“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.  … it is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” -- George Washington Farewell Address

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A judge on Friday sentenced paramedic Peter Cichuniec who was convicted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain to five years in the Department of Corrections, which is essentially the minimum sentence for his second-degree assault conviction.

"Minimum, the bare minimum always?" questioned Elijah's mother, Sheneen McClain, after the sentencing. "No. We deserve better, we deserve more."

In December, Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper were each found guilty of criminally negligent homicide following a weekslong trial in Adams County.

The jury found Cooper not guilty of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily harm and not guilty of second-degree assault for administering drugs without consent. The jury found Cichuniec guilty of second-degree assault for administering drugs without consent and acquitted him of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily harm.

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Vice President Kamala Harris sparked backlash on social media this week after she tried to praise poll workers for their efforts amid the presidential primaries. However, her appreciation post was built on a lie, and social media users did not waste time pointing it out.

Sharing a photo of her seemingly listening to Vasu Abhiraman on X, Harris wrote, “Our democracy could not function without nonpartisan poll workers like Vasu and Rob whom I met in Georgia. President Biden and I thank you and we support you.”

Her post quickly drew controversy as some users used X’s Community Notes to add additional context to the tweet revealing that Abhiraman is not nonpartisan but is a liberal advocate who pushes the progressive movement.

The man on the left is not a “nonpartisan poll worker.” He is Vasu Abhiraman, an attorney for the left-wing advocacy group Alliance for Justice,” the notice read.

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Texas police have said the car crash that killed Mitch McConnell's sister-in-law Angela Chao is under 'criminal investigation' - but refuse to release the 911 call and video evidence.  

Chao, who was the CEO of shipping company Foremost Group, died earlier this month after her car entered a body of water on a private ranch in the state

Police have now said that the death of the 50-year-old is under 'criminal investigation', according to CNBC.

In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Blanco County Sheriff's Office said: 'This incident was not a typical accident.

'Although the preliminary investigation indicated this was an unfortunate accident, the Sheriff’s Office is still investigating this accident as a criminal matter until they have sufficient evidence to rule out criminal activity.' 

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The Biden administration is demanding Fox News retract stories involving allegations of Biden family corruption.

White House spokesman Ian Sams sent a letter to Fox News executives alleging the news network has promoted a "false, discredited" allegation of bribery involving President Joe Biden.

Sams is referring to allegations that Alexander Smirnov brought to the FBI years ago — part of a controversial FD-1023 document — claiming Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, $5 million each in 2015 and/or 2016. Last month, special counsel David Weiss secured an indictment against Smirnov, a former FBI confidential human source, for allegedly lying about those claims.

On the simple basis that Weiss has lodged the allegations against Smirnov, Sams complained that Fox News "has taken no steps to retract, correct, or update its reporting."

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NYC tried creating a fleet of robotic police, but it seems the sole robo cop that signed up is now on desk duty…

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Feel good story of the day.

The University of Florida fired all of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) staff in response to a new state law that bars colleges from using state or federal funds for the Marxist program.

“To comply with the Florida Board of Governor’s regulation 9.016 on prohibited expenditures, the University of Florida has closed the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, eliminated DEI positions and administrative appointments, and halted DEI-focused contracts with outside vendors,” the memo read.

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The Blaze journalist Steve Baker was arrested on Friday morning by FBI agents for reporting on the January 6 protests and challenging the official narrative.

The Blaze contributor Steve Baker

Nearly three years after the January 6, 2021 fedsurrection, Blaze reporter Steve Baker reported in December that he will be charged for his actions that day reporting live on the event.

Steve wrote in October 2023 that he was under investigation for the past two years by Chris Wray’s FBI for reporting at the historic protests in Washington DC.

Even reporters aren’t safe from this tyrannical regime. Steve expected to be charged by the Biden regime.

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Public schools are buckling under the strain of unchecked migration, with last year's 146,000 child arrivals alone jacking up education costs by more than $2 billion nationwide, researchers warn.

Lindsey Burke and others at the conservative Heritage Foundation say the arrival of children — some unaccompanied, others with families — are straining school systems in the states where they end up.

Research on this topic is mixed. Some scholars have found that immigration actually raises educational success for native-born kids, and some teachers say foreign arrivals sprinkle diversity into classes.

But think tank experts Burke and Lora Ries say the migrant surge is harmful right now, pointing to a New York school closing so that migrants could sleep there, and packed Texas classrooms spilling into hallways.

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The flow of thousands of migrants daily through the treacherous migratory highway, the Darien Gap, has been cut off following the capture of a number of boat captains who had been ferrying the migrants to the starting point of their jungle trek.

The stoppage began when Colombian law enforcement captured two boat captains in the northern city of Necoclí on Monday. The companies that employed them halted all transport services in protest, effectively cutting off the officially estimated 2,000 people a day that enter the jungled passage hoping to reach the United States.

It has led to a build up of as many as 8,000 people waiting to cross between Colombia and Panama, the Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office confirmed Thursday. The office, a governmental human rights watchdog, has warned that the buildup could “overwhelm the health system, food supply, among other things."

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Video of President Biden using notecards during his visit to the U.S.-Mexican border near Brownsville, Texas, on Thursday has been shared on social media amidst ongoing concern over whether the 81-year-old is fit for a second White House term.

In footage posted on X, formerly Twitter, by Fox News national correspondent Griff Jenkins, Biden can be seen holding and at one point appearing to read notecards while listening to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer.

Jenkins wrote: "Pres Biden's use of notecards during his operational briefing at the border is noticeable - an ICE ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] official is explaining the challenges of sanctuary jurisdictions as he focuses on the next prepared question for an HSI [Homeland Security Investigations] official."

Webmaster addition: 

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Palestinian factions including Hamas and Fatah have made progress in establishing political unity after talks in Moscow, the Russian foreign minister has said.

Addressing a diplomatic conference in Turkey, Sergei Lavrov said Hamas had agreed in writing for the first time to respect the platform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), though he said it remained to be seen whether this would turn into more than words on a piece of paper.

The meaning of “recognition” is open to interpretation, but it may take Hamas closer to the longstanding position of Fatah, the dominant faction in the PLO, of a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

Hamas refused to recognise Israel’s right to exist, but has used various formulas to fudge this position under diplomatic pressure.

A statement on Friday by the Palestinian factions represented in Moscow said there would be an “upcoming dialogue” to bring them under the banner of the PLO.

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Georgia paid Fortalice, a cyber security company, to check vulnerabilities in its Dominion Voting Systems.

Merritt Beaver, who testified today for the Georgia Attorney General, said neither he nor the AG saw it.


Because they never asked for it.

Where is it?

Who has it?

John Poulos, CEO of Dominion Voting Systems.

And Fortalice CEO Theresa Payton.

She testified on July 25th, 2019 that Georgia’s voting machine systems “had serious risk”.

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Freedom once again declined globally last year, according to a report by Freedom House released on Thursday, marking almost two decades of consecutive erosions recorded by the organization that has for the past 51 years graded the world on its freedoms.

The leading cause of the global drop was flawed elections and armed conflict, it said.

The annual report gives each country – and many disputed territories – a score from 1 to 100 using 25 specific indicators based on the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and then declares them to be either “free,” “partly free” or “not free.”

In the Asia-Pacific, the freest countries or territories remained New Zealand (99), Japan (96), Australia (95) and Taiwan (94). The worst were China (9), Myanmar (8), North Korea (3) and Tibet (0). Both Myanmar and Tibet lost one point since last year’s report.

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Nine days after a Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate took down the biggest US health care payment processor, pharmacies, health care providers, and patients were still scrambling to fill prescriptions for medicines, many of which are lifesaving.

On Thursday, UnitedHealth Group accused a notorious ransomware gang known both as AlphV and Black Cat of hacking its subsidiary Optum. Optum provides a nationwide network called Change Healthcare, which allows health care providers to manage customer payments and insurance claims. With no easy way for pharmacies to calculate what costs were covered by insurance companies, many had to turn to alternative services or offline methods.

The most serious incident of its kind

Optum first disclosed on February 21 that its services were down as a result of a “cyber security issue.” Its service has been hamstrung ever since. Shortly before this post went live on Ars, Optum said it had restored Change Healthcare services.

“Working with technology and business partners, we have successfully completed testing with vendors and multiple retail pharmacy partners for the impacted transaction types,” an update said. “As a result, we have enabled this service for all customers effective 1 pm CT, Friday, March 1, 2024.”

AlphV is one of many syndicates that operates under a ransomware-as-a-service model, meaning affiliates do the actual hacking of victims and then use the AlphV ransomware and infrastructure to encrypt files and negotiate a ransom. The parties then share the proceeds.

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Russia has expressed its gratitude to North Korea again for supporting its aggression against Ukraine in a show of solidarity as fresh claims of arms trading between the two authoritarian regimes emerged. 

“We are pleased that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is standing with us at the forefront of this struggle,” the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said in a Facebook post on Feb. 29, to update developments in Ukraine.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is North Korea’s official name. 

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In a wide-ranging, three-hour interview with podcaster Lex Fridman this week, right-wing pundit and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson challenged the wisdom of US aid to Israel, assailed NATO as a violation of American sovereignty, and rejected what he called a “moralizing” approach to politics, reflecting on his recent interview with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The conservative commentator became the first American to interview Putin since 2021 in February, in a two-hour-long sit-down that focused almost exclusively on the war in Ukraine, which entered its third year this week. 

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In the aftermath of the horrific Hamas attack on October 7, which resulted in the massacre of 1,200 Israelis and the abduction of 250 more, Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-NY) has become the second Democrat to withdraw from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

An anonymous House Democrat revealed to Axios, "I think he’s … had it with [the] Squad."

The Squad, a group of radical progressives, has been critical of Israel following the Hamas atrocities. In contrast, Torres has consistently stood as a staunch defender of the Jewish state. This follows Congresswoman Lois Frankel's (D-FL) departure from the caucus in November. According to Axios, Torres was removed from the caucus website sometime between December and January.

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US ambassador 'developed poor relationships' with Singapore ministries, threatened embassy staff: State Department audit

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Jonathan Kaplan (left), during a Senate confirmation hearing on Oct 20, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP)

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02 Mar 2024 12:14PM (Updated: 02 Mar 2024 01:26PM)


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SINGAPORE: A report by the US State Department's internal watchdog has revealed several shortcomings by the US ambassador to Singapore, including unauthorized spending and ineffective dealings with the Singapore government.

The audit by the Office of Inspector General found the Ambassador Jonathan Kaplan did not "model integrity, plan strategically, collaborate, or communicate" and recommended a review of his conduct and performance.

The report, dated February 2024 and released on Friday (Mar 1), also uncovered morale issues at the US embassy in Singapore, many of which the report directly attributed to Mr Kaplan.

Embassy staff cited by the report described fear and direct threats of reprisal from Mr Kaplan. Employees described his mannerisms as "belittling and intimidating" and also accused him of speaking "disparagingly about US government employees and the (State) Department".

On foreign policy, Mr Kaplan was said to have "developed poor relationships" with some Singapore government ministries to the extent that, in some cases, his actions "hurt progress" on State Department goals and objectives.

"Specifically, it was described that the Ambassador often was unprepared on issues and made statements that were counterproductive to a section’s work," said the report.

It described staff noting that Mr Kaplan ought to have held more meetings at Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to which the ambassador told the Office of Inspector General that such meetings were "unproductive with only an exchange of talking points and no real discussions".

The audit also found that Mr Kaplan had limited contacts with Singapore's traditional media. It said that at the time of inspection, he had held only two press events since arriving in Singapore in December 2021.

Mr Kaplan's response was that there was "no need" to deal with Singapore's traditional media and that he preferred to use social media. The report noted that his official Instagram account had 825 followers as of March 2023, a number that has since grown to 4,770.

Claire's Observations:  how, in the name of Heaven, did this guy get his job?!?  Is complete tone-deafness a requisite to deal with foreign dignitaries and your own staff?!?  Was he a major Biden contributor whose money exploits as a fund raiser landed him his position?

I found the answer this morning with a Google search:  "According to the Campaign Legal Centre, he (Kaplan) donated more than US$100,000 to Democratic campaigns in the 10 years before his appointment."  That's $10,000 per year.

Looks like money - wisely spent in campaign donations- can "earn" one an ambassadorship, in the US of A.  Forget any nuances in language, culture, or history of the country to which you are assigned; this is "pay for play", writ large.

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The United States government has just vetoed another resolution at the United Nations expressing concern about Israel’s genocidal actions in Gaza. They couldn’t even vote for a statement expressing “deep concern” over Israel murdering hungry Palestinians seeking food aid.

Here are some posts about it.

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New York Attorney General Letitia James, known for her recent triumphant tweets about the court decision against former President Donald Trump, has been accused of living a lavish lifestyle far beyond her six-figure salary.

This claim was made by Mel (@Villgecrazylady), a user of the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), who uses publicly available data to expose the extravagant lifestyle of James.

According to Mel, James has managed to stay within the legal boundaries, with the exception of an incident in the 2010s when she failed to disclose a Brooklyn brownstone she owns and rents out on her public financial disclosure forms. However, James has been accused of misusing public and campaign funds on questionable expenditures, seemingly unrelated to her official duties.

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“In food, prices are lower than a year ago in places like eggs, apples and deli snacks, but higher in other places like asparagus and blackberries,” said C. Douglas McMillon, president and chief executive officer, in a Feb. 20 earnings call. “Dry grocery and consumables categories, like paper goods and cleaning supplies, are up mid-single digits versus last year and high teens versus two years ago. Private brand penetration is up in many of the countries where we operate, including the United States.”

What does this mean for shoppers? Significant rollbacks on food pricing on items like eggs, bread, fruit and deli snacks, which are some of the most common items on families' grocery lists.

John R. Furner, CEO and president of Walmart US, added, “We took our french bread back to $1.00, which had been $1.00 for a long time and went up as inflation hit the market...Rotisserie chicken is another one. That price has come down by $1.00.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin used his annual State of the Nation address on Thursday to take aim at the West, threatening to use nuclear weapons against NATO countries if they send forces to help defend Ukraine from a Russian victory.

In a speech to Russia’s Federal Assembly that was predominantly dedicated to Russia’s domestic affairs, Putin delivered a tough warning, threatening retaliatory strikes against the West in the event of attacks on Russian territory.

“They must understand that we also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory,” he said, warning of “tragic consequences” if NATO forces were ever deployed to Ukraine. “All this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of civilization. Don’t they get that?”

Western leaders, he continued, thought that war “is a cartoon,” adding that Russia’s “strategic nuclear forces are in a state of full readiness.” He boasted that Russia’s most advanced hypersonic nuclear-capable weapons, such as the Kinzhal and Zircon missiles, had been used in Ukraine, while others were in the final stages of testing.

Putin has hinted before of Russia’s readiness to use its nuclear weapons, but Thursday’s warning was unusually sharp.

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