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The Biden administration has fired a person appointed by Trump.

The Biden administration has fired the attorney general of the National Labor Relations Board, a person Trump-appointed deeply unpopular with prominent unions, according to a White House official.

The tenure of current General Counsel Peter B. Robb was only supposed to expire in November, but the administration rarely has the right to oust him prematurely. The Advocate General, an official confirmed by the Senate, is responsible for enforcing the labor rights of private sector employees and has substantial discretion over cases submitted by the agency.

The administration’s effort was reported earlier by Bloomberg Law.

Mr Robb was a polarizing figure who once proposed to demote senior government officials who solve most of the agency’s cases and whom unions accuse of seeking to settle a high-profile case against McDonald’s to avoid an unfavorable ruling against the company.

Mr Robb also argued in a memorandum that Uber drivers should be viewed as contractors rather than employees and therefore not protected by federal labor law.

Before becoming General Counsel of the Labor Relations Board in 2017, he spent most of his career representing employers. He worked for the Reagan administration in litigation against the union representing air traffic controllers which illegally went on strike in 1981.

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Person appointed by Trump will temporarily lead Pentagon until Biden’s choice is confirmed

WASHINGTON – A low-profile Deputy Secretary of Defense will be Trump’s only vestige as head of the Pentagon until President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s choice of Defense Secretary is confirmed. Mr Biden also plans to install John F. Kirby – the former spokesperson for John Kerry when he was Secretary of State, Chuck Hagel when he was Secretary of Defense and Mike Mullen when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – as the next Pentagon Press Secretary.

David L. Norquist, who is now the No. 2 civilian in the Pentagon, will be Mr Biden Acting Defense Secretary – if only for a few days – said transition officials.

The transition team lobbied for Mr Biden to be selected for the first post, a retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin III confirmed as soon as possible. But unlike Team Biden’s other top national security contenders, Mr. Austin will have to go through three Congressional hoops first. The Senate and House must approve a waiver for him to rule the Pentagon since he has not been removed from military service for at least seven years, and then he must be confirmed by the Senate.

Mr Biden has decided that instead of bypassing Mr Norquist and plucking Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy to lead the Pentagon until there is a confirmed defense secretary, he will follow the tradition. . Under federal law, a deputy secretary confirmed by the Senate automatically assumes the functions of secretary in the event of absence. The decision to keep Mr. Norquist until a Secretary of Defense is confirmed was reported earlier by Politico.

Mr. Kirby, for his part, is a former government public affairs officer and a respected figure in the Pentagon. A retired Navy Rear Admiral, he moved from the Pentagon to the State Department in 2015 and worked closely with Mr. Kerry during the Iran nuclear negotiations and during the last two years of the Obama administration. .

Mr. Kirby worked with Mr. Austin when they were both on the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Mr. Mullen, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also spent a year as a Pentagon spokesperson under Mr. Hagel, and served as a spokesperson for the Navy as well as Mr. Mullen. Mr. Kirby declined to comment for this article.

Much of his job will be to convince the new Secretary of Defense to communicate better with the media. Mr. Austin was famous for avoiding press interviews when he was head of the US Central Command.

Critics in Congress on Mr. Biden’s decision to appoint Mr. Austin say they don’t like the idea of ​​granting defense secretaries waivers in two consecutive administrations. Jim Mattis, who was President Trump’s first Secretary of Defense, needed it too.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the subject Tuesday, Mr Austin’s prospects were clouded as a majority of lawmakers on both sides argued that the exception that had been made for Mr Mattis , a retired four-star naval general, shouldn’t be repeated.

As Mr. Austin enjoys greater support in the House, the Republican Study Committee, a House caucus that advocates for conservative causes, released a statement on Thursday opposing Mr. Austin’s waiver.

“General Lloyd Austin has not been in uniform for the required seven years,” the statement said. “Based on the lessons learned after the House made the unprecedented decision to grant a waiver four years ago, the Republican Study Committee will oppose granting a waiver to General Austin.

In a note to members of the House, the group accused Mr. Mattis of “often pushing back civilian leaders” and complained that in many cases he “was out of step with the commander’s political vision. elected chief, creating tensions ”.

But it was Mr Mattis’ ability to overrule some of Mr Trump’s directives that reassured administration critics who feared the president would view the military as his own personal militia ready to act on his political whims. . Mr. Mattis resigned in December 2018.

Mr Austin’s Senate hearing for his appointment is scheduled for Jan. 19, the day before Mr Biden’s inauguration.

Eric Schmitt and Jennifer steinhauer contribution to reports.

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One person was shot dead inside the Capitol during a violent protest.

One person was gunned down inside the Capitol after a crowd of Trump supporters entered the building, Chief Robert J. Contee of the DC Metropolitan Police Department said on Wednesday. Chief Contee did not immediately provide more information about the person who was shot or their condition.

“I can confirm that a civilian was reportedly shot and wounded inside the Capitol,” Chief Contee said, adding that local police would investigate.

A video posted to Twitter earlier Wednesday appeared to show a shot dead woman inside the Capitol.

The woman appeared to climb onto a small ledge next to a door inside the building just before a single loud bang was heard. The woman, draped in a flag, fell to the ground at the top of a stairwell. A man with a military-style helmet and rifle stood next to her after she fell, and screams of “police” could be heard as a man in a suit approached the woman and crouched beside her. of her.

“Where did she knock? people screamed as blood flowed around her mouth.

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Tyler Perry didn’t get his mail-in ballot. So he returned to Georgia to vote in person.

Tyler Perry, whose Madea franchise made him one of Hollywood’s richest stars, took a flight from Wyoming to Georgia on Monday night to vote in person after failing to receive a mail-in vote.

“Okay my mail-in ballot never came, so I just went to vote in person, so you go out and vote, get out and vote, get out and vote,” Mr Perry said sitting in his car. in front of a polling place in a selfie video posted to Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, Mr Perry – who owns homes in California, Wyoming and the Bahamas but maintains his primary residence in the Atlanta area, where he has built a 330-acre studio – expressed fear he might not be given the chance. to vote. runoff.

“Is anyone else having this problem? I ordered my postal ballot on December 2. I’m told it was posted on the 4th. I still don’t have it! he informed his 6.4 million followers on Twitter.

A back-and-forth with Stacey Abrams, a voting rights activist who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018, ensued.

“Did you ask for a ballot but didn’t receive it?” Vote in person on polling day! Just tell the person at the registration table that you want to cancel your ballot and vote in person, ” she answered.

“Hey @staceyabrams, I came home because I didn’t understand it. I’ll be there early in the morning. Too important to miss. Too important to miss! ” he tweeted back.

Mr Perry had described himself as a non-partisan, but he endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020, suggesting he felt the need to oust President Trump for the sake of his 5-year-old son.

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Person named by Trump seeks to cut funding for global Internet access group

WASHINGTON – The Trump-appointed person who oversees the government’s global media operations is set to shut down a federally-funded nonprofit that helps support internet access around the world, a move that could limit the ability of people in countries like Iran and China to tightly control Internet access. to circumvent these constraints, the documents show.

The person named, Michael Pack, the chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media seeks to prevent the nonprofit, the Open Technology Fund, from receiving federal funding for three years, in part due to ‘a dispute over whether the fund should support the work being done. by Falun Gong, the spiritual movement known to spread anti-China and pro-Trump disinformation.

His action, a month before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took office, would be difficult for the new administration to undo.

The nonprofit, which is funded by the World Media Agency, helps develop technology that enables more than 2 billion people in more than 60 countries to access the internet. It is known to help create tools like Signal, an encrypted messaging app, and Tor, a web browser that hides a user’s identity while connected to the Internet.

Fund officials have 30 days to appeal Mr Pack’s decision, according to the documents. Mr Pack, an ally of Stephen K. Banon, former adviser and strategist to President Trump, will oversee any appeal, legal experts have said. His final decision is due by Jan. 19, a day before Mr Biden takes office, according to the documents.

Legal experts said Mr Biden would likely not be able to overturn Mr Pack’s decision immediately, indicating that it could be months before all legal issues surrounding Mr Pack’s decision have been reached. answer.

Meanwhile, the Open Technology Fund could not receive money from the federal government and will only have enough funds to keep its staff of 10 employees until June, officials of the non-profit organization said. lucrative.

Without funding, projects that help provide nearly one in four Iranian citizens and 10 million people in China with internet access risk stopping, officials added.

“This is the coup de grace,” Laura Cunningham, interim managing director of the Open Technology Fund, said in a statement to the New York Times. “Without OTF, users around the world will be cut off from the global Internet.”

A spokesperson for the US Agency for Global Media said the agency is committed to funding a range of firewall circumvention technologies.

Mr. Pack cited several reasons why he decided to deprive the Open Technology Fund of federal funding.

He said the organization did not have “adequate authorization from Congress” to be a government-funded nonprofit, according to documents. The fund started in 2012 as a pilot program within Radio Free Asia, a broadcasting medium under the jurisdiction of the agency. In 2019, Congress allowed him to become an independent, non-profit media agency scholar.

Mr Pack said the Open Technology Fund broke conflict of interest rules by not disclosing whether he paid its board of directors. He also said the funds his agency gave to the non-profit group had “no apparent impact” on internet freedom.

Tools supported by the Open Technology Fund are recommended by organizations, including the United Nations.

“Sir. Pack’s allegations against the OTF are without merit and absolutely absurd,” said Ms. Cunningham. “The absurd and easily refutable nature of Mr. Pack’s allegations makes it clear that his actions are purely punitive and without substantial basis or cause. . “

The Open Technology Fund received bipartisan support in Congress. At a congressional watch hearing in September for the US World Media Agency – where Mr Pack ignored a subpoena – lawmakers said the fund’s budget of $ 20 million had been invaluable to stem the progress of Chinese and Russian surveillance technology, protecting humans. rights activists and journalists in repressive societies around the world, while allowing millions of people to access the Internet around the world.

In a joint statement on Saturday, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, both Republicans, said Mr. Pack’s attempts to deprive the Open Technology Fund of access to US government funding for the next three years, called exclusion, would be a significant setback from US foreign policy goals.

This effort “is a blow to democratic movements around the world which rely on their services to push back authoritarian regimes,” they said. “This latest attempt by CEO Pack to bypass Congress and gut the Open Technology Fund, which is a lifeline for freedom fighters around the world, is absolutely unacceptable and will endanger democratic movements and lives,” worldwide.”

The Open Technology Fund became Mr. Pack’s target soon after taking office. He resigned from the fund’s board in June. This decision has been challenged in federal courts. A federal judge has temporarily set aside Mr Pack’s decision until a final decision is rendered.

In June, Mr. Pack temporarily withheld millions of dollars in funding from the nonprofit. In response, 527 human rights organizations and internet freedom groups – including Human Rights Watch and the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia.com – called on members of Congress to protect the group from Mr. Pack’s non-profit shares.

Much of the concern around the Open Technology Fund revolves around the resistance of its leaders to fund firewall bypass software called Ultrasurf, developed by a member of Falun Gong, the secret spiritual movement persecuted by the Fund. Chinese Communist Party. The group embraced Mr. Trump for his anti-China positions.

Michael J. Horowitz, Reagan administration budget manager and longtime Ultrasurf supporter, appeared on Mr. Bannon’s show in June to denounce Libby Liu, the founder of the Open Technology Fund, saying ‘she should be fired. Ms Liu – who Mr Pack sacked in June – is not a supporter of Ultrasurf funding, a current Open Technology Fund official said.

The State Department released an audit of Ultrasurf in July, claiming that “the Ultrasurf platform, in its current state, would be a costly and inefficient waste of US tax dollars.” In November, Mr. Pack provided Ultrareach Internet Corp., Ultrasurf’s parent company, with a contract worth nearly $ 1.8 million, according to federal data.

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The person Trump nominated dismisses the VOA director before Biden takes office.

The acting director of Voice of America was reassigned on Tuesday, as part of what is likely a broader offer to install President Trump’s followers in the media before the Biden administration takes over, two said. people close to the decision.

Michael Pack, the managing director of the outlet’s parent agency, the US Agency for Global Media, and a conservative filmmaker linked to former Trump adviser Stephen K. Banon, told Acting Director Elez Biberaj, earlier Tuesday that he would be removed from his post. of his role.

Mr. Biberaj will return to his former role as Eurasia office manager at Voice of America. An official said Robert R. Reilly, a conservative author who was the director of Voice of America in the Bush administration, was likely to succeed Biberaj.

Mr. Biberaj, who has worked at Voice of America for more than 40 years, was appointed interim director in June.

As head of the US Agency for World Media, Mr. Pack oversees federally funded news outlets including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

Once appointed, he quickly removed the heads of the four news organizations and an internet technology nonprofit under his tutelage from office. It also replaced the bipartisan council that oversees organizations with allies in the Trump administration.

In October, Mr Pack said he was rolling back a firewall rule that protected government-funded news outlets, including Voice of America, from federal tampering. A lawsuit brought by five officials suspended by Mr. Pack claimed that Mr. Pack or his associates interviewed Voice of America reporters who criticized Mr. Pack. A federal judge recently ruled that Mr. Pack’s attempts to breach the firewall were unconstitutional.

Mr Biberaj has not openly criticized Mr Pack, but he has issued statements in recent months saying that “editorial independence and journalistic integrity without political interference are the fundamental elements that support VOA and make us the voice from America”.

His likely successor, Mr. Reilly, wrote against Islam and gay rights, publishing a book titled “Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything.”

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is likely to replace Mr Pack once he takes office, agency officials said. But Mr Reilly might be more difficult to remove if the wording of the National Defense Authorization Act, a defense spending bill passed by the House, is signed into a law that requires the CEO to the United States Agency for the World Media to obtain the approval of an advisory board before replacing it. at the head of a network of media under their jurisdiction.

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Unable to meet in person, some AA members “thank Zoom for their very survival.”

Their meetings took place discreetly in the basements of churches, a friend’s room in the YMCA, at the back of a cafe. But when the pandemic struck last spring, members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovering drug addiction groups found those doors quickly closed.

What happened next is one of those creative stunts that the virus indirectly set off. Rehabilitation moved online, almost overnight, zealously. Not only are thousands of AA meetings taking place on Zoom and other digital hangouts, other major players in the rehabilitation industry have stepped up, transforming a daily ritual that many attribute to their rescue.

“The AA members I speak to go far beyond the initial fascination with the idea that they are looking at a screen of Hollywood squares,” said Dr. Lynn Hankes, 84, 43-year-old recovering and physician. retired in Florida. with three decades of experience in drug treatment. “They thank Zoom for their survival.”

People on the ground say online rehabilitation is likely to become a permanent part of drug treatment. Being able to find a meeting to connect 24/7 has welcome benefits for people who don’t have transportation, or who are sick or juggling parenting or work challenges. that make an in-person meeting difficult on any given day. Online meetings can also be a good stepping stone for people just starting out in rehab.

Some participants say that the online experience can have a surprisingly intimate feel.

“You feel strangers more, like when a cat jumps onto their lap or a child can run around in the background,” said a 58-year-old AA member in early recovery from Portland, Ore., Who refused. to give their name, citing the organization’s recommendations not to seek personal advertising.

At the same time, he and others say they crave the raw intensity of physical presence.

“I really miss the hugs,” he said. “The first time I can go back to the local church for a meeting, I will, but I will still do online meetings.”

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“ I voted for a guy named Trump, ” the president said after voting in person in Florida.

President Trump traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida on Saturday morning to vote early and in person in the 2020 election after spending months making unsubstantiated statements about voter fraud in an election during which polls showed him he was following Joe Biden.

Mr. Trump voted at the West Palm Beach Main Library, about a year after moving his primary residence to Palm Beach, Florida from Manhattan. Early voting centers opened in critical battlefield condition on Saturday, but millions of Floridians have already voted by mail.

“I voted for a guy named Trump,” the president said, according to a report from the pool. Mr. Trump also noted that his experience had been “perfect” and that “it was a very safe vote.”

Mr Trump wore a mask during the morning shutdown, the pool report also said. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told the Pool reporter that there was no one else inside the library voting at the same time as Mr. Trump and that he had voted on paper.

Mr Trump voted by mail in August in the Florida primaries, although he has repeatedly argued, without evidence, that postal voting invites fraud. More broadly, Mr. Trump has asserted that the 2020 election will be “the most corrupt election in our country’s history.”

In fact, numerous independent studies and government reviews have concluded that voter fraud is extremely rare in any form, including postal voting.

On Saturday morning, the President’s motorcade left Mar-a-Lago at 9.43am and arrived at the library about 10 minutes later. Supporters of Mr. Trump waited at the site and applauded his arrival, according to the pool report. The procession took off at around 10:20 a.m. and was headed for the Palm Beach airport.

The president is expected to appear later Saturday in Lumberton, North Carolina and then travel to Ohio and Wisconsin, a trio of crucial swing states.