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February 11, 2021 – Michael Novakhov – Shared News Links: The Capitol Riot as the focus of the Counterintelligence Investigations – Articles

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February 11, 2021 – Michael Novakhov – Shared News Links:

The Capitol Riot as the focus of the Counterintelligence Investigations

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German intelligence warns Capitol riot, Covid lockdown fuel right-wing extremism. Alleged Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell was former FBI agent with top-secret clearance, attorney says. Investigate The Investigators! How many of the current and past FBI agents participated in the organizing, planning, and the execution of the Capitol Riot? Capitol riot defendants shared history of financial probelms: WaPo. Dominic Pezzola, Capitol riot defendant, was ‘misled’ and ‘duped’ by Donald Trump: Lawyer. Germany hails Biden’s move to halt Trump-ordered troop cuts

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks 
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Capitol insurrection: Most of the people charged, like Jenna Ryan, showed signs of prior money troubles

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Yet Ryan, 50, is accused of rushing into the Capitol past broken glass and blaring security alarms and, according to federal prosecutors, shouting: “Fight for freedom! Fight for freedom!”

But in a different way, she fit right in.

Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.

Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

The group’s bankruptcy rate — 18 percent — was nearly twice as high as that of the American public, The Post found. A quarter of them had been sued for money owed to a creditor. And 1 in 5 of them faced losing their home at one point, according to court filings.

The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Trump supporters — many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories — were willing to participate in an attack egged on by the president’s rhetoric painting him and his supporters as undeserving victims.

While no single factor explains why someone decided to join in, experts say, Donald Trump and his brand of grievance politics tapped into something that resonated with the hundreds of people who descended on the Capitol in a historic burst of violence.

“I think what you’re finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, reacting to The Post’s findings. “And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.”

The financial missteps by defendants in the insurrection ranged from small debts of a few thousand dollars more than a decade ago to unpaid tax bills of $400,000 and homes facing foreclosure in recent years. Some of these people seemed to have regained their financial footing. But many of them once stood close to the edge.

Ryan had nearly lost everything. And the stakes seemed similarly high to her when she came to Washington in early January. She fully believed Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen and that he was going to save the country, she said in an interview with The Post.

But now — facing federal charges and abandoned by people she considered “fellow patriots” — she said she feels betrayed.

“I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” she said. “I regret everything.”

The FBI has said it found evidence of organized plots by extremist groups. But many of the people who came to the Capitol on Jan. 6 — including Ryan — appeared to have adopted their radical outlooks more informally, consuming baseless claims about the election on television, social media and right-wing websites.

The poor and uneducated are not more likely to join extremist movements, according to experts. Two professors a couple of years ago found the opposite in one example: an unexpectedly high number of engineers who became Islamist radicals.

In the Capitol attack, business owners and white-collar workers made up 40 percent of the people accused of taking part, according to a study by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago. Only 9 percent appeared to be unemployed.

The participation of people with middle- and upper-middle-class positions fits with research suggesting that the rise of right-wing extremist groups in the 1950s was fueled by people in the middle of society who felt they were losing status and power, said Pippa Norris, a political science professor at Harvard University who has studied radical political movements.

Miller-Idriss said she was struck by a 2011 study that found household income was not a factor in whether a young person supported the extreme far right in Germany. But a highly significant predictor was whether they had lived through a parent’s unemployment.

“These are people who feel like they’ve lost something,” Miller-Idriss said.

Going through a bankruptcy or falling behind on taxes, even years earlier, could provoke a similar response.

“They know it can be lost. They have that history — and then someone comes along and tells you this election has been stolen,” Miller-Idriss said. “It taps into the same thing.”

Playing on personal pain

Trump’s false claims about election fraud — refuted by elections officials and rejected by judges — seemed tailored to exploit feelings about this precarious status, said Don Haider-Markel, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies political extremism.

“It’s hard to ignore with a Trump presidency that message that ‘the America you knew and loved is going away, and I’m going to protect it,’” Haider-Markel said. “They feel, at a minimum, that they’re under threat.”

While some of the financial problems were old, the pandemic’s economic toll appeared to inflict fresh pain for some of the people accused of participating in the insurrection.

A California man filed for bankruptcy one week before allegedly joining the attack, according to public records. A Texas man was charged with entering the Capitol one month after his company was slapped with a nearly $2,000 state tax lien.

Several young people charged in the attack came from families with histories of financial duress.

The parents of Riley June Williams — a 22-year-old who allegedly helped to steal a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office — filed for bankruptcy when she was a child, according to public records. A house owned by her mother faced foreclosure when she was a teenager, records show. Recently, a federal judge placed Williams on home confinement with her mother in Harrisburg, Pa. Her federal public defender did not respond to a request for comment.

People with professional careers such as respiratory therapist, nurse and lawyer were also accused of joining in.

One of them was William McCall Calhoun, 57, a well-known lawyer in Americus, Ga., 130 miles south of Atlanta, who was hit with a $26,000 federal tax lien in 2019, according to public records. A woman who knows Calhoun, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, said he started to show strong support for Trump only in the past year. An attorney for Calhoun declined to comment.

Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police when she tried to leap through a door’s broken window inside the Capitol, had struggled to run a pool-service company outside San Diego and was saddled with a $23,000 judgment from a lender in 2017, according to court records.

Financial problems were also apparent among people federal authorities said were connected to far-right nationalist groups, such as the Proud Boys.

Dominic Pezzola, who federal authorities said is a member of the Proud Boys, is accused of being among the first to lead the surge inside the Capitol and helping to overwhelm police. About 140 officers were injured in the storming of the Capitol and one officer, Brian D. Sicknick, was killed.

Pezzola, of Rochester, N.Y., also has been named in state tax warrants totaling more than $40,000 over the past five years, according to public records. His attorney declined to comment.

The roots of extremism are complex, said Haider-Markel.

“Somehow, they’ve been wronged, they’ve developed a grievance, and they tend to connect that to some broader ideology,” he said.

The price of insurrection

Ryan, who lives in Frisco, Tex., a Dallas suburb, said she was slow to become a big Trump supporter.

She’s been described as a conservative radio talk show host. But she wasn’t a budding Rush Limbaugh. Her AM radio show each Sunday focused on real estate, and she paid for the airtime. She stopped doing the show in March, when the pandemic hit.

But she continued to run a service that offers advice for people struggling with childhood trauma and bad relationships. Ryan said the work was based on the steps she took to overcome her own rough upbringing.

Twice divorced and struggling with financial problems, Ryan developed an outlook that she described as politically conservative, leaning toward libertarian.

But politics was not her focal point until recently. She recalled being upset when President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. And she preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton four years later. But she said she wasn’t strident in her support for Trump.

That changed as the 2020 election approached.

She said she started reading far-right websites such as Epoch Times and Gateway Pundit. She began streaming shows such as Alex Jones’s “Infowars” and former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic.” She began following groundless assertions related to QAnon, a sprawling set of false claims that have coalesced into an extremist ideology. She said she didn’t know whether the posts were true, but she was enthralled.

“It was all like a football game. I was sucked into it. Consumed by it,” Ryan said.

She attended her first-ever protest in April, going to Austin to vent about the state’s pandemic shutdown orders. That was followed by a rally for Shelley Luther, who gained national attention for reopening her beauty salon in Dallas in defiance of the shutdown.

Ryan said she traveled to Trump’s “Save America” rally on a whim. A Facebook friend offered to fly her and three others on a private plane.

They arrived in Washington a day early and got rooms at a Westin hotel downtown, Ryan said.

It was her first trip to the nation’s capital.

The next morning, Jan. 6, the group of friends left the hotel at 6 a.m., Ryan said. She was cold, so she bought a $35 knit snow hat with a “45” emblem from a souvenir shop. They then followed the crowd streaming toward the National Mall.

“My main concern was there were no bathrooms. I kept asking, ‘Where are the bathrooms?’” she said. “I was just having fun.”

They listened to some of the speakers. But mostly they walked around and took photos. She felt like a tourist. They grabbed sandwiches at a Wawa convenience store for lunch. They hired a pedicab to take them back to the hotel.

She drank white wine while the group watched on television as Congress prepared to certify the electoral college votes. They listened to clips of Trump telling rallygoers to walk to the Capitol and saying, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

They decided to leave the hotel and go to the Capitol.

Ryan said she was reluctant.

But she also posted a video to her Facebook account that showed her looking into a bathroom mirror and saying, according to an FBI account of her charges: “We’re gonna go down and storm the capitol. They’re down there right now and that’s why we came and so that’s what we are going to do. So wish me luck.”

She live-streamed on Facebook. She posted photos to Twitter. She got closer to the Capitol with each post. She stood on the Capitol’s steps. She flashed a peace symbol next to a smashed Capitol window. The FBI also found video of her walking through doors on the west side of the Capitol in the middle of a packed crowd, where she said into a camera, according to the bureau: “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor.”

The FBI document does not state how long Ryan spent inside the building. She said it was just a few minutes. She and her new friends eventually walked back to the hotel, she said.

“We just stormed the Capital,” Ryan tweeted that afternoon. “It was one of the best days of my life.”

She said she realized she was in trouble only after returning to Texas. Her phone was blowing up with messages. Her social media posts briefly made her the infamous face of the riots: the smiling real estate agent who flew in a private jet to an insurrection.

Nine days later, she turned herself in to the FBI. She was charged with two federal misdemeanors related to entering the Capitol building and disorderly conduct. Last week, federal authorities filed similar charges against two others on her flight: Jason L. Hyland, 37, of Frisco, who federal authorities said organized the trip, and Katherine S. Schwab, 32, of Colleyville, Texas.

Ryan remained defiant at first. She clashed with people who criticized her online. She told a Dallas TV station that she deserved a presidential pardon.

Then Trump left for Florida. President Biden took office. And Ryan, at home in Texas, was left to wonder what to do with her two mini-goldendoodle dogs if she goes to prison.

“Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Ryan said recently. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost. I was there for him.”

Read the whole story

 

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Michael_Novakhov

2 hours ago
REPLY
EDIT
HTTP://MICHAEL_NOVAKHOV.NEWSBLUR.COM/
1 public comment

acdha

20 hours ago
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Just like their leader
WASHINGTON, DC

nocko

1 hour ago
Most of their acute economic problems seemed to mature under Trump’s admin. How was more Trump going to help them? Very confusing.

Capitol riot defendants shared history of financial probelms: WaPo

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  • Many of the Capitol riot defendants have something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 
  • A Washington Post analysis found that a substantial number of defendants had money woes. 
  • The documented financial problems include bankruptcies, debt, foreclosures, and unpaid taxes. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The more than 240 defendants charged in the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol siege came to Washington, D.C. from around the United States and from all walks of life, but something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 

new Washington Post analysis of court records and financial documents found that out of 125 defendants who had publicly available financial information, nearly 60% had filed for bankruptcy, had unpaid tax bills and other debts, been sued for unpaid debts, or faced losing their homes through eviction or foreclosure. 

The Post also found that among that group, the bankruptcy rate was 18%, almost double the national average. 

Read more: How Trump’s Senate trial could end with a vote to ban him from ever holding federal office again and kill any chances of a 2024 run

Among them were some of the most infamous accused rioters who have become faces of the insurrection. Jenna Ryan, the Texas real estate agent charged with two misdemeanors in connection with Capitol insurrection who flew to Washington, D.C. on a private jet, had filed for bankruptcy in 2012, almost lost her home before then, and had a history of unpaid federal taxes.

Ryan, who was also banned from PayPal after trying to raise funds for her legal defense on the platform, told the Post that she now fully regrets her participation in the riots and says she “bought into a lie.” 

Riley June Williams, the 22-year-old Pennsylvania woman accused of being involved in the theft of a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, had herself filed for bankruptcy when she was just a child, according to the Post. 

And Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed by law enforcement during the insurrection, had been hit with a $23,000 judgment from a lender a few years prior. 

Research shows that low-income people with lower levels of education are not necessarily more likely to fall into extremist movements — but being saddled with debt or other struggles can make some feel as if they have nothing left to lose. 

The Capitol insurrection further displays how outwardly successful and educated people in society’s mainstream can fall into anti-government movements. 

Those arrested so far include people associated with extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, but also people who had never before been charged with a federal crime or had a connection to those movements.

The rise of domestic right-wing extremism and the QAnon conspiracy theory haven’t just targeted low-income or uneducated people, however, but have swept up many well-off, college-educated professionals, too. 

One researcher interviewed by the Post said that middle-class and educated people may be more likely to be lured into extremism when they feel their position in society being jeopardized or threatened. 

Ryan, for example, told the Post that while she had voted for Trump in 2016, she didn’t become politically engaged until 2020, when she started consuming right-wing media like the Gateway Pundit, Infowars, and Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, and fell down the rabbit hole of the QAnon conspiracy. 

Read the whole story

 

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Dominic Pezzola, Capitol riot defendant, was ‘misled’ and ‘duped’ by Donald Trump: Lawyer

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Dominic Pezzola, a former Marine facing charges for storming the U.S. Capitol, was “duped” by former President Trump into believing it was his duty to act, his lawyer told a federal court Wednesday.

Mr. Pezzola, of Rochester, New York, “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country,” attorney Jonathan Zucker wrote in a motion seeking his release from custody.

“Defendant is former military who is sworn to protect his country. He was responding to the entreaties of the then commander in chief, President Trump. The President maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to ‘stop the steal’,” Mr. Zucker argued on behalf of Mr. Pezzola

“Admittedly there was no rational basis for the claim, but it is apparent defendant was one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President’s deception,” Mr. Pezzola‘s lawyer added.

Mr. Pezzola, 43, also known as “Spaz,” is among roughly 200 people facing charges so far in connection with storming the Capitol as Congress met to count electoral votes on the afternoon of Jan. 6.



In charging documents, federal prosecutors included photographs the government alleges to show Mr. Pezzola using a plastic riot shield to break a window on the Capitol Building prior to entering it.

“The only act that seems to distinguish defendant from thousands of other participants is that he used a shield to break a window and he, along with hundreds if not thousands, actually entered the capital,” his lawyer argued in the court filing.

That footage was played during Wednesday’s impeachment trial of Mr. Trump in the Senate. Mr. Pezzola was mentioned by name as well.

Mr. Pezzola described himself on social media as a member of the Proud Boys, the just-for-men group whose members were among the mobs who violently stormed the building, prosecutors said previously.

In a 15-page motion seeking pretrial detention for Mr. Pezzola, Mr. Zucker does not deny his client has connections to the Proud Boys but claims they are “relatively short lived and minimal.”

Mr. Pezzola has been jailed since mid-January. He has since been charged in an 11-count indictment, including with charges he allegedly conspired with another Proud Boys member from New York.

“The object of the conspiracy was to obstruct, influence, impede and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds,” the indictment alleges.

Mr. Pezzola pleaded not guilty to all counts Tuesday. A detention hearing was scheduled for later Wednesday afternoon to determine if he should be released pending the outcome of his trial.

 

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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EST | National

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Trump trial video shows vast scope, danger of Capitol riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors unveiled chilling new security video in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday, showing the mob of rioters breaking into the Capitol, smashing windows and doors and searching menacingly for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as overwhelmed police begged on their radios for help.

In the previously unreleased recordings, the House prosecutors displayed gripping scenes of how close the rioters were to the country’s leaders, roaming the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” some equipped with combat gear. Outside, the mob had set up a makeshift gallows.

Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation’s most alarming days. In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and cries of distress. And it showed just how close the country came to a potential breakdown in its seat of democracy as Congress was certifying Trump’s election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.

“They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission,” said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. “His mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down.”

The stunning presentation opened the first full day of arguments in the trial as the prosecutors argued Trump was no “innocent bystander” but rather the “inciter in chief” of the deadly Capitol riot, a president who spent months spreading election lies and building a mob of supporters primed for his call to stop Biden’s victory.


Trial highlights: Harrowing footage, focus on Trump’s words

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats opened their first day of arguments in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday with searing footage of the U.S. Capitol riot as they painted Trump as an “inciter in chief” who systematically riled up his supporters and falsely convinced them the election had been stolen, culminating in the deadly attack.

“He assembled, inflamed and incited his followers to descend upon the Capitol,” said the lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

As she presented harrowing footage of the siege, Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat representing the U.S. Virgin Islands and one of the prosecutors, said Trump had “put a target” on the backs of then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who were leading the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory. “His mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” Plaskett said.

Highlights from the first full day of arguments:

TRUMP’S WORDS COME BACK TO HAUNT HIM


Is one day a week enough? Biden’s school goal draws blowback

President Joe Biden is being accused of backpedaling on his pledge to reopen the nation’s schools after the White House added fine print to his promise and made clear that a full reopening is still far from sight.

Biden’s initial pledge in December was to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days in office. In January he specified that the goal applied only to schools that teach through eighth grade. And this week the White House said that schools will be considered opened as long as they teach in-person at least one day a week.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the goal Wednesday, calling it part of a “bold ambitious agenda.” But she also said it’s a bar the administration hopes to exceed.

“Certainly, we are not planning to celebrate at 100 days if we reach that goal,” she said. “We certainly hope to build from that.”

The White House had faced increasing pressure to explain the goal as the reopening debate gains urgency. Biden had never detailed what it meant to be reopened or how he would define success. Pressed on the question Tuesday, Psaki clarified that one day a week of in-person learning would meet the mark.


Georgia prosecutor investigates election after Trump call

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia prosecutor said Wednesday that she has opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” last year’s general election, including a call in which President Donald Trump asked a top official to find enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

In a Jan. 2 telephone conversation with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump repeatedly argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results of the presidential election, an assertion the secretary of state firmly rejected.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat elected to the job in November, did not specifically mention Trump in the letters she sent to state officials Wednesday announcing her investigation. But the former president has been under intense criticism for the call.

Willis spokesman Jeff DiSantis told The Associated Press that while he could not name the subjects under investigation, he confirmed that Trump’s call to Raffensperger was “part of it” and said “the matters reported on over the last several weeks are the matters being investigated.” In her letters, Willis also remarks that officials “have no reason to believe that any Georgia official is a target of this investigation.”


Countries curb diplomatic ties, weigh sanctions on Myanmar

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A growing number of governments are curbing diplomatic ties with Myanmar and increasing economic pressure on its military over the coup last week that erased the fragile democratic progress in the long-oppressed Southeast Asian nation.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he was issuing an executive order that will prevent Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion in assets in the United States, and he promised more measures were to come.

The U.S. was among many Western governments that lifted most sanctions in the past decade to encourage democratic change as Myanmar’s military rulers were taking gradual steps toward civilian rule — changes that proved temporary with the ousting of the elected government and detentions of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

One of the strongest reactions came from New Zealand, which has suspended all military and high-level political contact with the country and pledged to block any aid that could go to its military government or benefit its leaders. It also placed a travel ban on its military leaders.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of the military-led government and we call on the military to immediately release all detained political leaders and restore civilian rule,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Tuesday.


Digital siege: Internet cuts become favored tool of regimes

LONDON (AP) — When army generals in Myanmar staged a coup last week, they briefly cut internet access in an apparent attempt to stymie protests. In Uganda, residents couldn’t use Facebook, Twitter and other social media for weeks after a recent election. And in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the internet has been down for months amid a wider conflict.

Around the world, shutting down the internet has become an increasingly popular tactic of repressive and authoritarian regimes and some illiberal democracies. Digital rights groups say governments use them to stifle dissent, silence opposition voices or cover up human rights abuses, raising concerns about restricting freedom of speech.

Regimes often cut online access in response to protests or civil unrest, particularly around elections, as they try to keep their grip on power by restricting the flow of information, researchers say. It’s the digital equivalent of seizing control of the local TV and radio station that was part of the pre-internet playbook for despots and rebels.

“Internet shutdowns have been massively underreported or misreported over the years,” said Alp Toker, founder of internet monitoring organization Netblocks. The world is “starting to realize what’s happening,” as documenting efforts like his expand, he said.

Last year there were 93 major internet shutdowns in 21 countries, according to a report by Top10VPN, a U.K.-based digital privacy and security research group. The list doesn’t include places like China and North Korea, where the government tightly controls or restricts the internet. Shutdowns can range from all-encompassing internet blackouts to blocking social media platforms or severely throttling internet speeds, the report said.


Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation in which fake 3M masks were sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. The foreign-made knockoffs are becoming increasingly difficult to spot and could put health care workers at grave risk for the coronavirus.

These masks are giving first responders “a false sense of security,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with the Homeland Security Department’s principal investigative arm. He added, “We’ve seen a lot of fraud and other illegal activity.”

Officials could not name the states or the company involved because of the active investigation.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, fraud remains a major problem as scammers seek to exploit hospitals and desperate and weary Americans. Federal investigators say they have seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines as well as fake medicine produced overseas and scams involving personal protective equipment. The schemes deliver phony products, unlike fraud earlier in the pandemic that focused more on fleecing customers.

3M, based in Maplewood, Minnesota, is among the largest global producers of the N95 mask, which has been approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and is considered the gold standard in protection against the coronavirus. The company delivered some 2 billion N95 masks in 2020 as the pandemic soared, but in earlier months of the pandemic, when masks were in short supply, fraudsters starting popped up.


Biden in call with China’s Xi raises human rights, trade

Joe Biden on Wednesday held his first call as president with Xi Jinping, pressing the Chinese leader about trade and Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong as well as other human rights concerns.

The two leaders spoke just hours after Biden announced plans for a Pentagon task force to review U.S. national security strategy in China and after the new U.S. president announced he was levying sanctions against Myanmar’s military regime following this month’s coup in the southeast Asian country.

A White House statement said Biden raised concerns about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices.” Biden also pressed Xi on Hong Kong, human rights abuses against Uighur and ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province, and its actions toward Taiwan.

“I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people,” Biden posted on Twitter after the call.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV struck a mostly positive tone about the conversation, saying Xi acknowledged the two sides had their differences, and those differences should be managed, but urged overall cooperation.


Hustler publisher Larry Flynt dies at 78

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Porn purveyor Larry Flynt, who built Hustler magazine into an adult entertainment juggernaut that included casinos, films, websites and other enterprises as he relentlessly championed First Amendment rights, has died at age 78.

Flynt, who had been in declining health, died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his longtime attorney, Paul Cambria, told The Associated Press. He had been paralyzed and nearly killed in a 1986 assassination attempt.

“He suffered decades of health issues and you can imagine it was pretty difficult,” said his nephew Jimmy Flynt Jr. He added, “I loved him and may he rest in peace.”

From his beginnings as a fledgling Ohio strip club owner to his reign as founder of one of the most outrageously explicit adult-oriented magazines, Flynt constantly challenged the establishment and was intensely disliked by the religious right and feminist groups that said he demeaned women and put them at risk with pictures of bondage and other controversial acts.

Flynt maintained throughout his life that he wasn’t just a pornographer but also a fierce defender of free-speech rights.


Reports: Mori to resign Tokyo Olympics over sexist remarks

TOKYO (AP) — The long saga of Yoshiro Mori appears to be near the end.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency and others reported on Thursday — citing unnamed sources — that Yoshiro Mori will step down on Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

The move follows his sexist comments about women more than a week ago, and an ensuing and rare public debate in Japan about gender equality,

A decision is expected to be announced on Friday when the organizing committee’s executive board meets. The executive board of Tokyo 2020 is overwhelming male, as is the day-to-day leadership.

The 83-year-old Mori, in a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee more than a week ago, essentially said that women “talk too much” and are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry.” Mori, a former prime minister, gave a grudging apology a few days later after his opinions were reported, but declined to resign.

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Germany hails Biden’s move to halt Trump-ordered troop cuts

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The German government has welcomed President Joe Biden’s decision to formally halt the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany

BERLIN — The German government on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden’s decision to formally halt the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany, arguing that the troops’ stationing there is “in our mutual interest.”

Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, but the withdrawal never actually began.

Biden said Thursday that the pullout would be halted until Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reviews America’s troop presence around the globe.

“The German government welcomes this announcement,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin. He said that “we will remain in contact with the new American administration on its further plans.”

“We have always been convinced that the stationing of American troops here in Germany serves European and trans-Atlantic security, and so is in our mutual interest,” Seibert said. “We very much value this close, decades-long cooperation with the Americans’ forces that are stationed in Germany.”

Asked whether Germany would make any concrete offers to persuade the U.S. not to withdraw troops, Seibert said that Berlin will follow developments but “how these reviews go is an internal American matter.”

The U.S. has several major military facilities in Germany, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American military hospital outside the United States.

Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations.

Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defense, calling the longtime NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend 2% of its GDP on defense, a benchmark that alliance members have pledged to work toward.

7:39 AM 2/9/2021 – Investigate The Investigators! How many of the current and past FBI agents participated in the organizing, planning, and the execution of the Capitol Riot?

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Feb. 9, 2021 at 5:04 a.m. EST

Alleged Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell was former FBI agent with top-secret clearance, attorney says

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Those details were revealed in a motion filed Monday asking a judge to let Caldwell out of custody, citing his long military career and ability to pass vetting for the high security clearance. His attorney also claimed that Caldwell has disabilities from his military service that would have prevented him from storming the Capitol.

The FBI did not immediately return an inquiry about Caldwell’s past employment status late Monday.

The claims about Caldwell’s high security clearance and FBI service add to concerns about extremism in the military and law enforcement. The indictments against numerous alleged rioters with military and police ties have led local agencies to launch investigations and the Pentagon to order each military branch to dedicate time to addressing the problem in the coming months.

“The presence of law enforcement officers in the riot reinforces and substantiates the greatest fears many in the public had in the nature of law enforcement in the United States,” Michael German, a former FBI special agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, told The Washington Post.

“It’s incumbent on the Justice Department, if it wants to restore that confidence, to act quickly” to hold the most violent Capitol rioters accountable, he added.

Caldwell lives in Berryman, Va., and had been involved in local GOP politics. He was arrested on Jan. 19 in Virginia on charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

The government alleges that Caldwell, whom an FBI agent identified as having “a leadership role in the Oath Keepers,” sent Facebook messages coordinating with members of the self-styled militia and sharing video from within the Capitol.

“Us storming the castle,” Caldwell allegedly said in one message that accompanied a video that showed a crowd within the Capitol, according to the criminal complaint. “Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator!”

His case is one of several prosecutors are building against Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to make the case that the assault on Congress was premeditated and organized by extremists. Federal prosecutors are considering whether to file sedition charges against some of the accused rioters, the Associated Press reported.

In Monday’s motion for bond, Caldwell denied being a member of the Oath Keepers.

“Caldwell is not a member of the organization, nor has he ever been a member of the organization, and if he were, such membership would be protected activity under the First Amendment,” wrote his attorney, Thomas K. Plofchan.

The motion also questioned whether the Facebook messages allegedly posted by Caldwell prove his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot, arguing that he was “merely relaying news that was circulating through the crowd that some people were inside.”

Plofchan identified Caldwell as a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and said Caldwell worked as a section chief in the FBI from 2009 to 2010 after retiring from military service. His attorney listed multiple service awards Caldwell earned and also said he has had a “top-secret security clearance” since 1979.

After leaving the FBI, Caldwell founded a consulting firm that has done business with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command, the motion said.

Caldwell has several service-related injuries and other disabilities, his attorney said, including injuries to both shoulders, degenerative lumbar disc disease, and chronic knee pain. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2010 that failed, the filing said, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Moving, sitting for extended periods of time, lifting, carrying, and other physical activities are extremely painful and Caldwell is limited in his ability to engage in them,” the motion said.

His attorney also claimed that witnesses “will testify that [Caldwell] never entered the U.S. Capitol Building and that his physical limitations would have prevented him from forcibly entering any building or storming past any barrier.”

Plofchan noted that prosecutors did not include photos of Caldwell in the criminal complaint, although two co-defendants in the case are shown in photos.

“The Government has not identified any photo or video that shows Caldwell in the U.S. Capitol Building, on the grounds after overcoming any barrier,” the motion said.

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Alleged Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell was former FBI agent with top-secret clearance, attorney says

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Those details were revealed in a motion filed Monday asking a judge to let Caldwell out of custody, citing his long military career and ability to pass vetting for the high security clearance. His attorney also claimed that Caldwell has disabilities from his military service that would have prevented him from storming the Capitol.

The FBI did not immediately return an inquiry about Caldwell’s past employment status late Monday.

The claims about Caldwell’s high security clearance and FBI service add to concerns about extremism in the military and law enforcement. The indictments against numerous alleged rioters with military and police ties have led local agencies to launch investigations and the Pentagon to order each military branch to dedicate time to addressing the problem in the coming months.

“The presence of law enforcement officers in the riot reinforces and substantiates the greatest fears many in the public had in the nature of law enforcement in the United States,” Michael German, a former FBI special agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, told The Washington Post.

“It’s incumbent on the Justice Department, if it wants to restore that confidence, to act quickly” to hold the most violent Capitol rioters accountable, he added.

Caldwell lives in Berryman, Va., and had been involved in local GOP politics. He was arrested on Jan. 19 in Virginia on charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

The government alleges that Caldwell, whom an FBI agent identified as having “a leadership role in the Oath Keepers,” sent Facebook messages coordinating with members of the self-styled militia and sharing video from within the Capitol.

“Us storming the castle,” Caldwell allegedly said in one message that accompanied a video that showed a crowd within the Capitol, according to the criminal complaint. “Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator!”

His case is one of several prosecutors are building against Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to make the case that the assault on Congress was premeditated and organized by extremists. Federal prosecutors are considering whether to file sedition charges against some of the accused rioters, the Associated Press reported.

In Monday’s motion for bond, Caldwell denied being a member of the Oath Keepers.

“Caldwell is not a member of the organization, nor has he ever been a member of the organization, and if he were, such membership would be protected activity under the First Amendment,” wrote his attorney, Thomas K. Plofchan.

The motion also questioned whether the Facebook messages allegedly posted by Caldwell prove his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot, arguing that he was “merely relaying news that was circulating through the crowd that some people were inside.”

Plofchan identified Caldwell as a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and said Caldwell worked as a section chief in the FBI from 2009 to 2010 after retiring from military service. His attorney listed multiple service awards Caldwell earned and also said he has had a “top-secret security clearance” since 1979.

After leaving the FBI, Caldwell founded a consulting firm that has done business with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command, the motion said.

Caldwell has several service-related injuries and other disabilities, his attorney said, including injuries to both shoulders, degenerative lumbar disc disease, and chronic knee pain. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2010 that failed, the filing said, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Moving, sitting for extended periods of time, lifting, carrying, and other physical activities are extremely painful and Caldwell is limited in his ability to engage in them,” the motion said.

His attorney also claimed that witnesses “will testify that [Caldwell] never entered the U.S. Capitol Building and that his physical limitations would have prevented him from forcibly entering any building or storming past any barrier.”

Plofchan noted that prosecutors did not include photos of Caldwell in the criminal complaint, although two co-defendants in the case are shown in photos.

“The Government has not identified any photo or video that shows Caldwell in the U.S. Capitol Building, on the grounds after overcoming any barrier,” the motion said.

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6:27 PM 2/8/2021 – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠

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6:27 PM 2/8/2021

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ | In Brief | 

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks 
Tweets by @mikenov – 6:07 PM 2/8/20
German intelligence warns Capitol riot, Covid lockdown fuel right-wing extremism
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Tweets by ‎@mikenov – 6:07 PM 2/8/20

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  1. Michael Novakhov@mikenov

    UK insists AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against South African varian… https://youtu.be/vuHGfEW4_sA  via @YouTube  YouTube ‎@YouTube

  2. Michael Novakhov@mikenov

    El segundo juicio político a Trump, a punto de empezar en un Senado divi… https://youtu.be/izewCbOQXm8  via @YouTube

  3. Michael Novakhov@mikenov

    U.S. COVID-19 cases drop sharply https://youtu.be/h92FTYk61PE  via @YouTube

  4. Michael Novakhov@mikenov

    New Jersey Hits 1 Million COVID Vaccine Doses Administered https://youtu.be/C-Yhz_BVE_0  via @YouTube

  5. Michael Novakhov@mikenov

    https://audioboom.com/posts/7794536 

  6. Michael Novakhov@mikenov

    https://audioboom.com/posts/7794602

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German intelligence warns Capitol riot, Covid lockdown fuel right-wing extremism

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MUNICH — While much of the liberal West watched the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in horror, right-wing extremism and anti-Semitic ideas are gaining ground in certain corners of the globe.

German officials say the violence in Washington, together with coronavirus skepticism and anti-lockdown sentiment, has emboldened right-wing groups. The rising extremism has prompted the country’s intelligence services to place a number of people under surveillance.

 

“The security services are wide awake and are monitoring all developments,” Alina Vick, a spokeswoman for Germany’s Interior Ministry, said at a news conference Jan. 25 in response to questions from NBC News.

According to provisional police figures released Thursday, the number of crimes committed by right-wing extremists jumped to its highest level in at least four years in 2020.

Suspected coronavirus deniers have attacked a number of people and organizations in recent months. In October, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s center for disease control, was the target of an arson attack. The same day, an explosive detonated at the Berlin office of the Leibniz Association, a group of research institutes that has also researched the coronavirus.

Anti-lockdown demonstrations have intensified in recent weeks as Germany has tightened coronavirus restrictions, which are in place until at least mid-February.

Intelligence agencies have taken a particular interest in the group Querdenken 711, whose name loosely translates as “thinking outside the box.” The anti-lockdown group, which was founded in Stuttgart, the capital of the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, has inspired similar groups across the country that espouse a mixture of QAnon conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic ideas and frustration at coronavirus restrictions.

 

In December, Baden-Württemberg’s intelligence service placed the group on a watchlist and warned about rising extremism.

“We are dealing with a movement that formed on the occasion of the corona protests and then radicalized further on,” Beate Bube, the president of Baden-Württemberg’s intelligence service, said in a recent interview with a local newspaper. “We see an anti-state attitude at demonstrations and in online activities. Such attitudes are specifically fanned by the organizers.”

She said that the group was not interested in legitimate protest and that it was simply seeking to spread false information about the coronavirus and undermine the rule of law. The riot at the U.S. Capitol has added fuel to those sentiments.

“What we saw in Washington can be a breeding ground for radicalization and violent action in the right-wing scene,” Bube said. “Within the state’s scene, we are currently seeing verbal approval for the violence at the Capitol.”

 

While official national statistics on extremism for 2020 are not yet available, preliminary numbers released by a German lawmaker indicate that police recorded the highest number of far-right crimes since 2016. Police recorded 23,080 crimes with far-right backgrounds, around 700 more than in the previous year.

A report by RIAS Bavaria, a nonprofit organization, documented 46 anti-Semitic incidents related to coronavirus conspiracy theories in the state of Bavaria alone from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2020. Many incidents occurred at demonstrations, while others occurred online or in daily life.

Annette Seidel-Arpaci, the head of RIAS Bavaria, said in an interview that the coronavirus protests have helped promote anti-Semitic beliefs more broadly, raising the possibility of violence.

 

“The danger is that ideas turn into public speech and through that potentially into actions,” Seidel-Arpaci said.

Even before the pandemic, right-wing attacks have shocked Germany in recent years. In 2019, a gunman attacked a synagogue on Yom Kippur, and a man with far-right views shot and killed a politician.

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According to the RIAS Bavaria report, a Jewish pedestrian was accosted in a Munich park last year by a man wearing a T-shirt that read “corona denier” and “anti-vaxxer.” The assailant claimed that Jews had created the coronavirus, according to the report.

In another documented case, a German rapper posted a video to Instagram claiming that the Rothschild family was behind a curfew that had been instituted to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Seidel-Arpaci said that signs of anti-Semitism were evident in early protests against coronavirus measures last year but that those sentiments have become much more prevalent now.

“Victims are feeling more fear and insecurity,” Seidel-Arpaci said. “Not just because of the coronavirus pandemic, but in general, anti-Semitism is acted out more openly, especially in everyday life.”

Carlo Angerer is a multimedia producer and reporter based in Mainz, Germany. 


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