Archives March 2022

Confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson begin Monday

Confirmation hearings begin Monday (March 21) for Ketanji Brown Jackson, the federal judge President Biden has picked to fill Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat when he retires this summer.

Democrats are hoping to finish Jackson’s confirmation process before Congress leaves for Easter recess April 11.

The hearings, led by the Senate Judiciary Committee, is set to last four days, with Jackson appearing in front of lawmakers during the first three. She’ll give an opening statement on Monday and then take questions from lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday. After a period that typically lasts a week or so after the hearings to consider the nomination, the committee will then hold a vote, and if approved, will send the nomination to the full Senate for consideration.

If confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She heads into the hearings with a vast and expansive career as a judge and attorney.

The hearing process will last four days

Monday: The hearings begin at 11 a.m. EDT, with opening 10-minute statements from the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, along with the ranking member, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, according to a press release. The other 20 members of the committee will also give statements, and the day will conclude with Jackson delivering her opening statement, lasting 10 minutes.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Both days will begin at 9 a.m. EDT. Committee members will each get 30 minutes of questioning time on Tuesday and 20 minutes on Wednesday. Questioning of Jackson on Wednesday is expected to be shorter.

Thursday: Jackson won’t appear on the last day of the hearings. Beginning at 9 a.m. EDT, the committee will hear from outside witnesses and the American Bar Association.

On Fire Television will provide live coverage and analysis of the hearings.

Source: NPR

Baltimore police: Weekend shootings cause 4 deaths, several injuries

Shootings in Baltimore reported on Friday and Saturday have resulted in four deaths and several other people wounded, according to police. Police in Baltimore said a 26-year-old man with apparent gunshot wounds to the body was found in northeast Baltimore shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday. He died after being taken to a local hospital, according to a police news release. Baltimore police reported several shootings Friday afternoon that resulted in two deaths and others being hospitalized, while another person found in a rear alley in the early-morning hours with several shots to the head was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to news outlets.

Source: WBAL

Jussie Smollett Released From Jail After Serving Less Than A Week Of 5 Month Sentence Pending Appeal

Jussie Smollett is officially out of jail. Following the decision earlier today, by an Illinois Appellate Court to cut short the former Empire star’s 150-day sentence pending appeal, Smollett walked out of Cook County Jail at around 8 PM local time. Surrounded by members of his defense team, family and other supporters, Smollett was silent as he exited the Chicago facility. Defense attorney Nenye Uche told the assembled media that his client only drank water over the past 6 days and ate no food whatsoever.

A one-page order unceremoniously released by the Illinois Appellate Court today in a 2-1 decision granted the motion from the former Empire actor’s lawyers for a stay of the sentence. Denied an appeal by the sentencing judge last week, the defense team sought to set Smollett free while his appeal on five felony convictions is pending.

The Appellate Court judge agreed, citing that Smollett likely already would have served his jail time sentence before his appeal had gotten very far. The order also noted that the actor had never been convicted of a violent crime. In fact, the paperwork’s only real demand was that Smollett put up a $150,000 personal recognizance bond.

Source: Deadline

Chris Cuomo wants $125 million for ‘unlawful’ CNN firing

Chris Cuomo wants an arbitrator to award him $125 million for his firing from CNN, alleging his bosses knew full well how he advised his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and suggested they did the same themselves. His filing seeking arbitration on Wednesday exposed more ugliness at the network, where Cuomo, CNN chief Jeff Zucker and his top deputy, Allison Gollust, have all been ousted in the past three months. Zucker fired Cuomo, host of the network’s most popular prime time show, in December after a New York Attorney General’s report publicly revealed new details about how he helped his brother strategize to fight sexual harassment allegations.

Source: AP News

Zelenskyy tells US Congress, ‘We need you right now’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cited Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 terror attacks on Wednesday as he appealed to the U.S. Congress to do more to help Ukraine’s fight against Russia, but acknowledged the no-fly zone he has sought to “close the sky” over his country may not happen.

Livestreamed into the Capitol complex, Zelenskyy said the U.S. must sanction Russian lawmakers and block imports. He showed a packed auditorium of lawmakers a graphic video of the destruction and devastation his country has suffered in the war, along with heartbreaking scenes of civilian casualties.

“We need you right now,” Zelenskyy said, adding, “I call on you to do more.” In urging a steeper economic hit to the Russians, he said: “Peace is more important than income.”

Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation, before and after his short remarks, which Zelenskyy began in Ukrainian through an interpreter but then switched to English in a heartfelt appeal to help end the bloodshed.

Members of Congress give Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky a standing ovation before he speaks in a virtual address to Congress in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center Congressional Auditorium in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

“I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths,” he told them.

Wearing a short-sleeved army T-shirt, Zelinskyy began his remarks by invoking the destruction the U.S. suffered in 1941 when Japan bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by militants who commandeered passenger airplanes to crash into the symbols of Western democracy and economy.

“Remember Pearl Harbor? Remember September 11?” Zelenzkyy asked. “Our countries experience the same every day right now.”

Nearing the three-week mark in an ever-escalating war, Zelenskyy has been imploring allied leaders to stop the Russian airstrikes. President Joe Biden’s administration has stopped short of providing a no-fly zone or the transfer of military jets from neighboring Poland as the U.S. seeks to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia.

Source: WBAL

RIP Wrestler Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) 1958-2022

Update: 8:00 pm

Scott Hall suffered three heart attacks following surgery to repair a broken hip and he had to be placed on life support. The prognosis was grim, and deep into the night his longtime tag team partner and friend, Kevin Nash, confirmed that once his family was in place, he would be taken off life support. That happened earlier today. TMZ reported that another longtime friend of his, Sean Waltman, widely known in pro wrestling as X-Pac, had confirmed as much and that Hall was still fighting for his life. Hall died hours later. He was 63-years-old.

Hall was one of the most influential wrestlers of the late 1990s and early 2000s, as he and Nash played a large part in creating another wrestling boom with the creation of the nWo. Even before that, he left his mark with a series of great matches with Shawn Michaels in WWE and even earlier with a memorable run in the AWA in the 1980s. He was eventually inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as both a singles wrestler and with the nWo as a group.

May he rest in peace.

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Scott Hall’s family is preparing to say goodbye to the two-time WWE Hall of Famer. The 63-year-old wrestler will be taken off life support as soon as his family is “in place,” former nWo teammate Kevin Nash revealed in a heartbreaking remembrance of his longtime friend. “I’m going to lose the one person on this planet I’ve spent more of my life with than anyone else,” Nash wrote on Instagram early Monday morning. “My heart is broken and I’m so very f—king sad. I love Scott with all my heart but now I have to prepare my life without him in the present. I’ve been blessed to have a friend that took me at face value and I him.”

Hall was put on life support over the weekend after suffering multiple heart attacks due to a blood clot that occurred after hip replacement surgery last week, according to wrestling blog PW Torch. The Maryland native broke into wrestling as Razor Ramon, winning four Intercontinental Championship titles with WWF, which later became WWE. In May 1996, he left for WCW, where he and Nash formed The Outsiders, then added Hulk Hogan to become New World Order.

“When we jumped to WCW we didn’t care who liked or hated us. We had each other and with the smooth Barry Bloom we changed wrestling both in content and pay for those……a lot that disliked us. We were the ‘Outsiders’ but we had each other,” Nash wrote. “Scott always felt he wasn’t worthy of the afterlife. Well God please have some gold plated toothpicks for my brother. My life was enriched with his take on life. He wasn’t perfect but as he always said, ‘The last perfect person to walk the planet they nailed to a cross.’ As we prepare for life without him just remember there goes a great guy you ain’t going to see another one like him again. See Ya down the road Scott. I couldn’t love a human being any more than I do you.”

Traci Braxton Passes Away at 50 After Battle With Cancer

Reports surfaced noting that Traci Braxton—reality TV star and the sister of Toni Braxton, has passed away at age 50. The news was confirmed by Traci’s husband, Kevin Surratt, who noted Braxton had cancer. “We have come to a time where we must inform the public that after a year of privately undergoing a series of treatment for Esophageal cancer, our beloved Traci Braxton has gone on to glory,” said Surratt. It was noted that Traci’s mom, sisters, and friends were by her side when she passed away. Traci Braxton leaves behind her husband Kevin Surratt and a son Kevin Surratt Jr. Condolences to the Braxton family.

Source: TMZ.com

Jussie Smollett Says Judge Sentenced Him to Jail Because He’s Black

Jussie Smollett has been in the headlines since being sentenced to 150 days in jail for staging a homophobic, race-based attack in 2019. Many tried to come to the defense of the actor, with people like Samuel L. Jackson and his wife asking the judge for leniency in his case. However, the judge ended up issuing jail time along with fines amounting to $145,000, and probation after jail.

Now, Smollett has reportedly given his take on the sentencing. 

According to sources directly in contact with Smollett, the actor expected to receive some form of jail time. Smollett reportedly told his lawyers ahead of sentencing that he felt he’d get more because he is Black. The actor also says his situation is more proof of systemic racism in the justice system. 

A representative for the Cook County Chief Judge’s office was asked about the situation, and responded “judges can’t comment on pending cases, and it’s still pending.” As of now, Smollett will be held in protective custody while in jail, while an officer with body cameras monitor his cell. Stay tuned for more updates. 

source: TMZ

Biden Reportedly Bans US Imports of Russian Vodka, Diamonds, and Seafood

The fallout from the ongoing military situation in Ukraine is going to have more far-reaching implications on the lives of Americans than some may realize. For instance, the Biden administration is placing a ban on US imports of Russian goods as a response to Russia’s military operations. Biden’s executive order will effectively put a halt to premium Russian imports such as vodka, diamonds, and seafood. The latest form of economic sanctions on Russia will cost the country nearly $1 billion in revenue.

“Putin is the aggressor and Putin must pay a price,” said Biden on Friday. “It will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy. It’s already suffering very badly from our sanctions.”

Jury picked for Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot trial

A jury was selected Tuesday for the trial of four men charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, extraordinary allegations of violence planned against an elected official that led the presiding judge to advise: “This isn’t your average criminal case.”

Opening statements were scheduled for Wednesday in the federal court in Grand Rapids. Prosecutors have said the men were angry about pandemic restrictions the Democratic governor imposed, and that they will present secret recordings and other evidence against the men, including of a trip to check Whitmer’s vacation home and training with weapons and explosives.

Defense attorneys say the men deny any conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer, and have signaled an entrapment defense, criticizing the government’s use of undercover FBI agents and confidential informants.

Eleven women and seven men were selected to serve as jurors, with 12 who will decide the case and six alternates, though the court did not make clear Tuesday which jurors are alternates. Before they left the courtroom, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker told the jury to stay off social media and not discuss the case with family.

Source: AP News