Analysis: Three Vulnerable Senate Democrats Give GOP Shot Retaking Upper Chamber

Maggie Hassan, Michael Bennet and Catherine Cortez

Republicans did not have a great year in 2020, but 2022 could be a much better year than anyone is expecting–especially if they target these three vulnerable Senate Democrats who each won their seats with 50 percent of the vote or less.

Democrats control the Senate, but barely. The 50-50 split means Vice President Kamela Harris is needed to break ties–and that a single Democrat could stop his party’s agenda at anytime.

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Another Professor Indicted for Receiving Secret Support from China

A professor at Southern Illinois University received an indictment for concealing his support from the Chinese government.

According to a United States Department of Justice press release, Mingqing Xiao — who teaches mathematics at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale — “fraudulently obtained $151,099 in federal grant money from the National Science Foundation (NSF) by concealing support he was receiving from the Chinese government and a Chinese university.”

Accordingly, he was charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement. He faces the possibility of twenty-year sentences for each of the former, as well as a five-year sentence for the latter. All three charges are punishable by fines of up to $250,000 each.

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Commentary: Four Things to Know About Biden’s New Voting Czar

Justin Levitt

As Democrats push to expand the federal government’s purview over elections, President Joe Biden has named a former Justice Department official to be a White House adviser on voting issues.

Biden this week tapped Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor, to be his senior adviser for democracy and voting rights.

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Chuck Schumer’s 2017 Warning About the Intel Community Seems to Have Come True

Weeks before Donald Trump took office, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer issued an ominous warning.

“You take on the intelligence community? They have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you,” the New York Democrat said in an interview with MSNBC on Jan. 3, 2017.

Schumer was responding to Trump’s criticism of an intelligence community assessment that said Russia interfered explicitly to help the Republican win the 2016 election.

“He’s being really dumb to do this,” Schumer said of Trump.

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UK Universities Could End up Paying Students Back for Services Not Provided During COVID

College students in caps and gowns

Universities in the United Kingdom have been instructed to pay students thousands of dollars because they had ‘”less valuable” experiences due to the universities’ COVID-19 actions. 

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is an independent body that reviews students’ complaints against higher education institutions. It does not have the power to regulate or punish the institutions, however.

OIA recently shared several complaints students have made about the impact coronavirus has had on their educational experiences.Universities in the United Kingdom have been instructed to pay students thousands of dollars because they had ‘”less valuable” experiences due to the universities’ COVID-19 actions. 

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is an independent body that reviews students’ complaints against higher education institutions. It does not have the power to regulate or punish the institutions, however.

OIA recently shared several complaints students have made about the impact coronavirus has had on their educational experiences.

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Email Shows Biden Nominee Pushed Essay Comparing Police to KKK

Kristen Clarke

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division circulated an essay from self-proclaimed Marxist poet Amiri Baraka defending cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and referring to police officers as members of the Ku Klux Klan, according an email from her days at Columbia University.

Kristen Clarke forwarded the Baraka essay in an email on June 25, 1999, to her mentor, the late historian Manning Marable.

She suggested that the essay, entitled “Mumia, ‘Lynch Law’ & Imperialism” be placed in a magazine Marable edited and used for a panel on the death penalty.

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Commentary: Seven Wild Examples of Congress’s Corrupt 2020 Earmarks, Exposed

Capitol with money around it

A fight is raging in Congress over proposals to restore the practice of spending “earmarks,” small provisions slipped into spending bills quietly authorizing millions for local projects and special interests. But a new report reminds us that despite a “ban” on earmarks being implemented in 2011, the practice never fully went away. 

Published by the advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste, the 2021 Congressional Pig Book exposes 285 earmarks from fiscal year 2020, totaling $16.8 billion. Here are 7 wild examples of corrupt earmarks the new report exposes.

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Overwhelmingly Approves Bill That Orders Assessment Into Lab Leak Theory

Joe Biden signing order

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved a wide-ranging and bipartisan bill on Wednesday that lays out a unified strategic approach towards the threat China poses to America’s national and economic security.

Among the measures in the 281-page Strategic Competition Act of 2021 is a provision ordering the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to produce a report assessing the likelihood that COVID-19 could have entered the human population due to a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and other origins theories such as zoonotic transmission and spillover.

“It is critical to understand the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic so the United States can better prepare, prevent and respond to pandemic health threats in the future,” the bill states. “Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all Americans, the American people deserve to know what information the United States possesses about the origins of COVID-19, as appropriate.”

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Chinese Coca-Cola Scientist Stole Trade Secrets, Committed ‘Economic Espionage’

Coca-Cola

A Chinese-born chemist who worked for Coca-Cola was found guilty Thursday of multiple spying-related charges including economic espionage and stealing trade secrets.

Xiaorong You, a Chinese-born American citizen, stole trade secrets related to the development of the bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coating found within soda cans and used it to start a new company in China, which subsequently received millions of dollars from the Chinese government in grants, the Department of Justice announced Thursday. The BPA-free technology trade secrets that You stole was worth almost $120 million.

Documents and evidence presented during You’s 12-day trial showed that she intended to benefit the Chinese Communist Party, the DOJ said. Dow Chemical, PPG Industries, Sherwin Williams and other major U.S. chemical corporations had developed the BPA-free technology that You stole.

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Vanita Gupta, Former Obama DOJ Official and Civil Rights Lawyer, Narrowly Confirmed as Associate Attorney General

Vanita Gupta

The Senate confirmed civil rights lawyer Vanita Gupta to be the Associate Attorney General Wednesday.

Gupta, who will be the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice, was confirmed 51-49, with Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski joining all 50 Democrats voting in favor.

“I have looked at her record, I have had an extensive sit down with her,” Murkowski said before the vote. “I am impressed with her credentials … and the passion that she carries with her with the work that she performs.”

Murkowski acknowledged Gupta’s confirmation was contentious, but said her passion was “impactful.”

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Apple, Retail Groups Continue Lobbying Congress on Chinese Slave Labor Bill

Apple storefront

Apple and several retail trade groups continued lobbying policymakers in the first quarter of this year on a bill to prohibit American firms from using Chinese forced labor, according to disclosures filed with Congress this week.

Apple paid Fierce Government Relations, a Washington, D.C. firm, $90,000 to lobby the House and Senate on multiple pieces of legislation, including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, according to Fierce’s lobbying disclosure filing.

The tech giant also paid $90,000 to Invariant LLC, another Beltway-based firm, to work on several bills and to monitor “legislative action on workforce and supply chains in China.”

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Report: U.S. National Debt Closer to $123 Trillion, Nearly $796,000 Per Household

The U.S. national debt is closer to $123 trillion, more than four times what the Treasury Department is reporting, Chicago-based Truth in Accounting calculates in its new annual analysis of the nation’s finances.

The federal government has $5.95 trillion in assets and $129.06 trillion worth of bills resulting in a $123.11 trillion shortfall, or a debt burden of $796,000 per U.S. household.

Because of this massive amount of debt and repeatedly poor financial decisions made by lawmakers, TIA gave the U.S. government an “F” grade for its financial condition.

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Commentary: I No Longer Recognize My Hometown of Minneapolis

City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is my home. My happiest memories are here. It’s where I learned to ride a bike, had my first date, received my high school diploma.

But today, I’m too afraid to even walk in my neighborhood by myself.

The ACE Hardware down the street? The one that I used to bike to in the summer? Robbed twice in the past five days.

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Ohio Attorney General Continues Court Fight Over American Rescue Plan Taxing Provision

Dave Yost

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says Congress crossed a line and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen struggles to explain whether states retain authority to set their own tax codes if they accept money from the recently passed American Rescue Plan.

Yost responded Thursday with a motion in support of his lawsuit for a temporary restraining order to stop the federal government’s tax mandate in the ARP. Yost believes the mandate holds states hostage and takes away Ohio’s control of its tax structure and economic policy.

“Congress crosses the line separating permissible encouragement from impermissible,” Yost’s latest motion reads. “Ohio stands to receive $5.5 billion. In the pandemic-caused economic crisis, Ohio cannot realistically turn that down.”

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