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Former Presidents decided against recording messages for hearing, fearful of injecting politics, sources say

Americans will not be hearing from their former Presidents tonight.

The House select committee asked some of the former living Presidents whether they would record a video message about the importance of the peaceful transition of power in the United States, people familiar with the matter tell CNN, with a particular focus from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama.

The three former Presidents decided against making the video messages, people familiar with the matter say, fearful that it could unnecessarily inject politics into the investigation — and create an unnecessary opening for the other member of the President’s club, Donald Trump, to seize upon.

While Clinton, Bush and Obama all have spoken out against the attack on the Capitol — in real-time messages on that day, as the violence was underway, and multiple times over the past year — the trio will not be heard from tonight.

Judge holds former President Trump in civil contempt for failing to comply with document subpoenas from New York attorney general

A New York judge is holding Donald Trump in civil contempt after the state’s attorney general’s office said he did not comply with a subpoena for documents as part of its investigation into the former President’s company.

Judge Arthur Engoron said Trump failed to abide by his order to comply with the subpoena, and that his attorneys failed to show how a search of materials held by Trump was conducted. Engoron said Trump would be fined $10,000 a day until he complies.
CNN Exclusive: Mark Meadows' 2,319 text messages reveal Trump's inner circle communications before and after Jan 6
“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt and fine you $10,000 per day until you purge that contempt,” Engoron said at a hearing Monday. A written decision with a start date for fines is expected Tuesday.
Trump plans to appeal the decision, his attorney Alina Habba told reporters.
“We respectfully disagree with the oofos shoes court’s decision today,” Habba said. “All documents, as I explained, responsive to the subpoena were already produced to the attorney general months ago.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office has been investigating the Trump Organization for more than two years and previously said her office found multiple misleading or fraudulent misstatements and omissions in the Trump Organization’s financial statements, which were provided to lenders and insurers, among others, as part of its investigation.
Andrew Amer, with the attorney general’s office, said that Trump has failed to produce “even a single responsive document” for a subpoena that was issued to him in December.
“We are being hampered in our efforts to have a complete understanding because we don’t have evidence from the person who sits at the top of the organization,” Amer said.
Kevin Wallace, with the attorney general’s office, said in some instances it’s been “like pulling teeth” to get documents needed for the investigation, and describing the Trump Organization as a closely-held family company with 500 entities and millions of dollars moving around.
In court, Habba said the former president does not believe he is above the law, but simply does not have the types of written communications that were sought by the subpoena, but that he produced hundreds of thousands of documents through his assistants. Habba said she herself searched Trump’s hard copy calendars coach outlet and physical file locations, and even interviewed her client in Florida.
“President Trump does not email. He does not text message. And he has no work computer at home or anywhere else,” Habba said.
“I took it upon myself to get on a plane and flew down and asked him one by one if there was anything that he had on his person that he had not given me I would need that. And he did not,” she said.
The judge asked why Trump didn’t sign an affidavit swearing that he complied with the subpoena. Habba said that he would.
READ: Text messages Sean Hannity, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ivanka Trump and others sent to Mark Meadows
“My client is an honest person, much to the dismay of certain people in this room,” Habba said.
James’ office has said in court filings that the Trump Organization is under investigation for engaging in fraudulent or misleading conduct in connection with appraisals and financial statements. The office has subpoenaed both the former president and his company for documents related to its investigation.
Habba argued that the attorney general’s investigation has “seemingly become aimless,” saying that since it began three years ago, the Trump Organization has been given six separate subpoenas, produced more than 6 million pages of documents, and 13 Trump Organization witnesses have been deposed, among other things.
“The scope is continuously changing to fit the attorney general’s needs,” Habba said in court. “When it is not satisfied with the evidence it has obtained it pivots and looks for something new.”
Judge orders Cushman swarovski jewelry and Wakefield to comply with NY AG subpoena
Also Monday, Engoron allowed James’ office to add real estate services firm Cushman and Wakefield as a respondent to its legal action against the Trump Organization, and ordered the company to comply with a subpoena for documents.
At the heart of the subpoenas are appraisals from Cushman and Wakefield appraisers who worked on valuations for Trump Organization properties, as well as documents showing relationships between the two companies and internal communications about Cushman’s decision to ultimately sever ties with the Trump Organization in January.
Austin Thompson, an attorney with the New York attorney general’s office, said his office has identified “misstatements” made by appraisers who made valuations at a Trump Organization property in Westchester County, New York, known as Seven Springs. And while the statute of limitations on some of the appraisals may have run out, the office still wants to investigate other reports that may be more recent and indicated that the real estate firm could become a party to future legal action by the office.
“We’d like to understand whether these folks are committing misconduct today,” Thompson said. “Cushman has made repeated misstatements in the documents we’ve seen so far, so we’re entitled to look at other documents, other appraisals they’ve written.”
Sawnie McEntire, an attorney for Cushman and Wakefield, said the four subpoenas the company has received from the attorney general’s office since 2019 are “overly broad.” He said the company has dealt with a dozen subpoenas for documents and witness testimony, including depositions with appraisers who worked on Trump Organization property valuations.
“We cannot be faulted because we believe their requests have exceeded what is legally required,” McEntire said.
James’ office is also seeking details on how much money Cushman and Wakefield has made from its relationship with the Trump Organization. McEntire said in court that the company made less than $200,000 doing business with the Trump Organization on the appraisal side of its business.
Engoron also granted the attorney general’s office’s request to file documents with the court only, because they contained information that could harm its ongoing investigation.

Russian businessman’s Kremlin ties could prove intelligence ‘gold mine’ for US, former official says

An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2021.

South Africa’s High Court orders former president Zuma to go back to jail

Jacob Zuma has been ordered to return to prison.

Meghan Markle, Harry’s former chief of staff details working with the royals

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s former chief of staff has said she had an “incredible experience” working with the couple.

Catherine St-Laurent, who now serves as a senior adviser to the couple’s Archewell Foundation, described Markle and Harry as “incredibly talented and creative leaders.”

“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do that, to brooks shoes be able to be with them on their journey,” she told The Cut. “The time that I spent with them was incredibly fulfilling.”

As Page Six exclusively reported in March, St-Laurent left her role as chief of staff after one year to transition to Archewell.

“She will continue to bring high-level strategic guidance to Archewell, which she helped launch and build over the course of the past year,” the spokesperson told us at the time.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s former chief of staff, Catherine St-Laurent, reflected on her experience working with the couple.

St-Laurent said she believes the couple and their foundation will be a powerful force for good.

“I think they have the potential to be very clarks shoes uk influential leaders in the social-impact space,” St-Laurent added. “I look forward to continuing to be a part of that.”

St-Laurent previously held senior roles in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

prince harry and meghan markle
Catherine St-Laurent said the pair could be influential.

Her comments come after the pair’s former communications secretary, Jason Knauf, accused Markle, 39, of bullying. Reps for the pair slammed Knauf’s claims and added they were “saddened by this latest attack on [Markle’s] character, particularly as someone hey dude shoes who has been the target of bullying herself.”

Buckingham Palace confirmed it was launching an investigation into the allegations in March, but results from the inquiry have not been released.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies from Covid complications

WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, the retired four-star general who became the country’s first Black secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday due to complications from Covid-19, his family said in a statement on Facebook.

Powell, 84, was fully vaccinated from Covid-19, his family said, and had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center, but was suffering from serious underlying conditions.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell and his wife, Alma, were tested for Covid last Monday skechers outlet and both tested positive, a family spokesperson told NBC News. Powell was then hospitalized at Walter Reed. Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of a type of white blood cell, which can harm the body’s immune system, surgery for prostate cancer when he was Secretary of State and, more recently, Parkinson’s disease.

Powell became the first Black secretary of state under President George W. Bush. As the nation’s chief diplomat, Powell delivered a well-known speech to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003 laying out the White House argument for invading Iraq and stating that there was intelligence that the country had weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. troops launched an invasion the following month. The evidence he presented about Iraq having biological weapons was later proven to be incorrect. Powell left the administration shortly after Bush’s re-election in 2004.

Powell later expressed regret over the remarks before the U.N., saying in a 2005 interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters that it would tarnish his reputation and describing it as a “blot” on his record that “was painful then” and “painful now.”

Bush said in a statement Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death.

“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” Bush said. “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel nike outlet and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo. (Elise Amendola / AP file)
Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq’s alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo.

After rising through the military ranks, Powell became a four-star general and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. He had served as U.S. national security adviser and deputy national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Powell served twice in Vietnam — during the first tour, he was wounded in action and on the second tour, he received the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing several men from a burning helicopter.

In a statement Monday, former Vice President Dick Cheney called himself “fortunate” to work with Powell, and said during both wars with Iraq he saw Powell’s “dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform.”

President Joe Biden, who ordered flags to be flown at half-staff, said in a statement Monday that when he served in the Senate, he worked closely with Powell, whom he called a friend.

“Easy to share a laugh with,” the president said. “A trusted confidant in good and hard keen shoes times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody’s business — something I learned firsthand on the race track when I was vice president. And I am forever grateful for his support of my candidacy for president and for our shared battle for the soul of the nation. I will miss being able to call on his wisdom in the future.”

Despite serving Republican presidents, Powell said days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he could no longer call himself a Republican.

“I’m not a fellow of anything right now,” he said in an interview on CNN. “I’m just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now I’m just watching my country and not concerned with parties.”

Powell broke with his party on several occasions in recent years, including when he endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president in 2008 over then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Powell endorsed Obama again in 2012 over the GOP’s nominee that year, Mitt Romney, and later became a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

Former President Obama expressed his condolences in a statement Monday, saying that he appreciated Powell’s endorsements, especially in 2008.

“At a time when conspiracy theories were swirling, with some questioning my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could,” Obama said, repeating Powell’s remark on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” at the time about the conspiracy theories that were swirling about Obama’s faith.

“’The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian,’ General Powell said. ‘But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America,’” Obama wrote.

In 2016, it was revealed in leaked emails that Powell called the then-GOP presidential candidate a “national disgrace.” In June 2020, Powell and other retired military leaders blasted Trump for threatening to use military force against protesters. Powell said in an interview on CNN that Trump had turned away from the Constitution and that he was a habitual liar.

“We have a Constitution. We have to follow that Constitution. And the president’s drifted away from it,” said Powell, who made clear that, like in 2016, he would not vote for Trump for president and instead planned to vote for Joe Biden.

Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to immigrants from Jamaica and grew up in the South Bronx, going on to get a bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York.

He is survived by his wife, their three children and multiple grandchildren.

Biden’s child tax credit pays big in Republican states, popular with voters

By Jason Lange and Chris Kahn

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A one-year expansion of the U.S. child tax credit, a policy championed by President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats over Republican opposition, has disproportionately benefited states that voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020, a Reuters review of Treasury Department data has found.

Congressional Democrats are now seeking to extend the expansion for four additional years as part of $3.5 trillion hoka shoes social spending legislation opposed by Trump’s fellow Republicans. The one-year expansion – part of COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-congress/bidens-1-9-trillion-covid-19-bill-wins-final-approval-in-house-idUSKBN2B215E signed by Biden in March, is expected to funnel $105 billion to American families, many still hurting from the economic effects of the public health crisis.

The current expanded tax credit has proven popular, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found, supported by 59% of U.S. adults including 75% of people who identified themselves as Democrats and 41% of people who identified as Republicans. The poll was conducted online Sept. 9-10, based on responses from 1,003 adults and with a credibility interval of 4 percentage points.

The policy’s support among Republicans far outstripped their 11% backing for Biden’s overall job performance in a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The policy’s popularity, experts said, might benefit Democrats in elections next year that will determine whether they retain control of Congress for the second half of Biden’s term. Democrats are defending razor-thin majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.

“That could make a difference in a whole lot of places where we have close Senate and House races,” said Norman Ornstein, an expert on elections at the American Enterprise Institute.

The top 10 states by average monthly child tax credit payments in August – all from the West and Midwest – were: Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and Montana, with monthly payments ranging from $515 to $456 in August. All voted last year for Trump over Biden and all but Kansas have Republican governors.

Of the 10 states with the lowest average payments, only one – Florida – backed Trump, also having a Republican governor. Massachusetts residents received the smallest average household payment in August: $387. (For a state-by-state graphic on the tax credit, see https://tmsnrt.rs/397E5B2)

In Wisconsin and Arizona – states that Biden narrowly won last year and are shaping up to have competitive Senate races next year – average payments in August were just under $450.

The policy gets cash to families even before they square annual tax bills. Republican-led states tend to have lower household incomes than states with Democratic leadership such as California and New York, thus benefiting more from the policy, which reduces tax credits to upper-income households.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

The economic stimulus law, called the American hey dude Rescue Plan, raised the existing child tax credit https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children over age 6 and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, while upping the age limit from 16 to 17. Families benefit from the full credit if they earn up to $150,000 for a couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent.

Since July, the U.S. Treasury has given more than 35 million households about $250 to $300 a month for each child under age 18, a policy some analysts say is already significantly reducing childhood poverty.

A four-year extension would make it a significant slice of the proposed $3.5 trillion spending package being pursued by Democratic congressional leaders. That legislation is opposed by congressional Republicans as too expensive. Even some Democrats including pivotal Senator Joe Manchin have questioned its price tag. The Treasury Department on Wednesday released a report on the shortfalls of the U.S. childcare system and said expanded child tax credits would help parents pay for childcare.

The tax credit already is being felt by Americans benefiting from it.

Lolitha Maria Scott, a 41-year old call center worker in Phoenix with five children, described the tax credit as a lifeline that she thinks should continue dr martens boots beyond this year because many working parents like her struggle to keep up with rising rent bills.

“I understand people say it’s costly for the budget but it also helps the American people,” Scott said in an interview.

Scott said the policy helped cement her plan to vote for Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, who is seeking re-election next year in Arizona.

Jeremy Monk, 43, an occupational therapist in Palm Bay, Florida, voiced concern that paying for such policies could lead to higher taxes in the future. Monk, a Republican, said in an interview that taking the payments made him feel like he is robbing from his children’s future.

“It puts a little bit of a shiver up my spine,” said Monk, who added that he put his tax credit payment in college savings funds for his son and daughter.

Elizabeth Holmes trial: COVID will play ‘background role’ as judge delays proceedings

After multiple delays, the high-profile criminal fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes has been paused after just one day of arguments. Friday’s proceedings, which were slated to include testimony from the defunct blood-testing startup’s former corporate controller, were canceled after three jurors presented issues, including an exposure to somebody with COVID-19.

The court’s reaction validates concerns expressed in pretrial hearings well before trial began about how to get through a protracted trial alongside ongoing public health risks. Still, at such an early stage, a mistrial remains highly unlikely, according to Michael Weinstein, chair of Cole Schotz’s white collar practice and former federal prosecutor.

“At this point I do not expect those concerns to raise mistrial considerations,” asics shoes he told Yahoo Finance, adding that mistrials are usually triggered by evidentiary or witness issues, rather than juror service concerns.

Holmes, now 37, launched Theranos in 2003 at just 19 years old, with a vision to overhaul diagnostic health care. Over more than a decade, the entrepreneur sold investors on the idea of developing an analyzer, the size of a desktop printer, that could run a suite of common tests on as little as a drop or two of blood taken from a patient’s finger.

In 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Holmes and former Theranos COO and president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was also Holmes’ one-time boyfriend, charging them with wire fraud and conspiracy. The indictment claims the pair used Theranos to defraud investors and patients and misrepresented its technology from 2010 to 2015. The charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of Theranos, arrives for motion hearing on Monday, November 4, 2019, at the U.S. District Court House inside Robert F. Peckham Federal Building in San Jose, California. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of Theranos, arrives for motion hearing on Monday, November 4, 2019, at the U.S. District Court House inside Robert F. Peckham Federal Building in San Jose, California. 

One juror informed the court on Thursday that they may have contacted a person over the weekend who later tested positive for COVID-19, a document filed with the court Thursday evening states. That juror, who like the other jurors was vaccinated and masked in court, is awaiting a COVID-19 laboratory test result.

Judge Edward Davila shuttered planned arguments on Friday out of an abundance of caution and plans to resume court on Tuesday.

While Friday’s cancellation over health concerns is inconvenient in the short-term, Weinstein said, it will not have any long term impact on the trial unless a juror gets too sick to serve on the jury.

“I think, at this point, much of the trial narrative is set in place,” keen shoes Weinstein said. “COVID will play a background role, but the court will just have to work through those issues, possibly causing some limited delays.”

Gregory Gilchrist, a criminal law professor for University of Toledo College of Law and former federal public defender, said while risk of a mistrial is always present, in Holmes’ case one caused by a dwindling jury has been reduced by Davila’s cautious management of the case that planned for five alternates, rather than the standard two.

“This provides significant breathing room,” Gilchrist said.

‘Troubling aspect of federal trials’

Still, another juror’s question emailed to the court’s clerk, and raised during Thursday’s hearing, could rattle both the prosecution and defense. The juror asked whether sentencing in the case would be predetermined based on the charges against Holmes, or instead if jurors would be involved in the decision.

“This may be reading tea leaves, but I would have some concern as a prosecutor that the jurors appear to be expressing some discomfort with their role,” Gilchrist said.

The question could reflect any number of things, he added. Perhaps the juror might be thinking Elizabeth Holmes, guilty or not, should not be sentenced to prison, or should not receive a long prison sentence, according to Gilchrist.

On the other hand, the question could be unsettling to Holmes and her defense team, in that it could imply the juror has already concluded that a sentencing phase will occur.

“This is a fascinating, and some would say troubling, aspect of federal trials. Basically, all federal jurors should understand that federal sentences are severe by design, and when a jury convicts it is subjecting the defendant to a harsh, some would say draconian, punishment system over which they will have no control,” Gilchrist said.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes appears at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse for opening arguments in her trial, in San Jose, California, U.S., September 8, 2021 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Vicki Behringer
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes appears at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse for opening arguments in her trial, in San Jose, Calif. September 8, 2021 in this courtroom sketch. 

On Wednesday, still another juror raised a possible conflict. That juror’s employer said they wouldn’t pay her during jury duty, and that she needed the income to support herself and her mother. (Federal jurors receive a mere $50 a day in pay.) brooks shoes The judge asked her to request an adjusted work schedule.

Retired judge Hon. Mark Drummond, who now serves as executive and judicial director for New York University School of Law’s Civil Jury Project, agreed that, for now, risk of a mistrial remains at bay.

“It appears that the judge has covered any eventuality by empaneling five alternate jurors,” Drummond said. “Accordingly, the risk of a mistrial is low.”

After 2 teachers die, a small Texas town rethinks masks

Students arrive for classes Sept. 7, 2021, at Connally Junior High School, where two teachers have died of COVID-19.

LACY LAKEVIEW, Texas – When classes began a couple of weeks ago, before the first and then the second teacher at Connally Junior High School died of covid-19, only a scattering of students wore masks. On Tuesday morning, every face emerging from the line of yellow school buses was covered.

Masks are now mandatory for asics shoes students and staff in the Connally Independent School District, on the outskirts of Waco. The decision, made late last week, followed the two teacher deaths and a surge of cases in the community.

“As educators, it is our duty to keep our students safe and healthy. We feel instituting a mask mandate is a step towards doing this,” Superintendent Wesley Holt said in a letter to parents.

Gov. Greg Abbott, R, in May barred Texas school districts and other governmental entities from requiring masks, saying it should be a matter of personal choice. But as this school year began, with the highly contagious delta variant bearing down, several big-city school districts defied him. Then a court put his order on hold.

Now, many smaller, more rural school districts are following their big-city counterparts.

Lacy Lakeview, where Connally schools are located, is hidden just off Interstate 35, outside of Waco. The school district was created to serve students living on the former Connally Air Force Base. Today the area is a mostly middle-class, suburban community, dotted by mobile home parks, where an aging water tower boasts of the schools: “Home of the Cadets – Connally ISD.”

Many here have been inclined to support Abbott. When school opened, masks were optional and perhaps 10% of students opted to wear them, said Jill Bottelberghe, an assistant superintendent. But there are signs this is changing.

“I just dropped my kid off and I’m scared to death,” said one mother after leaving her 13-year-old daughter at Connally Junior High on Tuesday. The district closed for two days last week for testing and cleaning of buildings, and now she’s terrified. “I think it’s crazy they’re opening so soon.”

At Dave’s Burger Barn, a popular hangout just off the Connally High School campus, manager Melanie Lloyd said she has seen a “big increase” in the number of students opting to wear masks in the restaurant.

Students, she said, have been hit hard by the deaths of the two Connally social studies teachers – first David “Andy” McCormick, 59, keen shoes a longtime resident of the community who taught seventh grade, and a few days later, Natalia Chansler, 41, who taught sixth.

“I believe it should have been mandated once we found out people could lose their lives,” said Lloyd, who had covid last year. “I almost lost my life.”

And at Connolly Elementary School, several miles from the junior high, janitor Jimmy Brown said he didn’t get give much thought to getting vaccinated until covid overwhelmed the district. Now, he said, “I’m going to get it.”

Last school year, schools almost uniformally required masks for in-person teaching, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is one of the best ways to prevent virus transmission. But last spring and early summer, as caseloads fell, Republican officials in nine states, including Texas, told school districts they could not require masks for the coming year.

Those orders are on hold because of court intervention in three of the nine states – Texas, Florida and Arkansas. Six others still bar mask mandates, a position that’s come under withering attack from the Biden administration as counter to public health. All six states are under investigation by the federal Education Department’s civil rights office for possibly denying students with disabilities, some of whom are at heightened risk for covid, the right to a free and appropriate education.

In Texas, an increasing number of school districts have moved to implement mandates while Abbott’s order is on hold. That includes not just big cities but smaller, less expected districts, said Frank Ward, a spokesman for the Texas Education Agency. Ward said rural areas had been “bubbled off” from the virus, without many cases and not much masking. “Now they are being affected in a profound way.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office counts more than 80 school districts that are not in compliance with the governor’s order against mask mandates.

Connally acted after the second teacher died, and as the district’s count of positive cases rose. The district canceled four days of classes, postponed a much-anticipated football game and, for the first time, offered coronavirus testing to any student, parent or other community member who wanted it. More than 16% of those tested were positive, many without symptoms.

Then the district brooks shoes received a sobering warning from the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. Last week saw the highest number of new daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths from covid than at any other point in the pandemic, the agency said.

“The most effective way for you to have an immediate impact within your schools is to drastically increase the use of facemasks,” Farley Verner, local health authority, wrote in a memo to schools Friday.

He added that transmission this school year is far more significant than last. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, he said, 50 cases were reported between the start of school and Sept. 1. This year, the total was 774. A year ago, 8% of overall cases in the county were among children under age 17; now it’s 24%.

At the same time, vaccination rates in the county of children ages 12 to 17 are “extremely low,” he said.

Surging cases also persuaded McGregor Independent School District, on the other side of Waco, to adopt a mask mandate, said Superintendent James Lenamon. Under a new policy that took effect this week, the requirement will kick in if more than 2% of coronavirus tests in the district come back positive. Campuses will close if the rate surpasses 5%.

On Tuesday, all four McGregor schools opened with mask mandates.

Lenamon said he was persuaded by the numbers. Over the course of last school year, he said, there were 158 total coronavirus cases in his district. In the first couple of weeks of school this year, the district has identified 147 cases. That, he said, “was our aha moment that it was time to do something different.”

The community response, he added, has been “very much mixed.”

“I’ve got folks who say it’s about time and we’re behind you,” he said. “Other folks just don’t see a need.”

While the delta surge may have impacted McLennan County, it is not changing attitudes among Republican officials, said Portia Bosse, director of public affairs for the Texas State Teachers Association. The legislature considered a bill to allow schools to implement mask requirements but adjourned without acting on it.

“It shook people, but it didn’t shake the right people who have the power to make policy changes,” Bosse said.

In Lacy Lakeview, City Manager Keith Bond estimated that about half the town of 6,700 people wear masks, and half don’t, a ratio he says doesn’t seem to have been affected by the teachers’ deaths.

Bond said he thinks residents have become “numb” to bad news. He pointed to neighboring La Vega Independent School District, where young students are being enticed to mask up by calling them “Safekeepers” and offering them “treasures,” including “a cup of popcorn,” an “hour of time with shoes off in the classroom” and goodies “from the teacher’s treasure bag.”

Bond worries that such tactics could put undue pressure on the unmasked students, noting that some – maybe most of them – are being ordered by their parents to leave their face bare.

Outside the town’s Family Dollar store, Robert Benford Jr., 47, who trains and boards horses for a living, senses a prevailing fear that mandates are just another form of government overreach. But he said the events in the Connally school district, where he graduated, helped motivate him to wear a mask and he believes the mask mandate should return. He also plans to get vaccinated.

“I’m terrified of needles. But I’m going to go ahead and get the shot,” he said. “I didn’t want to be one of those people who wished I did, and didn’t.”

Trump mixes election grievance while railing against Biden’s Afghanistan policy in Alabama

Former president Donald Trump (C-SPAN)
Former president Donald Trump

Former president Donald Trump mixed his normal lies about the 2020 presidential election being stolen while he blamed President Joe Biden for Afghanistan falling to the Taliban at a rally in Alabama Saturday night.

Mr Trump said criticized Mr Biden throughout the rally in Cullman, saying that Democrats stealing the 2020 presidential election led the Afghan capital of Kabul to fall.

“This will go down as one of the great military defeats of all time,” Mr Trump said, with some people seeing to call for Mr Biden’s impeachment. ecco shoes “This was not a withdrawal. It was a total surrender.”

Mr Trump also defended his negotiation with the Taliban and his negotiation with the organization’s leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

“I said Abdul, anything happens, we are going to reign terror upon you,” he said, noting how he and the Taliban had a conditions-based agreement on withdrawal. “And then we had a rigged election and a new president and the new president came into office and he dropped to his knees and he said ‘come on in and take everything that we have.”

The Biden administration, and even some former Trump administration officials, have blamed the former president’s negotiation with the Taliban for the complete collapse of the Afghan government.

In turn, the former president also praised the Taliban while also criticizing the Biden administration for not knowing the precise amount of Americans in Afghanistan.

“Taliban, great negotiators. Tough fighters,” he said. “This is a great stain on the reputation of our country.”

Still, Mr Trump said it was a mistake to go to war in the Middle East.

“Going into the Middle East was one of the most disastrous decisions,” he said. “In my opinion, it was the worst decision we ever had.”

Mr Trump also nike sneakers criticized Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last year that it was a mistake for him to walk across Lafayette Square in front of the White House with then-President Trump to St John’s Episcopal Church to pose with a Bible when police used teargas and rubber bullets on protesters.

“He wanted to apologize for walking with the president of the United States. I said this guy doesn’t have what it takes,” Mr Trump told the crowd in Alabama. Mr Trump, who often touts toughness, had a clip from the movie Patton with George C. Scott in an attempt to contrast with the current generals.

“Do you think that General Patton was woke?” he said, using a term previously used among Africans that now is used as a pejorative among conservatives to deride the concerns of liberals.

“You know what woke means, it means you’re a loser,” he said. “Everything woke turns to shit.”

Mr Trump then used the remarks to deride the US women’s national soccer team and player Megan Rapinoe, a frequent critic of his who has knelt during the national anthem.

“The one with the purple hair, she didn’t play too well,” he said.

The president also encouraged people to get vaccinated but also hedged when saying that people could refuse to do so.

“I recommend, take the vaccines, I did it, it’s good,” he said, “ If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first to know. But it is working. You do have your freedoms.”

But when Mr Trump met some pushback from the crowd, to which he said, “You got your freedoms.”

Alabama’s vaccination rate has been on the upswing after an initial drop, according to WSFA. But AL.com also reported the state was nike store out of intensive care unit beds as cases have spiked.

Mr Trump’s rally also featured numerous local Republican officials, such as Sen Tommy Tuberville, who won his race last year, as well as Rep Mo Brooks, whom Trump endorsed in April for the 2022 Republican primary to replace outgoing Sen Richard Shelby.

Mr Brooks had spoken at the “Stop the Steal Rally” before the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January. But he called on the crowd to move on from the 2020 election.

“There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud election in 2020. Folks, put that behind you,” Mr Brooks said. “Look forward. Beat them in 2022. Beat them in 2024.”

But the crowd jeered him, at which point, the congressman relented.

“All right, well look back at it but go forward and take advantage of it,” he said.