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Four Oath Keepers convicted of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy
Four members of the Oath Keepers have been convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack in the second major trial involving far-right extremists accused of plotting to forcibly keep President Donald Trump in power. A Washington, D.C., jury found Joseph Hackett, Robert Minuta, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo guilty on Monday. The verdict comes weeks after a different jury convicted two leaders of the extremist group in the mob’s attack that halted the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters after the verdict that he is “grateful to the prosecutors, agents and staff for their outstanding work.”
Depleted under Trump, the EPA struggles with its mission
The nation’s top environmental agency is still reeling from the exodus of more than 1,200 scientists and policy experts during the Trump administration. The Environmental Protection Agency’s chemicals chief said her staff can’t keep up with a mounting workload. The enforcement unit is prosecuting fewer polluters than at any time in the past two decades. And now this: The stressed-out, stretched-thin agency is scrambling to write about a half-dozen highly complex rules and regulations central that are to President Joe Biden’s climate goals. The new rules have to be enacted within the next 18 months or they could be overturned by a new Congress or administration.
As tax season starts, a beleaguered IRS looks to bolster customer service
The Biden administration is aiming to improve customer service at the IRS as the tax season began Monday, a pivotal moment for an agency at the center of a political fight over $80 billion in additional funding awarded by Congress last year. The IRS is racing to prepare 5,000 new agents to respond to taxpayers’ questions. It is also rolling out new automated systems and staffing up its brick-and-mortar taxpayer assistance centers. The upgrades are intended to highlight the initial impact of the money it received through last year’s Inflation Reduction Act legislation and allay fears fanned by Republicans that the funds will be used to ramp up audits.
Official: 7 killed in California community; suspect arrested
Seven people were killed in two related shootings Monday at a mushroom farm and a trucking firm in a coastal community south of San Francisco, and officials say a suspect is in custody. San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine says four people were killed at the farm and three at the trucking business. It wasn’t immediately clear how the locations were connected. But Pine says the suspect worked at one of the businesses. The shootings occurred on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay, a city about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The shooting followed the killing of 11 people Saturday at a ballroom dance hall in Southern California.
Florida’s rejection of Black history course stirs debate
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated the state’s rejection of a proposed nationwide advanced African American studies course, saying it pushes a political agenda. At a Monday press conference, DeSantis said the state wants education, not indoctrination. As an example, he cited the course’s inclusion of a unit on “Black Queer Studies.” Authors whose works are included in the course told The Associated Press it is DeSantis who is pushing a political agenda. They say he doesn’t want students exposed to ideas that are contrary to his right-wing philosophy. The College Board, which is testing the course at 60 U.S. high schools, hopes to roll out the course next year.
US: Ex-FBI counterintelligence agent aided Russian oligarch
A former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official has been indicted on charges he helped a Russian oligarch, in violation of U.S. sanctions. Charles McGonigal was the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York. He is accused in an indictment unsealed Monday of working with a former Soviet diplomat-turned-Russian interpreter on behalf of Russian energy magnate Oleg Deripaska. McGonigal supervised investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska, before retiring in 2018. McGonigal allegedly worked to have Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019 and allegedly took money from him. Online court records did not list lawyers who could speak on behalf of the defendants. Lawyers did not immediately return emails seeking comment.
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