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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday that it would be extending a moratorium on evictions until July 31. This will be the last time the CDC extends the moratorium, the Biden administration said.
The moratorium was originally scheduled to end at the end of this month on June 30. Over 6 million Americans are behind on rent payments, according to recent Census Bureau data, meaning that many are likely to face the possibility of eviction when the moratorium is lifted. The Biden administration is hoping that the extension will help to stymie a potential crisis, officials said, but emphasized that the postponement will last only “one final month.”
The goal, a senior administration official told reporters, per Politico, is to use “these 30 days to do everything possible to mitigate harmful evictions and prevent a flood of evictions when the moratorium ends.”
The administration also announced several other initiatives on Thursday meant to help mitigate a flood of evictions. Officials issued new guidance for state and local governments to use $47 billion in emergency rental assistance from Congress and the Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta released a letter urging courts to actively explore alternatives to evictions.
Gupta in her letter warned that “eviction filings are expected to overwhelm courts across the country.” However, the federal guidance for governments and courts is not binding, and experts fear evictions will skyrocket despite these words of caution.
A group of House Democrats sent a letter to Joe Biden and CDC director Rochelle Walensky Tuesday asking the president and CDC to “extend and strengthen” the eviction moratorium.
“Without further action, in just eight days, the CDC moratorium will expire, and millions of renters will once again face the threat of eviction,” the letter signed by over 50 Democrats, including members of the progressive “squad,” read. “Evictions take lives and push households deeper into poverty, impacting everything from health outcomes to educational attainment.”
The Democrats also point out in their letter that eviction doesn’t threaten everyone equally. “The eviction crisis is a racial justice issue,” they write, pointing to data that shows that nonwhite households are more likely to report being behind on rent payments than their white counterparts. They did not specify the length of time they wanted the moratorium to be extended.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), who spearheaded the Democrats’ letter, thanked Biden for the extension on Twitter on Thursday night. “Thank you to [Biden] and [Walensky] for heeding our calls to extend the eviction moratorium. This pandemic isn’t over and housing is a human right.”
But housing advocates are skeptical that delaying the lifting of the moratorium for only one month would be effective. “We’re simply going to have a horrific crisis in August instead of July,” Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told Politico. Thirty days, Yentel pointed out, may not be enough time to distribute enough resources to the millions of renters in need.
Indeed, though the Biden administration is saying that this is the last time the moratorium will be extended, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) said on Twitter that it should be extended again. “We have urgent work to do over the next month to secure real rent relief for the millions of people still facing eviction and to further extend and strengthen the moratorium,” she wrote on Thursday evening.
State and local governments have also launched initiatives to help prevent an “eviction cliff.” California officials recently announced that they would be using $5.2 billion from federal pandemic aid to help renters pay off their past-due rent payments. The state’s eviction moratorium was set to expire at the end of the month, however, which likely wouldn’t have been enough time to help many renters secure relief. Additionally, the relief will only help a small portion of renters, pointed out Dean Preston, tenant attorney and progressive district supervisor in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, the eviction crisis overlaps with urgent public health concerns: Princeton’s Eviction Lab recently found that, in cities across the country, the neighborhoods with the most eviction filings are also the neighborhoods with the lowest vaccination rates, due partially to vaccine equity issues.
“The CDC eviction moratorium is, for many tenants behind on rent, the last remaining protection from the threat of displacement,” wrote the Eviction Lab. “As its expiration nears, few protections stand in the way of a family losing their home, and potentially contracting a life-threatening virus.”
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I am a first-generation American. My Jewish parents fled Germany as the horrors of the Holocaust were unfolding. They left behind family who perished in camps and were killed as they fled from their homes while being chased and shot at by Nazis.
My great-grandfather, grandfather and father had a thriving butcher business in Frankfurt. They lived in the apartment building next to the butcher shop. My father always said he barely realized he was Jewish until Hitler arrived. It was always Deutschland über alles.
My mother’s family were wheat traders in Wetzlar. After the rise of Hitler, my mother fled Germany first so that she could learn the language in her new country and make enough money to bring over her parents and brother. They came to the U.S. without much money and like many, had to build a life from the bottom up.
Once the war was over, Germany gave my father reparations for the loss of his business as well as for the crime of persecution. He received a monthly check until his death at the age of 91. Both of my parents were welcomed back by the German government and told they could get their passports and citizenship returned.
Those born to Holocaust survivors who can prove that their father was forced from his homeland between the years 1933-1945 have the right to become German citizens along with all of their children, grandchildren and all future progeny forever. Last year, my children, grandchildren and I became German citizens, and were given European passports.
As I think about my own family and its history, I wonder why the 750,000 Palestinians forced from their homes and land in 1948 when Israel was founded are not entitled to the same treatment my family received after WWII ended. But the war on Palestinians was never over. Instead, Israel continues to this day its policy of ethnic cleansing, as evidenced by the current expulsions in Sheikh Jarrah and other parts of East Jerusalem.
B’Tselem, a human rights organization in Israel, and Human Rights Watch have documented and denounced the continuing maltreatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government and the settler movement, including the confiscation of Palestinians’ lands and houses; the restrictions on movement; the limitations on rights of free speech and assembly; the denial of building permits; the denial of many basic civil rights and the terrorizing by Jewish settler extremists backed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Human Rights Watch has concluded that conduct toward the Palestinians amounts to persecution and apartheid, which are crimes against humanity under international law.
It is somewhat ironic that thousands of Jews in Israel are getting reparations and passports from Germany because of expulsion, loss of property and persecution, yet Israel will not allow Palestinians to return to a land from which they were expelled.We recently witnessed the brutal bombing of Gaza, where 2 million Palestinians have been strangled by a 14-year blockade. Using the most sophisticated weaponry made in the United States, the IDF has targeted civilian population centers, hitting 18 hospitals and clinics, apartment buildings and killing scores of children and other innocent bystanders.
I ask myself: How is it possible that the victims of the Holocaust and their progeny can so brutally victimize another people on racial grounds? I ask myself why Palestinians don’t have the same rights to reparations and return afforded to my family after Germany accepted responsibility for their crimes. Shouldn’t Palestinians be entitled to reparations and the right of return? Shouldn’t they have the same rights to self-determination that Israel itself claims?
Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes from which they were displaced is well-established in international law. The first source of support is UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 1948, in which the UN General Assembly, “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible.”
It is somewhat ironic that thousands of Jews in Israel are getting reparations and passports from Germany because of expulsion, loss of property and persecution, yet Israel will not allow Palestinians to return to a land from which they were expelled.
I simply cannot reconcile these profound contradictions that obviously preclude any possibility for peace in the region.
I am deeply ashamed and angry that these acts are committed in the name of the Jewish people and that my government provides the money and arms to support these Israeli crimes.
Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.Read More
Rejecting Big Pharma’s assertion that lower medication costs would stifle innovation and competition, and affirming efforts by House Democrats to change U.S. law so that Medicare can seek lower prescription drug prices, over 80% of Americans surveyed in a poll published Thursday said they support empowering the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. “Americans aren’t buying the claim that attempts to rein in drug prices will stifle innovation and devastate the pharmaceutical industry.”—Tim Lash, West Health
The West Health/Gallup survey (pdf) of more than 3,700 U.S. adults found that 97% of respondents who identified as Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans agreed with the statement that “government needs to play a major role in negotiating prescription drug prices with Medicare in order to control costs.”
Survey participants were also asked whether “allowing government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare will hurt pharmaceutical competition and innovation.” Only 19% of overall respondents concurred, including just 3% of Democrats, 20% of Independents, and 39% of Republicans.
Fully 90% of all survey respondents also agreed with the statement that “drug pricing needs to undergo major reform in order to control costs.”
The survey’s findings come as a broad coalition of over 150 House Democrats led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is demanding that Medicare expansion—including a provision that would allow the federal program to negotiate prescription drug prices—is included in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package.
The negotiations which other nations conduct with drugmakers for lower prices are currently outlawed in the United States, which pays an average of 256% more for brand-name medications than 32 other countries, according to a recent RAND Corporation report.
While campaigning for president, Biden promised to repeal what he called “the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare.” The lawmakers calling for Medicare expansion cited estimates showing that such a move would save the federal government $450 billion over the next decade.
For too long, brand-name drug companies have used anticompetitive strategies to extend their monopolies, forcing Americans to pay more for their medications and discouraging innovation in the pharma industry.
Chair @RepMaloney has had enough. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/7zKLFnqho6
— Oversight Committee (@OversightDems) April 29, 2021
On broader healthcare issues, 71% of those polled in the new survey said the government should play a major or moderate role “in making sure that all Americans have access to healthcare coverage,” with 47% of all participants saying that role should be major.
For this question, respondents were broken down into groups based on income, not party affiliation. At 53%, support for government playing a major role in delivering healthcare access was strongest among people earning over $120,000 annually, while 50% of those earning less than $48,000 and 43% of respondents earning between $48,000 and $120,000 concurred.
“There is little question that substantial public support exists for more government action when it comes to addressing drug costs,” Gallup senior researcher Dan Witters said in a statement. “And while there are differences across the political spectrum, even among Republicans, sentiment for public action is substantial.”
Tim Lash, chief strategy officer for the nonprofit, nonpartisan West Health group, added that “Americans aren’t buying the claim that attempts to rein in drug prices will stifle innovation and devastate the pharmaceutical industry.”
“These misleading arguments are meant to preserve profits rather than protect patients,” said Lash. “The time has come to finally enable Medicare negotiation. Americans are becoming increasing restless for it to happen even if the pharmaceutical companies are not.”
Americans want the government to play a major role in reining in skyrocketing drug costs. Nearly all Democrats (97%) & the majority of Republicans (61%) support empowering Medicare to negotiate. More on the results of our latest survey with @Gallup here. https://t.co/VHlEtasuCx
— West Health (@WestHealth) June 3, 2021
As Common Dreams has reported, pharmaceutical industry consolidation—with mergers and acquisitions often executed to boost stock prices and acquire highly profitable blockbuster drugs—harms both competition and consumers.
Belying Big Pharma claims, a January report from the office of Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) found that as U.S. drug prices have soared in recent decades, pharmaceutical companies’ “investment in research and development have failed to match this same pace.”
“Instead, they’ve dedicated more and more of their funds to enrich shareholders or to purchase other companies to eliminate competition,” the report said, noting that “in 2018, the year that [former President] Donald Trump’s tax giveaway to the wealthy went into effect, 12 of the biggest pharmaceutical companies spent more money on stock buybacks than on research and development.”
The report also underscored that large pharmaceutical companies are generally not responsible for most major new drug breakthroughs, and that innovation is largely driven by small firms reliant upon taxpayer-funded academic research. These smaller companies are then often purchased by pharma giants, which avoid the risks inherent in product development while reaping the rewards of owning the latest blockbuster drug.
“Instead of producing lifesaving drugs for diseases with few or no cures, large pharmaceutical companies often focus on small, incremental changes to existing drugs in order to kill off generic threats to their government-granted monopoly patents,” the report stated.
After a federal judge rejected a $2 billion class-action proposal from Bayer to avert future lawsuits alleging its popular Roundup herbicide causes cancer, the pharmaceutical and chemical giant announced Thursday that it would consider ending sales of the glyphosate-based weedkiller for residential use in the United States.”Removing glyphosate from residential use would be a step in the right direction.”—Ken Cook, EWG
In a statement, Bayer said that it “will immediately engage with partners to discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential market” in a move aimed at “mitigating future litigation risk.”
“None of these discussions will affect the availability of glyphosate-based products in markets for professional and agricultural users,” the Germany-based company added.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco rejected Bayer’s $2 billion plan to settle future lawsuits as “clearly unreasonable,” saying that while the proposal would “accomplish a lot for Monsanto”—the Roundup maker acquired by Bayer for nearly $63 billion in 2018—it “would accomplish far less for… Roundup users.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling against Monsanto that found the chemical maker liable for the cancer afflicting users of Roundup, the world’s bestselling weedkiller. Thousands of Roundup users allege the herbicide gave them non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.
While Bayer claims Roundup is safe, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in 2015 that glyphosate “is probably carcinogenic to humans.”
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Digital rights and anti-domestic violence groups are pushing lawmakers to pass legislation to protect survivors from stalking and harassment, but advocates are facing a powerful lobbying group for the wireless industry, which aims to weaken the bill.As The Guardian reported Thursday, the Safe Connections Act, introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in January, aims to ensure companies like Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint allow survivors to remove themselves from family cell phone plans and end their wireless contracts in order to stop their abusers from accessing information about them.
Companies would be required to let a survivor out of their plan and contract within 48 hours after the person requests to be released and provides police reports or an affidavit describing the abuse. Survivors would be permitted to keep their phone number and to be released from their contract even if they owed back payments on the account.
Cell phone companies would also be required to remove domestic abuse hotlines from their call and text records, to protect their privacy should their abusers see the records.
As The Guardian reported, the wireless industry lobbying group CTIA is working to change the language of the bill, making corporations’ compliance voluntary and protecting them from civil litigation should they fail to comply.
CTIA said in January when Schatz introduced the bill that it looked forward “to continuing to work with these legislators on the shared objective of protecting survivors of domestic violence.”
Survivors have often been forced to stay on their family plans due to the high cost of ending a contract early and the disruption a changed phone number would cause, according to the Clinic to End Tech Abuse (CETA), Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other groups which urged lawmakers to pass the bill in a letter (pdf) last year.
An inability to easily leave a family phone plan can put a survivor in danger, the advocates said.
“Family phone plans can become tools of stalking and other abuse,” the groups wrote to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which unanimously passed the legislation last week. “Several plans offer ‘parental’ controls or apps that an abuser can use to monitor where a victim’s or child’s phone is—and a history of where the phone has been during the past seven days—as well as what numbers the victim or child has been calling or texting. This information can help the abuser follow, harass, and threaten the victim or other family members. It can also discourage the victim from reaching out to others for help.”
The Safe Connections Act would provide survivors with “a pathway to safety,” the National Network to End Domestic Violence told The Guardian.
“The survivor is able to separate their phone line and make plans maybe to separate from the abuser,” Elaina Roberts, the group’s technology safety legal manager, said. “They can reach out to family and friends, or a direct service provider without being monitored or without that being known, so they can plan for their safety.”
On social media on Thursday, proponents of the Safe Connections Act shared an open letter calling on their representatives in Congress to support the legislation and fight CTIA’s efforts to weaken the legislation.
“Ignore the seemingly heartless greed of CTIA and wireless companies who try to ignore their involvement in abusive domestic relationships,” the letter reads. “Since these companies won’t do the right thing—because they seem to care more about money than human life—please do what’s right and help protect vulnerable Americans.”Read More
Forty leaders from the world’s top greenhouse gas-polluting nations where hosted by the Biden administration on Thursday for an all-virtual summit to discuss the global climate emergency and the pathways—including individual emission reduction goals—that governments must take to stave off the worst impacts of global warming and runaway destruction of the planet’s natural systems.Just ahead of the gathering, President Joe Biden announced new U.S. commitments to meeting the goals set forth in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and said that the nation will now aim to reduce annual carbon output by 52% compared to 2005 levels.
“Our clean energy plan will create millions of good-paying union jobs, ensure our economic competitiveness, and improve the health and security of communities across America,” Biden said in a declaration released ahead of the summit. “By making those investments and putting millions of Americans to work, the United States will be able to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.”
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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s release of a partial Fiscal Year 2022 federal budget seems to maintain the defense-spending status quo, despite hopes that it would mark a significant decrease, says Council for a Livable World, the nation’s oldest advocacy organization focused on sound national security policy including reducing nuclear threats. The administration, and Congress, must do more to cut wasteful defense spending and set this country down a more sustainable strategic path. The new request reportedly includes $715 billion in Pentagon spending, which does not include defense-related spending from the Department of Energy and miscellaneous smaller sources.
In response, Council for a Livable World Executive Director, former nine-term Congressman John Tierney, released the following statement:
“While President Biden’s military budget request is less than former President Donald Trump planned to ask for, it should still be further reduced during congressional budget consideration. The fact is, we cannot allow a three-quarters-of-a-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget to be considered normal in any way. Much work remains to divest ourselves of legacy weapons systems and strategies intended to fight the Cold War. We must reduce wasteful spending to meet the moment we find ourselves in now.
The United States continues to spend more on defense than the next 10 countries combined and our current Pentagon budget rivals defense spending at the height of the Vietnam War.
At the same time, the United States remains bogged down in small wars around the world with no clear metrics for success while maintaining about 800 military bases around the world.
But in a year when more Americans have died from a virus than in all of the wars we have fought in the 20th and 21st centuries, it is time to realize that throwing more money at the Pentagon does not make us safer. Congress should work with the administration to build a new national security strategy that will prepare us for the realities we face now and tomorrow, not the bloated military fantasies of yesterday.”Read More
WASHINGTON – Father Steve Kelly, S.J., a Jesuit priest and longtime nuclear resister, arrived in Tacoma, Washington March 30th to appear in the US District Court on a warrant for a previous probation violation. Kelly had been arrested on a charge of trespassing at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington during a Pacific Life Community nonviolent direct action in March 2017. Kelly refused to cooperate with a federal judge’s imposition of supervised release following his September 2017 trial, and an arrest warrant was issued. Kelly has consistently refused cooperation with any sentencing terms throughout his history of resistance.
After being taken in chains from Brunswick, Georgia, where he had been imprisoned for his part in the 2018 Kings Bay Plowshares, Kelly arrived in Tacoma, Washington on March 30, 2021, and was scheduled to have a preliminary court hearing before a Federal judge the next day on the outstanding warrant. Because of Kelly’s intention to appear in person at all court proceedings, he waived his appearance and was represented by his attorney, Blake Kremer. Magistrate Judge David Christel set another court hearing for April 13th.
After the preliminary hearing ended, Kremer worked with the probation office and their post-release unit to resolve probation issues. Although the initial recommendation was that Kelly be ordered to live in a halfway house and continue to be supervised by the court, Kremer argued that kelly will have served his maximum sentence by the April 13th hearing date and therefore the court could not impose any additional conditions. The probation office agreed, and on April 1st changed their position, writing: “we will be recommending Father Kelly’s term of probation to be revoked and he be sentenced to time served with no option for supervision to follow.”
Kelly was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the Jesuit order in 1990, and engaged in his first Plowshares action – “Jubilee Plowshares” – in 1995. Since then, he has participated in numerous Plowshares actions and other witnesses against nuclear weapons and war making. In that time he has spent over 10 years behind bars, and roughly one-third of that time in solitary confinement (for non-cooperation).
Most recently, on April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kelly and others, known as the the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, entered Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the US Navy’s East Coast Trident nuclear ballistic missile submarine base. All seven defendants pled not guilty, insisting that they had not entered the base to commit a crime, but rather to prevent one from occurring, the crime of “omnicide”, the destruction of the human race which is possible in a nuclear war. In the face of this threat that the US nuclear arsenal poses to the world, they believed what they had done was not illegal, but a “symbolic disarmament”, an act of necessary civil resistance. All seven were found by a jury to be guilty on three felony counts and a misdemeanor charge.
Prior to the action at Kings Bay, Kelly and four others, in what is known as the Disarm Now Plowshares, were arrested at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on All Souls Day, November 2, 2009, after entering the nuclear warhead storage area at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific, to expose the nuclear warheads that are deployed on OHIO Class “Trident” ballistic missile submarines. Bangor is home to the Largest Concentration of Deployed Nuclear Weapons in the U.S.
The combined fourteen ballistic missile submarines at Bangor and Kings Bay, carrying the Trident II D5 ballistic missile armed with some combination of W76-1 (100 kiloton) warheads and W88 (475 kiloton) warheads, in addition to some small number of the newer “low-yield” W76-2 warhead are, in addition to being what the US government calls “the most survivable leg of the US nuclear triad,” arguably a first-strike nuclear weapon, which is inherently destabilizing to any efforts toward cooperation and disarmament efforts with Russia. The continuing warhead modernization and current construction of the next generation of ballistic missile submarines, with plans for a new warhead and missile, is contributing to a new and far less stable nuclear arms race.
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Revelations that Donald Trump was told that Mike Pence had been whisked from the Senate floor just minutes before the former president decided to tweet an attack on his own vice president has added to the already staggering body of evidence that any stated concerns Trump had about the violent mob which stormed the Capitol Building on January 6 came secondary to his private approval of and participation in what transpired that day.The new evidence for a damning timeline came from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) who on Wednesday night told reporters that he personally talked to Trump just after Pence and his aides were ushered away by the Secret Service.
“He didn’t get a chance to say a whole lot because I said, “Mr. President, they just took the vice president out. I’ve got to go,'” Tuberville said in response to a question about the nature of the call.
Citing video footage from January 6—details of which were presented during Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday—the HuffPost reports that “Pence was removed from the Senate at 2:14 p.m. after rioters had broken into the Capitol, meaning that when Trump lashed out at Pence at 2:24 p.m., he already knew Pence’s life was in danger.”
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump said in his 2:24 pm tweet.
Donald Trump posted a tweet attacking his own vice president for lacking “the courage” to overturn the election for him―enraging his Jan. 6 mob even further―just minutes after learning that Pence had been removed from the Senate chamber for his own safety.https://t.co/RHEllVuENj— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 11, 2021
As the House impeachment managers showed in dramatic footage Wednesday, Pence was escorted to safety just moments before the mob overtook large portions of the building. And as lawmakers throughout the building sought safety, a makeshift gallows had been erected outside the Capitol while those inside were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Where are they?” in an apparent reference to others they sought to harm.
Reporting by The Hill notes that it “had previously been known that Tuberville and Trump spoke, though the details of the conversation are new. The fact that the Alabama senator told the president that Pence was in danger is a potentially useful nugget for the Democrats’ impeachment managers, who are trying to convince Senate Republicans that Trump egged on the mob and then did nothing to quell the violence once it erupted.”
According to Politico:
It’s long been unclear precisely when Trump learned of the danger that Congress and his vice president faced—though it was broadcast all over live television—but Tuberville’s claim would mark a specific moment Trump was notified that Pence had to be evacuated for his own safety. Aides to the former president did not immediately return a request for comment.
In reaction to the new revelations, The Intercept’s Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim tweeted: “Looks like Trump wasn’t playing around, really did want something to happen to Pence.”
And as Benjy Sarlin, policy editor for NBC News commented, “When the jurors are also witnesses, strange things happen.”Read More