NEW YORK — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer renewed his calls on Friday for the federal decriminalization of marijuana, gathering some of his congressional buds in lower Manhattan to make his case after working to roll up Republican support over the past several months. “Change has been urgently needed for a long time,” Schumer said, highlighting the disproportionate impact marijuana laws have had on Black communities. “The good news is we’re on the edge of getting change, because the opinions throughout America are changing.” Surveys in recent years have indicated a clear majority of Amer...
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'She certainly knows what went on': Former senior White House aides confirm Cassidy Hutchinson's access to power
In an effort to clarify whether Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old former intern could possibly been a witness to what was going on at the White House in the day up to and during the January 6 insurrection when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the Washington Post's Dan Zak spoke with former top aides who filled similar positions in previous administrations.
Each one, while not attesting to her truthfulness, claimed she would have indeed been a "fly on the wall" listening and watching the behind-the-scenes machinations in any White House.
In some of the most explosive testimony from the hearings so far, Hutchinson said Trump and some of his top lieutenants were aware of the possibility of violence ahead of the attack -- contradicting claims that the assault was spontaneous and had nothing to do with the administration.
Noting that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called Hutchinson a "senior" aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the former administration officials asserted she would have been right in the middle of the center of power.
Writing, "The aide’s responsibilities can be vast or pinpoint, consequential or quotidian. But even at a lower rank, even with modest experience, an aide has a source of formidable power: proximity. The aide sees and hears and knows, because they are, simply, around," Zak added, "On Jan. 6, 2021, while working for White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Hutchinson was surrounded by unfolding drama as the West Wing reacted to the insurrection. She was just around the corner from — or in earshot of, or behind the scenes with — the major players."
While Trump has variously described Hutchinson as a non-entity he had no memory of, and then as a "Social Climber" who "...lied about my attack on our great Secret Service, lied about her writing the White House note, lied about my throwing food at a wall in the Oval Office," other former Trump officials such as Alyssa Farah Griffin said the young woman was in the thick of things around Jan 6th and should be believed.
According to Eli Attie, who previously wrote speeches for former Vice President Al Gore, "When I worked in the White House, I was always told: ‘If you really want to know what’s going on, talk to the assistant,'" before adding, "They’re the ones listening to all the calls, talking to other assistants. They know who’s delisted from various meetings. They know the private rantings of their bosses. They hear the stompings of the president. In a town and culture where proximity is power, the aides have the proximity.”
Jennifer Palmieri, who served in Hutchinson's position in the Bill Clinton administration, agreed.
“That corner of the West Wing, with the chief and the chief’s aides and the deputies: It really does run things, she explained before stating, “I do think people would be shocked at the proximity of all these things. You’d definitely hear plates smashing against the dining room of the Oval Office.”
Sean Sweeney, who worked as an aide to Rahm Emanual when he served as Barak Obama's chief of staff contributed, "They can try to dismiss her as a low-level person or a young person, but that’s not how it works. If that’s where she sat and that’s the job she had, then she certainly knows what went on.”
With another Trump aide admitting, "She was definitely very omnipresent," Zak wrote, "Sometimes aides — because of luck, timing and proximity — make or witness history," with former White House insider Matt Bennett, adding, "She had enormous access. It’s a power that is very tough to use outside of very, very rare circumstances.”
Hutchinson has already been the source of several blockbuster revelations, appearing in videotaped depositions at two previous hearings and memorably naming a group of House Republicans who sought pardons from Trump following the violence.
She was also in contact with officials in the battleground state of Georgia, where Trump infamously pressured officials to "find" enough votes to overcome Biden's victory margin in a phone call that is the subject of a criminal probe.
It was Hutchinson, according to CNN, who told the select committee that Trump voiced approval for the "hang Mike Pence" chants from rioters at the Capitol -- an allegation that was among the many eye-popping claims to come out of the opening hearing on June 9.
Meadows himself has refused to testify before the panel since handing over thousands of text messages and other documents in the early stages of the investigation.
With additional reporting by AFP
A driver was shot during an apparent road rage incident in Cherokee County, Georgia, this Thursday, and the incident was caught on video.
According to Fox5, a police officer witnessed the incident and carried out a traffic stop on the shooter. Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies later found a driver who appeared to be shot twice who they rushed to the hospital. The driver is expected to survive.
Video of the incident, posted to Reddit, shows a red truck pulling alongside a blue BMW before someone inside the truck fires about 14 shots into the BMW. As the shots ring out, other cars in the vicinity try to escape, as well as the driver in the BMW.
The Reddit post claims the shooting was related to some sort of domestic dispute, but that information has not been confirmed.
Watch the video below:
The UN's cultural agency on Friday inscribed the culture surrounding beetroot soup known as borscht in Ukraine on its list of endangered cultural heritage, a recognition sought urgently by Kviv after its invasion by neighboring Russia.
Ukraine prizes borscht , a nourishing soup with beetroot as its base, as a national dish even though it is also widely enjoyed in Russia, other ex-Soviet countries and Poland.
The Ukrainian culture of borscht cooking "was today inscribed on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding," by a UNESCO committee, it said.
The decision was approved after a fast-track process prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the "negative impact on this tradition" caused by the war, the agency said.
"People are unable not only to cook or grow local vegetables for borsht, but also to come together" to eat it, "which undermines the social and cultural well-being of communities," it said, using one of several alternative spellings for the soup.
Kyiv hailed the move as a much-needed victory on the cultural front after four months of Russian bombardments.
For the first time in history, the nomination jumped the queue and was considered in an expedited fashion given "the military aggression against Ukraine in real time and the real threat to the cultural object," Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzeppar said on Twitter, adding: "Ukrainian Borsht derussified!"
Ievgen Klopotenko, a well-known Ukrainian cook, said the UNESCO decision underscored a wider recognition of Ukraine's gastronomical heritage.
"We had hundreds of pages of proof that borscht cooking culture is actually Ukrainian, and the whole engine of Russian propaganda was against us," he said on Facebook.
"Victory in the borscht war is ours," Ukraine's Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Telegram, adding that Ukraine "will win both in the war of borscht and in this war."
'Fabric of society'
Adding a landmark site or traditional activity to the UNESCO list aims to mobilize attention to ensure it is preserved against risks that would jeopardise its existence.
The committee said the war had "threatened the viability" of Ukraine's borscht culture in Ukraine.
"Whether as part of a wedding meal, the focus of food-related competitions or as a driver of tourism, borscht is considered part of the fabric of Ukrainian society, cultural heritage, identity and tradition," it noted.
But Moscow slammed the decision, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accusing Kyiv of trying to appropriate the soup for "one people... one nationality... This is xenophobia," she said.
She later said on Telegram: "To give the world a culinary example of 'modern Kyiv nationalism,' I will cite a fact: hummus and pilaf are recognized as national dishes of several nations."
"Borscht has no nationality! Just like bread, potatoes, cabbage -- Is it national? What nationality can it have!" a 60-year-pensioner in Moscow who gave her name as Tatyana told AFP.
But Alexey Gorbunov, a 49-year-old decorator in Moscow, was more sympathetic.
"Certainly, it is part of both Russian and Ukrainian legacies, but I think it's an explicit symbol of Ukraine which I directly associate with Ukraine, especially the one with pampushka (savory buns) and garlic," he said.
UNESCO insisted that Ukrainian borscht was a version of a dish popular elsewhere.
Nonetheless, "Ukrainian borscht -- the national version of borscht consumed in several countries of the region -- is an integral part of Ukrainian family and community life."
© 2022 AFP