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Gunman gets four years in prison for storming DC pizzeria

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A North Carolina man who wielded an assault rifle inside a Washington pizzeria after a fake online report that it was a cover for a child abuse ring was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday, prosecutors said.

Edgar Welch, 29, pleaded guilty in March to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition in relation to the Dec. 4 incident at the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in northwest Washington.

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Welch, of Salisbury, North Carolina, told authorities he had been trying to investigate an online conspiracy theory, known as “Pizzagate,” that claimed the eatery was a front for a pedophile ring led by then Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“It was never my intention to harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was,” Welch said in a defense sentencing memo in which he asked for an 18-month sentence.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said during the sentencing that it had been “sheer luck” no one was hurt and that the extent of the recklessness in the case was “breathtaking,” according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Welch was armed with an AR-15 rifle loaded with 29 rounds of ammunition, as well as a loaded revolver, when he marched into the restaurant and pointed a weapon at an employee and then fired multiple rounds into a door, prosecutors said.

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Customers and employees fled the scene and no one was hurt. Welsh was arrested outside the restaurant, and a shotgun and more ammunition were found in his car, prosecutors said.

The attack was widely seen at the time as an example of how fake news reports that proliferated on the internet during the 2016 election could have a real-world impact on people’s lives.

According to court documents, Welch had binge-watched YouTube videos about the alleged child-trafficking ring on Dec. 1 before deciding on his plan to invade the pizzeria.

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(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)


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Here’s what it would really take to impeach Brett Kavanaugh

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President Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican who some Democrats in Congress are talking about impeaching: Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts is among the Democrats who is calling for the impeachment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But Sen. Dick Durban isn’t one of them. The Illinois Democrat has forcefully stated that trying to impeach Kavanaugh would be a waste of time for his party, and he’s right. The bar for impeaching a U.S. Supreme Court justice is incredibly high  — especially when far-right Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a.k.a. Moscow Mitch, still have a majority in the U.S. Senate.

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Naomi Klein: The climate crisis demands radical change — and paper straws are just a distraction

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Renowned climate activist and author Naomi Klein says responses to the climate crisis have for too long focused on individual consumer choices rather than the collective action needed to save the planet. In a new video for The Intercept, Klein argues, “So many environmental responses have just been minor tweaks to an economy based on endless consumption — take your electric car to the drive-through for an Impossible Burger and a Coke with a paper straw. Of course it’s better than the alternative. But it’s nowhere close to the depth of change required if we hope to actually pull our planet back from the brink.” Klein joins us for the hour to discuss her new book, “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal.”

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Millennials are moving to Trump-backing states — and the GOP should be terrified: columnist

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Millennial voters are substantively more progressive than older generations of voters, but their political power has been diluted by the fact that many of them have been concentrated in cities in deep-blue states.

However, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson argues that this is about to change because more millennials are leaving the big blue-state cities to move out to metro areas in key states such as Arizona, Georgia and Texas.

"The five fastest-growing metros of the past few years -- Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, and Orlando, Florida -- are in states won by Trump," he writes. "The other metro areas with a population of at least 1 million that grew by at least 1.5 percent last year were Las Vegas; Austin, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; San Antonio; Tampa, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee. All of those metros are in red or purple states."

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