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Education Department investigating Michigan State over Nassar allegations

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The Education Department said Monday that it has opened an investigation into how Michigan State University handled allegations of sexual assault against Dr. Larry Nassar, a longtime employee who has been sentenced to decades in prison for molesting young athletes and possessing child pornography.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said investigators will look at “systemic issues” with how the school has dealt with such complaints. In a statement, she called Nassar’s actions “unimaginable.”

She added, “The bravery shown by the survivors has been remarkable.”

DeVos, who is from western Michigan, said she appreciates that the university’s acting president, John Engler, has ordered the school to cooperate fully with the investigation.

The Education Department was already reviewing separate complaints about the school’s compliance with Title IX, the law that requires schools to prevent and respond to reports of sexual violence, and compliance with requirements about providing campus crime and security information.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office also is investigating Michigan State’s handling of Nassar, who was a campus sports doctor.

Later Thursday, some of Nassar’s victims will join Michigan lawmakers in announcing new bills in the wake of the scandal. One measure would add college employees and youth sports coaches, trainers and volunteers to Michigan’s list of people who must report suspected abuse or neglect to child protective services.

Other proposals would eliminate certain time limits for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue, lift the statute of limitations for prosecutors to file charges in certain cases of criminal sexual misconduct, and eliminate governmental immunity for people and entities that allow sexual assaults to occur.

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GOP Sen. Johnson delays Covid relief bill by forcing all 628 pages be read out loud

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A Republican senator on Thursday severely delayed the passage of a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package by forcing the entire 628-page bill to be read out loud.

In protest of the bill, which had been expected to pass after a marathon round of votes overnight Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., objected to waiving the reading of the legislation.

Two Senate clerks — John Merlino and Mary Anne Clarkson — are expected to take shifts reading the bill. The effort, which began at around 3:30 p.m., could last over 15 hours before lawmakers actually begin debating the provisions in the legislation.

Any member can object to waiving the reading of the bill, a procedural move that is typically skipped. Johnson said in a tweet on Thursday because of its large price tag “we should know what’s in the bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Johnson’s stunt would “accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks who work very hard day in, day out to help the Senate function.”

The clerk begins reading 628 pages of the Covid Relief bill on the Senate floor of the Capitol on March 4, 2021.NBC News

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday afternoon to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s relief package in a party-line vote. The bill does not need any Republican support to pass because Democrats are using a special budget process to bypass the filibuster. However, Republicans are expected to raise objections to the bill anyway.

Before a final vote can be taken, there will be a period of lawmakers introducing unlimited amendments, known as a vote-a-rama.

The House passed a version of the Covid-19 relief bill in February. Once the Senate bill is approved, the House will need to vote on it again before it can be sent to the president.



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Whitehall cuts NOW! 'Staggering' salaries of civil servants must be slashed, says Leaver

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BREXITEER Rupert Lowe has demanded “Whitehall cuts” coming just a day after Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed tax changes in his Budget.x

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U.S. Capitol Police request continued National Guard help amid security threats

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The U.S. Capitol Police are asking to keep National Guard troops around for a while longer to help protect the complex, two defense officials confirmed to NBC News.

The police officials’ request of the Department of Defense comes as fears of another assault on the Capitol by extremists went unrealized Thursday and highlights the continued concerns about security at the building.

The request was for a 60-day extension, The Associated Press reported. The nearly 5,000 troops still in Washington, D.C. were slated to return home next week. It’s unclear how many troops the Capitol Police are requesting. The defense officials said the request was an initial ask, with a more detailed request still forthcoming.

The National Guard’s presence at the Capitol was beefed up after the deadly Jan. 6 riot, which saw hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the building in a bid to delay or reject the counting of electoral votes in favor of Joe Biden.

Security was heightened at the Capitol on Thursday after the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sent a joint intelligence bulletin to state and local law enforcement officials warning them that some domestic extremist groups have “discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove democratic lawmakers on or about 4 March,” a senior law enforcement official told NBC News.

March 4 is considered the “true inauguration day” by some Trump supporters and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The bulletin also warned that extremists were emboldened by the success of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, heightening the overall threat they pose. It made clear that “the threat did not begin or end on January 6,” the law enforcement official said.

The aftermath of the attack has resulted in the erection of additional barriers around the Capitol as well as the large troop presence — issues that lawmakers have complained about during recent hearings on security issues and elsewhere. Some Democrats have expressed concern about the true level of safety at the Capitol, while some Republicans have downplayed the need for the enhanced security.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., told The Associated Press that lawmakers have been concerned about the security plan going forward.

“We want to understand what the plan is,” Slotkin said. “None of us like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol. We can’t depend on the National Guard for our security.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, however, suggested at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week that the security presence at the Capitol amounted to “political theater” intended to cast Trump supporters in a negative light.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters on Wednesday that she thinks the National Guard should remain at the Capitol “as long as needed.”

Pelosi has tasked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with leading a review of the Capitol’s security, and said she hopes to be able to present a draft of the plan to the House next week.

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