Iran on Sunday hanged a man said to be affiliated to an exiled opposition group, state media reported, despite international pressure on the Islamic republic to halt the execution. According to the official IRNA news agency, Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani…
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The head of a union representing more than 26,000 Social Security employees is using the pages of the largest daily newspaper in President Joe Biden's hometown to demand the immediate termination of Andrew Saul and David Black, Trump holdovers at the Social Security Administration who have been accused of sabotaging relief checks and undermining seniors' benefits.
"If Biden is invested in protecting and expanding Social Security, he must begin by immediately firing Saul and Black and replacing them with leaders who are ready to work with employees to build a better SSA."
—Ralph de Juliis, AFGE Council 220
Appearing in The News Journal (pdf)—the paper with the largest circulation in Wilmington, Delaware—three open letters by AFGE Council 220 president Ralph de Juliis published in the past week argue that as SSA commissioner and deputy commissioner, Saul and Black "continue to wreak havoc on the biggest social safety net program in the United States" and "harm the basic services of the federal government to score political points."
"Just recently, Saul delayed the delivery of $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of elderly and disabled, and only relented [after] leaders in Congress cried foul," de Juliis writes in a open letter that appeared in The News Journal's April 16 edition.
"Over the past two years, Saul and Black have also created a culture of anti-employee bias that ultimately harms the people we serve," de Juliis added. "When the entire corporate working world transitioned quickly to remote work at the onset of the pandemic, Saul refused to reinstate telework for thousands of SSA employees, putting the public health of Social Security recipients at risk."
In a statement on Tuesday, de Juliis said that "it is unacceptable that nearly 100 days into President Biden's first term, Social Security employees and the public we serve continue to remain under the thumb of Trump political appointees who were installed to run Social Security into the ground."
"If Biden is invested in protecting and expanding Social Security," de Juliis continued, "he must begin by immediately firing Saul and Black and replacing them with leaders who are ready to work with employees to build a better SSA."
The letters come as Biden is facing growing pressure from Democratic members of Congress and progressive advocacy groups to remove Saul and Black, whose six-year terms don't expire until 2025.
In a statement earlier this month, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)—chair of the Senate's Special Committee on Aging—urged Saul and Black to resign and "make room for new leadership who will be the careful stewards of Social Security Americans deserve."
"Commissioner Saul and Deputy Commissioner Black were given an opportunity to strengthen Social Security," said Casey, "but they have instead focused their tenures on making it harder for Americans to receive essential benefits and on antagonizing the critical workforce they oversee."
While current law states that the SSA commissioner can only be removed "pursuant to a finding by the president of neglect of duty or malfeasance in office," advocacy group Social Security Works argues (pdf) that Supreme Court precedent set by Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gives Biden the power to oust Saul.
Federal statute does not protect the deputy commissioner from termination by the president.
"Andrew Saul and his deputy David Black are making it harder for people who spent decades working physically demanding jobs to claim Social Security disability benefits," Social Security Works tweeted Tuesday. "The president must fire Saul and Black now."
A Washington state woman has been slapped with a felony hate crime charge for repeatedly harassing and threatening her neighbors who are of mixed race, the Kitsap Sun reports.
Police were called this Friday when neighbors complained that Cassandra Louise Jameson, 38, was yelling racist slurs and threats "for hours" while they were having a baby shower. Jameson allegedly made racist comments about Mexican, Asian and Black people and indicated she had firearms or other weapons. Jameson is also allegedly accused the family of being "the cause of the flu."
The woman who called 9-11 is Saipanese and her husband is Black.
Jameson was also arrested this November after multiple people called 9-11 to report a vehicle driving recklessly. Court documents say Jameson refused to pull over and started a chase, during which she braked hard in front of a police vehicle.
"It was apparent that she had activated her brakes in order to get me to hit her vehicle," the deputy involved in the chase wrote in the report.
Naomi Wolf has been promoting 'absurd' COVID-19 conspiracy theories — with the help of Fox News: report
Liberal author Naomi Wolf is well-known for her feminist commentary of the 1990s and her warnings against the Patriot Act during the Bush Administration's two terms. Recently, Wolf has been promoting COVID-19 conspiracy theories — and Media Matters' Matt Gertz reports that Fox News has been more than happy to hear them.
Gertz explains, "The feminist writer Naomi Wolf garnered fame during the 1990s for her book 'The Beauty Myth' and her work as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. But in recent years, she's been better known for promoting an array of unhinged conspiracy theories, most recently regarding the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This combination has made her a perfect guest for Fox News."
Fox News' coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been dramatically different from that of MSNBC or CNN. When MSNBC and CNN, in 2020, were showing how enormous a threat COVID-19 posed, Fox News joined former President Donald Trump in downplaying the pandemic's severity.
"Fox is far more interested in turning coronavirus into a political cudgel than in giving users accurate health information," Gertz observes. "And so, the network's hosts lean on Wolf's liberal credentials while giving her a platform to claim that the Democratic response to the pandemic is aimed at dissolving society and enacting a totalitarian state comparable to Nazi Germany."
Gertz notes that Wolf has "appeared at least seven times on Fox" since mid-February to "discuss her views on the pandemic: twice apiece on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight' and 'The Revolution with Steve Hilton,' and three times on 'Fox News Primetime.'"
"It is irresponsible for a news outlet to give Wolf that sort of credulous attention," Gertz writes. "Her social media channels are littered with absurd claims about the virus and its vaccines. Between her first and second Fox appearances alone, she tweeted that a new technology allowed the delivery of 'vaccines w nanopatticles that let you travel back in time'; that the Moderna vaccine is a 'software platform' that allows 'uploads'; and that due to face masks, children now lack 'the human reflex that they when you smile at them they smile back' and have 'dark circles under (their) eyes from low oxygen."
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