Biden Orders Strikes on Iranian Group in Iraq After 3 US Service Members Wounded
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President Biden ordered strikes on three locations in Iraq after three U.S. service members were wounded, one critically, in an attack on Erbil Air Base early Christmas morning credited to a militia group backed by Iran.

In a statement Monday, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Biden directed the strikes against three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, which claimed credit for the initial attack against U.S. personnel.

The groups, the U.S. said, are all connected to Iran.

The attack was carried out by a one-way attack drone, according to the statement, which said the three locations were “focused specifically on unmanned aerial drone activities.”

The statement said Biden ordered the retaliatory strikes after learning of the attack that wounded the U.S. service members.

“President Biden was immediately briefed on the attack this morning, and he ordered the Department of Defense to prepare response options against those responsible. Those options were then presented to the President during a call this afternoon with Secretary of Defense Austin and members of the President’s national security team,” the statement read.

“During that call, the President directed strikes against three locations utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups focused specifically on unmanned aerial drone activities,” the statement continued.

“The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm’s way. The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue.”

The attacks come as the Israeli war in Gaza continues to stoke tensions in the region. The Biden administration has backed Israel in the war, while militia groups across the region backed by Iran have increased their military actions in response to the bombardment of Gaza.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a statement called the strikes “necessary and proportionate” and said they were “intended to disrupt and degrade capabilities of the Iran-aligned militia groups directly responsible.”

Austin echoed Biden’s warning that the U.S. is prepared to take further action if necessary.

“Let me be clear – the President and I will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests. There is no higher priority,” Austin said in the statement.

“While we do not seek to escalate conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities.”

Read 88 Comments
  • John Garnett says:

    With the technology to pinpoint where the rockets are launched, we need to hit every one of those sites SIMULTANEOUSLY. Take out every launch site.

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    McConnell Will Step Down as Senate Republican Leader in November



    Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving Senate leader in history who maintained his power in the face of dramatic convulsions in the Republican Party for almost two decades, will step down from that position in November.

    McConnell, who turned 82 last week, was set to announce his decision Wednesday in the well of the Senate, a place where he looked in awe from its back benches in 1985 when he arrived and where he grew increasingly comfortable in the front row seat afforded the party leaders.

    “One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” he said in prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. “So I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

    His decision punctuates a powerful ideological transition underway in the Republican Party, from Ronald Reagan’s brand of traditional conservatism and strong international alliances, to the fiery, often isolationist populism of former President Donald Trump.

    McConnell said he plans to serve out his Senate term, which ends in January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.” Aides said McConnell’s announcement about the leadership post was unrelated to his health. The Kentucky senator had a concussion from a fall last year and two public episodes where his face briefly froze while he was speaking.

    “As I have been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work,” McConnell said in his prepared remarks. “A moment when I am certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. It arrived today.”

    The senator had been under increasing pressure from the restive, and at times hostile wing of his party that has aligned firmly with Trump. The two have been estranged since December 2020, when McConnell refused to abide Trump’s lie that the election of Democrat Joe Biden as president was the product of fraud.

    But while McConnell’s critics within the GOP conference had grown louder, their numbers had not grown appreciably larger, a marker of McConnell’s strategic and tactical skill and his ability to understand the needs of his fellow Republican senators.

    McConnell gave no specific reason for the timing of his decision, which he has been contemplating for months, but he cited the recent death of his wife’s youngest sister as a moment that prompted introspection. “The end of my contributions are closer than I’d prefer,” McConnell said.

    But his remarks were also light at times as he talked about the arc of his Senate career.

    He noted that when he arrived in the Senate, “I was just happy if anybody remembered my name.” During his campaign in 1984, when Reagan was visiting Kentucky, the president called him “Mitch O’Donnell.”

    McConnell endorsed Reagan’s view of America’s role in the world and the senator has persisted in face of opposition, including from Trump, that Congress should include a foreign assistance package that includes $60 billion for Ukraine.

    “I am unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world,” McConnell said.

    Against long odds he managed to secure 22 Republican votes for the package now being considered by the House.

    “Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them,” McConnell said. “That said, I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan discussed. For as long as I am drawing breath on this earth I will defend American exceptionalism.”

    Trump has pulled the party hard to the ideological right, questioning longtime military alliances such as NATO, international trade agreements and pushing for a severe crackdown on immigration, all the while clinging to the falsehood that the election was stolen from him in 2020.

    McConnell and Trump had worked together in Trump’s first term, remaking the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary in a far more conservative image, and on tax legislation. But there was also friction from the start, with Trump frequently sniping at the senator.

    Their relationship has essentially been over since Trump refused to accept the results of the Electoral College. But the rupture deepened dramatically after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. McConnell assigned blame and responsibility to Trump and said that he should be held to account through the criminal justice system for his actions.

    McConnell’s critics insist he could have done more, including voting to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial. McConnell did not, arguing that since Trump was no longer in office, he could not be subject to impeachment.

    Rather than fade from prominence after the Capitol riot, Trump continued to assert his control over the party, and finds himself on a clear glidepath to the Republican nomination. Other members of the Republican Senate leadership have endorsed Trump. McConnell has not, and that has drawn criticism from other Republican senators.

    McConnell’s path to power was hardly linear, but from the day he walked onto the Senate floor in 1985 and took his seat as the most junior Republican senator, he set his sights on being the party leader. What set him apart was that so many other Senate leaders wanted to run for president. McConnell wanted to run the Senate. He lost races for lower party positions before steadily ascending, and finally became party leader in 2006 and has won nine straight elections.

    He most recently beat back a challenge led by Sen. Rick Scott of Florida last November.

    McConnell built his power base by a combination of care and nurturing of his members, including understanding their political imperatives. After seeing the potential peril of a rising Tea Party, he also established a super political action committee, The Senate Leadership Fund, which has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Republican candidates.

    Despite the concerns about his health, colleagues have said in recent months that they believe he has recovered. McConnell was not impaired cognitively, but did have some additional physical limitations.

    “I love the Senate,” he said in his prepared remarks. “It has been my life. There may be more distinguished members of this body throughout our history, but I doubt there are any with more admiration for it.”

    But, he added, “Father Time remains undefeated. I am no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues would remember my name. It is time for the next generation of leadership.”

    There would be a time to reminisce, he said, but not today.

    “I still have enough gas in the tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm which they have become accustomed.”

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    Panhandle Wildfire Grows Into 2nd-Largest in Texas History



    Wildfires sweeping across the Texas Panhandle have prompted evacuations, power outages and temporarily shutdown a nuclear weapons facility.

    The Smokehouse Creek Fire has burned 500,000 acres since igniting on Monday, making it the second-largest wildfire on record in the Lone Star state, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

    The flames have spread at an average rate of 150 football field per minute, according to CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.

    Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in response to the wildfires.

    ‘Texans are urged to limit activities that could create sparks and take precautions to keep their loved ones safe,’ Abbott said.

    Over 5,400 people in Texas were without power Wednesday morning, according to

    The Pantex plant, the country’s main facility that assembles and disassembles America’s nuclear arsenal, had evacuated most of its personnel on Tuesday night as the fires raged out of control near its facility.

    Early Wednesday, Pantex tweeted that the facility ‘is open for normal day shift operations’ and that all personnel were to report for duty according to their assigned schedule.

    ‘The Smokehouse Creek fire is being fueled by southwesterly winds to 60 mph and is rapidly spreading east-northeast towards the Texas town of Canadian,’ AccuWeather severe weather expert Guy Pearson said.

    Gusty winds, dry conditions and unseasonably warm temperatures have fed the blazes.

    The Grape Vine Creek Fire has reached 30,000 acres, the Reamer Fire has scorched 2,000 acres, Windy Deuce Fire has burned 40,000 acres and the Magenta fire has blazed through 2,000 acres, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

    Evacuations were ordered in Skellytown, Wheeler, Allison and Briscoe, according to the National Weather Service in Amarillo.

    The Canadian Independent School District cancelled classes on Wednesday.

    ‘Homes have burned in almost every direction,’ Hemphill County Judge Lisa Johnson told local newspaper The Canadian Record.

    Randall County, Potter County and the City of Amarillo had declared a local state of disaster, according to the Amarillo Area Office of Emergency Management.

    The Hansford County Office of Emergency Management said on Facebook, ‘Structures and Houses lost in Hemphill County inside and outside of Canadian.’

    ‘Multiple areas in Fritch and surrounding areas evacuated and multiple houses lost to the fires.’

    The weather forecast provided some hope for firefighters, with cooler temperatures, less wind and possibly rain forecast on Thursday.

    AccuWeather meteorologist Dan DePodwin said: ‘Winds on Wednesday are expected to be 10-20 mph which is much calmer than Tuesday. This should aid in firefighting efforts.’

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    Lauren Boebert’s 18-Year-Old Son Arrested, Faces 22 Charges After String of Alleged Thefts



    Rep. Lauren Boebert’s oldest son was arrested Tuesday and faces 22 criminal charges, including five felonies, following a string of alleged thefts in Colorado.

    Tyler Boebert, 18, was slapped with five felony charges, four for criminal possession of ID documents with multiple victims, and one conspiracy to commit charge, according to the Rifle Police Department.

    The teen also faces misdemeanor charges of four first-degree criminal trespassing of an automobile, with intent to commit a crime, four charges of identity theft, possession with intent to use, two charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    Tyler Boebert, who turns 19 in March, was also handed three petty offenses for theft less than $300.

    Boebert’s arrest is not the teen’s first brush with the police.

    In 2022, Boebert was given a “careless driving causing bodily injury” ticket when he flipped his father’s SUV into a Garfield County creek bed, injuring his 19-year-old friend, according to Westword.

    As part of a plea deal, Tyler Boebert was ordered to attend an “Alive at 25” driver awareness program.

    Prosecutors dropped the case to a “defective vehicle for headlights” ticket, but Boebert never made his April 2023 court appearance.

    A bench warrant was issued for the teen, who eventually called the court and requested for the hearing to be changed to a later date, where he would appear virtually, reportedly sending in the “Alive at 25” completion certificate, Westword later reported.

    In June, Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) confirmed she was a grandmother at 36 when Tyler and his girlfriend gave birth to their first son.

    Earlier this month, the Republican congresswoman was granted a restraining order against her ex-husband, Jayson Boebert, who had allegedly threatened to harm her and himself over a 14-month period.

    Jayson Boebert was released on bail from the Garfield County jail following his arrest on assault charges, one day after he claimed Lauren Boebert punched him in the face in a case of domestic violence.

    He “made multiple suicidal threats and threats to harm me over the past 14 months,” the lawmaker claimed in a Garfield County court filing on Feb. 2.

    Tyler’s three younger siblings were also included under the protection, but because he is an adult, he wasn’t included.

    In December, Boebert announced she would not seek re-election for her current seat, but instead run in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

    “I am going to do everything in my power to represent the 3rd District well for the remainder of this term as I work to earn the trust of grassroots conservative voters in the 4th District to represent them in 2025,” Boebert, 37, said in a Facebook post announcing her decision.

    Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) announced last year he would not seek re-election in the district, setting up a crowded GOP primary on June 25.

    Boebert currently has a nearly $1.3 million war chest, according to federal campaign finance filings, and faces a field of four other Republican candidates, including former Colorado state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

    She finished fifth in a straw poll last month behind Sonnenberg, state representative Mike Lynch, Deborah Flora, and state representative Richard Holtorf, in that order.

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    Trump Plans to Post $100 Million Bond in NY Fraud Case



    Donald Trump’s lawyers have said they will post a bond of $100million in the New York fraud case, prompting New York AG Letitia James to counter that he is trying to get away with paying just a quarter of a court judgement against him.

    Trump’s lawyers called the $464million fine ‘exorbitant and punitive’ and blamed new lending restrictions a judge imposed on him for making it impossible for him to raise the full amount.

    James’ office countered that Trump simply lacked the ‘liquid assets,’ after James has threatened to seize prized Trump real estate assets if necessary.

    Trump’s lawyers say in a new legal filing that Trump can’t secure the full amount, and blame New York Justice Arthur Engoron for a ruling after Trump’s fraud trial that bars the former president and his company. from appealing for bank financing for a period of three years.

    ‘The exorbitant and punitive amount of the Judgment coupled with an unlawful and unconstitutional blanket prohibition on lending transactions would make it impossible to secure and post a complete bond,’ defense lawyers wrote in a filing on Wednesday.

    James’ team fired back with their own filing. ‘There is no merit to defendants’ contention … that a full bond or deposit is unnecessary because they are willing to post a partial undertaking of less than a quarter of the judgement amount,’ prosecutors write. ‘Defendants all but concede … that Mr. Trump has insufficient liquid assets to satisfy the judgment; defendants would need to “raise the capital” to do so.’

    The former president’s attorneys have demanded a stay in the enforcement of the $355 million fine, plus interest, Justice Arthur Engoron handed down two weeks ago.

    The interest is rising by $111,984 per day, and now Trump’s legal team have revealed they will pay $100million to cover the bond.

    That brings the total amount to $454 million with penalties and interest.

    His latest legal move come as Judge Engoron received ‘suspicious white powder’ in and envelope sent to his New York Supreme Court office.

    Fire trucks and emergency responders swarmed the court as two members of staff were sent into isolation, but the judge was not exposed, Law360 reported.

    ‘Appellants nonetheless plan to secure and post a bond in the amount of $100 million.’

    The lawyers also argued it was ‘unnecessary’ to post a bond covering the full fine because of the Trump Organization’s independent monitor.

    They argued assets in the Trump Organization could be collected by New York Attorney General Letitia James if needed.

    ‘Those assets are not going anywhere, nor could they given the oversight of the Monitor and the practical realities of the existence of the very public Judgment,’ they added.

    James has already threatened to seize Trump’s buildings and has taunted him by positing the added interest on X every day.

    ‘If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets’, she told ABC News last week.

    Trump and his attorneys have repeatedly blasted Engoron’s fine, and Trump has called at the civil and criminal cases against him part of a ‘witch hunt.’

    Trump’s team asked the judge to stay enforcement pending his appeal, saying that if James were to confiscate real estate assets it would cause ‘irreparable harm’ to his firm.

    James in an interview mentioned Trump’s building at 40 Wall Street, which is among the jewels in his real estate empire.

    James’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Trump stated in a deposition for the case that he had $400 million in cash, which would get him close to the total amount of the fines and penalties.

    His lawyer Alina Habba said in a media interview earlier this month that Trump would in fact post the full amount.

    ‘I can tell you what the rules are. Within 30 days, even if we choose to appeal this, we have to post the bond, which is the full amount and then some. We will be prepared to do that,’she told Fox News, although she also described posting bond as merely an ‘option.’

    In her own filing, James’ office ripped Trump’s contention that he couldn’t pay.

    While the AG ‘opposes an interim stay in full, it would be especially inappropriate for the Court to stay enforcement of the following forms of relief—and particularly to do so without the statutorily required full undertaking by defendants to secure satisfaction of the judgment’s entire monetary component following appeal,’ prosecutors wrote.

    The filing cited other judgements against Trump – a reference to the jury award in the $83 million E. Jean Carroll defamation case – and said the value of his real estate holdings could go down while Trump appeals the Engoron order.

    ‘Mr. Trump has other significant liabilities, including other outstanding money judgments against him… And the value of defendants’ real-estate holdings or other illiquid assets may substantially decrease during appeal, all while statutory postjudgment interest accrues.’

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    Lawsuit Accuses Andy Cohen of Coke Parties



    Real Housewives kingpin Andy Cohen has faced a number of accusations and unsavory allegations of late, but a cocaine fueled favoritism and booze bullying lawsuit today from Leah McSweeney has truly raised his ire.

    Late tonight after word of the New York-filed action seeped out, a representative for Cohen told Deadline “the claims against Andy are completely false!”

    Never one to claim he is or ever was a saint, the often TMI Cohen also wasn’t particularly surprised by Tuesday’s filing by RH and Ultimate Girls Trip vet McSweeney against him, Bravo, NBCUniversal, production company Shed Media and various producers, I hear. After all, McSweeney had openly threatened last year to take the gang to court when she had her own employment discrimination action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tossed out.

    With that proviso and with the Bravoverse under such scrutiny right now from a range of lawsuits and lawyers, the defendants probably hoped McSweeney wouldn’t go all scorched Earth on them like she did.

    The former Real Housewives of New York City star really did shoot off a flamethrower in what she says was a distinct effort to stop her from exercising her right to remain sober.

    Decrying a “rotted workplace culture that uniquely depended on pressuring its employees to consume alcohol,” the suit goes on to claim that RH franchise EP Cohen “engages in cocaine use with Housewives and other Bravolebrities that he employs.” The filing also alleges that Cohen flatters the “Housewives with whom he uses cocaine with more favorable treatment and edits.”

    Making it very personal for McSweeney herself, the suit states “defendants with the knowledge that Ms. McSweeney struggled with alcohol use disorder, colluded with her colleagues to pressure Ms. McSweeney to drink, retaliated against her when she wanted to stay sober, and intentionally failed to provide reasonable accommodations that would aid her efforts to stay sober and able to perform.”

    The NY courts weren’t the only arena that McSweeney choose to plant her flag on Tuesday.

    “Your favorite Bravo shows are run by people who create a dangerous work environment, encourage substance abuse to artificially create drama and cynically prey on the vulnerabilities of their employees,” McSeeeney wrote on her Instagram page a few hours after the lawsuit was filed. “I may be a pariah to them after this, but I do hope my lawsuit helps reality TV to align with its true purpose: to authentically depict the complexities of life while offering genuine support to those who share their stories,” she adds – as you can see below.


    View this post on Instagram


    A post shared by Leah McSweeney (@leahmob)

    While unscripted shows have always attracted lawsuits like they attract narcissists, Bethenny Frankel’s self-described “reality reckoning” war last year against the “sordid and dark underbelly of NBC’s widely consumed reality TV universe” really lit the cannons to fire at will. Taking aim at the restrictive NDAs and manipulation and mind games allegedly taking place on unscripted shows, Frankel’s main lawyer Bryan Freedman has put Bravo and NBCU on legal notice.

    Even with NBCU promising stricter workplace conduct guidelines for its reality TV offerings, a slew of sexual assault and sexual harassment suits have followed in recent months. While NBCU isn’t the only media giant with such problems (just say the words Netflix and Love Is Blind around a courthouse or two, to see what I mean), they are often in the seedy spotlight.

    In the past three months alone, the legal action has gotten more down and dirty than ever. Last October, Marco Vega, the butler on the second season of Peacock‘s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually assaulted by cast members Brandi Glanville and Phaedra Parks. In December, RH alum Caroline Manzo claimed fellow Real Housewives star Glanville sexually assaulted her during the Morocco filming of Peacock‘s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. Both Vega and Manzo’s suits had Bravo, Forest Productions, Warner Bros., NBCU, Shed Media and Peacock as defendants.

    Last week, Glanville’s lawyer Freedman and Mark Geragos put NBCU, WBD and Shed Media on the scolding seat with a letter alleging Andy Cohen sexually harassed their client.

    Citing the “abusive practices of the reality TV industry,” the lawyers said in a letter to the C-suites that an apparently drunken Cohen sent Glanville a video in 2022 where he told her that he, an openly gay man, wanted her to watch him have sex with “another Bravo star that night,” aka Kate Chastain. Termed as an “extraordinary abuse of power” by Glanville, the allegations soon saw Cohen taking to social media to say it was all a joke that Glanville was in on. On Twitter/X, Cohen acknowledged “it was totally inappropriate and I apologize.”

    That wasn’t enough for Glanville and her lawyers, who soon afterwards on February 23 asked Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to “do the right thing” and fire Cohen. Glanville herself says she still hasn’t received a personal sorry from Cohen.

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    Illegal Migrant Arrested for Rape of 14-Year-Old Girl, Stabbing Man During Knifepoint Robbery



    An illegal immigrant from Honduras has been arrested in Louisiana for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl and repeatedly stabbing another man during a robbery, with a local police chief blasting the obstacles law enforcement is faced with while trying to capture criminal illegal immigrants.

    Angel Matias Castellanos-Orellana, 19, had been on the loose for the rape of the girl earlier this month when he was arrested Sunday for robbing a man at knifepoint as he got out of his car in the 2600 block of Phoenix Street in Kenner, the Kenner Police Department said in a Facebook post.

    Castellanos-Orellana approached the man and demanded his property before the illegal migrant stabbed the victim multiple times in his face and his back, according to Fox 8. The victim was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition.

    Castellanos-Orellana has been charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery, first-degree rape and aggravated assault for the two incidents. A federal ICE detainer was also issued for Castellanos-Orellan, police said.

    In the Facebook post, Kenner Police said that local law enforcement agencies are often hindered when trying to deal with illegal immigrants due to the lack of documented identifiers and noted that Castellanos-Orellana has used aliases in the past, including the name Elven Locket. They asked anyone with information on Castellanos-Orellana to contact them.

    Kenner Police Department Chief Keith Conley also railed against illegal migrants committing crimes in the area and said they pose challenges for law enforcement for many reasons.

    “Lack of access to data, false identification and language barriers put local law enforcement at a huge disadvantage,” Conley said.

    “We cannot verify if an illegal alien is giving correct information as it pertains to names and dates of birth. It is not only a drain on police manpower, but a financial drain on local law enforcement’s budgets and taxpayers’ money.”

    “In a 25-day period, this illegal alien caused terror in our community. We are glad he is off our streets, but will he be back? Will he have a new identity? What other crimes has he committed since he crossed our borders?”

    Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry passed on his well wishes to the victims and said Castellanos-Orellana should never have been in the state in the first place.

    “Sharon and I are praying for the victims and their families [who] were harmed by this undocumented criminal,” Landry wrote on X.

    “This man should never have been in Louisiana! We must close our borders and keep our communities safe!”

    The incident comes on the same week that an illegal Salvadoran immigrant was arrested in connection to the murder of a toddler in Langley Park, Maryland, earlier this month.

    Nearly 7.3 million migrants have illegally crossed the southwest border under President Biden’s watch, a number greater than the population of 36 individual states, a Fox News analysis found.

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    CBS News Boss Who Signed Off on Firing Catherine Herridge to Get Free Speech Award



    The CBS News boss who signed off on the controversial ouster of Catherine Herridge — a respected Washington correspondent who has been embroiled in a high-profile First Amendment case — is nevertheless being honored with a free speech award next month.

    CBS News president Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews was selected by Radio Television Digital News Association to be among 13 honorees at the 33rd annual First Amendment Awards at The Watergate Hotel in Washington DC on March 9.

    The irony was not lost on CBS News insiders who cited the fact that the exec was played a role in pushing out Herridge — an award-winning investigative reporter who is under pressure from a US District Court judge for not revealing how she learned about a federal probe into a Chinese American scientist.

    Herridge may soon be held in contempt of court for not divulging her source for an investigative piece she penned in 2017 when she worked for Fox News and be ordered to personally pay fines that could total as much as $5,000 a day.

    “The RTDNA must be tone deaf to give Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews and CBS News an award for the First Amendment,” said a longtime journalist. “It tarnishes the whole meaning of the award.”

    The Post reached out to inquire whether the RTDNA Foundation was rethinking honoring Ciprian-Matthews.

    In its response, the foundation declined to comment specifically on the Herridge controversy.

    “The Foundation selected Ciprián-Matthews for her commitment to excellent and ethical journalism, especially at a time when the stakes are so high,” said president Dan Shelley. “Her leadership during some of the most challenging news stories in American history is a testament to the power of journalism.”

    Last week, CBS parent Paramount announced it will lay off around 800 people at the debt-saddled company, including roughly 20 from CBS News.

    A CBS source said the decision to oust Herridge was made by higher ups in the Washington D.C. bureau, where the reporter was based.

    Ciprian-Matthews and other company execs approved of the decision, the person said.

    “This restructuring does not in any way reflect on or diminish Ingrid’s well-deserved and outstanding journalistic record,” said a rep for CBS News, who called the news president “a highly regarded executive with decades of experience upholding the highest values of journalism.”

    “Ms. Herridge was one of more than 700 people impacted on Feb. 13 at Paramount and dozens more from other news organizations enduring mass layoffs in Washington in the last few months including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Vice, Vox, the Messenger and more,” the rep continued.

    Nevertheless, critics ripped the network and Ciprian-Matthews for allowing Herridge to get swept up in the mass culling.

    “She was pursuing stories that were unwelcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic powerhouses, including the Hur report on Joe Biden’s diminished mental capacity, the Biden corruption scandal and the Hunter Biden laptop,” Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar and a former CBS legal analyst, recently wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill.

    The revelation comes as the House Judiciary Committee has launched an investigation into Herridge’s termination, as well as the handling of her files after she was let go.

    CBS News retained Herridge’s personal files, which contained confidential information on her legal case, as well as stories she had worked on, among other things.

    Facing mounting pressure from the House Judiciary Committee and SAG-AFTRA, the union representing the journalist, CBS News returned the files on Monday.

    As previously reported by The Post, Herridge has run into “internal roadblocks” at the network as she covered the Hunter Biden laptop story.

    She also clashed with Ciprian-Matthews, a sharp-elbowed executive who was investigated in 2021 over favoritism and discriminatory hiring and management practices, as revealed by The Post in January.

    Indeed, sources speculated that Herridge’s firing could be retaliatory, as the correspondent sparked the 2021 investigation against Ciprian-Matthews.

    It began when correspondent Jeff Pegues allegedly went on a 20-minute rant, in which he dressed down a senior correspondent — whose identity was recently revealed as Herridge by Puck News.

    A source told The Post at the time, that Ciprian-Matthews, who was in the meeting, did not initially report the incident and attempted to “blame” Herridge for Pegues’ diatribe when it was finally brought to the attention of HR.

    The incident opened a Pandora’s Box, as allegations that Ciprian-Matthews had protected Pegues and other diverse correspondents — to the detriment of primarily white, female correspondents — flooded the desk of Jennifer Gordon, an executive vice president of employee relations at Paramount Global who conducted the investigation.

    The probe found that Pegues’ behavior was unprofessional, but months later, Ciprian-Matthews supported his promotion to Chief National Affairs and Justice Correspondent.

    Gordon, who sources claimed failed to interview key witnesses in her probe against Ciprian-Matthews, concluded merely that the exec was a “bad manager” with limited resources, a source close to the situation told The Post at the time.

    As first reported by The Post, Pegues was let go, along with Herridge, as part of a purge of 20 staffers at CBS News.

    The Post has learned that Gordon was also let go amid layoffs at parent Paramount Global, which slashed nearly 800 jobs.

    “Between Pegues, Herridge and Gordon,” the only one left standing who witnessed it is Ingrid,” a CBS insider said.

    A rep for Paramount Global said :”Per policy we don’t comment on personnel matters.”

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    Google “Working Around the Clock” to Fix “Unacceptable” Gemini AI, CEO Says



    Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the company’s Gemini controversy Tuesday evening, calling the AI app’s problematic responses around race unacceptable and vowing to make structural changes to fix the problem.

    Google suspended its Gemini image creation tool last week after it generated embarrassing and offensive results, in some cases declining to depict white people, or inserting photos of women or people of color when prompted to create images of Vikings, Nazis, and the Pope.

    The controversy spiraled when Gemini was found to be creating questionable text responses, such as equating Elon Musk’s influence on society with Adolf Hitler’s.

    Those comments drew sharp criticisms, especially from conservatives, who accused Google of an anti-white bias.

    Most companies offering AI tools like Gemini create guardrails to mitigate abuses and to avoid bias, especially in light of other experiences. For instance, image generation tools from companies like OpenAI have been criticized when they created predominately images of white people in professional roles and depicting Black people in stereotypical roles.

    “I know that some of its responses have offended our users and shown bias – to be clear, that’s completely unacceptable and we got it wrong,” Pichai said.

    Pichai said the company has already made progress in fixing Gemini’s guardrails. “Our teams have been working around the clock to address these issues. We’re already seeing a substantial improvement on a wide range of prompts,” he said.

    Google confirmed the memo, and the full note from Pichai is below.

    “I want to address the recent issues with problematic text and image responses in the Gemini app (formerly Bard). I know that some of its responses have offended our users and shown bias – to be clear, that’s completely unacceptable and we got it wrong.”

    Our teams have been working around the clock to address these issues. We’re already seeing a substantial improvement on a wide range of prompts. No AI is perfect, especially at this emerging stage of the industry’s development, but we know the bar is high for us and we will keep at it for however long it takes. And we’ll review what happened and make sure we fix it at scale.

    Our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful is sacrosanct. We’ve always sought to give users helpful, accurate, and unbiased information in our products. That’s why people trust them. This has to be our approach for all our products, including our emerging AI products.

    We’ll be driving a clear set of actions, including structural changes, updated product guidelines, improved launch processes, robust evals and red-teaming, and technical recommendations. We are looking across all of this and will make the necessary changes.

    Even as we learn from what went wrong here, we should also build on the product and technical announcements we’ve made in AI over the last several weeks. That includes some foundational advances in our underlying models e.g. our 1 million long-context window breakthrough and our open models, both of which have been well received.

    We know what it takes to create great products that are used and beloved by billions of people and businesses, and with our infrastructure and research expertise we have an incredible springboard for the AI wave. Let’s focus on what matters most: building helpful products that are deserving of our users’ trust.

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    Biden and Trump Win Michigan Primaries, Edging Closer to a Rematch



    President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump won the Michigan primaries on Tuesday, further solidifying the all-but-certain rematch between the two men — yet early results from the state were highlighting some of their biggest political vulnerabilities ahead of the November general election.

    A vigorous “uncommitted” campaign organized by activists disillusioned with Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza was making headway. It had already far surpassed the 10,000-vote margin by which Trump won Michigan in 2016, a goal set by organizers of this year’s protest effort.

    As for Trump, he has now swept the first five states on the Republican primary calendar. But there were early signs that Trump was continuing to struggle with some influential voter blocs who have favored former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in previous contests. Haley’s strongest performance Tuesday night came in areas with college towns like Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, and suburbs around Detroit and Grand Rapids.

    For Biden, the notable percentage of “uncommitted” voters could signal weakness with parts of the Democratic base in a state he can hardly afford to lose in November. Trump, meanwhile, has underperformed with suburban voters and people with college degrees, and faces a faction within his own party that believes he broke the law in one or more of the criminal cases against him.

    Michigan has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation. More than 310,000 residents are of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry. Nearly half of the Detroit suburb of Dearborn’s roughly 110,000 residents claim Arab ancestry.

    Both the White House and Biden campaign officials have made trips to Michigan in recent weeks to talk with community leaders about the Israel-Hamas war and how Biden has approached the conflict, but those leaders have been unpersuaded.

    A robust grassroots effort began just a few weeks ago to encourage voters to select “uncommitted” as a way to register objections to the death toll caused by Israel’s offensive. Nearly 30,000 people have died in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, according to Palestinian health officials.

    That push has been backed by officials such as Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman in Congress, and former Rep. Andy Levin.

    “Uncommitted” votes were hovering around the 15% mark needed to qualify for delegates statewide. It was too soon to say whether the campaign would collect delegates locally.

    In a statement, Biden did not directly acknowledge the “uncommitted” effort. Instead he touted the progress his administration has achieved for Michigan voters, while warning that Trump is “threatening to drag us even further into the past as he pursues revenge and retribution.”

    “This fight for our freedoms, for working families, and for Democracy is going to take all of us coming together,” Biden said. “I know that we will.”

    Trump won the state by just 11,000 votes in 2016 over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and then lost the state four years later by nearly 154,000 votes to Biden. Organizers of the “uncommitted” effort wanted to show that they have at least the number of votes that were Trump’s margin of victory in 2016, to demonstrate how influential the bloc can be.

    “It is not lost on me that this president has softened his language and begun to recognize Palestinian suffering. But what is not enough is lip service. What we need is a withdrawal of support” for Israel, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said as votes rolled in Tuesday night.

    “Tonight, we will watch the votes tally. But what’s most important is to understand that the White House is listening,” Hammoud said.

    Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., a prominent Biden supporter in the state, said the president’s campaign was well aware of its challenges in Michigan ahead of Tuesday night. She stressed that outreach needed to continue to not just the Arab American and Muslim communities, but other coalitions that will be critical for Democrats in November.

    “We have to talk to young people,” Dingell said, pointing to Washtenaw County, where Ann Arbor is located. “Women who turned out in record numbers last year, and get in the union halls.” Dingell also noted that Trump was underperforming among Republican primary voters, underscoring his general election weaknesses in the critical swing state.

    Trump’s victory in Michigan over Haley, his last major primary challenger, after the former president defeated her by 20 percentage points in her home state of South Carolina on Saturday. The Trump campaign is looking to lock up the 1,215 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination sometime in mid-March.

    Trump’s dominance of the early states is unparalleled since 1976, when Iowa and New Hampshire began their tradition of holding the first nominating contests. He has won resounding support from most pockets of the Republican voting base, including evangelical voters, conservatives and those who live in rural areas. But Trump has struggled with college-educated voters, losing that bloc in South Carolina to Haley on Saturday night.

    Trump did not travel to the state Tuesday night. He instead called into a Michigan GOP election night watch party in Grand Rapids, where he stressed the importance of the state in the general election and said the results Tuesday evening were “far greater than anticipated.”

    “We have a very simple task: We have to win on Nov. 5 and we’re going to win big,” Trump said, according to a campaign transcript. “We win Michigan. we win the whole thing.”

    But Haley campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said the Michigan results were a “flashing warning sign for Trump in November.”

    “Let this serve as another warning sign that what has happened in Michigan will continue to play out across the country. So long as Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, Republicans will keep losing to the socialist left. Our children deserve better.”

    Still, even senior figures in the Republican Party who have been skeptical of Trump are increasingly falling in line. South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican who has been critical of the party’s standard-bearer, endorsed Trump for president on Sunday.

    Shaher Abdulrab, 35, an engineer from Dearborn, said Tuesday morning that he voted for Trump. Abdulrab said he believes Arab Americans have a lot more in common with Republicans than Democrats.

    Abdulrab said he voted four years ago for Biden but believes Trump will win the general election in November partly because of the backing he would get from Arab Americans.

    “I’m not voting for Trump because I want Trump. I just don’t want Biden,” Abdulrab said. “He (Biden) didn’t call to stop the war in Gaza.”

    Haley has vowed to continue her campaign through at least Super Tuesday on March 5, pointing to a not-insignificant swath of Republican primary voters who have continued to support her despite Trump’s tightening grip on the GOP.

    She also outraised Trump’s primary campaign committee by almost $3 million in January. That indicates that some donors continue to look at Haley, despite her longshot prospects, as an alternative to Trump should his legal problems imperil his chances of becoming the nominee.

    Two of Trump’s political committees raised just $13.8 million in January, according to campaign finance reports released last week, while collectively spending more than they took in. Much of the money spent from Trump’s political committees is the millions of dollars in legal fees to cover his court cases.

    With nominal intraparty challengers, Biden has been able to focus on beefing up his cash reserves. The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced last week that it had raised $42 million in contributions during January from 422,000 donors.

    The president ended the month with $130 million in cash on hand, which campaign officials said is the highest total ever raised by any Democratic candidate at this point in the presidential cycle.

    The Republican Party is also aligning behind Trump as he continued to be besieged with legal problems that will pull him from the campaign trail as the November election nears. He is facing 91 criminal changes across four separate cases, ranging from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost, to retaining classified documents after his presidency to allegedly arranging secret payoffs to an adult film actor.

    His first criminal trial, in the case involving hush money payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels, is scheduled to begin on March 25 in New York.

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    Fani Willis Accused of Having Tryst in Private Law Office with Former Lover Nathan Wade: Testimony



    Fani Willis was accused of having a sexual tryst in her private law office with former lover Nathan Wade when she ran a private practice between 2018 and 2019.

    The juicy accusation was launched in a Georgia court on Tuesday when defense attorneys questioned Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney, Terrence Bradley.

    Bradley was ordered Monday to testify about Willis and Wade, who stand accused of being in an intimate relationship before Willis tapped her lawyer and former mentor to become special prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s Georgia election interference case in November 2021.

    “He told you they had sex at [her] office, correct?” Ashleigh Merchant — a lawyer for Trump co-defendant Michael Roman — asked Bradley of Wade’s comments.

    “I don’t recall him saying that, no,” he replied.

    Bradley didn’t recall many details about his knowledge — or lack thereof — about Wade and Willis’ relationship in a near incredulous display of forgetfulness as he was grilled by three lawyers for the defendants.

    Bradley had previously been billed as the star witness at the hearings. However, when pressed by Merchant about when he found out about Willis and Wade’s relationship, Bradley repeatedly said he could not remember the date.

    “I do not have knowledge of when it started,” Bradley said.

    He also claimed he only discussed the relationship once with Wade in their law office, but does not recall exactly when that happened.

    However, texts exchanged between Bradley and Merchant appear to show otherwise.

    “It started when she left the DA’s office and was a judge in South Fulton. They met at the municipal court CLE conference,” Bradley reportedly texted Merchant.

    He testified Tuesday that he “speculated on some things” in the text exchange and did not have direct knowledge of what actually went down.

    His response puzzled the defense lawyers.

    “Why in the heck would you ‘speculate’?” Donald Trump’s lawyer Steve Sadow shot back.

    “I have no answer for that,” Bradley testified.

    Willis and Wade have told the court their relationship first became romantic in 2022 and have stuck by that story through their testimony, but lawyers for Trump and Roman have insisted they can prove otherwise.

    Bradley had previously refused to testify in court, citing attorney-client privilege between him and Wade.

    Judge Scott McAfee ruled Monday Bradley and Wade were not covered under such a privilege after a private meeting with him, and recalled the attorney to the stand.

    Bradley has previously conceded he stepped down from the law firm where he worked together with Wade following sexual assault allegations from a staffer.

    Trump and his co-defendants are looking to disqualify Willis from the case and to have all charges, centered around the state’s expansive racketeering RICO law, dismissed.

    The defendants have argued Willis and Wade compromised the integrity of the case as the district attorney financially benefitted from Wade’s appointment.

    Merchant has pointed to records which show Wade spending money on luxury travel for himself and Willis, bought with money earned from Fulton County’s coffers.

    So far, the defense has also presented dozens of pings from Wade’s cellphone that place it at Willis’ rented condo in the early hours of the morning prior to 2022. A former friend of the district attorney, who owned the condo, has also testified she saw the two “hugging” and “kissing” in 2019.

    Fulton County DA Ana Cross, however, suggested the ex-pal, Robin Yeartie, may have had an ax to grind after she resigned from her position as Willis’ media rep in 2021, with Yeartie herself testifying that she would have been fired if she hadn’t stepped down.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Texas Nuclear Weapons Facility Pauses Operations as Wildfires Spread Through Rural Panhandle



    A widening Texas wildfire doubled in size Tuesday and prompted evacuation orders in at least one small town as strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm highs fueled the blaze in the state’s rural Panhandle.

    Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties as the largest fire burned more than 300 square miles (780 square kilometers), according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

    That is more than twice its size since the the fire sparked Monday.

    “Texans are urged to limit activities that could create sparks and take precautions to keep their loved ones safe,” Abbott said.

    The largest blaze, known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, closed highways and remained 0% contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Forest Service.

    Multiple fires were reported across Hemphill and Hutchinson counties, near the Oklahoma border.

    Texas state Sen. Kevin Sparks said an evacuation order was issued for the town of Canadian, a town of about 2,000 about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Amarillo, and other areas.

    The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings and fire danger alerts for several other states through the midsection of the country, as high winds of over 40 mph (64 kph) combined with warm temperatures, low humidity and dry winter vegetation to make conditions ripe for wildfires.

    In central Nebraska, a mower sparked a prairie fire that has burned a huge swath of grassland roughly the size of the state’s largest city of Omaha, state officials said Tuesday.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝


    Eric Adams Calls for An End to Sanctuary Cities as NYC Struggles to Care for 200,000 Migrants



    New York Mayor Eric Adams has called for a radical overhaul of its sanctuary city status in a spectacular u-turn as the city buckles under the weight of migrant arrivals.

    The Democrat leader has faced a furious backlash as schools, hotels and community centers have been turned over to the 180,000 migrants who he has warned will ‘destroy’ the city.

    He has been a staunch defender of its decades-old sanctuary status which forbids city officials from asking questions about a person’s immigration status, or revealing it to federal authorities.

    But he revealed his change of heart after furious residents grilled him about migrant crimes including January’s brutal Times Square attack on two cops that saw most of the suspects freed on bail within hours of their arrests.

    ‘We need to modify the sanctuary city law that if you commit a felony or violent act we should be able to turn you over to ICE and have you deported,’ he told a town hall meeting on Monday night.

    More than 560 cities, states and counties have declared themselves sanctuaries since the early 1980s and New York adopted the status under former Democrat Mayor Ed Koch.

    But sanctuary cities have been a favorite target of governors on the southern border who have bussed thousands of migrants north to them as the migration crisis has gathered steam.

    Police in the city are not allowed to arrest anyone because they are an illegal immigrant and the city will not co-operate with an investigation by immigration authorities unless ordered to by a court.

    Adams insisted ‘We should protect our immigrants. Period.’ when running for office in October 2021, adding: ‘New York City will remain a sanctuary city under an Adams administration.’

    As recently as last month he was defending the status after it was attacked by Nikki Haley for encouraging illegal migration during a Republican primary debate.

    ‘This has nothing to do with sanctuary cities, migrants and asylum seekers are paroled into the country, they’re here legally,’ he told Fox News.

    But the city expects to have spent $10.6 billion by the end of 2025 and announced a budget in December that would cut the number of NYPD officers by a fifth and the education cut by $1 billion hit over two years.

    ‘Let me tell you something, New Yorkers,’ Adams told a public meeting in September. ‘Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this.

    ‘This issue will destroy New York City. Destroy New York City.’

    He faced more pressure this week over his plans for a $53 million debit card scheme that could give a family of migrants with two children under the age of 17 up to $15,200-a-year.

    Sanctuary status has come under growing pressure in other cities dealing with the migrant influx, and Chicago’s Democrat leaders were slammed for blocking a vote on ditching its sanctuary city status in at the end of last year.

    Mayor Brandon Johnson ordered his lieutenants to quash a bid to put the controversial ‘Welcoming City Ordinance’ to a referendum on Chicago’s March primary ballot.

    Adams admitted earlier this month that he would use his executive authority to override some sanctuary provisions if he was allowed as he was challenged by Republican city councilors.

    And his u-turn was greeted as a ‘welcome change’ by City Councilman Joe Borelli.

    But the Legal Aid Society said reform would criminalize the innocent.

    ‘What Mayor Eric Adams seeks would result in local law enforcement being able to transfer New Yorkers merely suspected of a crime to ICE, upending local criminal court proceedings while perpetuating family separation and dividing communities,’ it said in a statement.

    Adams blamed Congress for his handling of the crisis on Monday night, insisting his hands were tied by Federal laws.

    ‘People tell me all the time, they see me on the street and they say, ‘Well Eric why don’t you stop the buses from coming in?’ It’s against the law, I can’t,’ he told the meeting.

    ‘Why don’t you allow those who want to work – allow them to work?’ It’s against the law – the federal law – I can’t.

    ‘Why do you say you have to house everyone that [comes] in?’ Because that’s the law.

    ‘Why don’t you deport those who commit crimes and harm people that are not doing the right thing?’ It’s against the law, I can’t.

    ‘So I am inheriting a national crisis that I have to resolve and we are resolving that crisis like no other city, folks.

    ‘Go Google other cities. You don’t see tent cities in New York. You don’t see children and families sleeping on the street in New York. This team here has managed the crisis each time they come.’

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Doctor Dies After Dining at Disney Restaurant Where Waitstaff Insisted Food Was Allergen-Free



    A doctor from New York University died shortly after she ate at a Disney Springs restaurants in Florida — and her bereaved husband is blaming negligent staffers, according to a lawsuit.

    Kanokporn Tangsuan, a doctor at the prestigious NYU Langone hospital in Manhattan, died suddenly after having dinner at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant on Oct. 5.

    Her husband, Jeffrey Piccolo, has filed a 19-page lawsuit in Orange County, Fla., circuit court, accusing Walt Disney Parks and Resorts of negligence, noting that Tangsuan had made it clear to the waitstaff that she had nut and dairy allergies.

    The staff at the pub insisted they were able to make allergen-free food, after Tangsuan checked multiple times, the suit said.

    Tangsuan ordered broccoli and corn fritter, scallops and onion rings.

    The restaurant is owned and operated by owned and operated by Irish partners John Cooke and Paul Nolan, not by Disney.

    After dinner, Tangsuan left the restaurant to explore the shopping complex when she began feeling sick.

    She entered Planet Hollywood, where she experienced severe difficulty breathing and collapsed.

    Though an epi-pen was immediately administered to her, she ultimately died at a local hospital, the lawsuit said.

    According to court papers, the medical examiner’s investigation revealed she died as a result of anaphylaxis due to “elevated levels of dairy and nut in her system.”

    Court papers claimed that Disney advertises and makes it clear to the public that food allergies and/or the accommodation of persons with food allergies are a “top priority” at its parks and resorts.

    The suit alleged Disney “failed to educate, train and/or instruct its employees” to “make sure food indicated as allergen free or requested to be made allergen free, was in fact free of allergens.”

    It also stated Disney had “control over the menu of food offered, the hiring and/or training of the wait staff, and the policies and procedures as it pertains to food allergies at Disney Springs restaurants.”

    Piccolo is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 pursuant to Florida’s wrongful death act, in addition to mental pain and suffering, loss of income and funeral expenses.

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    The End of iCar: Apple Scraps Its Autonomous Electric Vehicle Plans After a Decade of Work



    Apple on Tuesday notified employees it was killing the ‘Apple car’, a much-anticipated project which had been in the pipeline for more than a decade.

    The move to abandon its electric car plan was revealed in an internal memo circulated to around 2,000 company employees, Bloomberg reported.

    It said that some employees on the team that had been developing the car, known as the Special Projects Group, will be moved to its artificial intelligence (AI) division.

    However, not everybody would be saved and some layoffs would be inevitable, the outlet reported.

    The cancelation of the project comes as a bit of a shock. Just last month, Bloomberg itself reported the company would launch the car as early as 2028 and reduce its self-driving abilities.

    The memo came from Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch, a vice president in charge of the project, Bloomberg reported.

    Apple’s electric car has been planned since at least 2014, and rumors around what it would entail have evolved over that period.

    Though its initial plans were to create a fully autonomous vehicle, it recently pared back plans.

    Executives were also reportedly concerned that at the target price of $100,000 profit margins would be precariously slim.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝


    The Big Recyclable Plastic Lie Exposed



    Big Oil companies and plastic producers have known for more than 30 years that recycling is not a permanent solution, a new report has claimed.

    The left-leaning Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) found that companies including Exxon Chemical, and the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) have misled the public about recycling to avoid regulatory action and revenue losses.

    The report claimed that the plastic industry has been aware that certain plastics are impossible to repurpose, but are mixed in with those that can, making sorting difficult and expensive.

    While the companies are said to have known about recycling was not economically or technically feasible, they have continued to push recycling in marketing campaigns that still exist today.

    However, industry insiders have been sounding the alarm for decades, saying plastic recycling is ‘uneconomical’ and that it ‘cannot go on indefinitely,’ according to newly surfaced documents featured in the report.

    CCI used existing research and internal documents from APC staffers, which are said to suggest that the plastics and petrochemical industries were aware of the recycling obstacles and how plastic impacts our planet.

    Richard Wiles, CCI President, said: ‘This evidence shows that many of the same fossil fuel companies that knew and lied for decades about how their products cause climate change have also known and lied to the public about plastic recycling.

    ‘The oil industry’s lies are at the heart of the two most catastrophic pollution crises in human history.

    ‘When corporations and trade groups know that their products pose grave risks to society, and then lie to the public and policymakers about it, they must be held accountable.

    ‘Accountability means stopping the lying, telling the truth, and paying for the damage they’ve caused.’

    About 32 percent of Americans currently recycle, but 72 percent of products end up in landfills – only nine percent are actually recycled.

    Plastics are made from fossil fuels like oil and gas (known as petrochemicals) that have increased levels of toxicity which seeps out of the product as it degrades, meaning they can’t be recycled into food packaging or surfaces that come into contact with food.

    The waste debacle began in the 1950s when single-use plastics were created to ensure consumers ‘would buy and buy and buy, Davis Allen, an investigative researcher at the CCI and the report’s lead author, told The Guardian.

    Then at a 1965 industry conference, the Society of the Plastics Industry, a trade group, told plastic manufacturers to focus on ‘low cost, big volume’ and ‘expendability’ and develop materials that can be tossed ‘in the garbage wagon.’

    The narrative was passed to the public – plastic can be easily thrown away or incinerated to get rid of.

    However, the tune on single-use plastics began to change in the 1980s when officials began discussion on banning them in grocery stores and products – such as what has now happened in several states like California and New Jersey.

    The report claimed that in an effort to save the plastic industry, companies turned to recycling.

    The Vinyl Institution (VI), which represents vinyl plastic manufacturers, stated in a 1986 report that ‘recycling cannot be considered a permanent solid waste solution, as it merely prolongs the time until an item is disposed of.’

    VI continued to explain that ‘recycling cannot be considered a permanent solid waste solution,’ but doing so just prolongs it until the item is tossed into a landfill.

    ‘The practice of incinerating or burning solid waste to recover energy is really another form of recycling,’ VI continued, noting the process has been used municipal solid waste in the US since 1885.

    Even though VI revealed recycling is not a solution, the Society of Plastics Industry launched its Plastics Recycling Foundation in 1984, which was followed by the iconic arrows that tell consumers which materials can and cannot be recycled.

    In 1990, McDonald’s which now uses paper wrappers for most of its items, was pushing for plastic alternatives, claiming that plastic was better than paper.

    The fast-food conglomerate described its recycling efforts on all paper liners on customers’ trays, in their brochures, and Shelby Yastrow, the company’s general counsel at the time, claimed polystyrene – the chemical used to create plastic – is 100 percent recyclable and better for the environment than paper.

    ‘Everything I look at tells me plastic is better,” Yastrow told CNN at the time. ‘I have a little trouble convincing my children or my neighbors, but the scientific community isn’t a problem.’

    McDonald’s faced pushback from anti-polystyrene picketing at several locations in Vermont, but after confronting the picketers and telling them about their recycling efforts, CNN reported that ‘by the end. local activists were asking that the company convert its paper cold-drink cups to plastic.’

    One 1994 document quotes a representative of Eastman Chemical saying that, while plastics recycling might one day become a reality, ‘it is more likely that we will wake up and realize that we are not going to recycle our way out of the solid waste issue.’

    Handwritten notes from a meeting between Exxon Chemical and the American Plastics Council quoted Exxon Chemical’s then-vice president saying that, when it came to recycling plastics, ‘we are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results.’

    ‘It’s clearly fraud they’re engaged in,’ said Wiles.

    America’s Plastic Makers is named in the report for its advertisements campaigns from 2020 to present.

    The ads ‘comprised of the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and its member companies, including BASF, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Dow, DuPont, Eastman, ExxonMobil, INEOS, and Shell,’ according to the CCI report.

    America’s Plastic Makers pushed literature that claimed that ‘the plastic mailing wrap containing your favorite Meredith magazine is recyclable.

    The group commented on the report saying: ‘Unfortunately, this flawed report cites outdated, decades-old technologies, and works against our goals to be more sustainable by mischaracterizing the industry and the state of today’s recycling technologies.

    ‘This undermines the essential benefits of plastics and the important work underway to improve the way plastics are used and reused to meet society’s needs.’

    In July 2022, the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition’s campaign to promote the recyclability of polypropylene led How2Recycle to upgrade the status of polypropylene rigid containers to ‘Widely Recyclable’ in the U.S.

    Greenpeace responded, arguing that The Recycling Partnership and How2Recycle’s claims about the recyclability of polypropylene #5 were misleading and that fewer than 30 percent of Americans have access to recycling streams that accept these plastics.

    ‘The vast majority of polypropylene packaging will end up in landfills and incinerators regardless of whether people put them in recycling bins,’ Greenpeace continued,

    The report did not claim the companies named had broken any laws, but Alyssa Johl, report co-author and attorney, told The Guardian that ‘she suspects they violated public-nuisance, racketeering and consumer-fraud protections.’

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    Japan Had the Fewest Babies It Has Ever Recorded Last Year. Marriages Dropped Steeply, Too



    The number of babies born in Japan last year fell for an eighth straight year to a new low, government data showed Tuesday, and a top official said it was critical for the country to reverse the trend in the coming half-dozen years.

    The 758,631 babies born in Japan in 2023 were a 5.1% decline from the previous year, according to the Health and Welfare Ministry. It was the lowest number of births since Japan started compiling the statistics in 1899.

    The number of marriages fell by 5.9% to 489,281 couples, falling below a half-million for the first time in 90 years — one of the key reasons for the declining births. Out-of-wedlock births are rare in Japan because of family values based on a paternalistic tradition.

    Surveys show that many younger Japanese balk at marrying or having families, discouraged by bleak job prospects, the high cost of living that rises at a faster pace than salaries and corporate cultures that are not compatible with having both parents work. Crying babies and children playing outside are increasingly considered a nuisance, and many young parents say they often feel isolated.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters Tuesday that the ongoing declining birth rate is at “critical state.”

    “The period over the next six years or so until 2030s, when the younger population will start declining rapidly, will be the last chance we may be able to reverse the trend,” he said. “There is no time to waste.”

    Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called the low births “the biggest crisis Japan faces,” and put forward a package of measures that have included more support and subsidies mostly for childbirth, children and their families.

    But experts say they doubt whether the government’s efforts will be effective because so far they have largely focused on people who already are married or already are planning to have children, while not adequately addressing a growing population of young people who are reluctant to go that far.

    The number of births has been falling since 50 years ago, when it peaked at about 2.1 million. The decline to an annual number below 760,000 has happened faster than earlier projections predicting that would happen by 2035.

    Japan’s population of more than 125 million is projected to fall by about 30% to 87 million by 2070, with four out of every 10 people at age 65 or older. A shrinking and aging population has big implications for the economy and for national security as the country seeks to fortify its military to counter China’s increasingly assertive territorial ambitions.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Former Obama Aides Sound Alarm Over “Frail” Biden



    Former aides who worked directly with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama administration have called current fears over his age “a very real issue” — with some alarmed at how he has become more “frail” and “mumbly.”

    “If you watch Joe Biden speak, oftentimes he sounds frail and he sounds more frail than he used to, even in 2019 and 2020,” Jon Favreau, the chief speechwriter for Obama when Biden was vice president, said in a recent episode of the “Pod Save America” podcast.

    “The voice sounds frail, and he shuffles more because of the arthritis in his back,” Favreau said, adding that the oldest-ever president also appears “mumbly.”

    He noted polls showing as many as 80% of Americans have expressed concern about the president being 81 — saying it needs to be tackled head-on because voters can see his clear decline.

    Even though the president has made an ever-growing series of gaffes and verbal stumbles, he needs to appear on camera even more if he’s to assuage voters’ concerns about his age — with his absence even worse, Favreau warned.

    “When world events seem like they are overtaking him and he’s not out there enough forcefully, that’s what’s getting people concerned,” Favreau argued.

    Podcast co-host Jon Lovett, another ex-Obama speechwriter, agreed and argued that the Biden campaign should get the president out in public to demonstrate his mental and physical abilities — even if they are concerned that he will make more gaffes.

    “I’m sure that going out there means more missteps … more gaffes that start circulating, but if you don’t view Biden being out there as a net positive, then the argument he shouldn’t be running is right.”

    Meanwhile, former Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer expressed his own concerns in a separate interview.

    “It is a very real issue,” he told Courier.

    “If Biden can’t assuage, particularly among his voters from 2020, then I don’t think he can win the election — so in some ways, it’s the crux for his campaign.”

    Pfeiffer said addressing Biden’s age should be the “first strategic priority” for the re-election campaign.

    “There’s a segment of voters who have decided — as of right now, I think their minds can be changed — who have decided that Joe Biden is too old for the job and can’t do it, so they’re not going to listen to anything he says,” he said.

    Former Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod also suggested the Biden campaign lean into the president’s personality, noting how in 1979 the then-senator told the Soviet Union, “Don’t s–t a s–tter.”

    He alluded to reports of anonymous White House sources talking about Biden’s angry behavior behind the scenes and suggested Biden embrace his temper and confront former President Donald Trump directly with “short phrases with Biden-esque” language that could go viral online.

    “I would encourage Biden to be Biden,” Axelrod said on CNN.

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    Read the Death Threat Sent to Trump Jr. with White Powder



    Former President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had an unexpected surprise Monday after he was sent a letter containing white powder and a note with a death threat, causing a hazmat unit and firefighters to arrive at his Florida home.

    “It’s just become a little bit too commonplace that this sort of stuff happens,” Donald Trump Jr. told the Daily Caller.

    “Clearly, if this happened to a prominent Democrat it wouldn’t be tolerated and would drive news coverage for weeks. The media would blame all Republicans and force them to answer for it, But since it’s me, radical haters on the left will largely get a free pass and the media will barely flinch.”

    “It doesn’t matter what your politics are, this type of crap is unacceptable,” Donald Trump Jr. continued.

    “This is actually the second white powder substance envelope that’s been mailed to me. The last time we had this happen, it was during my father’s presidency and my then-wife opened it up with my kids by her side. So, it’s just sad that we live in a society where politics and the left’s hatred of my father would drive people to do such crazy things, but that’s where we are unfortunately. ”

    This is the second time Trump Jr. has received an envelope containing an unknown white powder.

    Andrew Surabian, a spokesperson for Trump Jr., told the Caller that: “The test results of the substance came up inconclusive on what it was exactly, but officials on the scene do not believe it is deadly.”

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    Judge Orders Nathan Wade’s Divorce Lawyer to Testify “Without Attorney Privilege”



    A judge has determined that Nathan Wade’s former law partner and divorce lawyer must tell the court what he knows about the special prosecutor’s relationship with District Attorney Fani Willis – a decision that could produce more bombshell testimony as defense attorneys seek to disqualify the DA from prosecuting the Fulton County election interference case.

    Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s chambers notified attorneys in the case by email late Monday that certain communications Terrence Bradley had with Wade are not protected by attorney-client privilege, according to numerous people who read the email. Bradley could be compelled to testify as soon as Tuesday afternoon. McAfee’s decision followed a closed-door meeting between the judge and Bradley on Monday that lasted nearly an hour and 20 minutes.

    Defense attorneys are seeking to disqualify the entire DA’s office because of what they have called an “improper” romantic relationship between Willis and Wade. The defense attorneys say Willis benefitted financially by hiring Wade because he paid for trips they took together with money he earned from the case.

    Willis and Wade have testified they split the cost of travel roughly equally. And they said their relationship began months after she hired him to oversee the case in November 2021.

    Bradley’s testimony could be damning for Willis and Wade. McAfee has already heard testimony from a former friend and employee of Willis who said the romance began long before Willis hired Wade. Defense attorneys have suggested Bradley can also testify that Willis and Wade were romantically involved before she hired him.

    A second witness contradicting Willis and Wade could provide further evidence to support the defendants’ assertion that Willis and Wade lied under oath at the recent hearing. The defendants also are seeking to introduce cell phone records they say are evidence that the romantic relationship began sooner than Willis and Wade have admitted.

    At the Feb. 15 hearing, attorneys for the DA, Wade and Bradley himself argued Bradley should not be compelled to testify. They said any knowledge Bradley had of the Willis-Wade romance was privileged because he served as Wade’s divorce attorney for a time.

    Defense attorneys argued that Bradley had personal observations and other knowledge of the relationship that he did not gain as Wade’s attorney.

    McAfee decided he needed more information before determining whether to compel Bradley to testify, prompting Monday’s closed-door meeting. All the while, Wade and his attorney waited in McAfee’s courtroom.

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    Biden Signals There Could Be a Truce in Gaza Soon



    U.S. President Joe Biden signaled that a cease-fire in Gaza could be at hand, saying that Israel has agreed to pause its offensive during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan if a deal is reached to release some hostages held by Hamas.

    But both Israel and Hamas downplayed on Tuesday the idea that a breakthrough was imminent.

    In the wake of Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, Israel’s air, sea and ground campaign in Gaza has killed tens of thousands of people, obliterated large swaths of the urban landscape, displaced 80% of the battered enclave’s population and sparked concerns that a famine could be imminent, according to the United Nations.

    Now, the prospect of an invasion of Rafah has prompted global alarm over the fate of civilians trapped there.

    Talks to pause the fighting have gained momentum recently and were underway Tuesday. Negotiators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar have been working to broker a cease-fire that would see Hamas free some of the dozens of hostages it holds in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, a six-week halt in fighting and an increase in aid deliveries to Gaza.

    The start of Ramadan, which is expected to be around March 10, is seen as an unofficial deadline for a deal. The month is a time of heightened religious observance and dawn-to-dusk fasting for hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world. Israeli-Palestinian tensions have flared in the past during the holy month.

    “Ramadan’s coming up and there has been an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in activities during Ramadan as well, in order to give us time to get all the hostages out,” Biden said in an appearance on NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers” that was filmed Monday.

    In separate comments the same day, Biden said that he hoped a cease-fire deal could take effect by next week.

    At the same time, Biden did not call for an end to the war, which was triggered when Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted roughly 250 people, according to Israeli authorities.

    Israeli officials said Biden’s comments came as a surprise and were not made in coordination with the country’s leadership. A Hamas official played down any sense of progress, saying the group wouldn’t soften its demands.

    The Israeli officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the sensitive talks with the media, said Israel wants a deal immediately, but that Hamas continues to push excessive demands. They also said that Israel is insisting that female soldiers be part of the first group of hostages released under any truce deal.

    Hamas official Ahmad Abdel-Hadi indicated that optimism on a deal was premature.

    “The resistance is not interested in giving up any of its demands, and what is proposed does not meet what it had requested,” he told the Pan-Arab TV channel Al Mayadeen.

    Hamas has previously demanded that Israel end the war as part of any deal, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “delusional.”

    At a news conference in Doha on Tuesday, Qatar Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said “we feel optimistic” about the talks, without elaborating.

    A senior official from Egypt has said the draft deal includes the release of up to 40 women and older hostages in return for up to 300 Palestinian prisoners — mostly women, minors and older people.

    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations, said the proposed six-week pause in fighting would allow hundreds of trucks to bring desperately needed aid into Gaza every day, including to the hard-hit north.

    Biden, who has shown staunch support for Israel throughout the war, left open the door in his remarks for an eventual Israeli ground offensive in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, on the border with Egypt, where more than half of the enclave’s 2.3 million people have fled under Israeli evacuation orders.

    Netanyahu has said a ground operation in Rafah is an inevitable component of Israel’s strategy for crushing Hamas. This week, the military submitted for Cabinet approval operational plans for the offensive, as well as evacuation plans for civilians there.

    Biden said he believes Israel has slowed its bombardment of Rafah.

    “They have to and they have made a commitment to me that they’re going to see to it that there’s an ability to evacuate significant portions of Rafah before they go and take out the remainder Hamas,” he said. “But it’s a process.”

    Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed more than 29,700 people, most of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. It does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its count.

    The first and only cease-fire in the war, in late November, brought about the release of about 100 hostages — mostly women, children and foreign nationals — in exchange for about 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, as well as a brief halt in the fighting.

    Roughly 130 hostages remain in Gaza, but Israel says about a quarter of them are dead.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

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