With Monday’s Electoral College vote seemingly sealing Donald Trump’s fate as a one-term president, it has become all but certain that Democrat Joe Biden will be inaugurated as President of the United States come Jan. 20. However, President Trump appears to be in no mood to settle for lame-duck status in the waning days of his administration, and instead may rock the boat in more than one surprising way.
Among the actions Trump is rumored to be considering is the possibility that he will officially pardon Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is accused of obtaining and publishing secret diplomatic and military documents.
In recent days, social media has been rife with speculation over a possible presidential pardon for Assange, who is currently being incarcerated at the maximum-security HM Prison Belmarsh in London. The journalist is apparently suffering in “atrocious” conditions and is being held in solitary confinement after a coronavirus outbreak in the prison, according to his partner Stella Morris.
“He’s in atrocious circumstances,” Morris told Sky News earlier this week.
“The prison is a dangerous place, suicides and murders are commonplace, he is surrounded by very serious criminals, one in five are convicted of murder,” she added, noting that there has also been an outbreak of the deadly disease in Julian’s wing.
On January 4, a judge will rule on whether to extradite the controversial whistleblower to the United States.
Talk about whether Trump would pardon Assange spiked on Monday after Pastor Mark Burns, who is believed to have had access to Trump in the past, tweeted that Trump would pardon the WikiLeaks founder. However, the televangelist later tweeted that the claim was “inadvertent” and based on a “faulty source,” adding: “please disregard!”
The Trump administration hasn’t yet offered any comments about any possible Assange pardon, although his supporters have eagerly speculated that he might pardon both the WikiLeaks founder and former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia.
Earlier this month, Snowden tweeted an appeal to the outgoing president, writing: “Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life.”
The United States formally charged Assange for conspiring to leak classified materials a month following his arrest by British authorities in 2019, when Ecuadorean officials withdrew the asylum status that allowed him to find shelter for nearly seven years at the South American country’s London embassy.
Assange faces an 18-count indictment from Washington, which accuses him of violating the Espionage Act and seeking to recruit high-profile hacker groups including LulzSec and “Anonymous” to carry out hacks on his behalf while stealing sensitive files that would later be published on WikiLeaks.
Assange faces a prison term of 175 years in the United States if he is found guilty of publishing the secret intelligence and military documents. Some analysts even fear that he could face the death penalty or commit suicide if he is extradited to the U.S.
President-elect Biden has also called Assange a “high-tech terrorist.”
In November, Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii requested that Trump pardon both Assange and Snowden.
Australian MP George Christensen has also requested that the president pardon Assange, noting that his fellow Australian compatriot should be freed so that Trump can “poke the deep state in the eye” and “stand up for free speech.”
“I mean Hillary Clinton hates his guts, obviously, for exposing who the real Hillary was, and you’ve had a war on Assange by the Democrats and the deep state,” Christensen added.
Assange’s defenders claim that he is simply being sought due to his role in the release of scandalous information implicating Washington in a range of horrible crimes, including major war crimes and violations of international law.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.