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Group of more than 1,000 judges calls emergency meeting amid Trump concerns

Group of more than 1,000 judges calls emergency meeting amid Trump concernsJudges will meet to address alarm over the president intervening in politically sensitive casesA national association of federal judges has called an emergency meeting to address growing concerns about the intervention of Donald Trump and justice department officials in politically sensitive cases, according to US media reports.Cynthia Rufe, a Philadelphia US district judge who heads the independent Federal Judges Association, which has more than 1,100 members, told USA Today the group “could not wait” until its spring conference to discuss the matter.“There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe told USA Today. “We’ll talk all of this through.”Megan Cruz, the executive director of the group, told CNN the meeting would take place on Wednesday. She said a nine-member executive committee of the group had decided the emergency meeting was necessary.The meeting comes after more than 2,000 former US justice department officials, including some of the top government lawyers in the country, called on the attorney general, William Barr, to resign in the wake of the Roger Stone scandal.Alumni of the Department of Justice posted to Medium on Sunday a group letter that tore into Barr for “doing the president’s personal bidding” in imposing on prosecutors the recommendation of a reduced sentence for Stone, a longtime friend of Trump who was convicted of lying to and obstructing Congress and threatening a witness in the Russia investigation.Barr, the officials said, had damaged the reputation of the department for “integrity and the rule of law”.The spiralling constitutional crisis began last week when Barr imposed his new sentencing memo, slashing a seven- to nine-year proposed prison term suggested by career prosecutors. In the fallout, the four prosecutors who had handled the case resigned in disgust.US district Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the Stone’s case, has ordered both sides to participate in a conference call on Tuesday to discuss the status of the case. Following the call, it was confirmed that Stone’s sentencing would go ahead on Thursday.Rufe voiced her strong support for Jackson, according to USA Today.“I am not concerned with how a particular judge will rule,” Rufe said. “We are supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.”It was not clear whether the FJA would issue a statement after the emergency meeting. The Guardian contacted the FJA for comment.


Immigration agency subpoenas Oregon county over 2 inmates

Immigration agency subpoenas Oregon county over 2 inmatesU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement subpoenaed a sheriff's office in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday for information about two Mexican citizens wanted for deportation, a move that is part of a broader escalation of the conflict between federal officials and local government agencies over so-called sanctuary policies. ICE, the Homeland Security agency responsible for arresting and deporting people in the U.S. illegally, served the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Hillsboro, Oregon, with the subpoenas in an attempt to get more information about two men, including one who has already been released from custody, said ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman.


Hunter Biden Served on Board of Trade Group That Lobbied Obama Admin for Increased Ukraine Aid: Report

Hunter Biden Served on Board of Trade Group That Lobbied Obama Admin for Increased Ukraine Aid: ReportHunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden, was on the board of a trade group that lobbied the Obama administration for increased U.S. aid to Ukraine, according to a report Tuesday.From 2012 through 2018, the younger Biden served as a director for the Center for U.S. Global Leadership and was connected as well with its affiliate, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, The Daily Caller reported. The two groups, which include about 400 larger corporations and non-government organizations, lobbied for increased spending abroad by the State Department’s International Affairs Budget, including a special focus on Ukraine.At the time, Joe Biden was also advocating for increased U.S. spending in Ukraine.Hunter Biden's small private equity firm, Rosemont Seneca, featured other well-connected politicos as well, including his partner Devon Archer, who was a former adviser on Obama Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and another partner, Kerry’s son-in-law Christopher Heinz.“Hunter Biden works for [Archer]. So we’ve got the top level politicos with us. All of my guys, is as top tier as it gets,” a businessman named Bevan Cooney wrote in text messages released in connection with an unrelated criminal case against Archer. “You don’t get more politically connected and make people more comfortable than that.”In 2013, the groups held an event honoring Joe Biden for his work supporting increased spending abroad, an event Hunter Biden was also introduced as having a "very special relationship with our honoree."Biden's separate lucrative position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while his father was vice president and in charge of addressing corruption in Ukraine has also drawn scrutiny and featured prominently in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. That position earned Biden at least $50,000 a month for his advice on “transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities.”During a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky to help his administration investigate allegations that Joe Biden used his position as vice president to help the Ukrainian gas company avoid a corruption probe soon after Hunter Biden was appointed to its board of directors. That phone call led to an Intelligence Community whistleblower complaint that ultimately sparked a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions.Biden has said that in the spring of 2016, during his tenure as vice president, he called on Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor investigating the energy company paying his son. Biden suggested he would withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine if the country did not fire the prosecutor, who was accused by the State Department and U.S. allies in Europe of being soft on corruption.


Andrew Yang is headed to CNN

Andrew Yang is headed to CNNAndrew Yang's presidential bid failed, but it did land him a gig with CNN.The entrepreneur who made a run at the Oval Office before dropping out last week after a poor showing at the New Hampshire primary will be joining the network as a political analyst. He's doing so just in time for Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas, as the remaining candidates take the stage before the Nevada caucuses Saturday.The big story leading up to Wednesday's showdown is the presence of billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be making his first debate appearance since his latecomer campaign began. But Yang -- who was famous for keeping it casual on the debate stage -- could steal some headlines if he decides to wear a tie for his first day on the job. > Will be on @CNN tonight to talk about the debate! Maybe I'll wear a tie . . . https://t.co/m5VPhnfk50> > -- Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) February 19, 2020More stories from theweek.com How to ensure it's a boy (according to 100-year-old pregnancy guides) Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils Turkish president says a new military intervention in Syria is 'imminent'


Coronavirus updates: Quarantine ends on cruise ship as death toll passes 2,000

Coronavirus updates: Quarantine ends on cruise ship as death toll passes 2,000As the death toll for the coronavirus outbreak in China passes 2,000, here is the latest news for Wednesday Feb. 19.




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Santa Barbara Views and Opinions
 
The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to “criticize the government and other organizations.” So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

Unfair Questions or Democracy At Work ?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Why U.S. Engagement Policy Is The Correct One

Invariably, when one thinks of the efficacy of a nation’s military, the mind’s eye is drawn to the ability of that country to deliver a \"warhead onto the forehead\" of their enemies. Indeed, owing to the Pentagon’s slick packaging of the First Gulf War, modern conflict, in the American mind, became synonymous with high-tech toys, grainy videos of successful missile shots, and a quick resolution of hostilities.

Capitalism and The Wealth Gap

When it comes to the efficient delivery of goods and services, capitalism is the proven economic model that puts people to work and products on the shelves. Whether those jobs end up paying enough money to purchase the items on those shelves is another matter, however.

Living Wages Are A Global Problem

The recent protests for an increased minimum wage are part of a larger global protest. The purpose is the same for low wage earners all over the world; increase wages to match the cost of living, and allow workers to form unions if desired and needed. The global protest has gained media attention all over the world, but critics claim that is the only accomplishment the movement will have.

Ukraine: Not What It Seems

After tense days of fighting this week, people in Ukraine are mourning the dead and celebrating the removal of President Victor Yanukovych from power. The final struggle that began on February 18, was the bloodiest endured by the protesters of Euromaidan. By February 22 the fighting was over.

Religious Freedom Bill - Protecting The Faithful or Legalized Discrimination?

After a much heated national debate, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial bill that would have allowed people and businesses in the state to refuse services to LBGT people based on their religious belief.

Coup Or Civil War In Egypt

The day after new protests erupted in Egypt the military in a show of support presented an ultimatum to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Morsi was to step down from power and meet all of the demands of the Egyptian people, or face being removed by the military on Wednesday. As the ultimatum deadline draws closer in Egypt, Morsi refuses to leave, insisting that parliamentary elections are needed before he should be removed, and that he doesn't have permission from the United States to remove himself from power. Most recently he stated he will pay with his life to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box.

 

 
 
 
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