The Obama administration continues to make incredibly ridiculous decisions in response to the whole Snowden thing. A few weeks ago, we wrote about new rules from James Clapper that banned intelligence community employees from interacting with anyone…
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One of three former Minneapolis police officers facing trial for the death of George Floyd pleaded guilty on Wednesday to manslaughter charges.
Thomas Lane was convicted in February of federal charges of violating the civil rights of Floyd, the African-American man whose May 2020 murder sparked nationwide protests.
Lane, who is white, had been scheduled to go on trial next month on Minnesota state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Instead, he pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, a court spokesman said.
The other two officers, Tou Thao, who is Hmong American, and J. Alexander Kueng, who is Black, were also convicted in February of federal charges and are to go on trial on the state charges on June 13.
Derek Chauvin, who was the senior officer on the scene, was convicted of murder last year after a high-profile trial and is serving 22 years in prison.
Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly 10 minutes until he passed out and died.
Floyd's death, which was filmed by a bystander in a video that went viral, sparked months of protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.
Under the plea agreement, Lane will serve three years in a federal prison, the court spokesman said.
The term will run concurrently with the sentence he receives on the federal charges. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison welcomed the plea agreement.
"I am pleased Thomas Lane has accepted responsibility for his role in Floyd's death," Ellison said in a statement.
"His acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation.
"While accountability is not justice, this is a significant moment in this case and a necessary resolution on our continued journey to justice."
On the roof of the world, Antonina Samoilova held up a blue and yellow panel emblazoned "Stand With Ukraine" while her father and brother were serving in the army defending their country against Russia's invasion.
The 33-year-old had tears in her eyes as she unfurled the Ukrainian flag on the summit of Mount Everest last week, she said on Wednesday after returning to Kathmandu.
The world's attention was turning away from her country's plight following Russia's invasion, she worried.
"It is a pity... it's not good for us Ukrainians because we need more help, we need all the world to help us," she told AFP. "It's not yet over in Ukraine.
"I knew already before the expedition that I am the only Ukrainian on Everest this year. That made me push myself to go to the summit because I knew if it's not me, then who?" she said.
Samoilova was at the summit of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest mountain, in February when news of the Russian invasion reached her.
Her first updates on the war came from a Kyiv bomb shelter where her sister was hiding.
As she made her way to the top of Everest, days without contact with her father and brother who have volunteered to fight were weighing on her mind.
On her return, she learned that their region had been quiet. "I was like 'Whoo! Thank god!'" she said.
And her phone buzzed with hundreds of messages of support from friends and strangers once she reached base camp.
"Tonia, you are not only our pride, you are the pride of all Ukraine," her father said in a text.
Nepal has issued 319 permits to foreign mountaineers, each accompanied by at least one guide, for this year's Everest spring climbing season, which runs from mid-April to the end of May.
The country only reopened its peaks to mountaineers last year after the pandemic shut down the industry in 2020.
A rare window of good weather has already allowed more than 450 climbers and guides to reach the Everest summit since a team of Nepali climbers opened the route on May 7, bringing relief to expedition operators.
At least three climbers, a Russian and two Nepalis, have died on Everest since the season began.
Samoilova is aiming to join the select club of climbers to scale the Seven Summits -- the highest mountains on each continent -- and has already completed Kilimanjaro in Africa, Europe's Elbrus and Antarctica's Mount Vinson.
But first, she plans to see her sister and nephew, who have escaped to Croatia, before driving back to her father and brother in Ukraine.
"I just want to hug them," she said.
© 2022 AFP
The Department of Homeland Security put a hold on efforts to establish a board to combat online disinformation under heavy attacks from conservatives.
The Biden administration had tapped extremism researcher Nina Jankowicz as executive director of the Disinformation Governance Board, but she resigned Tuesday and the project was "paused" following intense pressure from some of the same forces the 33-year-old author and researcher had been fighting for years, reported the Washington Post.
“Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. “In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the Secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the Department’s disinformation work, and he will continue to do so.”
DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admits the agency "could have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn’t," but Jankowitz was singled out almost immediately by the right-wing internet for abuse and harassment after far-right influencer Jack Posobiec accused the administration of establishing a "Ministry of Truth," as described in George Orwell's "1984."
Tens of thousands of tweets poured in within hours referencing Jankowicz by name, and Republican lawmakers soon joined in the attacks, which were amplified by Fox News, which referred to her or the board in about 70 percent of its one-hour segments the following week.
Right-wing websites began publishing articles based on her past social media posts, and Mayorkas and other administration officials were unable to counter the attacks and directed Jankowicz herself to remain silent -- which disinformation experts say was the exactly wrong approach.
“The irony is that Nina’s role was to come up with strategies for the department to counter this type of campaign, and now they’ve just succumbed to it themselves,” said a congressional staffer with knowledge of the situation. “They didn’t even fight, they just rolled over.”