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Calista241's Journal
Calista241's Journal
September 30, 2022

Judge upholds Georgia election laws on all counts in voting rights case

Source: AJC

A federal judge delivered a decisive ruling Friday against allies of Democrat Stacey Abrams in their 4-year-old voting rights lawsuit, upholding Georgia election laws on all counts in the case filed by Fair Fight Action days after the 2018 election.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones’ judgment concludes the major case over Georgia’s voter registration and absentee ballot practices after a trial in which voters testified about problems at the polls but few of them were unable to cast a ballot.

“Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the Constitution nor the VRA (Voting Rights Act),” wrote Jones in his 288-page order.

The decision followed what is believed to be the longest voting rights trial in the history of the Northern District of Georgia, lasting 21 days with testimony from over 50 witnesses, wrote Jones, a nominee of President Barack Obama.

Read more: https://www.ajc.com/politics/judge-upholds-georgia-election-laws-on-all-counts-in-voting-rights-case/24ZA7WQVQVBFHI2PWCM7OMZWEI/

August 5, 2022

White House summoned Chinese ambassador to condemn provocations after Pelosi's Taiwan visit

Source: CNN

The White House summoned China's ambassador on Thursday to condemn China's "irresponsible" military activities near Taiwan as tensions continue to escalate in the region following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island this week.

"After China's actions overnight, we summoned PRC Ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to demarche him about the PRC's provocative actions. We condemned the PRC's military actions, which are irresponsible, at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability and across the Taiwan Strait," National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said in a statement to CNN.

The decision to summon Qin came after days of warnings to China not to escalate tensions in the region following the speaker's visit to the self-governing island, which the Chinese Communist Party regards as its territory despite having never controlled it. It represents a shift from the White House's attitude about the trip before it occurred, when officials privately tried to warn Pelosi over the possible consequences of the visit and how it could harm US-China relations. The meeting was first reported by The Washington Post.

In the days since Pelosi left Taiwan, China has taken multiple bellicose steps, both diplomatically and militarily.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/05/politics/white-house-summon-chinese-ambassador-qin-gang-provocations/index.html

This could be the start of something big. China is facing an debt and banking crisis of major proportions. A conflict or war could be exactly what they need to distract their population from problems at home.
July 7, 2022

Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court as her trial resumes

Source: NPR

Russia continued to make its case against Brittney Griner at her trial on Thursday, more than 140 days since the WNBA star was arrested at a Moscow-area airport on drug charges.

It marks Griner's second court appearance since her trial began in earnest last Friday. A judge had previously ordered her to be detained for the length of the trial, which her lawyer has said could last up to two months and will likely involve several hearings by the prosecution before the defense gets its turn.

The Phoenix Mercury Center and Olympic medalist could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of drug smuggling charges.


On Thursday, however, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov suggested that it is difficult to exchange prisoners with the U.S., in comments reported by Reuters. Referring to the letter that Biden intended to send Griner, he said that "hype" around the case does not help, and that "this kind of correspondence does not help."

Read more: https://www.npr.org/2022/07/07/1110229049/brittney-griner-trial-hearing-russia

May 20, 2022

Scoop: Sinema pushes to open up mining

Source: Axios

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) wants the Senate's bipartisan energy and climate talks to prioritize domestic battery production — and make it easier to mine critical minerals at home, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sinema's engagement on mining reform reveals both the possibilities — and pitfalls — of a potential bipartisan deal. Democrats are eager for a win this critical midterm year.

Sinema's support for permitting the mining reforms puts her on the same page as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — as well as some Senate Republicans.

It also reveals the contours of a package that would unlock billions of dollars for electric vehicles and green energy.

But tackling permitting reform, especially on the politically sensitive issue of mining, could create a chasm in the Democratic Party.

Driving the news: Axios is told that Sinema made her case during Tuesday night’s meeting of bipartisan senators, led by Manchin.

Read more: https://www.axios.com/2022/05/20/sinema-bipartisan-energy-talks-mining-reform

May 17, 2022

Nearly 43,000 people died on US roads last year, agency says

Source: Associated Press

Nearly 43,000 people were killed on U.S. roads last year, the highest number in 16 years as Americans returned to the roads after the coronavirus pandemic forced many to stay at home.

The 10.5% jump over 2020 numbers was the largest percentage increase since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began its fatality data collection system in 1975. Exacerbating the problem was a persistence of risky driving behaviors during the pandemic, such as speeding and less frequent use of seat belts, as people began to venture out more in 2021 for out-of-state and other road trips, analysts said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said America faces a crisis on its roads. The safety administration urged state and local governments, drivers and safety advocates to join in an effort to reverse the rising death trend.

“Our nation has taken a dangerous and deadly step backwards in traffic safety and impaired driving,” said MADD National President Alex Otte, who urged strong public-private efforts akin to the seat belt and air bag public safety campaigns of the 1990s to stem reckless driving. “More families and more communities are feeling the crushing magnitude of this crisis on our roads.”

Read more: https://apnews.com/article/health-government-and-politics-pandemics-transportation-8388d8ca4b1ad141939fe07ce00f9c7f

So people really did forget how to drive during COVID.
May 13, 2022

Detention of WNBA's Griner in Moscow extended for 1 month

Source: AP

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner said Friday her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month.

Griner’s lawyer Alexander Boikov told The Associated Press he believed the relatively short extension of the detention indicated the case would come to trial soon.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at the Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The Biden administration says Griner, 31, is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officials have worked toward her release, without visible progress.

Read more: https://apnews.com/article/brittney-griner-moscow-hearing-live-updates-0ff42a2ceab60724f86f6c7e7f81313a

pictures of the hearing at link.
May 10, 2022

House panel will hold first public hearing on UFOs in decades

Source: CNN

A House panel will hold an open congressional hearing next Tuesday about UFOs for the first time in over 50 years.

It will focus on a Pentagon program that was established last year after the US intelligence community released a preliminary assessment on 144 reports of "unidentified aerial phenomena'' since 2004 -- and could explain only one.

The House Intelligence Committee's subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation will hold the public hearing on May 17 at 10 a.m. ET. It will be followed by a closed, classified hearing on the Pentagon program, known as the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.

The two witnesses are Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Ronald S. Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray.

"The American people expect and deserve their leaders in government and intelligence to seriously evaluate and respond to any potential national security risks -- especially those we do not fully understand," said Indiana Democratic Rep. André Carson, the chairman of the subcommittee holding the hearing, in a statement.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/10/politics/ufo-hearing-house-intelligence-committee/index.html

May 6, 2022

George W. Bush meets virtually with Zelensky

Source: Axios

Former President George W. Bush confirmed on Twitter on Thursday that he'd had a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he praised as "the Winston Churchill of our time."

Why it matters: The meeting makes Bush the first known former U.S. president to speak with Zelensky since the start of the war.

What they're saying: "President Zelensky assured me that they will not waver in their fight against Putin’s barbarism and thuggery," Bush added in an Instagram post. "Americans are inspired by their fortitude and resilience."

"We will continue to stand with Ukrainians as they stand up for their freedom."

The big picture: Back in February, Bush condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine and urged the American government to throw its full support behind Ukraine.

Read more: https://www.axios.com/2022/05/05/george-w-bush-zelensky-meet

April 18, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court snubs challenge to state and local tax deduction cap

Source: Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by four Democratic-leaning states to lift a cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes put in place as part of a 2017 tax overhaul under Republican former President Donald Trump.

The justices turned away an appeal by New York, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey after a lower court threw out their lawsuit. The lower court held that the U.S. Congress had broad authority over taxes and did not violate the U.S. Constitution by placing a $10,000 limit on the amount of state and local taxes that individuals may deduct on federal income tax returns.

Democratic President Joe Biden's administration opposed the four states.

The deduction limit, known as the SALT cap, was part of a Republican-backed federal tax law signed by Trump that slashed the corporate tax rate and implemented an income tax cut for individuals, which tax policy experts said benefited wealthy Americans the most.

Democrats had opposed the law, which was expected to reduce federal revenues by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Capping the deduction disproportionately affects high-tax, often Democratic-leaning states, with New York estimating its taxpayers would pay $121 billion of extra federal taxes from 2018 to 2025.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/us-supreme-court-snubs-challenge-state-local-tax-cap-2022-04-18/

April 14, 2022

First look: Sinema raises $1.6 million during Q1

Source: Axios

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) raised $1.6 million during the first quarter of 2022, and nearly 75% of her contributions totaled less than $100, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: It's a lot of money for a senator who isn't up for reelection until 2024, and isn't a member of leadership or a committee chair. The numbers also give Sinema, a key holdout alongside Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the 50-50 Senate, something to point to amid their controversial record of bucking the party.

The fact that 3/4 of her contributions were less than $100, and more than 97% of contributions came from individuals, shows her support from small-dollar donors.

That's a coveted demographic among both parties.

What they're saying: A Sinema campaign spokesperson attributed the numbers, in part, to Sinema's work on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Read more: https://www.axios.com/sinema-16-million-fundraising-c18645d0-7fc4-4c71-9baa-ee12b24c5951.html

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