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DHS and FBI Issue Warning About Large Fourth of July Events as ‘Attractive’ Targets for

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning on Wednesday regarding potential threats to large Fourth of July celebrations. According to an internal bulletin obtained by ABC News, these events are considered “attractive” targets for lone offenders and small groups with malicious intentions.

The bulletin emphasizes the risk posed by individuals and small groups who might exploit the gatherings for terrorism or other harmful activities. The warning comes as the nation prepares for Independence Day festivities, which traditionally draw large crowds to public spaces.

The FBI and DHS are urging local law enforcement and event organizers to increase vigilance and security measures. The agencies highlight the importance of public awareness and cooperation, encouraging individuals to report any suspicious activities immediately.

Biden Administration

Former Obama-Biden Advisor Claims “The First Amendment Is Out of Control,” Hinders Government Action

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In a controversial opinion piece published recently, Tim Wu, an advisor to both the Obama and Biden administrations, argued that the First Amendment is becoming a significant obstacle to effective governance. The essay, titled “The First Amendment is Out of Control,” has sparked widespread debate and criticism.

Wu’s argument centers on the assertion that the First Amendment, designed to protect free speech, is now being exploited by powerful entities, including Big Tech companies, to resist regulation and oversight. He cites recent Supreme Court rulings regarding Texas and Florida laws aimed at regulating social media platforms as examples of this exploitation.

According to Wu, the collaboration between the government and major social media platforms is often hindered by the First Amendment, which is used as a defense to protect free speech in digital public forums. He suggests that this constitutional protection is being misused to prevent necessary government action aimed at safeguarding citizens.

Critics, however, argue that Wu’s perspective misinterprets the fundamental purpose of the First Amendment. They contend that the amendment’s role is precisely to protect citizens from government overreach and censorship, ensuring that free speech remains a cornerstone of democracy. The idea that the First Amendment is an obstacle rather than a protector is seen by many as a dangerous and misguided interpretation.

Furthermore, Wu’s essay touches on the issue of banning platforms like TikTok and implementing age verification laws, such as California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code. He suggests that the First Amendment stands in the way of these actions, which he believes are necessary for national security and protecting minors online. Critics counter that these measures, if implemented, could set precedents for broader and potentially harmful censorship practices.

Wu’s reference to the First Amendment as a “suicide pact,” borrowing language from a 1949 dissenting opinion in the Terminiello v. City of Chicago case, underscores the dramatic tone of his argument. He suggests that the amendment, while intended to safeguard freedoms, can also be interpreted in ways that undermine societal safety and security.

In conclusion, Tim Wu’s essay has reignited the debate over the balance between free speech and governmental regulation. While Wu argues that the First Amendment’s current application hinders effective governance and protection of citizens, his critics maintain that the amendment is essential for safeguarding democratic principles and preventing government overreach. As this debate continues, the interpretation and application of the First Amendment remain at the forefront of discussions about free speech and public safety in the digital age.

SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES

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Biden is 7 Times More Popular with Ukrainians than Trump, Poll Reveals

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In a recent poll conducted by The Counteroffensive/Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, President Joe Biden emerges as significantly more popular among Ukrainians compared to former President Donald Trump. This inaugural poll offers insights into Ukrainian sentiment towards American leadership during their ongoing conflict with Russia.

According to The Hill, a striking 46.7 percent of Ukrainian respondents expressed a preference for President Biden as the leader they believe would better support Ukraine’s war effort. In contrast, only 6.5 percent of those polled favored Trump in this regard.

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Chemicals From East Palestine Train Disaster Spread To 16 States: Study

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Toxic chemicals released during fires following the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio last year spread to 16 states and likely Canada, according to a study released Wednesday.

The pollution, some of which came from the burning of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, spread over 540,000 square miles, showing clearly that “the impacts of the fire were larger in scale and scope than the initial predictions,” the authors of the study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found.

Lead author David Gay, coordinator of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, said that he was very surprised by the way the chemicals had spread. “I didn’t expect to see an impact this far out,” he told The Washington Post.

Gay said the results did not mean “death and destruction,” as concentrations were low on an absolute scale—”not melting steel or eating paint off buildings”—but that they were still “very extreme” compared to normal, with measurements higher than recorded in the previous ten years.

“I think we should be concerned,” Juliane Beier, an expert on vinyl chloride effects who didn’t take part in the study, told the Post, citing the possibility of long-term environmental impacts on communities.

A Norfolk Southern train crashed in East Palestine, Ohio, a village near the Pennsylvania border and the Appalachian foothills, on February 3, 2023. Dozens of train cars derailed, at least 11 of which were carrying hazardous materials, some of which caught fire after the accident and burned for days. Fearing a large-scale explosion, authorities drained the vinyl chloride from five cars into a trench and set it alight in a controlled burn.

A former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official later said that the controlled burn went against EPA rules; the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said the deliberate burning was unnecessary.

The local impact of the fires was felt acutely in the month after the accident—a “potent chemical odor hung in the air for weeks,” according to The Guardian, and people reported nausea, rashes, and headaches.

The new study helps explain the wider environmental impact. The researchers looked at inorganic compound samples in rain and snow at 260 sites. The highest levels of chloride were found in northern Pennsylvania and near the Canada-New York border, which was downwind from the accident.

The authors also found “exceptionally high” pH levels in rain as far away as northern Maine. They did not look at organic compounds such as dioxin or PFAS, which likely also spread following the accident, The Guardian reported. The elevated inorganic chemical levels dropped two to three weeks after the accident.

Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay nearly $1 billion in damages following two settlements reached in recent months. In April, the company reached a $600 million deal with class action plaintiffs living within 20 miles of the derailment site. That deal won’t be finalized until the residents officially agree. In May, the company reached a separate $310 million settlement with the federal government. The company has said that it has already spent $107 million on community support and removed the impacted soil.

Norfolk Southern makes billions in profits every year, and the company gave its CEO a 37% pay hike last year, drawing widespread criticism. The company also spent $2.3 million on federal lobbying last year, according to OpenSecrets data reported by Roll Call.

Link to study

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