Supreme Court hands pro-gun supporters a major setback

The Supreme Court surprised pro-gun supporters on Monday by refusing to hear appeals over a federal law that bans people convicted of nonviolent crimes from purchasing a gun, reports USA Today.

That lifetime ban would include Americans convicted of "driving under the influence, making false statements on tax returns and selling counterfeit cassette tapes from owning a gun," the report states.

The report states that the decision "surprised" Second Amendment advocates hoping the court might chip away at some of the restrictions.

"The decisions Monday, which were handed down without explanation, are the latest in a series of instances in which the Supreme Court has skirted Second Amendment questions. The high court last issued major guns rights rulings in 2008 and 2010, cases that struck down handgun restrictions in the District of Columbia and Chicago," the report states.

"In one of the cases before the court, a Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2005 challenged the ban on purchasing or owning a gun. In another, a Pennsylvania woman who pleaded guilty to making a false statement on her tax returns sued over the ban. In a third, a man who pleaded guilty to counterfeiting and smuggling cassettes in the 1980s challenged the firearms ban," the report states.

For the high court to take up the appeal, five justices would have to signal their willingness to consider them -- which was not the case on Monday.

The court's decision comes after days of mass shootings ranging from one at an Indianapolis FedEx facility to a grocery store in Boulder to massage parlors in Atlanta.

You can read more about the lawsuits here.

Trump and the GOP suffer another humiliating Supreme Court defeat

According to CNN, the Supreme Court has once again declined to take up a lawsuit asserting the 2020 presidential election was tainted by voter fraud.

On Monday, the high court declined to take up a case filed by Republicans that the voting in Pennsylvania was tainted by changes to voting rules.

Noting that the latest dismissal by the court is signal that the justices want no part in Donald Trump's assertion that he was robbed of his second term, CNN reports, "Before Monday, the justices had already declined several requests to dive into one of the most litigious elections in history, denying petitions from then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans seeking to overturn election result in multiple states President Joe Biden won."

Addressing the slapping aside of the lawsuit, University of Texas School of Law Professor Steve Vladeck explained, "Once again, the court's involvement in the 2020 election is going out with a whimper, not a bang."

The report notes, "The case was brought by a former Republican congressional candidate, Jim Bognet, and four individual voters who argued the state high court exceeded its authority when it ordered the expansion of ballot deadlines amidst the pandemic."

CNN reports that there were no dissents included in the decision.

You can read more here.

'Sad moron' Jim Jordan slapped down after his latest fumbling attempt to troll Dr. Fauci

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) took to Twitter on Monday morning to continue his war on Dr. Anthony Fauci just days after the two clashed during a House hearing that led Chairperson Maxine Waters (D-CA) to admonish him and tell him to "shut your mouth."

Last week the controversial Jordan accused the government -- and Fauci in particular -- of taking away citizen's "freedoms" with health mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19. On Monday he brought up Fauci's suggestion that wearing multiple masks would also help, by tweeting, "How many masks are we supposed to wear this week?"

That led critics of the abrasive Ohio conservative to slam him for trying to troll one of the country's top infectious disease experts -- as you can see below:

GOP leadership frustrated with Trump as he wages war on Alaska's Murkowski: report

According to a report from CNN, Donald Trump's focus on unseating Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has the Republican leadership throwing up their hands in exasperation as they look toward the 2022 elections.

While multiple GOP lawmakers voted against the ex-president during his second impeachment trial, Trump has been laser-focused on the one female senator who broke ranks and said he should have been removed from office.

Since that time, Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, has jumped into the race with help from former Trump advisers while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has offered his full support for the incumbent which is setting up what could turn into an ugly intra-party battle at a time when the GOP is trying to win back the Senate.

According to the CNN report, Republicans are being put in an "awkward position as they remain divided about the former President's role in the party, and try to unify ahead of the 2022 midterms with control of Congress at stake."

"Republican leaders in Washington say they are steadfastly behind Murkowski, with McConnell's big-spending super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, as well as the NRSC, backing the long-time incumbent.

But McConnell has been in a cold war with Trump after blaming the President for causing the insurrection," the report notes, adding that Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) gave Trump a leadership award after he called McConnell a "dumb son of a b*tch" in a speech before GOP donors.

For his part, Scott "defended the award, noting it was for Trump's policies, but also said he disagrees with his attacks on McConnell and backs Murkowski -- all the while arguing the party needs to unify to win back the Senate."

Additionally, Scott, who heads the NRSC, is now disavowing an unsigned statement from the organization that endorsed Murkowski before Easter by blaming it on his staff, saying, "They would have decided without me."

High-profile Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threw up his hands when asked about Trump's attacks on Murkowski, telling reporters, "Yeah I've talked to him, but that's a relationship that's probably beyond repair. My hope is that we will focus on out-of-control Democrats. But we are where we are."

Josh Hawley's latest attempt to rebrand himself is a sad 'joke': columnist

In his column for the Daily Beast, longtime political observer David Lurie took Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to task for trying to reshape his image from staunch business-friendly conservative to a trust-busting man-of the-people by taking on Major League Baseball for pulling the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia.

Hawley, whose rising political star plummeted when he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election -- and was compounded when he expressed support for the Jan 6th Capitol rioters -- jumped into the Georgia fray by joining with equally controversial Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) with plans to introduce legislation to strip Major League Baseball of its anti-trust exemption.

According to Lurie -- under the headline "Josh Hawley Attempting To Be Teddy Roosevelt is Stupid and Sad" -- Hawley is trying to remake himself as a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt and the only thing they have in common is their racism.

Explaining, "Roosevelt, a Republican, was the nation's first progressive president. He used the Sherman Antitrust Act to break up railroad and other monopolies as part of his Square Deal, which had three major prongs: conserving the nation's natural resources, protecting consumers and workers, and bringing plutocratic corporate interests to heel," Lurie noted Hawley's motives are cynical at best.

"Hawley's concern with the MLB has nothing to do with promoting market competition. Rather, Hawley wants to punish the big leagues because they are trying to promote civil rights," he accused. "According to Hawley, who has never been heard objecting to large corporations funneling money into his own campaign coffers, it is 'egregious' that MLB chose to move the All-Star Game to Colorado after Republicans in Georgia pushed through a law transparently intended to suppress Democratic and minority voter turnout."

Calling Hawley move -- likely to flop -- a "sham," the columnist flayed him and stated he and his proposed legislation are a "joke."

"Hawley's trust-busting rhetoric is a joke, and should be treated as such. It is directed at serving his ideological agenda, not making markets more competitive or fair to consumers, as Teddy Roosevelt sought to do.," he wrote before concluding, "Hawley purports to offer hope to those who have been left behind economically, but his rhetoric of standing on the side of workers and the downtrodden is directly at odds with the policies he advocates. Instead of offering opportunity or real hope to people facing hardship in a changing world, Hawley offers only resentment and prejudice toward other Americans."

You can read more here (subscription required).

How Marjorie Taylor Greene's attack on Maxine Waters could backfire -- big time

According to Punchbowl News, which broke the story on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's now-aborted attempt to create a congressional caucus based on "Anglo-Saxon" principles, the Georgia Republican's attempt to distract the public by calling for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to be expelled from Congress may blow up in her face.

After first defending herself by disavowing what she called a "staff level draft" explaining the formation of the "American First" caucus that was harshly criticized across the entire political spectrum, Greene moved on to try and twist the words of the Black congresswoman who was filmed encouraging protesters to press their case against police officers killing Black Americans.

In a series of tweets, Taylor Greene accused Waters of crossing state lines to incite a riot --- which was also picked up by fellow Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). The Georgia Republican then announced that she would move to have Waters expelled from Congress this week.

However, as Punchbowl reports, Greene's move has little chance of success and could boomerang on her as Democrats retaliate by once again seeking her ouster.

"This is hardly the first time that Waters, 82, has gotten in trouble over her rhetoric. She and Rep. Jim Jordan got into it last week as the Ohio Republican jousted with Dr. Anthony Fauci during a hearing. 'You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth!' Waters yelled at Jordan. During the Donald Trump years, Waters became 'Auntie Maxine' for a whole generation of younger Democrats due to her willingness to go after the former president," the report states before adding, "An expulsion resolution will not pass the House, and Republicans would need to flip three Democrats to censure Waters -- and that seems very unlikely."

Punchbowl added that Democrats may use the furor -- from both sides of the aisle -- over the racist caucus plans to go after Greene.

"It wouldn't surprise us one iota if some Democrats are interested in censuring Greene after the America First Caucus incident. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) has been pushing a resolution to expel Greene for a couple months, and dozens of Democrats have signed on, although that's far, far short of two-thirds of the House that would be needed to boot her from Congress," the report stated.

You can read more here (subscription required).

Texas GOPer trashed for 'appalling' tweet as cops responded to multiple shooting deaths in Austin

A Republican lawmaker from Texas was the recipient of a furious response on Twitter Sunday after he used the first reports of a shooting in Austin to promote a bill in the legislature that would make it easier for anyone to carry a gun.

State Rep. Jared L. Patterson (R) took to Twitter and first promoted House Bill 1927 that would allow handguns to be carried without a permit before extending his sympathy to the victims of America's latest gun-relatedmultiple homicide.

According to Patterson, "Evil exists in this world. HB 1927 gives law-abiding citizens the ability to fight back, to protect themselves and their families w/out being restricted by the govt. God bless and comfort those killed and affected by the shooting in Austin today. It's time for us to fight back."

Patterson's comments before police had even released details of the shooting that resulted in at least three dead, set off a flurry of criticism as you can see below:

'Limited number' of North Carolina Walgreens' customers given saline injection instead of COVID vaccine: report

According to a report from the Charlotte Observer, a "limited number" of customers who went to a Monroe, North Carolina Walgreens were mistakenly injected with saline instead of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The report states that the drug store chain issued a statement on Sunday saying that affected customers have been notified.

According to the statement, "We are investigating what happened and have taken immediate steps to review our procedures with the location to prevent this from occurring again."

The Observer reports that those who were given the saline shot were promptly vaccinated appropriately when they returned and will be kept on schedule for their second shot.

You can read more here.

Active shooter in Austin with three reported dead: CNN

According to CNN, police in Austin, Texas, are reporting an active shooter in the area near Great Hills Trail and Rain Creek Parkway.

According to the report, three people have been reported dead.

On Twitter, the Austin Police Department warned, "APD is currently on scene of an active shooting incident at Great Hills Trail and Rain Creek Parkway. All residents are advised to shelter in place and avoid the area. PIO en route"

This story will be updated as more details become available.

You can see some tweets below along with video from the Austin American-Statesman.

Big banks loaned money to an oil giant under the guise of 'sustainability'

Fourteen months ago, Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, wrote a letter warning that climate change was on the verge of "fundamentally reshaping" the financial sector. The crux of his message was that the finance sector would have an effect on preventing climate change, if only it changed who and what it invested in.

This article first appeared in Salon.

His words proved somewhat prophetic. Last month, Wells Fargo rounded out the list of Wall Street giants that have since committed to align their business model with the Paris Agreement, an international environmental accord.

This should please everyone concerned about climate change. Yet there is a danger that the financial sector now gets credit for acting on climate, when, in fact, it hasn't even begun to do what is necessary.

Yes, nearly all of the country's biggest banks have now committed to achieve "net-zero" climate emissions by 2050. But, at the same time, those same banks are continuing to loan trillions to the companies most responsible for causing climate change. As a major new report shows, since the Paris Agreement was signed in late 2015, JPMorgan Chase alone has loaned more than $317 billion to fossil fuel corporations. Even by the standards of oil companies, that is a lot of money; indeed, it's more than the market capitalization of Chevron and BP combined.

Reducing humanity's greenhouse gas emissions is a race against time, and no bank should be taken seriously if its 2050 climate promises are not accompanied by actions that immediately exclude financing for the coal mines and tar sands pipelines that we know are incompatible with reigning in catastrophic climate change. Even the few fossil fuel-exclusion policies that banks have passed amount to little more than empty gestures. In February 2020, JPMorgan Chase passed a policy to curtail its funding of Arctic drilling projects. Chase's policy prevents the provision of loans that are specifically designated to go toward a particular Arctic drilling project. That's all well and good. But it does nothing to prevent the provision of general purpose loans to companies that are engaged in the business of Arctic drilling.

It's a loophole the size of Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and, even after the adoption of its new policy, Chase loaned $825 million to companies engaged in Arctic drilling last year, more than any other bank.

This pales in comparison to the empty climate gestures made by some banks last month.

Enbridge Energy is currently trying to ram the Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota. If built, Line 3's greenhouse gas footprint would be more than twice that of the entire state of Washington.

To put it plainly, Enbridge is building an oil pipeline that is incompatible with preserving life on Earth as we know it ― a pipeline that is also vehemently opposed by the Indigenous people whose lands it cuts through. "Cultural genocide," is how tribal attorney Tara Houska described the effect of the pipeline.

This is what makes it so egregious that last month, after climate campaigners launched a concerted effort to convince banks not to fund the Line 3 boondoggle, a coalition of major banks decided to cancel a $2.2 billion loan to Enbridge Energy ― and replace it with an $800 million "sustainability-linked" loan.

The Canadian tar sands produce what is likely the most carbon-intensive oil on Earth, and its extraction results in colossal levels of deforestation and water and air pollution. Giving Enbridge ― a company trying to build a pipeline that could expand tar sands extraction by up to 10% ― a so-called "sustainability" loan is about as Orwellian as it gets.

Even voices from within Wall Street have begun decrying the industry's empty posturing. "Wall Street is greenwashing the economic system and, in the process, creating a deadly distraction," wrote Tariq Fancy, the former head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock, earlier this month.

Unfortunately, it appears that for all the noise Wall Street has made on climate in recent months, the only division within the finance world that has been "fundamentally reshaped" by the climate crisis is its PR departments.

-- Alec Cannon

Alec Connon is co-coordinator of Stop the Money Pipeline, a coalition of over 150 organizations united to end the flow of global capital into fossil fuels.

Capitol rioter who stole cop's body armor and pillaged Pelosi's office released before trial: report

According to a report from the Daily Beast, one of the alleged Capitol rioters accused of trashing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and stealing police body armor on Jan 6th. has been released from jail pending his trial.

William Robert Norwood III of South Carolina has been charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and theft of government property -- both felonies -- after boasting to his family about his participation in the deadly attack on the Capitol.

According to the Beast, "Norwood, who goes by Robbie, boasted to family members about assaulting a law enforcement officer, according to court documents. 'It worked,' he wrote to family members. 'I got away with things that others were shot or arrested for.' He went on to brag of his bounty. 'I got a nice helmet and body armor off a cop for God's sake and i (sic) disarmed him,' he wrote in messages to friends and family. 'Tell me how that works.'"

The report notes that Norwood, who lied to the FBI and insisted he was a member of Antifa, asked for home detention and his request was granted with the court noting he had no previous criminal record.

The Beast adds that Norwood was taken into custody after texting his brother about his exploits and a friend of the brother, who was told about the texts, contacted the FBI.

You can read more here.

Fear of Trump has Republicans dragging their feet on investigating the Capitol riot: report

Democratic lawmakers hoping to launch multiple investigations into the Jan 6th Capitol riot that led to members of the Senate and House from both parties fearing for their lives, are seeing their efforts to proceed thwarted by Republicans who fear the wrath of Donald Trump who still wields considerable influence with GOP voters.

According to a report from the Washington Post's Karoun Demirjian, "Congress's pursuit of an independent investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection is facing long odds, as bipartisan resolve to hold the perpetrators and instigators accountable erodes, and Republicans face sustained pressure to disavow that it was supporters of former president Donald Trump who attacked the U.S. Capitol."

The report notes that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has drafted a proposal for a commission but it has received pushback from Republicans because it is "... too narrow in scope and too heavily weighted toward Democrats in composition."

By "scope," the report notes, Republicans want the commission to also look into antifa, a movement that had no part in the Capitol riot that followed a rightwing "Stop the Steal" rally where Donald Trump addressed the crowd.

"Initial negotiations aimed at establishing an independent commission in the style of the panel that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks ran aground earlier this year after Republican leaders insisted that it scrutinize left-wing extremism — including the amorphous Antifaa movement that Trump and other conservatives have blamed for fomenting violence in D.C. and other cities — alongside the far-right and white nationalist groups suspected of having planned or encouraged the mayhem," the Post is reporting. "Democrats resisted, accusing the GOP of trying to distract the public from the fact that extremist groups in the Republican base were responsible for the riot."

What also worries Republicans is how Donald Trump will react to disclosures during the investigation which could lead to the former president,who could be implicated, into lashing out at his own party for not squashing the commission -- particularly if findings come out just prior to the 2022 midterms.

Noting the delay in setting up the congressional 9/11 commission, the Post report adds, "Congress would not set up an independent Jan. 6 commission until next spring, when the 2022 midterm elections season will be heading into primaries where Trump has pledged to play a selective, but active, campaigning role. That alone threatens the prospects for achieving the compromise Pelosi has called for."

You can read more here.

Matt Gaetz's father accused of calling in favors to keep Florida lawmakers silent about his son's scandals: report

In a deep dive into the influence the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has had on his son's political rise, a Florida political operative claimed that "Papa Gaetz" was using his considerable political influence to tamp down criticism of his embattled son.

According to Politico's Gary Fineout, it is no secret in Florida political circles that Sen. Don Gaetz -- known as "Papa Gaetz" -- has used his years lording over and wheeling and dealing in panhandle politics, as well as his substantial wealth, to guide his son -- referred to as "Baby Gaetz" -- into the public eye and Congress.

"Matt Gaetz's political trail was not just preceded but heavily influenced by his father, a Republican multi-millionaire businessman who had a reputation for rhetorical flourishes and drag-out political fights. Don Gaetz all but paved his son's way into Florida's political world, and some suggest that his father's stature and influence is even helping his son as he faces a probe into potential sex trafficking," Fineout wrote.

According to a former lawmaker colleague of the elder Gaetz, the father of the Republican House member has always been a force in the community.

"He was a force of nature," explained former state Senate President Joe Negron, with Fineout reporting, "And Don Gaetz found himself in plenty of battles — and still is today. Last year, he went after a former legislator who once fired his son and who was seeking local office. Don Gaetz clashed enough times with former Gov. Rick Scott — now a senator — that the GOP governor lined up opposition to Don Gaetz's bid to become president of the University of West Florida."

According to one Florida political insider, while Don Gaetz has kept mostly in the background -- for the time being -- as his son is investigated over sex trafficking accusations, he is working behind the scenes to assist his son.

"Don has a lot of power and friends in Florida politics," the political operative said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There are a lot of people who owe him favors. They are repaying those favors by staying silent about his son."

Ray Sansom, a former northwest Florida legislator, added, "There's obviously people who respect Don. There's obviously people who feel like they have been hurt by him … Don's very rough. If he's against you, he's against you in a very rough way."

You can read more here.

Lauren Boebert accused a fellow lawmaker of trying to 'incite a riot' -- and it blew up in her face

Reacting to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) encouraging protesters to stay on the streets and demand justice for Black Americans killed by police, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO accused the Democrat of trying to "incite a riot" which led to a flood of commenters noting her part in the Jan 6th Capitol siege that had lawmakers fleeing for their lives.

According to Boebert, "Why is Maxine Waters traveling to a different state trying to incite a riot? What good can come from this?"

Twitter commenters were quick to remind Boebert of her tweets on Jan. 6thn that seemed to be directing insurrectionists as to where they could find House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

You can see some comments below:

Capitol rioters floating unique defense in effort to avoid jail time: report

According to a report from the Associated Press, lawyers for several of Jan. 6th Capitol rioters now facing jail time for storming the halls of Congress are asserting their clients were not part of a deadly insurrection but were working as "journalists" recording the action that day.

After having handed prosecutors a treasure trove of photos and videos of themselves taking part in the chaos of the day, participants are looking to duck responsibility with a legal strategy that appears dubious.

'It's unlikely that any of the self-proclaimed journalists can mount a viable defense on the First Amendment's free speech grounds, experts say," the report states. "They face long odds if video captured them acting more like rioters than impartial observers. But as the internet has broadened and blurred the definition of a journalist, some appear intent on trying."

Adding, "At least eight defendants charged in the Jan. 6 riot have identified themselves as a journalist or a documentary filmmaker, including three people arrested this month, according to an Associated Press review of court records in nearly 400 federal cases.," AP notes one participant in particular who is pushing his case.

"One defendant, Shawn Witzemann, told authorities he was inside the Capitol during the riot as part of his work in livestreaming video at protests and has since argued that he was there as a journalist. That explanation did not sway the FBI. The plumber from Farmington, New Mexico, is charged with joining in demonstrating in the Capitol while Congress was certifying Joe Biden's electoral victory over Donald Trump," AP reported.

According to Lucy Dalglish, dean of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, the rioters don't have much of a case.

Saying, "any defendant captured on video encouraging rioters cannot credibly claim to be a journalist," she told AP, "You are, at that point, an activist with a cellphone, and there were a lot of activists with copyrighted videos who sold them to news organizations. That doesn't make them journalists."

You can read more here.

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