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Family of rancher slain during wildlife refuge standoff sues US government and the FBI

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Family members of a rancher who was shot and killed by police during the 2016 armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge have sued the U.S. government, Federal Bureau of Investigation, state of Oregon and others claiming he was willfully “executed.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland nearly two years to the day after Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54, was shot dead by Oregon State Police on Jan. 26, 2016, along a snow-covered road near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

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“As it turns out, he was deliberately executed by a pre-planned government ambush, after he had exited his vehicle with his hands up,” the plaintiffs allege in their 48-page lawsuit.

“Along an isolated section of U.S. Route 395 in Harney County, Oregon where the only other people within miles were those who had set up the ambush, LaVoy Finicum was executed as he walked away from his truck in the deep snow,” the plaintiffs say in their court papers.

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s office in Portland, Beth Anne Steele declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing an agency policy of not responding in the press to pending litigation.

A spokesman for Oregon Governor Kate Brown said that her office would also have no comment. The Oregon State Police did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment on Friday afternoon.

Finicum acted as a de facto spokesman for the group of some two dozen land rights protesters who seized buildings at the refuge on Jan. 2, 2016, a move sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the area.

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It also marked the latest flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres of land in the West.

Finicum, an Arizona rancher, was shot three times in the back after running from his pickup truck at a roadblock, a killing a county prosecutor later found “justified and necessary.”

In October 2016, the leader of the standoff, activist Ammon Bundy, and six of his followers were acquitted of federal charges. Two other men who took part in the occupation were later convicted of federal conspiracy charges.

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Earlier this month a judge threw out the criminal case against Ammon Bundy, his father Cliven, brother Ryan and another defendant over their 2014 standoff against federal agents in Nevada over cattle grazing rights, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, editing by G Crosse)

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Bill Barr and Trump desperately want to blame Antifa for violence — but they’re coming up dry so far

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President Donald Trump has turned his wrath on Antifa during the George Floyd protests, demanding Antifa be labeled a terrorist organization and accusing the movement of committing acts of violence at demonstrations. But journalists William Bredderman and Spencer Ackerman, in the Daily Beast, threw cold this week on efforts to blame the leftist group.

They found that “none of the 22 criminal complaints representing the first wave of protest charges mention Antifa in any way.”

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2020 Election

Fox News poll spells doom for GOP in Arizona

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The GOP's chances in Arizona have not looked this bad in years.

This article first appeared in Salon.

A new Fox News poll of registered voters in the Grand Canyon State shows Democrat Mark Kelly miles ahead of Republican Sen. Martha McSally — 50% to 37% — with 8% undecided.

Further, McSally's problems appear to come from within her own party. While Kelly enjoys the support of nearly 90% of Democrats, only 73% of Arizona Republicans back McSally.

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Trump may come to regret his big celebration of a small dip in unemployment

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Though the unemployment rate remains in the double-digits, the official unemployment numbers are slightly lower than economists expected, prompting self-congratulations by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

But experts say celebration is premature.

Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May as the economy added 2.5 million jobs. The high April number was the worst that the American workforce had seen since monthly record-keeping began in 1948, and almost certainly the worst since the Great Depression. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett predicted last month that unemployment would rise above 20 percent, a view that was widely shared by economists.

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