Biden pardons all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession – as it happened | US politics

Biden to pardon all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession

President Joe Biden has announced a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana.

“There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,” Biden said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.

He went on to urge all governors to do the same with regards to state offenses, saying, “Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”

The president also called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to begin the administrative process to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

Marijuana is currently classified in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act under federal law. This classification puts marijuana in the same schedule as for heroin and LSD and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine, two drugs that are fueling the ongoing overdose epidemic across the country.

Key events

Summary

It’s nearly 4pm in Washington DC. Here’s where things stand:

  • Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes told a member of the extremist group before the 2020 election that he had a contact in the Secret Service, a witness testified Thursday in Rhodes’ Capitol riot trial. John Zimmerman, who was part of the North Carolina chapter, said Rhodes told him that Rhodes had a Secret Service agent’s telephone number.

  • President Joe Biden has announced a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. “There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,” Biden said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.

  • President Joe Biden addressed workers at the IBM manufacturing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York on Thursday afternoon where he spoke of the CHIPS and Science Act that includes over $52 billion in federal subsidies. The $280 billion package seeks to boost the US’s semiconductor industry and scientific research in attempts to create more high-tech jobs across the country while also help it compete better with international rivals such as China.

  • The federal government on Thursday expressed support for New York City’s lawsuit seeking to halt the spread of “ghost guns,” as city and state officials try to hold sellers of the largely untraceable firearms accountable. In a “statement of interest” filed in Manhattan federal court, the Department of Justice expressed “serious concerns” about the proliferation of ghost guns, and said kits containing the weapons’ components are classified as firearms under federal gun control law.

  • A federal judge has temporarily blocked parts of New York state’s new gun law, in order to allow the Gun Owners of America, an advocacy group, to pursue a lawsuit challenging the legislation. The law came into effect on 1 September, creating new requirements for obtaining a license, including submitting social media accounts for review, and creating a list of public and private places where having a gun became a felony crime, even for license holders.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a health advisory, regarding an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda. The alert summarises “recommendations for public health departments and clinicians, case identification and testing, and clinical laboratory biosafety considerations.”

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes told a member of the extremist group before the 2020 election that he had a contact in the Secret Service, a witness testified Thursday in Rhodes’ Capitol riot trial.

Associated Press reports:

John Zimmerman, who was part of the North Carolina chapter, said Rhodes told him that Rhodes had a Secret Service agent’s telephone number. Zimmerman said he believed Rhodes spoke on the phone with the agent about the logistics of a September 2020 rally that then-President Donald Trump held in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The claim came on the third day of testimony in the case against Rhodes and four others charged with seditious conspiracy for what authorities have described as a detailed, drawn-out plot to use force to stop the transfer of presidential power from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden, who won the election.

Prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy had asked Zimmerman whether Rhodes ever told him about having any kind of connection to Trump.

Zimmerman could not say for sure that Rhodes was speaking to someone with the Secret Service — only that Rhodes told him he was — and it was not clear what they were discussing. Zimmerman said Rhodes wanted to find out the “parameters” that the Oath Keepers could operate under during the election-year rally.

The significance of the detail in the government’s case is unclear. Trump’s potential ties to extremist groups have been a focus of the House committee investigating the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Another Oath Keeper expected to testify against Rhodes has claimed that after the riot, Rhodes phoned someone seemingly close to Trump and made a request: tell Trump to call on militia groups to fight to keep him in power. Authorities have not identified that person; Rhodes’ lawyer says the call never happened.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said it is not uncommon for “protest groups” to contact the agency with logistical questions about rallies. He noted that firearms are always prohibited within restricted areas being secured by the agency.

“The Oath Keepers are certainly a known demonstration group.” he said.

Guglielmi said he is not aware of any contact between Rhodes and an agency representative but would not be surprised if Rhodes said he had contacted the secret Service before the North Carolina event.

“I don’t have any way to track that down without some more information,” the spokesman said.

Rhodes, from Granbury Texas, and four associates are being tried on a Civil War-era charge.

Biden to pardon all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession

President Joe Biden has announced a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana.

“There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions,” Biden said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.

He went on to urge all governors to do the same with regards to state offenses, saying, “Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”

The president also called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to begin the administrative process to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

Marijuana is currently classified in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act under federal law. This classification puts marijuana in the same schedule as for heroin and LSD and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine, two drugs that are fueling the ongoing overdose epidemic across the country.

President Joe Biden addressed workers at the IBM manufacturing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York on Thursday afternoon where he spoke of the CHIPS and Science Act that includes over $52 billion in federal subsidies.

“Since we’ve been elected, we’ve created 678,000 new manufacturing jobs where, And we’re just getting started. Where is it written that we can’t lead manufacturing in the world? I don’t know where that’s written. And that’s one of the things that CHIPS Act is going to change – the law that’s going build the future in a proud, proud legacy, not only for IBM but for the country,” Biden said.

The $280 billion package seeks to boost the US’s semiconductor industry and scientific research in attempts to create more high-tech jobs across the country while also help it compete better with international rivals such as China.

“American manufacturing – the backbone of our economy got hollowed out because companies began to move jobs and production overseas. And as a result, today, we’re down to barely 10% of the world’s chips, despite leading in chip research and design,” Biden said.

“We need [these chips] in conductors, not only to make Javelin missiles, but also the weapon systems, the future that is going to rely even more on advanced chips, Unfortunately we produce 0% of these advanced chips today…China is trying to move ahead of us in manufacturing them,” he added.

“The United States has to lead the world in producing these advanced chips,” Biden said, adding that “some of our friends” on the Republican side bought into China’s lobbying in Congress against the act.

“The CHIPS and Science Act is not handing out blank checks to companies… I’ve directed my administration… to be laser focused on the guard rails that’s gonna protect taxpayers dollars.”

“We’ll make sure the companies partner with unions, community colleges, technical schools, and offer training and apprenticeships. We’re going to make sure…small and minority owned businesses get to participate. We’re gonna make sure the companies do not take these taxpayers dollars, do not turn around and make investments in China, investments that undermine our supply chains and natural security. That’s a guarantee.”

US president Joe Biden looks at a quantum computer as he tours the IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 6, 2022. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

“It’s about economic security…it’s about national security…and that’s what we’re going to see in this factory, in the Hudson Valley,” Biden added.

“We have the best and most productive workers in the world. We have the best research universities in the world… We wrote and passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law…and we finally decided that we’re going to move up from number 13 in the world on infrastructure to number one,” Biden said.

“The Chips and Science Act is not handing out blank checks to…companies…we’re going to make sure that small and minority-owned businesses get to participate,” Biden said.

“In this law, I have the power to take back federal funding if companies are not meeting the requirements,” he added.

“The future of the chips industry is going to be made in America…and many of these good paying jobs don’t require a set of college degrees,” Biden said.

“The largest American investment of its kind,” Biden said in his address as he celebrates this summer’s passage of a $280 billion legislative package intended to boost the US semiconductor industry and scientific research.

Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks at around 2pm ET at the IBM site in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Biden is expected to speak on creating jobs in the Hudson Valley and lowering costs, among other topics.

We will bring you the latest updates on his address so do stay tuned.

The Biden administration announced that the US will start screening travelers from Uganda for Ebola as an additional precaution aimed at trying to prevent an outbreak in the African country from spreading, the Associated Press reports.

The federal government on Thursday expressed support for New York City’s lawsuit seeking to halt the spread of “ghost guns,” as city and state officials try to hold sellers of the largely untraceable firearms accountable.

In a “statement of interest” filed in Manhattan federal court, the Department of Justice expressed “serious concerns” about the proliferation of ghost guns, and said kits containing the weapons’ components are classified as firearms under federal gun control law.

“Ghost guns are a major contributor to the ongoing plague of gun violence,” US Attorney Breon Peace in Brooklyn said in a statement accompanying the filing, which US Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan also signed.

“The United States will continue to employ every means available, including civil tools, to keep ghost guns and other illegal firearms out of the hands of criminals and reduce the risk of gun violence. The United States filed a Statement of Interest in this important litigation to ensure that the Court is informed of the federal government’s views of pertinent firearms statutes and regulations,” he added.

New York City and state Attorney General Letitia James on June 29 filed two lawsuits accusing 10 out-of-state distributors of creating a public nuisance by selling unfinished frames and receivers to buyers within the state.

Ghost guns do not have serial numbers and can be acquired without background checks, potentially letting people otherwise ineligible to buy firearms to construct finished guns.

“We are not going to let gun companies turn New York into a city of mail-order murder,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said when announcing the city’s lawsuit.

Both lawsuits were filed six days after the supreme court struck down a century-old New York law that strictly limited the carrying of guns outside the home.

Federal law largely shields gun makers from lawsuits over shootings. There is an exception for when sellers knowingly violate statutes governing firearms sales and marketing.

Three of the five defendants in the city’s lawsuit have settled, and agreed to stop sales to city residents.

Steven Donziger, a human rights lawyer, environmental justice advocate and Guardian US columnist, writes today about a ‘terrifying case’ about to be heard by the US supreme court…

It is well-known that intense competition between democracy, authoritarianism, and fascism is playing out across the globe in a variety of ways – including in the United States. This year’s supreme court term, which started this week, is a vivid illustration of how the situation is actually worse than most people understand.

A supermajority of six unelected ultraconservatives justices – five put on the bench by presidents who did not win the popular vote – haveaggressively grabbed yet another batch of cases that will allow them to move American law to the extreme right and threaten US democracy. The leading example of this disturbing shift is a little-known case called Moore v Harper, which could lock in rightwing control of the United States for generations.

The heart of the Moore case is a formerly fringe legal notion called the Independent State Legislature (ISL) theory. This theory posits that an obscure provision in the US constitution allowing state legislatures to set “time, place, and manner” rules for federal elections should not be subject to judicial oversight. In other words, state legislatures should have the absolute power to determine how federal elections are run without court interference.

Think about this theory in the context of the last US election. After Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump resoundingly in both the popular vote and in the electoral college, Trump tried to organize a massive intimidation campaign to steal the election which played out in the storming of the Capitol building on 6 January. But behind the scenes, the legal core of this attempt was to convince the many Republican-controlled state legislatures (30 out of 50 states) to send slates of fake Trump electors from states like Arizona, Georgia and Michigan where Trump lost the popular vote.

If Trump had succeeded, he would have “won” the election via the electoral college (itself an anti-democratic relic) and been able to stay in office. If the supreme court buys the theory in the Moore case, this could easily happen in 2024 and beyond. In fact, it is possible Republicans will never lose another election again if this theory is adopted as law. Or put another way, whether Republicans win or lose elections via the popular vote will not matter because they will be able to maintain power regardless.

That’s not democracy.

Judge blocks New York gun law

A federal judge has temporarily blocked parts of New York state’s new gun law, in order to allow the Gun Owners of America, an advocacy group, to pursue a lawsuit challenging the legislation.

Reuters has the report:

“The law came into effect on 1 September, creating new requirements for obtaining a license, including submitting social media accounts for review, and creating a list of public and private places where having a gun became a felony crime, even for license holders.

Lawmakers in New York’s Democratic-controlled legislature passed the law during an emergency session in July after the US supreme court found the state’s licensing regime for firearms to be unconstitutional following a challenge by the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun-owners’ rights group.

On Thursday, Glenn Suddaby, chief judge of the US district court in Syracuse, agreed to issue the order at the request of six New York- resident members of Gun Owners of America, which competes with the National Rifle Association in political influence. Suddaby said his order would not take effect for three days, to allow the New York government to appeal.

Suddaby last month ruled that much of the new law was unconstitutional in dismissing an earlier lawsuit by Gun Owners of America in which he found neither the group nor an individual member of it had standing to sue before the law came into effect.”

Background:

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The Florida mayor to whom Joe Biden uttered a profanity captured by a live microphone, sparking a minor viral fuss, said the presidential f-bomb did not bother him in the slightest.

The two men met on Wednesday, as Biden visited areas of Florida hit by Hurricane Ian. The president was heard to say: “Nobody fucks with a Biden.”

The incident set off a minor media storm. The White House did not comment.

Ray Murphy, the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, told NBC: “It was not directed at anybody. It was just two guys talking. It didn’t faze me one bit. That’s just the way two guys talk to each other from our respective backgrounds.”

We have video of the moment:

Joe Biden caught swearing on hot mic – video

Murphy told NBC he and the president quickly discovered they had a lot in common.

“We’re both Irish Catholics,” he said. “We’re both devout Catholics. But every once [in] a while a little salty language comes out.”

Biden has had brushes with hot mics and salty language before. Most famously, in 2010 he enlivened the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act by telling his then boss, Barack Obama: “This is a big fucking deal.”

Biden later told NPR: “Thank God my mother wasn’t around to hear.”

In January this year, Biden appeared to think his microphone was off when he called a Fox News reporter, Peter Doocy, “a stupid son of a bitch” for asking a question about inflation. The president said sorry.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a health advisory, regarding an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda.

The alert summarises “recommendations for public health departments and clinicians, case identification and testing, and clinical laboratory biosafety considerations”.

The federal agency emphasises that the alert is a precaution, as “no suspected, probable, or confirmed EVD cases related to this outbreak have yet been reported in the United States”.

Its aim, it says, is to raise awareness among clinicians.

Reuters, meanwhile, reports that the Biden administration “will begin redirecting US-bound travelers who have been to Uganda within the previous 21 days to five major American airports to be screened for Ebola”.

The change is expected to take effect within the coming week or so, a source said. The travelers will need to arrive at New York-JFK, Newark, Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare or Washington Dulles. There is no vaccine for the Sudan strain of the disease behind the latest Uganda infections.

The Biden White House does contain experience in dealing with Ebola. Ron Klain, the president’s chief of staff, was Barack Obama’s Ebola tsar during an outbreak in 2014.

In 2020, during the darkest days of the Covid pandemic, Klain wrote for the Guardian: “Of the many hard days I spent coordinating the US fight against Ebola in 2014-15, none was more painful than 29 November 2014, when I spoke at the funeral of Martin Salia, a doctor who left Maryland to return to his native Sierra Leone to help cope with the devastating death toll among healthcare workers during that epidemic.

“Dr Salia contracted Ebola while performing surgery; by the time he was airlifted back to the US for treatment, he was too ill to be saved. At his funeral, I noted that while history is filled with all sorts of accidental heroes and unwilling heroes, ‘the greatest heroes are people who choose to face danger, who voluntarily put themselves at risk to help others.’”

Here’s Klain’s full piece:

The day so far

Democrats are seething over Saudi Arabia’s push for Opec+ to cut oil production, potentially driving up US gas prices just as voters head to the midterm elections. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has embarked on a long day of travel that will see him tout the Chips bill to boost semiconductor production, and also attend two Democratic fundraisers as the party prepares to defend its slim holds on both the House and Senate.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

  • Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, said he knew “nothing about” a woman’s claim he paid for her to have an abortion – and then had a child with him.

  • Republicans may decide to impeach homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas if they win a majority in the House.

  • Election deniers appear poised to win many races in the upcoming midterms, no matter what happens, The Washington Post found.

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