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Review: The Surface Laptop Studio is the most versatile PC ever made

Let’s get this out of the way: The Surface Laptop Studio isn’t the laptop you buy if you want the best specs for the money. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can stop reading. Microsoft says it’s the most powerful Surface ever, but the device simply isn’t going to provide you with the performance per dollar you’d get from some traditional laptop Windows competitors, let alone Apple’s MacBooks and their overpowered ARM chips or gaming PC’s with mega-powerful GPUs. There’s not much sense in comparing it to a boring regular laptop, because this isn’t a boring regular laptop. Instead,…

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Lawyer Who Aided Trump Subpoenaed by January 6 Committee

The House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has issued a subpoena to a former Justice Department lawyer who positioned himself as an ally of Donald Trump and aided the Republican president’s efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.

The subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, revealed Wednesday, came amid signs of an escalating congressional inquiry. At least three of the officials who were involved in organizing the rally that preceded the riot have handed over documents in response to subpoenas from the committee.  

The demands for documents and testimony from Clark reflect the committee’s efforts to probe not only the deadly insurrection but also events at the Justice Department in the weeks leading up to it as Trump and his allies leaned on government lawyers to advance his baseless claims that the election results were fraudulent. Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory

Clark, an assistant attorney general in the Trump administration, has emerged as a pivotal character. A Senate committee report issued last week shows how he championed Trump’s efforts to undo the election results inside the Justice Department and clashed as a result with superiors who resisted the pressure, culminating in a White House meeting at which Trump floated the idea of elevating Clark to attorney general.

“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the chairman of the committee, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, wrote in a letter to Clark announcing the subpoena.

While Trump ultimately did not appoint Clark acting attorney general, Clark’s “efforts risked involving the Department of Justice in actions that lacked evidentiary foundation and threatened to subvert the rule of law,” Thompson added.

The committee has scheduled a deposition for October 29 and demanded documents by the same date. A lawyer for Clark declined to comment.

The January 6 panel has sought testimony from a number of witnesses, but its demands of Trump aides and associates are potentially complicated by Trump’s vow to fight their cooperation on grounds of executive privilege.  

One witness, Steve Bannon, has told the committee that he will not cooperate based on Trump’s directive, though the committee has said it was “engaging” with two other Trump officials — former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel. It is unclear whether Dan Scavino, Trump’s longtime social media director and one of his most loyal aides, will cooperate.

Others are cooperating, including some of the 11 who organized or staffed the Trump rally that preceded the riot. They were given a Wednesday deadline to turn over documents and records and have been asked to appear at separate depositions the committee has scheduled beginning this month.

Among those responding to the Wednesday deadline was Lyndon Brentnall, whose firm was hired to provide event security that day.

“All the documents and communications requested by the subpoena were handed in,” he told The Associated Press.

Two longtime Trump campaign and White House staffers, Megan Powers and Hannah Salem, who were listed on the January 6 rally permit as “operations manager for scheduling and guidance” and “operations manager for logistics and communications,” have also provided documents or are planning to do so.

Powers, who served as the Trump reelection campaign’s director of operations, intends to provide the requested documentation and to meet with the committee — though it remains unclear what form such meetings will take, according to a person familiar with her response who spoke on condition of anonymity.  

Members of the committee, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s Republican vice chairwoman, have threatened to pursue criminal contempt charges against subpoenaed witnesses who refuse to comply. A House vote would send those charges to the Department of Justice, which would then decide whether to prosecute.  

The subpoena to Clark follows the release of a Senate Judiciary Committee report that documented extraordinary tensions within the senior ranks of the Justice Department in December and January as Trump and his allies prodded the law enforcement agency to help him in undoing the election.

The report from the committee’s Democratic majority depicts Clark as a relentless advocate for Trump’s efforts, even presenting colleagues with a draft letter pushing Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session on the election results. Clark wanted the letter sent, but superiors at the Justice Department refused.

“We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration,” Thompson wrote.

Two additional organizers, Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin, as well as their “Stop the Steal” organization, were also subpoenaed for documents, which are due October 21.

US Set to Return to Controversial UN Human Rights Council

The United States is poised to return to a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, after the former Trump administration withdrew from the controversial body in 2018. 

On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly will vote for 18 new members to join the 47-member council. The United States is among the candidates that need a simple majority of votes to secure a seat. However, none of the states faces any competition within its regional group, leaving the results mostly a foregone conclusion. 

There are a mix of countries seeking seats, including Argentina, India, Lithuania, Qatar and Somalia. Some candidates are more controversial than others because of their own human rights track records. 

“The absence of competition in this year’s Human Rights Council vote makes a mockery of the word ‘election,'” said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch. “Electing serious rights abusers like Cameroon, Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates sends a terrible signal that U.N. member states aren’t serious about the council’s fundamental mission to protect human rights.” 

Charbonneau urged states not to vote for unqualified candidates. 

Countries that join the council are expected to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” both at home and abroad. 

Imperfect body 

The council has a mixed reputation. Diplomats say it has produced some important and strong reports on war crimes in places like Syria, and spotlights domestic abuses in North Korea, Iran and Myanmar, among others. But it is also frequently criticized for its focus on Israel and the inclusion among its members of several countries with poor rights records of their own, like China, Russia and Pakistan.  

The Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the dysfunctional U.N. Human Rights Commission, which was disbanded. The administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush opted against seeking membership, and the United States did not join until 2009 when the administration of then-President Barack Obama said it sought to improve the council by working from within it. Washington withdrew in 2018 under the Trump administration. 


England’s GPs to get £250m boost if they see more patients face-to-face

Practices to receive share of ‘winter access fund’ if they increase in-person appointments

GPs in England will be handed £250m to improve their services but only if they increase the number of patients being seen face-to-face under a new government and NHS action plan.

The move follows an increasingly heated public war of words between GPs and health secretary, Sajid Javid, who has told family doctors to ramp up in-person consultations.

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