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Accused Washington ‘fake news’ gunman pleads not guilty

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A North Carolina man pleaded not guilty on Friday to weapons and assault charges after he allegedly fired an assault rifle in a crowded Washington pizzeria that fake news stories on the internet claimed was a front for a child sex ring.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, entered the plea during a brief preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court. He is suspected of firing an AR-15 assault rifle inside the Comet Ping Pong restaurant on Dec. 4. No one was injured.

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Welch had planned his raid for days and tried to recruit an accomplice to come along on his ad-hoc investigation of the nonexistent pedophilia ring, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Bogus news stories had claimed 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ran such an operation out of the restaurant.

Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey admonished Welch over reports that he was talking about the incident inside the jail. Welch, the father of two children, said he would heed Harvey’s warning.

He is charged with interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit an offense, assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. Welch is being held without bond.

The fake news stories were an example of a proliferation of false reports during the U.S. election campaign, often disseminated through websites purporting to be news outlets and quoting bogus sources.

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The firearm transportation and assault charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The maximum sentence for firearm possession is 15 years.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson and Tom Ramstack; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andrea Ricci)


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2020 Election

Democrats and Never-Trumpers gaming out ‘doomsday scenarios’ if president refuses to leave office: report

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According to a report in the New York Times, Democratic strategists and Never-Trumper conservatives fear Donald Trump will refuse to leave office should he lose in November and are making plans and figuring out their legal options should such an unprecedented state of affairs come to pass.

The report, by the Times' Reid Epstein, begins with one such possible scenario.

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COVID-19

‘Retaliation plain and simple’: Vaccine agency top Doc fired by Trump administration files whistleblower complaint

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Dr. Rick Bright has retained an attorney and will be filing a whistleblower complaint after the Trump administration fired him from his position as head of the federal agency charged with developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Bright was moved to a different agency with a narrower focus after he raised concerns over President Donald Trump's obsession with promoting hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug recent studies found doubles the death rate in coronavirus patients.

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COVID-19

Checking blood for coronavirus antibodies – 3 questions answered about serological tests and immunity

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Coronavirus testing in the United States is moving into a new phase as scientists begin looking into people’s blood for signs they’ve been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This technique is called serological testing.

Virologist Daniel Stadlbauer helped develop a serological test to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and helped transfer it from the research lab to the clinical setting. Epidemiologist Aubree Gordon regularly uses serological assays in her research studies on influenza and dengue fever. She’s now established serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 in her research lab.

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