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Melania Trump's Mother Dies at 78
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Amalija Knavs, the mother of former first lady Melania Trump, has died at the age of 78.

“It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved mother, Amalija,” Trump wrote on X Tuesday.

“Amalija Knavs was a strong woman who always carried herself with grace, warmth, and dignity. She was entirely devoted to her husband, daughters, grandson, and son-in-law. We will miss her beyond measure and continue to honor and love her legacy.”

Trump did not disclose a cause of death, but Knavs had been sick for some time.

Former President Donald Trump remembered his mother-in-law in a statement on his social media platform Truth Social Tuesday night.

“This is a very sad night for the entire Trump family!!!” he said. “Melania’s great and beautiful mother, Amalija, has just gone to a beautiful place in the sky. She was an incredible woman, and will be missed far beyond words!”

Melania Trump skipped her family’s annual Christmas photo — featuring her husband and three of his five children — to be at Knavs’ side in the hospital, insiders told The Post last month.

Despite his wife’s illness, Knavs’ husband and Melania Trump’s father, Viktor, 79, was spotted smiling in the snapshot.

Melania Trump and her Slovenian mother were incredibly close, according to her former senior aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

“Melania has always taken care of her parents. I pray for Amalija,” the “Melania and Me” author told The Post last month.

The Knavses officially became US citizens in 2018, two years into their son-in-law’s presidency.

They largely stayed out of the spotlight and spent the past few years living in Mar-a-Lago.

The pair had raised their daughter in the rural industrial town of Sevnica while Slovenia was under Communist rule.

Amalija Knavs worked in a textile factory, while Viktor was a car dealer.

The 53-year-old former first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modeling.

She settled in New York in 1996, met then-businessman Donald Trump two years later and became his third wife in 2005.

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Read 22 Comments
  • Skullbuster says:

    OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU ALL.RIP GOOD LADY!!

  • Michael Riley says:

    My condolences to you Melania, Donald and the Family’s.

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

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    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

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    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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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.’

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

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    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

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    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.

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    The Big Recyclable Plastic Lie Exposed

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    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

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    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.

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    Former Obama Aides Sound Alarm Over “Frail” Biden

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    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

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    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”

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    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

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    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.

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    Disturbing Details: Laken Riley’s Migrant Killer Accused of “Disfiguring Her Skull”

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    The illegal immigrant suspect charged in Augusta University nursing student Laken Riley’s death in Athens, Georgia, is accused of “disfiguring” her skull, according to new information added to the affidavit.

    Jose Antonio Ibarra is charged with the felonies of malice murder, murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another, as well as the misdemeanor of physically hindering a 911 call, according to the affidavit filed on Feb. 23. According to new information added this week, Ibarra “did commit the offense of aggravated battery when he maliciously causes bodily harm to another by seriously disfiguring her body or a member thereof by disfiguring her skull.”

    For the felony offense of concealing the death of another, the arrest affidavit accuses Ibarra of “dragging the victim to a secluded area.”

    Law enforcement has not yet disclosed exactly how Riley was killed, only that her death was caused by blunt force trauma.

    READ THE ARREST AFFIDAVIT.

    More information about the type of object used or exactly how she was killed was not included in the arrest affidavits filed in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court.

    Riley’s roommate reported she did not return for an early morning run Thursday.

    University of Georgia police found her body in the woods along a trail by the intramural fields before 1 p.m. that afternoon.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday confirmed that Ibarra, a Venezuelan national, entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 and had previously been arrested in New York City.

    Fox News had previously reported that 26-year-old Ibarra, had crossed into the U.S. illegally near El Paso, Texas, in September 2022 and was paroled into the U.S.

    In a statement to Fox News Digital, ICE confirmed he had been encountered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Sept. 8, 2022, after entering near El Paso and was “paroled and released for further processing.” ICE also said that Ibarra had been arrested by the New York Police Department a year later, on Sept. 14, 2023, and “charged with acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation.” On Monday it corrected the statement, saying he was arrested on Aug 31, 2023.

    ICE’s statement said Ibarra was released before a detainer could be issued. NYC is also a “sanctuary city,” which generally restricts law enforcement from complying with ICE detainers.

    The Athens-Clarke County Police Department also confirmed to Fox News Digital that Ibarra had been arrested in Georgia as recently as October. Ibarra was cited for shoplifting in Athens-Clarke County on Oct. 27, 2023, and he had an outstanding bench warrant in the county for failing to appear in court on the shoplifting charges, police said.

    Former President Trump blasted “Biden’s border invasion” in a post on TRUTH Social, saying Riley’s murder “should have NEVER happened.”

    In a letter to President Biden last week, Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp demanded “a response to questions surrounding the immigration status of the arrested suspect in the murder of Laken Riley and asylum claims of the suspect’s brother.”

    “Laken Riley’s tragic death struck the hearts of Georgians everywhere and has rightfully sparked national outrage,” Kemp said in a statement. “As I have said many times before: every state is now a border state because of Joe Biden’s inaction, and today I am again demanding answers and information from the Biden Administration that will help us protect our citizens when the federal government will not.”

    Clarke County Magistrate Judge Donarell Green denied Ibarra’s bond on Saturday. Two translators were present. Ibarra nodded when spoken to.

    Ibarra’s brother, Diego, was charged Friday with possessing a fraudulent green card and is being held in state custody. The federal arrest affidavit for Diego Ibarra says that in September 2023, Athens-Clarke County Police charged him with drunken driving and driving without a license. He was later arrested for shoplifting and later skipped court.

    “We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Laken Hope Riley,” a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “People should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law if they are found to be guilty. Given this is an active case, we would have to refer you to state law enforcement and ICE.”

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    Russian Website Claims There Was an Attempted Assassination of Tucker Carlson

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    A young man has reportedly just been arrested in Moscow in connection with an attempted assassination of Tucker Carlson.

    According to reporter Simon Ateba, the man who has been arrested was reportedly being paid by Ukrainian intelligence to plant an explosive device in a vehicle used by Tucker while he was there to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Here is the tweet by Simon Ateba, the chief White House Correspondent at Today News Africa in Washington.

    A video has just been released showing a 35-yr-old man by the name of Vasiliev Pyotr Alexeieovich, who claims he was ordered by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukraine Ministry of Defense in November 2023 to take an explosive device to the parking garage of the Four Seasons Hotel in Moscow and place it under the vehicle used to transport Tucker Carlson.

    Mr. Alexeievich claims he was going to be paid $4,000 for completing the task of attaching the explosive device to Carlson’s vehicle, but he was detained in the planning process. Near the end of the videotaped confession, the stone-faced alleged criminal admits his target was “American journalist Tucker Carlson” and says, “I’m sorry for what I did.”

    The original report was published at mvlehti.net.

    The report has not been verified at this time.

    The report claims he is a Russian working for Ukrainian intelligence.

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    WATCH: IDF Wipes Out Hezbollah Commander on Lebanon Streets in Dramatic Footage

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    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claim they took out a significant Hezbollah leader, Hassan Hussein Salami, in an airstrike in southern Lebanon today.

    Salami’s role as a brigade commander came to a dramatic end today as his vehicle was targeted while he was driving in the southern Lebanon village of Majadel. The IDF says Salami ran a regional unit in Hezbollah and led attacks against Israeli soldiers and communities in northern Israel.

    The recent attacks that Salami took part in included firing anti-tank missiles at Kiryat Shmona and the 769th “Hiram” Regional Brigade’s base, the IDF told us. Hezbollah has confirmed his passing but didn’t mention his role as a commander.

    During an airstrike in southern Lebanon on Monday, a top Hezbollah leader was killed, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). A film of the strike indicates a vehicle driving through the Majadel village while an IDF aircraft honed in on it.

    Hezbollah boss Hassan Hussein Salami was expected to be in the car. You can see a bomb dropping on the car in the video, causing a fireball and crashing into a building nearby. Cars next to Salami’s managed to dodge the explosion.

    Salami was with Hezbollah’s Nasser squad and had been commanding various attacks against Israel along the north border, including launching anti-tank missiles, said the IDF on Monday.

    While Hezbollah did not identify Salami as a commander, they did acknowledge his death on Monday.

    Following an attack in Bekaa Valley by Israeli warplanes, which claimed the lives of two members of a terror group on Monday, a Hezbollah politician, Hassan Fadlallah declared: “Its aggression on Baalbek or any other areas will not remain without response.”

    Following this statement, Hezbollah fired 60 Katyusha rockets at Israel’s army headquarters in Golan Heights. No injuries were reported in the Hezbollah attack on Golan Heights.

    Later, the IDF announced they sent more missiles to Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, including the site from which the barrage of rockets was launched, according to the Times of Israel.

    The village of Kawkaba, where Hezbollah launched about 60 rockets at the Golan, was hit by a fighter jet. The IDF also reported that an Israeli tank shelled a building used by Hezbollah in Kafr Kila earlier in the day.

    On Monday, Hezbollah shot down an Israeli Air Force drone over the Nabatieh area in southern Lebanon using a surface-to-air missile. The IAF typically uses these drones for surveillance and attacks. In response to this incident, the IDF said it targeted Hezbollah’s air defense unit near Baalbek.

    The Israeli Air Force also targeted the downed aircraft in the Nabatieh area, according to The Times of Israel. This is done to prevent sensitive technology from falling into enemy hands. Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah stated that Israel had expanded its strikes to include Baalbek and other areas as a way to “compensate” for the loss of its drone.

    He warned in a televised speech at the funeral of a recently killed Hezbollah fighter that “Its aggression on Baalbek or any other areas will not remain without response.”

    The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah intensifies as the ongoing Israel-Hamas war continues. The Israeli Defense Forces have stated it will “continue operating to defend the State of Israel from the threat of Hezbollah terrorist organization, including in aerial operations above Lebanese territory.”

    In nearly five months of daily conflicts between the Lebanese militant group and Israeli forces, around 200 Hezbollah fighters and 35 civilians in Lebanon have lost their lives.

    Israel has issued a warning that it will no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along the Lebanon border, where they could potentially carry out an attack similar to the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7.

    If international diplomacy fails to move Hezbollah away from the border, Israel has stated that it will be forced to launch an offensive.

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    Macy’s to Close 150 Department Stores

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    Macy’s Inc. said it plans to close almost a third of its namesake US locations as the department-store chain seeks to fight off a pair of activist firms seeking to buy the company.

    The company didn’t give an estimate of the number of employees that will be affected by the closures, though it said in a filing that it would take a $50 million charge related to employee termination costs. Many of the stores are near other Macy’s locations, which could allow some workers to transfer. Macy’s also plans to add 15 new Bloomingdale’s and 30 Bluemercury locations by 2026 — an effort to accelerate growth of its higher-end brands.

    The announcement, accompanied by fourth-quarter results, follows a $5.8 billion buyout offer from Arkhouse Management Co. and Brigade Capital Management in December. Macy’s rejected the offer, but last week Arkhouse nominated nine directors to Macy’s board as the activist investor persists in its efforts.

    In a slide presentation released after the results, Macy’s warned that it expects first-quarter earnings of 10 cents to 16 cents a share, far below the consensus estimate of 45 cents compiled by Bloomberg. The stock fell 1.6% in volatile premarket New York trading. Macy’s shares had declined 4% this year through Monday’s close.

    Freeing Assets

    The new real estate strategy, which comes less than a month into the tenure of Chief Executive Officer Tony Spring, is expected to free up between $600 million and $750 million of assets through 2026, the company said.

    Fourth-quarter earnings of $2.45 a share, excluding some items, beat the average analyst estimate and improved from a year ago. For the full year, Macy’s anticipates adjusted earnings of $2.45 to $2.85 a share, below the average analyst estimate of $3 and weaker than last year. The company’s net sales outlook was also below the average analyst estimate. Macy’s described 2024 as a year of “transition and investment.”

    “The shopper is still under pressure,” said Spring, who had a four-decade career at Bloomingdale’s before taking the helm of its parent company. “Inflation is still up even if it’s not as high as it was. We’re going to have to fight for our fair share and fundamentally reposition the business for growth.”

    Same-store sales at the Macy’s namesake brand fell 6% on an owned basis in the fourth quarter, while sales at the higher-end Bloomingdale’s fell 1.5%. Bluemercury, which sells beauty and skin-care products, rose 2.3%. While sales across the company were down from a year earlier, Macy’s beauty and off-price categories performed well during the holiday season.

    Long-Term Shift

    Macy’s, like many mall-based retailers, has struggled with a long-term shift in consumer behavior that favors online and off-mall shopping. However, stores still make up the majority of Macy’s business, accounting for about two-thirds of sales, according to Spring.

    In 2020, just before the pandemic, Macy’s announced a separate strategy, known as Polaris, which was meant to stabilize profitability and included a plan to close 125 stores. It ultimately closed about 85 stores. The new plan will leave the company with just over half of its pre-pandemic store count.

    Of Macy’s total square footage, 25% of it makes up less than 10% of sales, Spring said.

    “The math on it is very compelling,” Spring said. “I would say it’s not the quantity of stores, it’s the quality of stores. It’s about having the right stores in the right geographic parts of the country where consumers are still shopping.”

    Much of the company’s value is tied up in real estate. It currently operates 489 Macy’s stores, 32 Bloomingdale’s locations and 158 Bluemercury stores across the US. By closing a further 150 Macy’s stores, the company will be able to prioritize investment in the remaining locations and continue to expand small-format, off-mall locations, Macy’s said in a statement.

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    “Trump Cards” Scam Targets MAGA Supporters. Some Lose Their Life Savings.

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    Foreign con artists have been targeting fervent supporters of former President Donald Trump, leaving many out of pocket due to a scam offering fake ‘Trump Cards,’ according to Rferl. The scam falsely implies an endorsement from Trump himself, exploiting the trust that his supporters have in the former president.

    THE SCAM

    A story is promoted with American readers in mind according to which products with Trump’s image — for example, coins, stickers, and stamps — will become a currency in the future and worth millions once he’s back in power. Stories suggesting swift financial returns are also distributed via digital channels, frequently zeroing in on Trump supporters.

    Communication is conducted through closed Telegram channels, while virtual marketers post false ads to Telegram channels that are open to the public. News that is thought to be of particular interest to a conservative U.S. audience is also shared on those same public channels.

    It peddles the premise that people who own TRB products can retrieve returns on previous investments, encouraging them to believe they are simply cashing out with the use of the new cards. The prices of the cards can reach into the thousands of dollars.

    “In short, the story will be that they need this product so they can cash in on other TRB products by withdrawing $5,000 every day at the ATM,” one of the closed channels promoting the cards says. The language used to promote the products is often vague and obfuscating. “They can register up to $500,000 on each card.”

    WHO’S BEHIND THE FRAUD?

    Months of research and infiltration of closed groups on the Telegram platform by RFE/RL’s Balkan Service have identified 69 individuals who posted offers for such fraudulent cards, with the digital trail placing two-thirds of them in Veles, Macedonia. Of the 69 creators of similar products for sale, data from social networks shows that at least 45 declare their location to be Veles, Macedonia.

    VICTIMS

    Thousands of Trump supporters have found themselves victim to this scam, investing significant amounts of their savings in Trump Bucks. The scam is estimated to be in tens of million of dollars. According to data from Macedonia’s Public Revenue Office, over the past two years 98 individuals under the age of 35 from Veles and the surrounding area have reported a combined 634,198,939 denars (around $11 million) in income from the United States. Most of it was said to have been generated from marketing and Internet services, the office said.

    Last September, 86-year-old Ann Bratton thought she’d stumbled onto the investment of a lifetime. “I have been through a nightmare for the last year,” Bratton told RFE/RL. “Counting all the people I have worked with during this time, I have spent well over $30,000 just for cash-out.”

    An ad on one of the encrypted Telegram app channels the Nashville-area retiree had joined was offering debit-like “Trump cards” featuring the billionaire U.S. ex-president’s image, each supposedly preloaded with $200,000. After years of forking out tens of thousands of dollars on souvenir banknotes, coins, and other Trump memorabilia, she calculated that she could quickly and easily turn a $6,000 investment into a $4 million nest egg.

    “I believe in President Trump, and I think he is honest. I believed that I was investing in the future,” Bratton said of her seven-year splurge on quasi-banknotes, tokens, coins, and more recently the bogus debit cards. “I can’t even remember where it was all advertised.”

    After Bratton received 20 “Trump Collection” cards in October 2023, eager for her payout, she tried to use them to withdraw some of the promised cash from a local ATM. “The point I saw [advertised by the vendor] was that I can go to any ATM and withdraw cash, so I did that,” she said. The ATM “just shot [the card] right back out, you know.” She tried several other ATMs, including one operated by Bank Of America.

    Across the Atlantic, back in Tennessee, Bratton said she hadn’t reported her case to authorities because she was still “waiting for the last chance” to recoup at least some of her money.

    One day before speaking to RFE/RL in late January, she had been contacted again by “TRB support.” They told her she would lose her entire investment if she didn’t provide another $400.

    WHAT THEY SAYING

    Veles Mayor Marko Kolev

    “Some of the young people have found a way to quickly earn serious financial resources, but now I see that the next generations of young people are also following the same path,” Kolev said. He’d heard that “some Trump products” are being sold, he said, but the city can only speculate about such things.

    Still, he acknowledges, it is something of an open secret. “Honestly, I don’t know how legal or illegal it is, but there is probably abuse because some of the things that are marketed in those [Telegram] groups are that ‘if Trump came to power, some of the things being sold would have a higher value,'” he said. “This is how U.S. citizens are [being] manipulated.”

    Bank of America

    “Bank of America has nothing to do with those products. These are souvenirs,” William Halldin, a senior bank media representative, told RFE/RL. He said there were no figures to suggest how many people had tried to cash in on such products. Asked whether there was any way the cards could be turned into cash from his institution, Halldin was brief: “No.”

    FBI

    In response to an RFE/RL query touching on the Macedonian fraudsters, the FBI said that “as a rule, they do not make any statements about possible ongoing investigations.”

    Trump’s campaign

    RFE/RL’s Balkan Service sent multiple e-mails to Trump’s campaign press team inquiring whether they were aware of the “Trump cards” or were planning any response. RFE/RL has not received a response.

    Flashback: ‘Trump Bucks’ Scam Targets MAGA Supporters. Some Lose Their Life Savings.

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    Boeing Exec: “I’m Not Trying to Cause a Scene. I Just Need to Get Off This Plane.”

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    In 2018, Ed Pierson decided that he could no longer work as a senior manager for Boeing’s 737 MAX program.

    At the company’s production facility in Renton, Washington, he had watched as employee morale plummeted and oversight and assembly procedures faltered. He told his superiors but retired soon after. But then fatal MAX 8 crashes occurred in 2018 and 2019. He decided to speak up publicly and was then called to testify before Congress on the problems he says he saw up close.

    Five years later, after a door plug blew off of a 737 MAX 9 in the middle of an Alaska Airlines flight last month, Pierson is again trying to sound the alarm. Regulators ultimately approved the plane to return to the air nearly two years after the 2019 crash, but Pierson still doesn’t trust the MAX line — the modernized, more fuel-efficient version of Boeing’s predecessor planes.

    “The Boeing Company is capable of building quality airplanes,” says Pierson, now the executive director for the nonprofit Foundation for Aviation Safety. “The problem is leadership, or lack thereof, and the pressure to get airplanes out the door is greater than doing the job right.”

    In a statement in response to this interview, Boeing said it’s made substantial changes to its organization following the pair of earlier disasters, including investing in more engineers and manufacturers, establishing an official designee for employees to raise work-related concerns and increasing its aerospace and safety expertise on its board of directors. “Over the last several years, we’ve taken close care not to push the system too fast, and we have never hesitated to slow down, to halt production, or to stop deliveries to take the time we need to get things right,” Boeing spokesperson Jessica Kowal said.

    Last week, in a further bid for a fresh start, Boeing replaced the head of its 737 Max program.

    Pierson, meanwhile, still refuses to fly in a MAX.

    Are Boeing planes safe to fly today and would you put your family in one?

    I’m not saying that all Boeing planes are unsafe. Part of the problem is that people don’t know how to differentiate between the MAX and other planes.

    Last year, I was flying from Seattle to New York, and I purposely scheduled myself on a non-MAX airplane. I went to the gate. I walked in, sat down and looked straight ahead, and lo and behold, there was a 737-8/737-9 safety card. So I got up and I walked off. The flight attendant didn’t want me to get off the plane. And I’m not trying to cause a scene. I just want to get off this plane, and I just don’t think it’s safe. I said I purposely scheduled myself not to fly [on a MAX].

    Our recommendation from the foundation is that these planes get grounded — period. Get grounded and inspected and then, depending on what they find, get fixed.

    Why do you prefer legacy Boeing aircraft over the MAX? What changed between these models from what you observed?

    I have always had the greatest respect for the airplane products that The Boeing Company makes. My family was involved in it and my relatives. I had no reason ever to doubt it. And then I started working in the factory. I had been around airplanes my whole career. I flew airplanes in the Navy. You go into the production environment, and you’re like, “Oh, my God, I had no idea it was this complex.” It’s stunning how complex it is. At first, I didn’t understand how all that came together. And it gave me a great respect for the people that were building the plane — it’s incredibly impressive to see. And then everything started to change in 2017 and into 2018.

    What changed that year?

    We started having problems in our supply chain with the engines. And then the next thing you know, we started having problems with all kinds of parts. We were having hundreds of people doing out of sequence work [where parts from previous stages still needed to be fixed]. And we had tests that were being performed that were not being passed properly; one shift would try to get it done and they couldn’t get it done, so they’d leave notes for the next shift to come in.

    This is not how planes should be built. It was so bad in 2018 — we didn’t have engines on many of the planes and so they put these big concrete blocks on the engine pylons so the plane wouldn’t tip. Kind of an important part of the plane, right? A major warning bell that something’s not right. But they kept increasing production rate and so we kept getting further and further behind. So all of 2018 was just a chaotic disarray type of environment.

    And by the way, where the hell is the FAA? FAA had no presence in the factory. And it really irritates you because right down the road, literally 20 minutes down the road, is the Northwest headquarters for the FAA. There’s over 2,000 employees that work at that site and yet, in the busiest factory in the world 20 minutes down the road, there’s four or five employees. That’s not enough to monitor the restaurant operations at the site.

    What made you decide to work with lawmakers and others to shine a light on these problems at Boeing?

    I realized how the leadership was treating employees — very disrespectfully, very embarrassing. Standing up in front of teams and just calling them out, and it was horrendous. I thought, this is not a healthy environment to build airplanes. I can’t support this as a senior manager. I just felt this was really wrong. So I made a decision to retire early. Just before I retired, I shared with my other colleagues all the kind of communication I had with a senior person at the company, the general manager, telling him that he needs to shut down. And then the [first] crash happened.

    Ever since then, I’ve been trying to alert the authorities and trying to get them to look at manufacturing. FAA didn’t want to talk to me. NTSB didn’t want to talk to me. Finally I got a meeting with the NTSB. Then Congress asked me to testify. Ever since, I and a team of people have been monitoring all this.

    I’ve become very close to [families of the victims of the Ethiopian and Indonesian airlines’ crashes] in the last couple years. And we’ve worked on Capitol Hill to try to lobby Congress to make changes. We’ve worked to try to point out issues with the FAA. And what they want is for this not to happen to anybody else, and number two, what they want is justice.

    It’s only been a few years since those fatal crashes — so what is still going wrong considering we’ve just seen another mishap with the Alaska Airlines flight?

    What’s going wrong is that nothing changed. They made very superficial changes that they made a big deal of. They made a giant deal of hiring a safety officer. Big whoop. They wanted to deflect attention away.

    That’s all Boeing does is talk. The leadership doesn’t get down there and get involved with the people that are building the products. They don’t value the engineers, they think the engineers are replaceable. You can’t take a 20- or 30-year employee and just dump them off to the side and think that you’re going to find somebody off the street that’s going to be able to do what that person does. Then they don’t have the support mechanisms and they’re tired and they’re fatigued and they’re working like dogs — they can make mistakes.

    Are you at all surprised that so little has been done to fix things only five years after you blew the whistle on the MAX issues?

    I’m horrified and I’m not surprised. It’s horrifying to think that the company did such a minimal effort. They spent 90 percent of their energy telling the media things [like] “renewed quality” and using language in their press releases and their financial statements like “a renewed safety focus.” And then meanwhile, I’m hearing from people, “No, it’s actually just as bad or worse in the factory now than it was before.”

    In some of our discussions, you mentioned that airlines also aren’t completely blameless in this situation. What did you mean by that?

    There’s obviously a tremendous demand for more planes. What we’re seeing is evidence that the airlines are aware that there’s issues with these planes. Four airlines in the U.S. fly MAX planes: Alaska, American, United and Southwest. And it’s not like all the MAX airplanes are built in a bundle and go out at the same time.You’ll have an American plane, you’ll have a Southwest plane, you’ll have the United plane, you might have a China Southern, a Ryanair. They’re all intermixed, so they all have defects.

    [I’ve seen that some planes] have less than 100 hours on it and have [some sort of] failure. You can’t blame maintenance because they haven’t been there long enough to have any real serious maintenance. Last April, I wrote a letter to the Alaska Airlines CEO because we’re looking at his data and his planes and I don’t think they should be flying right now. Alaska had been submitting on average 95 [service] reports every month throughout 2023. Then in December, it dropped steeply. What happened?

    [In response, Alaska Airlines — which did not address whether its CEO responded to Pierson — said it recently implemented changes to align its service data reporting “to reduce the number of discrepancies” that the airline reports to the main national database. “A lot of thoughtful planning went into aligning our reporting requirements with the regulations and industry while maintaining the integrity of Alaska Airlines’ reporting,” Alaska said in a statement.]

    After The Seattle Times reported that errors at Boeing’s plant in Renton, where you used to work, ultimately led to the Alaska Airlines door blowout, you mentioned it’s likely more severe revelations are coming. What leads you to believe that?

    This is not just a problem with somebody maybe making a mistake with some bolts. It’s not just that. It’s the fact that you have processes that are not being followed. Breakdowns in manufacturing. Employees being pushed. [Fewer] quality control inspections.

    There were whistleblowers [during the 2018-2019 episode] that were reporting that they were removing quality control inspections. And the union has been fighting like hell to claw back these inspections. They’ve been successful in reinstating thousands of these inspections, but not all of them. And so you have planes that have left Boeing factories without [some type of] inspections that had historically been done.

    [In a statement, Boeing said, “Since 2019, we have increased the number of commercial airplanes quality inspectors by 20 percent” and increased the number of inspections per airplane “significantly” since that time.]

    What needs to be done to get things moving in the right direction? Is it going to take legislation from Congress? Is it going to have to come from Boeing independently?

    Boeing’s board of directors — they have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that their products are safe, and they’re not in touch. They’re not engaged. They don’t visit the sites. They don’t talk to the employees. They’re not on the ground floor. Look, these individuals are making millions of dollars, right? And there’s others between the C-suite and the people on the factory line. There’s hundreds of executives who are also very well compensated and managers that should be doing a lot more. But their leadership is a mess. The leadership sets the whole tone for any organization. Public pressure needs to continue.

    The government can apply pressure, and they absolutely should apply pressure. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, when it was under Congressman [Peter] DeFazio, he was all over this. He was digging and asking questions because he understood.

    David Calhoun, CEO of Boeing said in a recent earnings call that Boeing is glad that the FAA paused its production expansion, which gives the company time to fix things and do right. Is that just too little too late?

    There’s a bunch of planes out there that are, in my opinion, defective. He’s doing what he can to try to salvage the failures that have occurred under his leadership. And by the way, if people forget, he’s been the CEO for a couple of years, but he was on the board of directors for 10 years, so he’s been a part of this thing all along.

    [In a statement, Boeing pointed to Calhoun’s previous commentary following the Alaska incident. “Whatever final conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened,” Calhoun said on Feb. 6 following the release of the NTSB’s preliminary report. “An event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory. … It will take significant, demonstrated action and transparency at every turn — and that is where we are squarely focused.”]

    What would it take for you to feel safe enough to fly back on a MAX again?

    The foundation [sent] out a press release saying MAX airplanes should be grounded immediately, inspected and modified to ensure safety.

    But one thing’s for sure: Continuing to fly them, completely disregarding the root causes of these problems, not admitting that these problems exist on other planes — none of that’s going to make anybody safe.

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    Ronna McDaniel Officially Announces Her Resignation as RNC Chair

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    Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced Monday that she will step down early next month following mounting criticism of her leadership.

    McDaniel, 50, said in a statement she would step aside on March 8 — three days after the Super Tuesday primaries, when Republican voters in 16 delegate-rich states and territories can vote on their party’s presidential nominee.

    Separately, RNC Co-Chair Drew McKissick announced he would also resign, effective at the same time as McDaniel.

    “I’m honored to have had the privilege to serve as RNC Co-Chair for this past year, as well as to have worked with so many grassroots leaders to help make our party successful. It’s what drives me,” McKissick said. “And of course being willing to put self aside for the sake of building a team and focusing on winning is a big part of being successful.”

    The announcement by McDaniel followed weeks of speculation and came a week after former President Donald Trump — the party’s clear front-runner for the 2024 nomination and a former staunch ally of McDaniel— suggested it was time for change at the RNC.

    McDaniel said it had been “the honor and privilege of my life to serve the Republican National Committee for seven years as chairwoman to elect Republicans and grow our party” — with the first in a list of her proudest accomplishments being “firing Nancy Pelosi” following the 2022 midterms.

    “I have decided to step aside at our spring training on March 8 in Houston to allow our nominee to select a chair of their choosing,” she said.

    “The RNC has historically undergone change once we have a nominee and it has always been my intention to honor that tradition,” she said.

    Trump, 77, personally backed McDaniel, the niece of two-time Republican presidential contender and senator from Utah Mitt Romney, to serve as the head of the Republican National Committee following his historic 2016 election.

    But criticism ramped up over the past few years over her handling of the party’s finances and failed grassroots efforts to attract voters after Republicans lost Senate seats and governorships in 2022.

    At the same time, the RNC had just $8 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31 — the lowest since it had just over $5 million cash on hand at the end of 2014, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

    In contrast, the Trump campaign finished off 2023 with $42 million cash on hand.

    The former president hinted last Monday that McDaniel should vacate her position after the RNC reported decade-low fundraising numbers entering the presidential election year.

    “I think she knows that, I think she understands that,” Trump said during a Newsmax interview when asked whether McDaniel should resign after three consecutive election cycles of Republican underperformance.

    Trump also teased in a Truth Social post that he’ll be “making a decision the day after the South Carolina Primary as to my recommendations for RNC Growth,” calling McDaniel a “friend” and praising her work in Michigan during his 2016 election victory over Hillary Clinton.

    He has said he thinks “she did great when she ran Michigan for me” and “she did OK initially in the RNC.”

    But Trump also said, “I would say right now there’ll probably be some changes made,” he told Fox News earlier this month.

    RNC rules require that an election for a new leader take place.

    It is believed Trump will back North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley as McDaniel’s replacement.

    Trump’s preference for Whatley to take the helm of the national party stems from the North Carolina GOP chair’s belief that mass voting fraud was perpetrated during the 2020 election and the former president’s view that Whatley was instrumental in delivering North Carolina for him that same year, according to the New York Times.

    Whatley also serves as general counsel at the RNC and has backed efforts to develop new voting laws over fraud concerns.

    Trump is also expected to nominate his daughter-in-law Lara Trump as the co-chair of the party, and top campaign aide Chris LaCivita would be the party’s chief operating officer.

    If elected, Lara has suggested “every penny will go to making sure Donald Trump is the 47th president, to ensuring that we have great candidates, to expand our lead in the House and to take back the Senate.”

    But when asked at the South Carolina primary over the weekend whom she would endorse to lead the party, Trump’s Republican challenger, Nikki Haley, said it “wouldn’t be a family member or a candidate.”

    “I would hope that the people in the RNC know that they have the responsibility to put in people in the RNC who are going to look out in the best interest of all the Republican Party, not just one person,” she told ABC News.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

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    Report: Biden Admin Planted Operative Jeff DiSantis in Fani Willis’ Office to Target Trump

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    The Biden administration planted a Democrat operative inside a Fulton County office to target former President Donald Trump, multiple sources familiar with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office exclusively told Breitbart News.

    If the Biden administration planted the operative, as the sources say, it would present a strong argument that the administration interfered in the 2024 presidential election.

    Breitbart News granted the sources anonymity to discuss the attorney’s office for fear of retribution. The sources have direct knowledge of the environment at the District Attorney’s Office, which they characterized as “corrupt.”

    One significant figure is overlooked in the Fulton County scandal concerning Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis and her alleged lover and fellow prosecutor Nathan Wade, the sources said: Meet Jeff DiSantis — the county’s Deputy District Attorney with professional experience far greater than the average county employee. DiSantis worked on Willis’s 2020 campaign, sources told Breitbart News, and was the former Executive Director of the Democrat Party of Georgia with extensive knowledge of campaign finance law. He was also the Deputy Director of Compliance for the DNC, according to his official bio:

    Jeff has also worked for candidates in 30 states running for a variety of offices, including President of the United States, United States Senator, Governor, United States Representative, Attorney General, District Attorney, and Mayor, as well as for a national political party committee. He has served as a campaign manager, media consultant, pollster, press spokesman, research director, and policy advisor.

    Sources credit DiSantis with colluding with the White House to target Trump. “DiSantis did this,” one source told Breitbart News about the Trump case. “He’s the one. He is the one pulling all the strings. He was the one that walled her [Willis] off. He was in every important meeting. He is the brainchild behind this. That is the connection to the White House.”

    Citing his deep history and connections to the Democrat Georgia machine, sources told Breitbart News they were “one hundred percent” certain that DiSantis was the inside man planted in the Fulton County office by the Biden administration. “DiSantis is the one pulling the strings on this whole thing,” a second source said. “Everybody heard Fani testify. It’s no secret that she’s not smart. That is how she sounds and acts every day of the week.”

    “Anyone that has common sense knows that the White House has been involved in this prosecution,” a source told Breitbart News. “This shouldn’t just miraculously happen. Of course, she’s [Willis] not going to prosecute the former president United States without the current administration’s approval.”

    Sources speculated that DiSantis was instrumental in selecting grand jurors for the Trump case based on voter registration data. “Part of why you’re raising money as a candidate is to get money to buy the data about who are your voters. DiSantis, as the former head of the state Democratic Party, he’s going to know you know [the data] in Georgia,” one source said. “There’s not one conservative person on that grand jury.”

    Sources also revealed that DiSantis was a member of Willis’s transition team after she won the election in November 2020. DiSantis helped Wade select employees for the new office. “DiSantis was there in the capacity to be a political strategist, hiding in the DA’s office,” a source told Breitbart News.

    As Breitbart News exclusively reported Sunday, “Wade is a prosecutor on the Trump case and he selected the office employees,” a source told Breitbart News. Wade “made the decisions to hire or fire” employees in the District Attorney’s Office following Willis’s election victory in November 2020, according to multiple sources familiar with the Wade and Willis relationship.

    The revelation of Wade’s previously unreported position as the former personnel decision-maker for the District Attorney’s Office raises ethical and conflict of interest concerns. It also raises questions about whether Wade and Willis have been forthright about the timeline of their reported affair.

    Sources described one-on-one interviews behind closed doors with Willis and Wade, who was “too invested to be just a friend” of Willis to hold such a powerful position. It was “obvious” Willis and Wade had an affair in 2020, one year before Willis launched her probe into Trump — and DiSantis would know about it, sources revealed to Breitbart News.

    The District Attorney’s Office did not reply to a request for comment from Breitbart News about DiSantis’s alleged involvement between the White House and Trump’s prosecution.

    In January, Trump and codefendant Mike Roman accused Willis of maintaining an improper romantic relationship with Wade. Willis and Wade took the stand in February to testify about whether their relationship disqualified Willis from prosecuting Trump. If the presiding judge determines Willis engaged in an actual conflict of interest with her lover and fellow prosecutor, Willis could be removed from the case, handing former President Donald Trump a massive victory.

    Wade’s story appears shaky. Former Fulton County District Attorney employee and friend of Willis since college, Robin Yeartie, testified that Willis was definitely in a relationship with Wade since 2019. In addition, cellphone data obtained from AT&T through subpoena contradicts Wade’s testimony.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝
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