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Rep. George Santos (R-NY) tried to fake not being able to speak Portuguese when confronted with Brazilian reporters' questions about his lawyer in that country serving time for a gang-related offense, reported The Daily Beast.
Jonymar Vasconcelos, whom Santos hired to represent him in a Brazilian fraud case dating back to 2008 in which Santos is accused of using a stolen checkbook, is "not affiliated with any law firm and does not list contact information online," reported Dan Ladden-Hall — making it unclear how Santos even met him or decided to use his legal services.
Vasconcelos "was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2007 for his role in the fatal shooting of a mechanic three years earlier, São Paulo’s Folha newspaper reported Wednesday," said the report. "Vasconcelos, who was reportedly paid for the hit, went with three other men to the home of Aristeu Vieira de Mattos in the early hours of Dec. 3, 2004. Vasconcelos, who was in Brazil’s Navy at the time, remained on a motorcycle while the killing took place, the newspaper reports. In 2009 he was moved to house arrest and began studying law."
According to the report, when Folha reporters tried to ask Santos questions about Vasconcelos, "Santos replied that he doesn’t understand Portuguese — despite speaking Portuguese fluently in interviews — and then did not respond to questions sent in English."
Brazilian prosecutors reopened the fraud case against Santos, long dormant, after his election to Congress in New York, and subsequent national coverage of scandals about his fabricated personal life story, put him back in the spotlight.
In addition to the case in Brazil, Santos faces multiple investigations in the United States. The Nassau County District Attorney opened a probe into him in December. Meanwhile, the Justice Department asked the Federal Election Commission to refrain from any enforcement actions against Santos for his suspicious campaign finance statements — which experts have said is a sign federal prosecutors are pursuing their own criminal investigation of Santos. The FBI is also investigating Santos' "animal rescue charity" venture following reports he tried to scam $3,000 out of a GoFundMe intended for a homeless veteran's dog.
Pope Francis on Thursday drew baffled reactions after he posted philsophical musings about the importance of the middle finger on his Twitter account.
In the post, His Holiness posited that "the middle finger, which is higher than the others, reminds us of something essential: honesty."
He elaborated on this by noting that "To be honest means not getting entangled in the snares of corruption."
Of course, in much of the world, the middle finger has a far more obscene cultural context than the virtue of honesty, as many of the pope's Twitter followers were quick to point out.
NBC News Vatican analyst Christopher White, for instance, noted that the pope's tweet was in reference to a longer speech he delivered about the importance of honesty -- but he acknowledged that "I don’t think this papal tweet really works without the full context of his speech today."
And White was far from the only one to believe something had been lost in translation with the pope's tweet.
"I'm not Catholic but I endorse this statement by His Holiness," wrote national security attorney Bradley Moss. "Probably not for the same reason as he was suggesting it but I endorse it nonetheless."
Conservative journalist T. Becket Adams also found humor in the message and argued that "the middle finger certainly does convey honest opinion."
Sarah McLaughlin, an anti-censorship activist at the organization FIRE, speculated that the pope's musings on the middle finger were inspired by his recent visit to Philadelphia, whose citizens are notorious for using the finger for unholy reasons.
Sonny Bunch, a cultural editor at The Bulwark, jokingly scolded the pope for posting about the middle finger on a "family website" like Twitter.
Financial planner Carolyn McClanahan, meanwhile, simply praised the pope's message as "the best tweet ever."
Bald eagles are turning up dead from lead poisoning all across Michigan for a surprising reason.
It doesn't take much lead to sicken or kill a bald eagle, and wildlife rehabilitators say the birds are being poisoned by accidentally ingesting bullets while scavenging carcasses from animals killed by hunters using lead ammunition, reported MLive.
“If you’ve ever seen an eagle that has been poisoned, it’s something you’ll never forget,” said John Buchweitz, nutrition and toxicology section chief at Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “The animal may go blind. They can develop tremors. They can lose their ability to fly. It’s a sad statement on the truly adverse effects of a chemical, like lead, on an animal.”
America's national symbol were removed from the endangered species list after a then-controversial federal ban on the pesticide DDT nearly killed off the species, which had dwindled to just 417 nesting pairs in 1963 to more than 300,000 bald eagles currently living in the wild, and conservationists are now sounding the alarm on hunting or fishing with lead-based products.
“We’re going to have to use every available resource to get this out,” said James Manley, executive director of Skegemog Raptor Center. “There’s a lot of steps I think we’re going to have to go through to get enough people on our side where it’s like, okay, let’s quit putting a known toxin into the environment.”
A study published last year found nearly half of bald and golden eagles nationwide tested positive for chronic lead poisoning, and it's the third leading cause of death for the species in Michigan, and research shows the main source is lead ammunition from wild game carcasses and the entrails hunters leave behind from cleaning game in the field.
“Alternatives that are safer for people and wildlife do exist, and it makes sense to elevate the conversation and boost public awareness,” reads the state Department of National Resources webpage.