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One of the Largest Studies on Masks Ever Confirms They Were Useless
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One of the largest and most comprehensive studies on the effectiveness of masks found they do almost nothing to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.

The study reviewed 78 randomized control trials—experiments that have long been considered “the gold standard” for medicine—which assessed the effectiveness of face masks against flu, COVID-19, and similar illnesses. It found that wearing masks “probably makes little or no difference” for the general public, no matter what kind of mask is used. Even N95 masks, considered the most effective at filtering airborne particles, showed no clear benefit for health care workers.

The study was published on January 30 by the Cochrane Library, a world-renowned medical database that is famous for its high-quality evidence reviews. It comes as a battering ram to the recommendations of the U.S. public health establishment, which urged children as young as two to wear masks throughout the pandemic.

“This amounts to the scientific nail in the coffin for mask mandates,” said Kristen Walsh, a clinical professor of pediatrics in Morristown, New Jersey. “I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that some schools are still actively forcing children to wear masks, much less children who need to see faces to learn.”

Though most Western countries opted against masking kids—in part due to concerns about speech and social development—many blue school districts mandated face coverings for toddlers, citing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Both organizations have maintained the masks are effective at curbing COVID-19, including in schools. But the guidance was typically based on weak studies with small sample sizes and few controls, limitations that critics said biased their findings. Many of the studies just compared places with mask mandates with those without them, making it hard to sort out whether it was masks that reduced COVID or other factors, such as that COVID-cautious people were more likely to wear masks.

The sorts of experiments Cochrane canvassed—in which subjects were chosen at random to receive masks—were designed to avoid that problem. They helped researchers isolate the effects of masks from the caution levels of the people wearing them, providing a clearer picture of how well the masks themselves work.

That makes the Cochrane review, which is based exclusively on randomized trials, far more rigorous than the studies typically cited in defense of masks.

“Not all evidence is the same,” Vinay Prasad, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a Substack post about the review. Randomized control trials “are imperative for recommendations that span years, or longer.”

More than two years after the start of the pandemic, some schools are still requiring masks. School districts in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania reimposed mask mandates in January amid a spike in respiratory illnesses. The mandates came after the CDC warned of a “tridemic” of COVID, flu, and RSV, though cases of all three illnesses have significantly declined.

As of this writing, no major media outlets have covered the Cochrane review. It’s a sharp contrast to the reception of other, more pro-mask studies, which were the subject of glowing write-ups in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Washington Post.

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  • John says:

    This was nothing more than communist corrupted Democrat fake Hysteria control tactics to keep mask on people’s face from saying the words Donald trump, freedom, constitution, and definitely from saying the word GOD, it’s the only way these Antichrist Satan worshiping demons can deal with the fact that we know who and what they are, they have to forcefully try to gag you with a face diaper because these demon cowards can’t take truth coming out of anyone’s mouth, death to all the Democrat communist Antichrist demons on Earth soon to come, keep praying for their own demonic suffering in hell for eternity as well as on Earth before the demons burn in the pit of Hell.

  • Art LaPella says:

    “weak studies with small sample sizes and few controls …” Wow, you guys do understand statistics better than you usually let on. Now if only you would take that same statistical sophistication to the rest of the stuff I read here.

  • Marlenemarty says:

    Even the democrats idol, Fauci had to admit that face masks could not stop any virus. A virus is small enough to go right through any mask. Of course he backtracked that one truth and immediately said the opposite to please the leftist elites.

  • Susie says:

    As a medical professional, I have always said masks are for sick people not healthy people. Anybody with a brain that does enough research realizes what a control mechanism facemasks are being used for.

    • Get Real People says:

      As a common sense Person who is educated about the spread of germs’ Riddle me this. Can germs be contracted through the eyes while wearing a mask?

  • Big Pharma False Frauds says:

    What stupid people, can’t seem to comprehend, is sickness and disease, can be contracted through the eyes. Prove me wrong and I’ll kiss your rotten ignorant asses. MEDICAL SCIENCE, is so backwards. These fucks even blame smoking cigs as cancer related… BULL SHET! IM 65 IVE BEEN A HEAVY SMOKER SINCE I WAS 12 YEARS OLD 2 AND A HALF PACKS A DAY AT 65, CLEAR LUNGS AND NO CANCER. ANOTHER LEFTIST SCARE TACTIC FROM YEARS AGO. FK YOU DUMB ASS PEOPLE WHO BELEIVE IT. CHECK YOUR OVER THE COUNTER DRUGS. AND CHECK YOUR PROCESSED FOODS. YOU FKG IGNORANT IMBECILS.

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    The Second Republican Debate’s Biggest Highlights

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    Seven Republican candidates met for the second primary debate in California on Wednesday, taking aim at President Biden and each other while the clear front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination was speaking nearly 2,000 miles away.

    The candidates tackled issues like the strike by United Auto Workers, the looming government shutdown, immigration policy and education, placing the blame squarely at Mr. Biden’s feet for most of the issues currently facing the country.

    But it was former President Donald Trump who loomed large over the gathering at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, even as he skipped the contest to deliver a speech outside Detroit. A new CBS News poll this week found Trump with sizable leads over his rivals in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two contests of the nomination process.

    These were the candidates on hand for Wednesday’s debate:

    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
    • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
    • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
    • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley
    • Former Vice President Mike Pence
    • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
    • Vivek Ramaswamy

    The first debate in August did little to change to the underlying dynamic of the race, and Wednesday’s contest featured few signs that any candidate is poised to break through and meaningfully challenge Trump’s lead.

    Several candidates took the former president to task over his decision skip the debate, a sign that they see his refusal as a weakness to exploit moving forward. DeSantis, who is second in most polls, said Trump was “missing in action.” Christie said Trump “hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions.”

    Otherwise, the candidates largely focused on the current occupant of the White House, and each other. Several took aim at the 38-year-old Ramaswamy, a relative newcomer whose modest rise in the polls before the first debate in Milwaukee made him a target there as well. In the sharpest line of the night, Haley said: “Honestly every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

    Here are the most notable moments from Wednesday’s debate:

    DeSantis says Trump is “missing in action” for skipping debate

    After a round of questions about the UAW strike, the moderators turned to the looming government shutdown. Speaking for the first time, DeSantis took the opportunity to knock Trump for not showing up to the debate.

    “Donald Trump is missing in action,” DeSantis said in response to a question on whether populist Republicans are to blame for the shutdown. “He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record.”

    DeSantis criticized Trump for adding more than $7 trillion to the nation’s debt during his presidency, which Christie also noted, while chiding him for not showing up.

    “Donald Trump, he hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions,” Christie said. “He puts $7 trillion on the debt, he should be in this room to answer those questions.”

    Christie said “everyone” is to blame for the shutdown.

    “Voters should blame everybody who’s in Washington, D.C. They’re being sent down there to do the job, and they’ve been failing at doing the job for a very long time,” Christie said. “If the government closes, it is to the blame of everyone in Washington, D.C.”

    Christie says Biden is “doing nothing” to enforce immigration laws, says Trump also “failed”

    Christie, New Jersey’s former Republican governor, said the U.S. is “not in a position” to legalize the millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

    Asked about former President Ronald Reagan’s decision to sign a law that legalized several million unauthorized immigrants in the 1980s and whether he would support a similar measure, Christie said the U.S. should focus on enforcing immigration laws, citing the high levels of illegal border crossings in the past two years.

    “Our laws are being broken everyday at the border,” Christie said. “And Joe Biden and his crew [are] doing nothing about enforcing that law.”

    Christie said he would deploy the National Guard to the U.S. southern border if elected.

    “We want you here in this country to fill the 6 million vacant jobs we have. But only if you come here to follow the law and only if you come here legally,” he said. “If you come here illegally, we will apprehend you and we will send you back across the border from which you came. And the fact is that until we set a law and order agenda in this country, not only now but in the future, we won’t be able to continue this.”

    The former governor also criticized Trump for his record on immigration, saying he did not fulfill his promise to “build a wall” along the border.

    “Donald Trump failed on this as well. He said he was going to build a wall across the whole border. He built 52 miles of wall and said Mexico would pay for it,” Christie said, understating the roughly 400 miles of new border wall structures built between 2017 and 2021. “Guess what? I think if Mexico knew that he was only going to build 52 miles, they might have paid for the 52 miles.”

    Candidates take aim at Ramaswamy over business record and China

    Like in the first debate, the 38-year-old Ramaswamy again became a target of the other candidates, with his rivals taking aim at his business record.

    “Last debate, he said we were all ‘bought and paid for’ and I thought about that for a little while, and said, you know, I can’t imagine how you can say that knowing that you were just in business with the Chinese Communist Party and the same people that funded Hunter Biden [with] millions of dollars was a partner of yours as well,” Scott said.

    Ramaswamy called the accusation “nonsense” and said he pulled his company out of the Chinese market while other companies were expanding there.

    “You know what I did with my first company? We opened a subsidiary in China. But you know what I did that was different than every other company? We got the hell out of there,” he said.

    “Yeah, right before you ran for president,” Haley said.

    Candidates clash in sharp exchange over U.S. support for Ukraine

    In an exchange that brought out some of the starkest differences in opinion of the night, the candidates clashed over the United States’ ongoing support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, an issue that has become a sticking point in negotiations in Washington to avoid a government shutdown.

    DeSantis said it’s in the United States’ interest to end the war.

    Scott said “degrading the Russian military” is in “our national vital interest,” now and in the long run.

    “At the end of the day, when you think about the fact, if you want to keep American troops at home, an attack on NATO territory would bring our troops in,” Scott said.

    Ramaswamy said it’s time to “level with the American people.”

    “Just because [Vladimir] Putin’s an evil dictator does not mean Ukraine is good,” Ramaswamy said.

    Haley, who often clashes with Ramaswamy, interjected.

    “A win for Russia is a win for China,” Haley said to Ramaswamy, adding, “I forgot, you like Russia.”

    Pence, supportive of continued Ukraine aid, said, “Peace comes through strength.”

    Christie said of Russia, “If we give them any of Ukraine, next will be Poland.”

    Haley to Ramaswamy: “I feel a little bit dumber” after listening to you

    Haley slammed Ramaswamy during a discussion on TikTok, after a moderator noted that the entrepreneur recently joined the social media platform, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as being a spy mechanism for China.

    “You joined TikTok after dinner with boxer and influencer Jake Paul. Should the commander in chief be so easily persuaded by an influencer?” Varney, the moderator, asked Ramaswamy.

    “So the answer is, I have a radical idea for the Republican Party,” Ramaswamy said. “We need to win elections, and part of how we win elections is reaching the next generation of young Americans where they are.”

    Haley jumped in, calling Ramaswamy’s position “infuriating.”

    “TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have,” she said. “Honestly every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

    She later said, “We can’t trust you.”

    “I think we would be better served as a Republican Party if we’re not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate about policy,” Ramaswamy said.

    DeSantis dismisses polls, and Christie says Trump should be “voted off the island”

    In the last segment of the night, moderator Dana Perino asked the candidates to write down which candidate on stage they would choose to vote “off the island.” Mathematically, Perino pointed out, the crowded field gives Trump a clearer path to the nomination.

    But DeSantis dismissed the exercise, suggesting it would be disrespectful to his fellow candidates. Asked instead to explain his path to the nomination in the face of Trump’s “commanding and enduring lead,” DeSantis likewise dismissed the polls.

    “Polls don’t elect presidents, voters elect presidents,” DeSantis said. “And we’re going to take the case to voters in these early states. We’re going to do it in a state by state direction. And why? Because as Reagan said in his day, this is our time for choosing.”

    But Christie was happy to weigh in on the original question.

    “I’d vote Donald Trump off the island right now,” Christie said.

    “Every person on this stage has shown the respect for Republican voters to come here, to express their views honestly, and candidly, and directly, and to take your questions directly,” Christie said, adding that he has “respect for every man and woman on this stage.”

    But Trump, who ditched the debate, has caused great rifts in the country, Christie said.

    “This guy has not only divided our party, he’s divided families all over this country,” Christie said. “He’s divided friends all over this country. I’ve spoken to people, and I know everyone else has, who have sat at Thanksgiving dinner, or at a birthday party, and can’t have a conversation anymore if they disagree with Donald Trump. He needs to be voted off the island, and he needs to be taken out of this process.”

    Ramaswamy said, although he disagrees with Christie on Trump, that “the America first agenda does not belong to one man … it belongs to you, the people of this country.”

    With that, the debate concluded.

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    Trump Responds After GOP Opponents Take Turns Bashing Him in Debate

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    Former President Donald Trump, responding to heated criticisms from his primary opponents during the second GOP debate, said it was “much more important” for him to work to “save” autoworkers Wednesday night than to appear at the debate due to his massive lead in the primary polls, while dismissing Chris Christie’s “Donald Duck” nickname for him.

    Trump did not attend the second Republican debate in Simi Valley, California—much to the dismay of his GOP primary opponents, who repeatedly brought him up, stressing that he should have been on the stage to defend the record of his administration.

    “I thought it was much more important, considering I have a 56-point lead, for me to be dealing with the UAW and the fact that the Biden Administration is going to destroy their jobs over the next two years by going all electric vehicle,” Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview Wednesday night.

    Trump spoke before a crowd of autoworkers in Clinton Township, Michigan Wednesday night, pleading that, if elected, the future of the automobile will be “Made in America.”

    “The crowd was incredible—unreal,” he said. “I think we have great support to save the autoworker.”

    During the debate, though, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid into Trump, looking directly into the camera and saying:

    “Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” Christie said. “You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that, no one here’s going to call you Donald Trump anymore.”

    Christie added: “We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

    Trump told Fox News Digital he had not been watching, but dismissed the nickname.

    “Anybody that would come up with that nickname shouldn’t be running for president,” he told Fox News Digital.

    The most recent Fox News poll shows 60% of Republican primary voters supporting Trump for the GOP nomination — that’s up from 53% in the last survey in August.

    The only other candidates to receive double-digit support in that poll are DeSantis at 13% and Ramaswamy at 11%.

    Haley sits at 5%, with Pence and Scott at 3% each. Christie is polling at 2%, with the remaining GOP candidates receiving less than 1%.

    And according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll from over the weekend, Trump is currently leading President Biden by 10 points in a head-to-head general election survey among voters. The poll said if the 2024 presidential election were held today, Trump would win 52% to 42% over Biden.

    Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating sits at 37%, according to the poll, while 56% of respondents actively disapprove of his presidency.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

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    Vivek Ramaswamy Busted Plagiarizing Obama’s Speeches

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    The Super PAC aligned with Ron Desantis ‘Never Back Down’ has released a supercut of clips showing how Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy continues to rip off lines from Barack Obamas speeches.

    Throughout the campaign, Vivek has been accused of stealing ideas, policies, and lines from other Republican candidates past and present. It has been well-documented that the current fake version of Ramaswamy is a contrived amalgamation of talking points designed to capture the hearts and feeble minds of MAGA faithful in a quest to be chosen either as Trump’s running mate or right-wing successor.

    His personal story where he has tried to portray himself as an up-from-the-bootstraps rugged individualist who grew up with working class parents has already been widely debunked.

    His acquisition of vast wealth has also come under scrutiny, revealing that he is either the luckiest investor in history or he is the most unscrupulous insider trader since Ivan Boesky.

    Now comes some pretty concrete proof that he has studied the speeches of Barack Obama and “borrowed” a few lines from him as well.

    Is there a real Vivek Ramaswamy? Will we ever meet him?

    Not during this campaign.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

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    Trump Speaks on UAW Strike at Michigan Auto Plant

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    As his Republican rivals sparred onstage in California at their second primary debate, Donald Trump was in battleground Michigan Wednesday night working to win over blue-collar voters by lambasting President Joe Biden and his push for electric cars in the midst of an autoworkers’ strike.

    “I will not allow under any circumstances the American automobile industry to die,” Trump said at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionized auto parts supplier in Clinton Township, about a half-hour outside Detroit.

    The Republican front-runner’s trip came a day after Biden became the first sitting president in U.S. history to walk a picket line as he joined United Auto Workers in Detroit. The dueling appearances had the feel of the opening salvo of the 2024 general election, which increasingly looks like a rematch between Trump and Biden, even though primary voting won’t begin until next year.

    Trump’s decision to skip another debate comes as he maintains a commanding lead in the GOP primary, even as he faces four separate criminal indictments in four different states.

    Trump, in his speech, tried to cast Biden as hostile to the auto industry and workers, using extreme rhetoric to claim the industry was “being assassinated.” He insisted Biden’s embrace of electric vehicles — a key component of his clean-energy agenda — would ultimately lead to lost jobs, amplifying the concerns of some autoworkers who worry that electric cars require fewer people to manufacture and that there is no guarantee factories that produce them will be unionized.

    “He’s selling you out to China, he’s selling you out to the environmental extremists and the radical left,” Trump told his crowd, flanked by American flags and pallets of auto parts.

    He also downplayed the strike as the UAW pushes for higher wages, shorter work weeks and assurances from the country’s top automakers that new electric vehicle jobs will be unionized. While Trump said he supported the workers and hoped they would get a good deal, he also said no deal would matter if proposed pollution limits take effect.

    “You’re all on the picket lines and everything, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what you get, because in two years you’re all going to be out of business,” he said.

    While Trump has cast himself as pro-worker, he has clashed repeatedly with union leadership and tried to turn union members against their leaders. In a recent campaign video, Trump urged autoworkers not to pay union dues and claimed their leaders have “got some deals going for themselves.”

    Just hours before Trump’s visit, the UAW posted a video on its Facebook page protesting factory closures by Detroit’s automakers that included 2017 footage of Trump telling a northern Ohio crowd that auto jobs would be coming back. Two years later, General Motors closed a huge assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, costing thousands of jobs.

    Still, Trump repeatedly urged the union to endorse him, at one point directly appealing to UAW President Shawn Fain.

    While the union has withheld its support for Biden after endorsing him in 2020, Fain appeared at Biden’s side during his visit Tuesday and has repeatedly criticized Trump.

    “I don’t think he cares about working-class people. I think he cares about the billionaire class, he cares about the corporate interests. I think he’s just trying to pander to people and say what they want to hear, and it’s a shame,” Fain said this week.

    Biden’s re-election campaign, in a statement, called Trump’s speech “a pathetic, recycled attempt to feign support for working Americans.”

    Drake Enterprises, where Trump spoke, makes automotive and heavy-duty truck components, including gear shift levers for semi-trucks, said its president Nathan Stemple. He said a shift to electric cars would cripple his business.

    While Trump aides had said the audience would include several hundred current and former UAW members, as well as members of plumbers and pipefitters unions, it also included many non-union workers who support the former president. Some said they had been invited by people who did business with Drake; others said they had simply arrived at the factory Wednesday afternoon and been allowed to attend.

    Tony Duronio, 64, a longtime Trump supporter and real estate broker who lives in Clinton Township, said he received an invitation from a group called Autoworkers for Trump. Duronio praised the economy during Trump’s time in office and echoed the former president’s criticism of electric vehicles: “Nobody wants ‘em,” he said — and applauded Trump’s decision to skip the debate.

    “He’s the frontrunner. He doesn’t have any competition,” he said. “Look, if it ain’t him, I may stay home ’cause the rest are no different than Biden.”

    Trump briefly mentioned the debate happening 2,000 miles away at the Ronald Reagan presidential library, calling his GOP rivals “job candidates.”

    “They’ll do anything,” he said. “Secretary of something. They even say VP, does anybody see any VP in the group? I don’t think so.”

    The former president has tried to use the strike to drive a wedge between Biden and union workers, a constituency that helped pave the way for his surprise 2016 victory. Trump in that election won over voters in Democratic strongholds like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, fundamentally reshaping voting alliances as he railed against global trade deals and vowed to resurrect dying manufacturing towns.

    But Biden won those states back in 2020 as he emphasized his working-class roots and commitment to organized labor. He often calls himself the “ most pro-union president” in U.S. history and argues the investments his administration is making in green energy and electric vehicle manufacturing will ensure the future of the industry unfolds in the U.S.

    There’s disagreement in the auto industry over whether the shift to EVs will cost union jobs. Some executives say that because electric vehicles require fewer moving parts, companies will need 30% to 40% fewer workers to assemble them. But others say EVs will require comparable labor.

    The Trump campaign has vigorously defended his record as pro-worker, but union leaders say his first term was far from worker-friendly — citing unfavorable rulings from the nation’s top labor board and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as unfulfilled promises of automotive jobs and the closure of the Ohio GM plant.

    Along the picket line, workers have been split. Adrian Mitchell, who works at the GM parts warehouse that Biden visited, said he believes Biden would be better for the middle class than a second Trump term. Still, Mitchell said workers are worried the transition to electric cars may cost them jobs.

    It was a different scene at Trump’s event, filled with MAGA hats and pro-Trump signs.

    “Let’s put it this way: There’s nothing I don’t like about Trump,” said Johnny Pentowski, who was a member of the Teamsters Union before he retired as a truck driver earlier this year.

    Pentowski, 72, who lives in Eastpointe Michigan, accused union leaders of failing to listen to their members and shared Trump’s skepticism of EVs.

    “You take away fossil fuels from a country, you’re taking away its lifeblood,” he said. “Windmills and solars don’t do it.”

    The UAW’s targeted strikes against the Big Three automakers — General Motors, Stellantis and Ford — began at midnight on Sept. 14 and have since expanded to 38 parts distribution centers in 20 states.

    The union is asking for 36% raises in general pay over four years and has also demanded a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay and a return of cost-of-living pay raises, among other benefits. It also wants to be allowed to represent workers at 10 electric vehicle battery factories, most of which are being built by joint ventures between automakers and South Korean battery makers.

    While Biden has not implemented an electric vehicle mandate, he has set a goal that half of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030. His administration has also proposed stiff new automobile pollution limits that would require up to two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032, a nearly tenfold increase over current electric vehicle sales. That proposal is not final.

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    Trump Leads Biden 46-41 in New Poll

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    Former President Donald Trump has opened up a lead over President Joe Biden, according to the latest Harris/Messenger poll conducted by HarrisX.

    The poll, taken September 13-19 among 3,015 registered voters, found that Trump led Biden, 46%-41%. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

    Trump has gained ground from the last Messenger/Harris poll conducted September 6-11, where Trump led Biden, 44%-43%.

    Dritan Nesho, chief pollster and CEO at HarrisX said polls last week picked up on a bad news week for Biden—as Republicans barreled towards an impeachment inquiry and his son, Hunter, was indicted.

    “Biden’s poll numbers will likely bounce back, but in general he’s begun to lag in national polls,” Nesho said.

    Eighty-six percent of Republicans backed Trump, while 80% of Democrats backed Biden. Independents backed Trump, 42%-34%, while 24% were undecided.

    Forty percent of voters approve of Biden’s job performance as president, while 56% disapprove. And only 31% say Biden should run for reelection, while 69% said that he should not seek another term.

    Trump continues to enjoy stronger support from his political base. When asked if Trump should seek another term, 44% said he should, while 56% said he shouldn’t.

    While 57% of Democrats think Biden shouldn’t run again, only 27% of Republicans say the same about Trump. A majority of Republicans (73%) believe Trump should seek the presidency again.

    Trump remains the clear frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.

    In the national GOP primary, Trump led with 56% support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in a distant second place with 14%. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy were at 5% each, and 7% said they didn’t know. All of the other candidates were at 3% or less.

    DeSantis remains the most popular second-choice option. When respondents were asked who they would back if Trump didn’t run for president, 35% said DeSantis, 17% said Ramaswamy, and 11% said Pence.

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    Signs of Trump Trouble in Early States

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    Likely Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are still playing the field even as former President Trump holds a strong lead in the 2024 GOP race.

    Over 75% of likely GOP voters in the two states are either not considering Trump at all, or are still considering him along with other candidates, a CBS News/YouGov poll found.

    However, when likely voters were asked who they would vote for today, Trump led the field by 30 points in Iowa and 37 points in New Hampshire. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was second in both states with 21% in Iowa and 13% in New Hampshire.

    Of likely GOP primary voters in Iowa, 20% are only considering voting for Trump, as are 23% in New Hampshire.

    48% of likely GOP primary voters in Iowa and 43% in New Hampshire are considering Trump and other candidates.

    31% of those surveyed in Iowa, and 34% in New Hampshire aren’t considering Trump at all.

    In the poll conducted Sept. 15-24, most of Trump’s backers in the two states said they’re considering at least one other candidate.

    These voters were more likely to say they support Trump “with some reservations” in comparison to voters who say they’re sticking with the former president.

    In both states, those only considering voting for Trump voters are outnumbered by a third of the electorate who aren’t considering him at all, per the poll.

    Meanwhile, voters considering choices beyond Trump expressed concern about the former president’s “controversies” and legal fights, and think the party should consider someone new, according to CBS.

    Non-Trump voters in Iowas are mostly considering DeSantis, while Haley leads in consideration by that group in New Hampshire.

    Iowa’s Republican caucus will meet on Jan. 15, 2024. New Hampshire’s primary is slated to be held in January, too, but an exact date has not been set.

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    Senate Unanimously Passes Formal Dress Code After Uproar

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    The Senate passed a resolution Wednesday to restore the formal dress code in the upper chamber following blowback over the loosening of the rule.

    Under the resolution, which passed unanimously, senators will once again be required to wear business attire on the floor.

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) confirmed a rollback of the dress code last week and the move was quickly dubbed the “Fetterman Rule” over Sen. John Fetterman’s penchant for wearing hoodies and baggy shorts.

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who publicly split with Fetterman (D-Penn.) over the latter’s lax wardrobe, sponsored the resolution.

    Earlier Wednesday, before the resolution was passed, Fetterman assured his Democratic colleagues that he would wear a suit while speaking or presiding over the Senate floor, Punchbowl News reported.

    Last week, Fetterman took advantage of the short-lived loosened dress code and presided over Senate proceedings with his classic baggy shirt and large shorts.

    He’s also known for donning a hoodie in the Capitol complex area.

    But under the resolution, men on the Senate floor must wear “a coat, tie and slacks or other longer pants.”

    Many senators voiced outrage over the lowering of standards.

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), for instance, joked about wearing a bikini.

    Nearly every Republican senator signed a letter complaining about the change. The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il.), even voiced his disagreement with the move.

    Notably the loosening of the dress code only applied to senators.

    Visitors and staffers were still required to wear the classified coat and formal clothing.

    Manchin claimed to have confided his misgivings about the change to Fetterman himself, before moving to reverse the change.

    Before the rollback of the Senate dress code, senators would often yell out “aye” or “nay” votes from the cloakroom to avoid breaching the rules.

    In his private remarks to Democrats on Wednesday, Fetterman said he’ll continue to vote from the cloakroom if he’s not wearing a suit, according to Punchbowl.

    Fetterman had practically abandoned any semblance of adherence to the code since returning to the Senate from his multi-week hospital stint for clinical depression.

    The 54-year-old senator was first elected to the upper chamber during the 2022 cycle and marked the only Senate flip of that year.

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    Musk’s X Fires Half of “Election Integrity Team”

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    Elon Musk announced on Wednesday that he has cut the Electoral Integrity team at X (formerly Twitter) in half, including the newly brought on board head of the group, Aaron Rodericks.

    When the news was reported, Musk replied “Oh you mean the ‘Election Integrity’ Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.”

    A person familiar with the circumstances, said that four people had been released, which constitutes the whole of the election integrity unit in Dublin.

    In an August blog post, X said that there were positions available on the “threat disruption” team, and that they company was “currently expanding our safety and elections teams to focus on combating manipulation, surfacing inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for emerging threats.”

    In a post concerning election integrity, the platform posted that “You may not use X’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes, such as posting or sharing content that may suppress participation, mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process, or lead to offline violence during an election. Any attempt to undermine the integrity of civic participation undermines our core tenets of freedom of expression and as a result, we will apply labels to violative posts informing users that the content is misleading.”

    The post clarified what that meant, however, and noted further that “Not all false or untrue information about politics or civic processes constitutes manipulation or interference. In the absence of other policy violations, the following are generally not in violation of this policy: inaccurate statements about an elected or appointed official, candidate, or political party; organic content that is polarizing, biased, hyperpartisan, or contains controversial viewpoints expressed about elections or politics; discussion of public polling information; voting and audience participation for competitions, game shows, or other entertainment purposes; using X pseudonymously or as a parody, commentary, or fan account to discuss elections or politics.”

    This comes after Musk named a new CEO in the spring, Linda Yaccarino, who had been with NBC. She had stated that X would expand trust and safety teams, along with election integrity units.

    Trust in the platform’s ability to police itself took a severe downturn after the publication of the Twitter Files, which revealed intensive bias within Twitter management toward Democrats and the left, and that government agencies had been interfering by insisting on policing speech on the site.

    Some of the meddling Twitter undertook during the 2020 presidential election included suppressing negative information about Joe Biden and his involvement with his son’s business dealings. Voters polled after the fact said that had they known about these concerns, they would not have voted for Biden in that hotly contested election.

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    WATCH LIVE: Second Republican Presidential Debate

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    Biden Dog Bites Another Secret Service Agent; 11th Incident

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    President Joe Biden’s younger dog, Commander, bit another US Secret Service agent at the White House Monday evening, CNN has learned, the 11th known biting incident involving the 2-year-old German Shepherd.

    “Yesterday around 8 p.m., a Secret Service Uniformed Division police officer came in contact with a First Family pet and was bitten. The officer was treated by medical personnel on complex,” USSS chief of communications Anthony Guglielmi told CNN in a statement.

    The injured officer spoke with Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Alfonso M. Dyson Sr. on Tuesday and is doing OK, Guglielmi said.

    Commander has been involved in at least 11 biting incidents at the White House and in Delaware, according to CNN reporting and US Secret Service email correspondence, including a November 2022 incident where an officer was hospitalized after the dog clamped down on their arms and thighs.

    White House officials said in July that the Bidens were working through new training and leashing protocols for the family pet following the incidents.

    Asked by CNN whether the new training had taken place or if any further action would be sought, Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for the first lady, said in a statement that “the First Family continues to work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds.”

    “The President and First Lady are incredibly grateful to the Secret Service and Executive Residence staff for all they do to keep them, their family, and the country safe,” she continued.

    Another of Biden’s dogs, Major, was involved in biting incidents at the White House. The German Shepherd later moved out of the White House, and Commander arrived at the White House in 2021.

    The July email correspondence, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by the conservative group Judicial Watch, reflected 10 incidents.

    In one incident in October, first lady Dr. Jill Biden “couldn’t regain control” of the dog as it charged a member of Secret Service staff.

    “I believe it’s only a matter of time before an agent/officer is attacked or bit,” the staff member warned in an email.

    While Secret Service agents are not responsible for the handling of the first family’s pets, they can come into frequent contact with the animals.

    “This isn’t a Secret Service thing. This is a this is a workplace safety issue,” CNN contributor and former USSS agent Jonathan Wackrow told CNN.

    “There’s uniqueness here where it’s the residence of the president of the United States, but it’s also the workplace for hundreds, thousands of people. And you can’t bring a hazard into the workplace. And that’s what is essentially happening with this dog. One time you can say it’s an accident, but now multiple incidents, it’s a serious issue,” he added.

    Wackrow called it a “significant hazard” for agents on duty at the White House residence.

    “I’m sure that the Bidens love the dog. I’m sure that it’s a member of the family like every dog is, but you’re creating a significant hazard to those who support you – support the office of the president,” he said.

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    Everything You Need to Know About Tonight’s Second Republican Debate

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    It’s round two for seven 2024 GOP presidential aspirants, all of whom are seeking a breakout moment in the second Republican primary debate.

    Here’s what you need to know before tuning in.

    When and where is the debate?

    The candidates will converge at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. for the two-hour verbal rumble starting at 9 p.m. ET.

    The debate will be shown on the Fox Business Network, which will begin its special coverage at 6 p.m. with a special edition of “The Bottom Line” hosted by Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy.

    Beginning at 8 p.m., FBN will host an hour-long “Countdown to the Debate” special featuring an array of Fox stars.

    How can I watch it?

    In addition to Fox Business, Univision is co-hosting and airing the debate, which can also be seen on Fox News, Fox Nation, and Rumble.

    Live TV streaming service Sling TV carries Fox News, but you’ll need to subscribe to a base plan + an add-on to stream it.

    Who is moderating the Republican debate?

    Fox News host Dana Perino, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney, and Univision’s Ilia Calderón will moderate the showdown after Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum oversaw the first debate last month in Milwaukee.

    What are the Republican debate topics?

    The moderators have largely kept their cards close to the vest ahead of Wednesday night, but they have indicated that more than economic issues will be discussed.

    “I think the audience is interested in a wide variety of subjects and issues that are going to be front and center in the election. We don’t want to make it all about the economy just because it’s on Fox Business,” Varney told The Post.

    Expect topics such as the growing migrant crisis, the war in Ukraine, crime, worker strikes, and more to be discussed.

    Which candidates will be there?

    Seven of the eight candidates from the first debate will be there after former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson failed to qualify.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will take part.

    The lineup is determined by polling position, so DeSantis will be center stage.

    From left to right as the audience sees it, the contenders will be: Burgum, Christie, Haley, DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Scott, and Pence.

    Will Donald Trump attend the Republican debate?

    Obviously not.

    As with the first debate, the former president and GOP frontrunner will skip the second showdown to visit Michigan and rally with striking members of the United Auto Workers union.

    President Biden quickly added a stop at the Michigan picket line to his Tuesday schedule after Trump’s visit was confirmed.

    Union workers are demanding higher pay and benefits from the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler. They walked off the job Sept. 15.

    Trump has cited his massive polling lead as reason to forgo the debate.

    What’s changed since the last debate?

    For one thing, Trump has solidified his lead. Around the time of the first debate, he had a roughly 41 percentage-point edge nationally over his GOP peers, now it sits at around 43 points, per the RealClearPolitics average.

    Additionally, there’s been a slight reshuffling of the lower-tier candidates in national polling. Pence has been dethroned from fourth place by Haley, who appears to be overtaking Ramaswamy for third, according to RCP.

    How did the candidates qualify?

    Prerequisites for the second debate were slightly more rigorous than the first.

    To qualify, candidates needed to garner at least 50,000 individual donors — up from 40,000 in August.

    They also needed to lock down at least 3% in two national polls or 3% in one national poll and 3% in two polls from the first four early states. This was up from 1% last time.

    Candidates attending the second debate also had to sign multiple party pledges — including a commitment to back the eventual nominee, and only attend party-sanctioned debates.

    Which candidates did not qualify?

    In addition to Hutchinson, a handful of longshot hopefuls will not be onstage. They are: Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Los Angeles radio talk show host Larry Elder, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley and former Cranston, RI, Mayor Steve Laffey.

    Miami Mayor Frances Suarez, who didn’t make the cut for the first debate, has since dropped out.

    Both Elder and Johnson cried foul over their exclusion from the first debate and revealed plans to sue the RNC as a result.

    The third debate will take place in Miami on Nov. 8, while the 2024 Republican primary calendar begins with the Iowa caucuses Jan. 15.

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    Sen. Menendez Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Charges in Federal Court

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    U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal charges accusing him of pocketing bribes of cash and gold bars in exchange for wielding his political influence to secretly advance Egyptian interests and do favors for local businessmen.

    Menendez led his wife, who also pleaded not guilty in the case, by hand out of the courtroom after the brief hearing in the lower Manhattan federal courthouse days after prosecutors unsealed an indictment alleging vast corruption by the Democrat.

    Menendez spoke in court only when each defendant stood to acknowledge that they understood the charges against them. A lawyer entered the not guilty plea for Menendez, who was forced to step down as chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee after being indicted.

    The senator was ordered released on a $100,000 bond, and he must surrender any personal passports but will be allowed to keep an official passport that would allow him to travel outside the U.S. for government business. The judge ordered him not to have any contact with his co-defendants except for his wife. He also can’t have contact with Senate staffers who know about the facts of the case outside of the presence of lawyers.

    A defiant Menendez has said allegations that he abused his power to line his pockets are baseless. He has said he is confident he will be exonerated and has no intention of leaving the Senate.

    Still, calls for Menendez to resign continued to mount on Wednesday with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, saying “he should step down.” More than half of Senate Democrats have now said that Menendez should resign, including fellow New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said the indictment includes ” shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing.”

    It’s the second corruption case in a decade against Menendez, whose last trial involving different allegations ended with jurors failing to reach a verdict in 2017.

    Authorities say they found nearly $500,000 in cash, much of it hidden in clothing and closets, as well as more than $100,000 in gold bars in a search of the New Jersey home Menendez, 69, shares with his wife.

    Charged alongside Menendez is his wife, Nadine, who prosecutors say played a key role in collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from three New Jersey businessmen seeking help from the longtime lawmaker. An attorney for Nadine Menendez entered a not guilty plea for her on Wednesday, and she was ordered to be released on $250,000 bond secured by her Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home.

    Prosecutors allege repeated actions by Menendez to benefit the authoritarian government of Egypt. They say Menendez also tried to interfere in criminal investigations involving associates, in one case pushing to install in New Jersey a federal prosecutor who he believed he could influence to derail a case.

    Two of the businessmen, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, also were arraigned and pleaded not guilty. The third, Wael Hana, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges including conspiracy to commit bribery. Hana was arrested at Kennedy Airport on Tuesday after returning voluntarily from Egypt to face the charges, and he was ordered freed pending trial.

    Menendez, in his first public remarks after last week’s indictment, said on Monday that the cash found in his home was drawn from his personal savings accounts over the years and that he kept it on hand for emergencies.

    One of the envelopes full of cash found at his home, however, bore Daibes’ DNA and was marked with the real estate developer’s return address, according to prosecutors.

    Prosecutors said Hana promised to put Menendez’s wife on his company’s payroll in a low- or no-show job in exchange for Menendez using his influential post to facilitate foreign military sales and financing to Egypt. Prosecutors allege Hana also paid $23,000 toward her home mortgage, wrote $30,000 checks to her consulting company, promised her envelopes of cash, sent her exercise equipment and bought some of the gold bars that were found in the couple’s home.

    The indictment alleges repeated actions by Menendez to benefit Egypt, despite U.S. government misgivings over the country’s human rights record that in recent years have prompted Congress to attach restrictions on aid.

    Prosecutors, who detailed meetings and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officials, say Menendez gave sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and ghostwrote a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of U.S. military support.

    Prosecutors have accused Menendez of pressuring a U.S. agricultural official to stop opposing a lucrative deal that gave Hana’s company a monopoly over certifying that imported meat met religious standards.

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    Real Estate Insiders Bewildered by Judge’s $18M Valuation of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: ‘Would List at $300M’

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    A New York judge’s Tuesday ruling valuing Donald Trump’s sprawling, headline-making Florida estate at $18 million has left industry experts perplexed.

    In his verdict, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron delivered a bombshell ruling that the former president committed fraud by inflating the value of his wealth, with details including the monetary value associated with Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

    This decision, which came down without a jury, has sent shockwaves through political — and real estate — circles, especially that $18 million base value for the property.

    One prominent Palm Beach real estate broker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post, “It’s utterly delusional to think that property is only worth $18 million.”

    The insider added, “If that property were on the market today, I would list it at around $300 million, minimum … at least. He also has the separate golf course minutes away.”

    Engoron’s verdict holds Trump, 77, along with his family and his business empire, the Trump Organization, liable for fraud — a central allegation in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the defendants.

    In a 35-page judgment, Engoron sided with James, asserting that Trump had made unequivocally false statements in official documents to secure favorable terms with financial institutions.

    Notably, Trump’s claims, such as his triplex penthouse in Trump Tower being 30,000 square feet when it was closer to 11,000, were also described by Engoron as “fraudulent” given their significant discrepancies.

    However, the ruling raised eyebrows when Engoron, a Democrat who ran unopposed in the general election on Nov. 3, 2015, evaluated the worth of Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago Club resort at $18 million, ruling that the property was inflated by 2,500%.

    He cited a basic Palm Beach Assessor valuation that ranged from $18 million to $28 million between 2011 and 2021, with industry sources saying it fails to take into consideration the fair market value. This valuation is far from Trump’s 1985 purchase price of $10 million, $8 million less than what the judge declared it was worth today.

    There are also nearby comps.

    To put it in perspective, a 2-acre wooded lot at 1980 S. Ocean Blvd., just 5 minutes from Mar-a-Lago, is currently listed for $150 million. Mar-a-Lago, situated at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., dwarfs this lot tenfold and operates as a commercial business with around 500 members as part of the golf club.

    Also nearby: a 2.3-acre plot of land at 1063/1071 N. Ocean Blvd., on the market for a sky-high $200 million.

    Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate boasts 20 acres.

    Forbes had appraised the property, boasting 128 rooms, at approximately $160 million in 2018 following extensive renovations and its exclusive Palm Beach location on Billionaires’ Row. The property includes a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, five clay tennis courts and a sprawling waterfront pool.

    And in the five years since, Palm Beach properties have only increased in value.

    Nearby residential properties, less than half the size and lacking ocean frontage, are commanding an average price of $40 million in today’s market.

    There have also been very prominent local purchases.

    In March, Rush Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, sold her husband’s longtime Palm Beach compound, on 2.7 acres, for $155 million.

    And back in 2013, hedge funder Ken Griffin paid $129.6 million for four parcels in the area.

    In addition to the verdict, Engoron revoked the New York “business certificates” held by the Trump Organization and any other New York-based business associated with the former commander-in-chief or his family. He further mandated an independent third party to oversee the “dissolution of the cancelled LLCs.”

    In response, Trump denounced it as a “Witch Hunt.”

    Trump issued a lengthy statement, saying, “It is a great company that has been slandered and maligned by this politically motivated Witch Hunt. It is very unfair, and I call for the help from the highest courts in New York State, or the Federal System, to intercede. THIS IS NOT AMERICA.”

    Last year, Engoron referred to Trump as “just a bad guy” in a scathing rebuke to a lawyer arguing that the former president was being unfairly singled out for investigation by James.

    “If Ms. James has a thing against him, OK, that’s not in my understanding [of] unlawful discrimination. He’s just a bad guy she should go after as the chief law enforcement officer of the state.”

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    Fauci Secretly Visited CIA Headquarters to ‘Influence’ COVID Origins Probe, House Republicans Allege

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    A Republican congressman has claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci was invited to CIA headquarters to participate in the agency’s probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, made the claim in a letter on Tuesday to the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General.

    ‘According to information gathered by the Select Subcommittee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, then-director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, played a role in the Central Intelligence Agency’s review of the origins of COVID-19,’ wrote Wenstrup.

    ‘The information provided suggests that Dr. Fauci was escorted into Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters—without a record of entry—and participated in the analysis to ‘influence’ the Agency’s review,’ he added.

    The letter does not specify the source of the information, the date of Fauci’s alleged CIA visit, or the nature of his purported advice or influence on the CIA probe.

    Ever since SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, first began spreading in Wuhan, China in late 2019, investigators around the world have been trying to definitively determine its origin.

    The two central theories are a natural spread from animals to humans through close contact, or a laboratory leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies similar viruses.

    Fauci’s public remarks, particularly early in the pandemic, tended to strongly downplay the lab leak theory, though he stated last November that he has ‘a completely open mind’ on the question.

    The CIA ultimately refused to make an assessment on COVID’s origins, even with low confidence, in a report declassified in June of this year.

    ‘Both hypotheses rely on significant assumptions or face challenges with conflicting reporting,’ according to the agency.

    Other intelligence agencies were split on the origins question, with some favoring natural spread and others a lab leak. But all agreed that SARS-CoV-2 was not developed as an intentional biological weapon.

    In his letter, Wenstrup asked HHS to hand over any documents or communications related to Fauci’s access to CIA facilities and CIA employees.

    He also requested an interview with HHS-OIG Special Agent Brett Rowland, who was involved with Fauci’s personal protection detail when he was NIAID director.

    Fauci retired from NIAID in December, after leading the agency since 1984. He was considered the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and it would not be unusual or unethical for the intelligence community to seek his input on COVID matters.

    But in a statement, Wenstrup’s subcommittee called Fauci’s purported contact with the CIA ‘questionable’ and said that it ‘lends credence to heightened concerns about the promotion of a false COVID-19 origins narrative by multiple federal government agencies.’

    The Republican-led COVID subcommittee has been tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19, gain-of-function research, coronavirus-related government spending, and mask and vaccine mandates.

    Earlier this month, the subcommittee cited an unnamed CIA whistleblower as testifying that the agency bribed its own analysts to say COVID-19 did not originate in the Wuhan lab.

    In a letter to CIA Director William J. Burns, Wenstrup and Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner, also an Ohio Republican, cited the testimony of a ‘multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer.’

    The officer, who was not named, said that the CIA offered a ‘significant monetary incentive’ to members of a Covid Discovery Team to influence their findings.

    The person said that six members of the seven-person team originally believed a lab leak was likely, but were persuaded to change their views. The seventh member assessed natural spread was more likely.

    The CIA denied engaging in bribery and said it would investigate the allegations.

    ‘At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity. We do not pay analysts to reach specific conclusions. We take these allegations extremely seriously and are looking into them. We will keep our Congressional oversight committees appropriately informed,’ CIA director of public affairs Tammy Kupperman Thorp said in a statement.

    Turner and Wenstrup set a September 26 deadline for the CIA to turn over all records involving the COVID Discovery Team and all communications with the FBI, State Department, Health and Human Services and Energy Department about the matter.

    They threatened to slap the agencies with subpoenas if they do not comply. It was not immediately clear as of Wednesday whether the documents had been provided.

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    95 Year-Old War Veteran Kicked Out of NYC Nursing Home to Make Room for Illegal Migrants

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    A Korean War veteran feared he would be left ‘on the curb’ after he was ordered out of his Staten Island nursing home to make way for the migrants overwhelming New York City.

    Frank Tammaro, 95, was given six weeks to get out of the Island Shores Senior Residence when it was sold to city authorities last month.

    Ten people were arrested amid furious protests when the first migrants were bussed to the facility last week after the last of the elderly residents were thrown out.

    ‘The thing I’m annoyed about is how they did it, it was very disgraceful what they did to the people in Island Shores,’ Tammaro told a press conference.

    ‘One day there was a notice on the board, I think that gave us a month and a half to find out where we were going to go.

    ‘I thought my suitcases were going to be on the curb because I’m not that fast.

    ‘If it wasn’t for my daughter, they would’ve been on the curb. That was it.

    ‘I said, ‘No, no, no, no, you’re not moving me,’ and they said, ‘Yes, yes, yes we are.’

    ‘Everything was done behind closed doors – we didn’t have a chance to actually make any attempt to stop them because there wasn’t enough time.’

    More than 113,000 undocumented migrants have arrived in New York after crossing the southern border since last year in a crisis mayor Eric Adams has warned will ‘destroy the city’.

    And another 233,000 were recorded crossing the southern border in August.

    And around 100 hotels have been turned into shelters including the The Paul Hotel, The Paramount Hotel, and the Roosevelt which alone is now housing some 3,000.

    The mayor is planning to spend an extra $1billion on hotel accommodation for migrants over three years, it emerged yesterday, with the city’s public services facing swingeing cuts to pay for it.

    ‘The migrant crisis has evolved into a financial boondoggle, with quietly extended contracts fattening the pockets of a few at the taxpayer’s expense,’ said Democratic Queens Councilman Robert Holden,

    City planners have estimated the cost at $4.7billion this year alone, equal to the budgets for the city’s sanitation, fire and parks departments combined.

    Adams has warned that the cost could reach $15billion over three years, and that library hours, meals for senior citizens, and day care for three-year-olds are at risk as he lops 15 percent of departmental spending.

    The city has a legal obligation to give shelter to those who make their way to the metro, and Adams has desperately turned to a variety of city landmarks, makeshift shelters and temporary housing as short-term solutions.

    While officials have not revealed how many hotel rooms have been designated for migrants, hotel industry experts believe it’s as many as 10,000, as reported by The City.

    ‘Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to,’ the Mayor said earlier this month. ‘We are about to experience a financial tsunami that I don’t think the city has ever experienced.

    ‘Every service in this city is going to be impacted from child service to our seniors to housing.

    ‘This issue will destroy New York City.’

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently dispatched a small team to New York City to help determine how the federal government should respond.

    The federal government has so far promised the city $140 million to help, although the city has yet to receive any of that money.

    Adams condemned the ‘ugly display’ from a ‘numerical minority’ who greeted migrants with protests when they arrived at the Staten Island facility.

    ‘I understand the frustration that New Yorkers are going through and understand the frustration that asylum seekers are experiencing as well,’ he added.

    But city councilor Nicole Malliotakis said the eviction of seniors shows ‘our country and our city’s priorities are backwards’.

    ‘My blood pressure went through the roof when I found out Homes for the Homeless cut a deal with the City of New York to turn Island Shores into a migrant shelter,’ the GOP lawmaker said.

    ‘Our tax dollars as citizens of New York should not be utilized to house citizens of other countries, especially at the expense of our senior citizens and veterans who put their lives on the line, paid taxes their whole lives and built our communities.’

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    UPDATE: North Korea Deports US Soldier Who Defected Over “Racism”

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    North Korea on Wednesday deported the American soldier who tried to defect by bolting across the demilitarized zone from South Korea earlier this year.

    23-year old US Army soldier Travis King was among a group of tourists when he ran across the border and was immediately taken into North Korean custody in the July incident.

    King, who had actually been facing Army disciplinary action after spending two months in a South Korean jail on assault charges, claimed he was running from “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the US Army.

    King’s statement to the North Koreans also said he was “disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”

    It seems he was trying to gain sympathy by playing into Pyongyang’s standard propaganda narrative about the West. Two US officials have confirmed to the Associated Press that King is now back in American custody.

    North Korea’s KCNA says that investigators have completed their questioning of King, and now the “relevant organ of the DPRK decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic.”

    “North Korea did not say how and when it planned to deport Private King, including whether he would be sent back to South Korea through the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea,” wrote the NY Times earlier in the morning.

    A prior US military statement said that King had “willfully and without authorization crossed the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

    The NY Times notes that typically North Korea does not return American soldiers who’ve defected:

    It is unusual for North Korea to expel an American soldier who has expressed a wish to seek asylum there. In the past, the country allowed American G.I.s who deserted to its side to live and even start families there. It often used them as propaganda tools, casting them as evil United States military officers in anti-American movies.

    King’s saga has added an intriguing new ingredient to perpetually quarrelsome US-North Korea relations, which lately has seen the Kim Jong Un regime ramp up ballistic missile tests in response to growing US military drills with the south.

    In 2017, a North Korean soldier ran across the border in 2017 and was hit by five bullets as his fellow soldiers unleashed a 40-round hail of gunfire. He survived and lives in the South.

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    How Your Social Security Payments Will Be Affected by Government Shutdown

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    As multiple government programs are poised to halt work as a possible government shutdown grows closer ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline, Social Security will not be one of them.

    Social Security payments are issued through a private trust that is not affected by the federal government shutting down, even as millions of federal workers could temporarily go without pay. Medicare and Veterans Affairs benefits would still be distributed during a shutdown.

    Social Security benefits are paid through two sources: payroll taxes and bonds the Treasury Department redeems from Social Security trust funds.

    The shutdown should not be confused with the debt ceiling fight, which would have seen delays in payments had an agreement not been reached.

    A shutdown does affect many other federal programs, including benefits in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which will stop running a couple of days into the shutdown, according to NBC News.

    But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said some states could keep their programs running a bit longer. The program helps pregnant women and children under 5 receive healthy food.

    Although the shutdown does not affect any Social Security programs, a longer shutdown is expected to hurt the economy.

    The longest shutdown, which occurred during former President Donald Trump’s administration, is estimated to have cost the economy at least $11 billion directly, with indirect costs even higher, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That shutdown lasted 35 days.

    Social Security recipients receive one retirement payment each month, which goes out on the second, third, and fourth Wednesday of the month. Some recipients also receive Supplemental Security Income checks if they have limited income or are considered disabled.

    To qualify for the disability, the person must be at least partially blind or have a physical or mental disability that severely limits his or her daily activities for at least one year or is expected to result in death.

    The highest retirement payment is up to $4,555 for people who retire at 70.

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    Large Crowds of Juveniles Loot Multiple Stores in Philly — At Least 15 Arrested

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    Brazen thieves have been caught on video running from Footlocker, Apple and Lululemon with arms full of merchandise as Philadelphia police struggle to grab the looters.

    Videos shared on social media shows police officers attempting to grab lotters, some of who are wearing Halloween masks, as they run from a Lululemon store carrying goods.

    Numerous bikes and piles of merchandise can be seen piled up on the sidewalk outside the clothing store on Walnut Street in the heart of the city.

    Police said that a large crowd of around 100 juveniles kept moving from store to store, with 15 to 20 arrests already being made, with two firearms being recovered.

    It has also been reported that there have been numerous shots fired during the looting in the downtown area.

    Thieves also descended on a nearby Foot Locker store and Apple Store, with CBS News reporting that the security guard at the footwear store was assaulted.

    In another video of the store being ransacked, a large number of thieves can be seen rifling through the store.

    Footage from the Apple store shows the aftermath of the looting, with iPhones and other electronic goods seemingly ripped from their display stands.

    What appears to be staff members can be seen standing around looking bemused.

    Fox News reporter Steve Keeley also shared footage showing the fallout of the looting.

    Officers can be seen placing handcuffs on one man, as they guard the exterior of the store.

    Numerous people can be heard shouting in the background as he is led to the rear of a police van.

    Another shot of looters outside the Lululemon store shows a large number of thieves making their escape.

    Numerous officers quickly arrive on the scene and can be seen pinning several men down.

    A police officer also told NBC Philadelphia that over 100 juveniles had looted the Lululemon store.

    Protests had started round the city earlier in the day over the dismissal of charges against police officer Eddie Irizarry who was involved in a fatal shooting.

    Hugh E. Dillon also shared a video showing the police response to his social media page.

    Dillon wrote: ‘Stay out of center city: Kids looted Apple Store , Lululemon and Chestnut street I hear footlocker has been broken into.

    ‘The police are doing an incredible effort on bikes and in cars corralling the kids blocked by Block. They are pulling cars over a lot of kids are in cars.

    ‘They stop and a whole bunch of them get out and then they start trying to break in the stores. But the police are on top of it.’

    Security guard at a nearby Wendy’s, Hakeem Russel told NBC that the store next to the fast food restaurant had been broken into, with a guard assaulted.

    Russel told the outlet: ‘A couple a kids decided they wanted to take full advantage of the unjust shooting that’s happened.

    ‘It’s definitely been unrest around here since the verdict.’

    Another video shows what appears to be a liquor store in the city, with one woman filming the scene shouting: ‘Everybody must eat, everybody must eat.’

    Officers have now blocked off several streets in the area with crime scene tape due to the robberies.

    ABC reported that police had detained individuals ranged from teenagers to young adults, and recovered one weapon.

    Just three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner resigned from her post as the Democratic run city dealt with a wave of homicides and lawlessness.

    Danielle Outlaw, 48, who has been Philly’s top cop since February 2020, officially left the department on September 22.

    Outlaw’s new role will be the Deputy Chief Security Officer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where she will oversee the airports, bridges, tunnels and other transportation infrastructure in the New York City area.

    Before she took office, Philadelphia saw less than 400 homicides each year since 2007. Both 2021 and 2022 have seen more than 500 homicides across the city.

    Latest figures, which are up until last Sunday, show how there has been 302 homicides in the city so far this year.

    There has also been 402 reported rapes, 58,759 cases of property crime, 3,701 cases of aggravated assaults and 1,314 shooting victims.

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    Judge Rules Trump Committed Fraud in New York Civil Case

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    A New York state judge ruled that former President Donald Trump and his company are liable for fraud in a lawsuit that was brought by the New York Attorney General’s office.

    Judge Arthur Engoron, issuing a ruling Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James, found that the former president and the Trump Organization deceived banks, insurers, and others by allegedly overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.

    The decision, which comes just days before the start of a non-jury trial in the lawsuit, canceled President Trump’s business certificates. Within 10 days, the former president and other defendants must recommend three independent reviewers to manage the dissolution of the corporations, including the Trump Organization.

    Judge Engoron said Ms. James, a Democrat, had established liability for false valuations of several properties, including Mar-a-Lago and others, and claimed the former president made comments in a deposition that were “wholly without basis in law or fact.”

    “He claims that if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the (financial statements) were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time,” the judge wrote on Tuesday. “He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because he could find a ‘buyer from Saudi Arabia’ to pay any price he suggests.”

    A trial has been slated for Oct. 2, and could last well into December.

    Tuesday’s order also ordered sanctions of $7,500 for each attorney who had represented President Trump and the co-defendants, alleging they made previously rejected and frivolous claims in court documents.

    “Defendants’ arguments that the factual record developed in discovery changed the landscape under which standing should be viewed is legally preposterous,” the judge also wrote (pdf). “The best that defendants could muster at oral argument was to contend (incorrectly) that plaintiff cannot sue because the subject transactions were between private entities, and nobody lost money.”

    Ms. James sued Trump in September 2022, accusing him and the Trump Organization of lying for a decade about asset values and his net worth to get better terms on bank loans and insurance. She alleged that Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $2.23 billion, and by one measure as much as $3.6 billion, on annual financial statements given to banks and insurers.

    The former president and his attorneys, however, have denied wrongdoing in the case. Several days ago, his team said that Ms. James’s office has no case during a hearing before Judge Engoron.

    Ms. James’s case is “out of context,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise said in the hearing, according to reports. The former president and other defendants involved in the Trump Organization didn’t commit fraud and said the attorney general’s arguments, according to Mr. Kise, essentially are: “Believe me, this is fraud.”

    The lawyer further stated that there is no evidence of that because the attorney general’s contrary statements did not make it so, and that valuation disputes were immaterial, he said. “The foundation of the case is to ignore everything,” Mr. Kise said. “The case comes down to prosecuting the defendants for engaging in successful business transactions.”

    Earlier this month, President Trump sued Judge Engoron and accused him of taking too long to narrow the case. The lawsuit sought to delay the trial to allow the defendants to prepare properly after the judge decides which claims the attorney general can pursue.

    Defense lawyers have also accused Ms. James of ignoring a June appeals court decision. A U.S. appeals court is expected to decide next week whether the trial should proceed as scheduled.

    Trump’s statement

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    Hunter Biden Received $250K in Wires From China in 2019 – With Beneficiary Address Listed as Joe’s Delaware Home

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    Hunter Biden received wires that originated in Beijing for more than $250,000 from Chinese business partners during the summer of 2019 — wires that listed the Delaware home of Joe Biden as the beneficiary address for the funds, Fox News Digital has learned from a congressional committee.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., has been investigating the Biden family business dealings and President Biden’s alleged involvement in those ventures.

    As part of the investigation, Comer subpoenaed financial records related to a specific bank account and received records of two wires originating from Beijing and linked to BHR Partners.

    BHR Partners is a joint-venture between Hunter Biden’s Rosemont Seneca and Chinese investment firm Bohai Capital. BHR Partners is a Beijing-backed private equity firm controlled by Bank of China Limited. Hunter Biden reportedly sat on the board of directors of BHR Partners.

    The first wire transfer sent to Hunter Biden, dated July 26, 2019, was for $10,000 from an individual named Ms. Wang Xin. There is a Ms. Wang Xin listed on the website for BHR Partners. It is unclear if the wire came from that Wang Xin.

    The second wire transfer sent to Hunter Biden, dated Aug. 2, 2019, was for $250,000 from Li Xiang Sheng — also known as Jonathan Li, the CEO of BHR Partners — and Ms. Tan Ling. The committee is trying to identify Ling’s role.

    The beneficiary for the wires is listed as Robert Hunter Biden with the address “1209 Barley Mill Rd.” in Wilmington, Delaware. That address is the main residence for President Biden.

    Comer and the House Oversight Committee have obtained bank records as part of their investigation, alleging that the Biden family and their business associates received millions of dollars from oligarchs in Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan during the Obama administration.

    Fox News Digital has also learned that the committee has records that allegedly reveal that from 2014 to 2019 the Biden family and their associates received $24 million in foreign payments — $15 million to the Bidens and $9 million for their business associates, $4 million more than previously known.

    Committee aides told Fox News Digital that beneficiary addresses are either the address listed to the recipient account or listed by the individual sending the wire. It is unclear, based on the wire records, who listed the address.

    Hunter Biden spent time in 2017, 2018 and 2019 living at the Biden family home in Wilmington. It is unclear if he was living at the home at the time of the wire transfers in July and August 2019.

    The wires were sent just several months after then-Vice President Joe Biden announced his 2020 presidential campaign. Joe Biden, in August 2019, said he “never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their business, period.”

    As for Jonathan Li, according to testimony from Hunter Biden’s former business associate, Devon Archer, as part of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation, Joe Biden sat down for coffee in Beijing with the CEO of BHR. Archer also testified that Biden wrote a college recommendation letter for Li’s daughter to Georgetown. Archer said Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone for at least one call with Li in addition to meeting for coffee.

    Separately, Fox News Digital first reported in 2022 that Biden wrote a college recommendation letter for Li’s son to Brown University.

    “Bank records don’t lie, but President Joe Biden does,” Comer told Fox News Digital.

    “In 2020, Joe Biden told Americans that his family never received money from China. We’ve already proved that to be a lie earlier this year, and now we know that two wires originating from Beijing listed Joe Biden’s Wilmington home as the beneficiary address when he was running for president of the United States. When Joe Biden was vice president, he spoke on the phone and had coffee with Jonathan Li in Beijing and later wrote a college letter of recommendation for his children,” Comer said.

    “Joe Biden’s abuse of public office for his family’s financial gain threatens our national security. What did the Bidens do with this money from Beijing? Americans demand and deserve accountability for President Biden and the first family’s corruption. The Oversight Committee, along with the Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, will continue to follow the evidence and money to provide transparency and accountability.”

    Despite Hunter Biden receiving more than a quarter of a million dollars in the summer of 2019 from BHR-linked individuals, in October 2019, then-attorney for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, explained Hunter’s role at the company by saying he “served only as a member of the board of directors, which he joined based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets.”

    “It was an unpaid position,” Mesires said on Oct. 13, 2019. “In October 2017, Hunter committed to invest approximately $420,000 USD (as of 10/12/2019) to acquire a 10% equity position in BHR, which he still holds. To date, Hunter has not received any compensation for being on BHR’s board of directors. He has not received any return on his investment; there have been no distributions to BHR shareholders since Hunter obtained his equity interest.”

    Hunter resigned from the board of BHR at the end of October 2019.

    The White House, attorneys for Hunter Biden and Mesires did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. The White House maintains that the president was “never in business with his son.”

    The subpoenaed financial records come amid House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry investigation against President Biden.

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝
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