Archive for Morgan Keith

The Taliban has replaced the Afghan women’s ministry with its own ministry of virtue and vice

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.
Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.
  • The Taliban's "moral police" enforce its interpretation of Sharia law.
  • Although it is still unclear if they will be allowed to work, women in Afghanistan can no longer work alongside men.
  • Women can continue studying at universities in Islamic dress and segregated classrooms.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Women who were employed by Afghanistan's women's ministry were locked out of their former workplace in Kabul on Thursday. The next day its signs had been replaced with those of the Taliban's moral police: "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," Reuters reported.

The new ministry enforces the Taliban's interpretation of Sharia law, which enforces a strict dress code, floggings, and public executions, according to Reuters. Although a senior Taliban figure said women shall not work alongside men on September 13, it is still unclear what capacity women will be able to work, if at all, Reuters reported.

Earlier in the week, Taliban officials said that women will be allowed to continue their studies at universities as long as they wear Islamic dress and classrooms are segregated by gender.

The group took control of the country in mid-August after taking over several major cities during the withdrawal of US military troops by President Joe Biden.

The Taliban's interim government is comprised entirely of men, including a prime minister on a United Nations blacklist and the head of a militant group wanted by the FBI.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul authorizes release of 191 detainees amid ‘humanitarian crisis’ at Rikers Island

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds the "Less is More" law she signed, during ceremonies in the her office, in New York, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds the "Less is More" law she signed, during ceremonies in the her office, in New York, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. New Yorkers will be able to avoid jail time for most nonviolent parole violations under a new law that will take effect in March, and largely eliminates New York's practice of incarcerating people for technical parole violations.
  • More than 6,000 individuals are either detained or jailed at Rikers.
  • Ross MacDonald, chief medical officer for New York City's Correctional Health Services, said he has "witnessed the collapse of basic jail operations."
  • Staffing shortages have created conditions that contributed to deaths in the jail.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul authorized the release of 191 detainees from the Rikers Island jail complex on September 17, The New York Times reported.

Earlier in the week, state and local officials went with public defenders to tour the facility, where they found a raging "humanitarian crisis" and even witnessed one inmate attempt suicide, state Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas wrote.

Hochul said she would transfer another 200 individuals to state prisons in the coming days, citing staffing issues and a rise in COVID-19 transmission in recent weeks, according to the Times.

There are more than 6,000 individuals currently jailed at Rikers.

"Unfortunately, in 2021 we have witnessed the collapse of basic jail operations, such that today I do not believe the city is capable of safely managing the custody of those it is charged with incarcerating in its jails, nor maintaining the safety of those who work there," said Ross MacDonald, chief medical officer for the city's Correctional Health Services, according to a letter obtained by NY1. "The breakdown has resulted in an increase in deaths which we refer to as jail-attributable, where jail conditions meaningfully contributed to the death."

Guards have been forced to work consecutive shifts, staying on duty for 24 hours or longer, to compensate for the approximately 2,000 officers who are out sick or unable to work daily, the Times reported.

The staffing shortages have created conditions that contribute to jail-attributable deaths, including delays in processing and housing new admissions to the jail, fights over basic necessities like food and medication, and overcrowding resulting in detainees and inmates standing in their own excrement for days, MacDonald said in the letter.

COVID-19 transmission has also been exacerbated by the jail's crises. Data from the city's Correctional Health Facilities places the jail population's positivity rate at 5.32%, much higher than city's seven-day average of 2.96%.

"In the more than 12 years I've been coming to Rikers, I've never been as traumatized by what I witnessed as I was today. Hundreds sit in one Intake Pen with one toilet for weeks. Covid will kill them. This is barbaric. I plead w
[Hochul] to visit now & end this torture," New York City Councilmember Daniel Dromm tweeted following his tour of Rikers on September 16.

Insider has reached out to Hochul for comment.

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California spent $276 million on its recall election. Here’s how that stacks up against the state’s spending on 3 key issues.

People wait in line outside a vote center to cast their ballots, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Huntington Beach, Calif.
People wait in line outside a vote center to cast their ballots, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Huntington Beach, Calif.
  • The failed attempt to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from his role cost California taxpayers $276 million.
  • We took a look at how that sum stacks up against key parts of the state's budget.
  • We examined how much the state has allocated to helping its homeless population and funding programs that fight climate change and COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in office following a costly recall election that cost taxpayers $276 million, according to the state's Department of Finance.

To put that sum into context, we took a look at how much California is spending on some of its key issues this year, from homelessness and battling wildfires to combating COVID-19. Figures on California's spending have been sourced from the state's 2020-2021 budget.

Funding housing for the homeless

california skid row homeless tents
A man walks past tents housing the homeless on the streets in the Skid Row community of Los Angeles, California.

Homelessness was cited as a key issue in this year's recall election, with Newsom's GOP rivals like Larry Elder and Caitlyn Jenner each offering controversial ideas on how they would tackle the issue. An estimated 60,000 people are currently living on the streets of Los Angeles. On the state level, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness reported that in January 2020, California recorded an estimated total of more than 161,548 homeless individuals.

Per California's 2020-2021 budget, $550 million was allocated to the Department of Housing and Community Development for Project Homekey, a sum intended to provide housing for homeless individuals and families. The $276 million spent on the recall election could have funded more than half of this amount.

The average cost of building a single unit of housing for the homeless in Los Angeles rose to $531,000 in 2020, according to an audit from City Controller Ron Galperin. Based on this metric, with $276 million, the state could have financed more than 500 units of housing with the cost of the recall election.

Fighting climate change

California drought
California has suffered a spate of extreme weather events this year, from devastating wildfires to drought. State funds are now being funneled into programs to combat climate change.

California has seen a series of extreme weather events this year, with wildfires decimating towns and a severe drought leaving its lakes bone-dry.

The state's 2020-2021 budget allocated $50 million to a general fund to mitigate the effects of power shutdowns, in a bid to reduce the risk of wildfires sparked by utility-owned equipment. The AP reported that the state approved a $1.5 billion budget to prevent wildfires - nearly a fifth of which could have been funded by the recall election's cost.

Additionally, $276 million could have gone a long way to funding programs to battle smog and climate change. According to a report from local news site CalMatters, key environmental programs saw funding cuts of nearly $105 million in July 2020. These funding cuts hit programs that promoted green vehicles and tackled methane excretions from cows.

Fighting COVID-19

Los Angeles Coronavirus
A Covid-19 warning sign in Los Angeles, California.

A large part of the state's 2020-2021 budget focused on measures that could mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state's 2020-2021 budget shows $716 million was set aside for COVID‑19 contingencies. Another $3.5 billion was allocated for direct COVID-19 related expenditures. This sum is being earmarked for spending on personal protective equipment, expanding the surge capacity at hospitals and medical facilities, providing hotels for healthcare workers who need to quarantine after coming into contact with COVID-19 patients, and improving statewide contact tracing.

The $276 million from the recall election could have paid for more than a third of the state's COVID-19 contingency fund, or funded slightly over a tenth of its state-wide COVID-19 related expenditures.

As of September 15, California has confirmed 4,616,854 COVID-19 cases and 67,647 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. In the week ending Thursday, the state reported a daily average of 10,189 COVID-19 cases, per The New York Times' COVID-19 case tracker.

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Calls for reforming California’s recall process rise as efforts to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom fail

California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters after beating back the recall attempt that aimed to remove him from office, at the John L. Burton California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters after beating back the recall attempt that aimed to remove him from office, at the John L. Burton California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.
  • Five efforts to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom failed before a sixth petition collected the required number of signatures.
  • Only 19 states, including California, allow recall elections.
  • US Rep. Karen Bass told ABC News that more than 68 recalls are happening throughout California.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Less than an hour after polls closed, Insider and Decision Desk HQ projected that Californians overwhelmingly voted against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom. The speedy outcome left many wondering why the effort to recall public officials is so easy, and if it should be reformed.

Five attempts to recall Newsom failed before a sixth petition, led by retired sheriff's sergeant Orrin Heatlie and his California Patriot Coalition, collected the required number of signatures and triggered the recall election on July 1.

US Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., told ABC News anchor Linsey Davis that it's too easy to recall officials in California, citing more than 68 recalls happening throughout the state targeting officials in various levels of government, including school boards, city councils, and district attorneys.

California is one of just 19 states that allow recall elections. Within 60 days, petitioners recalling a California official must collect signatures from 12% of the electorate from the last election, and from at least five counties.

"This could be a strategy to essentially grind government to a halt, to paralyze government," Bass said. "I'm very interested in analyzing who started all these recalls. Who's funding them? You can't just recall someone without significant financial backing."

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President Joe Biden stumps for California Gov. Gavin Newsom ahead of recall election

President Joe Biden talks with California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he arrives at Mather Airport on Air Force One Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Mather, Calif., for a briefing on wildfires at the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.
President Joe Biden talks with California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he arrives at Mather Airport on Air Force One Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Mather, Calif., for a briefing on wildfires at the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.
  • Conservative radio host and Trump loyalist Larry Elder is Gavin Newsom's main opponent in the upcoming recall election.
  • At a rally Monday night, Newsom criticized Elder's views on climate change, racism, taxes, and abortion.
  • Biden called Newsom one of the "best governors in the country."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

On his first trip to the West Coast since his election, President Joe Biden implored attendees of a rally in Long Beach to vote no in the upcoming California recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom introduced the president at the rally on Monday night and mentioned several controversies surrounding his main opponent, conservative radio host and Trump loyalist Larry Elder. Newsom also criticized Elder's views on climate change, racism, taxes, and abortion.

"You saw what happened in Texas, and the fact that we have other Republican governors that hope to model that Texas legislation as it relates to denying women the right to choice," Newsom said. "We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism; Trumpism is still on the ballot in California."

Biden took the stage and endorsed Newsom as one of the "best governors in the country," while dubbing Elder a "Trump clone." He listed several reasons to keep Newsom as governor, including his respect for women, belief in climate change, and respect for scientific guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The eyes of the nation are on California because the decision you're about to make isn't just going to have a huge impact on California. It's going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly - not a joke - around the world," Biden said.

California's recall election for governor is set for September 14. If more than 50% of voters vote "yes" to recalling Newsom, he will be replaced by the opposing candidate who garners the most support. In the event that he is recalled, county officials would have 30 days to count votes and on the 38th day, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber would certify the election results.

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In light of upcoming ‘Justice for J6’ rally, top security officials are expected to approve fencing around the Capitol

In this April 2, 2021, file photo, the U.S. Capitol is seen behind security fencing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
In this April 2, 2021, file photo, the U.S. Capitol is seen behind security fencing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Law enforcement concerned by the prospect for violence at a rally in the nation’s Capitol next week are planning to reinstall protective fencing that surrounded the U.S. Capitol for months after the Jan. 6 insurrection there, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
  • Far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend the rally.
  • Additional rallies will be held simultaneously at capitals, parks, and courthouses in 13 other states.
  • Event organizer Matt Braynard predicted 700 people will be in attendance, according to The Guardian.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Congressional security officials are expected to authorize the installation of a seven-foot fence and use of deadly force for a far-right rally next weekend on Capitol Hill's plaza demanding the release of rioters who descended on the building on January 6, according to The Guardian.

Look Ahead America said on its website that the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington DC is scheduled to take place on September 18 in Union Square, along with additional rallies at capitals, parks, and courthouses in 13 other states.

The organization's Executive Director Matt Braynard, former director of data and strategy for the Trump campaign, said in a video that the goal of the rallies is to raise awareness about the civil rights violations endured by "political prisoners" arrested in relation to the January 6 riot.

He also asked attendees to refrain from wearing or bringing political paraphernalia, banners, or flags referencing a political candidate, organization, or the 2020 election.

Braynard predicted 700 people will be in attendance when he filed for the event's permit, according to The Guardian. Sources familiar with intelligence gathered by federal officials said far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend the rally.

Security officials weighed whether to request the National Guard at the Washington DC rally but decided against its deployment following a threat assessment, The Guardian reported.

Final recommendations will be unveiled Monday in a briefing with congressional leaders.

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The congressman who attempted to conduct freelance rescue missions in Afghanistan says of Biden: ‘blood is on his hands’

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021.
  • Mullin attempted to enter Afghanistan with a large sum of cash to rescue Americans who had not been evacuated.
  • The Defense Department denied Mullin permission to visit Kabul last week.
  • In an August 31 speech, Biden said that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

After attempting multiple freelance rescue missions in Afghanistan, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., told Fox News' Brett Baier that "blood is on [President Joe Biden's] hands."

Mullin said he attempted to enter Afghanistan via Georgia and Tajikistan with a large sum of cash to get through Taliban checkpoints and rent a helicopter for a rescue mission. The Washington Post reported that this effort failed when John Mark Pommersheim, the US ambassador to Tajikistan, declined to assist him in skirting Tajikistan's laws on cash limits.

A similar attempt was made a week prior when Mullin traveled to Greece and the Defense Department denied him permission to visit Kabul.

Mullin said he has a list of 50 Americans trapped in Afghanistan who want out.

When Baier asked Mullin if he thinks the US will be able to get the remaining Americans out of Afghanistan, he replied: "We're going to get some, but there's going to be some that are going to die because of the failure from President Biden."

In his August 31 speech about the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, Biden said that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave, despite previously saying that he would get 100% of Americans out before withdrawing forces, the Associated Press reported.

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California recall candidate Larry Elder says it could be argued that slave owners were owed reparations after the Civil War

In this July 12, 2021 file photo, radio talk show host Larry Elder poses for a photo in his studio in Burbank, Calif.
In this July 12, 2021 file photo, radio talk show host Larry Elder poses for a photo in his studio in Burbank, Calif.
  • On a July episode of Prager University's "The Candace Owens Show," Owens said the US was one of the first countries to abolish the slave trade.
  • Her guest, Larry Elder, said because slavery was legal and their "property" had been taken, slave owners could be owed reparations.
  • Elder said the compensation UK slaveowners received for their loss of property prevented civil war.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

On a July 18 episode of Prager University's "The Candace Owens Show," Larry Elder said an argument could be made that slave owners were owed reparations after the Civil War because slavery was legal and their "property" had been taken.

"When people talk about reparations, do they really want to have that conversation? Like it or not, slavery was legal," Elder said. "Their legal property was taken away from them after the Civil War, so you could make an argument that the people that are owed reparations are not only just Black people but also the people whose 'property' was taken away after the end of the Civil War."

Owens and Elder's conversation on reparations began when Owens said the US was one of the first countries to ban the slave trade.

It was one of the last countries to abolish slavery, according to PolitiFact.

Elder replied that the United Kingdom compensated slave owners for their loss of property, stating that the "substantial amounts of money" they received from the government prevented civil war from breaking out like it did in the US.

The British Slave Compensation Commission distributed £20 million in compensation to slave owners following the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, according to the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery.

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Election fraud conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell pressed by Australian reporter: ‘Do you ever hear yourself and think it sounds ridiculous?’

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga.
Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga.
  • Powell is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, another electronic voting systems company.
  • Powell represented Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI investigators in 2017.
  • A US judge ruled on August 25 that Powell engaged in "historic and profound abuse" of the legal system.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

During an interview for the Australian Broadcast Company's two-part series, "Fox and the Big Lie," Sidney Powell struggled to respond to "basic factual errors" that correspondent Sarah Ferguson pointed out in her claims and threatened to end the interview.

Powell was one of many public figures who propagated former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie," a baseless conspiracy that voter fraud cost him the 2020 election. For her involvement in spreading the conspiracy, Powell is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, another electronic voting system company.

At one point during the interview, Powell responded to a line of questioning by asking Ferguson if she works for Smartmatic and stated that she was confused about why Ferguson came to interview her in Highland Park, Texas.

"Because you've made a series of very strong allegations against Smartmatic and against Dominion containing many errors of fact," Ferguson responded.

Shortly after, Powell attempted to stop the interview, saying it was "wholly inappropriate" because of pending litigation.

After reluctantly returning to finish the interview, Powell continued to stick by her baseless claims that widespread election fraud was perpetrated in 2020.

"I am saying that thousands of Americans had some role in [2020 election fraud], knowingly or unknowingly. It was essentially a bloodless coup where they took over the presidency of the United States without a single shot being fired," Powell said.

After Powell added that the election fraud had been planned for at least three years, Ferguson asked her, "Do you ever hear yourself and think it sounds ridiculous?"

"No, I know myself very well. I've been in me a long time. I know my reputation. I know my level of integrity," Powell replied.

Powell formerly served as a federal prosecutor and represented former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI investigators in 2017 and was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.

On August 25, a US judge ruled that Powell and L. Lin Wood, another attorney who worked with Powell to sue Michigan election officials, engaged in "historic and profound abuse" of the legal system.

This case "was never about fraud - it was about undermining the People's faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so," the judge wrote.

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The 22-year-old MAGA influencer running Rudy Giuliani’s communications team has been replaced by a former Hooters spokesperson

Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, center, poses for photos with OAN correspondent Chanel Rion, left, and his assistant Christianné Allen, outside the White House, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Washington.
Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, center, poses for photos with OAN correspondent Chanel Rion, left, and his assistant Christianné Allen, outside the White House, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Washington.
  • Christianné Allen has worked for Giuliani since September 2019, and quit in August 2021.
  • Allen's replacement, Todd Shapiro, has represented Lindsay Lohan, Hooters, and rapper Flava Flav.
  • Giuliani is currently under federal investigation and facing a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Christianné Allen resigned from her position as communications director for Rudy Giuliani, whose mounting legal troubles include a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems and a federal investigation into whether he violated foreign lobbying laws through his work in Ukraine, the Daily Beast reported.

Allen, who has worked for Giuliani since September 2019, told the Daily Beast that she will be replaced by Todd Shapiro, a former spokesperson for Lindsay Lohan's family whose website lists an array of clients, including rapper Flavor Flav and Hooters of Long Island and New Jersey.

Recent developments in the federal case against Giuliani were revealed to NBC New York on August 27 when the former New York mayor said the FBI wants his emails and texts going back to 1995. He also said in the interview that he is not an alcoholic and claims he functions "more effectively than 90 percent of the population."

At the time of her hiring, Politico reported that representatives of the entities Allen listed on her résumé said her titles were "embroidered at best, and completely untrue at the most." Allen was 20 years old when she began working for Giuliani and was still in the process of completing her communications degree online at Liberty University, according to Politico.

Insider has reached out to Allen and Giuliani for comment.

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