November 6, 2020

President Trump named James Danly chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday, replacing fellow Republican commissioner Neil Chatterjee. The White House did not say why Trump removed Chatterjee, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who had chaired the powerful energy commission for several years, though he will remain on the commission until his term ends in June.

But a few weeks earlier, Chatterjee had urged the FERC to increase its work to counter climate change, specifically by encouraging power grid operators to embrace state carbon pricing policies. Alex Flint of the Alliance for Market Solutions told Axios that this embrace of carbon was why he was demoted. "Chatterjee demonstrated tremendous integrity and independence by acknowledging the need to address climate change," he said. "That cost him his chairmanship, but it also set him apart and cemented his standing as one of FERC's great leaders."

The Washington Examiner's Joshua Siegel reported the same thing.

"Danly's tenure could be short-lived," Axios reports. "If Joe Biden becomes president next January, he would be expected to appoint a Democrat as chairman. Currently the commission has two Republicans, while Richard Glick is the lone Democrat. Two nominees, Republican Mark Christie and Democrat Allison Clements, are pending before the Senate." Peter Weber

November 4, 2019

Ukraine is expected to fire Kostiantyn Kulyk, the prosecutor who led the investigation into the gas company where former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden once served on the board, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Kulyk became tied up in President Trump's impeachment saga this past year when it was revealed he was connected to the Biden allegations. Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed he met with Kulyk to discuss unsubstantiated accusations of corruption against the father-son duo. Ultimately, the Trump administration's efforts to catch the Bidens red-handed led to the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into Trump's interactions with Kyiv.

But Kulyk probably isn't getting fired because of anything going on in Washington. The source told Reuters the official reason is that he skipped an exam all employees of the General Prosecutor's Office were ordered to take to keep their jobs. Kulyk wasn't the only one to bail, and several other prosecutors have been fired as a result, Reuters reports. Some reportedly refused to take the exam in protest because they believed it was part of an effort by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to cement power and purge prosecutors who were part of the former administration.

There's probably a grain of truth to that reasoning, but Zelensky likely wouldn't describe it in such authoritarian language. Rather, per Reuters, the new, reform-minded regime considers a prosecutorial overhaul an essential task since the office has long been considered untrustworthy and corrupt by the Ukrainian public. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

September 19, 2019

The Colt AR-15 is off the market.

Colt announced Thursday that it is suspending production of its popular AR-15 rifle for its civilian market. The gunmaker will continue to produce the weapons for its military and law enforcement markets.

Company CEO Dennis Veilleux in a statement sought to reassure customers that Colt is still "committed to the consumer market" and the Second Amendment, explaining that demand for Colt rifles had dwindled; American Military News writes that could be due to Colt's relatively high prices for popular rifle models. The suspension could be temporary, as Veilleux said Colt will "adjust as market dynamics change" and Colt executive Paul Spitale said "it's not forever." Of course, other gunmakers will continue to manufacture AR-15 rifles.

AR-15s have been at the center of a national gun control debate because of their use in mass shootings. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has pledged to take AR-15s and other military style weapons away from Americans in mandatory buyback programs, prompting an ironic criticism from the NRA posted just Thursday morning.

Gun control advocates also celebrated the suspension. Kathryn Krawczyk

August 19, 2019

The officer involved in the death of Eric Garner in 2014 has been fired for his use of a prohibited chokehold during the encounter.

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill on Monday announced that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo "can no longer serve as a police officer," though he added that Garner "should have decided against resisting arrest."

The decision comes two weeks after it was determined that Pantaleo violated department policy when he restrained Eric Garner with a prohibited chokehold in 2014, leading to Garner's death in an attempt to arrest him for allegedly selling "loose" cigarettes. The police administrative judge who found Pantaleo guilty of the violation recommended his termination. Pantaleo's defense team had argued that Garner's death resulted from pre-existing health issues.

The incident involving Pantaleo and Garner was caught on video, revealing that as Pantaleo restrained him Garner repeatedly said "I can't breathe," words which went on to play a significant role in the Black Lives Matter movement. Garner's family and fellow activists have been lobbying for Pantaleo to lose his job for years. They also believe at least 11 officers involved at the scene should be held accountable for their actions, The New York Times reports. Tim O'Donnell

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