This is Garrison Hardie with your CrossPolitic Daily News Brief for Thursday, May the 4th be with you, 2023.
Star Wars- The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)-Play 0:00-0:36
Star Wars Day is an informal commemorative day observed annually on May 4 to celebrate the Star Wars media franchise created by founder, former chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, George Lucas. Observance of the day spread quickly through media and grassroots celebrations since the franchise began in 1977.
The date originated from the pun “May the Fourth be with you”, a variant of the popular Star Wars catchphrase “May the Force be with you”. Even though the holiday was not created or declared by Lucasfilm, many Star Wars fans around the world have chosen to celebrate the holiday. It has since been embraced by Lucasfilm and parent company Disney as an annual celebration of Star Wars.
Additionally, the release date of the original Star Wars movie on May 25, 1977 is also celebrated as Geek Pride Day.
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Kyiv denies involvement in alleged Kremlin drone attack
Russia claimed Ukraine launched an attempt to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin with a drone strike on the Kremlin overnight on Wednesday, an extraordinary allegation that was met with forceful denials in Kyiv.
The Kremlin said the attack was foiled and the alleged drones destroyed. Video that appeared on social media shows a bright flash and a puff of smoke over a part of the Kremlin, the official residence of the Russian president and the most potent symbol of power in Moscow.
In a statement, the Kremlin said it regarded the alleged attack as terrorism and a deliberate attempt on Putin’s life. “Russia reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit,” it added.
Ukraine denied involvement in the alleged strike.
US officials said they were still assessing the incident, and had no information about who might have been responsible. Whatever the truth, any admission of a security breach at the heart of the Kremlin is remarkable.
Moscow said the alleged attack took place in the early hours of Wednesday. The Russian president was not in the building at the time, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
analysis of video showing the incident support the Kremlin’s claim that two drones were flown above the Kremlin early Wednesday, but did not show evidence of Ukrainian involvement:
A video that appeared to show smoke rising from the Kremlin surfaced on a local neighborhood channel on social media platform Telegram at 2:37 a.m. local time Wednesday. The first reports of the incident citing the Kremlin came via Russian state media TASS and RIA around 2:33 p.m. local time – around 12 hours later.
Shortly after the first media reports, another video appearing to show the moment a drone exploded above the Kremlin began circulating widely on social media. In the video, the drone appears to fly towards the building’s domed roof, followed by what looks like a small explosion.
In this video, two people appear to be climbing on the dome holding flashlights, and can be seen ducking down just before the moment of the explosion. The people climbing the dome are not present in the first of these videos, but appear in the second, suggesting they were responding to the fire caused by the first drone at the time the subsequent drone appeared.
The Kremlin Press Service has called the purported drone attack an “attempt on the President’s life,” said it was an “act of terrorism” and blamed Ukraine.
POLICE ANNOUNCE MANIFESTO OF NASHVILLE TRANSGENDER MASS KILLER WON’T BE RELEASED SOON
The release of transgender mass killer Audrey Hale’s manifesto has been put on hold.
The Nashville Police Department had previously told Fox News Digital last week the manifesto was being revealed and would be released. People are interested to see what drove Hale to murder six innocent people, including three children, at the Covenant School in late March.
Now, it appears that the process has hit a roadblock.
Metro Nashville PD announced Wednesday afternoon that “Due to pending litigation filed this week, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has been advised by counsel to hold in abeyance the release of records related to the shooting at The Covenant School pending orders or direction of the court.”
The update is in response to a lawsuit filed by former Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and the Tennessee Firearms Association against the Nashville city government and the police to release the manifesto, according to TimeFreePress.com.
As of early May, the public still doesn’t have any idea what is in the manifesto.
It’s been more than a month since Audrey Hale walked into the Covenant School to unleash her rampage of terror against children and staffers.
Despite the significant time that has passed, government officials have seemingly dragged their feet to make sure the manifesto doesn’t come out. For most of the time, it appeared that Hale’s writings would never be released.
Metro Nashville Council Member Courtney Johnston previously told the New York Post, “What I was told is, her manifesto was a blueprint on total destruction, and it was so, so detailed at the level of what she had planned … That document in the wrong person’s hands would be astronomically dangerous.”
Fed increases rates a quarter point and signals a potential end to hikes
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday approved its 10th interest rate increase in just a little over a year and dropped a tentative hint that the current tightening cycle is at an end.
In a unanimous decision widely expected by markets, the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee raised its benchmark borrowing rate by 0.25 percentage point. The rate sets what banks charge each other for overnight lending but feeds through to many consumer debt products such as mortgages, auto loans and credit cards.
The increase takes the fed funds rate to a target range of 5%-5.25%, the highest since August 2007.
Markets, though, are more focused on whether the Fed will pause here, particularly with lingering concerns over economic growth and a banking crisis that has rattled nerves on Wall Street. Stocks rose slightly and Treasury yields were mostly lower immediately following the Fed news, but stocks struggled to hold on to the gains.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Chairman Jerome Powell said “a decision on a pause was not made today” but noted the change in the statement language around future policy firming was “meaningful.”
The post-meeting statement had only offered some clarity on the future pace of rate hikes — and not by what it said but what it didn’t say. The document omitted a sentence present in the previous statement saying that “the Committee anticipates that some additional policy firming may be appropriate” for the Fed to achieve its 2% inflation goal.
The statement also tweaked language to outline the conditions under which “additional policy firming may be appropriate.” Previously, the FOMC had framed the forward guidance around how it would determine “the extent of future increases in the target range.”
The statement reiterated that the Fed “will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments.”
Taken together, the moves are at least a tenuous nod that while tight policy could remain in effect, the path ahead is less clear for actual interest rate hikes as policymakers assess incoming data and financial conditions.
Wednesday’s decision comes amid U.S. economic fragility and over the objections of prominent Democratic lawmakers, who urged the Fed this week to stop rate hikes that they insisted could cause a recession and excessive loss of jobs.
However, the labor market has remained strong since the increases started in March 2022. At the same time, inflation is still well above the 2% target that policymakers consider optimum. Multiple officials have said rates probably will need to stay elevated even if the hikes are put on hold.
IRS Spent $10 Million on Weapons Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began: Watchdog
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been splashing out millions stocking up on guns, ammunition, and combat gear since 2020, according to the findings of Open The Books, a watchdog group that tracks government spending.
A report by the watchdog, published on April 27, found that the agency has spent a total of $10 million on weaponry and gear since the COVID-19 pandemic began, including $2.3 million on duty ammunition, $1.2 million on ballistic shields, and another $1.3 million on “various other gear for criminal investigation agents.”
Additionally, the agency has spent $474,000 on Smith & Wesson rifles, $463,000 on Beretta 1301 tactical shotguns, and $243,000 on body armor vests since 2020.
Another $467,000 was reportedly spent on duty tactical lighting, $354,000 on tactical gear bags, and $267,000 on ballistic helmets in the same time.
The report, called “The Militarization of Federal Bureaucracy,” contains updated data through the end of March 2023.
Since 2006, the IRS has splashed out $35.2 million (adjusted for inflation) on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. The report found that 2020 and 2021 saw them spend increased amounts.
In a statement to Open The Books in 2021, an IRS spokesperson said IRS Criminal Investigation special agents “have been using weapons throughout their history as they have consistently found themselves investigating the most dangerous criminals involved in organized crime, drugs, and gangs.”
The IRS Careers website for criminal investigation special agents states that applicants must be willing to “carry a firearm, must be prepared to protect him/herself or others from physical attacks at any time and without warning and use firearms in life-threatening situations; must be willing to use force up to and including the use of deadly force.”
San Francisco Loses Another Retail Giant as Shops Continue To Close Due to Crime
According to a memo from Chief Stores Officer Jamie Nordstrom to employees, the company has decided not to renew its leases for its San Francisco Centre Nordstrom store and the Market Street Rack store.
“We’ve spent more than 35 years serving customers in downtown San Francisco, building relationships with them and investing in the local community,” Nordstrom wrote.
“But as many of you know, the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully.”
The San Francisco Centre location will close at the end of August, and the Market Street Rack will close on July 1.
the owner of the Westfield mall, told the San Francisco Standard that such closures “underscores the deteriorating situation in Downtown San Francisco.”
A spokesperson for the mall added:
“A growing number of retailers and businesses are leaving the area due to the unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees, coupled with the fact that these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area.”
The statement continued:
[Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield] has actively engaged with city leaders for many years to express our serious concerns, which are shared by our customers and retailers. We have urged the city to find solutions to the key issues and lack of enforcement again.”
The news comes not long after San Francisco flagship Whole Foods retail store closed after just a year due to 568 emergency calls over 13 months amid soaring crime in the city.
Incidents included vagrants starting fights, throwing food, and defecating on the floor.
Twenty retailers have closed stores in the Union Square area since 2020, The Standard reports.
Last month, CashApp founder Bob Lee was fatally stabbed in the streets of San Fransisco, while former fire commissioner Don Carmignani was recently beaten over the head with a pipe by a vagrant.
Last October, The Daily Fetched reported that commuters were resorting to arming themselves with baseball bats and stun guns due to droves of violent drug addicts.
Residents of the SoMa, in northeast San Francisco, said the recent opening of the SoMa RISE drug sobering center, which opened in June, has plagued the neighborhood, making it unsafe.
Residents say the center, which aims to temper drug usage, has done nothing but draw heavy users to the neighborhood.
Residents said the influx of drug users had brought soaring crime, making the neighborhood more dangerous, Fox News reported.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed touted the center as a safe haven for addicts looking to rebuild their lives.
But according to SoMa resident and business owner Mark Sackett, the reality of the center in the neighborhood is much different.
Joe Biden Offers $500K Grant for Teachers in Pakistan to Help Transgender Youth
According to the State Department grant, it will teach English language skills to Pakistani transgender youth so they “better participate in the global community and prepare them for success in the workplace.”
The grant report aims to focus on three components:
(1) Professional Development for English Language Teachers from Non-Mainstream Institutions
(2) Professional Development for novice Pakistani English language teachers
(3) Professional Development for Transgender Youth and for Afghan Teachers, Students, and Young Professionals Residing in Pakistan.”
The program component that includes a focus on transgender youth accepts proposals from applicants “for a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $75,000 to implement: (1) intensive professional development courses for Pakistani transgender youth from the ages of 13-25, and (2) and intensive professional development courses for Afghan teachers, students, and young professionals residing in Pakistan.”
The components aim to improve English language communication skills and connect trainees to a professional alumni network.
Applicants to the Biden grant program are encouraged to address, “What is the most effective way to reach the greatest number of Pakistani transgender youth and Afghan teachers, students, and young professionals from diverse locations across Pakistan?”
A spokesperson for the State Department said the education project from the agency focuses on transgender youth like it does with other “marginalized communities.”
However, the spokesperson added that the grant funds won’t be used for gender transitions.