearing — originally scheduled for Friday — for President-elect Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, until next week.Why it matters: Biden's team has pushed for swift confirmation hearings for his national security nominees, especially in the context of last week's attack on the Capitol, threats of violence surrounding next week's inauguration and global political tensions.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * The hearing was slated to take place in a virtual setting, which would have required the consent of all senators who sit on the panel. * Haines, who served as CIA deputy director from 2013 to 2015, and deputy national security adviser from 2015 to 2017, would be the first woman to lead the intelligence community.What they're saying: "Despite the unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill, the committee is working in good faith to move this nominee as fast as possible and ensure the committee's members have an opportunity to question the nominee in both open and closed settings," Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top two senators on the committee, said in a joint statement. * "The Director of National Intelligence plays a crucial role in overseeing the 18 agencies that make up our nation's Intelligence Community, and the committee looks forward to holding a hearing next week with Ms. Haines."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Conversation
The Confederate battle flag, which rioters flew inside the US Capitol, has long been a symbol of white insurrection
A historic first: the Confederate battle flag inside the U.S. Capitol. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesConfederate soldiers never reached the Capitol during the Civil War. But the Confederate battle flag was flown by rioters in the U.S. Capitol building for the first time ever on Jan. 6. The flag’s prominence in the Capitol riot comes as no surprise to those who, like me, know its history: Since its debut during the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag has been flown regularly by white insurrectionists and reactionaries fighting against rising tides of newly won Black political power. An 1897 lithograph shows changes in Confederate flag design. The ‘Southern Cross’ design, chosen to visually distinguish Confederates from Union soldiers in battle, became a symbol of white insurrection. Library of Congress via National Geographic The infamous diagonal blue cross with white stars on a red background was never the Confederacy’s official symbol. The Confederacy’s original “stars and bars” design was too similar to the U.S. flag, which led to confusion on the battlefields, where troop positions were marked by flags. The official flag went through a series of changes in attempts to distinguish Confederate from Union troops. The Confederacy would ultimately adopt the “Southern Cross” as its battle flag – cementing it as a symbol of white insurrection. While it is technically the battle flag, it has been used the most, and therefore has become known more generally as the Confederate flag. The Confederate battle flag figures prominently in this depiction of the 1864 battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Kurz and Allison, restoration by Adam Cuerden, via Wikimedia Commons The original emblem Six decades before the Nazi swastika became an instantly recognizable symbol of white supremacists, the Confederate battle flag flew over the forces of the insurgent Confederate States of America – military troops organized in revolt against the idea that the federal government could outlaw slavery. The founding documents of the Confederacy make its goals of white supremacy and preservation of slavery explicitly clear. In March 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens declared of the Confederacy, “its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” The documents drafted by seceding states make this same point. Mississippi’s declaration, for instance, was very specific: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world.” Rioting white students at University of Mississippi hoist a Confederate battle flag in a backlash against James Meredith’s attendance as the first Black student in 1962. Bettman via Getty Images Backlash against racial integration After the Civil War, Confederate veterans groups used the flag at their meetings to commemorate fallen soldiers, but otherwise the flag mostly disappeared from public life. After World War II, though, the flag surfaced as part of a backlash against racial integration. Black soldiers who fought discrimination abroad experienced discrimination when they came home. Racist violence against Black veterans who had returned from battle prompted President Harry Truman to issue an executive order desegregating the military and banning discrimination in federal hiring. Truman also asked Congress to pass a federal ban on lynching, one of nearly 200 unsuccessful attempts to do so. In 1948, the retaliation for Truman’s integration efforts came, and the Confederate battle flag resurfaced as a symbol of white supremacist public intimidation. That year, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat, ran for president as the leader of a new political party of segregationist Southern Democrats, nicknamed the “Dixiecrats.” At their rallies and riots, they opposed Truman’s integration under the banner of the Confederate battle flag. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, white Southerners flew the Confederate battle flag at riots – including violent ones – to oppose racial integration, especially in schools. For example, in 1962, white students at the University of Mississippi hoisted it at a riot defying James Meredith’s enrollment as the university’s first Black student. It took the deployment of 30,000 U.S. troops, federal marshals and National Guardsmen to get Meredith to class after the violent race riot left two dead. Historian William Doyle called the riot – which featured the Confederate battle flag at its center – an “American insurrection.” Charleston, Charlottesville and the Capitol More recently, the Black Lives Matter era has seen an increase in violent incidents involving the Confederate battle flag. It has now featured prominently in at least three recent major violent events carried out by people on the far right. In 2015, a white supremacist who had posed with the Confederate battle flag online killed nine Black parishioners during a prayer meeting at their church. In 2017, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists carried the battle flag when they marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, seeking to prevent the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. One white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of anti-racist counterprotestors, killing Heather Heyer. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.] At the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, an image of an insurrectionist toting the Confederate battle flag inside the Capitol building arguably distills the siege’s dark historical context. In the background of the photo are the portraits of two Civil War-era U.S. senators – one an ardent proponent of slavery and the other an abolitionist once beaten unconscious for his views on the Senate floor. A man carries the Confederate battle flag in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, between portraits of senators who both opposed and supported slavery. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images The flag has always represented white resistance to increasing Black power. It may be a coincidence of exact timing, but certainly not of context, that the riot happened the day after Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won U.S. Senate seats representing Georgia. Respectively, they are the first Black and first Jewish senators from the former Confederate state. Warnock will be only the second Black senator from below the Mason-Dixon Line since Reconstruction. Their historic victories – and President-elect Joe Biden’s – in Georgia happened through large-scale organizing and turnout of people of color, especially Black people. Since 2014, nearly 2 million voters have been added to the rolls in Georgia, signaling a new bloc of Black voting power. It should come as no surprise, then, that today’s white insurrectionists opposed to the shifting tides of power identify with the Confederate battle flag.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Jordan Brasher, Columbus State University. Read more:Capitol siege raises questions over extent of white supremacist infiltration of US policeA second impeachment is just the start of Trump’s legal woes Jordan Brasher does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
- Architectural Digest
When it came to the lighting in his home, Pardo drew inspiration from the insides of fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as sea creatures and machine parts.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- National Review
In his first television interview since being shot in the back by police, Jacob Blake admitted that he not only had a knife in his possession at the time of the shooting, but also “dropped” it before picking it up again. “I realized I had dropped my knife, had a little pocket knife. So I picked it up after I got off of him because they tased me and I fell on top of him,” Blake told Michael Strahan in an interview that aired Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA). “I shouldn’t have picked it up, only considering what was going on,” he continued. “At that time, I wasn’t thinking clearly.” Earlier this month, Kenosha County district attorney Michael Graveley said that he would not file charges against Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Blake seven times, given that the officer was acting in self-defense against an armed assailant. Blake also had a past arrest for resisting police with a knife. Blake’s admission contradicts past statements from his family and attorneys, who denied that he had a knife in his possession when police shot him on August 23, in an incident that stemmed from a 911 call made by the mother of Blake’s children, who told police that Blake was trying to drive away in her rental car with two of his sons. “My son didn’t have a weapon,” Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times for an August 25 story. Patrick Salvi Jr., an attorney for the Blake family, told CNN on August 26 that Blake did not have a knife in the car. “Witnesses confirm that he was not in possession of a knife and didn’t threaten officers in any way,” Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump, said in a statement released on August 27. At the time, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest on charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct, and third-degree sexual assault, which the operator relayed to the responding officers. With the outstanding felony charges, police were required by law to take Blake into custody. In the interview with GMA, Blake also claimed that “I hadn’t done anything so I didn’t feel like they were there for me,” though investigators later found that, prior to the arrest, Blake had looked up his own warrant on a police website and had sent a text mentioning the warrant. ABC made no mention of either fact in the interview. The shooting went viral on social media after being recorded on video, showing officers screaming at Blake to “drop the knife.” In the subsequent days — which included deadly violence, rioting, and looting — the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation revealed that Blake admitted to having “a knife in his possession.” But much of the mainstream press ran with the initial claim that he was “unarmed.” “Wisconsin’s governor on Monday called in the National Guard to help quell unrest after police shot an unarmed Black man in the latest incident this summer to stir cries of injustice and divide a nation over the urgency of bringing fundamental change to law enforcement,” read the lede of five-person Washington Post byline on August 24. Earlier this month, the Post drew pushback after it maintained the “unarmed” description of Blake in reporting the decision by authorities to not pursue police charges. Though the paper did correct the narrative, one story published January 5 still refers to Blake as “unarmed.” (Update: the story has now been “corrected” by the paper, though it reads “[w]hile his family has said he was not armed when shot by police, prosecutors said video evidence depicts him holding a knife,” failing to note that Blake himself has now admitted to having one.) The Post did not return a request for comment on the discrepancy. In the days after the shooting, CNN ran multiple articles describing Blake as “unarmed” which have yet to be corrected. “Video shows police shoot unarmed Black man” is a current link to an August 24 segment hosted by CNN anchor Jake Tapper. An August 28 USA Today “fact check” titled “Jacob Blake did not ‘brandish’ knife, get gun before Kenosha police shooting” argued that “Blake was not ‘brandishing’ anything in the video taken by bystanders,” even as it noted that the clip “shows something in Blake’s hand, but the resolution is low, so it could be a knife.” But rather than issue a correction or a retraction on January 5, PolitiFact merely updated the post with an editor’s note stating that prosecutors had revealed “Blake was armed with a ‘razor blade-type knife’ when he was shot by police.” The explanation? “That does not affect the rating for this item because ratings are based on what is known at the time.” In other words, it used to be true.
- The Independent
Karl Racine ‘extremely confident’ US president’s eldest son broke law
- Associated Press
Honduran migrants began walking toward the Guatemalan border before dawn Friday, driven by deepening poverty and the hope of a warmer reception if they can reach the United States border. The previous evening, Santos Demetrio Pineda was one of those who showed up at the San Pedro Sula bus terminal with little more than the clothes on their backs for the long, unlikely journey, made that much harder by the coronavirus pandemic. “We lost everything in the hurricane,” said Pineda, referring to two Category 4 hurricanes that hit Honduras in November.
- The Telegraph
Taliban chief tells officials to take only one wife because big weddings and dowries are depleting funds
The head of the Afghan Taliban has ordered officials in the movement to take only one wife because extravagant weddings and bridal payments are depleting funds and leading to accusations of embezzlement. The edict from Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada was also an attempt to quash bad publicity that Taliban leaders were having profligate weddings. “We instruct officials of the Islamic Emirate, in accordance with Islamic Sharia [Islamic jurisprudence], to avoid second, third, and fourth marriage if there is no need,” he said in a written message earlier this month, Voice of America reported. Taliban officials have been instructed to share the order with their subordinates after complaints about the scale of spending on weddings. Afghans face huge social pressure to spend lavishly on their nuptials, while the groom must also often pay a hefty sum to the bride's family. Wives are sometimes kept in separate houses, meaning a groom must fund several households. “Up-to two million Afghanis (nearly £19,000) are paid for dowry in some parts of Afghanistan and the Taliban officials would seek this money for their second marriage,” one source told the broadcaster. The movement has also sometimes faced internal tensions as frontline fighters resent the movement's leadership appearing to lead the high life in Pakistan or Doha. “Families of several officials of the Islamic Emirate do not have a lot of money. Therefore, more marriages could affect their prestige, trustworthiness, and personality,” the message said. The message urged the movement to “protect yourself against accusation and disgrace,” adding that “transparency” and “gaining trust” were essential for their struggle. Abstaining from multiple marriages would protect the Taliban from “accusations of bribery, misappropriation, or embezzlement” and save them from seeking illicit sources of wealth. Akhundzada told followers that the orders were based on Islamic injunctions and have the support of religious scholars. Islam allows men to have up to four wives as long as they are treated equally, though the practice is frowned upon and uncommon in many Muslim societies. The message said there were exemptions to the new rule for officials who had a “legitimate need” or who used their own funds for weddings.
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte is one of the most popular presidents in the world, in spite — or perhaps in part because of — his history of prejudiced remarks about women, gay people and minority groups.Driving the news: Polls suggest his daughter and successor as mayor of Davao City, Sara Duterte, is the electorate's top choice to succeed him as president in 2022. But he said Thursday that Sara would not be running.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * The presidency, he said, is "not meant for women," as they have a different "emotional setup" than men. * Duterte, who frequently complains about the miseries of his job, added that his daughter would “go through what I went through.”What to watch: Duterte is not eligible to seek re-election at the end of his six-year term, though an attempt by his allies to amend the constitution raised speculation he might try to stick around. * “Even if you serve it to me on a silver platter or give me 10 more years for free, I am done,” he said Thursday.Meanwhile, Duterte is facing a Senate investigation into reports that doses of an unapproved Chinese vaccine were smuggled into the Philippines and given to upward of 100,000 Chinese nationals as well as to some of the soldiers assigned to guard Duterte. * Duterte has told the soldiers not to cooperate with the investigation, and his office described the vaccines as a "gift" from China. * Worth noting: Many of the Chinese nationals in question work in offshore gambling. Several illegal medical clinics catering to Chinese nationals working in offshore gambling were discovered in the Philippines last year.Go deeperBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Independent
Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’ll file impeachment articles against Joe Biden on his first day in office
'On January 21, 2021, I'll be filing Articles of Impeachment against Joe Biden for abuse of power,' Ms Greene had tweeted
- Associated Press
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, was sentenced Wednesday in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he and his co-defendant, Gregory A. Smith, were indicted in 2018. Caldwell, who in March pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, was the senior pastor of Houston's Windsor Village United Methodist Church, which has about 14,000 members. According to federal prosecutors, Caldwell and Smith, a Shreveport-based investment adviser, used their clout and influence to persuade people to invest about $3.5 million in historical Chinese bonds.
- Reuters Videos
A rehearsal for U.S President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration has been postponed over security concerns, that's according to a Thursday night report in Politico, citing two people with knowledge of the decision. The rehearsal, scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled along with a train trip from Delaware to Washington. The rehearsal has now been moved to Monday, according to the report. The president-elect's team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier, the FBI said they were looking into individuals tipped to possibly threaten the safety of the inauguration... Officials have warned of plans for armed protests in Washington and across the country after last week's deadly siege on the U.S Capitol. The inauguration which usually draws hundreds of thousands of spectators has already been scaled back dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump says he does not plan on attending the inauguration.
- The Telegraph
Wearing a giant furry hat, black leather jacket and a beaming smile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un introduced “the world’s strongest weapon” – a new submarine-launched ballistic missile – at a nighttime parade on Thursday in Pyongyang. The display of North Korea’s military might followed a rare congress of the ruling Workers' Party, during which leader Kim denounced the United States as his country's “foremost principal enemy” and vowed to strengthen the North’s nuclear war deterrent. On Friday, the reclusive regime’s state media released 100 photos of a mass celebration of the national armory, including tanks and rocket launchers, all flanked by rows of marching soldiers, noticeably not wearing masks. Military aircraft were illuminated by LED lights as they flew overhead in formation. “They’d like us to notice that they’re getting more proficient with larger solid rocket boosters,” tweeted Ankit Panda, a North Korea expert and author of ‘Kim Jong Un and the Bomb’, as the parade unfolded in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square. As the spectacle reached its climax, the military rolled out what analysts said appeared to be new variants of solid-fuel short-range ballistic missiles – which are more quickly deployed than liquid-fuelled versions - and four Pukguksong-class submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
- National Review
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called to reopen the city’s restaurants and bars on Thursday, saying the measure would help curb the spread of underground parties that pose a relatively greater risk of spreading the coronavirus. Illinois’s mitigation plan forced the closure of indoor dining in Chicago in October. While nearly ever major city in the U.S. has severely limited or outright banned indoor dining to control the spread of the coronavirus, Lightfoot called to reinstitute indoor dining with precautions. “People are engaging in risky behavior that is not only putting themselves at risk, but putting their families, their co-workers, and other ones at risk. Let’s bring it out of the shadows,” Lightfoot told reporters on Thursday, in comments reported by CBS Chicago. The mayor was referring to underground parties held by residents. “Let’s allow them to have some recreation in restaurants, in bars, where we can actually work with responsible owners and managers to regulate and protect people from COVID-19,” Lightfoot added. The mayor has attempted to avoid blaming indoor dining for spreading coronavirus, saying in October that a rise in cases in Chicago was not linked to restaurants. “That’s not what we’re seeing in the data at all,” Lightfoot told reporters at the time. Chicago is currently in Illinois’s “tier 3” of coronavirus restrictions, which bars indoor dining and puts capacity limits on other businesses. Restaurants across the northern U.S. are struggling to maintain outdoor dining in the middle of winter. Dozens of restaurants in Chicago have permanently closed, according to Timeout. Chicago has recorded over 424,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, and close to 9,000 residents have died after contracting the illness. The city has also struggled with mass riots, protests, and looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed by Minneapolis police in late May. Looters overran Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a noted shopping district, in August.
- Reuters Videos
South Korea's Supreme Court upheld a 20-year jail sentence on Thursday for former President Park Geun-hye. This brings an end to a legal process that began in 2017 when Park was removed from office and arrested on corruption charges. She was found guilty of colluding with a confidante to receive tens of billions of won from major conglomerates for her family and to fund non-profits she owned. Her case has been tried in several courts over several years, but the Supreme Court's decision exhausted her legal avenues. Park has denied wrongdoing and with her legal process over, her supporters are calling for a presidential pardon. Park is the daughter of a military dictator and was elected in 2013 as the first woman to be President of South Korea. South Korean support for a possible pardon for Park is split down the middle. A Realmeter poll found nearly 48% are in favor of a pardon and 48% are against. The right-wing Our Republican Party issued a statement claiming Park's innocence and calling on her to be freed. A top aide to liberal President Moon Jae-in said the president's decision on whether to pardon Park or not will reflect the will of the people.