Authorities in Collin County have taken a suspect into custody after a body was found inside a burning house Wednesday, officials said.
Authorities in Collin County have taken a suspect into custody after a body was found inside a burning house Wednesday, officials said.
Control of the United States Senate hinges on two January 5 runoff elections in Georgia, where incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock respectively. Most immediately, the race is a contest over whether President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party will be able to govern — especially by passing another big coronavirus rescue package.However, Loeffler and Perdue are also excellent examples of what interests the Republican Party serves — namely, the ultra-rich, which includes both Loeffler and Perdue personally. These are two people who were rich before they got into politics, and leveraged their power as senators to make themselves even more rich — by profiteering off the pandemic. It is government of, by, and for the top 0.1 percent.Let me consider their cases in turn. David Perdue is a longtime businessman who served as CEO of Dollar General in the mid-2000s, where he worked diligently to source more products from China. According to his financial disclosures, he is worth between $15 million and $43 million.As Michela Tindera writes at Forbes, Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher own a big stake in International Exchange, a financial clearinghouse company that Sprecher founded and where he remains CEO and chairman. (That company also owns the New York Stock Exchange, where Sprecher is again chairman.) After closely examining Loeffler's financial disclosure forms and other information, Tindera estimates that the couple is worth at least $800 million, and likely over $1 billion — or roughly quadruple the wealth of the second-richest member of Congress, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).Here's how the pandemic profiteering worked. On January 24, there was a private all-Senate briefing about the looming disaster — long before there was a broad public understanding that the U.S. was going to get slammed by COVID-19. Immediately afterward, both Loeffler and Perdue started trading strategic stocks. As The Daily Beast reported at the time, Loeffler executed 29 transactions valued between $1.275 and $3.1 million in the following days before the market crashed, almost all of them sales — one exception was a purchase of Citrix, which sells teleworking software. (Also, Loeffler recently violated the legal prohibition on soliciting campaign funds in a Senate office building.)Perdue made a similar number of trades, but bought more than Loeffler — in particular, an investment of up to $850,000 in DuPont, which manufactures personal protective equipment. And as The Associated Press reports, in late January he sold between $1 million and $5 million in shares of Cardlytics, a financial technology firm, at $86 per share. Then, when the market had bottomed out in March, he snapped up between $200,000 and $500,000 of Cardlytics shares at $30 apiece; since then the share price has shot back up to $121. Nice tidy little profit to counterbalance the 270,000 dead Americans. (The Daily Beast also reports that in 2019, Perdue bought up shares of a submarine parts manufacturer before voting to give the company a lucrative contract, then sold it for another handsome profit.)When reports of these trades first came out, both Loeffler and Perdue insisted they had nothing to do personally with the moves. "I have never used any confidential information I received while performing my Senate duties as a means of making a private profit ... professionals buy and sell stocks on our behalf," wrote Loeffler in an April 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Perdue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that advisers made his investment decisions on their own.In the first place, candidates not taking direct control of their stock trades does not actually remove the conflict of interest. If you are a senator, and you hire a bunch of asset managers to look after your investments without any kind of blind trust, you still know what those investments are. You can make decisions knowing that your Goldman Sachs lackeys will make the profit-maximizing move in response — which is the best-case scenario of what happened here.But realistically speaking, it is virtually impossible to believe that all these trades had nothing to do with the two senators. Are we really to believe it was a coincidence that these asset managers started making "there is a pandemic coming" trades the very same day the two were receiving classified briefings on the disaster? Come on. Indeed, The New York Times recently reported that Perdue was lying with his blanket denial — he did directly instruct his manager to sell the Cardlytics shares after receiving a cryptic email mentioning "upcoming changes" from the company's then-CEO. (Perdue and Loeffler have been cleared of legal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice, but given that Attorney General Barr is a shameless Trump stooge, that is hardly reassuring.)Since then, both Perdue and Loeffler have largely downplayed the pandemic. Unlike Ossoff and Warnock, both have been holding large, in-person rallies. In July, both Loeffler and Perdue came out against extending the boost to unemployment insurance in the CARES Act, and since then neither have answered questions about further economic rescue measures from Atlanta Magazine. Instead, since the election they have amplified Trump's flagrant lies that Georgia's Republican governor and secretary of state somehow helped Joe Biden steal the election there.Over the last decade or so, there has been a long discussion of why Democrats are bleeding votes in rural areas (precisely where Republicans run up huge margins in Georgia). And on one level it's an important debate — there is good evidence that as Democrats embraced austerity, deregulation, and free trade that harmed such places, it hurt their vote share.But on another level, it is frankly staggering that the Republican Party has swooped in to replace them. The Democrats may not be much of a friend to the working class or rural farmers, but Republicans are straight-up picking their pockets. If you want a couple senators to govern solely on behalf of their massive asset portfolio while leaving everyone else twisting in the wind, vote Perdue and Loeffler.More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. How camp explains Trump McConnell's latest COVID relief plan includes GOP priorities, 1-month unemployment extension
More than 150 parliamentarians from 18 countries have called on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to intervene to ensure justice for 12 people, the youngest of who is 16, who have been detained in mainland China while trying to flee the city by boat. The 12, who had all faced charges in Hong Kong linked to anti-government protests, have been held virtually incommunicado in a mainland prison since they were detained at sea on Aug. 23, apparently while trying to reach the democratic island of Taiwan. Chinese authorities said last week members of the group face charges of illegal border crossing and organising an illicit border crossing, which could carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
A Tennessee trial court judge improperly reduced a Black inmate's death sentence to life in prison last year, a state appeals court has ruled. Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman (AHB’-dur-RAK’-mahn) was scheduled to be executed in April, but the judge resentenced him last fall based on claims that prosecutors had illegally excluded African Americans from the jury pool. The inmate filed to reopen his case in 2016, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Black death row inmate in Georgia, finding prosecutors had illegally excluded Blacks from a jury that ended up being all white.
President Trump threatened to veto a $740 billion defense spending bill if it doesn't repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, an unrelated provision that grants broad legal immunity to social media and other internet sites. Unless the "dangerous and unfair Section 230" is "completely terminated," Trump said on Twitter, he will "unequivocally veto" the legislation. Section 230, which shields social media companies from legal liability for user content posted on their sites, is considered a foundational provision of the internet.Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act with bipartisan support for 59 years in a row, and "presidents from both parties have always signed them, even after issuing veto threats," The Wall Street Journal notes. "The Senate version passed 86-14, and the House version passed 295-125, more than the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a potential veto." Negotiators are currently working out the differences so the legislation can be cleared in the next few weeks. Trump has already threatened to veto this same bill over a provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate officers.There is bipartisan support to reform Section 230, though each party objects to different ways it affects social media. Democrats say Facebook, Twitter, and other sites should do more to weed out disinformation and dangerous content, while Trump has complained baselessly that the sites censor conservatives. The NDAA authorizes $740 billion in Pentagon and Energy Department spending, including a 3 percent raise for U.S. troops, and guides Pentagon policy decisions.Besides passing the NDAA, Congress hopes to push through a spending bill to keep the government running and a COVID-19 relief package before adjourning for the year.More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. How camp explains Trump McConnell's latest COVID relief plan includes GOP priorities, 1-month unemployment extension
China has provided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his family with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, a U.S. analyst said on Tuesday, citing two unidentified Japanese intelligence sources. Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington, said the Kims and several senior North Korean officials had been vaccinated.
The New Georgia Project, a voter registration group formerly led by Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, is under investigation for allegedly sending ballot applications to non-residents, the Georgia secretary of state said Monday.Warnock was CEO of the group, which was originally founded by failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, until February. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the group, and three others, are under investigation for improper registration activities.While Raffensperger, a Republican who has been vocal in debunking President Trump’s claims of election fraud, said that he has not seen signs of widespread, systemic fraud, there is evidence of "third-party groups working to register people in other states to vote here in Georgia."Raffensperger said the New Georgia Project "sent voter registration applications to New York City," in a potential violation of state law."Voting in Georgia when you are not a resident of Georgia is a felony," Raffensperger said. "These third-party groups have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting. If they do so, they will be held responsible."Warnock served as CEO of the group, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan effort to register and civically engage Georgians” from 2017 until February 21, 2020, according to the Washington Free Beacon. He has said he organized voter mobilization drives for the New Georgia Project, including an effort to register 80,000 new minority voters in 2014.The group says it has registered "nearly 400,000 people from underrepresented communities to vote in Georgia.”Warnock, who is competing against incumbent senator Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.) in a runoff race that could decide party control of the Senate, had called past voter fraud probes against the group “alarmist.”In 2014, the secretary of state's office conducted an investigation into the New Georgia Project after contractors working for the group were accused of forging voter registration applications. The case was referred to law enforcement three years later, though no charges were ever brought.Warnock claimed in 2017 that "using the word voter fraud is alarmist, and it was totally unnecessary." He argued that the New Georgia Project had "excellent internal controls and that we have followed the law," as evidenced by the lack of charges brought against the group.Three other voter registration groups are also under investigation, Raffensperger said, including America Votes, which allegedly sent "absentee ballot applications to people at addresses where they have not lived since 1994."Vote Forward allegedly registered a dead Alabama voter in Georgia while Operation New Voter Registration Georgia is accused of recommending college students temporarily change their residency for the purpose of voting in the state.
There were no visible wounds to the body and a cause of death hadn't yet been determined for the 26-year-old, police said.
Republicans are already signaling they won't vote to confirm Neera Tanden, President-elect Joe Biden's choice to run the Office of Management and Budget, next year -- and some have even cast doubt on whether she'll receive a committee hearing. One reason for their antipathy is her prolific activity on Twitter, which includes a fair amount of criticism of GOP lawmakers. Indeed, it appears Tanden was expecting this, since she has seemingly deleted a fair number of tweets over the last few weeks.But GOP critics are calling the lawmakers complaining about Tanden's social media presence hypocrites, especially since President Trump and a few of his own appointees haven't shied away from using the platform to ridicule political and personal opponents (and sometimes presumed allies) over his four years in office.> Do republicans feel even the slightest bit sheepish talking about a Biden nominees tweets when they supported a president who governed largely by tweet?> > -- Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) December 1, 2020In fact, throughout Trump's term, it wasn't uncommon for Republican lawmakers to say they hadn't actually seen the president's posts.> Many Republican senators who always professed to be unfamiliar with Trump tweets are very familiar with Tanden tweets https://t.co/xZPi3mivFU> > -- Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) November 30, 2020But, The Washington Post's Paul Waldman argues, the lawmakers likely aren't all that concerned about Tanden's Twitter use, but are instead using it as part of a strategy to make it more difficult for Biden to assemble the Cabinet he wants. > When you hear Republicans air specific concerns about Biden nominees remember that Obama nominated Merrick Garland because Republicans specifically mentioned him as a Supreme Court nominee they'd support. > > This is their rope-a-dope strategy. Don't fall for it. /1> > -- Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) December 1, 2020More stories from theweek.com Our parents warned us the internet would break our brains. It broke theirs instead. How camp explains Trump McConnell's latest COVID relief plan includes GOP priorities, 1-month unemployment extension
Australia has welcomed its first group of international students to arrive since the coronavirus pandemic began, with more due to follow. A charter flight carrying 63 students from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia landed Monday in the northern city of Darwin. The students will all attend Charles Darwin University, with some new to the campus and others previously enrolled.