[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Former Vice-President Mike Pence says ‘thanks but no thanks”:
Pence was speaking to CBS, to promote a new book in which he sets out his version of events on the day supporters of his president, Donald Trump, attacked Congress, some chanting that Pence should be hanged.
Pence previously said he would consider testifying. But to CBS, he said: “Congress has no right to my testimony on separation of powers under the constitution of the United States.
“And I believe it will establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice-president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”
Pence, who is weighing out a run for the presidency in 2024 and can’t afford to lose the support of, well, anyone, added:
But I must say again, the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me. It seemed to me in the beginning, there was an opportunity to examine every aspect of what happened on January 6, and to do so more in the spirit of the 9/11 Commission, non-partisan, non-political, and that was an opportunity lost.
January 6 Committee chair Rep. Benny Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney responded to Pence:
“The select committee has proceeded respectfully and responsibly in our engagement with Vice-President Pence, so it is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book.
“Our investigation has publicly presented the testimony of more than 50 Republican witnesses, including senior members of the Trump White House, the Trump campaign, and the Trump justice department.
“This testimony, subject to criminal penalties for lying to Congress, was not ‘partisan’. It was truthful.”
Second news item
Moms for Liberty, the group in which members had a shameful view of Ruby Bridges Goes To School, pushed conservative candidates in school boards elections across the country:
Moms for Liberty said it has endorsed more than 500 school board candidates across the country this year, 49% of whom have won. The organization’s candidates were highly successful in Florida, but they had mixed results in Arkansas, California, Michigan and other states.
Moms for Liberty celebrated the six candidates’ wins in Berkeley County as an example of flipping a school board in favor of people who “value parental rights.”
School boards are powerful entities. Thankfully, board members are elected by the public, so it remains an avenue in which parents – for better or worse – can make their voices heard if they’re willing to do the hard work of running for a seat.
Third news item
Trump faces criticism over Covid response:
March, 29, 2020, is a day that should live in infamy. The national mitigation plan against Covid-19, “15 days to stop the spread,” was about to expire. In the Rose Garden, President Trump declared that lockdowns would continue for another 30 days. I tweeted: “President Trump just lost the election.”
When Mr. Trump announced his 2024 campaign Tuesday, he didn’t apologize for the lockdowns or even mention them. I supported him in 2016, and during his tenure he did much to dredge the political swamps, but his decision to approve and extend drastic Covid interventions should disqualify him for a second term.
Fourth news item
Not good news about American Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia:
Brittney Griner has begun serving her nine-year sentence for drug possession at a Russian penal colony, her lawyers and agent said Thursday.
Griner was transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow, after a Russian court last month rejected her appeal of her sentence.
According to the report, President Biden is hopeful that President Putin will want to resume talks about a prisoner exchange concerning both Griner and Paul Whelan.
This morning, Axios is reporting that “The Kremlin aims to secure the release of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in any prisoner swap with the U.S., a senior Russian official told the news agency Interfax on Friday.”
Also, it as been reported that Navalny has been permanently moved to solitary confinement:
Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader jailed after surviving an assassination attempt, said on Thursday that he has been transferred permanently to a solitary confinement cell that would limit his contact with other prisoners and the outside world.
“They’re doing it to keep me quiet,” Mr. Navalny said in posts on his verified Twitter account, adding that staying in the small, cramped cell was typically limited to 15 days as a punishment. The rules also bar “long visits” from relatives, he said.
The order came just four days before his family was expected to come see him, according to a post on Twitter from Team Navalny, the core organizers behind his opposition movement, who have all fled Russia.
At least nine years have already been added to his initial two-year sentence, and few expect him to emerge from prison while Mr. Putin is still president.
Fifth news item
Yet again President Biden capitulates and plays politics with human rights abuser:
Biden as a Democratic presidential candidate vowed to make a “pariah” out of Saudi rulers over the 2018 killing of Khashoggi.
“I think it was a flat-out murder,” Biden said in a 2019 CNN town hall, as a candidate. “And I think we should have nailed it as that. I publicly said at the time we should treat it that way and there should be consequences relating to how we deal with those — that power.”
The Biden administration says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s high office should shield him from a lawsuit over his role in the killing of a U.S.-based journalist, making a turnaround from Joe Biden’s passionate campaign trail denunciations of the prince over the brutal slaying.
The administration spoke out in support of a claim of legal immunity from Prince Mohammed — Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, who also recently took the title of prime minister — against a suit brought by the fiancée of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and by the rights group Khashoggi founded, Democracy for the Arab World Now.
A federal judge in Washington had given the U.S. government until midnight Thursday to express an opinion on the claim by the crown prince’s lawyers that Prince Mohammed’s high official standing renders him legally immune in the case.
The Biden administration also had the option of not stating an opinion either way.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancé responds to the news: “Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal. History will not forget this wrong decision.”
Sixth news item
A very significant event:
Protesters in Iran have set on fire the ancestral home of the Islamic republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini two months into the anti-regime protest movement,
The house in the city of Khomein in the western Markazi province was shown ablaze late Thursday with crowds of jubilant protesters marching past, according to images posted on social media, verified by AFP.
Khomeini died in 1989…The house was later turned into a museum commemorating Khomeini. It was not immediately clear what damaged it sustained.
Images of Khomeini have on occasion been torched or defaced by protesters, in taboo-breaking acts against a figure whose death is still marked each June with a holiday for mourning.
Masih Alinejad lays out key points:
The leaders of democratic countries should recognize this as a revolution, as it is. This is just the beginning of the end. When teenagers are getting killed… but the day after, they take back to the streets… this is called a revolution”
In contrast w. Russia, would add not even one Islamic Republic diplomat has been asked to leave European soil despite its arming of Putin; hostages; human rights abuses; & terror plots. That must change.
Seventh news item
Cut from the same cloth, I would expect nothing less from these two:
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO) declared herself the winner of her congressional race Thursday evening, despite the race heading to an automatic recount. While media outlets, including The Associated Press, have deemed the race far too close to be called, the MAGA-loving firebrand conveyed to her over 1.7 million Twitter followers that she’s the victor, while only being ahead of Democrat opponent Adam Frisch by around 550 votes. “We won! I am so thankful for all of your support, and I am so proud to be your Representative!” Boebert tweeted. “Come January, you can be certain of two things,” she added in an a video with the Capitol building serving as a backdrop. “I will be sworn in for my second term as your congresswoman, and Republicans can finally turn Pelosi’s house back into the People’s House.”
Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) declined to concede governor race to Democrat Katie Hobbs Thursday, raising concerns about the election process.
The Associated Press and other outlets projected that Hobbs won the race on Monday. But Lake indicated she is assembling a legal team that is “collecting evidence and data” pertaining to the electoral process.
“Rest assured, I have assembled the best and brightest legal team and we are exploring every avenue to correct the many wrongs that have been done this past week,” Lake said in a video address posted Thursday morning. “I’m doing everything in my power to right these wrongs.”
P.S. Jim Geraghty shows his work: Even if all of the remaining votes were for Kari Lake, Hobbs would still win the election by about 6,000 votes.
P.P.S. Yesterday, Lake’s team confirmed that she was at Mar-a-Lago. Possibly auditioning to be someone’s running mate??
Eighth news item
Only Congress can solve coming border surge:
The progressive collapse of this country’s asylum system over many years, and not the Biden administration’s admittedly murky messaging on migration, is the main cause of today’s accelerating disarray at the border….
Granted, the president and his border policies have contributed to the problem. On taking office, President Biden set about dismantling the Trump administration’s restrictions, including trying to scrap Title 42 expulsions earlier this year. Simultaneously, officials pleaded in vain for migrants not to attempt to enter the country — without any effective strategy to deter them.
In response to Judge Sullivan’s ruling, the Biden administration asked for a five-week grace period to prepare for the anticipated surge of migrants. It has prepared to rush resources to the border, including thousands of beds to hold detainees in tent facilities, and is planning for quicker deportations as a deterrent. Ultimately, though, the fix, and the failure, lie with Congress.
Ninth news item: