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Monsanto pleads guilty to using banned pesticide on research crop

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Biotech giant Monsanto on Thursday agreed to plead guilty to illegally using a banned and highly toxic pesticide on research crops at one of its facilities on the Hawaiian island of Maui and to pay $10 million in fines.

The company admitted in court documents filed in US District Court in Honolulu that it sprayed the pesticide known as Penncap-M on corn seed and other crops at its Valley Farm facility in 2014, even though it knew the chemical had been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency the year before.

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“The illegal conduct in this case posed a threat to the environment, surrounding communities and Monsanto workers,” said Nick Hanna, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, whose office handled the case. “Federal laws and regulations impose a clear duty on every user of regulated and dangerous chemicals to ensure the products are safely stored, transported and used.”

The case against Monsanto was brought as the agriculture giant faced a slew of lawsuits arguing that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

Federal prosecutors had initially sought to file felony charges against the company for illegally spraying Penncap-M, a nerve agent. But they reportedly agreed to let the company plead to a lesser misdemeanor offense after Monsanto’s lawyers intervened at the highest levels of the Department of Justice.

In its guilty plea, Monsanto admitted that after the 2014 spraying, it told employees to enter the sprayed fields a week later even though it knew the workers should have been kept from entering the area for 31 days.

The plea calls for Monsanto to pay a $6 million criminal fine and $4 million in community service payments to Hawaiian government entities.

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Hanna’s office said the government agreed to dismiss felony charges in two years if Monsanto abides by the plea agreement.

Photo AFP/File / JOHN THYS

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AG Bill Barr will ‘try to interfere’ in the 2020 election to re-elect Trump: MSNBC national affairs analyst

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Attorney General William Barr will use the Department of Justice to "try to interfere" in the 2020 presidential election to re-elect Donald Trump, MSNBC's national affairs analyst predicted on Tuesday.

John Heilemann was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's "The Last Word."

"The attorney general, from the moment he walked into this job, has behaved in a -- as a ruthless, relentless political hack and a thug and who has behaved not as attorney general of the United States," Heilemann said.

"He made a travesty of the Mueller report and continues to lie on Donald Trump's behalf at every opportunity," he added.

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Trump welcomed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to the White House — to humiliate us all

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Despite the fact that President Donald Trump still refuses to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington for an officials meeting — a topic at the center of the scandal driving Trump’s impeachment — the White House hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

And while Lavrov was honored with his second private Oval Office meeting (the first one was a cataclysmic disaster) and a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the foreign minister took his opportunity here to repeatedly humiliate the United States.

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United States, Mexico, Canada finalize Donald Trump’s USMCA trade deal

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The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.

However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay Congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In reality, it is the second time the three countries have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, which President Donald Trump complains has been "a disaster" for the US.

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