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Mother killed in same spot as her 14-year-old son was slain 2 days earlier in Chicago

On Thursday, Chicago police confirmed they were investigating the shooting death of a 31-year-old woman who was slain at the same spot as her 14-year-old son was murdered just days earlier.

The mother, Delisa Tucker, was shot in the chest Wednesday morning near Chicago’s Wentworth Avenue while visiting the location where her 14-year-old son, Kevin Tinker Jr., was slain. Tucker leaves behind five children between the ages of four and 15. Tucker intended to light a candle at the site of her son’s slaying in the early morning hours before being struck by gunfire herself, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan wouldn’t say if they believe the shootings are connected, and indicated no one has been taken into custody as of press time. The 14-year-old victim’s father, Kevin Tinker Sr., described his son as a “good kid” who played basketball and stayed home most of the time with his younger brothers and sisters. But he said that “some violence found him” when he was walking home from a friend’s house.

Police said no witnesses to Delisa Tucker’s slaying had yet been found. Both shootings occurred in the Roseland area of Chicago where police say murders have increased by 48% from last year and 94% from 2019. The area has seen 26 shooting deaths so far in 2021.

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President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden share Thanksgiving message honoring those lost during pandemic

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden sent appreciation to service members who lost their lives during the pandemic in a Thanksgiving video message posted on Twitter.  Biden said: “As we give thanks for what we have, we also keep in our hearts those who we lost, and those who have lost so much. And those who have an empty seat at their kitchen table or their dining room table this year because of this virus or another cruel twist of fate or accident. We pray for them.”

First Lady Jill Biden added: “After being apart last year, we have a new appreciation for those little moments we can’t plan or replicate. The music of laughter in a warm, full kitchen, the thump of small feet making big sounds, the circle of faces crowded around our dining room table, glowing in the candlelight.”

The Bidens spent Thanksgiving in Nantucket. After the video was released, the president called into NBC’s broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and gave a message to Americans. Said Biden: “My message is after two years, we’re back, America’s back.” 

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Federal jury finds white supremacists conspired in deadly Unite the Right rally

A federal jury on Tuesday found that white supremacists conspired to take part in violence during a 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia which left three people dead. The jury in the civil trial ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on four of the six counts they faced, but deadlocked on two federal conspiracy counts.  The defendants — 12 individuals and five white nationalist organizations — were ordered to pay $26 million in damages for the violent protest. Half of that amount must be paid by James Fields, who’s serving life in prison for driving his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotestors, killing activist Heather Heyer.

The Unite the Right rally, which was held Aug. 11, 2017 on the campus of the University of Virginia, protested the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.  There were protests at the park the next day, leading to violence between the white supremacists and counter-demonstrators, during which Heyer was killed.

In addition to Fields, the defendants in the civil trial include prominent white nationalists and self-proclaimed members of the “alt-right,” such as Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell, Jason Kessler, Elliot Kline, Nathan Damico, Matthew Heimbach, Jeff Schoep, Andrew Anglin, Matthew Parrott and others.

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President Biden orders 50M barrels from emergency oil stockpile to bring gas prices down

President Joe Biden has ordered the release of tens of millions of barrels of oil from the strategic reserve in a move to bring down gas prices.  During remarks from the White House on Tuesday, Biden ordered an additional 50 million barrels from the reserve, which is an emergency stockpile of oil stored in underground tanks in the Gulf Coast area, a move he said “will not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight.  It will take time, but before long, you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank. And in the longer term, we will reduce our reliance on oil as we shift to clean energy.”  Inflation has pushed up the cost of many goods and services in the United States, particularly gasoline prices, which are presently at their highest prices in years.

The White House said in a statement: “American consumers are feeling the impact of elevated gas prices at the pump and in their home heating bills … because oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic. That’s why President Biden is using every tool available to him to work to lower prices and address the lack of supply.”

Officials said the additional barrels of oil will be released from the strategic reserve in two ways — 32 million barrels in an exchange over the next few months that will eventually return to the emergency stockpile, and 18 million barrels in an acceleration of sales that Congress previously authorized. Biden described high gas prices as a problem in the United States and throughout the world: “We’re taking action. The big part of the reason Americans are facing high gas prices is because oil producing countries and large companies have not ramped up the supply of oil quickly enough to meet the demand. And the smaller supply means higher prices globally, globally, for oil.”

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President Biden nominates Jerome Powell for second term as Federal Reserve chair

On Monday, President Joe Biden nominated Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman. Biden nominated Powell, a Republican, for another term at the central bank at a White House event despite opposition from progressive Democrats in Congress who are concerned about his leadership. He also nominated Fed Governor Lael Brainard, the progressives’ choice for the top spot, as vice chair of the board of governors. If confirmed, she would succeed Richard Clarida, whose term expires Jan. 31, 2022.

Biden said he picked Powell because the economy, while showing solid recovery, is still unsettled due to the lingering pandemic, presenting “enormous potential and enormous uncertainty.”  The President said that Powell provides a strong element of continuity and security during uncertain times, saying: “When our country was hemorrhaging jobs last year and there was panic in our financial markets, Jay’s steady and decisive leadership helped to stabilize markets and put our economy on track to a robust recovery.” He also praised Powell’s commitment to “delivering full employment. We’re making strong progress toward that goal now.”

During Powell’s first term, the Federal Reserve instituted massive levels of low-interest lending designed to keep small and large businesses afloat during the pandemic while slashing interest rates to near zero.  Powell’s nomination now go to the Senate, where he is expected to easily earn confirmation.

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NY Assembly finds evidence that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo “engaged in sexual harassment”

The New York State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee released their report on its investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which details evidence of Cuomo engaging in sexual harassment, utilizing state resources to write a book, and hiding nursing home death numbers during the coronavirus pandemics.

The report. completed by the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, was released by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.  The committee found Cuomo engaged in multiple instances of sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment in the process. and cites “overwhelming evidence” of sexual harassment committed by the former governor. The investigation also discovered Cuomo utilized state resources and property, including work by executive chamber staff, to write, publish and promote his book. The report said the book guaranteed Cuomo at least $5.2 million in personal profit while using the state’s staff and resources.  Cuomo was also not fully transparent to the public regarding the number of nursing home residents who died as a result of COVID-19.

Committee Chairman Charles Lavine said Cuomo’s conduct was “extremely disturbing” and was “indicative of someone who is not fit for office.” The report said the state constitution clearly states impeachment was reserved to remove an official from office and does not address former officials.

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Multiple deaths, injuries confirmed after SUV plows through holiday parade in Wisconsin

Fatalities have been confirmed after a driver of an SUV plowed through a Christmas parade in a Milwaukee suburb. A live video feed of the Holiday Parade from the City of Waukesha showed a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.  Waukesha is located about 15 miles from Milwaukee.

Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said the SUV struck more than 20 people, including children. Fire Chief Steve Howard said that 11 adults and 12 “pediatric patients” were transported to nearby hospitals. Police chief Thompson and fire chief Howard declined to comment on the number of fatalities until families of the victims could be notified. Several social media reports claim shots were fired from the SUV; however, Thompson clarified during a press conference that the shots were fired by a police officer attempting to stop the SUV. No one was injured by the gunfire.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly called the incident a “horrible, senseless tragedy,” adding, “My heart goes out to those injured as well as to their families My heart goes out to those who are witness to these events. My heart goes out to those who lost a loved one tonight.” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers tweeted that he and his wife, Kathy were “praying for Waukesha tonight and all the kids, families, and community members affected by this senseless act. I’m grateful for the first responders and folks who acted quickly to help, and we are in contact with local partners as we await more information.”.”

The FBI will assist local authorities, who are currently leading the investigation. Thompson said it is a “very fluid investigation” and that one person of interest is in custody in the case.

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U.S. missionary group confirms 2 of 17 hostages have been released from captivity in Haiti

Two of the 17 people taken hostage in Haiti last month have been freed, their church organization said Sunday. According to the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, both members are “safe” and “in good spirits,” No further information, including the identities of those freed or how their release was secured, was given. The church group said: “While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the fifteen people who are still being held.”  The FBI, which is helping Haitian authorities recover the captives, declined to comment.

The missionaries were kidnapped by the ‘400 Mawozo’ gang on Oct. 16. There are five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old. Their Haitian driver also was abducted, according to a local human rights organization. The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands are met. Authorities have said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear that included the children in the group.

The release comes as Haiti has seen a spike in gang-related violence and kidnappings. The U.S. government recently urged U.S. citizens to leave Haiti, and on Friday, Canada announced it was pulling all but essential personnel from its embassy. Haiti also is trying to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-August, killing more than 2,200 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

 

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Oklahoma governor grants clemency to Julius Jones just hours before his planned execution

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt granted Julius Jones clemency ahead of his scheduled execution Thursday, commuting his sentence to life without parole following public outcry based on doubts over whether he committed the 1999 murder for which he was convicted.  The last-minute executive order by Gov. Stitt came mere hours before Jones was scheduled to be executed, and follows public outcry among advocacy groups, on social media, and from celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, a prominent criminal justice advocate who called Jones’ case a “tragic miscarriage of justice.”  Several other celebrities joined in calls for his clemency, including NBA players Blake Griffin, Trae Young and Russell Westbrook, and rappers Common and J Cole.  Criminal justice advocacy groups have criticized the court’s handling of the case, claiming jurors had shown signs of racial bias and that prosecutors had withheld crucial evidence.

Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board recommended Jones’ sentence be commuted in September, and again voted for clemency earlier this month, voicing doubts about his guilt in the crime.  Governor Stitt said in a statement he commuted Jones’ sentence “after prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case.” As a condition of granting clemency, Stitt ordered that Jones will never be eligible to apply or be considered for parole, pardon or commutation for the rest of his life.  Jones’ attorney, Amanda Bass, said in a statement his legal team had hoped Stitt would adopt the board’s full recommendation to grant him the possibility of parole, but she added they are grateful “the governor has prevented an irreparable mistake.”

Jones has maintained his innocence for decades. He was sentenced to death in 2002 after he was found guilty of killing Paul Howell in a suburb of Oklahoma City.  Criminal justice advocates have criticized Jones’ legal team for failing to present his alibi during the trial, and have argued that racial discrimination played a role in his conviction.

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Travis McMichael takes stand, testifies Ahmaud Arbery never verbally threatened him or pulled weapon

Travis McMichael returned to the witness stand on Thursday, and under cross-examination from the prosecutor repeated that Ahmaud Arbery never verbally threatened him or pulled a weapon on him during the five minutes he, his father and their neighbor chased Arbery before the 35-year-old McMichael fatally shot him.  Travis McMichael, his 65-year-old father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 53, have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski attempted to get McMichael to concede to inconsistencies between what he told police the day of the shooting and what he told the Brunswick, Georgia, jury during his direct testimony on Wednesday. McMichael acknowledged that in none of his statements did he tell police that he and his father were attempting to make a citizens’ arrest of Arbery. He also conceded that he had suspected another individual of stealing a pistol from his truck on Jan. 1, 2020, and that he had also surmised that person, not Arbery, was the one responsible for a spike in crime in his Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick.

During his direct testimony on Wednesday, Travis McMichael testified that he walked out of his house with his shotgun and saw a neighbor pointing in his direction as if signaling where he saw the young Black man running. He testified on Thursday that at no time did he go and speak to the neighbor about what had occurred before he and his father jumped in his truck with their guns and set out after Arbery.  He said he drove close enough to Arbery on three separate occasions to ask him to stop running so he could speak to him, but in each instance, Arbery kept running, never said a word to him and altered his course in an apparent attempt to get away from the McMichaels.

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