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GOP candidate in Maryland raffles off AR-15 in fundraiser

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A Republican running for a Maryland legislative seat raffled off an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle at a Saturday night fundraiser — only days after the same type of weapon was used to kill 17 people at a Florida high school.

The Baltimore Sun reported that about 15 people held a peaceful vigil outside, reading off the names of the 17 victims, as well as others killed in American mass shootings, before the fundraiser for sheriff’s deputy Aaron Penman, a Harford County Republican who is running for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The Sun said the sold-out “gun/cash bingo” event Saturday evening was held at the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company.

Penman, a Christian and a former Marine, told Fox News on Sunday that the fundraiser “was months in the planning.”

The Facebook posting for Penman’s event said gun winners would have to complete background checks.

On his website, Penman said he is running for office because of his lifetime of service to family and community: “Standing up to do the ‘right thing’ is how I have lived my life and why I have chosen to run as Delegate for Maryland’s 7th District.”

He said his mission is “working together to keep our community and schools safe.”

Penman, who said he is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, also told Fox News: “I believe law-abiding citizens have the constitutional right to own firearms, and I respect that some in the community might have a difference of opinion. I believe we must always ensure that all of our constitutional rights are upheld to ensure we continue to have a strong and free democracy. Accordingly, I support their First Amendment right to express their point of view, but making use of a planned fundraiser using the victims in Florida to push an anti-gun agenda by a few is distasteful.”

Democrat Allison Berkowitz, also running to represent House District 7, took a turn sharing the stories of shooting victims over a megaphone at Saturday’s vigil opposite Penman’s fundraiser. She said: “We just want things to be safer for all of our children.”

Last week in Florida, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was accused of opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 17 people, Fox News previously reported. Cruz walked into the high school with an AR-15 rifle, and fired at students and faculty members while walking through the hallways, investigators said.

Cruz was caught later in the afternoon and was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the deadly shooting. He made his first court appearance Thursday and was ordered held without bond.

He later confessed to the shooting, according to court documents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Florida asks Supreme Court to let cruise ships sail again

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WASHINGTON — Florida urged the Supreme Court on Friday to block federal Covid restrictions that have vastly cut back the number of cruise ships operating from the state’s ports.

In an emergency appeal, the state said restrictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control have made it very difficult for the industry to get going again, after it was shut down for nearly 16 months.

Federal rules now allow ships to board passengers if cruise lines meet such requirements as setting up Covid testing labs, running test voyages, maintaining social distancing, and establishing onshore housing for quarantining passengers.

The federal government said the rules were necessary with the United States in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that included several deadly outbreaks clustered on cruise ships. “These experiences demonstrated that cruise ships are uniquely suited to spread COVID-19, likely due to their close quarters for passengers and crew for prolonged periods.”

Now is not the time to put the rules on hold, the Justice Department argued, as the government works with the industry to get it going again — noting that the cruise industry did not join Florida’s lawsuit.

But the rules allow only a fraction of the normal number of ships to sail, the state said.

“The CDC’s order is manifestly beyond its authority,” Florida said. The federal law giving the CDC power to enact traditional quarantine measures “does not permit the agency to remake the entire cruise ship industry.”

The state said the restrictions have cost Florida tens of millions of dollars in lost tax and port revenue and required it to meet the additional expensive of paying unemployment benefits to cruise industry employees.

In June a federal court agreed with the state and blocked the CDC restrictions. U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday of Tampa, Florida, said the effort to impose the rules was “breathtaking, unprecedented, and acutely and singularly authoritarian.” He said he wondered whether the CDC would have argued that it could ban intercourse to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, put Merryday’s order on hold. Florida’s emergency motion asked the Supreme Court to lift that hold and allow the judge’s ruling to take effect.



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'This won't end well' Meghan and Harry warned of US backlash as Sussexes go against Queen

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PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle cannot hope to win in a popularity contest against the Queen, even among Americans, a former MP who is now based in the US has said.

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Tom Barrack, former Trump inaugural chair, released on $250 million bond

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Former Trump inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack on Friday was released from federal lockup in California on a $250 million bond ahead of his scheduled arraignment in New York on charges he acted as an agent of the United Arab Emirates and obstructed justice.

As part of the terms of his release, Barrack, 74, is subject to electronic monitoring and will have to foot the bill for his GPS ankle bracelet, Judge Patricia Donahue ordered, signing off on an agreement that had been worked out between the government and Barrack’s attorneys.

Barrack, a private equity investor and founder of the investment firm Colony Capital, also had to surrender his passports and is barred from transferring funds overseas, the judge said. He cannot trade any securities without written permission from federal prosecutors and is not allowed to transfer more than $50,000 except for attorneys fees.

He’s scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn, New York on Monday. His spokesman said earlier this week that Barrack “is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”

A longtime friend of former President Donald Trump, Barrack had been behind bars since his arrest Tuesday on charges that he and two co-defendants were “acting and conspiring to act as agents” of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018, but without registering as foreign agents.

Prosecutors said Barrack and the others acted “to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the United States at the direction of senior UAE officials by influencing the foreign policy positions of the campaign of a candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, subsequently, the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government in the incoming administration.”

Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements to federal law enforcement agents.



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