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Rand Paul uses judicial nomination to pressure Obama over legality of drone strikes

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s choice of David Barron to serve as a U.S. federal appeals court judge will undergo a crucial test on Wednesday when the Senate takes a procedural vote amid controversy over the nominee’s role in authorizing drone strikes against American citizens.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky tried to persuade the Senate to delay votes on the nomination until the Obama administration releases a memo Barron wrote as the Justice Department’s legal counsel laying the groundwork for drone attacks against Anwar al-Awlaki.

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Al-Awlaki was both a U.S. citizen and a senior leader of Al Qaeda, the group that orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. He was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

“There is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and … any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a president is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court,” Paul said during debate of the nomination.

Barron, now a Harvard Law School professor, has been chosen to serve as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which reviews cases from lower federal courts in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico. It is one rung below the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nominee’s prospects brightened, however, when Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon announced on the Senate floor that he would support the nomination.

Wyden said that the administration’s decision to release the Barron memo was “a very constructive step.”

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“I am going to vote yes on Mr. Barron’s nomination,” he added.

The Justice Department is expected to make the memo public after classified information is redacted. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that senators have had access to the unredacted version of the memo for their review.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, editing by G Crosse)

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Florida man caught on video pulling gun and threatening to kill shopper who asked him to wear a mask

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A man shopping in a Florida Walmart pulled a gun and threatened to kill a shopper who asked him to wear a mask, according to police, NBC Miami reports.

Surveillance video shows an unmasked man pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair in the store this Saturday. A masked shopper approaches the pair and words are exchanged, prompting the man to give the masked shopper the middle finger. Soon after, the man pulls a gun from his waistband, allegedly threatening to kill the shopper before he leaves the store.

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Dr. Fauci: Trump officials are only hurting the president with their ‘bizarre’ attacks on public health experts

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hit back on Wednesday at officials within the Trump administration who have been trying to undermine him.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Fauci said it was strange to see the president's loyalists publicly attacking him and other public health experts.

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Trump’s push to reopen schools appears to be blowing up in his face: polls

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President Donald Trump has been adamant that schools reopen in the fall, although he has given little to no guidance for how to do so in a way that won't lead to further eruptions of the novel coronavirus.

However, Business Insider reports that the president's rush to get schools open may already be coming back to bite him.

As evidence, the publication cited several national polls that show opposition to Trump's plans.

"A Politico/Morning Consult national tracking poll released on Wednesday found that 53% of voters oppose 'fully reopening' daycares and K-12 schools, 50% oppose a full reopening of colleges and universities, and 65% oppose Trump's threats to pull federal funding from schools that don't re-open," Business Insider writes.

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