Nine great apes at the San Diego Zoo are the first non-human primates to receive an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, zoo officials said Thursday. Four orangutans and five bonobos have been vaccinated so far, with the zoo planning to immunize another three bonobos and a gorilla soon. These species, along with chimpanzees, are the closest cousins to humans, placing them at risk of contracting a virus that has spread rapidly from person to person. Case in point: In mid-January, the zoo's Safari Park reported that its troop of eight gorillas developed COVID-19 after exposure to a keeper who had the ...
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As Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his compatriots go on trial for seditious conspiracy, one of their most prominent defenses is that their far-right paramilitary group was actually acting on behalf of the government, not against it, because it was their expectation former President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act to suspend the election and call them up into service.
But on MSNBC Tuesday, Ryan Goodman, former special counsel to the Department of Defense general counsel, blew several holes in that defense, turning their private communications back on them.
"Ryan, in the trial evidence, they have these messages we referred to that really show, A, a lot of violent talk leading up to it, civil war, et cetera, and then, B, a fairly in-touch operational mode," said anchor Ari Melber. "I can't imagine before cell phones that you would usually have this level of real-time coordination. How does that strengthen prosecutors' hands, even, for example, some jury who says well, was it an out-of-control riot?"
"The encrypted messages that they have obtained are very significant," said Goodman. "And I think will also puncture a hole in this line of defense that Stewart Rhodes is trying to put on. For example, in the indictment, I felt one of the bombshell communications between the Oath Keepers is 1:30 p.m. Stewart Rhodes says, essentially, to his leadership cell, that Trump is not going to act, so it's now up to the patriots. And then they stormed the Capitol, the Oath Keepers do after that point. So it's like, you were waiting for the Insurrection Act? We have your encrypted communications saying, Trump is not acting, it's up to us. I think that kind of damning evidence is going to give the prosecutors a very strong hand."
Furthermore, noted Goodman, even if the Oath Keepers had a sincere belief Trump would declare the Insurrection Act and invite them into the Capitol, that wouldn't actually make their actions legal anyway.
"Even if they were trying to mount and succeeded in mounting this line of defense, it's actually not a defense at the end of the day," said Goodman. "I think the two together, the communications we have, real-time communications with a defense that's not actually a defense, I think the writing is on the wall. But we'll have to see how the trial plays out."
Ryan Goodman explains why Stewart Rhodes' Trump defense will fail www.youtube.com
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, broke from his own party in voting against a bipartisan bill that would bar him from singlehandedly objecting to presidential election results, as he did on Jan. 6, 2021.
The bill, dubbed the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, aims to prevent another attack on the U.S. Capitol like the one that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021. It clarifies procedural ambiguities that former President Donald Trump tried to exploit in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, sponsored the bill, and it has the support of Democrats and Republicans alike, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But during a Senate Rules Committee vote on the bill, Cruz objected, saying the bill undermines states’ constitutional autonomy in running their elections and therefore opens the door for voter fraud.
“This bill is a bad bill. This bill is bad law. It’s bad policy and it’s bad for democracy,” Cruz said at the meeting.
“I understand why Democrats are supporting this bill,” he continued. “What I don’t understand is why Republicans are supporting it.”
Cruz was the only Republican on the committee to oppose the bill Tuesday, with 14 other senators on the committee, which includes both parties’ Senate leaders, voting to advance it. The bill now heads to the full Senate, where it will likely meet overwhelming bipartisan support.
Cruz played a key role on the day of the insurrection. Both he and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri led campaigns to encourage members to object to the certification of the election results.
Meanwhile, Trump and his allies were also pressuring Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the Senate, to refuse to certify the results, whipping protesters stationed outside of the Capitol into a frenzy until they ultimately broke through a line of police and stormed into the building.
Even after the attack, Cruz voted against certifying the election results in Arizona, repeating Trump talking points that cast doubt on the state’s results.
The rest of the Senate overwhelmingly voted against Cruz’s objection, and the votes were certified.
The bill clarifies that the vice president’s role in certifying Electoral College votes is completely ceremonial. It also raises the threshold for objecting to election results from a single member in each chamber to one-fifth of each chamber, essentially making Cruz’s Arizona objection vote meaningless.
It also clarifies the emergency situations that allow a state to extend voting periods, allows courts to force a governor to certify electors and stops state legislatures from creating their own slate of electors.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, was part of the working group for the bill and said it was the product of weeks of negotiations and consultations with legal experts. McConnell said he was “proud to vote for it and help advance it.”
“The chaos that came to a head Jan. 6 of last year strongly suggests that we find careful ways to clarify and streamline the process,” he said.
The House passed its own version of the bill last week, which included more stringent guardrails, including a one-third minimum threshold for members to object to election results. The differences between the versions have been a source of tension between the two chambers, with McConnell saying the Senate version “is the only chance to get an outcome and make law.”
Cruz aside, all other members of the Senate committee praised one another for reaching a bipartisan solution. The meeting closed to applause.
“This isn’t just another vote at another markup. This vote is about living up to our oath of office,” Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, who previously served as California’s secretary of state, said during the meeting. “That includes working to ensure an insurrection, that an attack on our democracy never occurs again.”
Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin is hosting a two-day retreat with major donors, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
"The 'Red Vest Retreat' at Keswick Hall, a luxury resort outside Charlottesville, will take place Thursday and Friday, with panel discussions on topics like education, an address by former House speaker Newt Gingrich and a private dinner at a nearby residence, the people said. The title refers to the fleece vests that Youngkin regularly wears," the newspaper reported.
Gingrich described Youngkin as a "national star."
"But others said the primary purpose of the event, which does not require a donation to attend, is to evaluate Youngkin’s capacity to mount a presidential campaign, as major Republican donors around the country continue to search for alternatives to former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis," the newspaper reported. "About 30 to 40 couples are expected to attend, including people who were not deeply involved in his 2021 gubernatorial campaign."
One Republican involved with the effort said, "there is a lot of tire-kicking going on.”
The report came as Virginia school kids are staging walkouts to protest Youngkin.
Read the full report.