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California Georgia Headline USA New York Politics

GOP seethes at Eric Swalwell’s role in impeachment hearing after compromising security for spy tryst

Republicans have reacted with outrage after Nancy Pelosi appointed Congressman Eric Swalwell as one of nine impeachment managers – despite his having an alleged affair with a Chinese spy.

Swalwell further angered Donald Trump’s allies by comparing the president to Osama Bin Laden.

The Californian congressman was asked on Wednesday about the difference between Trump whipping the Capitol rioters into a frenzy, and those who actually stormed the Capitol themselves.

‘Osama Bin Laden did not enter U.S. soil on September 11, but it was widely acknowledged that he was responsible for inspiring the attack on our country,’ Swalwell told PBS.

Eric Swalwell, a California congressman, on Wednesday appeared on PBS News

Swalwell told host Judy Woodruff that both Trump and Bin Laden inspired acts of violence

Swalwell told host Judy Woodruff that both Trump and Bin Laden inspired acts of violence

‘And the president, with his words, using the word ‘fight’ – that is hate speech that inspired and radicalized people to storm the Capitol.’

When asked directly whether he was comparing Trump to Bin Laden, Swalwell replied: ‘I’m comparing the words of a individual who would incite and radicalize somebody, as Osama Bin Laden did, to what President Trump did.

‘You don’t actually have to commit the violence yourself, but if you call others to violence, that itself is a crime.’

Swalwell, 40, was named among the nine impeachment managers on Tuesday.

He and his colleagues are in charge of making the case that the president should be impeached for a second time.

On Wednesday the House voted to impeach him. The motion will now pass to the Senate, which will not consider the matter until after Trump leaves the White House on January 20.

Swalwell on December 8 was reported by Axios to have been involved in a lengthy relationship with a woman later discovered to be a Chinese spy.

Swalwell was involved with Chinese spy Fang Fang until 2015, when the FBI told him about her

Swalwell was involved with Chinese spy Fang Fang until 2015, when the FBI told him about her

The operative had sexual relations with a series of American politicians

The operative had sexual relations with a series of American politicians

Swalwell has refused to say whether he was physically intimate with Christine Fang, also known as Fang Fang, during their friendship, asserting the matter is classified.

A number of top House Republicans signed a letter demanding that Pelosi remove Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee.

Pelosi and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy were both briefed on the matter in 2015.

Swalwell was tipped off in 2015 that she was a Chinese agent.

She fled the country as the FBI investigated her and her infiltration efforts, which also saw her become friendly with other California politicians and have sex with two mayors from the Midwest, in encounters caught by FBI surveillance.

On Wedesday night, Tucker Carlson used his Fox News show to express astonishment at Swalwell’s appointment.

‘He doesn’t sleep on national security threats, he sleeps with them,’ Carlson said. ‘It’s for the greater good. Today Eric Swalwell, his wild intelligence oats once more.’

Carlson’s guest, conservative author Mark Steyn, described him as being ‘compromised’ and ‘playing for the other team’.

‘Eric Swalwell, the Chinese Politburo’s man on the impeachment management team,’ Steyn said.

Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman for California, spoke out against Swalwell’s appointment, as did Marjorie Taylor Green, the QAnon-promoting Republican congresswoman for Georgia.

‘After China’s #COVID19 virus has killed over 381,000 Americans, @SpeakerPelosi names @ericswalwell 1 of 9 impeachment managers,’ she tweeted.

‘Rep Swalwell had a sexual relationship with a CHINESE SPY!

‘Dems might as well go public on how they are selling out to China!

‘What a betrayal!’

Elise Stefanik, congresswoman for New York, said Swalwell was ‘compromised by the Chinese Communist Party’.

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Delhi The Buzz

Farmers’ protest: All eyes on Monday hearing in SC


Petitions before SC

  • Several petitions challenging the validity of three farm laws
  • PILs seeking removal of agitating farmers who have blocked entry points to Delhi
  • Plea of Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations in favour of farm laws

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10

After the failure of the eighth round of negotiations between the Government and farmers’ unions, all eyes are on the Supreme Court which will on Monday take up petitions challenging the farm laws and those seeking removal of farmers who have blocked key entry points to Delhi since November 26.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde – which had on December 17 indicated constituting a committee of independent and impartial persons to end the stalemate – is expected to attempt a solution to end the stalemate.

With both the sides refusing to budge from their respective stand, the eighth round of talks between agitating farmers and the Centre failed to break the deadlock on January 8.

As farmers’ leaders insisted on withdrawal of the three farm laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar made it clear that the government will not repeal the laws even as it was ready to address their grievances. The next round of talks is proposed on January 15.

During the crucial hearing, the top court is to hear three sets of petitions. The first set of PILs is by Congress MP from Trissur in Kerala TN Prathapan, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, RJD MP Manoj Jha, Bhartiya Kisan Party and advocate ML Sharma.

They have challenged the validity of the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They contended the farm laws were “discriminatory” and will expose marginal farmers to exploitation by big companies.


Read also: Farmers ransack Khattar’s Kisan Mahapanchayat venue


The second set of petitions is by Rishabh Sharma and others highlighting the plight of commuters entering the national capital due to continued blockade by agitating farmers. On Saturday, he filed an affidavit in the top court complaining that the farmers have blocked Noida Chilla Border, Tikri Border, Sindhu Border, Gazipur Border, Delhi-Rohtak National Highway, causing hardships to those entering Delhi from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Citing the top court’s verdict on Shaheen Bagh protests that said public places can’t be blocked and occupied indefinitely, he said the protesters must be removed as they violated the court’s verdict.

The third set of plea is by the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA) — a Hyderabad-based farmers’ organization – which contended that the reforms were beneficial for growth of agriculture in India.

“We wish (to) submit that farm reforms are beneficial to enable increased income to farmers and growth of agriculture,” the consortium’s plea filed through CIFA advisor P Chengal Reddy said, demanding to be heard before any decision was taken.

Noting that there was no improvement in talks between agitating farmers and the government, the Supreme Court on January 6 said it would take up petitions against farm laws and those against farmers’ protests on January 11. “There is absolutely no improvement in the situation,” CJI Bobde had said.

A day later, the CJI had expressed concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 among the agitating farmers and asked the Centre if they were taking precautionary measures against the pandemic. “We are trying to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread. Ensure guidelines issued are followed,” he had said.





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Entertainment USA Headline USA Politics

WikiLeaks founder could walk free TODAY as he faces bail hearing

Julian Assange will discover today if he will become a free man after almost 10 years of prison and self-imposed confinement after his dramatic legal victory against the US bid to extradite him. 

US officials were left ‘extremely disappointed’ after a British judge ruled on Monday that the WikiLeaks founder cannot be extradited to face spying charges due to the risk of him taking his own life in an American jail.

The US government has given notice that it will appeal against the decision and has two weeks to lodge grounds, while Assange has been remanded in custody at HMP Belmarsh ahead of his bail application today. 

Stella Moris – with whom he shares two young sons – was seen arriving at this morning’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court alongside two senior WikiLeaks employees. 

Ms Moris, who fell in love with Assange while she was his lawyer, said outside the Old Bailey on Monday: ‘Today is a victory for Julian. Today’s victory is a first step towards justice in this case.’

She also issued a direct appeal to Donald Trump, which references President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 appeal to Soviet lead Mikhail Gorbachev to ‘tear down’ the Berlin Wall. 

‘Mr President tear down these prison walls,’ she said. ‘Let our little boys have their father. Free Julian. Free the press.’

Julian Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, is seen arriving at this morning’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court with Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, left, and Joseph A Farrell, an ambassador for the organisation 

On Monday, Assange won his legal battle against US officials who wanted to put him on trial for helping hack government computers and violating an espionage law by releasing confidential cables (he is seen in a court sketch)

On Monday, Assange won his legal battle against US officials who wanted to put him on trial for helping hack government computers and violating an espionage law by releasing confidential cables (he is seen in a court sketch) 

A prison van arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court this morning ahead of Assange's bail application hearing, as photographers try to picture Assange inside

A prison van arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court this morning ahead of Assange’s bail application hearing, as photographers try to picture Assange inside 

Assange’s defence team, including celebrity barrister Jennifer Robinson, will be in court for today’s hearing. If they successful, their client could be a free man immediately afterwards.

However, this is thought to be unlikely given the US government’s pending appeal. 

Had Assange been convicted in the US, he would have been held in isolation at the notorious Supermax jail in Colorado, which has been described by a former warden as a ‘clean version of hell’ and a ‘fate worse than death’.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser said there was an ‘unmanageable high risk’ of Assange taking his own life if he was housed amid the grim conditions as she revealed he has autism, Asperger’s and a severe depressive disorder.

She accepted the evidence of medical experts who revealed that Assange had spoken openly about suicide while in Belmarsh and had prepared for it by writing a will. A razor blade was also found in his cell.

‘This is a victory for Julian’: How Assange’s partner Stella Moris greeted Monday’s verdict

Ms Moris, who fell in love with Assange while she was his lawyer, said outside the Old Bailey: ‘I had hoped today would be the day Julian would come home. Today is not that day but that day will come soon.

‘As long as Julian has to endure suffering in isolation as an unconvicted prisoner at Belmarsh prison, as long as our children continue to be robbed of their father’s love and affection, we cannot celebrate.

‘We will celebrate the day he comes home. 

‘Today is a victory for Julian. Today’s victory is a first step towards justice in this case.

‘On behalf of Julian and myself, I want to thank the millions of people around the world and the institutions that are already calling for this persecution to end.

‘I ask you all to shout louder, you lobby harder, until he is free. I call on everyone else to come together to defend Julian’s rights; not just Julian’s rights, they are your rights too. Julian’s freedom is coupled to all our freedoms and our freedoms are lost in the blink of an eye.

‘I call on insiders to come forward to expose the full extent of the misconduct that has led to Julian’s imprisonment. And I call on the president of the United States to end this now.

‘Mr President, tear down these prison walls. Let our little boys have their father. Free Julian, free the press, free us all.’ 

Mexico offered political asylum to Mr Assange earlier this week. The country’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said: ‘I’m going to ask the foreign minister to carry out the relevant procedures to request that the UK government releases Mr Assange and that Mexico offers him political asylum.’

He said Mexico would ensure ‘that whoever receives asylum does not intervene or interfere in the political affairs of any country.’ 

The country has previously offered political asylum to high-profile international figures such as former Bolivian president Evo Morales. 

Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister said Assange can remain a free man if he chooses to return to his native country when his legal battle is over.  

Scott Morrison avoided passing judgement on the decision but said Assange would be able to travel home if he his freed.

‘I note the decision overnight and like any other Australian I understand that’s subject to appeal… assuming that all turns out, he’s like any other Australian, he’s free to return home to Australia if he wishes,’ Mr Morrison told 3AW radio.

‘Consular support has been offered to Assange… it’s a matter for him [if he returns] when proceedings and processes end,’ the prime minister added. 

On Monday, Assange’s supporters were overjoyed at the decision not to extradite him to the US but expressed dismay that the ruling was made on health grounds rather than in defence of freedom of expression.

The activist has been backed by a raft of celebrities including Pamela Anderson, artist Al Weiwei and designer Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Assange’s mother, Christine urged the US not to appeal, saying her son had suffered enough.

She tweeted after Monday’s ruling: ‘UK Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled against extraditing my son Julian to the US on medical grounds.

‘US prosecutors state they will appeal. I implore Pres Trump & Pres elect Biden to order them to stand down. The decade long process was the punishment. He has suffered enough.’

Conservative MP David Davis said: ‘Good news Julian Assange’s extradition has been blocked. Extradition treaties should not be used for political prosecutions.’

Jeremy Corbyn, whose brother, Piers, was outside the Old Bailey on Monday, said: ‘Good news that the extradition of Julian Assange has been refused – my congratulations to him and his legal team. Extradition would be an attack on press freedom.

‘And it is alarming that the judge has accepted US government arguments threatening freedom of speech and freedom to publish. There remains much at stake in his case, which is being observed by so many around the world. Assange should be released.’

Assange, 49, faced an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information

Assange, 49, faced an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information 

A large crowd is now gathered outside the court today, with several police officers urging people to adhere to social distancing rules

A large crowd is now gathered outside the court today, with several police officers urging people to adhere to social distancing rules

Moris, with whom Assange shares two young sons, speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey in London on Monday

Moris, with whom Assange shares two young sons, speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey in London on Monday

How Assange is being defended by celebrity lawyer Jennifer Robinson – while judge overseeing case extradited Sarkozy fraud suspect

Jennifer Robinson, a key member of Assange’s defence team, is the go-to barrister for the rich and famous, most recently walking hand in hand with actress Amber Heard in her showdown against her ex-husband Johnny Depp in his acrimonious libel trial.

She counts the Hollywood elite among her inner circle, travelling to George and Amal Clooney’s wedding on a speedboat with actor Bill Murray.

A self-confessed Kyle Minogue fan, who has ‘nothing in her fridge but Champagne’ , the human rights lawyer once set headlines alight after she was spotted canoodling with Jeremy Corbyn’s former spin doctor, Seumas Milne.

Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson (left) with Assange's partner Stella Moris (right) at an earlier Old Bailey hearing

Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson (left) with Assange’s partner Stella Moris (right) at an earlier Old Bailey hearing

Ms Robinson and Mr Milne – a then-married father-of-two – were photographed in a passionate embrace on the terrace of the Courthouse hotel in East London in 2017. The 39-year-old, who came from humble beginnings in Australia, has been known to use her social media as an outlet to criticise the Tories on their human rights record and tweet support for Corbyn.

Less is known about Vanessa Baraitser, the district judge overseeing Assange’s case. 

She appears to be a specialist in extradition cases and last year gave the go ahead for an associate of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to be returned to France for trial. 

Alexandre Djouhri, who was arrested at Heathrow last year after arriving on a flight from his Swiss home, and is accused by French prosecutors of nine offences relating to money laundering and corruption. These are alleged to have been committed in circumstances connected to Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.   

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser delivering her verdict on Monday

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser delivering her verdict on Monday

The journalist Glenn Greenwald added a note of caution, saying the judge had endorsed most of the arguments put forward by the US in favour of extradition – including dismissing the idea that it was an attack on freedom of speech.

He said: ‘This wasn’t a victory for press freedom. Quite the contrary: the judge made clear she believed there are grounds to prosecute Assange in connection with the 2010 publication. It was, instead, an indictment of the insanely oppressive US prison system for security ‘threats.’

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden – the whistleblower who worked with Wikileaks and is currently living in Russia after leaking U.S. surveillance secrets – called for an end to the proceedings, tweeting: ‘Let this be the end of it.’

Amnesty International tweeted: ‘We welcome the fact that Julian Assange will not be sent to the USA, but this does not absolve the UK from having engaged in this politically-motivated process at the behest of the USA and putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial.’

Judge Baraitser ruled that Assange risked being held under Special Administrative Measures (Sams), which would have seen him in solitary confinement with limited access to family and only two phone calls per month.

She said: ‘Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide and for this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge.

‘Despite his lighter spirit at times, he’s a depressed and sometimes despairing man who is genuinely fearful of his future. He represents an unmanageable high risk of suicide, both in Belmarsh and the US.’

She revealed that in 1991 Mr Assange had tried to take his own life and that there was a history of depression in the family.

His maternal grandmother and uncle both died by suicide, and Assange phoned the Samaritans most nights while in jail.

Australian-born Assange had been charged under the US’s 1917 Espionage Act for conspiring with Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, to hack into a Pentagon computer network and publish secret documents related to ‘national defence.’

The WikiLeaks founder faced a total of 18 charges and was also accused of putting the lives of US informants at risk by publishing the material.

Assange has been locked in a bitter dispute with US authorities since July 2010 when WikiLeaks started publishing hundreds of thousands of classified US military and political documents from the Afghan and Iraq wars.

As US officials pursued him through the British courts, in June 2012, Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy, requesting political asylum, which was granted two months later.

Assange remained holed up at the embassy until April 2019 when Ecuador revoked his asylum status, leading to his arrest and kickstarting a legal battle that culminated in Monday’s judgment.

During his time in the embassy, the WikiLeaks founder fathered two children with his partner Stella Morris.

For the past 19 months, Assange has been held at Belmarsh top security jail.

He first appeared at the Old Bailey last February, but the case was pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If Assange had stood trial in the US, he faced a possible 175 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

The controversial WikiLeaks founder has attracted a number of high-profile supporters including Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who visited him at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Others to have lent their support include the artist Al Weiwei and designer Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Assange was represented at his Old Bailey trial last year by eminent lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

The court head extraordinary details of the lengths US authorities were prepared to go to ensure that Assange stood trial in the country.

Stella Moris, the mother of Julian Assange's children, Max and Gabriel (pictured left and right) this weekend said Britain 'would no longer be a haven for free speech' if he was extradited

Stella Moris, the mother of Julian Assange’s children, Max and Gabriel (pictured left and right) this weekend said Britain ‘would no longer be a haven for free speech’ if he was extradited

This included hiring a US security contractor to bug Assange’s meetings in the Ecuadorian embassy and even a possible kidnap or poison plot to end the stalemate.

Judge Baraitser heard that if convicted, Assange faced the prospect of being held in a Supermax ADX facility in Colorado, where convicted terrorist Abu Hamza has been housed under Sams in solitary confinement.

Psychiatrists for the defence said Assange had suffered from severe depression and was a high suicide risk.

But lawyers for the US Government claimed that the prospect of Assange being held under Sams was ‘speculative’ and the sentence was likely to be much lower.

Chelsea Manning had been sentenced to 35 years over her role in leaking classified material but was given clemency after seven years.

However, she was jailed again for contempt in 2019 and fined for refusing to testify in court about Assange.

Timeline: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s long legal battle 

2006

Assange creates Wikileaks with a group of like-minded activists and IT experts to provide a secure way for whistleblowers to leak information. He quickly becomes its figurehead and a lightning rod for criticism.

2010

March: U.S. authorities allege Assange engaged in a conspiracy to hack a classified U.S. government computer with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. 

July: Wikileaks starts releasing tens of thousands of top secrets documents, including a video of U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.  What followed was the release of more than 90,000 classified US military files from the Afghan war and 400,000 from Iraq that included the names of informants. 

August: Two Swedish women claim that they each had consensual sex with Assange in separate instances when he was on a 10-day trip to Stockholm. They allege the sex became non-consensual when Assange refused to wear a condom.

First woman claims Assange was staying at her apartment in Stockholm when he ripped off her clothes. She told police that when she realized Assange was trying to have unprotected sex with her, she demanded he use a condom. She claims he ripped the condom before having sex.

Second Swedish woman claims she had sex with Assange at her apartment in Stockholm and she made him wear a condom. She alleges that she later woke up to find Assange having unprotected sex with her.

He was questioned by police in Stockholm and denied the allegations. Assange was granted permission by Swedish authorities to fly back to the U.K.  

November: A Swedish court ruled that the investigation should be reopened and Assange should be detained for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant is issued by Swedish police through Interpol.

Wikileaks releases its cache of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.  

December: Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody. Assange is granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties.

2011

February: A British judge rules Assange should be extradited to Sweden but Wikileaks found vows to fight the decision.

April:  A cache of classified U.S. military documents is released by Wikileaks, including intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who are detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

November: Assange loses High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.

2012

June: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London requesting political asylum. 

August: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.

2013

June: Assange tells a group of journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex charges against him are dropped out of fear he will be extradited to the U.S.

2015

August: Swedish prosecutors drop investigation into some of the sex allegations against Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active.

2016

July: Wikileaks begins leaking emails U.S. Democratic Party officials favoring Hillary Clinton.

November: Assange is questioned over the sex allegation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the presence of Sweden’s assistant prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police inspector Cecilia Redell. The interview spans two days. 

2017

January: Barack Obama agrees to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning from prison. Her pending release prompts speculation Assange will end his self-imposed exile after Wikileaks tweeted he would agree to U.S. extradition.

April: Lenin Moreno becomes the new president of Ecuador who was known to want to improve diplomatic relations between his country and the U.S. 

May: An investigation into a sex allegation against Assange is suddenly dropped by Swedish prosecutors. 

2018

January: Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Assange following his request. 

February: Assange is visited by Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.

March: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Assange’s internet access because he wasn’t complying with a promise he made the previous year to ‘not send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states’.

August: U.S. Senate committee asks to interview Assange as part of their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

September: Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks.

October: Assange reveals he will launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’.

November: U.S. Justice Department inadvertently names Assange in a court document that says he has been charged in secret. 

2019

January: Assange’s lawyers say they are taking action to make President Trump’s administration reveal charges ‘secretly filed’ against him.

April 6: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level Ecuadorian source has told them Assange will be expelled from the embassy within ‘hours or days’. But a senior Ecuadorian official says no decision has been made to remove him from the London building. 

April 11: Assange has his diplomatic asylum revoked by Ecuador and he is arrested by the Metropolitan Police; he is remanded in custody by a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court.

April 12: He is found guilty of breaching his bail terms.

May 1: Sentenced to 11 months in jail.

May 2: Court hearing takes place over Assange’s proposed extradition to the U.S. He tells a court he does not consent to the extradition and the case is adjourned until May 30.

May 13: Swedish prosecutors reopen rape case saying they still want to question Assange. 

June 3: Swedish court rules against detaining him in absentia, setting back the extradition case.

June 12 Home Secretary Sajid Javid signs an extradition request from the US.

June 13 A hearing sets out the date for Assange’s full extradition hearing – February next year.

November  Swedish prosecutors stop investigation into an allegation of rape against Mr Assange 

November 25 – Medics say without correct medical care Assange ‘could die’ in Belmarsh 

December 13 –  Hearing in London hears he is being blocked from seeing key evidence in case

December 19 – Appears at Westminster Magistrates Court via video-link where his lawyer claims US bid to extradite him is ‘political’. 

2020   

February 24 –Assange faces an extradition hearing at Woolwich Crown Court.

Assange’s representatives argue he cannot legally be handed to the US for ‘political offences’ because of a 2003 extradition treaty.

March 2 – Assange appears by video link at Westminster Magistrates Court, where he is refused bail amid the coronavirus crisis.

April 11 – Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, who gave birth to his two children while he was living inside the Ecuadorian embassy, issues a plea for his release amid fears for his health.

June 24 – The US Department of Justice issues an updated 18-count indictment, over Assange’s alleged role in ‘one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States’.

August 25 – Ms Moris visits her partner in Belmarsh prison for the first time in almost six months.

September 7 – Assange’s extradition hearings resume at the Old Bailey. They are expected to go on for up to four weeks.

October 1 – Judge Vanessa Baraitser adjourned the case at the Old Bailey until January 4. 

January 4 – Judge Baraitser strikes down US extradition bid. 

Categories
Headline USA New York

Sackler family behind OxyContin make rare appearance at congressional hearing

One of the owners of the company that makes OxyContin says she wouldn’t have done anything differently despite acknowledging during a congressional hearing that the powerful prescription painkiller has played a role in the national opioid crisis.

Kathe Sackler and her cousin David Sackler, who are members of the wealthy family that owns Purdue Pharma, made a rare public appearance on Thursday during a fiery congressional hearing before the House Oversight Committee.

While the two acknowledged that the powerful prescription painkiller has played a role in the national opioid crisis, they stopped short of apologizing or admitting wrongdoing.

When asked if she would apologize for any role she has played in the crisis, Kathe said she had struggled with the question of whether she could have done anything differently for years.  

‘I have tried to figure out if there’s anything that I could have done differently knowing what I knew then, not what I know now,’ she said.  

‘I have to say that there’s nothing that I can find that I would have done differently.’ 

David Sackler

Kathe Sackler and David Sackler, who are members of the family that owns Purdue Pharma, made a rare appearance in a public forum on Thursday during a congressional hearing before the House Oversight Committee

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a North Dakota Republican, noted that OxyContin sales revenue increased even after the company pleaded guilty to crimes for improper marketing of the drug. 

‘You want to ask what you could have done differently?’ she asked. ‘Look at your own damn balance sheet.’   

Kathe’s cousin, David, noted during the hearing that OxyContin had helped ‘millions of Americans’. 

‘I want to express my family’s deep sadness about the opioid crisis,’ he told the hearing. ‘OxyContin is a medicine that Purdue intended to help people, and it has helped, and continues to help, millions of Americans.’ 

Kethe and David, who are descendants of two of the three brothers who bought Purdue nearly 70 years ago, appeared before the committee in a video hearing held amid COVID-19 restrictions. 

It is the first time in years that any member of the wealthy Sackler family have taken questions in public from an official body. They appeared before the hearing after the committee’s chairwoman, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, threatened to issue subpoenas. 

Both Kathe and David were both hammered with questions from lawmakers throughout the hearing over Purdue’s role in the national opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. 

They were repeatedly asked if they personally took any responsibility for the crisis.

The committee members were unmoved by the Sacklers’ explanations. 

‘Watching you testify makes my blood boil,’ said Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat. ‘I’m not sure that I’m aware of any family in America that´s more evil than yours.’  

The congressional committee is investigating the Sackler family and the company's role in the national opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. The family owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma

The congressional committee is investigating the Sackler family and the company’s role in the national opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. The family owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma 

President and CEO of Purdue Pharma Craig Landau also testified on Thursday during the hearing

President and CEO of Purdue Pharma Craig Landau also testified on Thursday during the hearing

The hearing came three weeks after Purdue pleaded guilty to three criminal charges as part of a sweeping settlement with the Department of Justice.

The company agreed to pay more than $8 billion in forfeitures and penalties, while members of the Sackler family would have to pay $225 million to the government. No family member would be criminally prosecuted under the Justice Department settlement, although the deal leaves open that possibility.  

The settlement requires the company to hand over just $225 million of the $8 billion total to the government as long as Purdue makes good on plans to settle thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments, a matter that is now in bankruptcy court. 

State and local governments blame the company’s marketing efforts for contributing to an opioid addiction and overdose crisis that has been linked to 470,000 deaths in the US over the past two decades.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company and the Sacklers have proposed resolving the lawsuits by transforming Purdue into a public benefit corporation, with its profits used to combat the opioid epidemic.

Some members of Congress and attorneys general for about half the states oppose that plan, which includes a requirement for Sackler family members to pay at least $3 billion in addition to giving up control of the company. 

Court documents show they have received more than $12 billion from Purdue since OxyContin was released. 

A third branch of the family sold its stake in the company before the blockbuster painkiller was developed in the 1990s. 

David Sackler told the committee on Thursday that the value of the company plus the $3 billion the family would contribute add up to more than the family received from OxyContin. 

He also noted that about half of what family members took out of the company was paid in taxes. 

North Dakota Rep. Armstrong sarcastically thanked him for that.  

Categories
Headline USA Los Angeles

Meghan Markle appears in public for the first time after hearing the news of her abortion | The State

Meghan Markle.

Photo:
Tim Rooke – Pool / Getty Images

This Sunday Meghan markle has made his first public appearance by surprise after announcing that last summer lost the baby who was waiting with her husband, Prince Henry, to participate in a special on CNN dedicated to all the “unsung heroes” who have selflessly helped others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her intervention has been made through a video recorded beforehand, in which she appears sitting on a bench in the garden of her house in Montecito, dressed in a lilac blouse and wearing the characteristic disheveled bow that has become her signature. of identity.

“In a year that has been difficult for all of us, I am very inspired by these stories of compassion in our communities. Across the whole country, people have put aside their own needs to join forces and ensure the well-being of others“, The Duchess celebrated.

The former actress has applauded, for example, the volunteers who have dedicated themselves to delivering food at home to sick people or people with fewer resources, as she herself did, accompanied by her husband last April, shortly after settling in Los Angeles.

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Categories
Chicago Headline USA New York Politics

Mellissa Carone swears she ‘wasn’t drunk’ during bizarre hearing with Rudy Giuliani

President Trump’s ‘star witness’ in his Michigan voter fraud case has sworn she was not drunk during her testimony in her first interview since last week’s bizarre hearing. 

IT contractor Mellissa Carone, 33, spoke to Inside Edition on Tuesday after she faced intense backlash – and even featured in a Saturday Night Live sketch – following her performance.

Yet Carone has brushed off the criticism and revealed that she is ‘not concerned at all’ that she may have been infected with COVID-19 after her close contact to Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, who have both since tested positive.

Carone said she would not be quarantining as ordered by the state following the hearing but would do so if the suggestion came directly from Trump.

The mother of two added that she doesn’t know if Giuliani was aware she had only recently finished probation for a charge linked to a sex tape, as revealed by DailyMail.com last week. 

Scroll down for video

Mellissa Carone, 33, spoke to Inside Edition on Tuesday after she faced intense backlash following her testimony at Trump’s Michigan voter fraud hearing on December 2. She was regarded as the president’s ‘star witness’ despite a judge saying her claims were unfounded

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani even tried to shush Carone at one point during her 30-minute testimony at the hearing on December 2.  Some social media users accused her of being drunk

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani even tried to shush Carone at one point during her 30-minute testimony at the hearing on December 2.  Some social media users accused her of being drunk

‘I wasn’t drunk,’ Carone told Inside Edition as she remained unfazed by the criticism she has received. ‘I would swear under oath that I wasn’t drunk.’

‘That’s my personality,’ she explained.

Carone became a viral phenomenon during the hearing on December 2, when she berated Michigan lawmakers while detailing her claims of election fraud while claiming, ‘Democrats ruin your life’.

Giuliani even tried to shush her at one point during her 30-minute testimony, as she asserted: ‘I know what I saw. I know what I saw. If I’m wrong I can go to prison.’

Carone had also lashed out the day following the hearing at suggestions she had been drinking after her belligerent performance, proclaiming: ‘Absolutely not!’

Trump's star witness: Mellissa Carone posted pictures of herself with Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis

Trump's star witness: Mellissa Carone posted pictures of herself with Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis

Mellissa Carone posted pictures of herself with Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. Both have since tested positive for coronavirus put Carone has said she will not quarantine

Carone had also responded to claims on social media that she was drunk

Carone had also responded to claims on social media that she was drunk

Despite being forced to delete her social media accounts, Carone claimed that she ‘not hurt’ by the backlash during her Inside Edition interview.

She even praised comedian Cecily Strong for her portrayal of her on Saturday Night Live.

‘I think she did a great job,’ she said. ‘I think it was very funny, she looked just like me.’

On Monday, a Michigan health official mandated for Carone to go into quarantine due to her exposure to Giuliani, who has since tested positive for Covid-19.

Carone had only finished probation a few months ago for committing computer crime. She is pictured in her 2019 mugshot

Carone had only finished probation a few months ago for committing computer crime. She is pictured in her 2019 mugshot

Lawyer Jenna Ellis, who also sat near Carone, revealed on Tuesday that she has since tested positive as well.

Neither of the three wore masks as they interacted during the hearing and posed for photos. Health officials have said they believed Giuliani could have been highly infectious at the time of the hearing.

Despite fears that the hearing has now become a super spreader event and the health department adding a further mandate that ‘anyone who did not wear a face covering during the proceedings’ should quarantine until December 12, Carone has claimed that she has no intention of doing so and will not get tested.

‘I’m not concerned at all, no,’ Carone said when asked about the coronavirus spread at the hearing.

She told the Washington Post in an interview later on Tuesday that she would continue to live her life in the Detroit suburbs as normal unless the order to quarantine came from Trump himself.

‘I would take it seriously if it came from Trump, because Trump cares about American lives,’ she claimed, adding that she would also get tested if One America News or Newsmax, networks which are friendly to Trump, advised it.

‘It is not that I don’t believe in getting tested. I don’t trust the tests,’ Carone said.

She added that Giuliani is ‘one of the most respectful, polite, just down-to-earth people I have ever met. He is great’.

Last week, DailyMail.com revealed that Carone had only finished probation a few months ago for committing computer crime.

It stemmed from an incident in November 2018 where she was accused of sending her fiancé’s ex-wife pornographic videos and then attempting to frame her for stealing them.

Carone initially denied to police that she was responsible for the videos but later revealed that she had wanted to send the ex-wife ‘over the top’.

She was sentenced to 12 months of probation for the offense in September 2019, after striking a plea deal with Michigan prosecutors, who in turn dropped a first-degree obscenity charge against her.

Carone told Inside Edition that she was unsure if Giuliani was aware of the charge after it became the latest public blunder for the former New York City mayor.

‘I don’t know that to be a fact,’ Carone said. ‘I don’t know, they never said anything.’

Carone's fiancé's ex-wife, pictured, also spoke to Inside Edition about the incident

Carone’s fiancé’s ex-wife, pictured, also spoke to Inside Edition about the incident

Carone claimed that it was actually her fiancé, Matthew Stackpoole (pictured with her above), who sent the explicit videos to his ex-wife and that she took a plea deal only because they didn¿t want to spend any more time in court. She served 12 months probation

Carone claimed that it was actually her fiancé, Matthew Stackpoole (pictured with her above), who sent the explicit videos to his ex-wife and that she took a plea deal only because they didn’t want to spend any more time in court. She served 12 months probation

The mother-of-two had struck a plea deal with Michigan prosecutors, who in turn dropped a first degree obscenity charge against her, after she said she sent the videos

The mother-of-two had struck a plea deal with Michigan prosecutors, who in turn dropped a first degree obscenity charge against her, after she said she sent the videos

Carone also told the Post that she had been hired to to do IT work at Detroit’s main ballot-counting center through a temporary staffing services company. She spent more than 24 hours there over November 3 and 4.

‘I have always been involved in politics,’ she explained to the Post of her decision to take the job.

‘I have very strong political views and morals and I was very interested in that process and I accepted the position. I never expected to walk in there and see what I saw. Never.’

Carone had told the Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing last week about her claims that she saw poll workers running ballots through voting machines ‘thousands of times,’ which a judge had already said was ‘not credible.’

She claimed in testimony that she was unable to get work in the wake of making her claims about election fraud.

Carone, pictured, has claimed she would quarantine if Trump told her that she should

Carone, pictured, has claimed she would quarantine if Trump told her that she should

‘My life has been destroyed,’ she said. ‘I’ve lost family, I’ve lost friends. I’ve had to change my phone number. I’ve had to get rid of social media.

‘I can’t even get an actual job anymore because Democrats like to ruin their lives, that’s why, like they did to Trump.’

Carone said she was working as a contractor for Dominion Voting System at the Detroit TCF Center.

She claimed during the hearing that while working as a contractor, workers were shuttled to a facility called the ‘Chicago warehouse’ where she witnessed most of the alleged fraud.

‘I know for a fact that there was illegal activity going on there,’ Carone declared at the hearing, claiming that people had ‘pictures’ of boxes being carried out of the warehouse.

Yet neither she, Giuliani or Ellis produced any evidence of this during the hearing.

During the proceedings on December 2, Carone had also stated: ‘I am a mother, I have two children, I have two degrees. I don’t know any woman in the world that would write an affidavit under oath just to write it. You can go to prison for this.’

Yet it was also later revealed that the University of Michigan at Dearborn, where Carone claimed she had completed one of the degrees on her LinkedIn page, had no records of any student by that name.

‘I do not have a bachelor’s degree … I am about four classes away from it,’ she told the Post of the claim, adding that she did not want to name the school.

And she had also claimed during her testimony to have been laid off by Ford Motor Company in Lansing, but the firm also has no record of her employment, according to the Post.

Carone’s affidavit outlining her accusations of fraud was included in the Michigan lawsuit that the Trump team filed in hopes of stopping the election certification of Wayne County.

Carone is a dedicated Trump supporter, who has posted her support for him on social media for months, called Joe Biden 'literally mental' and posting from a 'Stop the Steal' rally

 Carone is a dedicated Trump supporter, who has posted her support for him on social media for months, called Joe Biden ‘literally mental’ and posting from a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally

Not only was the request denied by a judge, but the same judge said that Carone’s allegations were ‘simply not credible.’

Carone is a dedicated Trump supporter, who has posted her support for him on social media for months, called Joe Biden ‘literally mental’ and demanded the recall of Democratic Michigan governor Meghan Whitmer.

She lives with her fiancé Matthew Stackpoole, 36, in a Wayne County suburb of Michigan, and posted pictures showing her house with Trump-Pence signs. 

The couple have a five-month-old daughter together, while she has a three-year-old son from a previous relationship.

Her car-crash testimony was only the latest cringeworthy moment to plague Giuliani’s efforts to swing the election in favor of President Donald Trump by claiming that there was massive voter fraud in the election. 

Categories
Headline USA

Judge sets new hearing date to determine whether mother-of-five Jennifer Dulos is dead

A Connecticut judge is calling for a new hearing to determine whether missing mother-of-five Jennifer Dulos is dead so that her late estranged husband’s estate can access nearly $200,000 in his retirement account.

Jennifer Dulos, 50, disappeared May 24, 2019, after dropping her five children at school.

Police in January charged her husband, Fotis Dulos, with killing his wife inside her New Canaan home and driving off with her body, which was never found. 

He took his own life later that month while facing murder, kidnapping and other charges in his wife’s disappearance. 

Probate Judge Evelyn Daly on Friday called for an in-person hearing on February 10, one day after the state’s executive orders placing coronavirus restrictions on court activities expires.

Daly has been asked to determine if Dulos is dead so the estate of her estranged husband Fotis can access his $194,000 individual retirement account, according to the Stamford Advocate. 

Daly has been asked to determine if Dulos is dead so the estate of her estranged husband Fotis can access his $194,000 individual retirement account. Fotis  died in January this year

A Connecticut judge is calling for a new hearing to determine if missing mother-of-five Jennifer Dulos, 50, (left) is dead so that the estate of her late estranged husband Fotis Dulos (right) can access nearly $200,000 in his retirement account

Jennifer and Fotis were embroiled in a bitter divorce and legal battle over the custody of their children (pictured with Jennifer) at the time of her disappearance in May 2019

Jennifer and Fotis were embroiled in a bitter divorce and legal battle over the custody of their children (pictured with Jennifer) at the time of her disappearance in May 2019

Daly’s ruling will be a landmark one in the state of Connecticut where no person who has been missing for less than seven years has been declared dead.

Police say evidence shows Jennifer was the victim of a ‘serious physical assault’ in the garage of New Canaan home on the day disappeared and blood was found in the garage. 

Jennifer and Fotis were embroiled in a bitter divorce and legal battle over the custody of their children at the time of her disappearance. 

In a hearing in October attorneys for the Fotis’ estate and Jennifer’s family asked the missing mother be declared dead. 

In that hearing Judge Daly said she needed more time and to hear more evidence.  

The estate of Fotis Dulos is considered ‘insolvent’ with Jennifer Dulos’ mother Gloria Farber, who has been caring for the five Dulos children since their mother disappeared.

Farber is owed nearly $2million in a lawsuit she won for unpaid business loans her family made to Fotis and his real estate development company, Fore Group. 

Probate Judge Evelyn Daly on Friday called for an in-person hearing on February 10, one day after the state’s executive orders placing coronavirus restrictions on court activities expires.  Judge Daly pictured above during a hearing in October where she said she needed more time and more evidence before deciding on whether to declare Jennifer Dulos dead

Probate Judge Evelyn Daly on Friday called for an in-person hearing on February 10, one day after the state’s executive orders placing coronavirus restrictions on court activities expires.  Judge Daly pictured above during a hearing in October where she said she needed more time and more evidence before deciding on whether to declare Jennifer Dulos dead

Christopher Hug, the administrator for the estate of Fotis Dulos

Richard Weinstein, the attorney of Jennifer's mother

In the October hearing both Christopher Hug, the administrator for the estate of Fotis Dulos (left), and Richard Weinstein, the attorney of Jennifer’s mother (right) asked for the declaration of death

Attorney Christopher Hug, the administrator for the estate of Fotis Dulos, asked Judge Daly to waive the normal seven-year waiting period to declare a missing person dead citing that he cannot access certain funds to pay creditors of the estate unless it was determined Jennifer died before her husband did.

He also cited that Dulos should be declared dead based on information in arrest warrants which point to Fotis dismembering Jennifer.

He also referenced statements made by state Chief Medical Examiner James Gill who reviewed evidence gathered by police and determined Jennifer likely suffered injuries during an attack that were not survivable without immediate medical intervention.

In that hearing Gloria Farber also asked for the death declaration for closure.

According to arrest warrants Fotis allegedly used an employee’s pick-up truck to drive to New Canaan where he was 'lying in wait' for Jennifer to return to her New Canaan home after dropping their kids off at school. A view of police executing a search warrant on Fotis Dulo's Jefferson Crossing home after he attempted to commit suicide on the property in January above

According to arrest warrants Fotis allegedly used an employee’s pick-up truck to drive to New Canaan where he was ‘lying in wait’ for Jennifer to return to her New Canaan home after dropping their kids off at school. A view of police executing a search warrant on Fotis Dulo’s Jefferson Crossing home after he attempted to commit suicide on the property in January above

Michelle Troconis

Kent Mawhinney  and his lawyer leave Stamford Superior Court on Oct 19 2020 after he post bail on charges that he was connected to the disaapearance of Jennifer Dulos

Michelle Troconis, Fotis’ mistress (left), and his friend Kent Mawhinney (right), have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder

Her attorney Richard Weinstein said: ‘The sooner we can get to the closure of Dulos’ estate, the better it will be for everyone. The tragic truth of the matter is that Jennifer Dulos is dead.’

According to arrest warrants Fotis allegedly used an employee’s pick-up truck to drive to New Canaan where he was ‘lying in wait’ for Jennifer to return home after dropping their kids off at school.

Then later that night he and his then girlfriend Michelle Troconis were seen on surveillance video. He was allegedly seen dumping bags later determined to contain Jennifer’s blood and clothing.

Fotis’ girlfriend girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his attorney friend, Kent Mawhinney, have been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. 

Troconis also faces counts of evidence tampering in connection to Jennifer’s killing.    

TIMELINE OF THE FOTIS DULOS CASE 

2004: Fotis Dulos and Jennifer Farber get married. It is his second marriage 

In the same year, her father Hilliard starts loaning him money for his property business, Fore Group. 

2015: Fotis and Michelle Troconis start taking trips he paid for which he claimed were for business. They later start an affair. 

January 2017: Hilliard Farber dies 

March 2017: Gloria Farber takes over his estate 

June 2017: Jennifer files for divorce, saying she is afraid of her husband 

February 2018: Gloria Farber sues Fotis Dulos for unpaid loans 

May 24 2019: Jennifer vanishes after dropping off her five children at school 

June 2019: Fotis and Michelle Troconis  are arrested for evidence tampering

Gloria Farber files an order for custody of the children. 

House in Avon is briefly searched but not extensively. 

August 2019: Troconis ‘turns’ on Dulos in police interviews, admits she lied when she said she had an alibi for him 

September 2019: Fotis is arrested again for evidence tampering 

January 2020: Dulos and Troconis are charged with murder

January 28: Dulos is found unresponsive at his Farmington home 

January 30: Fotis dies in hospital 

June 11: Police search house in Avon, CT 

Categories
Entertainment UK

BBC Radio 1 hires first DJ with hearing loss as it unveils 33 new hosts

BBC Radio 1 is shaking up its presenting line-up over the festive period.

The station is planning to have 33 guest presenters take over – from Boxing Day until New Year’s Day – and one of the up and coming stars will be Radio 1’s first deaf or hard of hearing DJ.

Will Kirk, 22, from Sheffield – who is making station history – has severe to profound hearing loss in both ears and wears hearing aids.

He’ll be fronting the Guest mix for Radio 1’s Drum & Bass Show.

Will – who was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of seven months – revealed he is excited for the once in a lifetime opportunity as he said: “I am beyond thrilled! It is amazing to be able to share my Drum and Bass mix on such a powerhouse of music, broadcasting to the UK and beyond!”

Radio 1 has unveiled 33 new presenters

Speaking about his hearing loss and how he likes to joke about it, he shared: “Hurdles do present themselves, and as you can imagine being involved with music and nightlife, a few of these were encountered along the way.

“Let’s not forgot also my disability does very much have its benefits: I can probably get a better night’s sleep than most people. Anyone that knows me well knows I often make light of my hearing loss, as if I can’t do anything to change the circumstances, I may as well make a joke about it.”

A number of the hosts have taken an unconventional route to their first slot on Radio 1.

Jevanni Letford qualified as a lawyer before moving into a career in radio and music and is now the official tour DJ for KSI, and she will be covering Rickie, Melvin and Charlie’s show.

Will Kirk will be Radio 1’s first deaf or hard of hearing DJ

Danni Diston, originally from Cornwall, currently works as a teaching assistant at a school for children with special educational needs and will be fronting Radio 1’s Life Hacks.

Several of the presenters began their presenting journeys in student, local, community or hospital radio, including 24 year old Nels Hylton, who has previously volunteered at the University of Portsmouth’s Pure FM and at community station Transmission Roundhouse.

This Christmas, Nels will become the first Black presenter to host Radio 1’s Rock Show.

Also hailing from student and community radio are presenter, DJ and YouTuber Shay Sade, from Reprezent and No Signal Radio; Dean McCullough, who volunteered at Wandsworth Radio before landing a slot on Gaydio; and Ellen Macleod, who started volunteering at Bolton FM in 2017 before heading to university.

Ellen, who was born with mobility difficulties and uses a wheelchair, is a current student at the University of Salford where she manages student station Utter Radio, as well as co-hosting a podcast with two friends.

Radio 1 put out the call for presenters out back in October, asking for submissions from anyone with previous radio experience, be it in community, hospital, student or local radio.

The new roster have the chance to follow in the footsteps of the station’s current DJs including Greg James and Nick Grimshaw, who both started out presenting on student stations, Strictly Come Dancing star Clara Amfo, who began her career as a radio intern, and Annie Mac, who previously worked as assistant producer to Zane Lowe.

Aled Haydn Jones, head of BBC Radio 1, said: “We introduced this initiative in 2019 as a way of giving some new young presenters a chance to showcase their talent on a national level.

“One year on, it’s proven to be a fantastic springboard, with many of the presenters landing follow up gigs on Radio 1 and beyond. I can’t wait to hear our latest batch of presenters on-air over the festive period, and I look forward to seeing what 2021 has in store for them all.”

Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at[email protected] or call us direct 0207 29 33033.

Categories
Chicago Headline USA Politics

Witness at Giuliani’s election hearing in Michigan says ‘all Chinese look alike’

Witness at Giuliani’s election hearing in Michigan says ‘all Chinese look alike’ as she argues for voter IDs as contract worker claims she ‘saw ballots being removed from warehouse’

  • The witness made the assertion while at the Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday 
  • Two-day hearing featured several witnesses who claimed that they witnessed mass election fraud 
  • Woman advocated for voter ID requirements, claiming that people could otherwise say they were someone else and vote on their behalf 
  • Melissa Carone, a woman who claimed to have worked as a contractor for Dominion Voting System, said that she witnessed fraud at a warehouse
  • ‘I know for a fact that there was illegal activity going on there,’ Carone declared at the hearing 

One of Rudy Giuliani’s  witnesses speaking at the Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday claimed that ‘all Chinese look alike’ when advocating for voter ID requirement in the state. 

The woman’s comments follow a series of cringeworthy moments that have plagued Giuliani’s efforts to swing the election in favor for President Donald Trump by claiming that there was massive voter fraud in the election. 

‘The other representative said that you can actually show up and vote without an ID, it’s shocking. How can you allow that to happen.,’ the unidentified witness pondered during the hearing in Lansing.

‘A lot of people think all Indians look alike, I think all  Chinese look alike, so how would you tell?’

Scroll down for video 

The witness made the assertion about how ‘all Chinese look alike’ while at the Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday

The comment solicited light chuckles from others in the room before the woman continued with her point. 

‘If some child shows up you can be anybody and you can vote. And if somebody with my name, you can’t even tell my name, anyone can vote on my behalf. So ID should be the basic requirement,’ she concluded.

The woman’s incendiary remarks were not the only questionable moment from the two-day hearing. 

Additional clips feature Melissa Carone, a woman who claimed to have worked as a contractor for Dominion Voting System. 

The comment solicited light chuckles from others in the room before the woman continued advocating for voter ID requirements

The comment solicited light chuckles from others in the room before the woman continued advocating for voter ID requirements

President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani speaks during an appearance before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on December 2

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani speaks during an appearance before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on December 2

Carone explained during the hearing that while working as a contractor, workers were shuttled to a facility called the ‘Chicago warehouse’ where she witnessed a majority of the alleged fraud.  

‘I know for a fact that there was illegal activity going on there,’ Carone declared at the hearing, claiming that people had ‘pictures’ of boxes being carried out of the warehouse.

At one point during the hearing, Carone engaged in a tense exchange with GOP Rep. Steve Johnson when he questioned some of her allegations. She repeatedly referenced an affidavit that she signed as a means to give credence to her allegations. 

During Wednesday's hearing, former Dominion contractor Melissa Carone claimed that she had seen pictures of boxes with votes being taken out a warehouse

During Wednesday’s hearing, former Dominion contractor Melissa Carone claimed that she had seen pictures of boxes with votes being taken out a warehouse

‘I have an affidavit. I am a mother, I have two children, I have two degrees,’ she boasted. ‘I don’t know any woman in the world that would write an affidavit under oath just to write it. You can go to prison for this!’ 

Carone’s affidavit was included in the Michigan lawsuit that the Trump team filed in hopes of stopping the election certification of Wayne County, the Daily Beast reports. 

Not only was the request denied by a judge, but the same judge said that Carone’s allegations were ‘simply not credible.’ 

Categories
Headline USA

Bill Cosby has requested NOT to listen in on today’s hearing

Bill Cosby ‘never had a fair shot’ in a trial that ‘laid waste to the presumption of innocence,’ by allowing five prior ‘victims’ to testify and using the actor’s own words – given on the promise of immunity – against him.

These were the opening claims in the disgraced actor’s appeal against his 2018 sexual assault conviction, heard this morning in Pennsylvania State’s Supreme Court.

Speaking on Cosby’s behalf, attorney Jennifer Bonjean claimed that Montgomery County District Attorney’s office made a mockery of justice by ‘seeking to indict Mr Cosby’s entire life’ and telling the jury, ‘that he could not be believed’ because ‘he had done this so many times before.’

According to Bonjean the jury were ‘bombarded’ by irrelevant testimony that amounted to five ‘mini trials’ and admissions made by Cosby in two-decade old depositions given as part of a civil suit brought by accuser Andrea Constand and settled in 2006.

She said, ‘Mr Cosby suffered unquantifiable prejudice where the prior bad acts evidence overwhelmed the trial and converted it from a trial of a specific offence to a trial of his character.’  

Bill Cosby has requested not to have a radio or any audio to listen to proceedings Tuesday as lawyers argue for his sexual assault conviction to be overturned

DailyMail.com can reveal that the disgraced actor only wants to get the update and analysis of the proceedings directly from his lawyer Andrew Wyatt. 'He likes to call me so that I can give him a play-by-play of how things went and my overall analysis,' Wyatt told DailyMail.com

DailyMail.com can reveal that the disgraced actor only wants to get the update and analysis of the proceedings directly from his lawyer Andrew Wyatt. ‘He likes to call me so that I can give him a play-by-play of how things went and my overall analysis,’ Wyatt told DailyMail.com

Cosby has told prison authorities that he does not want to listen today as lawyers argue for his 2018 sexual assault conviction to be overturned, DailyMail.com can reveal.

Cosby was granted leave to appeal his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, 47, in June, when Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court sensationally overturned an earlier denial by the state’s Superior Court.

A recent bid to have the 83-year-old released on house arrest due to fear of Covid running rampant through the prison system ended in failure. Cosby is pictured in a mugshot from September

A recent bid to have the 83-year-old released on house arrest due to fear of Covid running rampant through the prison system ended in failure. Cosby is pictured in a mugshot from September 

Today’s proceedings are being conducted virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions and broadcast by the court on a livestream.

But, though they will be the subject of intense public interest, DailyMail.com has learned that the actor once beloved as ‘America’s Dad,’ will not be listening in.

Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Cosby’s spokesman and right-hand man, Andrew Wyatt revealed, ‘Mr Cosby will not be present, nor will he be monitoring what happens because he’s 100 per cent blind and the institution is in strict lockdown.

‘In actuality Mr Cosby prefers not to have access to listen to those court proceedings. He likes to call me so that I can give him a play-by-play of how things went and my overall analysis.’

He added, ‘Since he has been incarcerated, Mr Cosby has asked the prison not to provide him with a radio and/or television.’

The Supreme Court has agreed to review two aspects of the disgraced actor’s case. The seven judges will review Montgomery County Judge Steven T O’Neill’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify about long-ago encounters that never resulted in charges.

And they will review his decision to allow the jury to hear damning testimony from two-decade old depositions in which Cosby admitted to giving women Quaaludes to facilitate sex.

Both of these issues have been at the heart of the prosecution’s case since Cosby was charged on three felony sexual assault counts in 2015.

The admission of the ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses – Janice Baker-Kinney, Janice Dickinson, Chelan Lasha, Lise-Lotte Lublin and Heidi Thomas – all of whom testified to alleged assaults dating back thirty years was crucial to the prosecution’s case.

Testimony relating to prior alleged crimes is only allowed in Pennsylvania if it demonstrates a signature pattern of abuse, but its inclusion is rare.

And Judge O’Neill has never explained why he allowed five women to testify in the second Cosby trial after allowing only one to do so at his first trial in 2017, though his change of heart came after a year in which the #MeToo movement exploded in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

In June, Cosby was granted leave to appeal his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, 47

In June, Cosby was granted leave to appeal his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, 47

Janice Dickinson

Chelan Lasha

Janice Dickinson (left) and Chelan Lasha (right) were previously brought in as ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses 

The seven Supreme Court Justices grilled Bonjean for close to thirty minutes during which she held firm on the appeal’s contentions that Cosby’s deposition should never have been admitted as it was given under an agreement of immunity from prosecution and that none of the five ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses had any relevance to Constand’s case.

The main difference, according to Bonjean, was that unlike the other women Constand had, ‘an 18-month relationship built on friendship.’

But when it came to the Commonwealth’s rebuttal of Cosby’s points of appeal attorney Adrianne Jappe did not get through her opening comments before the judges began interrupting and interrogating her on the relevance of the five prior bad acts witnesses.

Justice Dougherty pointed out that one of the women – Lise-Lotte Lublin – had ‘no actual recollection of sexual contact’ but merely of losing consciousness.

Justice Donohoe was blunter, demanding, ‘What are you describing? A signature crime? The assault that took place here took place in the defendant’s home after an 18-month relationship with Miss Constand, after meeting her mother, after going on trips with her. If you’re talking about a signature, you’d better incorporate all of the facts that we have in this case that’s on trial. Because frankly I don’t see it.’

And Justice Baer stated that there was a compelling argument, ‘that this defendant did not get a fair trial,’ thanks to the inclusion of so many prior bad acts witnesses that turned the trial into a case that was as much about whether he had committed the other ‘crimes’ as a question of his guilt or innocence in relation to Constand.

Similarly, the case against Cosby leaned heavily on the former actor and comedian’s own words in depositions given in 2005 and 2006 and quoted at length in court.

In these Cosby admitted to giving women Quaaludes when he wanted sex, claiming that it was as habitual and harmless as offering a glass of wine. He also admitted that he never took any himself as he wished to remain lucid.

Cosby’s legal team led by Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau and co-counsel Kathleen Bliss fought unsuccessfully to have the prior bad acts witnesses blocked and to have Cosby’s depositions struck from the record.

The seven judges will review Montgomery County Judge Steven T O'Neill's decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify about long-ago encounters that never resulted in charges

The seven judges will review Montgomery County Judge Steven T O’Neill’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify about long-ago encounters that never resulted in charges

Cosby maintains that the depositions, which were given as part of a civil suit brought by Constand, were done on condition of an agreement made by Montgomery County’s then District Attorney, Bruce Castor that he would never face criminal charges.

Today it fell to attorney Robert Falin to argue that the deposition was fairly introduced into the trial.

But, like his colleague Jappe, Falin barely made it through his opening comments before the judges were on him.

Justice Wecht asked what message it sent out if they ‘validated’ his argument, ‘that your office’s word is not their bond?’

He pointed out, ‘A sitting DA (Bruce Castor) made a decision memorialized in a press statement. You don’t like that as a successor’s office, but why does that not bind you?’

He enters his appeal with a new legal team headed by Brian Perry and Kristen Weisenberger from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania law firm Perry, Shore and Weisenberger. Attorney Jennifer Bonjean will be making oral arguments on behalf of Cosby.

Speaking earlier today, Cosby’s spokesman Wyatt told DailyMail.com that their ‘overall objective,’ is to, ‘persuade the justices that Mr Cosby had ‘immunity’ and he should never have been brought to trial.’ 

He explained, ‘Mr Cosby sat for a civil deposition for four days and he never invoked the Fifth Amendment. If Mr Cosby had been told and/or the deposition given in knowledge that the promise made by Montgomery County District Attorney was not binding he would never have relied on the agreement made by MCDA to his detriment.’

Wyatt added that if the Supreme Court does not vacate Mr Cosby’s conviction then they are asking that they rule that the prior bad acts witnesses ‘should never have been associated with the criminal case.’

He said that such a ruling would, ‘warrant Mr Cosby to get a new trial.’

Cosby has been housed in Pennsylvania’s new maximum security state prison known as SCI Phoenix for two years now. He was sentenced to serve three to ten years per count and could be eligible for parole next year if he enrolls in the prison’s sexual offender rehabilitation program.

Cosby's legal team led by Michael Jackson's lawyer, Thomas Mesereau (left) and co-counsel Kathleen Bliss (right) fought unsuccessfully to have the prior bad acts witnesses blocked and to have Cosby's depositions struck from the record

Cosby’s legal team led by Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau (left) and co-counsel Kathleen Bliss (right) fought unsuccessfully to have the prior bad acts witnesses blocked and to have Cosby’s depositions struck from the record

Brian Perry

Kristen Weisenberger

Cosby enters his appeal with a new legal team headed by Brian Perry and Kristen Weisenberger from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania law firm Perry, Shore and Weisenberger

But, according to Wyatt, Cosby would rather remain in prison than admit guilt to the sexual encounter with Constant that he maintains was consensual.

A recent bid to have the 83-year-old released on house arrest due to fear of Covid running rampant through the prison system ended in failure.

In April Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf revealed a plan to ‘temporarily relieve’ at-risk inmates which sparked speculation that Cosby could be freed. But any hope was dashed as the Department of Corrections stated sex-offenders would not be considered.

Last year, DailyMail.com revealed that Cosby has not seen his wife of 56 years, Camille, 76, since he entered prison close to two years ago.

But she has been a fierce advocate for her husband and harsh critic of all of his many accusers slamming them as racially motivated liars and comparing her husband’s case to that of Emmet Till.

Her sentiments were echoed by Cosby spokesman Wyatt as he welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision in June, saying, ‘As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him – it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America.’

The court could rule today but a decision is more likely to take several months.