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    Sarah Silbiger/Pool/CNP/Zuma Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Months after Texas Republicans approved gerrymandered redistricting maps that diluted the voting power of communities of color, the Justice Department is suing the state for violating the Voting Rights Act. As my colleague Ari Berman wrote, Texas’ new election maps increase the number of districts with white majorities—even though 95 percent of the state’s population growth in the last decade has come from communities of color. This gerrymandering is a brazen attempt to cement Republican dominance in the state despite demographic change: The maps consolidate white power as the white population is shrinking as a percentage of the state, and eliminate political competition at a time when longtime GOP strongholds are trending blue. The number of safe GOP seats would double in the new congressional maps, from 11 to 22, and the number of competitive districts would fall from 12 to just one. GOP candidates for Congress received 53 percent of the statewide vote in 2020, but are forecasted to control 65...
              more   Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) officials said Sunday that they have confirmed the first case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant in the state. “The individual recently traveled from South Africa and developed mild symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Genomic sequencing confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant,” DPH officials said in an emailed press release. “The individual is isolating at home and contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts at risk of infection. This is the first identified in-state case of Omicron. DPH was notified December 3 of a Georgia resident currently in New Jersey who tested positive for the Omicron variant. Scientists continue to study the Omicron variant to determine how quickly and easily it spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well the current COVID vaccines protect against it.” Facts surrounding the Omicron variant are emerging day-by-day. A report indicates that 70 countries have imposed travel restrictions from hot zones in Africa and a growing number of countries outside of Africa are reporting cases. Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, said she worries that the new variant may have an impact on...
    As Ethiopia heads towards a potential collapse, the Biden administration worries the situation will turn into another Afghanistan, Axios reported. The government of Ethiopia has called on its citizens to arm themselves as rebels make their way towards the capital, Addis Ababa, Axios reported. The rebels are reportedly from the Tigray region, where concerns have risen about ethnic cleansing and the use of starvation by the government as a tactic of war. State Department officials have issued multiple advisories and held numerous briefings in an attempt to avoid a fallout similar to the evacuation from Afghanistan, Axios reported. Non-emergency staff was ordered to leave the country in early November, a move which the administration hopes will prevent the need for an airlift like the one required in Kabul. “There are no plans to fly the U.S. military into Ethiopia to facilitate evacuations or replicate the contingency effort we recently undertook in Afghanistan, which was a unique situation for many reasons,” a senior State Department official told reporters in a briefing Monday. A member of the Ethiopian Federal Forces holds a...
    Donald Trump's former spokeswoman at the State Department has taken House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff to task again for his promotion of a dossier used to discredit the former president. Morgan Ortagus was a guest host on The View on Tuesday, and grilled Schiff for his enthusiastic embrace of the discredited document. He dodged her questions, with Ortagus also since taking to Fox News, where she blamed Schiff's enthusiasm for the dossier's widespread coverage in liberal media outlets, and revealed her nerves at getting to confront him on the popular show.  Speaking on Fox News Wednesday, Ortagus said: 'I will say that in the moment, I'll confess, my hands were shaking a little because I knew it was just incredibly important in that moment to be able to hold him accountable, not for the Republican Party but for everybody who wants to seek truth and justice.' She said that Schiff was so 'obsessed' with stopping Trump that he took shortcuts and politicized the intelligence community.   Fox News Network Privacy Policy 'I think the big problem is that we always knew...
    The Oklahoma National Guard will not enforce the US Defense Department's Covid-19 vaccine mandate after a change in commanding officers.  Army Brigadier General Thomas Mancino will be the new adjutant general, Governor Kevin Stitt said. He has yet to be confirmed by the state senate.   His predecessor, Army Major General Michael Thompson, said that he found out he'd lost his job via social media.  Thompson was scheduled to transition out of the job in favor of Mancino on January 15, but these changes will now take place as soon as possible.   Thompson is a public supporter of the vaccines, and posted a picture of himself receiving a COVID booster shot in late October on Twitter.  Army Brigadier General Thomas Mancino (pictured right) replaces Army Major General Michael Thompson, who found out he'd lost his job via social media Governor Kevin Stitt (pictured above) announced that Mancino would be taking over two months earlier than previously expected Mancino sent out a memo on his first day on the job saying the state would not enforce Covid-19 vaccine mandates He was asked...
    The US embassy compound in Yemen has been overrun by Iran-backed Houthi rebels who also took a number of Yemeni employees there hostage, the State Department confirmed on Thursday. Biden administration officials are demanding the insurgents release all the staff they took prisoner there as well as the equipment they took and that they vacate the property immediately.  'We are concerned that Yemeni staff of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a continue to be detained without explanation and we call for their immediate release. The United States has been unceasing in its diplomatic efforts to secure their release,' a State Department spokesperson told DailyMail.com. The official said the majority of them have already been set free but that 'the Houthis continue to detain additional Yemeni employees of the Embassy.' 'We are also concerned about the breach of the compound that had been used by our Embassy prior to our suspension of operations in 2015. We call on the Houthis to immediately vacate it and return all seized property,' they said. 'The U.S. government will continue its diplomatic efforts to secure the...
    PORTSMOUTH – After more than four years of planning and construction, the Front Street multi-use path is officially open to the public. A ribbon cutting was held prior to last Wednesday’s Business After Hours event. Representatives from the city government, the Ohio Department of Transportation, Shawnee State University, Connex, Portsmouth Murals Inc., and Main Street Portsmouth came together to celebrate the grand opening. Senator from Senator Sherrod Brown and Representatives Terry Johnson and Brad Wenstrup were also in attendance. Wendi Waugh, President of Connex, kicked off the festivities by holding up an article published in 2014 that stated ‘no clear and easy path exists for health conscience outdoor enthusiasts who want to take in the sights of the City while walking, running, or cycling.’ “Today, that changes!” exclaimed Waugh. “This path goes all the way through campus,” explained Shawnee State President Jeff Bauer. “We are so pleased that Shawnee State is connected with this pathway that leads all the way down the murals to Alexandria Point Park. It’s going to be a great asset to the community.” The path was...
    To report this story, The Times filed a public records request for information about bike stops that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies made from 2017 through the end of July. More than 44,000 stops made in that time period were recorded in the department’s database as bike stops. The department provided data on each stop, including the race of the cyclist, the location of the stop, the reason for the stop and the type of search conducted, if any. Latinos made up 70% of bike riders stopped by sheriff’s deputies during that time, The Times’ analysis found. To put this figure into context, reporters compared it with the 51% share of the Latino population in the sheriff’s patrol area, according to an analysis of U.S. census data. That bike stop rate was also compared with an estimated 53% share of Latinos involved in bike accidents in the department’s jurisdiction from 2014 to 2018, according to an analysis of crash data from the California Highway Patrol and from the Transportation Injury Mapping System at UC Berkeley. To calculate total bike...
                      by Kendall Tietz  The Virginia Education Department promotes pro-Critical Race Theory books despite claims from state officials, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, that the curricula is not taught in its public schools. The state’s Department of Education (DOE) promotes pro-Critical Race Theory (CRT) content on its “What We Are Reading” tab on its website, which compiles a list of resources from the Office of Equity and Community Engagement to recommend reading and develop its own work, Fox News first reported. The list includes titles such as “Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education” that “acts to further spur developments in education policy, critical pedagogy, and social justice, making it a crucial resource for students and educators alike,” according to its description. CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies. Despite contrary evidence from the state’s DOE, McAuliffe has repeatedly claimed that...
    The state’s Department of Education (DOE) promotes pro-Critical Race Theory (CRT) content on its “What We Are Reading” tab on its website, which compiles a list of resources from the Office of Equity and Community Engagement to recommend reading and develop its own work, Fox News first reported. Despite contrary evidence from the state’s DOE, Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has repeatedly claimed that CRT is not and has never been taught in the state’s public schools. Last week, he said parents’ concern regarding controversial topics, such as CRT, is a “divisive tactic” completely generated by his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin. “Teachers need to be taught how to question Whiteness and White supremacy, how to check and deal with their White emotions of guilt and anger, and how these all impact their classrooms,” the book reads. “Teachers must demand the end of high-stakes testing and the yelling of slogans at dark children, such as ‘knowledge is power,’ ‘work hard,’ ‘be nice,’ and ‘no excuses,’ because all you need is grit.” The Virginia Education Department promotes pro-Critical Race...
    PASSPORTS are known as official governmental documents that help people travel under their country's protection to and from foreign lands. On October 27, 2021, it was announced the United States government has issued the first passport with X as the gender marker. 2US Passports will now allow citizens to put X as their gender What is X gender? In terms of gender, "X" indicates that a person's gender is unspecified. This is a typical classification for those who identify as nonbinary or those who don't identify as either male or female. The term has become more popular over the years as LGBTQ+ communities fight for equality. What is the X gender marker on US passports? On October 27, the U.S. Department of State issued a press release announcing the first ever passport with the X gender marker, meaning that their gender is not listed as male or female. "The Department of State continues the process of updating its policies regarding gender markers on U.S. passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs) to better serve all...
    REUTERS/Brendan McDermidHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffI have long since fallen off the wagon of viewing the United States system of government as a fully functioning democracy. In a fully functioning democracy, every citizen would have equal representation. But the U.S. Senate, which gives fully equal power to two senators from Wyoming (population 581,075) and two from California (population 39,613,493), plus the District of Columbia (zero representation in the Senate, population 692,683) is not only deeply violative of the fundamental principle of equal representation of all citizens, but is the one and only provision of the Constitution that the Constitution itself says can never be amended (see Article V, last clause). There are other examples of undemocratic features of the Constitution, including the Electoral College system that gives candidates (like George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016, that’s twice in the past six elections) the ability to win the presidency while losing the popular vote. Article continues after advertisement The very smart U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff didn’t bring up either of those features, but brought up several...
    Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said that the agency has seen an increase in "lateral trooper applications" over the past year, and Betsey Holley, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Corrections, said that of the state's 1,064 positions for correctional officers, all but 95 have either been filled or offered to applicants. “If you read some of the posts that are on our Facebook page, there have been people that have responded to (a recruitment) Facebook post saying, 'Oh, do you mandate vaccines?' It's just interesting that that's the way people are thinking. But yes, we'll welcome their applications if they want to apply," she said by phone Thursday. McDaniel added, “The Alaska State Troopers are not running any targeted advertising addressing COVID-19 or the vaccine mandates occurring across the nation at the local, state and federal level. We would encourage any qualified applicant looking for an exciting career in law enforcement to consider a career with the Alaska State Troopers."
    The State Department has helped “at least 129 U.S. citizens” leave Afghanistan since the U.S. left the country on Aug. 31, a State Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller. President Joe Biden’s administration has been evasive in revealing exactly how many Americans were left behind in the Taliban-controlled country after America withdrew its troops in August. Secretary of State Antony Blinken first said – during his speech announcing the end of America’s military operation in Afghanistan at the end of August – that “under 200, and likely closer to 100” remained in the country and wished to leave. That same day, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said that the amount of Americans left were in the “very low hundreds,” and Biden echoed similar estimations during his remarks on the drawdown. Meanwhile, several thousand U.S. green card holders remained stranded in Afghanistan as of mid-September, Blinken told Congress at the time. A State Department spokesperson said that, as of Monday, the department had also helped 115 lawful permanent residents depart Afghanistan since Aug. 31, bringing the estimated number to around 244 people. (RELATED: ‘They...
    CHICAGO (CBS) — Their refunds from the State of Illinois are approved, but for nearly a year, some unemployment claimants have been waiting on the money they are owed. It is an issue that CBS 2’s Tara Molina has been tracking nonstop. On Wednesday night, she was asking the state – where’s the refund? READ MORE: Two Chicago Police Officers Shot Near Gas Station In West Suburban LyonsPandemic Unemployment Assistance claimant Bobbie Taylor received a letter that meant everything to her. It read, “You have met the requirements for waiver of your overpayment recovery.” “There’s so much we’ve gone without,” Taylor said. She was out thousands of dollars, and she thought the letter meant she would see that money back in her account soon. But it didn’t. “I’m told now I have to wait,” Taylor said. And she has been waiting for months on money she needs to catch up. “I’m behind on everything,” Taylor said. Taylor is one of thousands approved for an overpayment waiver, and a refund, by the state. The waivers were made possible through federal relief,...
    Michigan is writing letters to former teachers encouraging them to come back to the classroom amid a nationwide teacher shortage. The state’s Department of Education is asking those with teaching certificates to complete a survey if they are “interested in being contacted by school districts to consider vacancies,” according to one letter. The letter, signed by State Superintendent Michael F. Rice, said that the shortage is nationwide, not just in Michigan. This is where destructive education policy, pay freezes, & diminishing benefits/pensions has gotten us. Michigan used to be a top 10 state for education, now retired teachers can’t even sub. This teacher shortage is a decade in the making and it’s disastrous. pic.twitter.com/lNkbqmIH2G — Rep. Matt Koleszar (@koleszar_matt) October 19, 2021 The letter also includes a Malala Yousafzai quote, “one child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” There are currently more than 185,000 people with a valid teaching license, but just over 86,000 are currently employed in a teaching position, according to a data report from the Michigan Department of Education. Additionally, 52%...
                      by Sebastian Hughes  State Department evacuation flights out of Afghanistan will resume by the end of the year, a senior State Department official told The Wall Street Journal. The operation to retrieve U.S. citizens and Afghan allies left behind will require coordination with the Taliban and other governments, the official told The Wall Street Journal. Kabul’s international airport remains closed to regular passenger travel since the U.S. ended its first evacuation attempt on Aug. 31. U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents and immediate family members will receive priority treatment in securing seats on evacuation flights, the official said. The State Department is hoping to eventually have several aircraft leave the country each week. Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants will be eligible for American evacuation flights, but they will need to complete most of the SIV vetting process, according to the official. Other Afghans at risk, such as female judges or government workers, will not qualify under the department’s current plan. A date to resume the evacuation has not yet been set by the State...
    State Department evacuation flights out of Afghanistan will resume by the end of the year, a senior State Department official told The Wall Street Journal. The operation to retrieve U.S. citizens and Afghan allies left behind will require coordination with the Taliban and other governments, the official told The Wall Street Journal. Kabul’s international airport remains closed to regular passenger travel since the U.S. ended its first evacuation attempt on Aug. 31. U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents and immediate family members will receive priority treatment in securing seats on evacuation flights, the official said. The State Department is hoping to eventually have several aircraft leave the country each week. Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants will be eligible for American evacuation flights, but they will need to complete most of the SIV vetting process, according to the official. Other Afghans at risk, such as female judges or government workers, will not qualify under the department’s current plan. (RELATED: REPORT: Mosque Explosion Kills Dozens In Afghanistan) Evacuees from Afghanistan arrive at Hamad International Airport in Qatar’s capital Doha on September 10, 2021....
    SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – State Senate Republican Leader, Scott Wilk, is demanding answers from the Department of Public Health following an ongoing CBS13 investigation into shocking public health failures at the state’s $1.7 billion COVID testing lab. Following CBS13’s initial whistleblower investigation, the state said it would make it’s investigation public by mid-March. Now, seven months later, the state says “the investigation is ongoing” as problems continue at the lab and the  $1.7 billion no-bid lab contract is set to renew at the end of the month.  The contract with PerkinElmer requires the lab to return COVID results in 24-48 hours and process up to 100,000 tests per day. But now at its peak, the lab is processing about a quarter of that and is ranked among the slowest COVID labs in the state. According to CDPH, more than 1300 schools and districts are now contracted with the lab, which has a history of school quarantines linked to false positive and delayed results. State Secrets After CBS13 exposed tens of thousands of inconclusive COVID tests coming out of the state’s new...
    "The Texas Department of Public Safety is committed to securing our southern border," the agency reportedly replied in an email. "While the department does not discuss operational specifics, we continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds in order to make real-time decisions and will adjust operations as necessary." Reports of the caravan come just weeks after disaster played out in Del Rio, Texas, when approximately 15,000 Haitian migrants gathered under a bridge near the Rio Grande and clashed with border agents. Texas DPS took action during the crisis in Del Rio in response to the federal government's failure to handle the situation. Working together with the Texas National Guard, the department deployed thousands of squad cars and state troopers to line the border area and create a barricade. Under the Biden administration, roughly 200,000 migrants have crossed the border each month, and tens of thousands of migrants have been released directly into the U.S., presumably with court dates. The unraveling situation continues to put state and local border populations at risk.
    State Department representatives met with Taliban leaders on Sunday, and spokesman Ned Price praised the talks as 'candid and professional.'  'The discussions were candid and professional with the U.S. delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words.'  In its meeting in Doha, Qatar, Price said: 'The U.S. delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society.'  The US also agreed to offer humanitarian provisions to the desperately poor country, though only 'directly to the Afghan people,' rather than through leadership.    The State Department ahead of the talks assured that they did not represent any steps toward formal recognition of the Islamist group as Afghanistan's leaders.  'The discussions were candid and professional with the U.S. delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words,' the State Department, led by Sec. Antony Blinken, said about talks with the...
    Harold Hongju Koh.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Less than two weeks after the US special envoy for Haiti resigned in response to the “inhumane” deportation of Haitians arriving at the Southern border, a senior State Department official has also quit, decrying the Biden administration’s continued use of a Trump-era policy known as Title 42. In an internal memo from October 2 obtained by Politico, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh described Title 42 as a “badly flawed policy,” which relies on a public health authority to summarily expel migrants save for a few exceptions. Its existence, he argued, “continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (‘refouler’) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti,” a country he describes as a “humanitarian nightmare.” The “illegal and inhumane” Title 42 expulsions, Koh continued, are “not worthy of this Administration I so strongly support.” He urged the administration “to do everything in your power to revise this policy, especially as it affects Haitians, into one that...
    Harold Koh, a senior adviser and a political appointe to the State Department's legal team, resigned and blamed Biden's 'inhumane' treatment of migrants A top adviser at the State Department resigned and criticized President Joe Biden's administration for its 'inhumane' treatment of migrants, a new report revealed on Monday. Harold Koh, a senior adviser and a political appointe to the State Department's legal team, blasted the administration for its harsh treatment of migratins through its use of Title 42, a Donald Trump era policy that allows them to bar people from entering the country during a health crisis. Koh called the policy 'illegal,' 'inhumane' and 'not worthy of this Administration that I so strongly support,' in an October 2 legal memo obtained by Politico. 'I believe this Administration's current implementation of the Title 42 authority continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return ('refouler') individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti,' the memo notes. He added that 'lawful, more humane alternatives plainly exist.' White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Title 42, saying...
    SAN ANTONIO (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — In court on October 1, a federal judge questioned the enforcement mechanism of Texas’ six-week abortion ban and asked whether the law made private citizens “a proxy for the state to insulate the state from the sort of judicial oversight that would exist.” US District Judge Robert Pitman is holding a virtual hearing Friday to consider the Justice Department’s request, in its lawsuit challenging the abortion ban, for a preliminary injunction blocking the law. The law’s design has stymied previous attempts by clinics to block it. READ MORE: Arlington Police Investigate Murder Of Transgender Woman“My obvious question to you,” Pitman asked Texas’ attorney Friday, “if the state is so confident in the constitutionality of the limitations on women’s access to abortion, why did it go to great lengths to create this unusual cause of action rather than doing it directly?” “I don’t think the state went to particularly unusual great lengths here,” said Will Thompson of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office. Rather than task government officials with enforcing the ban, the Texas legislature deputized private...
    A newly declassified State Department report has suggested that the recorded noises linked to the earliest cases of Havana Syndrome were caused by crickets. The 2018 report to the Trump administration does not propose that crickets caused the documented medical symptoms of the mysterious affliction, which more recent research blames on microwave weapons. But the report makes clear that recordings from the US Embassy in Cuba actually captured native crickets and are likely unrelated to whatever caused the symptoms, according to a copy of the report released to BuzzFeed News.  'We believe the recorded sounds are mechanical or biological in origin, rather than electronic. The most likely source is the Indies short-tailed cricket,' says the 2018 report written by the JASON advisory group, an elite scientific board that reviews US national security concerns. However, it goes on to note: 'It cannot be ruled out that the perceived sounds, while not harmful, are introduced by an adversary as deception so as to mask an entirely unrelated mode of causing illness in diplomatic personnel.' 'The objective medical evidence that the suffering experienced...
    By The Associated Press SEATTLE — A Washington state trooper who helped develop the agency’s use of drones has died after a battle with COVID-19 contracted on duty. The Washington State Patrol said Detective Eric Gunderson died Sunday surrounded by his family and friends. He was 38. Gunderson frequently traveled around the country to speak about the state patrol’s use of drones. The patrol said he contracted COVID-19 on one of those trips. Gunderson helped investigate the 2017 Amtrak derailment in DuPont and his work is credited with reopening roads more quickly after crashes. He is survived by a wife and two sons. Gunderson’s death is the first line of duty death for the agency since it marked its 100th anniversary a few weeks ago, Chief John Batiste said. “How I had hoped our second century of service would be more forgiving. But serving the public, as we do, has inherent dangers and this pandemic has been a foe to our agency and indeed our state and nation,” he said. Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted his condolences to Gunderson’s family, friends...
    (CNN)Sears will shut the doors on its last department store in Illinois come fall; the state in which its first retail store opened in 1925.The Sears department store in the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, will close on November 14. Store closures are expected to hit a five-year low. But its not all good newsTransformco, which acquired Sears Holdings after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2018, confirmed its plans to redevelop the property."We intend to reinvigorate and maximize the value of the real estate while enhancing the consumer experience with popular retailers that fit the regional draw of Woodfield Mall," said Scott Carr, president of Real Estate for Transformco.Transformco said the company is focused on growing sears.com and the Sears Home Services business.Read More"This is part of the company's strategy to unlock the value of the real estate and pursue the highest and best use for the benefit of the local community," Larry Costello, Transformco's public relations director said in a statement.Sears will still have a presence in Illinois. There are 11 Sears Hometown Stores in the...
    Frustration on Capitol Hill with the State Department continues to mount, as Americans and Afghan allies remain stranded in Afghanistan more than two weeks after the U.S. completed its withdrawal from the country.  A call between State Department staffers and congressional staffers on Wednesday quickly grew tense, as staffers from both parties grew exasperated with the agency's responses to their questions about Afghanistan evacuations, congressional sources tell Fox News.  "The general take was extreme frustration by the Hill staffers about all the questions they asked not having strong answers," one source on the call told Fox News.  STATE DEPARTMENT OBSTRUCTION OF PRIVATE RESCUE FLIGHTS FROM AFGHANISTAN REVEALED IN LEAKED EMAIL The State Department has told congressional offices to dial back the calls and emails they're sending to the agency about Americans and Afghan allies they're trying to get out of the country, two senior Hill staffers told Fox News.  The staffers spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing already contentious relationships with the State Department. "This is an emergency to the Americans being held hostage. This is an emergency...
    Gerlda B. Hines, State Accounting Officer and Candice Broce, Commissioner of the Department of Human Services & Director of the Division of Family and Children Services. Governor Brian P. Kemp administered the oath of office to Gerlda B. Hines to serve as State Accounting Officer and Candice Broce to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services. Commissioner Broce will also serve as Director of the Division of Family and Children Services. “I am proud to appoint Gerlda B. Hines to serve as our new State Accounting Officer,” said Governor Kemp. “She has a wealth of experience and is a respected, valued leader in state government. I am confident she will continue to maintain the long-standing tradition of conservative fiscal management that enables Georgia’s AAA bonding and status as the top state for business.” “Candice Broce is a great fit to lead the Department of Human Services and the Division of Family and Children Services,” said Governor Kemp. “Given her experience serving in numerous leadership roles in my administration and her demonstrated...
    The U.S. ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in August, and the federal government is now preparing to relocate thousands of Afghan refugees in a number of swing states. President Joe Biden is planning to ask Congress for funding to bring around 95,000 people from Afghanistan to the U.S. in total, The Hill reported. A senior administration official said the funding would be used to help bring 65,000 people by the end of September, and an additional 30,000 people over the course of one year. The Department of Defense (DOD) has been preparing for up to 30,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to be housed at U.S. Army bases such as Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for security and health screenings in order to vet the incoming refugees. The White House informed governors and mayors Wednesday that the first group of refugees — numbered at around 37,000 — are expected to be resettled in the coming weeks. California will receive the largest number at around 5,300 refugees, and...
    Newly unredacted records from a whistleblower complaint in the State Department have shed light on more allegations against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of his former staff. According to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pompeo and others were accused of misconduct. The publication reports: "The alleged misconduct included false or misleading statements to the agency's legal department, misuse of government resources on personal and political activities potentially prohibited by the Hatch Act, verbal abuse of employees by Mike and Susan Pompeo and directives to staff not to communicate in writing in order to evade transparency laws." The unredacted documents come two years after the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was filed with the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is said to have excluded many of the previous redactions in the version of the documents released to CREW. "The complaint alleges “[s]everal senior career Foreign Service officials who held positions of responsibility within the Executive Secretariat” turned a blind eye to Pompeo’s “questionable activities”...
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a call for diplomats “to try and see around the corner” to identify emerging threats. The somber message was one of several 9/11-themed addresses delivered by U.S. officials Friday and came as America faces a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda terrorists were once given safe harbor to plan the historic attack on U.S. soil. “Part of our responsibility as diplomats is to perpetually reflect on how we engage with the rest of the world and to ask some very basic questions: Are we making our nation safer, more secure? Are we advancing our interests? Are we living up to our values?” Blinken said at the State Department. Those remarks came at what the administration hopes is a transitional moment, less than two weeks after the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Blinken acknowledged the “13 men and women who were killed in a terrorist attack a few weeks ago as we brought that war to an end,” in addition to more than 2,600 other...
    (CNN)In its lawsuit challenging Texas six-week abortion ban, the Justice Department is throwing a Hail Mary pass to get over the procedural stumbling backs that have thwarted other attempts to block the ban in court. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court in Austin, relies on a novel strategy in seeking to halt enforcement of the ban, which was designed specifically with the goal of evading review of federal courts. The arguments that the Justice Department is presenting on the merits -- that the law violates Supreme Court constitutional precedent on abortion rights -- are on solid ground. But the question is whether its lawsuit can get around the same procedural issues that doomed the earlier federal lawsuit brought by abortion clinics.Read more What to know about the developing state court fight over Texas' abortion law Supreme Court ruling on Texas law was the result of decades of pressure from anti-abortion groups to shape the court Here's what the Supreme Court's order means for the future of Roe v. Wade RELATED: Stephen Breyer calls Supreme Court decision on...
    Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images Federal unemployment benefits lapsed on Labor Day. But there's good news for Americans who've been waiting weeks or months for that aid to arrive: They can still collect back pay past the cutoff date. Workers who haven't yet applied for the federal assistance can still do so, but many have less than 30 days to act. Delayed unemployment benefits have been a common occurrence during the Covid-19 pandemic. State unemployment offices have contended with hurdles such as a historic volume of claims, understaffing, antiquated technology, elevated levels of fraud and implementation of new rules and programs. Data suggests thousands of people may still be waiting for aid to arrive. About 19% of applicants — or about 104,000 people — whose first payment of state benefits arrived in July had waited at least 70 days to receive the funds, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. (By comparison, less than 1% waited that long before the pandemic.)Back payHowever, states will still disburse any federal benefits owed to eligible applicants. Those now-expired benefits...
    President Joe Biden's administration will allow Afghan children to stay with the adult they arrived with in the United States - to avoid unaccompanied minors going into custody.   CNN reported Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services put out guidance over the weekend that laid out ways to avoid Afghan childen being separated from caregivers.  The report comes after the Associated Press reported last week that a number of Afghan men entered the U.S. with underage 'brides,' with officials seeking guidance on how to handle this dynamic.   Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with an Afghan refugee family at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Wednesday  Afghan refugees are captured arriving at Washington Dulls International Airport last week. New Health and Human Services guidance is instructing officials to keep Afghan children with the adults they entered the U.S. with  'Intake staff at Fort McCoy reported multiple cases of minor females who presented as "married" to adult Afghan men, as well as polygamous families,' a document obtained by the AP warned. 'Department of State has requested urgent guidance.' ...
    The State Department refused to green light a number of privately chartered flights out of Afghanistan that could have evacuated US citizens and Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, leaked emails reportedly show.  Military lawyer and retired Marine Eric Montalvo shared the communications with Fox after he organized some of the flights and now claims the federal government thwarted his rescue effort. The leaked emails show State officials refusing to allow Montalvo's privately paid for flights to use US property either inside the country or at one of its many overseas bases, after the Biden administration pledged to do whatever it can to rescue all Americans and as many Afghan allies as possible.  'No independent charters are allowed' at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar,' an email from September 1 says. 'In fact, no charters are allowed to land at an [sic] DoD base and most if not all countries in the Middle Eastern region, with the exception of perhaps Saudi Arabia will allow charters to land.' Secretary of State Blinken tours the refugee processing center at Al Udeid Air...
    Americans involved in the private evacuation of U.S. citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies left stranded in Afghanistan by the Biden administration reportedly blame baffling delays from the U.S. State Department for preventing rescue flights from leaving the country. Meanwhile, the State Department reportedly asserted that it is the Taliban jihadis who refuse to give several charter flights carrying American citizens and green card holders permission to leave. On Sunday, Fox News reported that it spoke to three individuals involved in the private evacuation efforts who blame the State Department for blocking rescue flights from leaving Afghanistan, including two who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing the rescue operations. One of the anonymous sources reportedly suggested the State Department’s obstruction is fueled in part by “embarrassment that private individuals are rescuing Americans whom the U.S. government left behind.” A U.S. soldier holds a sign indicating a gate is closed as hundreds of people gather some holding documents, near an evacuation control checkpoint on the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021....
    Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) bashed the State Department by accusing them of politically profiting off of his efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan by land after first refusing to help him. Mullin has drawn a great deal of media attention lately due to his attempts last month to fly into Afghanistan and assist people fleeing the country over the Taliban’s takeover. The congressman is disputing reports claiming that he “threatened” the U.S. embassy in Tajikistan into helping him, and he has defended himself from those who criticized his trip as a risky show of political grandstanding. CNN’s Brianna Keilar spoke to Mullin Tuesday on New Day, where she focused on the State Department’s claim that they just got an American woman and her three children out of Afghanistan. This is supposedly the first time that Americans have been able to leave the country by a land route since the Taliban seized control. Mullin began by describing how he received a request for help from the woman, so he worked with a non-profit to try flying into Kabul and rescuing her...
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department is doing "accountings on the back end" as Afghan evacuees arrive in the United States while some raise concerns about the vetting process.  Blinken, during a press conference in Qatar, said the Biden administration focused on getting as many individuals out of Kabul and planned to focus on a vetting process after safely evacuating Afghanistan.  "In our effort to get as many people out as fast as we can while we had the airport functioning, we focused on doing just that," Blinken said, adding that State Department officials are "doing accountings on the back end as people arrive in the United States."  BIDEN OFFICIALS 'WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK' TO 'VET ALL AFGHANS' BEFORE ENTRY INTO US "My expectation is we will have a breakdown of the numbers of people who left Afghanistan, including not just American citizens, but green card holders, SIV applicants, SIV visa holders, Afghans at risk, those eligible for P-1 and P-2 visas," Blinken said. "All of that will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead as...
    The number of Americans who still need evacuation from Afghanistan could be as high as 1,000, a Republican lawmaker revealed in contradiction to the administration's insistence there are only around 100 U.S. citizens left stranded in the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also assured that the Taliban had renewed its pledge to allow Americans and Afghan allies to freely depart Afghanistan. 'They will let people with travel documents freely depart,' Blinken, during a news conference Tuesday in Doha, Qatar, said the Taliban told the U.S. He added: 'We will hold them to that.' The supposed recommitment comes after reports emerged that six flights chartered to get U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan from the Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan were blocked from leaving by the Taliban.  Blinken also reiterated that there are 'somewhere around 100' American citizens still in Afghanistan who want to leave after a previous State Department estimated there were between 100 and 200. Republican Representative Darrell Issa believes the number of Americans waiting to leave is more around 500 and could be as high as 1,000...
    The organizer of a successful operation to evacuate an American family trapped in Afghanistan says the State Department is now trying to take full credit for the daring rescue mission.  The Texas-based family - consisting of a mom named Mariam and her three children - finally managed to get out of Afghanistan on Monday with the help of Army combat veteran Cory Mills.  The family travelled overland to a neighboring country with Mills' guidance after they were left behind in Afghanistan when President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of all US troops on August 31.  Mariam and her children - who live northwest of Dallas - had gone to visit her parents in Kabul when the Taliban suddenly overtook the city and they became trapped.  The family tried to get out of Afghanistan on an emergency evacuation flight, but a member of the Taliban purportedly pointed a pistol at Mariam's head as the family arrived at the airport.    Mills and his private team subsequently stepped in. They helped get Mariam and her family to a safehouse and organized for them to...
    Mills and a private team of military veterans were funded in their mission by private donors including the Sentinel Foundation. "This is an attempt to save face by the administration for the Americans they left behind. This is a woman with three children from age 15 all the way down to two-years-old. And they did nothing to try to expedite this," Mills continued. "But at the very last minute you have these 'senior officials' at the State Department trying to claim credit for this like 'oh yeah look what we've done.'" Mullin corroborated the accusations against the State Department. "This is a flat out lie. The Biden Administration abandoned them. Let's be clear, it was our team of patriots who worked around the clock for two weeks to get them out, despite the many roadblocks from the State Department," he tweeted. Mullin added that there are many more Americans still waiting to be rescued. "There are still many families like Mariam's who are desperately wanting and waiting to get...
    New Yorker Executive Editor David Rohde said Monday he faulted the Biden administration for preventing Americans trapped in Afghanistan from taking flights out of the airport in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Right now, our 19 American citizens and their families, and 40 SIV holders and their families — those are the translators who worked with the United States military — that are waiting to fly out of Mazar-i-Sharif on those charter planes, that is being held up by the State Department and the White House,” Rohde said in an afternoon interview with MSNBC’s Geoff Bennett. “I want to repeat that. It is the State Department and the White House.” Flights carrying more than 1,500 Afghans and more than 100 American citizens have been grounded in Mazar-i-Sharif, including six flights funded by Blaze Media CEO Glenn Beck. Sources familiar with the effort have attributed the problem to the State Department, which has failed to provide clearance for the flights to land in neighboring countries. Rick Clay, one of the individuals organizing evacuation efforts, told Fox News on Sunday the department was...
    What is the administration saying? In response to questioning from TheBlaze on Monday, the State Department effectively threw its hands in the air and conceded there's not much it can do at this point. "We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan. However, we do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the airspace — whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region," a State Department spokesman said. The spokesman added that the department also does not have a "reliable means" to verify the identity of the passengers. "Given these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues," the spokesman said. Despite all of this, the spokesman noted the State Department...
    Wakil Kohsar/Getty Images Taliban guards reportedly told an Afghan American seeking to return home to deliver a profane message to the State Department — even as they sought to prevent him from leaving the country. The man, who worked for Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon’s (R) office, was directed to visit the Interior Ministry in Kabul to aid in his effort to leave the country last month. The Taliban “were creating as much problem as they could,” he told The Washington Examiner,  specifically one guard. “He told me, ‘Go and tell the State Department to f*ck themselves.'” He said he was able to enter Kabul’s international airport only by taking advantage of the mayhem as guards shot at people’s feet. “Everybody run away,” he said. “I know it was stupid, but I took just my chance. I ran towards the soldiers. I had my passport in my hand, shouting that I’m an American citizen.” The incident took place on August 27, just a day after a suicide bomber successfully at the airport killed more than 180 people, including 13 American service members....
    Members of Congress and their staffers who scrambled to help Americans and their Afghan allies evacuate Afghanistan before this week’s withdrawal deadline have revealed some of the frantic messages they received from people desperate to leave in recent days.  Multiple outlets, including The New York Post, reported on the difficulties facing would-be evacuees who attempted to get to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport through a gauntlet of Taliban checkpoints.  Now, the messages obtained by the Washington Examiner show how fraught the situation became in the final days before the last flight left Aug. 30.  Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. (AP) AFGHANISTAN EVACUATIONS: CALIFORNIA FAMILIES DESCRIBE DODGING GUNFIRE, BEATING FROM TALIBAN  One Afghan-American who worked with the office of Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said the Islamic fundamentalist group’s fighters "were creating as much problem as they could."  The man recalled being told by the State Department to go to the Interior Ministry in Kabul, where he was confronted by a Taliban guard. After...
    Taliban fighters 'were creating as much problems as they could' to prevent Americans, Afghan-Americans and Afghan allies from leaving Afghanistan before the U.S.'s August 31 pull-out.  The Washington Examiner interviewed evacuees who had reached out to Congressional offices to get help fleeing the country, including one Afghan-American citizen who had sought help from the office of Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican.   That citizen had been told by the State Department to go to the Interior Ministry for help, only to encounter a Taliban guard who told him, 'Go and tell the State Department to f*** themselves.'    Afghans walk past a Taliban military checkpoint in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday. More anecdotes are coming out about how the Taliban 'were creating as much problems as they could' to prevent Americans, Afghan-Americans and Afghan allies from departing the country A group of Taliban fighters patrol in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday. Citizens trying to leave the country told Congressional offices that they were fired at and beaten by Taliban fighters  The citizen, his wife and four small...
    Senate Republicans on Thursday demanded the Biden administration reveal the number of special immigrant visa (SIV) applicants left behind after a State Department official admitted it was a 'majority' of them.  The senators, led by Tom Cotton, R-Ark., demanded to know the exact number of Americans, green card holders and SIVs left behind. More than 123,000 have been evacuated from Afghanistan with US support since Aug. 14, but Americans only make up 5,500. A State Department official told reporters on Wednesday that a 'majority' of SIV applicants did not make it out before the last US evacuation plane lifted its wheels. 'Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan,' the lawmakers wrote. 'We are also concerned by reports that ineligible individuals, including Afghans with ties to terrorist organizations or serious, violent criminals, were evacuated alongside innocent refugee families.' They requested a response by Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. President Joe Biden's administration conceded that the majority of America's Afghan allies were left in country as...
    Almost everything you think you know about how the United States Department of State handled the evacuation from Afghanistan is wrong. And not just wrong, but so egregiously wrong you have to ask yourself why. The narrative has been that State was caught flat-footed by the events following the fall of Kabul in mid-August, turning its back on Americans and our Afghan allies while damaging the United States’ standing in the world. None of this is true. The State Department sent out the first of its 19 alerts urging American citizens to leave Afghanistan in April of this year. The Department’s Afghan coordination task force was stood up on July 20—17 days before the fall of Nimroz, the first provincial capital in Afghanistan to be claimed by the Taliban. The task force oversaw a massive mobilization throughout the department that came as part of a multifaceted effort across the U.S. government and among our allies. The task force’s first objective was to make sure we got American citizens out and Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan nationals processed. As one senior...
    Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, August 31, 2021.Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters WASHINGTON — More than 23,000 Afghan refugees deemed to be "at risk" have arrived in the United States, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday, a number that represents more than one-sixth of all the evacuees airlifted out of Kabul in the past two months. Price told reporters that 4,446 American citizens have also arrived in the country as part of the airlift, along with 2,785 legal permanent residents. The total number of people who have entered the United States after leaving Afghanistan through Aug. 31 is 31,107. Price said these numbers were likely to rise as more people, both Afghans and Americans, are processed through customs. The vast majority of the Afghan refugees are being housed at seven military bases across the country, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told reporters during a Pentagon briefing Wednesday. About 20,000 more evacuees are currently at seven staging bases across the military's command region that includes the Middle East, with an additional 23,000...