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Rockville (United States) (AFP) – The wait nearly over, Casey Karch was ready to get his hands on one of the first PlayStation 4 game consoles set to be released Friday.

Karch, a resident of the US capital Washington, was number 21 on the list of those having pre-ordered the first 100 of the new Sony consoles delivered to GameStop, a retailer in Rockville, Maryland.

“There is a first-day magic about it,” Karch said. “It’s always great to be one of the first.”

Karch was at the store at 9:00 pm (0200 GMT Friday) but had to wait until midnight, when dozens of stores around the United States could release the new game device from the Japanese electronics giant.

The retailer allowed consumers to place orders online and pay for the console between 6:00 pm and midnight, then return for their box.

“I’m going to go home and play (the new edition of the game) Killzone, and then sleep a few hours,” he told AFP.

Sony is counting on fans like Karch to help win over gamers in its fierce battle with Microsoft, set to release its updated Xbox One console next week.

Some buyers in Rockville are loyal PlayStation gamers, concerned that the console may sell out during the busy holiday shopping season.

“I’ve had the PS1, the PS2 and the PS3,” said Bethesda, Maryland resident Jesse Rosario, who was number 31 on the list and had purchased a new “Call of Duty” game along with an NBA basketball game for the PS4.

“I grew up with it, so I love the experience.”

Asked why he ordered for the first day, Rosario said, “It’s the PlayStation 4, it’s going to sell out.”

Others chose PlayStation over Xbox amid concern about an always-on Internet connection and camera, even though Microsoft sought to reassure buyers they would not be monitored.

“I don’t want a camera on me. I’m not into that,” said Washington resident Chris Jones, one of the PS4 buyers.

With a small child at home, Jones said he would only play games loaded from a disc, not online.

“Not everyone is friendly online,” he told AFP.

The successor to the PlayStation 3 makes its debut in North America, hitting Europe later in the month.

It comes amid intense competition among console makers and with gamers also turning to smart phones, tablets, free-to-play, social and online games.

The PS4 is being released seven years after its predecessor and a week ahead of the release of a new-generation Xbox One.

The PS4 is priced at $399, while Xbox One will have a $499 price.

Along with building more powerful computing engines into consoles for cinematic graphics, engineers built in social features and took lessons from smart phone and tablet games that are making inroads.

“Today’s launch of PS4 represents a milestone for all of us at PlayStation, our partners in the industry, and, most importantly, all of the PlayStation fans who live and breathe gaming every day,” said Andrew House, head of Sony Computer Entertainment, in a statement.

“With unprecedented power, deep social capabilities, and unique second screen features, PS4 demonstrates our unwavering commitment to delivering phenomenal play experiences that will shape the world of games for years to come.”

Sony also announced it would make available for streaming on the PS4 its vast library of film titles, and launched a cloud-based digital music subscription service.

The “Music Unlimited” service will allow gamers to create their own soundtracks for their games.

“By far the biggest request from our core gamers was in-game music playback, and now they can create playlists tailored to their style of gameplay,” said Sony vice president Michael Aragon.

A forecast by the research firm Gartner shows game console sales of hardware and software are likely to grow to $44 billion worldwide in 2013 from $37 billion last year, helped in part by the new consoles.

Even with competition from new formats, some new console games have been huge hits. Grand Theft Auto V raked in $1 billion in sales in three days on the streets and “Call of Duty: Ghosts” brought in $1 billion in sales to retailers in one day.

AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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