NEW YORK — Democrats and police departments need to do better at forging alliances when it comes to gun violence, New York Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday morning, a day after testifying before Congress about the impact of guns on the city. Adams, during an appearance on MSNBC, positioned himself squarely as a moderate in the gun debate, saying the vast majority of Americans — himself included — are caught in middle of a political crossfire between the far left and the far right. “You have the numerical minority on the far right, trying to put guns in the hands of everyone, and then you have a ...
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An attorney for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is helping to craft more permissive content moderation policies for an online video platform known for amplifying right-wing misinformation.
The online platform Rumble hired Robert Barnes, one of Jones' longtime defamation attorneys, in June to oversee changes to the site's moderation rules, and the changes he approved with the site's content producer David "Viva Frei" Freiheit would roll back bans on material that supports or incites extremist groups, reported The Daily Beast.
“The proposed moderation policies were designed by leading Rumble and Locals creators Robert Barnes and David Freiheit, both of whom are also accomplished attorneys,” read a press release announcing the changes in June. “Under the proposed policies, content creators will be able to express themselves to interested audiences within the limits of the law and without harassment while ensuring a consistent and transparent process as the platform continues its rapid growth.”
The Barnes-Freiheit proposals removes prohibitions against "content or material" the "online community" finds "grossly offensive," and rolls back bans on material that supports fringe groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which is mentioned by name.
“[Rumble] will provide a free space for open discourse without politicized discrimination," Barnes said in the release, "[while] simultaneously protecting users from harassing behavior.”
The Canadian company has its U.S. headquarters in Sarasota, Florida -- which has become a hub for right-wing influencers -- has cut business deals with high-profile conservatives such as Donald Trump, billionaire GOP donor Peter Thiel and U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, whose campaign issued a statement in March defending his involvement with the platform.
“Rumble has consistently supported free speech on its platform — even speech it may find offensive,” a spokesperson said at the time. "[Twitter] censors a sitting U.S. President while allowing the Chinese Communist Party, North Korea and the Ayatollah Khomeini (to name a few) to continue their propaganda.”
The platform, which reportedly boasts 44 monthly visitors, announced that it wanted to protect users from "bad faith" actors who "engage in unlawful discrimination" and "stalking," but offers no guidance on content that promotes hate groups, who don't appear to be banned from using the site for radicalizing or recruitment.
Report warns corruption runs deeper than the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security
Over the past several weeks, Americans have learned that the Trump-appointed inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph Cuffari, is facing pressure over erased Secret Services text messages. He has been accused of refusing to release documents, blocking interviews, and delaying the probe into the Secret Service.
According to a new report from The Revolving Door Project, a watchdog group at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Cuffari is just a small part of the leftover Trump loyalists who are still influencing President Joe Biden's government. At the same time, the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago helped further highlight the culture of the obstruction of justice through document destruction.
Cuffari has been described as the “kind of laissez-faire watchdog Trump [was] looking for” when seeking to nominate IGs friendly to his own cavalier attitudes around government processes.
It's also unclear if the former president destroyed documents after his presidency. While cable news clamors to cover every detail of passports taken and the continuously evolving excuses from the former president, former Justice Department staff have warned that the real issue is the danger to national security.
"I would consider it to be noise or distraction when the fact is, again, there are real national security issues at play and that should be the focus," said Brandon Van Grack, a former lawyer on Robert Mueller's team who specializes in national security and espionage. "It's really important that we're not distracted by the cacophony and really focus on the important information..."
Cuffari’s time at DHS has been described as “nearly dormant” by The Washington Post, after he created a mere fraction of the reports the previous inspector general did. As the third-largest agency, Homeland Security's IG would have had a lot to do when it comes to oversight, but Revolving Door's report described him as "asleep at the wheel."
"It is this laissez-faire environment that allowed for – if not facilitated – the wanton destruction of crucial materials that were (and remain) of interest to other federal agents and agencies, Congress, and the public at large," the group said.
The overarching concern, however, is that Cuffari isn't the only holdover that continues to promote Trumpism in the Biden government. Sean O'Donnell was Trump's appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency. He was confirmed less than a year before Trump was out of office. Then Trump appointed O'Donnell to be the IG for the Department of Defense at the same time as the EPA. Trump had fired well-regarded Glenn Fine, who was conducting oversight regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response.
After it was reported that text messages from Secret Service agents had been deleted, it was also revealed that Pentagon officials also wiped their phones at the end of the Trump presidency. The Department of Defense said it was a standard procedure.
The watchdog group American Oversight published court documents claiming that the government phones were "wiped" of all information at the time Vice President Mike Pence and officials in Congress were calling and messaging demanding help at the U.S. Capitol.
"Perhaps the massive overstretching of O’Donnell’s capacity to manage oversight of the DoD enabled the accountability vortex which saw the DoD, joining its Secret Service colleagues, destroy crucial evidence and communications from senior leadership," suggested the Revolving Door report.
Meanwhile, FBI Director Chris Wray, another Trump appointee, has funneled taxpayer dollars to surveilling Black Lives Matter protesters, abortion activists, and “animal rights extremists.”. Meanwhile, radical right-wing terrorists are threatening the lives of Wray's own agents, a federal judge and at least one of them attempted to attack the state FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio last week.
"Wray failed to take seriously the quite public indications that the right was set to attempt a coup on January 6th, and it was his apathy that effectively allowed seditionists to run free through the Capitol halls," attacked the Revolving Door Project. "Of course, Wray also told Congress that the FBI simply does not have the mandate nor the resources to monitor and track social media in attempting to justify how January 6th caught the bureau unawares, but records show that the FBI did find the time and resources to do just that when it came to criminalizing the George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020."
At the same time, it has been revealed that Wray ignored reports from the public about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a nominee. Instead of investigating the reports, Wray turned them over to Trump.
Revolving Door concluded by saying that it has been more than a year and a half and the Trump appointees have no place in the American government, particularly after they failed to preserve documents and prioritize national security.
"We cannot wait until the next constitutional crisis – and the apparent flurry of destroyed evidence that accompanied the last one – to begin acting on the dangers these figures pose to the public," the group closed.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said this week that he opposed efforts to lower drug costs because it would result in "punishing the pharmaceutical industry."
During an interview on Monday, Fox radio host Brian Kilmeade told Johnson that allowing Medicare to bid on drug prices would be "bad" even if it lowers costs.
"The industry is going to pay a huge price and we're going to pay the price on innovation," Kilmeade declared.
"Correct," Johnson agreed. "You're absolutely right. When you start punishing the pharmaceutical industry, you're going to have less innovation; you are going to have fewer life-saving drugs. That's not a good thing."
Johnson alleged that Democrats would use any savings to Medicare from lower drug prices to fund climate programs.
According to the AARP senior vice president for government affairs Bill Sweeney, a bill recently passed by Democrats will lower the cost of medicine for seniors.
"When we talk about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the core component is the Medicare negotiation," Sweeney explained. "That is the long-term solution to the problem that we've been seeing for decades, which is out-of-control prescription drug prices."