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President Biden on Wednesday talked to Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking the first call Biden has had with the Chinese leader since being sworn in as America’s 46th commander-in-chief last month.

“President Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people’s security, prosperity, health, and way of life, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to the White House.

“President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” the readout said. “The two leaders also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation. President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies,” the White House said.

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VIDEOS: 10 Dead, Including Police Officer, in Shooting at Colorado Supermarket

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At least 10 people are dead, including a police officer, after a shooting incident on Monday at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, a city about 25 miles northwest of Denver.

Video posted online appeared to show people on the floor inside the King Soopers store and two more outside on the ground, but the extent of their injuries wasn’t clear.

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold announced at a press conference at 8:15 p.m. that Police Officer Eric Talley was among the fatalities. Talley, 51, was among the first responders on the scene. Herold called the officer’s actions “heroic.”

The names of other victims will not be released until their families have been notified. Herold said that she acknowledges there are families awaiting news of their loved ones.

“I am sensitive to that, and we will work around the clock to get this accomplished,” she said.

Boulder District Attorney Michael Doherty expressed condolences to all the victims, including Talley. “His life was cut much too short,” Doherty said, promising a “painstaking investigation.”

Boulder police commander Kerry Yamaguchi told a press conference earlier in the evening that one person of interest was taken into custody and was being treated at a hospital for his injuries.


Video footage showed officers escorting a shirtless man with blood running down his leg out of the store in handcuffs, before he was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.

Doherty said that the man is the alleged shooter.

See tweet here

The incident drew a massive response from law enforcement, including multiple police vehicles, SWAT teams, and at least three helicopters were on the roof. The situation remained active more than two hours after the first reports of the incident, according to multiple reports.

Yamaguchi said the police department received a call about the incident just before 3 p.m.

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He thanked the police response, including from Boulder law enforcement, the FBI, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and other Denver metro agencies.

“Without that quick response we don’t know if there would have been more loss of life,” he said.

He noted that authorities were processing the crime scene.

An incident at an apartment building three miles away turned out to be unrelated to the supermarket shooting, Yamaguchi added.

Doherty said there will be a coordinated response between local, state, and federal law enforcement. “This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder county,” he said, later adding, “we’ll stand united in support of the victims and their families to ensure that justice is done.”

Kelli McGannon, spokesperson for King Soopers, said the chain will defer all questions to law enforcement for the integrity of the investigation.

“Our hearts are broken over this senseless act of violence. The entire King Soopers family offers our thoughts, prayers, and support to our associates, our customers, and first responders who so bravely responded to these acts of violence,” she said at a press conference.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter that President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting and “will be kept up to date by his team as there are additional developments.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced on Twitter, “My heart is breaking as we watch this unspeakable event unfold in our Boulder community. … I’m incredibly grateful to the brave men and women who have responded to the scene to help the victims of this senseless tragedy.”

At the time, he asked for patience from the public to allow local law enforcement to secure the site.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Michigan judge rules secretary of state violated election law by unilaterally changing absentee voting rules

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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson last year said local clerks should start with a presumption of validity when verifying signatures on absentee ballot applications, but a court ruling says that rule wasn’t properly established.

A Michigan Court of Claims judge last week ruled that clerks no longer need to follow those instructions for determining whether to send an absentee ballot to applicants.

According to the March 9 opinion and order issued by Judge Christopher M. Murray, Benson issued instructions that constituted “rules” without following the process for creating a formal rule under state and federal law.

Murray wrote that “the guidance issued by the Secretary of State on October 6, 2020, with respect to signature-matching standards was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.”

The Michigan Republican Party and Allegan County Clerk Robert Genetski, who jointly filed their complaint prior to the Nov. 3 election, claimed the signature standards allowed for “invalid” ballots to be counted.

Murray noted in his opinion that Genetski, however, never claimed the “guidance caused him to accept a signature that he believed was invalid.”

Benson’s guidelines focused on signature verification of absentee ballot applications and their return envelopes, which were to be compared against each other as well as against signatures in qualified voter files.

Benson’s office said “that signature review ‘begins with the presumption that’ the signature on an absent voter ballot application or envelope is valid,” Murray wrote. The Secretary of State’s instructions to clerks further said signatures with any “redeeming qualities” — described as those having “similar distinctive flourishes” or those with “more matching features than nonmatching features” — should be validated.

Only signatures with “multiple significant and obvious” inconsistencies should be questioned, Benson advised, according to the judge’s analysis of the rule.

Murray determined the guidelines fell within the definition of an administrative rule and therefore should have been approved through the formal rule-making process, which requires multiple steps.

“An agency must utilize formal rulemaking procedures when establishing policies that ‘do not merely interpret or explain the statute or rules from which the agency derives its authority,’ but rather ‘establish the substantive standards implementing the program,’” Murray said, citing a 1998 precedent.

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The ruling leaves certain standards for accepting absentee ballot application signatures at the discretion of the local clerk, unless the Legislature created legal guidelines or the Secretary of State’s Office creates administrative rules for that determination.

The current law states any signatures on applications or return envelopes that don’t “agree sufficiently” with the voter signature on file should be rejected.

The Court of Claims judge noted Michigan law doesn’t clearly define what it means for a signature to “agree” or “agree sufficiently.”

Representatives from Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the ruling and it’s unclear if the Court of Claims decision will be appealed.

“We have no comment at this time,” Tracy Wimmer, an SOS spokeswoman said.

Clerks additionally compare signatures on absentee ballots with signatures on file before votes are counted during any election.

Fewer than 1 percent of Michigan’s 3.3 million absentee ballots cast in the Nov. 3 general election were rejected by local election clerks, according to data released by the Secretary of State’s office.

In total, 15,300 ballots were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, such as arriving after Election Day or not having a signature. In the August primary election, more than the 10,600 ballots were rejected.

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DOJ says it will appeal after a Trump-appointed judge struck down a federal eviction moratorium

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The Justice Department on Saturday said it would appeal a judge’s ruling that struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal eviction moratorium.

On Thursday, US District Judge John Barker of the Eastern District of Texas said the creation of such a moratorium “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.”

In a 21-page summary judgment, Barker, a Trump appointee, said the moratorium was unconstitutional. Giving the federal government such “broad authority” over state legal proceedings resembled a “prohibited federal police power,” Barker wrote.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” he added.

DOJ prosecutors filed a notice on Saturday, saying they would appeal Barker’s judgement to the US Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit.

Brian M. Boynton, DOJ acting assistant attorney general, said: “The Department of Justice respectfully disagrees with the February 25 decision of the district court in Terkel v. CDC that the CDC’s eviction moratorium exceeds Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the Department has appealed that decision.”

Boynton said: “The decision, however, does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties. For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect.”

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President Donald Trump signed the CDC eviction moratorium in September.

“I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” he said in a statement at the time.

Congress extended the moratorium in December, keeping it in place until President Joe Biden’s term began.At the time, almost 6 million Americans were threatened by eviction or foreclosure. About 18 million people in the US were behind on their rent or mortgage payments, according to the US Census Bureau. CNN reported that evictions were disproportionately affecting people of color.

On his first day in office in January, Biden signed an executive order extending the moratorium to the end of March.

In his Saturday statement, Boynton said, “By preventing people from becoming homeless or having to move into more-crowded housing, the moratorium helps to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
(businessinsider)

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