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CNN analyst, fmr. FBI agent: ‘We have a biological terrorist in the White House’

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Asha Rangappa, an analyst for CNN and a former special agent for the FBI, tweeted a thread on Tuesday in which she said, “We have a biological terrorist in the White House.” This follows President Donald Trump returning to the White House on Monday evening after treatment for the Coronavirus at a military hospital and the news that more senior White House and military officials testing positive for the virus.

In defending her claim, Rangappa cited a Justice Department memo stating back in March that the novel Coronavirus “appears to meet the statutory definition of a biological agent” and that those who engage in the “purposeful exposure and infections of others” could be charged for terrorism-related offenses.

While there are some allegations that he knew about his positive diagnosis significantly earlier than he had announced it on Thursday evening, there is no certifiable evidence that he knowingly exposed officials and staffers to the virus.

For her tweet, Rangappa has received heavy criticism on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/brad_polumbo/status/1313526488730341381

Mr. and Mrs. Trump both tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday evening, alongside many political figures and staffers. The exact event where the President caught the virus remains uncertain.

However, the theory gaining the most traction supposes that the infection occurred at the Rose Garden ceremony where he announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday, September 26. Since many of those who were also infected attended the event, many place this as the “superspreader” event.

Since the end of last week, more and more White House officials have tested positive for COVID-19. On Monday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced her positive diagnosis following a weekend where she engaged with numerous reporters. On Tuesday, most of the nation’s top military leaders said that, after reports of multiple infections, they would enter quarantine.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings on Supreme Court appointees, have also tested positive for the virus, alongside Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Minnesota farmer’s lawsuit prompts removal of race and sex-based grant program

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Five months after Minnesota farmer Lance Nistler filed a federal lawsuit with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), the state has removed race- and sex-based preferences from its Down Payment Assistance Grant Program. This significant policy change followed Nistler’s legal challenge, which highlighted the discriminatory nature of the program’s selection process.

Pacific Legal Foundation writes involvement in Nistler’s case drew attention and criticism from Minnesota progressives. Writing in the Minnesota Reformer, Sigrid Jewett accused PLF of using Nistler “as a pawn in a larger culture war game.” She questioned why a California-based legal firm with numerous Supreme Court victories would be interested in representing a small Minnesota farmer pro bono.

PLF opposes all race- and sex-based preferences in the law, and that’s the real reason the firm chose to represent Nistler. The foundation stands against discrimination in various domains, including government board selections, school admissions, government contracts, and grant distributions, such as in Nistler’s case.

Here are the facts: Minnesota’s Down Payment Assistance Grant Program offers up to $15,000 toward the purchase of farmland. Recipients are chosen through a lottery system. However, before the policy change, even if a recipient was among the first picked through the lottery—as Nistler was, being selected ninth—they could be bumped to the back of the line if they were not a racial minority, female, LGBTQIA+, or otherwise designated as an “emerging” farmer by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Despite being chosen ninth in the lottery, which awarded grants to 68 applicants, Nistler did not receive a grant. He was moved from ninth to 102nd on the waitlist because he is a white male.

Nistler grew up on his family farm, milking cows. “They would lose money every year,” he says of the family operation. After he left for school, his family sold the cows and switched to farming soybeans, oats, and wheat. Lance’s father and uncle now run the farm, but they’re getting older. Lance, who has a degree in electronic engineering and worked in HVAC, is interested in buying a 40-acre chunk of the family farm, becoming the fourth-generation farmer in his family.

The land isn’t just going to be given to Lance. This is a working farm, and the Nistlers aren’t a wealthy family that can transfer land from one generation to the next without consideration. “My dad and uncle, they don’t have 401(k)s or anything,” Lance says. “I mean, the land and the equipment, that’s their retirement. This stuff isn’t given away. I’m not just going to get it handed down to me and inherited. It has to be purchased, and it is not cheap.”

Despite being from a farming family, Lance considers himself a new farmer—he has never owned farmland before, and he has an electronics background. Buying these 40 acres would be a huge step for Lance, planting him firmly in the farming world, which is what Minnesota’s grant program aimed to do. The idea that he would have qualified as an emerging farmer if only his skin were a different color struck Lance as wrong.

“The country we live in, the idea is it’s equal opportunity for everyone,” he says. “And if that’s what it is, then well, why shouldn’t I have the same chances?”

When Lance filed his lawsuit in January, the complaint argued that the discriminatory process violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The complaint stated:

“Nistler brings this lawsuit to vindicate his constitutional right to equal protection of the law. He brings it to give all Minnesotans a fair chance at a difference-making grant program. He brings it in the hope that he will be able to own that small farm in the near future. He brings it because he is not giving up on his dream.”

In May, after Lance called attention to the unconstitutional policy, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed legislation removing the race and sex prioritization from the program. Now, Minnesota will treat farmers equally—as the Constitution promises.

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