PHILADELPHIA — The Rev. Todd Johnson’s parishioners in North Philadelphia deal with gun violence, poverty and a lack of affordable housing — much of which he blames on Democrats who have controlled the city for decades.“I support Donald Trump not because he’s perfect but he’s a Republican and I believe in Republican ideology,” Johnson said. “I believe in smaller government, I believe the government should get out of the way and let the free market do what it does.”Johnson also wants to see abortion rights scaled back. He’s economically conservative and he believes in expanding charter schools ...
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A detail from a new Washington Post report shows that Donald Trump was personally involved in returning only a portion of the government documents the National Archives had repeatedly asked him to return.
The former president asked one of his lawyers to tell the National Archives earlier this year that he had returned all the documents, which the attorney refused to do because he wasn't sure it was true, and the Post's Jacqueline Alemany told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Trump personally packed the boxes himself -- suggesting that he was fully aware that additional materials remained at Mar-a-Lago.
"This is true, that Trump himself eventually packed all of the boxes after very reluctantly agreeing to do so," Alemany said. "Remember, the National Archives and Trump's lawyers were going back and forth on this as early as May. This issue, again, was flagged by lawyers in Trump's White House two weeks prior to Trump even leaving the White House and going down to Mar-a-Lago."
"But, again, this does put the former president at the center of all of this that he himself was packing the boxes," Alemany added. "He was very secretive about the process. We were also told despite having staffers who live in Palm Beach and work very closely with him on the premise, but again, [attorney] Alex Cannon had also recommended that staffers try to stay out of this, and he did ultimately arrange for one staffer to be there when the National Archives contractor eventually picked up the boxes in late January, but Trump is really the one who knew exactly what was in those boxes."
10 04 2022 06 17 11 www.youtube.com
The government calls Stewart Rhodes the "general" of a traitorous violent insurrection in Washington on January 6, 2021; his lawyers say he led a "peacekeeping force" in the riot at the US Capitol.
And his former wife called him a narcissistic "sociopath" who mythologizes his own future as "the next George Washington."
Rhodes, 56, was at the center Monday of the first US sedition trial in decades, accused with other members of this Oath Keepers militia group of plotting the armed attack on the US Congress to block Joe Biden from becoming president.
Prosecutors say that as the leader of the Oath Keepers, the eye-patch-wearing Yale law graduate spearheaded the attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-president Donald Trump, stockpiling weapons nearby for an armed insurrection.
In an indictment, the Justice Department detailed encrypted chats in which Rhodes urged Oath Keeper members to prepare for a revolution after Trump was defeated by Biden in the November 2020 election.
"We aren't getting through this without civil war," he told them.
If Biden became president, he said, "It will be a bloody and desperate fight... That can't be avoided."
From Yale Law to conspiracies
Rhodes has spent years preparing to do battle with a government he views as increasingly repressive.
He grew up in the southwest US, and joined the army after finishing high school.
But he was discharged early due to an injury in a parachuting exercise.
His former wife Tasha Adams Rhodes, with whom he had six children, says they met as he was working as a parking valet and she was teaching dance in Las Vegas.
He was also working as a firearms instructor -- and lost one eye when he dropped a gun and it fired, hitting him.
In 1998 he graduated from a local university and was accepted at Yale University Law School, one of the country's most elite institutions.
After Yale he set up a law practice in Montana, where he developed the idea for the Oath Keepers in 2009, on the premise that the federal government was increasingly encroaching on citizens' rights including restricting gun ownership.
Followers must be willing to fight the government, he would say.
Mainstreaming fringe ideas
Blogging online about politics and the alleged threat of the American left, Rhodes struck a nerve among many white men with military and police backgrounds, recruiting thousands to the group.
"He showed a talent for giving fringe ideas more mainstream appeal," wrote Mike Giglio in an Atlantic profile of Rhodes.
As the group grew, Rhodes mobilized armed, combat-suited Oath Keepers for security at Republican rallies and during social disturbances, like the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after police shot a Black man.
"The Oath Keepers are basically a peacekeeping force," Rhodes' attorney Phillip Linder told the federal district court in Washington Monday. "They make themselves available to help keep peace in the streets."
- 'Extremely patriotic' -
But government prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler Monday said that text messages and recorded conversations show Rhodes planned the January 6 actions and organized his followers around them.
He depicted Rhodes outside the Capitol during the riot, constantly on his phone texting orders to his followers.
He was "like a general in the battlefield," said Nestler. The Oath Keepers launched their fight to break through police lines into the Capitol after Rhodes texted them: "The patriots are taking matters into their own hands."
Linder, Rhodes' attorney, says that the government has exaggerated and taken out of context many of Rhodes' text messages to portray his client as plotting to overthrow the government.
"Stewart Rhodes meant no harm to the capitol that day. Stewart Rhodes did not have any violent intent that day," said Linder.
"Rhodes is extremely patriotic.. he is a constitutional expert," he added.
© Agence France-Presse
The biggest software upgrade in the short history of crypto has fulfilled its promise to wipe out more than 99 percent of the electricity used by the second-biggest cryptocurrency, experts have told AFP.
That is no mean feat, given that the Ethereum blockchain was burning through about as much electricity as New Zealand.
Sceptics had expected glitches with the upgrade, known as "the merge", but it ended up being a "rather boring event", according to Alex de Vries of the Free University in Amsterdam.
De Vries, whose Digiconomist website models the energy use of Bitcoin and Ethereum, said consumption had indeed plummeted by more than 99 percent on Ethereum.
Moritz Platt, a researcher specializing in crypto at King's College London, said the 99 percent estimates were realistic and heralded a positive step towards "cryptocurrency sustainability".
So the Ethereum blockchain, which supports billions of dollars of trading in games, tokens, art and the ether currency, has cleaned up its act.
But there are complications.
Ethereum faces bitter opposition from those who lost out from the merge and it could also get greater scrutiny from regulators.
The old system, known as "proof of work", relied on people and firms to "mine" new coins -- an industry worth $22 million daily before the merge, according to de Vries.
The miners used vast power-guzzling computer rigs to compete with each other to solve complex equations, and the winner was awarded the prize of adding entries to the blockchain and generating coins.
The merge wiped out their business model overnight.
"Those rigs do not magically turn back into invested capital," said a crypto-miner known only as "J" who operates between Singapore and Hong Kong.
He said it was costing him between $30,000 and $40,000 a month to keep his staff and equipment idling while he thinks about his next move.
Plenty of miners have sold off their kit, while others are putting their rigs to work on less profitable blockchains that still use the old system.
A miner who uses the name Leon Ravencoin, for example, has been tweeting non-stop about the "astronomical" growth of Ravencoin, one of the currencies to get a boost after the merge.
The combined computing power used by these coins is around one-fifth of the pre-merge Ethereum blockchain.
However, de Vries said they generated only about $500,000 in daily revenue so only the most energy-efficient machines with the lowest energy costs would be able to make a profit.
As a result, one-fifth of the computing power would work out far less than one-fifth of the electricity use.
'Designed to be centralized'
Aside from the problem with miners, the new system, known as "proof of stake", has several issues baked in.
Anyone willing to stake a large amount of ether can now "validate" new entries on the blockchain.
The more you stake, the more chance you have of updating the chain and earning coins.
The system gives an advantage to the biggest players, and just three companies now account for more than half of "validators", according to research by Dune Analytics.
Cryptocurrencies were envisaged as a decentralized alternative to the banks, corporations and governments that failed so spectacularly during the global crash of 2008.
But crypto-miner J said the new Ethereum was "designed to be more centralized" and suggested it no longer had a real purpose.
Regulators have also begun to pay attention, with US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler suggesting proof-of-stake looked like a securities market that would fall under his remit.
The disaster scenario for Ethereum would be that enough disgruntled purists switch to one of the gas-guzzling proof-of-work alternatives, with Ethereum Classic being the main one.
"There is nothing capping Ethereum Classic prices," said de Vries, meaning that miners could potentially make good profits if the market shifted their way.
A rush from the greener blockchain was "theoretically definitely possible", he said.
© 2022 AFP