Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 |
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Texas man convicted in first Jan. 6 trial
A federal jury Tuesday convicted the first accused Jan. 6 rioter to go on trial even as prosecutors announced they had indicted a former leader of the Proud Boys. The jury found Guy Wesley Reffitt guilty on five counts, including obstruction of Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election by helping to lead a pro-Trump mob in an advance against police that resulted in the violent breach of the building in 2021. Reffitt was also convicted of wearing an illegal pistol at the riot and of threatening his children to keep them from turning him in. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction count alone.
Congress approves legislation to return Postal Service to solvency
Congress gave final approval on Tuesday to a sprawling overhaul of the Postal Service, sending President Joe Biden legislation intended to return the agency to solvency and address mail delays. The Senate voted 79-19 to approve the measure. Biden was expected to sign the bill, which the agency’s leadership and an array of interest groups support. The Postal Service has been on the brink of insolvency for years, largely because of a 2006 law that requires the agency to fund retiree health care benefits for its employees in advance. The legislation removes the retirement mandate and instead requires retired Postal Service employees to enroll in Medicare when eligible.
Spy agencies cite Russia’s setbacks but say Putin is ‘unlikely to be deterred’
Top U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin of Russia had been surprised and unsettled by the problems that have hampered his military in Ukraine. But Putin is determined to succeed in Ukraine and will try to double down and use ever more brutal tactics, the officials said during an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee. U.S. intelligence agencies, which before the war released information on Russia’s troop buildup and war plans, will work to highlight Russian atrocities and crimes, a continuation of the information war that helped rally the West to impose tough sanctions on Ukraine, the officials said.
Biden offers more free COVID tests although demand has slowed
The Biden administration Tuesday formally began allowing Americans who had ordered free coronavirus tests this winter to request a second round of four tests per household, through the same U.S. Postal Service program that President Joe Biden unveiled in January. The move, which Biden had promised last week during his State of the Union address, followed a crush of interest in the program when it debuted in January amid a case surge fueled by the omicron variant. Now, with supply outpacing demand, White House officials and public health experts say it will require significant effort to sustain interest in testing — and ensure that manufacturers keep producing tests.
Prince Andrew has paid settlement to Virginia Giuffre, her lawyer says
A lawsuit accusing Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II and former friend of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, of raping Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager was dismissed by a federal judge Tuesday, after a request from both parties. Andrew, 62, paid Giuffre an undisclosed sum to settle the suit, her lawyer said Tuesday. Each party will pay for its own costs and fees, according to documents filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The stipulation for dismissal resolved a lawsuit filed last year against Andrew, accusing him of sexually abusing Giuffre when she was 17, according to the complaint.
UN human rights chief to visit China
The United Nations’ top human rights official said Tuesday that China would allow her to visit the country and examine conditions there, including in the Xinjiang region. If the visit goes ahead in May as expected, Michelle Bachelet will be the first U.N. high commissioner for human rights in 17 years to visit China. Beijing has been accused of crimes against humanity in the mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, and it has also come under fire for a crackdown in Hong Kong that has essentially stripped the region of its independence from Beijing.
U.S. Aims to Contribute to Vaccines for Next Disease
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it intends to contribute $150 million over the next three years to a global effort aimed at rapidly producing a vaccine in case a new biological threat emerges. The financial commitment, which will require approval from Congress, is a small fraction of what is needed for the project being undertaken by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global foundation. The coalition’s CEO, Dr. Richard Hatchett, has announced a $3.5 billion, five-year effort to “face down the next Disease X with a new vaccine in just 100 days.”
Venezuela releases imprisoned Americans
Venezuela’s authoritarian government Tuesday released at least two imprisoned Americans, a U.S. official and Venezuelan human rights defenders said. The released men are Gustavo Cárdenas, an executive at the U.S. branch of Venezuela’s state oil company who was detained in 2017, and Jorge Alberto Fernández, according to a U.S. official and an American businessman who was briefed on the situation. Fernández, a Cuban American, was a tourist who was accused of terrorism for bringing a drone into Venezuela in 2021, according to his lawyer. At least eight other U.S. nationals remain jailed in Venezuela.
Israel offers refuge to Ukrainian refugees
Israel said Tuesday that it would offer temporary refuge to 5,000 Ukrainian refugees who have no Jewish connections and allow 20,000 Ukrainians who were in Israel before the war, most of them illegally and without visas, to stay until the fighting is over. The decision comes amid a debate in Israel over how widely the country should open its doors to those fleeing the war. Of the 5,000 Ukrainians to be given temporary refuge, more than 3,450 arrived in Israel since the war broke out Feb. 24, according to Israel’s Interior Ministry, while 151 Ukrainian passport holders were refused entry.
By wire sources
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