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Biden Issues Pardons Ahead of New Year

Drug-related offenders – none of whom are currently incarcerated – made up the majority of the recipients to whom the president issued pardons ahead of the new year.

President Joe Biden pardoned six individuals Friday – four of whom were convicted on drug charges, one who failed to pay a distilled spirits tax and one who shot a husband who had abused her while she was pregnant.


None of the six is currently incarcerated, but the presidential pardons allow the people, all of whom have subsequently served in the military or in their communities, a chance to start the new year with a clean record.

«President Biden believes America is a nation of second chances, and that offering meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation empowers those who have been incarcerated to become productive, law-abiding members of society,» a White House official said in a statement detailing the pardons.

«The President remains committed to providing second chances to individuals who have demonstrated their rehabilitation – something that elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree our criminal justice system should offer.»

The Biden administration had made moves to address what officials say is an unfair criminal approach to drug-related infractions. In October, Biden pardoned thousands of individuals convicted of simple possession of marijuana, and the administration said it would also look at whether marijuana should be considered in the same legal category as heroin and LSD.

«President Biden believes America is a nation of second chances, and that offering meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation empowers those who have been incarcerated to become productive, law-abiding members of society,» a White House official said in a statement detailing the pardons.

«The President remains committed to providing second chances to individuals who have demonstrated their rehabilitation – something that elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree our criminal justice system should offer.»

The Biden administration had made moves to address what officials say is an unfair criminal approach to drug-related infractions. In October, Biden pardoned thousands of individuals convicted of simple possession of marijuana, and the administration said it would also look at whether marijuana should be considered in the same legal category as heroin and LSD.

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Public Notices

Japan just found 7,000 islands it didn’t know it had

Japan has recounted its islands – and discovered it has 7,000 more than it previously thought.

Digital mapping by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) recently found there to be 14,125 islands in Japanese territory, more than double the figure of 6,852 that has been in official use since a 1987 report by Japan’s Coast Guard.

However, the GSI this week stressed that the new figure reflected advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used for the count – it did not change the overall area of land in Japan’s possession.

It said that while there is no international agreement on how to count islands, it had used the same size criterion as the previous survey 35 years ago.

That entailed counting all naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 meters (330 feet).

The new number does not include any artificially reclaimed land.

The islands surrounding Japan have been at the heart of several territorial disputes.

Japan lays claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, a dispute that dates to the end of World War II, when Soviet troops seized them from Japan.

Japan also says it has a historical claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it currently administers, but China has repeatedly challenged that claim.

Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea remain locked in a more than 70-year dispute over the sovereignty of a group of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea calls the East Sea.

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Yosemite National Park to partially reopen after 3-week closure

Yosemite National Park will begin to reopen Saturday with limited access and hours, the US National Park Service has announced. The park remains closed today.

The popular park, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, was closed because of a series of damaging storms that have swept across the region in recent weeks.

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Charles and Camilla

Britain’s King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, have been married since 2005. They reportedly met at a polo match in 1970 and became friends when Charles was a prince.

When Charles joined the Royal Navy in 1971, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles.

Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981 but then admitted in 1994 that he had been having an extramarital affair with Camilla. Diana confirmed his infidelity and her own the following year.

Camilla got a divorce in 1995, and Charles and Diana divorced in 1996. Camilla all but vanished from public life at the time as public and media support swung behind Diana.

In 1999, Clarence House embarked on a program to reintroduce Camilla to the public with a carefully orchestrated first appearance with Charles outside the Ritz Hotel in London.

Six years later, their decades-long love story culminated in a wedding that had the consent of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Camilla was confirmed as Charles’ official consort and future queen.

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