Archive for Joshua Zitser

Embattled Matt Gaetz boasts about being ‘canceled man’ at first high-profile public appearance since sex-trafficking probe

Matt Gaetz speaks at the "Save America Summit" in Florida
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) speaks during the "Save America Summit" at the Trump National Doral golf resort on April 09, 2021 in Doral, Florida.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz is embroiled in a sex-trafficking scandal and is under investigation.
  • He boasted he was a "marked" and "canceled" man at his first high-profile public appearance since the scandal began.
  • The event marked the kickoff of his "America First" tour with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Rep. Matt Gaetz boasted about being a "canceled" and "marked" man during his first high-profile public appearance since becoming embattled in a federal investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws.

"I'm a marked man in Congress. I'm a canceled man in some corners of the Internet. I might be a wanted man by the deep state. But I am a Florida man, and it is good to be home," Gaetz said during a speech in central Florida on Friday night, Politico reported.

"Today, we send a strong message to the weak establishment in both parties: America First isn't going away. We're going on tour," he continued.

Gaetz was joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene - a freshman Republican who has embraced far-right conspiracy theories - at an event marking the start of their "America First" tour.

Read more: We watched 11 hours of old Matt Gaetz videos where he pushed for sexual predator legislation. He had much to say.

Addressing an elderly crowd at The Villages, a sprawling senior community and conservative stronghold about 45 miles northwest of Orlando, Gaetz also claimed that the "truth will prevail" and that he won't back down. He did accept, however, that he might lose committee assignments, Politico said.

The controversial Republican congressman and loyal ally to former President Donald Trump have not been charged but is facing a federal probe into potential public corruption and serious allegations that he violated federal sex-trafficking laws and engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor.

The House Ethics Committee is also investigating Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct, drug use, and reports that he'd shown photos of nude women to colleagues.

There have been calls on the congressman to resign, something which Gaetz has insisted he will not do. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and wrongdoing but has kept a low profile since the claims against him emerged.

Gaetz also used the public appearance to blast big tech, the so-called "deep state," and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, Politico reported.

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A nurse who sent her jailed husband videos threatening to kill Kamala Harris was charged after the Secret Service intercepted them

kamala harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks on March 17, 2021.
  • Niviane Petit Phelps, a 39-year-old nurse from Miami, was arrested on Friday.
  • She is charged with threatening to kill Vice President Kamala Harris, a criminal complaint said.
  • Phelps, who is Black, was angered by the false idea that Harris is not really Black, the complaint said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A Florida nurse was arrested this week for threatening to kill Vice President Kamala Harris, according to a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Niviane Petit Phelps, a 39-year-old mother from Miami, is accused of recording and sending several videos to her jailed husband, in which she discussed murdering the vice president, the complaint, reviewed by Insider, says.

Between February 13 and February 18, Phelps "knowingly and willfully made threats to kill and inflict bodily harm upon the Vice President of the United States," the complaint says.

Read more: Inside three battles that prepared Vice President Kamala Harris to tackle immigration at the US-Mexico border

A Secret Service special agent intercepted communications between Phelps and her incarcerated husband on JPay, a communications platform that allows non-incarcerated people to communicate with those in jail.

Five videos showed Phelps complaining to the camera about her hatred for Harris, President Joe Biden, and others, the complaint says.

In one of the videos, Phelps stated: "Kamala Harris you are going to die. Your days are numbered already."

In this same video, Phelps also claimed she was paid a large sum of money for her attempt to carry out the job, the complaint says.

"Someone paid me $53,000 just to fuck you up and I'm gonna take the, I'm gonna do the job, okay," she said.

Another video, according to the complaint, shows Phelps saying: "I'm going to the gun range. … I swear to God, today is your day you're gonna die. 50 days from today, mark this day down."

Photographs also pictured Phelps at a shooting range, the complaint says. On February 22, she applied for a concealed weapons permit.

Detectives from the Miami-Dade Police Department and Secret Service agents visited Phelps on March 3 with the goal of interviewing her. But Phelps resisted, the complaint said. Another agent went to her house again three days later.

When he asked her about the videos, "Phelps started by saying that she was angry at the time about Kamala Harris becoming Vice President, but that she is 'over it now.'''

Phelps, who is Black, also told the agent her anger stemmed from the false idea that Harris is not actually Black, the complaint says. The vice president is Black and is of South Asian and Jamaican descent.

Phelps was also reportedly angered by the false claim that Harris had placed her hand on her clutch purse instead of the bible in the process of being inaugurated.

The agent also asked her whether she had any plans to head to Washington, DC, to which Phelps answered that she didn't.

When reached for comment, Phelps' defense attorney, Scott Saul, told Insider that he did not believe his client to presented a genuine threat to Harris.

"My client has gone through some extreme anxiety due to the extended incarceration of her husband. I believe that my client was simply placating to the expectations and pressures placed upon her by that husband," Saul said in an emailed statement to Insider. "The couple had a sense of disappointment that the current Presidential administration is not pursuing the same legal reforms that she thought the previous administration had done."

"Remember, despite my client's troubling language, her statements were ONLY made to her husband through private conversations," Saul continued. "She never pushed her opinions upon anybody else. People say stupid "I'm going to kill you" soliloquys all the time; that is all this was...an emotionally exploited woman venting out her frustrations of wishing she had her husband back."

Initially, Phelps had been placed on administrative leave from her job, the complaint says. Phelps has since lost her job as a nurse at a Miami hospital and faces up to five years in jail if convicted, the Miami Herald added.

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NASA shares breathtaking image of a wind-sculpted sea of blue dunes on Mars taken by the Odyssey orbiter

blue dunes on mars
A sea of dark dunes, sculpted by the wind into long lines, surrounds Mars' northern polar cap.
  • NASA shared an image of dunes surrounding Mars' northern polar cap.
  • The false-color image shows a sea of blue dunes and yellow wind-sculpted lines on the red planet.
  • The photo has been released to mark the 20th anniversary of the Mars Odyssey orbiter.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

On Thursday, NASA released a stunning photo of a sea of dunes on Mars.

It also shows wind-sculpted lines surrounding Mars' frosty northern polar cap.

The section captured in the shot represents an area that is 19 miles wide, NASA said. The sea of dunes, however, actually covers an area as large as Texas.

The photo is a false color image, meaning that the colors are representative of temperatures. Blue represents cooler climes, and the shades of yellow mark out "sun-warmed dunes," the US space agency wrote.

Read more: Real-estate investors are already circling homes in the Texas border town where Elon Musk said there would be 'several thousand' jobs

The photo is made of a combination of images captured by the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, NASA wrote.

Captured during the period from December 2002 to November 2004, the breathtaking images have been released to mark the 20th anniversary of Odyssey.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter is a robotic spacecraft circling Mars that uses a thermal imager to detect evidence of water and ice on the planet.

It was launched in 2001, making it the longest-working Mars spacecraft in history.

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Trump wants you to start calling it the ‘Trumpcine’ instead of the COVID-19 vaccine, report says

trump vaccine operation warp speed
Trump greets the crowd before he leaves at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on December 08, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • Former President Donald Trump wants the vaccine to be called the "Trumpcine," Newsweek reported.
  • He has repeatedly expressed his frustration that he isn't getting credit for the COVID-19 shot.
  • In March, Trump claimed that people "probably" wouldn't get the vaccine at all if it wasn't for him.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former President Donald Trump wants you to start calling the COVID-19 vaccine by a different name.

"Trumpcine" is the former president's desired moniker for the life-saving jab, CNN reporter Kevin Liptak said on Twitter.

Trump made this request to hundreds of donors during a rambling 50-minute speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Saturday night, Newsweek reported.

It's the latest sign that the former president is growing increasingly frustrated that he isn't receiving credit for the development or rollout of the coronavirus shot.

Read more: Just 5 governors haven't gotten their COVID-19 vaccine, Insider found. Here's who - and why.

In early March, Trump released a statement falsely asserting that he was primarily responsible for the shot's rapid development.

"I hope everyone remembers when they're getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn't President, you wouldn't be getting that beautiful 'shot' for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn't be getting it at all," the statement said.

There is no evidence to suggest that Trump's efforts would have shaved four or five years off from a COVID-19 vaccine being developed, Insider's Tyler Sonnemaker previously wrote.

In November, Insider's Mia Jankowicz reported that Trump was furious that President Joe Biden may get credit for the vaccines. He was reportedly upset that Biden would "steal" the plaudits from him, Jankowicz said.

Trump made the latest plea for credit at a speech to his most dedicated supporters during a Republican National Committee retreat.

In addition to touting the "Trumpcine," he reportedly spent several minutes deriding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao.

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Trump spent several minutes insulting ‘dumb son of a b—h’ Mitch McConnell during a rambling speech to GOP donors at Mar-a-Lago, say reports

trump mcconnell insults gop
Former President Donald Trump took aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for not supporting him enough during his February impeachment trial, Politico reported.
  • Former President Donald Trump insulted Mitch McConnell during a speech to donors at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Trump referred to the Senate Minority Leader as a "dumb son of a b---h," Politico reported.
  • He spent several minutes ridiculing both McConnell and his wife, The Washington Post said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former President Donald Trump derided Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a 50-minute speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Politico reported.

Trump referred to McConnell as a "dumb son of a b---h," three people familiar with the remarks told Politico.

He then spent several minutes detailing his qualms with McConnell, the media outlet said.

The former president complained that McConnell had not done enough to defend him during his February impeachment trial, according to Politico.

Read more: Donald Trump is facing legal jeopardy on multiple fronts. Here are the lawyers in his corner.

Trump also attacked McConnell's wife, former Transportation Secretary, The Washington Post reported. "I hired his wife. Did he ever say thank you?" Trump said, according to The Post.

mitch mcconnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, former Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, arrive for Joe Biden's inauguration.
He then proceeded to ridicule her for resigning following the January 6 insurrection, the paper said.

The former president also falsely claimed that he had won the Senate election for McConnell in Kentucky, The Post added.

The Kentucky senator was not the only Republican to be derided. Trump also claimed that former Vice President Mike Pence lacked the "courage" to send the Electoral College certification back to state legislatures, MailOnline said.

The former president was speaking to hundreds of GOP donors as part of a Republican National Committee retreat in South Florida, according to CNN.

Donors were shuttled from the retreat's main venue, about 10 minutes away, to this closed-door audience with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, CNN reported.

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Trump adviser Peter Navarro pressured officials to reward untested companies connected to the White House with lucrative COVID-19 contracts, House inquiry says

Peter Navarro
White House Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the press briefing room of the White House on March 27, 2020.
  • Peter Navarro, Trump's former trade adviser, is accused of rewarding companies with White House links.
  • Trump officials steered contracts to companies without "adequate diligence," a House inquiry says.
  • On one occasion, Navarro pushed for a brand-new start-up to secure a $354 million contract.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A senior adviser to former President Donald Trump pushed agency officials to secure huge COVID-19 contracts for politically connected and untested firms, according to documents from an inquiry by the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Peter Navarro, who served as a trade adviser to Trump, is one of the officials accused of pursuing a "haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement" and steering contracts "to particular companies without adequate diligence or competitions."

There are numerous examples outlined in the inquiry of how the Trump aide played a significant role in rewarding multimillion-dollar deals to companies with connections to the White House, ProPublica reported.

Read more: Washington moves of the week: A top Trump White House staffer lands a TV gig and a former Kamala Harris aide heads to a lobbying firm

On one occasion, Navarro awarded a $96 million deal for respirators to a company with links to the administration - Airboss Defense Group (ADG).

Retired Army general Jack Keane, a Trump ally and paid consultant for ADG, sent a catalog of the company's items to Navarro on March 22, 2020. Keane had just been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Trump days earlier.

Navarro and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force had a phone call with representatives from ADG later that day, according to the House inquiry.

Then, a day after the call, ADG submitted a $96.4 million proposal to Navarro's team. He responded by telling the firm in an email that they could "consider it done," the documents show.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were quickly sent an invoice and pressured into signing the contract, ProPublica said.

On another occasion, the Trump aide pushed for an untested pharmaceutical company to sign a major deal to produce pharmaceutical ingredients and generic drugs.

The $354 million contract went to a newly-formed start-up, Phlow. "It was the largest contract ever awarded by BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), even though Phlow was a first-time government contractor that had incorporated just months earlier in January 2020," documents from the Select Subcommittee show.

Navarro had been introduced to Phlow's chief executive months earlier, the documents say. He had also developed a friendship with a Phlow board member over their shared China skepticism, Insider's Tom Porter reported.

The Trump aide also put pressure on agency officials to get the deal done quickly, the inquiry finds. "My head is going to explode if this contract does not get immediately approved," Navarro wrote to BARDA officials.

The former trade adviser is accused of coordinating with executives at the Eastman Kodak Company. The photography business has a "complete lack of experience in the field," the subcommittee's letter says. Nevertheless, the firm entered into a letter of intent in June 2020 to manufacture pharmaceutical agents.

Navarro has made headlines in recent days for spreading baseless claims about COVID-19 and for railing against Dr. Anthony Fauci.

During a Fox News interview with Rachel Campos-Duffy, Navarro referred to Fauci as "the father of the actual virus." He also called Fauci a "sociopath and a liar" who had "nothing to do with the vaccine," Insider's Sinéad Baker reported.

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Egypt’s first female ship captain fears for her career after she was blamed falsely for the Suez Canal blockage when she was aboard a vessel 200 miles away

ever given suez canal
Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that was wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021.
  • Marwa Elselehdar is Egypt's first female ship's captain.
  • Online rumors and fake news headlines blamed her for the Ever Given grounding, she told the BBC.
  • Elselehdar was actually 200 miles away from the incident when it occurred.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Egypt's first female ship's captain was blamed for the Suez Canal blockage despite having been hundreds of miles away from the incident, she told BBC News.

Marwa Elselehdar said that she saw online rumors accusing her of being responsible for the Ever Given container ship becoming beached, the media outlet reported.

At the time of the jam, Elselehdar was working as a first mate on the Aida IV. This vessel was in Alexandria - more than 200 miles away from the site of the collision.

An investigation is underway to explain the Ever Given's grounding, but it is clear that the 29-year-old was not to blame.

Read more: The 4 biggest losers of the Suez Canal fiasco - and 4 surprising winners

Rumors circulating online about Elselehdar's supposed culpability were made worse by the sharing of screenshots of fake news headlines, BBC News reported.

Several social media accounts also impersonated her and spread false claims putting the blame on her, the media outlet said.

"I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field or because I'm Egyptian, but I'm not sure," Elselehdar told the BBC.

The young woman described how she was "shocked" when she first saw the baseless accusations on her phone.

The rumors concerned her. "I tried so hard to negate what was in the article because it was affecting my reputation and all the efforts I exerted to be where I am now," she said in the BBC interview.

A post shared by Marwa Elselehdar💫مروة السلحدار (@marwa.elselehdar)

Elselehdar is one of the few women in the heavily male-dominated shipping industry.

In 2016, she became the youngest and first female Egyptian captain to cross the Suez Canal. A year later, she was honored by Egypt's president during Egypt's Women's Day celebrations, the BBC said.

She hopes that her career, despite this unfortunate setback, inspires other women to break into the industry.

"My message to females who want to be in the maritime field is fight for what you love and not let any negativity affect you," she told the BBC.

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Unlike the Easter Bunny, these rabbits can’t hop. Scientists have solved the mystery of the ‘hand-standing’ bunnies.

Sauteur d'Alfort rabbits hopping
The typical posture of a Sauteur d'Alfort rabbit when walking.
  • Sauteur d'Alfort rabbits walk on their front legs, as opposed to hopping on their hind legs.
  • Scientists finally have an explanation as to why this species has such a peculiar gait.
  • The 'hand-standing' rabbits walk on their forelegs because of a genetic mutation, a PLoS study found.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Sauteur d'Alfort rabbits, also known as Alfort jumping rabbits, have a peculiar way of moving.

Instead of hopping on their hind legs, like other bunnies, the Sauteur d'Alfort rabbits lift their back legs from the ground and 'hand-stand' on their forelegs.

They then scurry forward on their front paws, maintaining their balance.

Read more: Here are 10 companies hoping to cash in on the boom in edible worms and crickets

Ever since the species was first discovered in 1935, scientists have been baffled as to why the furry creatures are unable to hop or jump like most other rabbits.

Academics from PLoS Genetics- a peer-reviewed scientific journal - now have an explanation, Gizmodo reported.

The unusual gait can be explained by a genetic mutation, the study found.

This species has a warped RORB gene, BBC Newsround said. "This was the only mutation that stood out as really striking," Miguel Carneiro, an academic at the University of Porto, told the media outlet.

A mutation in the RORB gene can result in the loss of spinal cord interneurons.

"When you move, these neurons fire all the time, they coordinate muscle contractions and know if the other limbs are in balance," Leif Andersson, a co-author of the study, told Gizmodo. "This coordination of muscle contraction is not correct in these rabbits."

In the Sauteur D'Alfort rabbits, these interneurons were either less abundant or totally absent, the study said. This, in turn, results in the loss of saltatorial locomotion - the ability to jump or hop.

The hand-standing is a result of the rabbits working around their inability to travel like other species, the study said.

Baby rabbits of this species learn, after a few months, to walk solely on their front legs to compensate for the genetic mutation and consequent spinal defects, the New Scientist said.

It's unlikely that the quirky gait causes the animals any pain, Gizmodo reported.

The team of 12 scientists solved the mystery of the hand-standing rabbits after an experiment involving the breeding of a Sauteur d'Alfort rabbit with another species that can hop and jump normally, Slate reported.

The scientists then sequenced the DNA of the 50 or so descendants, the Smithsonian Magazine said.

Some of the baby rabbits had hand-standing gaits and scientists were able to identify the mutation in the code at the RORB gene in these animals, the magazine added.

Previous studies have shown that RORB mutations in other animals, such as mice, can interfere with normal movement. RORB-deficient mice waddle like ducks, the PLoS study said.

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Southwest Airlines passengers dance and cheer as couple accused of refusing to wear masks get thrown off flight

Southwest Airlines flight
Passengers on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flight line up to exit the aircraft after arriving at Houston's Hobby airport March 20, 2021.
  • A TikTok video shows a woman arguing with a flight attendant about not complying with a mask-wearing mandate.
  • Passengers on the Southwest Airlines flight can be heard heckling and jeering at the passenger.
  • As the woman and her partner are escorted off the flight, those on the plane cheer and dance.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A TikTok video shows an entire plane clapping and cheering after a couple is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight, Newsweek reported.

In the video shared by user Brendan Edler, a woman is seen arguing with a crew member.

The footage, which is filmed discreetly from three rows back, starts mid-argument.

The dispute revolves around a passenger who refused to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols by not wearing a mask.

Read more: Inside Southwest Airlines' legendary culture - and how to get hired there

It should be noted that the woman is wearing a mask at the start of the clip.

The reaction of those on the plane, however, suggests this was not the case earlier on.

The woman, whose identity is unknown, is insistent that she did not break the rules. "I did comply," says the woman to the flight attendant. "You're saying I didn't comply and put my mask on when you ask asked me to?"

Shortly after, the woman accuses the flight attendant of not telling the truth. "You're a liar and you have to live with that," she is heard saying.

Those on the flight then begin to heckle the woman and start saying their farewells.

"Bye," shouts one person.

"Get off the plane," yells another.

"That's what happens when you don't say you're sorry," someone else can be heard saying.

The woman then stands up, shows her middle finger to those on the plane, and walks off with her traveling companion.

The remaining passengers appear jubilant, with one woman proceeding to dance.

Insider contacted Southwest for further context on the incident. The airline said that it does not have any further details on the situation but provided information on its mask-wearing policy.

"Federal law requires Southwest to ensure every person age two and over to wear a mask at all times throughout a flight, including during boarding and deplaning," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said. "We communicate the face-covering mandate to all Customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey."

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Hunter Biden opens up about an emotional drug intervention by his father during the 2020 presidential campaign

Hunter Biden Joe Biden
Hunter Biden, left, and his father, President Joe Biden.
  • Hunter Biden has opened up about an emotional family intervention during 2020 the presidential campaign.
  • He described how his father, now the president, cried and embraced him outside their Delaware home.
  • In this CBS interview, Biden's son described how "powerful" his addiction to substances was.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, has opened up about an emotional intervention his family staged during the 2020 presidential campaign.

In an interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Anthony Mason, the 51-year-old discussed his highly-publicized battle with substance abuse.

He recalled a particularly memorable incident at the family home in Wilmington, Delaware, whilst Joe Biden was in the midst of the presidential campaign.

Biden shared that he had a tense confrontation with his father and stormed out of the house. The future president then chased his son down the driveway, he told Mason.

As he tried to enter his car, his daughters blocked him from entering it. Then, he said, his father hugged him.

Read more: Biden's hidin' from the press because that strategy's been working for him

Biden described his father's embrace. "[He] gave a bear hug, and he said - and just cried, and said - 'I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. Please'."

In his first interview since his father took office, the president's second-oldest son told CBS News what he thought of Biden's pleas.

"I thought: 'I need to figure out a way to tell him that I'm gonna do something, so that I can go take another hit.' It's the only thing I could think. Literally," he said. "That's how powerful. I don't know of a force more powerful than my family's love...except addiction."

Hunter Biden said that this scenario was "the hardest part of the book to write," referring to his newly released memoir.

In "Beautiful Things," he shares candid details of his struggle to become sober. At one point in his drug and alcohol spiral, Biden reveals he was smoking crack cocaine every 15 minutes.

He writes about spending a month in a Washington apartment bingeing on vodka while his father was vice president, The New York Times reported.

Biden's son also credits his wife, Melissa Cohen, for helping him reach sobriety, The Times reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider