US Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said a nationwide coronavirus lockdown would amount to the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” besides slavery in US history, according to a CNN report.
Barr reportedly made the remarks during a speech at Hillsdale College in celebration of Constitution Day in response to a question about the “constitutional hurdles” of banning church gatherings during the pandemic.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said.
As health experts have championed the measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, Barr, a staunch defender of President Trump, has slammed stay-at-home orders as “draconian.”
His comments Wednesday referencing slavery came after public health data has shown African Americans to be at a higher risk for catching the coronavirus. African Americans are more likely to be essential workers and are more likely to have preexisting health conditions due to systemic challenges.
Barr went on to slam governors who have imposed stay-at-home orders even as states like New York effectively used them to cut down on infections, CNN reported.
“Most of the governors do what bureaucrats always do, which is they … defy common sense,” Barr said. “They treat free citizens as babies that can’t take responsibility for themselves and others.”
“We have to give business people an opportunity,” he added, “tell them what the rules are you know the masks, which rule of masks, you had this month … and then let them try to adapt their business to that and you’ll have ingenuity and people will at least have the freedom to try to earn a living.”
Names from Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs could be revealed
The top prosecutor in the US Virgin Islands is seeking more than 20 years of flight logs from Jeffrey Epstein’s fleet — a move that’s stirred up “panic among many of the rich and famous,” according to a new report.
Attorney General Denise George has sued the late pedophile’s estate, subpoenaing logs for each of his four helicopters and three planes from 1998 until his suicide last year at a Manhattan federal jail, The Mirror reported.
She is additionally seeking “complaints or reports of potentially suspicious conduct” and any personal notes written by the pilots, and names and contact information for all those who “interacted with or observed” Epstein or any passengers connected to him, according to the outlet.
George’s suit alleges 22 counts, including aggravated rape, child abuse and neglect, human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution.
Back in 2009, pilot David Rodgers provided logs which revealed that Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey and Naomi Campbell were on board Epstein’s “Lolita Express” jet, according to the report.
Nothing suggests that they were aware of Epstein’s misconduct.
But the 2009 logs did not include flights piloted by Larry Visoski, who flew for Epstein for over a quarter of a century, lawyers for the victims told The Mirror.
“The records that have been subpoenaed will make the ones Rodgers provided look like a Post-It note,” a legal source told the outlet. “There is panic among many of the rich and famous.”
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, who is being held in jail on charges that she conspired with Epstein to sexually abuse young women, often piloted helicopters to the disgraced money manager’s private island.
California’s Bobcat wildfire among largest in LA history
California’s Bobcat fire is one of the largest blazes in the history of Los Angeles County — torching more than 103,000 acres and setting off a rare “firenado” captured on video.
As of Sunday, the fire had consumed 103,135 acres since breaking out over the Labor Day weekend, according to The Los Angeles Times.
That makes it comparable to the 1970 Clampitt fire that scorched some 105,000 acres and killed four people in the San Fernando Valley, the broadsheet reported.
The 2009 Station fire, the largest ever recorded in Los Angeles County, laid waste to 160,000 acres, killed two firefighters and destroyed over 200 structures, the report said.
Only 15 percent of the Bobcat fire is considered contained, and it added almost 20,000 acres to its path of destruction between Friday and Saturday alone, backed by strong winds.
“We’re still in the thick of a good firefight,” Andrew Mitchell, a spokesman for the US Forest Service, told the paper.
A weather-watcher on Saturday tweeted video of a “fire-nado” sweeping across the Big Pines Highway “throwing rocks and ash all around,” aided by those fierce winds.
The Bobcat blaze is one of dozens that thousands of firefighters have battled up and down the West Coast dating back to last month.
Massive fires have also ravaged Oregon to the north, sending thick plumes of smoke wafting as far away as Europe.
Belarus sees another massive protest after opposition leader detained
Tens of thousands of Belarusians calling for the president’s resignation marched through the capital Sunday as the country’s wave of protests entered its seventh week.
Hundreds of soldiers blocked off the center of Minsk, deploying water cannons and armored personnel carriers and erecting barbed-wire barriers. Protests also took place in several other cities, including Brest and Grodno. The crowd in Minsk included about 100,000 people, said Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights organization. He said dozens of demonstrators were arrested in Minsk and Grodno.
Sunday’s protest comes after about 2,000 demonstrators, mostly women, marched through the streets of Minsk on Saturday. Hundreds, including Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old great-grandmother who has become an icon of the protest movement, were detained and ushered into filled police vans, the BBC reported. Bahinskaya was taken to a police station but was later released.
Protests began Aug. 9 after an election that official results say gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office; opponents and some poll workers say the results were manipulated.
Lukashenko, who has repressed opposition and independent news media during 26 years in power, has rejected suggestions of dialogue with the protesters. Many members of the Coordination Council formed by the opposition to push for a transition of power have been arrested or have fled the country.
The Minsk demonstrators on Sunday carried the red-and-white flags that were independent Belarus’ national standard before being replaced in 1995, early in Lukashenko’s tenure. Some bore placards depicting Lukashenko as a mustachioed cockroach.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign minister on Friday warned Russia against interfering with Belarus’ sovereignty amid the civil unrest.
“It is heartbreaking to watch the footage of our close neighbors viciously beaten down and arbitrarily detained on the streets of their native cities,” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told the UN Human Rights Council. “We warn the Russian Federation against taking steps that may lead to undermining political sovereignty of Belarus and thus destabilizing the wider region.”
Wendy Morton, the UK’s junior foreign minister, also called on foreign powers to enact sanctions against Belarusian authorities responsible for “fraudulent elections,” Reuters reported.
Although protests have taken place daily since the election, the Sunday gatherings in Minsk have been by far the largest, attracting crowds of as many as 200,000 people.
“Every Sunday, you are showing yourselves and the world that the Belarusian people are the power,” Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was Lukashenko’s main election opponent, said in a video message from Lithuania, where she is in exile.
The marchers also carried portraits of Maria Kolesnikova, a top opposition figure who has been jailed for two weeks and is facing charges of undermining state security that could bring a five-year prison term. Kolesnikova has said security forces drove her to the border with Ukraine to try to make her leave the country, but that she tore up her passport so she couldn’t cross the border.
In a statement relayed by her lawyer on Sunday, Kolesnikova urged protesters to continue.
“Freedom is worth fighting for. Do not be afraid to be free,” she said. “I do not regret anything and would do the same again.”
Also Sunday, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said an investigation has been opened into the release by hackers of the personal information of more than 1,000 employees of the ministry, which runs the police forces.
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