Canadian Woman Identified as Suspect in White House Ricin Incident



A Canadian woman has been identified as the suspect behind the incident where a letter containing ricin was sent to the White House.

Pascale Ferrier, of Quebec, Canada, was the woman arrested Sunday at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo, New York, for allegedly sending a poisoned letter to President Donald Trump.

Global News of Canada reported that there is a major police operation in conjunction with the investigation.

A swarm of police crews arrived outside a residential building in Montreal at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Charles Poirier confirmed that the police were conducting a search warrant of the condo concerning “suspicious packages” mailed to the White House and “other areas” of the U.S.

“There’s a link between the female suspect who was arrested in Buffalo, N.Y. yesterday and this residence,” he told reporters from the scene. “We can’t confirm that it’s actually her residence. We know she’s linked to that address, but the nature of that link, that’s yet to come.”

The ricin-filled letter was intercepted at a government facility that processes mail addressed to the White House and the president.

U.S. authorities say Ferrier was carrying a gun and arrested by U.S. officials. Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, are expected to bring multiple charges against her.





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White House dismisses criticism of persistent coronavirus supply chain problems as work of ‘useful idiot’


WASHINGTON — The White House is objecting to a new report from the Government Accountability Office that concludes that seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. continues to struggle with supply chain logistics that have led to shortages of personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests.

The authors of the nearly 400-page GAO report were concerned that not only did those issues continue to persist, but that the Trump administration did not take them seriously enough. “As supply constraints continue,” those investigators wrote, “we found that [the Department of Health and Human Services] and [the Federal Emergency Management Administration] have not developed plans outlining specific actions the federal government will take to help mitigate remaining medical supply gaps needed to respond to the pandemic.”

Those challenges could soon be joined, and supplanted, by an even greater one: that of delivering a coronavirus vaccine to millions of people. The report warned that “without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the federal response structure may be unable to respond to new supply chain challenges that could emerge.”

The report called for a “national plan” for vaccine distribution. No such plan exists. The lack of such a plan for diagnostic tests through the spring and summer led to competition, replication and confusion.

President Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
President Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House, however, painted the agency’s findings as an attack on the administration. “It is well-known that the GAO is neither non-partisan or independent but simply a useful idiot for the Democrat Party and Big Labor,” White House economic adviser Peter Navarro told Yahoo News in a response forwarded by the White House communications department. “Its bureaucrats lean heavily left and contribute equally heavily to Democrat candidates. In this election season, this new ‘report’ is without merit and simply an in-kind contribution to the Biden campaign.”

GAO is an independent agency that reports to Congress, producing frequent reports on a wide range of government activities.

In response to the White House criticism, the GAO defended its report and conclusions. “For nearly a century GAO has been a source of non-partisan, fact based work for both sides of the aisle in Congress. We do work specifically at the request of both Congressional Chairs of Committees and the Ranking Members, and both turn to our subject matter experts when they are looking for facts,” Chuck Young, the GAO’s managing director of public affairs, wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “The CARES Act was no exception, since it was passed with a high level of bipartisan support, and with mandates for GAO to look at how the law was being implemented. Also in this report, the agencies we looked at all got a chance to comment on our recommendations and in many cases, agreed with them. We followed the facts in this report, as we do in all our work, and we will continue to take that approach.”

Democrats had the precise opposite response of the White House’s to the GAO report. “There is no national strategy,” said economic adviser Peter Navarro, D-N.J., who sits in a House of Representatives coronavirus subcommittee that has closely scrutinized the president’s response. “To me that’s terrifying.”

Kim worried that the delivery of a vaccine would only exacerbate the logistical disorganization that has plagued the nation in the spring, as both individuals and institutions struggled to find face masks, diagnostic tests and other equipment.

“This report is exactly what I didn’t want to see today,” Kim told Yahoo News on Monday evening, explaining that it confirmed his “deep concerns that we are not ready” for a tough winter season that could see a challenging combination of influenza and coronavirus cases. At the same time, the distribution of the very first doses of a coronavirus vaccine to vulnerable populations could come within months.

In its response to the report, HHS — which has been mired in political turf battles — praised its own efforts as “remarkably successful.”

Representative Andy Kim, a Democrat from New Jersey, speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Representative Andy Kim, a Democrat from New Jersey, speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

That response then went on to dispute the shortfalls outlined by the GAO by blaming, in part, Democratic governors in states such as New York and New Jersey for the scope of the pandemic. Shifting the blame to “blue states” has been a favorite tactic of President Trump. Sarah Arbes, a former staffer for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who now heads legislative efforts at the health department, wrote the combative HHS response.

In its own response to the GAO report, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the FEMA, rejected the notion that a new national plan was necessary.

In sum, the GAO found that the “federal government has continued to take steps to put supplies in the hands of those who need them. However, the availability of certain types of personal protective equipment (PPE) remains constrained and testing supply shortages persist due to a supply chain overwhelmed by the demands of the global pandemic and certain supplies not being produced domestically.”

As early as March, President Trump claimed that any American who wants a coronavirus test is able to receive one, which was untrue at that time. It is much easier to get a test today, but days-long waits for results make the results of those tests less than useful. Trump has also made similar claims about the availability of hospital ventilators and personal protective equipment. 

“This GAO report is more evidence of President Trump’s failure to solve the massive supply chain issues facing the nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Yahoo News. She called for the Trump administration to “meaningfully use” its powers to stock supplies and urged the passage of a bill she and Sen. Marco Rubio have co-sponsored that would consider returning pharmaceutical production to the United States. Most pharmaceuticals and medical equipment are now made abroad, in countries such as India and China.

N95 masks sit stored in a medical supply area at the Austin Convention Center on Aug. 7 in Austin, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)
N95 masks sit stored in a medical supply area at the Austin Convention Center on Aug. 7 in Austin, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Officials in seven of eight states surveyed by the report’s authors “identified previous or ongoing shortages of testing supplies, including swabs, reagents, tubes, pipettes, and transport media.” One state, for example, “was unable to fulfill local entities’ requests for N95 respirators and nitrile gloves.” In two other states, officials worried to GAO investigators about “the impact of a fall surge on supply availability.”

In its response, HHS disputed that it lacked a national plan for distribution of pandemic-related materials. “Unfortunately, your report and recommendations prioritize anonymous anecdotes about minor and temporary coordination issues,” the department told GAO.

The desire to respond to the pandemic quickly has resulted in a haphazard response lacking in oversight, the report found, highlighting areas other than supply chain logistics in which the Trump administration has fallen short. About $12 billion disbursed in government contracts as of July 31 — comprising half the value of all government contracts — was awarded without any competitive bidding, which can pose the risk of fraud or overcharging.

The government is also failing to collect race and ethnicity data on people stricken by the coronavirus. That could complicate efforts to properly target vaccines, therapeutics and other relief efforts. The new GAO report found that, as of the end of July, 64 percent of coronavirus cases came with no ethnic or racial data attached. (A new reporting requirement that went into effect on Aug. 1 should significantly lower than number, though only if laboratories follow that guidance.)

And the administration’s push to reopen schools for in-person instruction, the report said, was “misaligned” with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and does “not appear to align with a risk-based decision-making approach.”

Disparate as these shortfalls may seem, they have combined to create a consistently confusing response to a pandemic that has killed 200,000 people in the U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who heads the House coronavirus subcommittee, said he hoped the report’s sobering conclusions would lead Trump to “finally show some leadership to protect Americans’ lives.”

Trump’s reaction has been to minimize the scope of the pandemic, which has also caused millions of people to lose jobs.

“It affects virtually nobody,” Trump said at a political rally on Monday evening.

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Russia’s newest Kazan nuclear submarine enters White Sea for trials – Military & Defense


MURMANSK, September 22. /TASS/. The Kazan, the first submarine of the upgraded Project 885M (Yasen-M class), entered the White Sea for sea trials, Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet press service announced Tuesday.

“Ships and assistance vessels of the Northern Fleet’s White Sea naval base initiated another stage of sea trials of the newest Kazan multipurpose nuclear submarine of the upgraded Yasen class. The submarine crew […] tests systems and mechanisms in the underwater position,” the press service said.

The TK-208 Dmitry Donskoy heavy nuclear ballistic missile submarine is involved in the Kazan’s trials, among other ships, the press service said. After the trials are complete, all ships and vessels will return to their permanent base in Severodvinsk.

The Kazan submarine was laid down on July 24, 2009 and launched in 2017. It is expected to join the Russian Navy in late 2020 to serve in the Northern Fleet. The main weapon of the Project 885/885M submarines are Kalibr and/or Oniks cruise missiles.



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Tyron Woodley broken rib X-ray, Colby Covington trash talk, Donald Trump, Dana White, Vegas 11


Former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley has revealed his fight against Colby Covington ended with a gruesome broken rib in the main fight of UFC’s Vegas 11 Fight Night.

While Covington was dominant throughout the fight having won every round on the scorecards, it looked as though it could go the distance when early in the fifth round Woodley had Covington in a standing guillotine hold but Covington took it to the mat when Woodley shouted “I’ve hurt my rib”.

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He laid on the canvas for some time while doctors tended to him and Covington celebrated the win.

He was soon helped out of the octagon and taken to hospital.

He initially told ESPN UFC reporter Ariel Helwani that his rib “popped out” but scans showed that it was more serious that first thought with a clean break.

Woodley said “it was the most pain ever”.

It was a big loss for Woodley who has lost three straight fights with UFC president Dana White even saying he thinks the former champ should retire.

“I think he should start thinking about hanging it up,” White said. “He’s had a great career. He’s made his money.

“We all get old, man. This happens to the best of us. Woodley’s had a good career. He’s been a champion. He’s been around awhile. He had a good run in Strikeforce, too.”

Covington rubbed in the victory as well.

An outspoken fan of US president Donald Trump and proudly sporting a “Make America Great Again” cap, the president even interrupted Covington’s post match press conference to congratulate the 32-year-old fighter.

The war of words between the men also continued after the fight with Covington taking a few more shots at Woodley.

Covington slammed the Black Lives Matter movement, labelling Woodley a “communist”, saying “he hates America” and taking aim at “woke athletes” and calling LeBron James a “spineless coward”.

Of the pre-fight war of words and post fight outburst, White said “I saw it a f***ing mile away” but wouldn’t step in.

“My point in saying that is we’ve never stopped anybody from expressing themselves and saying how they feel,” White explained. “My philosophy is always this is a fight. People are gonna say mean s*** to each other. It’s like, ‘they shouldn’t be allowed to say that.’ They’re gonna f***ing punch each other in the face tomorrow. This is the fight game. I don’t believe in all that.”



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Militants, White Helmets plotting provocations with use of toxic agents in Syria’s Idlib – Russian Politics & Diplomacy


MOSCOW, September 20. /TASS/. Militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group (one of the names of the extremist organization Jabhat al-Nusra, which is outlawed in Russia) are plotting provocations with the use of toxic agents in the south of the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria, Alexander Grinkevich, deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, said on Sunday.

“The Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties has received information that militants of the Hayat Tahir al-Sham terrorist group are preparing provocation with the use of toxic agents in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone,” he told a briefing.

He said that activists of the White Helmets organization are helping to prepare sites for provocations with the use of toxic agents. “According to information we have, activists of the pseudo-human rights organization White Helmets are taking part in preparing sites for plotted provocations and shooting fake videos,” he said.

According to Grinkevich, their plan is to simulate chemical attacks in the settlements of Eriha and Besames within days to place the blame for the use of chemical weapons against civilians on Syrian government forces.

The Russian reconciliation center said in July that militants had manufactured at least 15 explosive devices stuffed with an unidentified substance to stage provocations in Syrian settlements.

The Russian reconciliation center continues to fulfill assigned tasks after the completion of the military campaign in Syria. The center’s officers regularly travel around the country’s liberated areas to assess the humanitarian situation. The main efforts of the Russian military are now focused on assistance to the refugees returning to their homes and evacuation of civilians from de-escalation zones.



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Too ‘UNFASHIONABLE’ to help? Poor white children fall behind in UK schools and may suffer biggest Covid-19 hit, experts warn MPs — RT UK News



White children from poor or working-class backgrounds are falling behind their peers from other ethnic groups in educational achievement, and they face the worst prospects for economic advancement, experts told UK lawmakers.

Efforts to raise educational standards tend to be aimed at minority students, dimming prospects for white children to catch up, according to reports sent to a Parliamentary committee that is investigating issues faced by disadvantaged groups.

The struggles of poor white children tend to be neglected because they are seen as “unfashionable” and “not worthy” of helping, the UK Daily Mail cited an Oxford University professor Peter Edwards as saying. Raising such concerns is “taboo” in academia, he said.

Researchers found that working-class whites also figure to be hit hardest by fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, and Exeter University professor Lee Elliot Major said they face “permanent educational and economic scarring.”




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White children whose families are poor enough for them to receive free school meals are underperforming their peers academically and have only a one in 10 chance of attending university, according to the UK’s Centre for Education and Youth. By comparison, in the same low-income group, three in 10 children of Black Caribbean ethnic backgrounds and five in 10 of Bangladeshi ethnicity make it to college. Nearly seven in 10 ethnic Chinese children who receive free school meals attend university.

Despite the plight of white students, government and private education programs target large cities with ethnically diverse populations and, in the case of some charities, require that beneficiaries be non-white.

Working-class white boys, in particular, are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to educational assistance, Edwards told the Daily Mail. Neglect of those children not only means their potential will go untapped, he said, but also will have a destabilizing effect on “the very fabric of the country.”

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Letter addressed to White House found to contain lethal poison ricin | US News


An envelope addressed to the White House which was intercepted before it reached its destination has been found to contain a lethal poison.

Officials said ricin was discovered inside the letter, which was opened at a government facility where mail bound for President Donald Trump and other staff is screened.

Ricin is a poison naturally found in castor beans and can be deadly to humans – exposure to a quantity as small as a pinhead can kill an adult within 36 to 72 hours.

Image:
The letter was intercepted before it reached Donald Trump

In a statement, the FBI said agents were working to investigate “a suspicious letter received at a US government mail facility” and that there is “no known threat to public safety”.

The FBI is leading the probe alongside the Secret Service and the US Postal Inspection Service.

US media including The New York Times and CNN have reported that the letter was sent from Canada.

The White House and Secret Service declined to comment.

Barack Obama will attack Donald Trump's presidency
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Ricin was previously addressed to the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency

Ricin has been addressed to the White House on several previous occasions.

A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes to Mr Trump and members of his administration that contained the substance from which ricin is derived.

Authorities said the man, William Clyde Allen III, sent the envelopes with ground castor beans to the president and a number of other top officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray.

Others targeted were the then-defence secretary Jim Mattis, then-CIA director Gina Haspel, Admiral John Richardson, who at the time was the Navy’s top officer, and then-Air Force secretary Heather Wilson.

Four years prior, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with ricin to the then-president Barack Obama and other officials.



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Authorities Intercept Package Containing Ricin Mailed to the White House



Law enforcement agents intercepted a package addressed to the White House containing the toxic poison ricin earlier this week according to CNN and the New York Times. 

The package was addressed to President Donald Trump.

A facility outside the White House typically screens all mail before it is delivered to the White House.

An official speaking to the New York Times said the letter is believed to have been sent from Canada.

An attempt to mail ricin to President Trump was also intercepted in October 2018.

William Clyde Allen, a former Naval officer was arrested by the FBI for mailing ricin filled letters to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and FBI Director Chris Wray.

 



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White House announces nearly $13 billion in aid for Puerto Rico three years after Hurricane Maria



FILE PHOTO: Hurricane Maria, 2017: Maria would result in the worst natural disaster in the history of Puerto Rico, causing an estimated $90 billion in damage to the already economically struggling U.S. territory. Months after the storm, a research team led by Harvard University estimated the death toll at 4,645, not the 64 pegged by the island’s government. The researchers estimate one-third perished because of delayed or interrupted medical care. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

September 19, 2020

By Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. emergency agency is sending almost $13 billion to Puerto Rico, directed at the territory’s energy and education systems, to help it recover from 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria, the White House said on Friday.

The “federal share” of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s grants to the territory totals $11.6 billion, with most money, $9.6 billion, going to the battered power authority, according to a White House announcement, which did not provide details on the remaining funds or explain why they were not part of the federal share.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced said in a statement the full FEMA package is $12.8 billion, with $10.5 billion for power.

The White House said the aid exceeds the total public assistance funding in any single federally-declared disaster other than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the destructive 2005 storms. According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria is the third costliest hurricane in U.S. history behind Katrina and 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Top Democrats said President Donald Trump had delayed and withheld the aid for the last three years, stunting Puerto Rico’s ability to rebuild from the storm that killed more than 2,500 people and left the island without power for weeks. Representative Nydia Velazquez said he was “blatantly playing politics” by announcing the package 46 days before the Nov. 3 election, where he is in a tight race against Democrat Joe Biden.

Both Trump and Biden have been working to woo Hispanic voters. Their support is considered critical in the perennial swing state of Florida, where many Puerto Ricans relocated after Maria.

Puerto Rico was already struggling financially before Maria struck, and filed a form of municipal bankruptcy in 2017 to restructure about $120 billion of debt and obligations. A large portion of its financial distress was linked to the power utility.

Since then, it has weathered more hurricanes, earthquakes, the coronavirus pandemic and political upheaval, as well as increased federal scrutiny into its use of U.S. aid.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Karen Pierog and Makini Brice; Editing by Susan Heavey, Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)





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White House says five more countries seriously considering Israel deals



FILE PHOTO: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

September 18, 2020

MOSINEE, Wis. (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Thursday that five more countries are seriously considering striking a normalization deal with Israel after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed accords this week.

Meadows, speaking to reporters on Air Force One on the flight that carried President Donald Trump to a campaign rally in Wisconsin, would not identify the five nations.

But he said three were in the region. He would not comment further.

Trump has spoken optimistically about more countries agreeing to a normalization of relations with Israel following the UAE and Bahrain deals.

One possibility is Oman, whose ambassador attended the White House ceremony on Tuesday. Trump predicted on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia would eventually agree to a deal.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)





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