By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a raft of executive actions to combat climate change, including pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land and cutting fossil fuel subsidies, as he pursues green policies he billed as a boon to the economy. The orders map out the direction for the Democratic president's climate change and environmental agenda and mark a reversal from policies under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, who sought to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal output by removing regulations and easing environmental rev...
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January 6 rioter Sam Lazar of Pennsylvania was recently released from prison after two years for his role in the 2021 attack on the Capitol — but now, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, "there is no public record of any hearing at which Lazar was convicted of a federal crime, or sentenced."
Per the Inquirer, the federal Bureau of Prisons told The Associated Press "that Lazar was released from its custody, and the basics that he'd been convicted on a charge of assaulting or resisting a police officer and had been sentenced in March to 30 months — at a hearing in Washington, D.C. that was not made public and for which there is no transcript."
However, the report notes that "Reporters for news organizations like Lancaster Online, which reported his release this summer, or the Associated Press, which this weekend published its own investigation, were told by federal authorities that any records pertaining to Lazar's case are under seal, and appeals to have those files opened up were rebuffed."
The Inquirer reports:
The confirmation of a secret case against Lazar — who emerged from the hothouse of right-wing political extremism in east-central Pennsylvania to become a key figure on Jan. 6 and a source of intense speculation from the online sleuths who dubbed him the '#facepaintblowhard' — is both troubling and intriguing at the same time.
The newspaper notes, "Troubling because the U.S. justice system must be as open and transparent to the American people as possible, and it strains credulity that the government would keep the case against Lazar secret for so long, especially after his release," and "Intriguing because" ahead of "his July 2021 arrest — even in the weeks after the violence of Jan. 6 — Lazar was often seen at Republican Party events and right-wing political rallies, sometimes with the man who would become the GOP's 2022 gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano."
According to the report, the GOP senator "has said he didn't cross police lines, has denied any other wrongdoing, and had said Lazar is just a guy he posed for a picture with" at a May 2021 political fundraiser for ex-President Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was recently indicted by an Atlanta grand jury for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The Inquirer adds, "Theres no sign that Mastriano is currently being criminally investigated, and the idea that Lazar has been secretly cooperating with investigators is just speculation, for now."
Ex-United States Department of Justice official and Georgetown University law professor Randall Eliason, according to the Inquirer, "told the AP that he cannot recall a federal case ever handled in this fashion, adding that 'either there's some kind of security concern about him personally, or maybe more likely that he's cooperating in some respect that they don't want the people he's cooperating against to know about.'"
House Republicans are delaying a procedural vote to advance their short-term bill to prevent a government shutdown for 30 days, reported Punchbowl News on Tuesday — a clear indication that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) does not currently have the votes to advance the legislation.
Only 11 days remain until a government shutdown, putting pressure on lawmakers to move forward.
However, a critical mass of far-right lawmakers in the House are refusing to back McCarthy's plan — and even if they did, Senate leaders are signaling that McCarthy's plan will not pass there even if it makes it out of the House. McCarthy's 30-day bill would cut 8 percent from most domestic agencies, and restrict the border in several ways, earning a veto threat from the White House.
Some Republicans are furious at the Freedom Caucus over the delays, with Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) telling reporter Jamie Dupree, "What we just witnessed was a conservative Republican Party frankly look and behave like the minority instead of the majority."
A government shutdown would mean that most nonessential agencies would cease operating. Previous shutdowns have led to the shuttering of federal parkland and even disruptions to air traffic control.
McCarthy has privately begged for cooperation from Republican holdouts to pass his bill, warning that they will "hit a tree" otherwise.
All of this comes at a time when far-right elements, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are threatening to call a vote to vacate the chair, which would potentially strip McCarthy of his speakership and further paralyze the House at a moment when essential government funding is hanging in the balance.
Accused murderer's lawyers blame killing of 2 teens on 'ritualistic sacrifice' by white nationalists
Attorneys for a man charged with the murders of two Indiana women are claiming the victims died in a "ritualistic sacrifice" conducted by white nationalists, NBC5 reported.
Richard Allen's lawyers said several white nationalists practicing the religion Odinism "ritualistically sacrificed" victims Abigail Williams and Liberty German in Delphi, Indiana back in 2017. Evidence found at the crime scene included symbols "in the form of runes made up of sticks and fashioned with tree branches," according to NBC5's report.
Defense attorneys said the evidence was left behind by Odinites, who practice a racist version of the Norse pagan religion known as Asatru.
"According to the filings, detectives previously obtained information that connected two groups of men who practiced Odinism to the murders, one in or near Delphi and another that lived in Rushville," NBC5's report stated.
"Writing in the court documents, defense attorneys stated that a letter regarding the possible connection between the killings and the group practicing Odinisim in Rushville was withheld by the prosecution. The attorneys accused prosecutors, as well as multiple law enforcement officers, from hiding information about the Odinist connections to the murders, the documents revealed."
Allen, 52, was arrested on murder charges in October of last year.
Richard Allen Defense: Delphi teens were 'rituallistically sacrificed' in pagan practicewww.youtube.com
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