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FBI launches hate crime investigation into hot water attack on gay Atlanta couple

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The FBI has launched an investigation to determine if an attack on two gay men who were seriously burned last month when hot water was poured on them as they slept in a suburban Atlanta apartment was a hate crime, a spokesman said on Monday.

Martin Blackwell, 48, was arrested on state aggravated battery charges after the Feb. 12 incident and remains jailed, records show.

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Blackwell, who dates the mother of one of the victims, told police he attacked the men because he was disgusted by their relationship.

“They’ll be all right. It was just a little hot water on them,” he said, according to police documents cited by WSB-TV.

A lawyer for Blackwell could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Atlanta office “has initiated a federal civil rights-based investigation to determine whether the federal hate crime statute will apply,” FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said.

Victims Anthony Gooden Jr., 23, and Marquez Tolbert, 21, spent two days and 10 days, respectively, in the hospital to be treated for their burns, College Park police detective Gerald Riser said.

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“The pain doesn’t let you sleep,” Tolbert told WSB. “It’s just, like, it’s excruciating, 24 hours a day, and it doesn’t go anywhere.”

Online fund-raising efforts to help pay the men’s medical bills have generated more than $120,000 in donations, according to the gofundme.com website.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Dan Grebler)

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Jared Kushner wrestles control of Trump pardon process away from Bill Barr’s DOJ: report

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President Donald Trump has taken the pardon process away from the Justice Department and given more direct control to son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.

The president granted clemency Tuesday to a group of 11 political allies, Fox News regulars and others, and he has put together an informal task force overseen by Kushner to recommend and vet new candidates, reported the Washington Post.

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Trump tapping social media ‘clown’ Grenell to lead intelligence agencies even has Trump allies concerned: MSNBC’s Morning Joe

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough walloped President Donald Trump's pick for acting director of national intelligence.

The president tapped controversial German ambassador Richard Grenell to oversee the all 17 intelligence agencies, despite having no experience in intelligence or running a large bureaucracy -- among other disqualifying characteristics.

"People that know Grenell do say that he lacks intelligence, he lacks discretion, he lacks knowledge of the subject," Scarborough said. "He especially lacks judgment."

"His role as ambassador in Germany was disastrous by all accounts," Scarborough added, "and the largest German newspaper said this of him: 'Grenell is vain, narcissistic, he dishes out aggressively but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor hides a deep insecurity. Grenell knows little about Germany and Europe, and that his knowledge of the subject matter is superficial.'"

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Congress fixes – just a bit – the unpopular, ‘unfair’ rule that stopped injured service members from suing for damages

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Members of the military who have long been barred by law from collecting damages from the federal government for injuries off the battlefield will finally be able to do so after Congress stepped in to amend the law.

The legislation represents progress for injured service members – but still limits who among them may press for damages.

Up until the end of World War II, the U.S. government enjoyed “sovereign immunity,” a vestige of British rule when “the king could do no wrong” and the government could not be sued.

But in 1946, faced with the prospect of World War II veterans returning from the front only to be hit and killed in an accident on base, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. Congress felt that it was only fair to allow people to recover damages for personal injury from the government when the government was negligent or irresponsible about caring for people’s safety.

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