Briefs: Fears that Inhofe bill 'could irreparably undermine the sovereignty of tribal nations'

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican, said the state's delegation is "working together with the tribes and all Oklahomans to understand the scope and impact of the McGirt decision." Tribal groups say an Inhofe bill could undermine sovereignty. (Senate photo)

The Associated Press

Post office concerns, QAnon conspiracy, virus flare ups

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislation being discussed by some members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation to address a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision threatens to undermine tribal sovereignty, several Native American groups warned in a letter this week to Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe.

The leaders of eight separate tribal organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians and the Association on American Indian Affairs, wrote to Inhofe on Thursday outlining their concerns.

"It has come to our attention that staff members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation have formed a working group with the ostensible purpose of establishing, in a matter of weeks, proposed legislation to abrogate the tribal sovereignty upheld by the Supreme Court in its July 9, 2020 decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma," the letter states. "We fear that any such bill could irreparably undermine the sovereignty of tribal nations across the country."

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in that case determined that a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation and that state prosecutors lack the authority to pursue certain criminal cases with American Indian defendants or victims in parts of Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, the state's second largest city.

Since the decision was handed down, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma said his office is experiencing a "tidal wave" of new criminal cases.

Inhofe, the senior member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation, said in a statement Friday the concern of the Native American groups is misplaced.

"As I've said from day one – the entire delegation agrees and has said that some action will need to be taken in response to McGirt," Inhofe said. "We don't know yet what that will be. That's why the delegation is working together with the tribes and all Oklahomans to understand the scope and impact of the McGirt decision."

Post office to states: No guarantee ballots will arrive on time

WASHINGTON  — The U.S. Postal Service is warning states coast to coast that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, even if mailed by state deadlines, raising the possibility that millions of voters could be disenfranchised.

Voters and lawmakers in several states are also complaining that some curbside mail collection boxes are being removed. 

Even as President Donald Trump rails against wide-scale voting by mail, the post office is bracing for an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The warning letters sent to states raise the possibility that many Americans eligible for mail-in ballots this fall will not have them counted. But that is not the intent, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in his own letter to Democratic congressional leaders.

The post office is merely "asking elected officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works, and be mindful of our delivery standards, in order to provide voters ample time to cast ballots through the mail," wrote DeJoy, a prominent Trump political donor who was recently appointed. The warning letters were first reported by The Washington Post.

Trump dodges question on QAnon conspiracy theory

WASHINGTON  — President Donald Trump on Friday twice ignored a question about whether he supports QAnon, a convoluted, right-wing, pro-Trump conspiracy theory. 

A reporter asked the president about the theory at a White House briefing Friday after Trump tweeted his congratulations to a QAnon-supporting candidate. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won her House primary runoff in Georgia this week, has called the theory "something worth listening to and paying attention to" and called its source, known as Q, a "patriot." Trump praised her as a "future Republican Star."

"Well, she did very well in the election. She won by a lot. She was very popular and she comes from a great state and she had a tremendous victory. So absolutely, I did congratulate her," Trump said, sidestepping the question and ignoring a follow-up before moving on to another reporter. 

Trump has a long history of advancing false and sometimes racist conspiracies, including on Thursday, when he gave credence to a highly-criticized op-ed that questioned Democrat Kamala Harris' eligibility to serve as vice president even though she was born in Oakland, California.

Asked about the matter, Trump told reporters he had "heard" rumors that Harris, a Black woman and U.S.-born citizen whose parents were immigrants, does not meet the requirement to serve in the White House. The president said he considered the rumors "very serious." Constitutional lawyers have dismissed it as nonsense.

75 years later, can Asia shake off shackles of the past?

TOKYO (AP) — Northeast Asia doesn't so much repeat history as drag it along like an anchor. 

The bombs stopped falling 75 years ago, but it is entirely possible — crucial even, some argue — to view the region's world-beating economies, its massive cultural and political reach and its bitter trade, territory and history disputes through a single prism: World War II and Japan's aggression in the Pacific.

Even as Northeast Asia's tangle of interlinking economic and political webs grows denser by the day, the potential for an unraveling may loom as large now as at any time since 1945. 

Japan in 2020 is unrecognizable to the fascist military machine that once rolled across Asia. Its military is now legally constrained as a "self-defense force." Its constitution demands peaceful cooperation with the world. Postwar Japan has pumped trillions of yen (tens of billions of dollars) into regional development.

So how does this peaceful, generous, stable nation still enrage so many? Why do the crimes of long-dead Japanese politicians and soldiers still loom so large in Asia's mind? 

Virus flareups in Europe lead to club closings, mask orders

PARIS — New flareups of COVID-19 are disrupting the peak summer vacation season across much of Europe, where authorities in some countries are reimposing restrictions on travelers, closing nightclubs again, banning fireworks displays and expanding mask orders even in chic resort areas. 

"Unfortunately, this virus doesn't play ball," British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.

The surges have spread alarm across Europe, which suffered mightily during the spring but appeared in recent months to have largely tamed the coronavirus in ways that the U.S., with its vaunted scientific prowess and the extra time to prepare, cannot seem to manage. The continent's hardest-hit countries, Britain, Italy, France and Spain, have recorded about 140,000 deaths in all.

In addition to clubs and alcohol-fueled street parties, large family gatherings – usually abounding with hugs and kisses -- have been cited as a source of new outbreaks in several European countries.

A new public awareness campaign by Spain's Canary Islands depicts a family gathering for a grandfather's birthday, with people taking off masks and embracing. The grandfather ends up in a hospital bed with COVID-19.

Ex-FBI lawyer to plead guilty in Trump-Russia probe review

WASHINGTON  — A former FBI lawyer plans to plead guilty to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham's investigation into the probe of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, his lawyer said Friday.

Kevin Clinesmith is accused of altering a government email about a former Trump campaign adviser who was a target of secret FBI surveillance, according to documents filed in Washington's federal court. His lawyer, Justin Shur, told The Associated Press that Clinesmith intends to plead guilty to the single false statement count and that he regrets his actions.

The case against Clinesmith was cheered by President Donald Trump and his supporters as they look to the Durham investigation to lift Trump's wobbly reelection prospects and to expose what they see as wrongdoing as the FBI opened an investigation into whether the Trump campaign was coordinating with the Kremlin to sway the outcome of the 2016 election. 

"The fact is they spied on my campaign and they got caught," Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. His political campaign issued its own statement saying "abuses of power" in the Russia investigation "represent the greatest political crime in American history" and everyone involved should be held accountable. 

Yet the five-page charging document is limited in scope and does not allege criminal wrongdoing by anyone other than Clinesmith, nor does it offer evidence to support Trump's assertions that the Russia probe was tainted by widespread political bias in the FBI. It makes clear that the FBI relied on Clinesmith's own misrepresentations as it sought to renew its surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Trump orders Chinese owner of TikTok to sell US assets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday gave the Chinese company ByteDance 90 days to divest itself of any assets used to support the popular TikTok app in the United States.

Trump's executive order said there is "credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States."

Trump last week ordered sweeping but vague bans on dealings with the Chinese owners of TikTok and the messaging app WeChat, saying they are a threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy and the economy. 

It remains unclear what the TikTok orders mean for the app's 100 million U.S. users, many of them teenagers or young adults who use it to post and watch short-form videos. Trump on Friday also ordered ByteDance to divest itself of "any data obtained or derived" from TikTok users in the U.S.

Microsoft is in talks to buy parts of TikTok.

Not Real News: A look at false claims around Kamala Harris

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. This week the Not Real News focuses on false news that spread about Sen. Kamala Harris after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Tuesday she would be his running mate. Here are the facts: 

CLAIM: Harris is not eligible to serve as president because her parents were immigrants. If Biden is unable to serve a full term as president, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would be next in line to become president.

THE FACTS: Harris is a natural-born U.S. citizen who is eligible to serve as president. Facebook users are spreading a false claim that that if Biden were elected president this fall and then became unable to serve out a full term, Harris would be skipped over to serve as his successor. Instead, the inaccurate claims say, Pelosi would be next in line to become president. Harris, 55, was born on Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, making her a natural-born U.S. citizen. Her father, an economist from Jamaica, and her mother, a cancer researcher from India, met at the University of California, Berkeley as graduate students. Since Harris was born in the U.S., she is regarded as a natural born citizen under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, and she is eligible to serve as either the vice president or president, Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson told The Associated Press on Thursday. "Full stop, end of story, period, exclamation point," Levinson said. 

9th Circuit ends California ban on high-capacity magazines

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday threw out California's ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, saying the law violates the U.S. Constitution's protection of the right to bear firearms.

"Even well-intentioned laws must pass constitutional muster," appellate Judge Kenneth Lee wrote for the panel's majority. California's ban on magazines holding more than 10 bullets "strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self-defense."

He noted that California passed the law "in the wake of heart-wrenching and highly publicized mass shootings," but said that isn't enough to justify a ban whose scope "is so sweeping that half of all magazines in America are now unlawful to own in California."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office said it is reviewing the decision and he "remains committed to using every tool possible to defend California's gun safety laws and keep our communities safe."

Gun owners cannot immediately rush to buy high-capacity magazines because a stay issued by the lower court judge remains in place. 

Trump gets endorsement of NYC police union

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Seeking to amplify his law-and-order message, President Donald Trump on Friday told hundreds of New York Police Department officers that "no one will be safe in Biden's America" if the former Democratic vice president defeats him in November .

"This guy has been taking your dignity away and your respect,"" Trump said of former Vice President Joe Biden. "And I'm telling you on Nov. 3 you're going to be getting it back."

Trump spoke to members of the City of New York Police Benevolent Association, the union representing some 24,000 rank-and-file officers as he steps up his attacks on Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. The president's campaign is looking to raise doubts about the Biden-Harris ticket's ability to keep the peace in the nation's biggest metropolises. Trump was formally endorsed by the union during the event at his New Jersey golf course.

Trump is ripping a page out of Richard Nixon's law-and-order campaign playbook from 1968 — when American streets were rife with racial protests and Nixon campaigned vowing to crack down and restore order in an appeal tailored to white voters.

At a moment when the nation has been jarred by sometimes violent protests over police brutality, Trump has repeatedly blamed big city mayors in Democratic-strongholds - including New York, Portland, Seattle, Chicago - for undermining police officers. 

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