A group of bipartisan senators is urging the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with advanced MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that would give Kyiv longer-range capability.
The Biden administration has been hesitant to send the drones due to the risk of escalation with Russia and concerns that the sensitive technology in the drones could end up in the wrong hands.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Biden administration has decided not to provide the drones, although other reporting disputed that claim and said a final decision hadn’t been made.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, 16 senators expressed “concern” over the reports that said the administration has declined to send the MQ-1C. The senators asked the administration to give “careful reconsideration” to the Ukrainian request.
The letter was led by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and was signed by many members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK).
The senators said the MQ-1C and other long-range capabilities would provide “Ukraine additional lethality needed to eject Russian forces and regain occupied territory.”
Providing MQ-1Cs would be a major escalation in US military aid to Kyiv as the drones can be armed with powerful hellfire missiles and can fly for up to 30 hours. The drones would give Ukraine the capability to strike targets inside Russian territory.
Democrats heavily benefited from the campaign contributions of disgraced cryptocurrency billionaire and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, while other affiliates of the company likewise helped Republicans ahead of the company’s failure last week.
FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday after users discovered that firms controlled by Bankman-Fried were allegedly fraudulently intertwined, causing him to lose his fortune overnight. The young multibillionaire contributed nearly $39 million during the recent midterm elections, with 99.6% of funds benefiting Democratic candidates, according to data from Open Secrets, which listed him as the nation’s sixth-largest individual midterm donor.
The 30 year old donated $27 million to Protect Our Future PAC, a left-leaning group which in turn spent heavily on behalf of Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. A contribution of over $10 million from Protect Our Future PAC benefited Carrick Flynn, who lost his Democratic primary in Oregon. Other beneficiaries included Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH), Rep. Robert Garcia (D-NC), and Rep. Valerie Foushee (D-NC), all of whom won re-election.
Bankman-Fried also contributed $1 million to the Senate Majority PAC, which supports Democratic candidates for the Senate, and $6 million to the House Majority PAC. During the 2020 election cycle, he was the second-largest donor to the Biden campaign.
Bankman-Fried directly supported a number of individual candidates as well. Two such candidates, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) donated their respective $5,000 and $2,900 contributions to charity after FTX filed for bankruptcy, according to a report from The Block.
A Republican running for state Senate in South Dakota has been accused of heinous crimes: molesting, raping, and maniacally monitoring the actions of an underage female family member “since she was a young child.”
On May 6, a woman, now 19, told police that Joel Koskan, a Republican running for the state Senate seat for District 26, began molesting her when she was just 12. The abuse continued off and on for years until she turned 17, when he began raping her, she alleged.
“She explained that ever since she was young, Joel [Koskan] would give her very long hugs, kiss her and have her sit on his lap,” a retired agent with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation wrote in a probable cause statement filed with the courts. “[The woman] thought that it was ‘normal things’ that families were supposed to do.”
Koskan also owned the property where she lived, so he installed cameras to watch her in her home, she said, and tracked her movements through GPS monitors on her phone and in her vehicle.
On June 1, David Leavitt, the prosecuting attorney for Utah County, stood behind a lectern in his windowless Provo office before a gaggle of reporters. Wearing a gray suit and an exasperated look, he wanted to make something categorically clear: Neither he nor his wife were guilty of murdering or cannibalizing young children.
It was, by all accounts, a strange declaration from the progressive Republican prosecutor, a Mormon and younger brother of a former Utah governor, Mike Leavitt, who had earned a name for himself by prosecuting a well-known polygamist in 2001. But David Leavitt was up for re-election, Utah County voters would start casting ballots the next week, and the allegations, ridiculous as they may have sounded, had started to spread online and throughout the community.
Some of Leavitt’s most high-profile political opponents were willing to at least wink at the allegations against him: Utahns for Safer Communities, a political action committee opposing Leavitt’s re-election, posted his news conference to YouTube with the caption, “Wethinks He Doth Protest Too Much,” and on their website, the group wrote that Leavitt “seems to know more than he says.”
Leavitt lost the election, most likely not just because of the allegations against him but because of his liberal style of prosecution in a deeply conservative county where opponents labeled him as “soft on crime.” But the allegations’ impact on Leavitt was clear. After decades of serving as a city and county attorney with grander plans for public office, Leavitt now doesn’t think he’ll run again.
“The cost is too high,” he said recently in an interview from his home.
Leavitt’s experience is one of a spate of recent examples in which individuals have been targeted with accusations of Satanism or so-called ritualistic abuse, marking what some see as a modern day version of the moral panic of the 1980s, when hysteria and hypervigilance over protecting children led to false allegations, wrongful imprisonments, decimated communities and wasted resources to the neglect of actual cases of abuse.
While the current obsession with Satan was boosted in part by the QAnon community, partisan media and conservative politicians have been instrumental in spreading newfound fears over the so-called ritualistic abuse of children that the devil supposedly inspires, sometimes weaving the allegations together with other culture war issues such as LGBTQ rights. Those fears are powering fresh accusations of ritual abuse online, which are amplified on social media and by partisan media, and can mobilize mobs to seek vigilante justice.
GOP officials’ takes on President Joe Biden’s surprise weed announcement Thursday ranged from moral outrage to begrudging praise to complete and utter silence.
Biden, a longtime opponent of legalizing weed, which he called a “gateway drug” as recently as 2019, announced Thursday—after nearly two years of pressure from cannabis and criminal justice reform advocates—that he would pardon all federal simple cannabis-possession convictions.
Biden also called on governors to pardon simple possession offenses at the state level and said he’d directed Cabinet officials, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, to begin reviewing cannabis’ Schedule 1 status under federal law, which puts it on the same level as heroin.
“I’m calling on governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses,” Biden said Thursday. “Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason either.”
But despite the fact that 19 states and Washington, D.C., have already legalized recreational use of the drug, some Republicans criticized Biden’s announcement.
“In the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession, Joe Biden is giving blanket pardons to drug offenders—many of whom pled down from more serious charges,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who has repeatedly said he thinks the U.S. has an “under-incarceration problem” despite the fact that the U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any nation on Earth.
The cannabis advocacy group NORML responded on Twitter: “LOL look at this loser.”
The public service announcement, a portion of which was aired on Fox News Friday morning, said that “by working together and being on high alert this Halloween, we can help put an end to the drug traffickers that are driving addiction.”
Halloween this year falls exactly 8 days before the November midterms, and what better way is there to drive home your tough-on-crime, war on drugs-electoral messaging than to convince parents that the cartels are in the house down the block and are handing out synthetic opioids to your kid?
“Rainbow fentanyl comes in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes, including pills powder and blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk,” said Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy. “Even just handling these pills or powders…can kill a person,” added Senator Steve Daines (R-Mon.), alluding to the myth that touching fentanyl can cause an overdose.
Nebraska Senator Deb Fisher warned that “according to the DEA, these pills are a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults.”
However, experts, who at this point are exasperated at the “poisoned Halloween candy” myth’s yearly resurgence, are again reiterating that drug dealers are not handing out narcotics to children en masse. In fact, the use of colors is typically a way for producers to distinguish their products from other manufacturers and to make them identifiable to existing consumers, not a way to market them to children. Mariah Francis, a Resource Associate with the National Harm Reduction Coalition, criticized the GOP lawmakers misrepresentation of the ways drugs circulate in communities. “Drug markets are based off profit gain and profit margins,” explained Francis. Drug dealers “are not making money giving free fentanyl tablets […] to small children.”