Oct. 2021 News, Views

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2021 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

 

Oct. 16

Top Headlines

capitol riot policeman down


Virus Victims, Responses

 

Inside DC

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

 

U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

 

World Conflict, Corruption

 

Media, Academic News

 

Top Stories

 

capitol riot policeman down

Shown above at center is a policeman battered to the ground defending the U.S. Capitol by the pro-Trump mob of insurrectionists on Jan. 6 seeking to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and thereby allowing the Biden Presidency to proceed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden: Justice Department should prosecute those who refuse Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas, Amy B Wang, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.).  President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, the most he has weighed in on possible consequences for aides of former president Donald Trump who have refused to comply with the panel’s demands.

joe biden resized o“I hope the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” Biden told reporters Friday evening, when asked what should happen to those who defy subpoenas from the congressional committee.

Justice Department log circularThe bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.

The committee has subpoenaed records and testimony about activities related to the Jan. 6 insurrection from several former Trump advisers, including Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, Dan Scavino and Stephen K. Bannon. Through an attorney, Trump has instructed those advisers not to comply, arguing that such records are protected by “executive and other privileges.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Publix heiress, funder of Jan. 6 rally, gave $150,000 to GOP attorneys general association, Beth Reinhard, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 16, 2021. A wealthy Trump donor who helped finance the rally in Washington on Jan. 6 also gave $150,000 to the nonprofit arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, records show, funds that a person familiar with the contribution said were intended in part to promote the rally. The nonprofit organization paid for a robocall touting a march that afternoon to the U.S. Capitol to “call on Congress to stop the steal.”

publix logoOn Dec. 29, Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of the founder of the Publix grocery store chain, gave the previously undisclosed contribution to RAGA’s nonprofit Rule of Law Defense Fund, or RLDF, records reviewed by the Washington Post show. On the same day, the records show that Fancelli gave $300,000 to Women for America First, the “Stop the Steal” group that obtained a permit for the rally featuring former president Donald Trump.

republican elephant logoFunding for the events in Washington that day is a focus of the House select committee investigating the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol that followed the rally. The panel is also interested in the role state officials, including attorneys general, played in encouraging people to go to Washington on Jan. 6 and in supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, according to people familiar with the committee’s work.

The leaders of Women for America First have been subpoenaed by the committee, as has Caroline Wren, a Republican fundraiser who was listed on that group’s permit as a “VIP ADVISOR.” Both of Fancelli’s donations were arranged by Wren, according to the records and the person with knowledge of the contributions, who like some others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

“We have many questions about coordination and funding, and we are actively seeking records and testimony that will answer those questions,” said committee spokesman Tim Mulvey. “Many witnesses are already engaging with the committee, and we expect cooperation to help us get the answers we’re seeking.”

The documents sought by the subpoenas sent to rally organizers were due Wednesday.

Fancelli, who is not involved in Publix business operations, did not respond to multiple requests seeking comment, and it is unclear if she knew about the robocall ahead of time. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, which reported in January that Fancelli had given approximately $300,000 to support the rally, she said: “I am a proud conservative and have real concerns associated with election integrity, yet I would never support any violence, particularly the tragic and horrific events that unfolded on January 6th.”

alex jones mug shot CustomAlex Jones, left, a far-right talk show host and conspiracy theorist who was involved in the Jan. 6 rally, has said that it cost “close to half a million dollars.” He has also said a donor he did not identify paid for 80 percent of the rally.

In a statement to The Post, Wren’s lawyer said: “Ms. Wren, in her role as an event planner, assisted many others in providing and arranging for a professionally produced and completely peaceful event at the White House Ellipse with hundreds of thousands of Americans who were in D.C. to lawfully exercise their first amendment rights, a primary pillar of American democracy. Ms. Wren was not present at the United States Capitol or the Capitol Grounds on January 6th.”

Related Stories:

washington post logoWashington Post, Some of nation’s largest hospitals say vaccine mandates are working, Meryl Kornfield and Annabelle Timsit, Oct. 16, 2021. The controversy surrounding fired hospital employees, lawsuits and protests obscured a simple fact: The vaccine mandates worked, administrators say.

Most health-care systems that require vaccination have touted widespread compliance. In interviews, administrators at some of the nation’s largest hospital systems said the mandates worked: Officials said that they have very high vaccination rates they attributed to the requirement and that they have seen coronavirus infections — and sick leaves — noticeably drop.

At Novant Health, a 35,000-employee health-care system in four Southeast states, more than 99 percent of workers have complied with a vaccine mandate, spokeswoman Caryn Klebba wrote in an email.

“Without a vaccine mandate for team members, we faced the strong possibility of having a third of our staff unable to work due to contracting, or exposure to, COVID-19,” she said. “This possibility only increases heading into a fall season with the more contagious and deadly Delta variant.”

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. prepares to restore ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy along border, Nick Miroff, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Federal courts have ordered the Biden administration to restart the Trump-era program that sent at least 60,000 back to Mexico.

The Biden administration is prepared to reimplement the Trump-era border policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols in mid-November if the Mexican government agrees to accept the return of asylum seekers to its territory, administration officials said Thursday.

In August, a U.S. District Court in Texas ordered the Biden administration to restart MPP, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” faulting the White House for ending the program improperly. The Supreme Court upheld the decision, forcing Biden officials to restore a policy the president has deplored as inhumane.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement late Thursday it is “taking necessary steps to comply with the court order, which requires us to reimplement MPP in good faith.”

MPP cannot resume without Mexico’s consent, as the court acknowledged in its ruling, and administration officials said they are taking steps to address the concerns of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador by setting up better access to legal counsel for asylum seekers and exemptions for vulnerable migrants.

“Mexico is a sovereign nation that must make an independent decision to accept the return of individuals without status in Mexico as part of any reimplementation of MPP,” the DHS statement said. “Discussions with the Government of Mexico concerning when and how MPP will be reimplemented are ongoing.”

The Trump administration used MPP to return more than 60,000 asylum seekers across the border to Mexico, requiring them to wait outside U.S. territory as their claims were processed in U.S. courts. The policy was conceived by Trump officials as a way to prevent border-crossers from being released into the United States — and avoiding deportation — by making asylum claims.

Biden halted MPP soon after taking office, and when border crossings skyrocketed this spring, Biden was asked if he made a mistake by moving too quickly to end MPP and other Trump-era controls.

“Rolling back the policies of ‘Remain in Mexico,’ sitting on the edge of the Rio Grande in a muddy circumstance with not enough to eat and — I make no apologies for that,” the president told reporters in March. “I make no apologies for ending programs that did not exist before Trump became President, that have an incredibly negative impact on the law, international law, as well as on human dignity.”

The GOP-run states of Texas and Missouri filed suit against the administration in the Northern District of Texas, saying the abrupt repeal of MPP led to a harmful surge of illegal immigration. The number of migrants taken into custody along the Mexico border this year is at the highest level in at least two decades.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Italy Puts in Force Tough New Law Requiring Workers to Test or Vaccinate, Jason Horowitz, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The rollout went more or less smoothly, with only scattered protests, as the majority of citizens accepted the “Green Pass” as a tolerable sacrifice.

Italy on Friday set a new bar for major Western democracies seeking to move beyond the pandemic by enacting a sweeping law that requires the nation’s entire work force — public and private — to have government-issued health passes, essentially forcing Italians to choose between getting a pass and earning a living.

italy decalWith the step, Italy, the first democracy to quarantine towns and apply national lockdowns, is again first across a new threshold, making clear that it is willing to use the full leverage of the state to try to curb the pandemic and get the economy moving.

Italy’s measures, which require proof of vaccination, a negative rapid swab test or recent recovery from Covid-19 to go to the workplace, now stand as some of the toughest among Western democracies, which have struggled to balance public health needs with civil liberty concerns.

For many Western governments, that has resulted in refraining from national mandates while seeking other ways to encourage, coax and even mildly coerce people to get vaccinated.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has tried to make life uncomfortable for unvaccinated people, requiring a health pass to enter restaurants and for long-distance train travel, for instance, but has mandated vaccines only for some essential workers.

President Biden has appealed to private companies to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for employees, asking them to take the initiative as an effort that he announced in September to require 80 million U.S. workers to get the shot undergoes a lengthy rule-making process.

Under Italy’s new rules, those who do not have a Green Pass, as the health certificate is called, must take unpaid leave. Employers are responsible for verifying the certificates, which are for the most part shown on a cellphone app, though hard copies are also acceptable. Workers risk fines of up to 1,500 euros — or about $1,750 — for not complying.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Panel Recommends Johnson & Johnson Boosters, Noah Weiland, Carl Zimmer and Sharon LaFraniere, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel unanimously voted on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.

johnson johnson logoBefore the vote, a top federal health official, Dr. Peter Marks, said that the agency might consider regulatory action that would allow Johnson & Johnson recipients to receive a booster shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines. But Dr. Marks, who oversees the F.D.A.’s vaccine division, gave no timetable for any decision, saying only that authorization of a different vaccine as a booster for Johnson & Johnson recipients was “possible.”

Many members of the panel said that a second dose was important because the first dose did not provide strong enough protection. Unlike the other vaccines available in the United States, Johnson & Johnson chose to seek authorization for a single dose — a decision that some members of the committee couched as a mistake in hindsight.

“I think this frankly was always a two-dose vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offitt, an infectious disease expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Representatives from Johnson & Johnson presented their case Friday morning during a meeting of the advisory panel, arguing that a second dose given either two months or six months after the first shot increased antibody levels, part of the immune response to vaccines. They also said that the single dose of the vaccine remained durable.

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ny times logoNew York Times, They Resisted Getting Vaccinated. Here’s Why They Changed Their Minds, Joseph Goldstein, Oct. 16, 2021. In the Bronx, a youth counselor closed his eyes and steeled himself for the shot. In Queens, a nurse calmed herself by humming gospel music. In Manhattan, a graduate student asked one last question about fertility while reviewing the consent form.

With a mixture of nervousness, resentment and, sometimes relief, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers finally got a dose of coronavirus vaccine in recent weeks. In some cases, it was because they had a change of heart; perhaps more commonly, it was to keep their jobs.

The uptick in vaccinations has contributed, experts say, to a flattening of the virus curve in New York City, where the numbers of new infections and hospitalizations have been falling — a trend across the United States as well.

Yet with winter approaching, public health experts are watching closely for yet another rise in infections. New York’s vaccination rate is higher than that of the country as a whole, with two out of every three residents fully inoculated. Still, about one million adult New Yorkers have not gotten at least one vaccine dose.

In recent months, the vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, which had lagged behind those of white and Asian residents, has climbed. But Black residents 18 to 44 remain far less likely to be vaccinated than adults in other groups.

The New York Times interviewed 10 New Yorkers who only recently got vaccinated to find out why they waited so long.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 16, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 240,936,141, Deaths: 4,906,944
U.S. Cases:     45,738,585, Deaths:    743,880
India Cases:     34,053,573, Deaths:    452,010
Brazil Cases:    21,627,476, Deaths:    602,727

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 218.3 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.16, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 188.7 million eligible, 56.8%, who are fully vaccinated. The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

Related Recent Headlines:

 

Inside DC

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Key Part of Biden’s Climate Agenda Likely to Be Cut From Budget Bill, Coral Davenport, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden’s clean electricity program is said to likely drop after Senator Joe Manchin told the White House that he strongly opposes it. White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies to cut emissions.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy — will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists familiar with the matter.

Senator Joe Manchin III, left, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to passage of the bill, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to three of those people. As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut Dick Shelbyemissions.

The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.

Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.

“This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy, who has been advising Senate Democrats on how to craft the program. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad.”

The setback also means that President Biden will have a weakened hand when he travels to Glasgow in two weeks for a major United Nations climate change summit. He had hoped to point to the clean electricity program as evidence that the United States, the world’s largest emitter of planet-warming pollution, was serious about changing course and leading a global effort to fight climate change. Mr. Biden has vowed that the United States will cut its emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

washington post logoWashington Post, Manchin slams Sanders after newspaper opinion piece that urged him to support spending package, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.).The debate between the two senators reflects ongoing tensions between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate factions, which have held up President Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda.

The public dispute between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) over the size and scope of a multitrillion-dollar spending package us senate logoescalated Friday after Sanders published an opinion article in Manchin’s home state newspaper urging him to support the landmark Democratic proposal.

bernie sandersSanders, right, writing in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, attacked the legislation’s opponents — “every Republican in Congress as well as the drug companies, the insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry and the billionaire class” — as defenders of a status quo “in which the very rich get richer while ordinary Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet.”

democratic donkey logoThe article drew a sharp response from Manchin. “This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state,” he said a tweet.

He added that he would not vote for what he termed a “reckless expansion of government programs.” In the evenly-divided Senate, every vote in the Democratic caucus is needed to pass the $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending package.

Sanders, who has long called himself a “democratic socialist,” chairs the Senate Budget Committee and played a key role in crafting the legislation. But, last month, Manchin said he would not vote for the bill at its $3.5 trillion size.

The debate reflects the tensions between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate factions that have held up President Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda. Dubbed the “Build Back Better Plan,” the package aims to reduce community college tuition, cut health insurance premiums, reduce child-care costs for many families and bolster a green economy.

House agrees to lift debt ceiling as Democrats spar over shape of broader spending bill

Manchin has positioned himself as a bridge-building dealmaker who is involved in virtually every hot-button negotiation. Left-leaning Democrats also have been watching Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), another holdout, with exasperation. Sinema, who has previously allied with Republicans on tax cuts, has been harder to read.

In recent weeks, Sanders and Manchin have exchanged increasingly sharp words over the proposed spending package.

“Sen. Manchin has been extremely critical of the $3.5 trillion proposal that many of us support,” Sanders told reporters last week. “The time is long overdue for him to tell us with specificity — not generalities, but beyond generalities, with specificity — what he wants and what he does not want, and to explain that to the people of West Virginia and America.”

Manchin has highlighted his opposition to the current form of the Clean Electricity Performance Program — which would reward utility companies that generate more clean energy and penalize those that do not, The Washington Post previously reported.

The White House has expressed its intent to compromise on the economic package.

“I’m convinced we’re going to get it done. We’re not going to get $3.5 trillion. We’ll get less than that, but we’re going to get it,” Biden said during a visit to a child-care center in Connecticut on Friday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on the “Pod Save America” podcast that the disagreements reflected “democracy working.”

“When it comes down to it, no bill is perfect,” she said. “It’s not going to be everything that Joe Biden wants; it’s not going to be everything Joe Manchin wants.”

“It’s ultimately a compromise,” she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pramila Jayapal Won’t Let the Biden Presidency Fail, Michelle Goldberg, right, Oct. 16, 2021. I recently confided to Pramila Jayapal, the michelle goldberg thumbleader of the House Progressive Caucus, that I was literally losing sleep over the fate of the giant social spending bill she’s negotiating. It’s been impressive to see the left exert control over Congress, refusing to move on legislation cherished by moderates until there’s a deal on a bill containing progressive priorities. At the same time, it’s been terrifying to imagine what it will mean for the Biden presidency — and the future of the country — if an agreement isn’t reached soon.

Was she sure, I wanted to know, that progressive resolve wouldn’t blow up in all our faces?

She insisted she wasn’t worried. “We’re going to get both bills done,” she said.

pramila jayapal resized oThe details of the procedural battle that Jayapal is fighting are stultifying to describe, but the stakes are existential for the social safety net and the environment, not to mention American democracy. A dysfunctional and evenly divided Senate means that Democrats probably have only one shot to enact progressive policies on climate, health care, child care and taxes by using the so-called reconciliation process, a mechanism for passing budget bills that can’t be filibustered. But even then, Democrats need all 50 of their senators to pass their package, giving veto power to the recalcitrant right-leaning Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

So House progressives, perhaps more powerful than they’ve ever been, are trying to exercise veto power of their own, holding up a bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed in August, and which Manchin and Sinema value. The progressive threat is this: Either everyone gets some of what they want, or no one does. They held firm even after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under pressure from moderates in her caucus, scheduled the bipartisan bill to come to the floor, and Pelosi was forced to cancel the vote.

This was a tactical victory for the left, but one seen in the Beltway, perhaps unsurprisingly, as a big setback for Joe Biden. The New York Times described it as a “humiliating blow to Mr. Biden and Democrats.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Funding Fight Threatens Plan to Pump Billions Into Affordable Housing, Glenn Thrush, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). A voucher program is at risk of being sharply scaled back as the White House seeks to slash its social policy package to appease two centrist senators.

Audrey Sylve, a retired bus driver, has spent 13 agonizing years on a waiting list for a federal voucher that would help cover rent for an apartment in one of America’s most expensive housing markets.

This summer it seemed that help was finally on the way.

In late July, congressional Democrats introduced a $322 billion plan to bolster low-income housing programs as part of the $3.5 trillion social spending plan embraced by President Biden. At its center is a $200 billion infusion of aid for the country’s poorest tenants, which would allow another 750,000 households to participate in a program that currently serves two million families.

Affordable-housing advocates saw it as a once-in-a-generation windfall that would allow local governments to move thousands of low-income tenants like Ms. Sylve, 72, off waiting lists and to expand aid to families at the highest risk of homelessness.

But optimism has given way to anxiety. Low-income housing, and the voucher program in particular, are among those most at risk of being sharply scaled back as the White House seeks to slash the package to accommodate the demands of two centrist Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, according to several people involved in the talks.

Congressional negotiators are seeking to cut the overall size of the 10-year package, in coordination with the White House, to between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion. Housing is just one of several high-price priorities on the chopping block in the negotiations.

Yet proponents say no other proposal is likely to have as immediate an effect on the lives of the country’s most vulnerable as the increase in rental assistance because it addresses a foundational problem: securing an affordable place to live when rents everywhere are outpacing earnings.

stefan bieret fairfax policeDaily Beast, Assistant House Sergeant at Arms Arrested on Child Porn Charges, Corbin Bolies, Oct. 15, 2021. An assistant to the House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms faces multiple charges of child pornography, police in Fairfax County, Virginia, said Thursday.

daily beast logoStefan Bieret, 41, shown above in a Fairfax County mug shot, was arrested Thursday on 10 felony counts of child pornography, his arrest stemming from a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after it noticed an illicit upload from a Dropbox account.

Search warrants revealed the account belonged to Bieret, leading to a search of his home. Bieret was later transferred to a Fairfax County jail, where he is being held without bond. Police said they are still examining the evidence obtained from Bieret’s home and will use it to determine whether any other charges can be pressed.

Punchbowl News reporter Jake Sherman said on Twitter that Bieret was a known figure at the House. “Capitol insiders will know Stefan very well,” he wrote. “A longtime employee of the House Sargent at Arms. If you’re in the Capitol on a regular basis, you will have seen this face.”

 

djt jeffrey epstein headshots

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is coming back to haunt Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2021. Jeffrey Epstein’s remaining secrets died with him in that prison cell – or did they? We’ve all been waiting to see whether or not the ongoing criminal case against Epstein’s longtime sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell ends up unearthing Epstein’s remaining secrets. But in the meantime, Epstein’s ghost is resurfacing in a new and strange way.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Wolff’s new insider book claims that Steve Bannon was terrified of the secrets that Jeffrey Epstein was holding onto about Donald Trump, and that Bannon in fact admitted as much to Epstein. Of course this kind of insider chatter always raises questions about just who would have told Wolff about this, why this source would have such information, what their motivation would be for providing it, and how slanted it might be as a result.

But those questions aside, you can’t overlook the timing. Steve Bannon is just a couple days away from facing federal criminal prosecution for his failure to testify to the January 6th Committee – and he’s trying to dodge that testimony because he’s afraid of further incriminating himself in the ongoing criminal case against him in New York.

Bannon is on track for prison either way, and we can’t imagine he’s willing to take the fall by himself. If anything, a snake like Bannon will end up spilling his guts around everyone and everything in order to try to reduce or eliminate his own prison time. So if Bannon really does know what Epstein knew about Trump, he may end up giving it up as he tries to get himself off the hook. The thing about these types is they’re never loyal to each other for any longer than they have to be.

michael wolff too famous landslide covers

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Weigh Carbon Tax After Manchin Rejects Key Climate Provision, Coral Davenport and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 16, 2021. Some House and Senate Democrats, smarting from a move by Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, to kill a major element of President Biden’s climate plan, are switching to Plan B: a tax on carbon dioxide pollution.

A carbon tax, in which polluting industries would pay a fee for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit, is seen by economists as the most effective way to cut the fossil fuel emissions that are heating the planet.

The almost certain demise of the clean electricity program at the heart of Mr. Biden’s agenda — which comes as scientists say forceful policies are needed to avert climate change’s most devastating impacts — has prompted outrage among many Democrats and has led several to say now is the moment for a carbon tax.

“I’ve had a carbon pricing bill in my desk for the last three years just waiting for the time,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“What has been striking is the number of senators who’ve come to me about this since early fall — after Louisiana got clobbered with storms, the East Coast flooding, the Bootleg wildfires here in my own state,” said Mr. Wyden, speaking by telephone on Saturday from Oregon. “Now there are a number of senators, key moderate senators, who’ve said they’re open to this. And a lot of House folks who have said they would support it if the Senate sends it over.”

But a carbon tax can be politically explosive. Industries could pass along their higher costs, leaving President Biden and fellow Democrats vulnerable to claims that they are raising taxes on the middle class, at a moment when inflation and energy prices are rising. Environmental justice advocates say a carbon tax permits companies to continue polluting, albeit at a higher cost, which disproportionately harms low-income communities. And it is unclear if Mr. Manchin, whose vote is crucial to Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda, would support a carbon tax..

As a result, the White House is scrambling to come up with alternatives to replace the $150 billion clean electricity program that had been the centerpiece of Mr. Biden’s climate agenda until just days ago, when Mr. Manchin indicated he strongly opposed it. That program would have rewarded utilities that stopped burning fossil fuels in favor of wind, solar and nuclear energy, and penalized those that did not. It was intended to push the nation’s electricity sector to generate 80 percent of its power from clean energy sources by 2030, from 40 percent now.

washington post logoWashington Post, For Virginia’s governor race, big donations from national groups push McAuliffe ahead of Youngkin in September fundraising, Karina Elwood, Oct. 16, 2021. Democrats ramped up their fundraising in September in Virginia’s governor race, with former governor Terry McAuliffe raising $12.6 million and Republican multimillionaire Glenn Youngkin bringing in $7 million that month, according to the latest round of campaign finance filings.

Democrats also spent significantly more during the filing period, which covers donations and expenditures made from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30. McAuliffe spent $17.5 million, while Youngkin spent $9.5 million, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). McAuliffe also received more small donations than Youngkin did, getting more than 41,000 donations of $100 or less versus Youngkin’s 13,000, according to VPAP.

ny times logoNew York Times, Illinois Democrats’ Map Aims to Grab 2 G.O.P. Seats in Congress, Reid J. Epstein, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Illinois Democrats on Friday proposed a new set of highly gerrymandered congressional maps that would consolidate Democratic power in the state’s congressional delegation, most likely cutting the number of Republican seats in the state to three from five.

The proposal would eliminate the Republican-friendly seat held by Representative Adam Kinzinger, right, a Trump antagonist and a Republican whose current district hugs the Chicago exurbs and parts of northern and central Illinois.

adam kinzinger twitterThe maps, if approved by the state’s Democrat-controlled House and Senate, would be among the most gerrymandered in the country. Two districts, designed to elect Democratic candidates, would snake across hundreds of miles of rural areas to connect small Democratic-leaning communities. And 42 of the state’s 102 counties would be split up, according to an analysis from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

The current Illinois House delegation is made up of 13 Democrats and five Republicans. The proposal would most likely result in 14 illinois mapDemocrats and three Republicans. The state is losing a seat to reapportionment.

State lawmakers elsewhere in the nation have also sought to maximize their partisan advantages during the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Oregon Democrats drew just a single Republican district among the six in their state’s new map. In Texas, Republicans are aiming to press their advantage to minimize Democratic districts.

The proposed 17th District of Illinois would stretch in a crescent along the state’s northwestern borders, connecting Rockford in the north to Peoria and the twin cities of Bloomington and Normal, home to Illinois State University. Driving the length of the district without leaving it would cover 332 miles.

Cheri Bustos, a Democrat who is planning to retire, represents the current 17th District.

The new map’s 13th District would connect the diverse suburban communities east of St. Louis, the state capital of Springfield and the college towns of Champaign and Urbana, more than three hours away by car.

The proposal leaves in place one of the nation’s most crooked districts, the jaw-shaped Fourth that connects Hispanic neighborhoods on the North and South Sides of Chicago. In the mouth of the proposed Fourth District sits the Seventh, one of three districts drawn to have a plurality of Black voters.

Mr. Kinzinger, a six-term congressman, has for months said he plans to seek re-election to the House and dismissed suggestions that he run for governor jay pritzker Customagainst the Democratic incumbent, J.B. Pritzker, right, or the Senate, against Senator Tammy Duckworth. But on Friday, with his home drawn into a Democrat-heavy district held by Representative Marie Newman, Mr. Kinzinger said he would consider seeking a different office.

“Following the release of the new congressional maps for Illinois, my team and I will spend some time looking them over and reviewing all of the options, including those outside the House,” Mr. Kinzinger said in a statement released by his office.

In a text message, Mr. Kinzinger said he was “just talking options” and declined to elaborate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats might need GOP help to confirm Biden’s likely FDA pick, Rachel Roubein, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden is closing in on a pick to lead the FDA. But at least one Democrat is already voicing concerns, leaving White House officials to likely bank on Republican support to get the possible pick over the finish line.

fda logoThe administration has zeroed in on former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf to once again assume the role, my colleagues scooped yesterday. For roughly nine months, the agency has lacked a permanent leader in the midst of a global pandemic, a critical vacancy that’s both alarmed and confounded public health experts.

In choosing Califf, Biden would get somewhat of an old hand, who former officials say could very much be plug and play within the beleaguered agency. The administration would also add to its growing roster of Obama veterans, since Califf led the FDA under the former president for less than a year. He also previously worked as the agency’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco for a year.

(The White House has not confirmed the possible FDA leader. White House secretary Jen Psaki said no final decision has been made.)

Let’s look back to 2016. Califf faced resistance from a handful of Senate Democrats who opposed the longtime Duke University researcher’s ties to pharmaceutical companies that helped fund his work, as well as generally how the FDA had handled the opioid epidemic.

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) voted against his nomination on the Senate floor. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also expressed serious misgivings but missed the vote.

Lawmakers’ offices largely declined to comment in the hours after Califf’s name surfaced yesterday. But at least one Democratic senator wasn’t shy.

“I would have very grave reservations about this nomination – many of the same reservations I expressed when I voted against Dr. Califf’s confirmation in 2016,” Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement to The Health 202.

But still, Califf would be a seemingly safe choice for Biden. Despite some Democratic opposition, his first nomination sailed through the Senate in an 89-4 vote.

Even if the process turns into a bruising battle, Califf’s allies believe he has the credentials to muscle through. The numbers may also be on his side.

“Sixty-five of the 89 senators who originally voted to confirm Califf as FDA commissioner are still serving in the chamber, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.),” who chairs the committee charged with advancing the nomination, The Post’s Tyler Pager, Dan Diamond and Yasmeen Abutaleb write.
When it comes to opposition, the past isn’t always prologue, one longtime FDA observer, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told The Health 202. Some holdout lawmakers may have approved of his time at the agency and may not oppose him this time around. Califf is currently a professor of cardiology at the Duke University School of Medicine. He’s advised Google and its spinoff, Verily Life Sciences, since leaving the federal government.

In conversations with The Health 202, former colleagues described him as a steady hand, independent thinker and an advocate for good data . They also pointed to his expertise in clinical trials, a knowledge base critical for helping evaluate potential vaccines and therapeutics amid the pandemic.

 Other Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

The Intercept, A Florida Anarchist Will Spend Years in Prison for Online Posts Prompted by Jan. 6 Riot, Natasha Lennard, Oct. 16 2021. Daniel Baker’s calls for armed defense against possible far-right attacks led to a much harsher sentence than that facing most insurrectionists.

On Tuesday, a Florida judge sentenced Daniel Baker, an anti-fascist activist, to 44 months in federal prison for social media posts that called for armed defense against possible far-right attacks on the state’s Capitol in the wake of the January 6 riots. Baker, a 34-year-old yoga teacher and emergency medical technician trainee, had no previous criminal convictions and has already been held for 10 months of harsh pretrial detention, including seven months in solitary confinement. He never brought a weapon near a government building; he amassed no armed anti-fascist forces; he made no threats on a single individual.

Baker will, nonetheless, face considerably more prison time than most January 6 defendants, including those who crossed state lines, small arsenals in tow, with the aim of overturning a presidential election.

It goes without saying that a United States federal court is no place to appeal to ethical grounds for militant anti-fascist resistance. Yet Baker, while prone to FBI logohyperbolic and sometimes paranoid rhetoric, was certainly not alone in fearing that there could be January 6-style events in statehouses nationwide ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration and that local police could hardly be trusted as a bulwark.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations warned of the potential for armed protests at state capitols. Florida is home to over 60 far-right, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi groups recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and there are well-reported links between Florida police departments and far-right militiae.

If there are moral arguments for physically confronting fascists — and I believe there are — they would have been of scant relevance in Baker’s case: zero such confrontations took place or appeared on the horizon, and no far-right mobs amassed at the Florida Capitol around Biden’s inauguration. This should have been a straightforward First Amendment case, with Baker’s online speech, albeit bellicose, judged as constitutionally protected. Instead, the formerly unhoused veteran has been made a victim of government efforts to draw false equivalences between fascistic far-right forces and the anti-fascists who would see them opposed.

“The overall message people will get from this is that online speech calling for militant antifascist action will send you to prison for much longer than actually taking militant action with fascists.”

“The American government has chosen to side with white supremacists, except when their own bureaucracy forces them to prosecute the most blatant offenders, albeit gently,” Baker told me in an email from prison. “They criticized me for supporting Black Lives Matter, Feminist Liberation ideologies, Global Revolutionary movements and direct democracy. … The government has made its stance clear throughout my hearings.”

During his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Baker’s attorney highlighted the case of a Georgia man who drove to Washington, D.C., with guns and ammunition and sent private texts threatening to shoot Rep. Nancy Pelosi in the head. The Trump acolyte had missed the storming of the Capitol by one day due to car trouble.

Like Baker, he was charged with the interstate communication of threats. Unlike Baker, he had a history of hideous, racist online speech, and direct threats. And unlike Baker, he could leave prison soon: He will be sentenced in December and faces between six months to two years in prison; his eight months of pretrial detention will count as time served. Taking into account time served, meanwhile, Baker will spend another 34 months — almost three years — in prison.

“Dan’s case speaks volumes about how the state represses the left much differently than it treats the far right,” Brad Thomson, civil rights attorney at the People’s Law Office, who did not represent Baker, told me. “Here, Dan was sentenced to three and a half years for online posts opposing another January 6 incident. But for actual participants from January 6, we’re seeing charges and sentences far below that.” Thomson added that “every case is unique, but the overall message people will get from this is that online speech calling for militant antifascist action will send you to prison for much longer than actually taking militant action with fascists.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Justice Is Taking Over the Supreme Court, and He Won’t Be Alone, Jill Abramson, Oct. 15, 2021. Jill Abramson is a former executive editor of The New York Times and a co-author of a book on the politics of Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

clarence thomas HRAfter he took his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court 30 years ago this month, Justice Clarence Thomas, right, assured his law clerks, “I ain’t evolving.”

What he meant was that he would not soften his sharp conservative edges or change ideological stripes as did some of his fellow justices, including Harry Blackmun and David Souter.

Justice Thomas has certainly kept his vow. Indeed, some legal analysts say he is the most consistently conservative member of the court since the 1930s. He has written a raft of concurring and dissenting opinions that are so far to the right that it is common for him to issue them solo, without any of his colleagues signing on.

Now, with a new term underway, what is remarkable is the extent to which the Supreme Court, with the addition of three Donald Trump nominees who create a 6-to-3 conservative majority, seems to be reshaping itself in Justice Thomas’s image. With hot-button social issues on the docket, including gun rights, abortion rights and religious freedom, as well as a decision on whether to hear another big affirmative action case, we may be witnessing the emergence of the Thomas court.

nikolas cruz

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Student to Plead Guilty to Parkland School Shooting, Nick Madigan, Michael Levenson and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 15, 2021. He will plead guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for one of America’s deadliest school shootings. 

The former student who was accused of shooting and killing 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 plans to plead guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, one of his lawyers said on Friday.

The rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, killed 14 students and three faculty members, one of the deadliest shootings in American history. Seventeen other people were wounded.

The former student, Nikolas Cruz, shown above at left, who was 19 at the time and had a history of mental health and behavior problems, used a semiautomatic rifle that he had legally bought to carry out the assault, according to the police.

“It is our intent to enter a change of plea as to both cases to all charges,” David Wheeler, one of Mr. Cruz’s lawyers, said in court on Friday.

Mr. Cruz, now 23, appeared in court shortly after and pleaded guilty to battery and other charges in a separate case related to a fight with a sheriff’s deputy in jail.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer said she would schedule a hearing for Wednesday at 9 a.m. for Mr. Cruz to change his plea in the Parkland shooting case.

The next step would be a penalty phase before a jury in which Mr. Cruz’s lawyers would attempt to avoid a death sentence and argue instead for life in prison. Prosecutors have vowed to pursue the death penalty and said there have been no plea negotiations in the case.

Mr. Cruz appeared in court on Friday wearing a mask, large glasses and a dark sweater over a white collared shirt. He told the judge that he was feeling nervous but that he was thinking clearly and understood the proceedings. When Judge Scherer asked Mr. Cruz if he had any mental issues, he said that he had been told in the past that he suffered from anxiety and depression, but that he felt ready to proceed with Friday’s hearing.

“I don’t believe I have any issues,” he said. He said he had not taken any medication in the past year.

The announcement of planned guilty pleas follows years of witness interviews and other preparations for an emotionally grueling trial that had been expected to last months.

Before the shooting, Mr. Cruz recorded three videos on his cellphone that indicated that he, like many youthful perpetrators of mass shootings, wanted his name to be remembered.

“When you see me on the news, you’ll all know who I am,” he said on one video. “You’re all going to die.”

The shooting led thousands of students who had grown up in an era of school shooting drills and lockdowns to walk out of their classrooms and march for tougher gun control laws and an end to gun violence. Some of the marches were led by teenagers who had survived the Parkland shooting and who quickly emerged as leaders of a younger generation of activists.

Members of March for Our Lives, an organization founded by some survivors of the shooting, said they were “appalled and disgusted” that lawmakers had not done more to reduce gun violence in the wake of the tragedy.

“A single guilty plea does not bring closure as long as it is still possible for another person anywhere in this country to be murdered by a gun at school, in a place of worship, or in their very own home,” the group said in a statement.

 breonna taylor Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Breonna Taylor’s death sparked remarkable changes to no-knock raids across America, Radley Balko, right, Oct. 15, 2021. On March 13, 2020, Louisville police officers burst into the home of Breonna Taylor, above, a Black 26-year-old emergency room technician. When her boyfriend radley balko sayingKenneth Walker woke up and fired his gun at them, police fired back, killing Taylor.

Since that tragedy, something remarkable has happened: 28 states and 20 cities have passed some sort of restrictions on no-knock raids. According to the reform group Campaign Zero, another 14 states and nine cities are currently considering other legislation. Nine states have prohibited no-knocks outright, though some of those bans are more comprehensive than others.

It’s hard to overstate just how much Taylor’s death has changed the politics of this issue. No-knock raids as a policy have been around for nearly 60 years. Yet, despite the long trail of innocent bodies left in their wake, it wasn’t until last year that, for the first time in a generation, lawmakers finally began to ask if sending armed cops barging into homes in the middle of the night might not be the best way to prevent drug addiction.

The dirty secret about the no-knock raid is that it was never a tactic that emerged out of law enforcement organically. Instead, it was a policy born of politics, a wedge issue concocted to exploit middle-class fears about crime and drugs.

For centuries, U.S. courts and British common law recognized a principle known as the Castle Doctrine, which states that the home is a place of peace and sanctuary, and that the government can violate that peace only under extreme circumstances.

Police could enter homes without knocking and announcing themselves only if someone’s life was in danger, if they were chasing a fleeing felon, or in a few other emergency scenarios, after which they were required to justify their actions in court.

The first legislation authorizing no-knock raids as a policy — in which police could get a pre-authorized warrant allowing them to force entry without an announcement — passed in New York in 1964, during the tenure of crusading anti-drug governor Nelson Rockefeller. By 1970, 28 states had a similar law. But the tactic was still rarely used. At the time, New York state police obtained about 12 no-knock warrants per year. By the early 2000s, the NYPD conducted around 15 such raids per day.

robert durst

washington post logoWashington Post, Robert Durst, real estate heir and murder convict, placed on ventilator after positive coronavirus test, Timothy Bella, Oct. 16, 2021. “I’m very concerned about his health,” Dick DeGuerin, one of Durst's attorneys, told The Post of his client's illness. Durst, right, 78, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman.

washington post logoWashington Post, A missing Alabama woman was found dead inside a police van. Her family wants answers, Derek Hawkins, Oct. 16, 2021. Christina Nance had been missing for 12 days when a police officer spotted a pair of shoes next to a prisoner-transport van parked at the Huntsville, Ala., public safety complex. Inside, the 29-year-old Black woman lay dead.

What happened to Nance and why it took police nearly two weeks to find her body Oct. 7 in the busy municipal parking lot remain a mystery — even after officials on Friday released surveillance footage showing someone they said was Nance entering the vehicle and moving around.

Preliminary autopsy results this week showed no signs of trauma or foul play, officials said; the cause of death is under investigation. A separate police inquiry into Nance’s death is ongoing, and a toxicology report is expected in the coming weeks. In the meantime, her family has hired one of the nation’s most high-profile civil rights attorneys, Ben Crump, to represent them as they await answers in the case.

“We will get to the truth of what happened to Christina Nance,” Crump said in a statement. “We lift up Christina’s family with prayer as they mourn this devastating loss.”

A police news conference on Friday offered a partial view into how Nance may have gotten into the vehicle but provided no insight into why she remained there for so long.

Huntsville Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver played video clips showing a person wandering through the parking lot outside police headquarters Sept. 25, then appearing to enter the blue and white van. Footage from the three days that followed showed movement inside the vehicle, McCarver said. The last movement was recorded Sept. 28, he said, noting that investigators had combed through hundreds of hours of video to find those key segments.

Nance’s family members reviewed the video before police presented it publicly. They told local news station WAFF that they were unsatisfied with the footage because it was such poor quality.

“The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance said. “It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted.”

McCarver acknowledged that Nance never should have been able to get into the van in the first place. Department policy requires that police vehicles remain locked.

“It is an accountability issue on our part,” the deputy chief said. “That should not have happened. And now we have to look at that, and we have to make sure that we have things in place so that does not happen again.”

Once Nance was inside, there would have been no way for her to let herself out. The van, which had been out of commission since March, was previously used to transport prisoners, so there were no handles on the interior.

 

JFKFacts.org, From the Secret JFK Files, Praise for a CIA Officer Who Monitored Oswald, Jefferson Morley, right, Oct. 15, 2021. The secret JFK assassinations files now jefferson morley newunder review at the White House include the records of senior CIA officers who knew about the supposed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before President Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963.

The Public Interest Declassification Board, which advises the president on historical issues, has urged President Biden to insure “maximum disclosure” in JFK files, set for release on October 26. Sabato’s Crystal Ball has examined the uneven enforcement of the JFK Records Act.

I want to share with readers, reporters, and Twitter, what is on the public record about these officers, individually and collectively. These files may shed light on the breakdown of presidential security in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

They are certainly relevant to the current White House review of JFK files. These officers were involved in the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald before Kennedy was killed. After Kennedy was dead, they lied about what they knew.

The first is Birch O’Neal, a CIA “mole hunter” who figures at the very beginning of the CIA-Oswald story.

CIA LogoBirch O’Neal was a former FBI man from Georgia who served as station chief in Guatemala in 1954 when a CIA coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz. He went on to work closely with counterintelligence chief James Angleton for many years, serving as chief of the Special Investigations Group (CI/SIG), a secretive office that pursued Angleton’s theory that the Soviet intelligence had a “mole” in the upper ranks of the CIA.

O’Neal was involved in the opening the CIA’s first file on Oswald when the ex-Marine defected to the Soviet Union in November 1959.
‘Sensitive Matters’

O’Neal’s personnel file, largely but not totally declassified in April 2018, disclosed the fact that his primary job responsibility in 1959 was directing “special john newman oswald ciainvestigations.” If O’Neal investigated Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union, or his subsequent return to Texas, or his alleged involvement in Kennedy’s assassination, no trace of it has ever surfaced.

O’Neal also coordinated “sensitive matters” between the CI Staff and the Office of Security, the Agency’s internal police force. The Office of Security opened the Agency’s first file on Oswald in November 1959. At right is the cover of a book by Dr. John Newman, an historian and former official with the National Security Agency.

On the day Kennedy was killed, O’Neal told the FBI that there was “nothing in the CIA file regarding Oswald other than material furnished to the CIA by the FBI and the State Department”–a statement that he almost certainly knew was untrue.

.In fact, the CIA Counterintelligence (CI) Staff had recently received and sent multiple messages about Oswald’s visit to Mexico City.

washington post logoWashington Post, Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd resigns after internal fight over sex abuse investigation, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Oct. 15, 2021. Ronnie Floyd, the acting CEO of the business arm for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has resigned from his position as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee after a weeks-long internal battle over how the denomination should handle a sex abuse investigation.

Although Southern Baptist churches operate independently from one another, the Nashville-based Executive Committee handles the business of the SBC, including its $192 million cooperative program that funds its missions and ministries.

Floyd’s resignation comes after weeks of intense debates that played out on Zoom and Twitter over an internal investigation into how the Executive Committee has handled sexual abuse allegations.

The SBC has been rocked by reports of hundreds of sexual abuse cases revealed in a 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle. It has ousted churches that employed pastors who were abusers and set up resources for churches to prevent sexual abuse. However, several sexual abuse survivors have said the denomination has not done enough to investigate and prevent more abuse from happening, because it does not have a way of tracking abusers within its network of churches.

During Executive Committee meetings over the past several weeks, some members argued against waiving attorney-client privilege, which would have given investigators access to records of conversations on legal matters among the committee’s members and staff. They said doing so went against the advice of convention lawyers and could bankrupt the SBC by exposing it to lawsuits. Some committee members resigned over the issue.

Daily Beast, ‘Nightmare’ Mom Accused in Drunken Teen Sex Parties Loved ‘Power,’ Allison Quinn and Justin Rohrlich, Updated Oct. 15, 2021. The Silicon Valley mother was “one of these people who really pulls you in at first,” said one person close to her family. “But there are so many horrible lies.”

daily beast logoThe California mom accused of encouraging sex abuse at booze-fueled parties she arranged for young teens has long been known as a “liar” who leaves a trail of destruction in her wake wherever she goes, a source close to the family told The Daily Beast.

Shannon O’Connor, 47, is accused of a breathtaking array of crimes in Los Gatos, a wealthy Silicon Valley suburb where prosecutors say she lured young teens to “secret” parties, plied them with booze, and encouraged them to engage in “sometimes nonconsensual” sex acts. She was arrested last weekend on a fugitive warrant in Eagle, Idaho, where the source believes she had rented a home to lay low.

There were 10 underage boys and two underage girls at the home where O’Connor was staying when she was arrested—and most of them had spent the night, according to authorities.

O’Connor, who also goes by the name Shannon Bruga, faces a total of 39 charges in Santa Clara County, California, where prosecutors plan to extradite her. The charges include felony child abuse, sexual assault, and providing alcohol to minors. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the allegations against O’Connor “deeply disturbing” in a press release this week. O’Connor is now locked up in a Boise jail awaiting her return to California. She is also facing felony fraud charges in a separate case, accused of running up more than $120,000 in unauthorized expenses on a company credit card while working as an administrative assistant at Aruba Networks.

A 15-page criminal complaint alleges that O’Connor took part in sexual abuse herself, while also apparently facilitating it.

On Dec. 31, 2020, O’Connor allegedly fondled and touched someone identified in court filings as Jane Doe 6, a 14-year-old girl, against her will. O’Connor is also accused of molesting underage kids on three other occasions, with three different alleged victims: two 14-year-old females and one 14-year-old boy.

 

World Conflict, Corruption

ny times logoNew York Times, American Missionaries Kidnapped in Haiti, Officials Say, Maria Abi-Habib, Oct. 16, 2021. As many as 17 Christian missionaries from the United States and their family members, including children, were kidnapped on Saturday by a gang in Port-au-Prince as they were leaving an orphanage, according to Haitian security officials.

Details of the kidnapping remained unclear, but local officials said the missionaries were abducted from a bus headed to the airport to drop off some members of the group before continuing to another destination in Haiti.

Haiti has been in a state of political upheaval for years, and kidnappings of the rich and poor alike are alarmingly common. But even in a country accustomed to widespread lawlessness, the abduction of such a large group of Americans shocked officials for its brazenness.

Violence is surging across the capital, Port-au-Prince. By some estimates, gangs now control roughly half of the city. On Monday, gangs shot at a school bus in Port-au-Prince, injuring at least five people, including students, while another public bus was hijacked by a gang as well.

Up to 17 missionaries and their family members were taken by gangs in the capital of a country where kidnappings have become increasingly common.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Lawmaker’s Killing, the U.K. Confronts a New Episode of Terrorism, Mark Landler, Megan Specia and Stephen Castle, Oct. 16, 2021. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other British leaders paid their respects on Saturday morning at a church east of London where a Conservative lawmaker was fatally stabbed a day earlier, as the country grappled with another apparent episode of lone-wolf terrorism.

boris johnson tieA somber Mr. Johnson, right — joined by the opposition leader, Keir Starmer, and other officials — laid flowers outside the Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, a sleepy seaside community that was convulsed on Friday when the lawmaker, David Amess, was assaulted during a routine meeting with constituents.

The police arrested a 25-year-old man at the scene and said they were conducting searches at two locations in the London area. The Metropolitan Police formally declared the attack a terrorist episode, with a potential link to Islamist extremism, but they have not yet identified the man, who they said they believed United Kingdom flagacted alone. The BBC, citing government sources, reported that he was a British national who appeared to be of Somali heritage.

The brutal attack, at midday and in full view of the public, has stunned the British political establishment and fanned questions about the security of members of Parliament. Lawmakers regularly meet their constituents, unprotected, to hear their concerns and grievances in sessions — known as surgeries — that can at times become heated.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Pledges to Pay Family of Those Killed in Botched Kabul Drone Strike, Eric Schmitt, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The Pentagon offered unspecified amounts to relatives of civilians who died in the attack and agreed to help relocate those who want to move to the U.S.

The Pentagon offered unspecified condolence payments this week to the family of the 10 civilians, including seven children, who the military has acknowledged were mistakenly killed on Aug. 29 in the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

Department of Defense SealIn a statement released late Friday, the Pentagon also said it was working with the State Department to help surviving members of the family relocate to the United States.

The offers were made in a virtual meeting on Thursday between Colin H. Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, and Steven Kwon, the founder and president of Nutrition & Education International, the aid organization that employed Zemari Ahmadi, the driver of a white Toyota sedan that was struck by the American drone.

Senior Defense Department officials and military commanders conceded last month that Mr. Ahmadi had nothing to do with the Islamic State, contrary to what military officials had previously asserted. Mr. Ahmadi’s only connection to the terrorist group appeared to be a fleeting and innocuous interaction with people in what the military believed was an Islamic State safe house in Kabul, an initial link that led military analysts to make one misjudgment after another while tracking Mr. Ahmadi’s movements in the sedan for the next eight hours.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kenyan police called a suspected serial child killer a ‘vampire.’ A mob beat him to death after his escape, Rael Ombuor, Rachel Chason and Amy Cheng, Oct. 16, 2021. Authorities said Masten Wanjala, whose alleged acts were splashed across Kenyan newspaper front pages, had confessed to the homicides of at least 10 children.

When an alleged child serial killer this week escaped from a Nairobi prison, it sparked alarm across Kenya and a national manhunt.

Three days later, he was found by schoolchildren — then beaten to death by a mob in his hometown.

Masten Wanjala — who police said had confessed to killing at least 10 children over a period of five years — allegedly posed as a soccer coach who drugged his victims before executing them. On some occasions, he drank their blood, according to law enforcement.

He was arrested in July in connection with the murder of a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy and then confessed to a spate of other killings, police said.

Wanjala, who had not been convicted, was supposed to appear in court on Wednesday in connection with two of the alleged killings. But authorities said he did not appear for the morning roll call — and then it became apparent he had escaped, making front page news around the country.

The fugitive was spotted Friday by children on their way to school who recognized him, said Kenya Police spokesman Bruno Isohi Shioso.

The villagers in Wanjala’s hometown Bungoma, which is about 250 miles from Nairobi, then decided to take matters into their own hands, Shioso said, killing the 20-year-old man in an act of “mob justice.” They acted so quickly once Wanjala was identified that it was not possible for authorities to intervene, Shioso added. “Police can’t be everywhere.”

“The law of the jungles as applied by irate villages prevailed,” tweeted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

 

U.S. Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Apple fires employee who raised awareness of workplace misconduct allegations at the company, Reed Albergotti, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.).  apple logo rainbowJanneke Parrish said Apple’s global security division informed her she was suspected of leaking details about a meeting. Parrish alleges she was fired in retaliation for her involvement in #AppleToo.

Janneke Parrish, a product manager on Apple Maps who is based in Texas, was involved in #AppleToo, a movement aimed at improving working conditions at the company, particularly for traditionally underrepresented groups. Parrish has been running the #AppleToo digest, a collection of anonymous stories from Apple employees who offered personal stories alleging discrimination and other labor violations at the company.

Parrish said in an interview with The Washington Post that she was under investigation by Apple’s global security division, which told her she was suspected of leaking details about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Sept. 18 virtual Town Hall meeting, where he addressed allegations of workplace misconduct at the company in front of all employees.

 

Oct. 15

Top Headlines


Virus Victims, Responses

 

Inside DC

 

Jan. 6, Pro-Trump Coup Investigations

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

 

U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

 

World Conflict, Corruption

 

Media, Academic News

 

Top Storiescapitol riot policeman down

Shown above at center is a policeman battered to the ground defending the U.S. Capitol by the pro-Trump mob of insurrectionists on Jan. 6 seeking to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and thereby allowing the Biden Presidency to proceed.

ABC News, US Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction related to Jan. 6 attack, Alexander Mallin and Luke Barr, Oct. 15, 2021 (6:21 min. video.). He made a abc news logocourt appearance Friday afternoon.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice over allegations he encouraged an alleged participant of the Jan. 6 riot to delete social media posts that showed the person joining the pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, authorities said Friday.

Michael Riley, an officer with more than 25 years of experience, was not on duty inside the Capitol building itself during the riot -- but afterward messaged an unidentified individual over Facebook who allegedly had posted selfies and other videos showing themselves inside the Capitol, an indictment said.

"Hey [Person 1], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance," Riley allegedly wrote. "Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to [be] charged. Just looking out!"

The person then exchanged dozens of more messages with Riley showing them inside and outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the indictment.

"I get it... it was a total sh** show!!!" Riley allegedly wrote. "Just wanted to give you a heads up... Im glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad," the indictment said.

The two continued to converse over Facebook direct messaging for several days after, according to charging documents. In one exchange, Riley joked the alleged rioter could come stay with him in D.C. at a later date and he could arrange a tour for him so he could "legally" see it, authorities said.
.
The alleged rioter was later arrested on Jan. 19, according to the charging documents, and the individual told Riley "the fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you" and warned him they would likely be reaching out to him, according to the indictment.

Riley then allegedly deleted all of his Facebook messages to and from the rioter, the charges said.

Later, according to the indictment, Riley sent a message to the rioter saying a mutual friend sent him a video showing the man smoking weed in the Capitol, and said it made him so "shocked and dumbfounded" that he deleted all of their prior messages.

Riley made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon following his arrest on two counts of obstruction of justice. The government did not seek his detention and he was ordered released on several conditions, including that he remove any firearms from his home. He did not enter a plea in the case. His attorney said they expected he will be arraigned on both charges sometime later this month.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger called the allegations “very serious” and said the officer is being placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the case. The officer will also be subjected to an administrative USCP investigation. The officer had worked most recently as a K-9 tech.

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Key Part of Biden’s Climate Agenda Likely to Be Cut From Budget Bill, Coral Davenport, Oct. 15, 2021. President Biden’s clean electricity program is said to likely drop after Senator Joe Manchin told the White House that he strongly opposes it. White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies to cut emissions.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy — will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists familiar with the matter.

Senator Joe Manchin III, left, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to passage of the bill, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to three of those people. As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut Dick Shelbyemissions.

The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.

Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.

“This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy, who has been advising Senate Democrats on how to craft the program. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad.”

The setback also means that President Biden will have a weakened hand when he travels to Glasgow in two weeks for a major United Nations climate change summit. He had hoped to point to the clean electricity program as evidence that the United States, the world’s largest emitter of planet-warming pollution, was serious about changing course and leading a global effort to fight climate change. Mr. Biden has vowed that the United States will cut its emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

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washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. prepares to restore ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy along border, Nick Miroff, Oct. 15, 2021. Federal courts have ordered the Biden administration to restart the Trump-era program that sent at least 60,000 back to Mexico.

The Biden administration is prepared to reimplement the Trump-era border policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols in mid-November if the Mexican government agrees to accept the return of asylum seekers to its territory, administration officials said Thursday.

In August, a U.S. District Court in Texas ordered the Biden administration to restart MPP, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” faulting the White House for ending the program improperly. The Supreme Court upheld the decision, forcing Biden officials to restore a policy the president has deplored as inhumane.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement late Thursday it is “taking necessary steps to comply with the court order, which requires us to reimplement MPP in good faith.”

MPP cannot resume without Mexico’s consent, as the court acknowledged in its ruling, and administration officials said they are taking steps to address the concerns of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador by setting up better access to legal counsel for asylum seekers and exemptions for vulnerable migrants.

“Mexico is a sovereign nation that must make an independent decision to accept the return of individuals without status in Mexico as part of any reimplementation of MPP,” the DHS statement said. “Discussions with the Government of Mexico concerning when and how MPP will be reimplemented are ongoing.”

The Trump administration used MPP to return more than 60,000 asylum seekers across the border to Mexico, requiring them to wait outside U.S. territory as their claims were processed in U.S. courts. The policy was conceived by Trump officials as a way to prevent border-crossers from being released into the United States — and avoiding deportation — by making asylum claims.

Biden halted MPP soon after taking office, and when border crossings skyrocketed this spring, Biden was asked if he made a mistake by moving too quickly to end MPP and other Trump-era controls.

“Rolling back the policies of ‘Remain in Mexico,’ sitting on the edge of the Rio Grande in a muddy circumstance with not enough to eat and — I make no apologies for that,” the president told reporters in March. “I make no apologies for ending programs that did not exist before Trump became President, that have an incredibly negative impact on the law, international law, as well as on human dignity.”

The GOP-run states of Texas and Missouri filed suit against the administration in the Northern District of Texas, saying the abrupt repeal of MPP led to a harmful surge of illegal immigration. The number of migrants taken into custody along the Mexico border this year is at the highest level in at least two decades.

ny times logoNew York Times, Italy Puts in Force Tough New Law Requiring Workers to Test or Vaccinate, Jason Horowitz, Oct. 15, 2021. The rollout went more or less smoothly, with only scattered protests, as the majority of citizens accepted the “Green Pass” as a tolerable sacrifice.

Italy on Friday set a new bar for major Western democracies seeking to move beyond the pandemic by enacting a sweeping law that requires the nation’s entire work force — public and private — to have government-issued health passes, essentially forcing Italians to choose between getting a pass and earning a living.

italy decalWith the step, Italy, the first democracy to quarantine towns and apply national lockdowns, is again first across a new threshold, making clear that it is willing to use the full leverage of the state to try to curb the pandemic and get the economy moving.

Italy’s measures, which require proof of vaccination, a negative rapid swab test or recent recovery from Covid-19 to go to the workplace, now stand as some of the toughest among Western democracies, which have struggled to balance public health needs with civil liberty concerns.

For many Western governments, that has resulted in refraining from national mandates while seeking other ways to encourage, coax and even mildly coerce people to get vaccinated.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has tried to make life uncomfortable for unvaccinated people, requiring a health pass to enter restaurants and for long-distance train travel, for instance, but has mandated vaccines only for some essential workers.

President Biden has appealed to private companies to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for employees, asking them to take the initiative as an effort that he announced in September to require 80 million U.S. workers to get the shot undergoes a lengthy rule-making process.

Under Italy’s new rules, those who do not have a Green Pass, as the health certificate is called, must take unpaid leave. Employers are responsible for verifying the certificates, which are for the most part shown on a cellphone app, though hard copies are also acceptable. Workers risk fines of up to 1,500 euros — or about $1,750 — for not complying.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Plan New Bid to Break G.O.P. Voting Rights Filibuster, Carl Hulse, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Senate Democrats will try again next week to advance a voting rights measure, Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, announced on Thursday, though Republicans are expected to maintain their filibuster against the legislation backed by all Democrats.

democratic donkey logoIn a letter laying out the coming agenda for the Senate, Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said he would schedule a vote for next Wednesday to open debate on voting rights legislation that he and fellow Democrats say is needed to offset new restrictions being imposed by Republican-controlled state legislatures around the nation.

Dick Shelby“We cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills,” Mr. Schumer said in the letter. “The Freedom to Vote Act is the legislation that will right the ship of our democracy and establish common sense national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans.”

His decision intensifies pressure on Senator Joe Manchin III, right, Democrat of West Virginia, who had initially been his party’s lone holdout on a sweeping voting rights measure passed by the House. Mr. Manchin helped draft a compromise version that he said he hoped could draw bipartisan backing, and sought time to win over Republicans to support it, but there is little evidence that any G.O.P. senators have embraced the alternative.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court rules against Justice Dept., Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 14, 2021. In a brief 2-1 order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit refused the Justice Department’s request to reinstate an earlier court ruling that had blocked enforcement of the Texas law.nation’s most restrictive abortion law remains in place for now, after a federal appeals court on Thursday sided with the state of Texas.

In a 2-to-1 order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit refused the Justice Department’s request to reinstate an earlier court ruling that temporarily lifted the ban, which bars abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy and makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The four-sentence order, which is expected to be appealed the Supreme Court, was backed by Judges James C. Ho, a nominee of President Donald Trump, and Catharina Haynes, a nominee of President George W. Bush. It did not detail the court’s reasoning, but noted the dissent of Judge Carl E. Stewart, a nominee of President Bill Clinton.

The order follows a temporary decision last week by the same panel of judges to reinstate the ban, less than 48 hours after it was suspended by the lower-court judge. The decision was based on previous rulings in a separate challenge, which said that because the ban is enforced by private individuals, and not government officials, it is not clear when and how the law can be challenged in federal court.

The battle over the law’s enforcement mechanism has effectively halted almost all abortions in Texas, even though no court has addressed whether the ban violates past Supreme Court decisions guaranteeing the right to an abortion until viability, usually about 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Since Sept. 1, patients seeking to terminate their pregnancies have been driving hours to other states, including Oklahoma and Kansas, according to providers and advocates. Those who lack the money to make such trips, or cannot leave work or child-care commitments, are forced to continue with unwanted pregnancies.

A dozen other states have passed laws that are as restrictive as the one in Texas, which bans abortion after a physician detects cardiac activity in the womb. But federal judges have prevented those laws from taking effect, finding them at odds with Roe v. Wade and other rulings.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Lurching Between Crisis and Complacency’: Was This Our Last Covid Surge? Emily Anthes, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Rising immunity and modest changes in behavior may explain why new recorded cases in the U.S. have declined more than 40 percent since August. But scientists say that despite the optimism heading into the winter season, it is too soon to abandon basic precautions.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Panel Recommends Johnson & Johnson Boosters, Noah Weiland, Carl Zimmer and Sharon LaFraniere, The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel unanimously voted on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.

johnson johnson logoBefore the vote, a top federal health official, Dr. Peter Marks, said that the agency might consider regulatory action that would allow Johnson & Johnson recipients to receive a booster shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines. But Dr. Marks, who oversees the F.D.A.’s vaccine division, gave no timetable for any decision, saying only that authorization of a different vaccine as a booster for Johnson & Johnson recipients was “possible.”

Many members of the panel said that a second dose was important because the first dose did not provide strong enough protection. Unlike the other vaccines available in the United States, Johnson & Johnson chose to seek authorization for a single dose — a decision that some members of the committee couched as a mistake in hindsight.

“I think this frankly was always a two-dose vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offitt, an infectious disease expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Representatives from Johnson & Johnson presented their case Friday morning during a meeting of the advisory panel, arguing that a second dose given either two months or six months after the first shot increased antibody levels, part of the immune response to vaccines. They also said that the single dose of the vaccine remained durable.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Panel Recommends Moderna Boosters for Many Who Got That Vaccine, Staff Reports, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). An agency panel moderna logoendorsed an extra shot from Moderna for people 65 and older and younger adults at high risk because of their medical conditions or jobs. Johnson & Johnson has also asked the F.D.A. to authorize its boosters, and the committee will vote on its request on Friday. Here’s the latest.

  • Biden calls on businesses to ‘step up’ as he expresses optimism about the fight against the virus.New
  • Has the U.S. seen its last coronavirus surge? Don’t count on it, experts say.
  • Here’s a snapshot of where things stand on boosters for the three vaccines in use in the U.S.
  • Here’s why many Black Americans changed their minds about Covid shots.

washington post logoWashington Post, Weekly jobless claims fall below 300,000 for first time since pandemic, Aaron Gregg, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell below 300,000 for the first time since the pandemic, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The 36,000 drop brought the weekly count to 293,000 and strikingly close to the pre-pandemic mark of 256,000. Though the coronavirus pandemic is keeping some workers on the sidelines, a protracted labor shortage has left many businesses struggling to fill jobs.

In March and April of 2020, more than 20 million workers lost their jobs ― at one point totaling more than a million a day ― as pandemic-inflicted closures took their toll on the country’s service-centric economy. In the 18 months since, the jobless ranks have shrunk significantly.

The decreasing number of layoffs may have less to do with a strong economy than workers’ decisions to leave voluntarily, however. Americans are quitting their jobs at historically high rates, as about 4.3 million left their jobs in August, according to Labor Department data reported Tuesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to meet with pope to discuss coronavirus, climate change, caring for poor, Amy B Wang and Chico Harlan, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.).  President Biden will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Oct. 29 during a trip to Europe for two high-profile global summits, the White House announced Thursday.

joe biden twitterBiden and Francis will discuss “working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Biden, the United States’ second Catholic president, has been at the center of a debate within the Catholic Church about whether he should be able to receive Communion because of his support for abortion rights.

First lady Jill Biden will join her husband in meeting Francis. Biden will already be traveling to Rome for the Group of 20 summit, hosted by Italy. His meeting with the pope had been widely anticipated.

Daily Beast, Fully Vaccinated 21-Year-Old Student Dies of COVID-19, Blake Montgomery, Oct. 15, 2021. A 21-year-old student whose family said he had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 died of the respiratory infection Monday. Shawn Kuhn was a senior studying exercise and sports science at the University of Georgia, where he had made the Dean’s List.

daily beast logoHis older sister, Sharla Brook, told The Red & Black, the school’s paper, that her brother had been inoculated against the coronavirus but that he still spent six weeks fighting pneumonia brought on by COVID-19.

His father Timothy wrote on Facebook, “You were everything your mother and I could have ever asked for and so much more… Just know that your mother and I love you more than you could ever imagine and we could not be any more proud of the man you grew to be.”

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 15, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 240,513,906, Deaths: 4,899,933
U.S. Cases:     45,639,563, Deaths:   741,898
India Cases:     34,037,592, Deaths:   451,847
Brazil Cases:    21,612,237, Deaths:   602,201

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 218 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.15, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 188 million eligible who are fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

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Inside DC

stefan bieret fairfax policeDaily Beast, Assistant House Sergeant at Arms Arrested on Child Porn Charges, Corbin Bolies, Oct. 15, 2021. An assistant to the House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms faces multiple charges of child pornography, police in Fairfax County, Virginia, said Thursday.

daily beast logoStefan Bieret, 41, shown above in a Fairfax County mug shot, was arrested Thursday on 10 felony counts of child pornography, his arrest stemming from a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after it noticed an illicit upload from a Dropbox account.

Search warrants revealed the account belonged to Bieret, leading to a search of his home. Bieret was later transferred to a Fairfax County jail, where he is being held without bond. Police said they are still examining the evidence obtained from Bieret’s home and will use it to determine whether any other charges can be pressed.

Punchbowl News reporter Jake Sherman said on Twitter that Bieret was a known figure at the House. “Capitol insiders will know Stefan very well,” he wrote. “A longtime employee of the House Sargent at Arms. If you’re in the Capitol on a regular basis, you will have seen this face.”

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017

Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, fired by Donald Trump, regained his pension. He is shown above in a file photo of testimony before Congress, and below at left in connection with his post-firing book, The Threat.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-FBI leader Andrew McCabe, fired by Trump, regains pension in Justice Dept. settlement, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 14, 2021. McCabe approved the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe and briefly succeeded James B. Comey. He was dismissed hours before his retirement in March 2018.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe won back his pension Thursday after the Justice Department settled rather than face a federal lawsuit asserting he was illegally fired for political reasons in March 2018 for overseeing the FBI’s Russia investigation after becoming the target of a leak investigation himself.

andrew mccabe the threat detailsThe longtime FBI official approved the decision in May 2017 to investigate then-President Donald Trump over possible obstruction of justice and briefly led the bureau after Trump fired Director James B. Comey in 2017. But McCabe was fired hours before his retirement by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In Thursday’s settlement, the Justice Department admitted no wrongdoing. But the Biden administration rescinded McCabe’s dismissal, restored his full pension and other benefits, and allowed him to officially retire and receive about $200,000 in missed payments.

“Politics should never play a role in the fair administration of justice and civil service personnel decisions,” McCabe said in a statement through the Arnold & Porter law firm, which posted the settlement. “. . . I hope that this result encourages the men and women of the FBI to continue to protect the American people by standing up for the truth and doing their jobs without fear of political retaliation.”

The firm, which the New York Times reported will donate its share of $500,000 in fees to its foundation, cited the principle that civil servants pledge their loyalty to the Constitution, not one person or political party.

Justice Department log circular“This settlement and the district court’s rulings make clear that attempts to corrupt the federal workforce through partisan intimidation and improper political influence will not go unanswered,” attorney Murad Hussain said.

McCabe was one of several former high-ranking law enforcement officials to testify before Congress about the Russia probe. He has said he believed he had a duty to investigate whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the election.

A special counsel probe reported that it could not establish coordination but described 10 episodes of potential obstruction by Trump, and noted that Justice Department guidelines have long held that a sitting president could not be charged with a crime.

The relationship between Trump and McCabe, whose FBI career began in 1996, was fraught from the start. McCabe was named deputy director by Comey in 2016. However, the former career law enforcement official has alleged that Trump in one of their early talks called his wife, Jill McCabe, a “loser” because of her failed run for a state Senate seat in Virginia.

Trump denied that but frequently launched public attacks against McCabe, branding him part of a “deep state” conducting a “witch hunt” against him.

FBI logoAfter McCabe’s retirement plans were reported in December 2017, Trump tweeted, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”

When McCabe was fired, Trump called it a “great day for Democracy” and suggested he should be charged with a crime.

The Justice Department’s inspector general’s office did refer McCabe’s case to federal prosecutors for a 2016 media leak regarding FBI investigations of Hillary Clinton.

McCabe has long asserted that he did nothing wrong, saying that Trump pressured Sessions to remove him as part of a plot by Trump to remove those who were not politically loyal to him.

President Donald Trump official“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents,” his lawsuit asserted, adding that McCabe’s firing “was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme.”

The criminal pursuit of McCabe ultimately ended in February 2020, when a grand jury did not return an indictment against him.

But that came only after a federal judge called on prosecutors either to charge McCabe or drop their long-running investigation, saying their indecision was continuing to undermine the credibility of the department.

Citing Trump’s repeated personal attacks on McCabe, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, said at the time: “I just think it’s a banana republic when we go down that road and we have those type of statements being made that are conceivably, even if not, influencing the ultimate decision. I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue inappropriate pressure being brought to bear.”

The settlement of McCabe’s lawsuit allows the FBI and the Justice Department to avoid the possibility of any embarrassing disclosures or further investigation into whether it sped up its regular disciplinary process just to fire McCabe. A different federal judge handling McCabe’s lawsuit allowed it to go forward last September, rejecting a government motion to dismiss and clearing the way for depositions of high-ranking FBI leaders and Trump Justice Department appointees regarding their handling of the watchdog investigation and McCabe’s termination.

Daily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Bragged Bill Barr was in Charge, Not Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, Oct. 15, 2021. The pedophile told Ehud Barak he had “direct knowledge” that Barr was in charge in DC, according to a new book that also claims Steve Bannon gave Epstein advice on his PR strategy.

daily beast logoA controversial new book from the journalist Michael Wolff claims that the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein bragged that Bill Barr was the man in charge during Trump’s time in office and that the president “lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

The tome, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious and the Damned, also claims that Steve Bannon and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak tried to help Epstein rehabilitate his image, even suggesting that he try to get favorable coverage on Rachel Maddow or 60 Minutes.

According to Wolff—who reportedly tried to buy New York Magazine with Epstein and disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein—Barak asked Epstein the million-dollar question of who was in charge at the White House. “‘What I want to know from you all-knowing people is: Who is in charge, who is,’ [Barak] said, putting on an American accent over his own often impenetrable Israeli one, ‘calling the shots?’ This was a resumption of the reliable conversation around Epstein: the ludicrousness and vagaries of Donald Trump—once among Epstein’s closest friends. ‘Here is the question every government is asking. Trump is obviously not in charge because he is—’”

Wolff claims that Epstein interrupted the former politico and called Trump—his former playboy party pal—a “moron,” then confided, “At the moment, Bill Barr is in charge.” The pedophile financier continued: “It’s Donald’s pattern...he lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

Barak allegedly pressed, “But let me ask you, why do you think this Barr took this job, knowing all this?”

“The motivation was simple: money,” Epstein replied. “Barr believes he’ll get a big payday out of this ... If he keeps Donald in office, manages to hold the Justice Department together, and help the Republican Party survive Donald, he thinks this is worth big money to him. I speak from direct knowledge. Extremely direct. Trust me.”

The book also claims that Epstein and Barak, along with Epstein’s lawyer Reid Weingarten, called Steve Bannon—“a new friend [who] had been introduced in December 2017”—and talked over a PR strategy with him to rehabilitate Epstein’s image after the damaging expose by The Miami Herald dredged up allegations that Epstein had molested and raped dozens of underage girls at his properties in Palm Beach, New York, and on his private island in the Caribbean. (Bannon told The New York Times that he disputed Wolff’s account of the conversation and that he “never media-trained anyone.”)

Wolff claims that Bannon laughed to Epstein, “You were the only person I was afraid of during the campaign,” and that Epstein replied, “As well you should have been.”

The pair had “deeply bonded,” the book says, “partly out of a shared incredulity about Donald Trump ... Bannon was often astonished by what Epstein knew.”

Wolff paints Bannon as a man who was eager to advise Epstein on rehabbing his image, despite the many serious accusations against him that he’d serially preyed on very young and very vulnerable girls. “‘So where is the comms piece in this?’” the book quotes Bannon as asking. “‘Who is handling it? Who’s on point? Are these your people, Reid?’”

The book says Bannon pressed Weingarten, Epstein and Barak about why there was “no communications team” and asked “What was the response from Jeffrey’s side to the Florida story? Who engaged? ... He probably can’t be hated any more. We’ve flatlined on this. He can’t get deader. While the chances of reviving him are remote, what’s the alternative?”

 

Jan. 6, Pro-Trump Coup Investigations 

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump has his own "deep state" and it's more dangerous than any other, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 14-15, 2021. Donald wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallTrump and his acolytes are often complaining about the "deep state."

When asked to describe their "deep state," Trumpists are unable to provide a coherent answer. Some spew forth the stock villains often cited by wayne madesen report logothe far-right: the CIA, the Federal Reserve, the Vatican, George Soros, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, the globalists, and, of course, their traditional target, the Jews.

The one thing that is standard practice with Trump and his supporters is their use of projection, accusing others of what they, themselves, do. And when it comes to charges that the deep state is out to get them, they fail to mention that a much-more clearly defined deep state supports Trump and his anti-democratic goals to destroy the constitutional order of the United States and replace it with a pluto-theocracy. How do we know about Trump's deep state? We have the list of its members.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge postpones lead trial of Oath Keepers accused in Jan. 6 riot, citing delays in disclosing evidence, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A federal judge Thursday postponed the lead trial of accused Oath Keepers associates charged in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol from January to April, conceding that continuing delays in the government’s disclosure of a mountain of growing evidence made a trial this winter impossible.

amit mehta CustomU.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington, right, said he was “not close” to barring federal prosecutors from introducing new evidence but ordered them next week to set a self-imposed deadline for the effective end of their investigation into the case.

“I can’t order the government to stop collecting relevant evidence,” Mehta said, but at the same time defendants have constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial.

“What I really want to know is . . . when is this information going to become available?” Mehta said. “And I mean all of it. Not just a small piece of it. I mean all of it. And that’s something . . . every judge on this court wants to know, and every defendant wants to know.”

The trial delay was expected but provides the latest example of how an unprecedented amount of video and social media evidence from the Capitol breach probe, along with problems getting electronic evidence to defendants at the D.C. jail is blowing up trial calendars that have already been backlogged for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not just Jan. 6 defendants subject to these conditions, it’s any detainee in this jail,” Mehta made clear, adding, “We are in constant communication with the [D.C.] Department of Corrections on these issues, in particular, getting access to defense counsel and access to discovery.”

For example, Maryland defendants Willis Pierre Lewis and Brittany Jones were set to begin a federal trial on Oct. 18 in Washington on child sex trafficking charges after being jailed since 2019.

But two weeks ago, a judge delayed the trial again to May, saying that “the total inability and incompetence of the officials of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections . . . to support this Court’s efforts has made it impossible.”

One factor in the Oath Keepers case is that the investigation remains ongoing, while the first defendants were charged Jan. 18.

Carmen D. Hernandez, attorney for charged Ohio militia member Donovan Crowl, said at the hearing that just last week, prosecutors for the first time turned over 14 additional chats on the Signal encrypted messaging app, “which the government claims includes evidence of planning and vital information to this case.”

The government has charged 18 alleged associates of the extremist anti-government group in a single indictment on counts including conspiracy and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress as it met to confirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win, felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Two have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators in prosecution deals, with the rest pleading not guilty. Other accused associates have been charged or admitted guilt in free-standing cases.

Roll Call, Kashyap Patel ditches Jan. 6 deposition, Jim Saksa and Chris Marquette, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Ex-Pentagon official continues to ‘engage’ with House select committee, says Rep. Kinzinger.

kash patel o croppedKashyap Patel, left, a former Defense Department official in the Trump administration who was involved in security planning and responding to the Jan. 6 insurrection, did not appear Thursday for his scheduled deposition before the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.

“He didn’t show up. He’s continuing to engage,” Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the panel, told CQ Roll Call. “We have a limited threshold of patience for that.”

The committee is set to meet later Thursday.

Although Patel didn’t show up for his scheduled deposition, he has been fundraising off the subpoena issued to him and has criticized the panel as “corrupt.”

Stephen Bannon, a former Donald Trump adviser, was also scheduled to appear Thursday, but he has indicated he would not comply with the panel’s investigation. Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino, the former White House deputy chief of staff for communications, are supposed to testify Friday.

“I’ll tell you the committee is determined that we are going to — even if, you know, like it takes a while to get it to happen,” Kinzinger said. “We’re gonna do everything we can to compel that.”

Later on Thursday, the select committee announced it will refer Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress because he has refused to cooperate with the panel’s subpoenas requesting records and testimony.

The panel will vote to adopt a contempt report regarding Bannon on Oct. 19.

washington post logoWashington Post, A soldier charged in the Capitol riot enlisted in Army months after FBI interviews, Alex Horton, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A man who was arrested last week for allegedly spraying chemical agents at police during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was able to enlist in the Army months later, officials said, highlighting questions over the military’s efforts to weed out recruits with extremist ties and behavior.

Spec. James Phillip Mault, 29, was taken into custody at Fort Bragg in North Carolina last week, said Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the installation. Mault had enlisted in May, Buccino said, months after videos of his involvement in the riot were shared with the FBI, which interviewed Mault and his family.

It was Mault’s second time joining the active-duty Army. Currently a combat engineer, he also served from 2012 to 2016, including a deployment to Kuwait, and then served in the Army National Guard before leaving last year, Army officials said.

Mault’s charges include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and civil disorder, according to court documents. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

Interviewed by the FBI in January, according to court papers, Mault admitted being outside when a violent mob breached the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the election certification for President Biden but denied entering the building.

After Mault enlisted and passed various screening checks, he was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division. At some point, while undergoing further security checks, his alleged involvement in the riot “was flagged by our investigators,” said Lt. Col. Uriah Orland, a Pentagon spokesman. Orland said he did not yet have information about when the Defense Department became aware of that information.

Mault is at least the sixth person arrested on federal charges in connection with the riot while serving in the military, though his circumstance of enlisting afterward is unusual. The others are an active-duty Marine Corps officer and two part-time soldiers in the Army Reserve and two in the National Guard.

washington post logoWashington Post, Marine officer pleads guilty to disrespecting senior officials, says his life spiraled down after posting viral videos, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A Marine officer pleaded guilty on Thursday to several criminal charges in connection with viral videos he posted criticizing senior officials during the United States' messy withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that he knew he was being disrespectful and wanted to call out what he perceived as "incompetence."

stuart schellerLt. Col. Stuart Scheller, right, a combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, testified that he knew he was defying orders and that his life began “spiraling” down after he posted his first video in August. He said his wife left him, fellow Marine officers turned their backs on him and the Marine Corps opened an investigation into his actions. Scheller said he continued posting after receiving positive feedback from backers, including elected officials.

“Many Gold Star families, junior enlisted Marines and members of Congress reached out to support my statements,” Scheller said, referring in part to the families of service members who died in the line of duty.

Scheller pleaded guilty to charges that include disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, and dereliction in the performance of duties. An agreement reached between Scheller and the Marine Corps holds that a military judge, Col. Glen Hines, can sentence him to no more than a letter of reprimand and a seizure of two-thirds of his pay for up to 12 months, which would cost Scheller tens of thousands of dollars. Sentencing is expected on Friday.

Scheller became a cause celebre among conservatives who faulted the Biden administration for the chaotic end to the 20-year war — a point underscored by witnesses his lawyers called to the stand.

Among those testifying on his behalf were Rep. Louie Gohmert (R.-Tex.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), two of the most controversial members of Congress. They questioned why Scheller has been prosecuted for his actions when senior U.S. officials such as President Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have not.

marjorie taylor greene headshotGreene, left, under oath, called for the impeachment of Biden for his handling of Afghanistan and said her office has been flooded with calls in support of Scheller. She also accused U.S. troops who carried out a drone strike that killed civilians in the closing days of the United States’ withdrawal of “war crimes.”

But Scheller ran afoul of numerous military regulations and laws. He agreed as part of his guilty plea that service members do not have the same freedom of speech to criticize senior U.S. officials as civilians, and he acknowledged that he disobeyed a direct order to stop posting his criticisms on social media.

In an 11-page stipulation of facts discussed in court, prosecutors laid out 27 instances in which Scheller disrespected senior officials and brought discredit to himself as a Marine Corps officer. Scheller signed the document as part of the plea deal.

After the first video posted, Scheller was fired as the commander of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune, a sprawling Marine Corps base that is home to tens of thousands of Marines in coastal North Carolina.

Scheller posted a second video on Aug. 29 in which he said he was resigning his commission and that if viewers followed him they could bring “the system down.”

Scheller posted two more videos, including a second in a khaki service uniform in which he solicited donations through a nonprofit called the Pipe Hitter Foundation. It was launched by the family of retired Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of murder in Iraq in 2019. Soliciting donations while in uniform went against Marine Corps policy, Scheller acknowledged under oath on Thursday.

After defying orders to stop posting on social media, Scheller was thrown in the brig in September. He said he thinks he was “imprisoned illegally,” but acknowledged he had been warned several times by a commanding officer, Col. David Emmel.

Related Headlines:

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asserts dominance in GOP, pushing party to embrace false claims of fraud, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). As many Republican candidates follow his lead, some party strategists worry that the former president’s relentless focus on the 2020 election will keep GOP voters from the polls.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer president Donald Trump has in the past week threatened electoral defeat for Republicans who dismiss his election falsehoods, inserted himself into the Virginia governor’s race to the delight of Democrats, and promised to root out disloyal GOP officials in legislative primaries in Arizona and Michigan.

With more than a year to go before the midterm elections, the former president is leaving no corner of the party untouched as he moves to assert his dominance, both in public and behind the scenes. His stepped-up efforts create a conundrum for many of the party’s strategists and lawmakers, who believe they could have a banner election year in 2022 if they keep the focus on President Biden and his agenda.

But Trump has repeatedly turned the focus back onto the 2020 election. He moved into new territory Wednesday when he released a statement threatening the GOP with ballot-box repercussions if candidates do not embrace his false claims that the White House race was rigged.

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” Trump said, part of a barrage of statements on the election and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that he sent out this week. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Funding Fight Threatens Plan to Pump Billions Into Affordable Housing, Glenn Thrush, Oct. 15, 2021. A voucher program is at risk of being sharply scaled back as the White House seeks to slash its social policy package to appease two centrist senators.

Audrey Sylve, a retired bus driver, has spent 13 agonizing years on a waiting list for a federal voucher that would help cover rent for an apartment in one of America’s most expensive housing markets.

This summer it seemed that help was finally on the way.

In late July, congressional Democrats introduced a $322 billion plan to bolster low-income housing programs as part of the $3.5 trillion social spending plan embraced by President Biden. At its center is a $200 billion infusion of aid for the country’s poorest tenants, which would allow another 750,000 households to participate in a program that currently serves two million families.

Affordable-housing advocates saw it as a once-in-a-generation windfall that would allow local governments to move thousands of low-income tenants like Ms. Sylve, 72, off waiting lists and to expand aid to families at the highest risk of homelessness.

But optimism has given way to anxiety. Low-income housing, and the voucher program in particular, are among those most at risk of being sharply scaled back as the White House seeks to slash the package to accommodate the demands of two centrist Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, according to several people involved in the talks.

Congressional negotiators are seeking to cut the overall size of the 10-year package, in coordination with the White House, to between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion. Housing is just one of several high-price priorities on the chopping block in the negotiations.

Yet proponents say no other proposal is likely to have as immediate an effect on the lives of the country’s most vulnerable as the increase in rental assistance because it addresses a foundational problem: securing an affordable place to live when rents everywhere are outpacing earnings.

ny times logoNew York Times, Illinois Democrats’ Map Aims to Grab 2 G.O.P. Seats in Congress, Reid J. Epstein, Oct. 15, 2021. Illinois Democrats on Friday proposed a new set of highly gerrymandered congressional maps that would consolidate Democratic power in the state’s congressional delegation, most likely cutting the number of Republican seats in the state to three from five.

The proposal would eliminate the Republican-friendly seat held by Representative Adam Kinzinger, right, a Trump antagonist and a Republican whose current district hugs the Chicago exurbs and parts of northern and central Illinois.

adam kinzinger twitterThe maps, if approved by the state’s Democrat-controlled House and Senate, would be among the most gerrymandered in the country. Two districts, designed to elect Democratic candidates, would snake across hundreds of miles of rural areas to connect small Democratic-leaning communities. And 42 of the state’s 102 counties would be split up, according to an analysis from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

The current Illinois House delegation is made up of 13 Democrats and five Republicans. The proposal would most likely result in 14 illinois mapDemocrats and three Republicans. The state is losing a seat to reapportionment.

State lawmakers elsewhere in the nation have also sought to maximize their partisan advantages during the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Oregon Democrats drew just a single Republican district among the six in their state’s new map. In Texas, Republicans are aiming to press their advantage to minimize Democratic districts.

The proposed 17th District of Illinois would stretch in a crescent along the state’s northwestern borders, connecting Rockford in the north to Peoria and the twin cities of Bloomington and Normal, home to Illinois State University. Driving the length of the district without leaving it would cover 332 miles.

Cheri Bustos, a Democrat who is planning to retire, represents the current 17th District.

The new map’s 13th District would connect the diverse suburban communities east of St. Louis, the state capital of Springfield and the college towns of Champaign and Urbana, more than three hours away by car.

The proposal leaves in place one of the nation’s most crooked districts, the jaw-shaped Fourth that connects Hispanic neighborhoods on the North and South Sides of Chicago. In the mouth of the proposed Fourth District sits the Seventh, one of three districts drawn to have a plurality of Black voters.

Mr. Kinzinger, a six-term congressman, has for months said he plans to seek re-election to the House and dismissed suggestions that he run for governor jay pritzker Customagainst the Democratic incumbent, J.B. Pritzker, right, or the Senate, against Senator Tammy Duckworth. But on Friday, with his home drawn into a Democrat-heavy district held by Representative Marie Newman, Mr. Kinzinger said he would consider seeking a different office.

“Following the release of the new congressional maps for Illinois, my team and I will spend some time looking them over and reviewing all of the options, including those outside the House,” Mr. Kinzinger said in a statement released by his office.

In a text message, Mr. Kinzinger said he was “just talking options” and declined to elaborate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats might need GOP help to confirm Biden’s likely FDA pick, Rachel Roubein, Oct. 15, 2021. President Biden is closing in on a pick to lead the FDA. But at least one Democrat is already voicing concerns, leaving White House officials to likely bank on Republican support to get the possible pick over the finish line.

fda logoThe administration has zeroed in on former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf to once again assume the role, my colleagues scooped yesterday. For roughly nine months, the agency has lacked a permanent leader in the midst of a global pandemic, a critical vacancy that’s both alarmed and confounded public health experts.

In choosing Califf, Biden would get somewhat of an old hand, who former officials say could very much be plug and play within the beleaguered agency. The administration would also add to its growing roster of Obama veterans, since Califf led the FDA under the former president for less than a year. He also previously worked as the agency’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco for a year.

(The White House has not confirmed the possible FDA leader. White House secretary Jen Psaki said no final decision has been made.)

Let’s look back to 2016. Califf faced resistance from a handful of Senate Democrats who opposed the longtime Duke University researcher’s ties to pharmaceutical companies that helped fund his work, as well as generally how the FDA had handled the opioid epidemic.

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) voted against his nomination on the Senate floor. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also expressed serious misgivings but missed the vote.

Lawmakers’ offices largely declined to comment in the hours after Califf’s name surfaced yesterday. But at least one Democratic senator wasn’t shy.

“I would have very grave reservations about this nomination – many of the same reservations I expressed when I voted against Dr. Califf’s confirmation in 2016,” Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement to The Health 202.

But still, Califf would be a seemingly safe choice for Biden. Despite some Democratic opposition, his first nomination sailed through the Senate in an 89-4 vote.

Even if the process turns into a bruising battle, Califf’s allies believe he has the credentials to muscle through. The numbers may also be on his side.

“Sixty-five of the 89 senators who originally voted to confirm Califf as FDA commissioner are still serving in the chamber, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.),” who chairs the committee charged with advancing the nomination, The Post’s Tyler Pager, Dan Diamond and Yasmeen Abutaleb write.
When it comes to opposition, the past isn’t always prologue, one longtime FDA observer, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told The Health 202. Some holdout lawmakers may have approved of his time at the agency and may not oppose him this time around. Califf is currently a professor of cardiology at the Duke University School of Medicine. He’s advised Google and its spinoff, Verily Life Sciences, since leaving the federal government.

In conversations with The Health 202, former colleagues described him as a steady hand, independent thinker and an advocate for good data . They also pointed to his expertise in clinical trials, a knowledge base critical for helping evaluate potential vaccines and therapeutics amid the pandemic.

Daily Beast, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Accused of Violating Hatch Act, Corbin Bolies, Oct. 15, 2021. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a Hatch Act complaint alleging White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki violated the law in endorsing Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe from behind the White House briefing room podium.

daily beast logo“We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing,” Psaki said during a Thursday press briefing.

“After the ethics disaster of the Trump administration, there is extra pressure on the Biden administration to be above board,” CREW head Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “It is important to have a concerted effort to comply with important laws, rather than to give repeated passes, in order to restore the American people’s faith in government. We hope the Biden administration will give renewed attention to staying on the right side of this law.”

The incident followed repeated violations of the law, which prevents government employees from endorsing political candidates through their official positions, by Trump officials. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which oversees such complaints, even recommended the firing of former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for a string of violations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump to be questioned next week in N.Y. protest lawsuit, attorney says, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The deposition is related to a lawsuit filed by four men who said Donald Trump’s security guards assaulted them outside Trump Tower in 2015.

Former president Donald Trump will be questioned Monday at Trump Tower by attorneys for a group of protesters who claim Trump’s security guards assaulted them on a New York sidewalk in 2015.

Benjamin N. Dictor, one of the attorneys, said the questioning would begin Monday morning.

“I will be conducting the examination of Donald Trump under oath, at Trump Tower,” Dictor said in a written statement. “We look forward to presenting the video record of his testimony to the jury at his trial.”

The questioning is related to a lawsuit in state court in the Bronx, filed by four men of Mexican descent who were protesting outside Trump Tower in 2015. They wore Ku Klux Klan suits and carried signs protesting Trump’s remarks about Latinos during his first presidential campaign.

The men say Trump’s security guards emerged from the building, grabbed their signs and pushed them. One of the plaintiffs says that Trump’s then-head of security, Keith Schiller, struck him in the head with his fist.

Schiller has said that he was trying to clear the sidewalk and that he struck the man only after being grabbed from behind.

Judge orders Trump to testify in case involving a 2015 fight between his security guards and protesters

Trump was not present during the confrontation. But the plaintiffs sued him anyway, saying that these were his employees — and that his campaign-trail rhetoric gave the impression that they could use force against protesters.

The testimony that Trump gives Monday could be used in a future trial, though no trial date has been set in the case. The case has been delayed by court fights over whether Trump should be forced to testify.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas GOP’s congressional map carves up Rep. Jackson Lee’s district, siphoning off thousands of Black constituents, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A new Texas congressional map shreds Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s Houston-based district, siphoning off thousands of her Black constituents and forcing her into a potential primary against her neighboring Black incumbent, Rep. Al Green (D).

Critics of the new plan say it’s a racial gerrymander intended to weaken Black voices in Congress.

sheila jackson leeJackson Lee, 71, right, is the second-longest-serving member in the Texas delegation, having represented the state’s 18th District for nearly three decades. Since it was won by Barbara Jordan in 1972, the first Black woman to represent the state, the boundaries have largely remained the same.

But now, Texas Republicans in charge of redistricting have advanced a map that would remove downtown Houston, with Jackson Lee’s main district office, two universities and the predominantly Black Third Ward neighborhood, long considered the center of Black life in Houston, from the 18th District. “I’m very hurt,” Green, 74, said in an interview. “I’ve lived long enough to see change and progress; this is a retrogression, it takes us back to a time when persons who had the authority could abuse that authority with impunity, I just hope that this is not just the case.”

al green congressmanGreen, left, and Jackson Lee appealed to the Texas Republicans in a Sept. 29 letter, decrying the new lines as an “act of racial discrimination.” When they received word Tuesday that the map was going before the House redistricting committee the next day, they left Washington late that night to make it to Austin on Wednesday in time to testify against it.

In an interview, Jackson Lee echoed Green’s heartache and said no one has given her an explanation for why she was drawn out of her district.

“There was absolutely no response; this was purposeful racial gerrymandering, which is very shameful in 2021,” she said. “I am stunned, we are hurt, but we’re not giving up.”

Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas chapter of the NAACP, said Republicans who control both chambers of the state legislature “cut it up this way to engage in anti-Black activity. They weren’t paired by accident; they were paired by design.”

Roll Call, Mooney, McKinley put in same district by new West Virginia map, Stephanie Akin, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Mountain State lost one of its three House seats in redistricting.

West Virginia Reps. Alex X. Mooney and David B. McKinley will face each other in a Republican primary next year after the state’s Legislature approved a new congressional map Thursday.

The map, which is headed to Republican Gov. Jim Justice for his signature, puts Mooney and McKinley in the same 2nd District in the northern part of the state, while GOP Rep. Carol Miller was redrawn into the new 1st District. West Virginia is losing one of its three districts to reapportionment after the 2020 census.

Mooney, 50, declared in a statement Thursday that he “will not back down in this fight for the future of America.”

The fourth-term congressman said the country “needs fighters who will stand toe to toe with the radical left who are attempting to turn America into a socialist nation” and touted his membership in the House Freedom Caucus, his status as the son of a Cuban refugee and his “unwavering” support for former President Donald Trump.

McKinley, 74, said in a statement on Facebook that he would seek a seventh term next year because “our work is not done.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Nicholas Kristof resigns from New York Times as he weighs bid for Oregon governor, Amy B Wang and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Nicholas Kristof, a columnist at the New York Times, is leaving the newspaper after 37 years as he continues weighing a bid for Oregon governor, the Times announced Thursday.

nicolas kristoffKristof, who had been an opinion columnist at the Times since 2001, had been on a leave of absence from the newspaper since June as he decided whether to run for political office. Though he has not announced a campaign, Kristof on Tuesday filed a statement to organize a candidate committee with the Oregon secretary of state, specifying the 2022 primary race for Oregon governor.

If he pursues a bid, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, author and former foreign correspondent (shown at left in a file photo, would become one of the most well-known media figures in recent memory to make a run for political office. In a statement about his departure to the Times, Kristof said he was resigning from his dream job “very reluctantly” and alluded vaguely to his possible run for governor in Oregon.

“I’ve been on the ride of a lifetime with The Times. I’ve gotten to know presidents and tyrants, Nobel laureates and warlords, while visiting 160 countries. And precisely because I have a great job, outstanding editors and the best readers, I may be an idiot to leave,” Kristof said.

Kristof, 62, grew up on a farm southwest of Portland, according to Willamette Week. The Times reported in June that Kristof and his wife, writer Sheryl WuDunn, returned to Oregon two years ago and that Kristof had recently become more involved in managing the family farm. In his filing this week to organize a kate brown governorcandidate committee in Oregon, Kristof listed his occupation as “Journalist, Author, Farmer.”

Regardless of whether Kristof enters the race, Oregon’s Democratic gubernatorial primary field could wind up being a crowded one. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), right, is term-limited, and the 2022 Democratic primary field is wide open. At least six people are considering bids, including state Treasurer Tobias Read, state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and state House Speaker Tina Kotek

ny times logoNew York Times, A Democrat Focuses on Voting Rights in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Race, Nick Corasaniti, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Josh Shapiro, a Democratic candidate and the state’s attorney general, has been on the forefront of legal efforts to defend the 2020 election.

pennsylvania map major citiesMr. Shapiro, the state’s attorney general and a Democratic candidate for governor, has been on the forefront of legal efforts to defend the 2020 election.

The 2022 races for governor in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have been viewed by Democrats as a sea wall against a rising Republican tide of voting restrictions and far-reaching election laws. All three states have Republican-controlled legislatures that attempted to pass new voting laws but were blocked by the threat of a veto, and feature Republican candidates who have advocated for new voting laws.

Pennsylvania is the only state with an open race, as current Gov. Tom Wolf is term limited from running again. Mr. Wolf threw his support behind Mr. Shapiro years before he announced, helping to clear the Democratic field.

 Other Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Student to Plead Guilty to Parkland School Shooting, Nick Madigan, Michael Levenson and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 15, 2021. He will plead guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for one of America’s deadliest school shootings. 

The former student who was accused of shooting and killing 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 plans to plead guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, one of his lawyers said on Friday.

The rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, killed 14 students and three faculty members, one of the deadliest shootings in American history. Seventeen other people were wounded.

 breonna taylor Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Breonna Taylor’s death sparked remarkable changes to no-knock raids across America, Radley Balko, right, Oct. 15, 2021. On March 13, 2020, Louisville police officers burst into the home of Breonna Taylor, above, a Black 26-year-old emergency room technician. When her boyfriend radley balko sayingKenneth Walker woke up and fired his gun at them, police fired back, killing Taylor.

Since that tragedy, something remarkable has happened: 28 states and 20 cities have passed some sort of restrictions on no-knock raids. According to the reform group Campaign Zero, another 14 states and nine cities are currently considering other legislation. Nine states have prohibited no-knocks outright, though some of those bans are more comprehensive than others.

It’s hard to overstate just how much Taylor’s death has changed the politics of this issue. No-knock raids as a policy have been around for nearly 60 years. Yet, despite the long trail of innocent bodies left in their wake, it wasn’t until last year that, for the first time in a generation, lawmakers finally began to ask if sending armed cops barging into homes in the middle of the night might not be the best way to prevent drug addiction.

The dirty secret about the no-knock raid is that it was never a tactic that emerged out of law enforcement organically. Instead, it was a policy born of politics, a wedge issue concocted to exploit middle-class fears about crime and drugs.

For centuries, U.S. courts and British common law recognized a principle known as the Castle Doctrine, which states that the home is a place of peace and sanctuary, and that the government can violate that peace only under extreme circumstances.

Police could enter homes without knocking and announcing themselves only if someone’s life was in danger, if they were chasing a fleeing felon, or in a few other emergency scenarios, after which they were required to justify their actions in court.

The first legislation authorizing no-knock raids as a policy — in which police could get a pre-authorized warrant allowing them to force entry without an announcement — passed in New York in 1964, during the tenure of crusading anti-drug governor Nelson Rockefeller. By 1970, 28 states had a similar law. But the tactic was still rarely used. At the time, New York state police obtained about 12 no-knock warrants per year. By the early 2000s, the NYPD conducted around 15 such raids per day.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Alex Murdaugh Charged With Swindling Sons of Dead Housekeeper, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Mr. Murdaugh, the scion of a legal dynasty in South Carolina, is accused of pocketing $2.8 million in settlement money intended for the housekeeper’s family. 

alex murdaugh dad Alex Murdaugh, right, the South Carolina lawyer who has endured a dramatic downfall since his wife and son were shot in an unsolved killing in June, was arrested on Thursday and charged with swindling millions of dollars from the sons of his former housekeeper.

Mr. Murdaugh, 53, was taken into custody at a drug detox center in Orlando, Fla., and charged with two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, a felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He was booked into a jail in Orlando.

The charges stem from a settlement that Mr. Murdaugh and his insurers reached with the sons of the housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018 after falling on the front steps of the Murdaugh family’s rural home in Islandton, S.C. Following Ms. Satterfield’s death, Mr. Murdaugh referred her two sons to a lawyer he promised would help them, the sons claimed in a recent lawsuit, but he did not disclose that the lawyer, Cory Fleming, was a close friend and former college roommate.

Mr. Fleming eventually negotiated a $4.3 million settlement with Mr. Murdaugh under which Ms. Satterfield’s sons, Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott, would be paid about $2.8 million after lawyers’ fees. But the sons said in their latest lawsuit that they were never told about the settlement and never received any money. Instead, according to their suit, Mr. Murdaugh had directed Mr. Fleming to send the money to him, ostensibly to set up a fund for Ms. Satterfield’s adult sons. More than $3 million, the lawsuit said, wound up in Mr. Murdaugh’s personal bank account.

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert Durst Sentenced to Life in Prison for Friend’s Murder, Charles V. Bagli, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A jury found that Mr. Durst killed a longtime friend in 2000 because of what she knew about his wife’s disappearance nearly 40 years ago.

Nearly four decades after his wife’s abrupt disappearance cast a cloud of suspicion that would make his case one of the most notorious in the country, Robert A. Durst was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison for the execution-style killing in 2000 of a close confidante.

JFKFacts.org, From the Secret JFK Files, Praise for a CIA Officer Who Monitored Oswald, Jefferson Morley, right, Oct. 15, 2021. The secret JFK assassinations files now jefferson morley newunder review at the White House include the records of senior CIA officers who knew about the supposed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before President Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963.

The Public Interest Declassification Board, which advises the president on historical issues, has urged President Biden to insure “maximum disclosure” in JFK files, set for release on October 26. Sabato’s Crystal Ball has examined the uneven enforcement of the JFK Records Act.

I want to share with readers, reporters, and Twitter, what is on the public record about these officers, individually and collectively. These files may shed light on the breakdown of presidential security in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

They are certainly relevant to the current White House review of JFK files. These officers were involved in the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald before Kennedy was killed. After Kennedy was dead, they lied about what they knew.

The first is Birch O’Neal, a CIA “mole hunter” who figures at the very beginning of the CIA-Oswald story.

CIA LogoBirch O’Neal was a former FBI man from Georgia who served as station chief in Guatemala in 1954 when a CIA coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz. He went on to work closely with counterintelligence chief James Angleton for many years, serving as chief of the Special Investigations Group (CI/SIG), a secretive office that pursued Angleton’s theory that the Soviet intelligence had a “mole” in the upper ranks of the CIA.

O’Neal was involved in the opening the CIA’s first file on Oswald when the ex-Marine defected to the Soviet Union in November 1959.
‘Sensitive Matters’

O’Neal’s personnel file, largely but not totally declassified in April 2018, disclosed the fact that his primary job responsibility in 1959 was directing “special john newman oswald ciainvestigations.” If O’Neal investigated Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union, or his subsequent return to Texas, or his alleged involvement in Kennedy’s assassination, no trace of it has ever surfaced.

O’Neal also coordinated “sensitive matters” between the CI Staff and the Office of Security, the Agency’s internal police force. The Office of Security opened the Agency’s first file on Oswald in November 1959. At right is the cover of a book by Dr. John Newman, an historian and former official with the National Security Agency.

On the day Kennedy was killed, O’Neal told the FBI that there was “nothing in the CIA file regarding Oswald other than material furnished to the CIA by the FBI and the State Department”–a statement that he almost certainly knew was untrue.

.In fact, the CIA Counterintelligence (CI) Staff had recently received and sent multiple messages about Oswald’s visit to Mexico City.

washington post logo

Washington Post, Analysis: Progressives may not love what Biden’s Supreme Court commission has to say, Theodoric Meyer and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 15, 2021 (print ed.). That's because the commission isn't actually charged with making recommendations, according to the White House. Instead, the draft report is expected to include “an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”

Progressives who want President Biden's Supreme Court commission to endorse dramatic changes to the court — including upping the number of justices from nine to 13 — may be disappointed this afternoon when its draft report is released to the public.

That's because the commission isn't actually charged with making recommendations, according to the White House. Instead, the draft report is expected to include “an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.” Biden won’t weigh in on the draft until it becomes final next month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

Nearly a year ago, Biden pledged to create the commission as a way to buy himself time with progressives pushing him to expand the court as Republicans rushed to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death weeks before the 2020 election, even though Republicans blocked Merrick Garland from getting a hearing four years earlier.

Since Biden fulfilled his promise in April, liberal activists have been trying to convince the commission expanding SCOTUS is the only way to restore balance to it.

“In my over 40 years as head of [the progressive advocacy group Alliance for Justice], I would never before have thought I would be sitting before this Commission advocating for court expansion,” Nan Aron told the commission in July. “It is not something I ever contemplated. But I believe that at this point, there is truly no other choice.”

But the 36-member commission has spent relatively little time discussing court expansion — “court-packing,” to its opponents — in its public meetings this year.

robert bauerInstead, the commission — co-chaired by Bob Bauer, right, a former Obama White House counsel, and Cristina Rodríguez, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration — has heard testimony from dozens of experts on a variety of other proposals.

Several law professors made the case for allowing justices to serve only 18 years on the court before taking on reduced roles — an idea Bauer himself has endorsed in the past.

“My sense was that the 18-year idea does have some traction,” Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor who's argued for Supreme Court term limits for nearly two decades and who testified before the commission in July. “Many of the other proposed reforms I thought met with much more skepticism, like court packing.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd resigns after internal fight over sex abuse investigation, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Oct. 15, 2021. Ronnie Floyd, the acting CEO of the business arm for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has resigned from his position as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee after a weeks-long internal battle over how the denomination should handle a sex abuse investigation.

Although Southern Baptist churches operate independently from one another, the Nashville-based Executive Committee handles the business of the SBC, including its $192 million cooperative program that funds its missions and ministries.

Floyd’s resignation comes after weeks of intense debates that played out on Zoom and Twitter over an internal investigation into how the Executive Committee has handled sexual abuse allegations.

The SBC has been rocked by reports of hundreds of sexual abuse cases revealed in a 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle. It has ousted churches that employed pastors who were abusers and set up resources for churches to prevent sexual abuse. However, several sexual abuse survivors have said the denomination has not done enough to investigate and prevent more abuse from happening, because it does not have a way of tracking abusers within its network of churches.

During Executive Committee meetings over the past several weeks, some members argued against waiving attorney-client privilege, which would have given investigators access to records of conversations on legal matters among the committee’s members and staff. They said doing so went against the advice of convention lawyers and could bankrupt the SBC by exposing it to lawsuits. Some committee members resigned over the issue.

Raw Story, Alabama pastor who raped, impregnated and married 14-year-old won't face jail time: report, Matthew Chapman, Oct. 15, 2021. On Friday, The Birmingham News reported that an Alabama pastor who raped, impregnated, and married a teenage girl will not face jail time, after cutting a plea deal with prosecutors.

"Jason Greathouse, who used to minister in Enterprise but now lives in Tennessee, reached a deal with the Coffee County District Attorney's Office on Thursday that downgrades his charge from second-degree rape, a felony, to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, according to court records," reported Howard Koplowitz. "Greathouse, a resident of Henderson, Tennessee, agreed to serve two years of unsupervised probation for the 2018 incident, which occurred when he was 20 and the victim was 14, records showed. The pastor also does not have to register as a sex offender under the agreement's terms."

Greathouse had married his victim at her parents' demand, the report said.

According to Coffee County District Attorney Tom Anderson, the deal was so generous because "there were extenuating circumstances that would have been allowed to be presented by the defense that very likely could have resulted in a mistrial or even a not guilty by jury nullification."

This comes after earlier this year, another Alabama pastor, Mack Charles Andrews, who was convicted of torturing and raping children, was released after serving just one third of his 15-year prison sentence.

Daily Beast, ‘Nightmare’ Mom Accused in Drunken Teen Sex Parties Loved ‘Power,’ Allison Quinn and Justin Rohrlich, Updated Oct. 15, 2021. The Silicon Valley mother was “one of these people who really pulls you in at first,” said one person close to her family. “But there are so many horrible lies.”

daily beast logoThe California mom accused of encouraging sex abuse at booze-fueled parties she arranged for young teens has long been known as a “liar” who leaves a trail of destruction in her wake wherever she goes, a source close to the family told The Daily Beast.

Shannon O’Connor, 47, is accused of a breathtaking array of crimes in Los Gatos, a wealthy Silicon Valley suburb where prosecutors say she lured young teens to “secret” parties, plied them with booze, and encouraged them to engage in “sometimes nonconsensual” sex acts. She was arrested last weekend on a fugitive warrant in Eagle, Idaho, where the source believes she had rented a home to lay low.

There were 10 underage boys and two underage girls at the home where O’Connor was staying when she was arrested—and most of them had spent the night, according to authorities.

O’Connor, who also goes by the name Shannon Bruga, faces a total of 39 charges in Santa Clara County, California, where prosecutors plan to extradite her. The charges include felony child abuse, sexual assault, and providing alcohol to minors. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the allegations against O’Connor “deeply disturbing” in a press release this week. O’Connor is now locked up in a Boise jail awaiting her return to California. She is also facing felony fraud charges in a separate case, accused of running up more than $120,000 in unauthorized expenses on a company credit card while working as an administrative assistant at Aruba Networks.

The source who knows O’Connor and her second husband, tech executive Robert Amaral, told The Daily Beast that the charges against the middle-aged mom did not come as a shock to her.

“As far as when people say they’re surprised—I’m not surprised,” the source said, suggesting that O’Connor seems to thrive on creating chaos and does it almost habitually. “She’s like a bomb. Wherever she goes, she blows things up.”

Court documents filed by California prosecutors describe O’Connor as someone who habitually threw alcohol-soaked parties for her eldest son and his friends, who were all young teens. She allegedly organized the get-togethers through text messages and Snapchat and supplied booze to the kids, who regularly drank until they either vomited or passed out. O’Connor is also accused of setting aside certain rooms at her home where the teenage partiers could have sex with each other. If a girl refused, according to the court filings, O’Connor would coax and wheedle them until they succumbed to her pressure.

“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”

A 15-page criminal complaint alleges that O’Connor took part in sexual abuse herself, while also apparently facilitating it.

On Dec. 31, 2020, O’Connor allegedly fondled and touched someone identified in court filings as Jane Doe 6, a 14-year-old girl, against her will. O’Connor is also accused of molesting underage kids on three other occasions, with three different alleged victims: two 14-year-old females and one 14-year-old boy.

Prosecutors say O’Connor’s “drunken and destructive house parties” went on throughout 2020 and early 2021. In one instance, O’Connor is said to have “watched and laughed as a drunk teen sexually battered a young girl in bed.” In another case, prosecutors say she “brought one drunk teen into a bedroom at her home where an intoxicated 14-year-old girl was lying in the bed,” leading to the girl being assaulted.

Several teens also suffered injuries at O’Connor’s parties, according to court filings. At one, a teenage boy fell off the back of O’Connor’s SUV after she allegedly plied her 15-year-old son and two of his friends with alcohol, then drove them to a high school parking lot and convinced one of them to drive around while the others hung on to the vehicle’s exterior. When one lost his grip, he fell to the pavement and hit his head, briefly losing consciousness and suffering a severe concussion.

 

World Conflict, Corruption

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Pledges to Pay Family of Those Killed in Botched Kabul Drone Strike, Eric Schmitt, Oct. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The Pentagon offered unspecified amounts to relatives of civilians who died in the attack and agreed to help relocate those who want to move to the U.S.

The Pentagon offered unspecified condolence payments this week to the family of the 10 civilians, including seven children, who the military has acknowledged were mistakenly killed on Aug. 29 in the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

Department of Defense SealIn a statement released late Friday, the Pentagon also said it was working with the State Department to help surviving members of the family relocate to the United States.

The offers were made in a virtual meeting on Thursday between Colin H. Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, and Steven Kwon, the founder and president of Nutrition & Education International, the aid organization that employed Zemari Ahmadi, the driver of a white Toyota sedan that was struck by the American drone.

Senior Defense Department officials and military commanders conceded last month that Mr. Ahmadi had nothing to do with the Islamic State, contrary to what military officials had previously asserted. Mr. Ahmadi’s only connection to the terrorist group appeared to be a fleeting and innocuous interaction with people in what the military believed was an Islamic State safe house in Kabul, an initial link that led military analysts to make one misjudgment after another while tracking Mr. Ahmadi’s movements in the sedan for the next eight hours.

washington post logoWashington Post, Suicide bombing kills dozens at Shiite mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Ezzatullah Mehrdad and Helier Cheung, Oct. 15, 2021. A massive suicide bombing, the second this week, rocked Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 50 people at a Shiite mosque in the country’s south and intensifying concerns that extremist groups are gaining strength in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover.

In the latest attack, multiple suicide bombersstruck a Shiite mosque in the southern city of Kandahar during Friday prayers. No group immediately asserted responsibility, but a similar attack in the northern city of Kunduz last Friday was claimed by the Islamic State.

Taliban police commander Abdul Ghafar Mohammadi said the blasts killed more than 50 people and wounded at least 100. But he said he expects the toll to rise as health workers recover more bodies.

Many victims “remain under the ruined mosque,” Hafiz Abdul Hai Abbas, health director for the province, told The Washington Post earlier in the day.

Many Afghans fear that the attacks demonstrate that the Taliban — now in control of all of Afghanistan — is unable to control other militant and terrorist groups, especially in urban areas. If groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are able to grow in Afghanistan under the Taliban, the country could again become a haven for those intent on launching international attacks.

The attack in Kunduz last week — when a suicide bomber attacked a crowded Shiite mosque during Friday prayers, killing nearly 50 worshipers and wounding dozens more — was claimed by the Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch.

The Taliban, which took power two months ago and is under pressure to protect Afghans from such blasts, condemned the attack as “a big crime” and ordered its fighters to arrest those behind it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deadly fighting rages in Beirut after gunmen fire on protesters, Sarah Dadouch and Nader Durgham, Oct. 14, 2021. Gunmen opened fire on a Hezbollah-organized demonstration Thursday in the Lebanese capital, killing at least six people and raising the specter of renewed violence and revenge attacks across the city.

lebanon resized flagThe brazen assault on Lebanon’s most powerful party, both militarily and politically, represented a dangerous escalation in a country that has been teetering on the edge of collapse for the past year.

Hezbollah, which held the demonstration to call for the removal of the judge investigating a blast that tore through Beirut last year, accused the rival Lebanese Forces, a right-wing Christian movement, of staging the attack, setting up a showdown between the two heavily armed groups.

ny times logoNew York Times, Suspect Confesses in Bow-and-Arrow Rampage in Norway, Cora Engelbrecht and Henrik Pryser Libell, Oct. 15, 2021. Espen Anderson Brathen has been charged with murder in the deaths of five people after the authorities say he went on a killing spree armed with a hunting bow.

The man accused of killing five people and wounding two others with a bow and arrow in the small Scandinavian town of Kongsberg has confessed to the rampage, his defense lawyer said in an interview on Friday.

Espen Anderson Brathen, 37, a Danish citizen and local convert to Islam, “admits to committing the acts he is charged with,’’ said his lawyer, Fredrick Neumann, adding that his client was also undergoing a mental health evaluation “by doctors and health personnel.”

After a court hearing on Friday, his detention was extended as investigators continue to assemble their case, following a horrifying killing spree this week that spread fear in this town of 27,000 people and shocked the entire country.

Mr. Brathen was arrested on Wednesday evening after he entered a Coop Extra supermarket in Kongsberg and began firing arrows from a hunting bow at shoppers, the authorities say. He then stormed through the streets, at one point eluding police and firing arrows in multiple directions, leaving a total of five people dead and two others wounded.

The authorities have said that the attack had the hallmarks of “an act of terror.” Mr. Brathen was a convert to Islam but police have not yet offered a motive for the attack. They are also examining past incidents in which Mr. Brathen exhibited violent tendencies.

Last year, the suspect was given a six-month restraining order at the request of his parents. According to court records, his parents called the police after Mr. Brathen refused to leave their house, threatened to kill his father and left a Colt revolver on their sofa. Mr. Brathen was previously convicted of theft and drug possession.

washington post logoWashington Post, British lawmaker dies after being stabbed multiple times while meeting with constituents, police say, William Booth and Adela Suliman, Oct. 15, 2021. A British lawmaker from the Conservative Party died after being stabbed multiple times in an attack Friday while out meeting constituents in his home district in southeast England.

Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered. No motive was offered.

David Amess, 69, who represented Southend West in Essex, was meeting with locals when he was assaulted. Amess received treatment at the scene of the assault but died there, police said.

Fellow politicians decried the murder of Amess as horrific. Amess is the second British lawmaker since 2016 to be killed while out meeting constituents, raising calls that parliamentarians might need more security. Other lawmakers have been physically attacked and many screamed at and harassed while entering or exiting Westminster Palace.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chile opposition tries to impeach president over Pandora Papers revelations, Erin Cunningham, Oct. 14, 2021. Chilean lawmakers have homed in on documents detailing the sale of a mining company owned in part by President Sebastian Piñera’s children.

chile flagChile’s opposition this week moved to impeach President Sebastián Piñera after revelations included in the Pandora Papers shed new light on his family’s business dealings.

Piñera, a billionaire businessman now serving his second term as president, has denied allegations of financial impropriety.

Lawmakers have homed in on documents detailing the 2010 sale of a mining company owned in part by Piñera’s children. The company, Dominga, was sold for $138 million to an offshore firm controlled by the president’s close friend, Chilean businessman Carlos Alberto Délano.

Last week, Chile’s public prosecutor announced an investigation into the deal, citing possible tax violations and bribery-related offenses. The Pandora Papers are a trove of more than 11.9 million documents exposing the secretive financial dealings of the world’s elite.

 

Media, Academic News 

washington post logoWashington Post, Microsoft will shut down LinkedIn service in China after facing criticism for censoring posts, Jeanne Whalen, Oct. 15, 2021. Microsoft said it will shut down its LinkedIn site inside China, days after facing public criticism for censoring the posts of several U.S. journalists.

china flag SmallIn announcing the decision Thursday, LinkedIn said it was facing “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”

The news brings to an end the last major Western social media site operating in China, where the authorities have long blocked Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other apps.

“Increased repression inside China, and greater criticism from Congress of going along with Chinese regulations, have made it unsustainable” for U.S. social media companies, said Adam Segal, an expert on China and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations.

LinkedIn said it will “sunset” its site later this year, but will launch a new site called InJobs that will not include a social media feed or the ability to share posts or articles.

“Our new strategy for China is to put our focus on helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates,” LinkedIn said. It didn’t provide further details.

Chinese-owned social media apps, such as WeChat and Weibo, are heavily censored to delete content that the authorities deem sensitive. And U.S. users of LinkedIn in recent weeks said they have faced similar censorship on their profiles inside China.

Melissa Chan, an American journalist who has reported for Vice and the Atlantic, also disclosed that LinkedIn had blocked her profile in China over “prohibited” content.

“There remains a lot more questions than answers,” Chan said by email on Thursday. “Did some Chinese authority reach out to LinkedIn with a list of people and posts they had a problem with? Or did LinkedIn take the initiative and do it themselves? Knowing what happened matters.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Blackface ‘Othello’ Shocks, and a Professor Steps Back From Class, Jennifer Schuessler, Oct. 15, 2021. Students objected after the composer Bright Sheng showed the 1965 film of Laurence Olivier’s “Othello” to his class at the University of Michigan.

university michigan logoIt was supposed to be an opportunity for music students at the University of Michigan to learn about the process of adapting a classic literary text into an opera from one of the music school’s most celebrated professors, the composer Bright Sheng.

But at the first class meeting of this fall’s undergraduate composition seminar, when Professor Sheng hit play on the 1965 film of Shakespeare’s “Othello” starring Laurence Olivier, it quickly became a lesson in something else entirely.

Students said they sat in stunned silence as Olivier appeared onscreen in thickly painted blackface makeup. Even before class ended 90 minutes later, group chat messages were flying, along with at least one email of complaint to the department reporting that many students were “incredibly offended both by this video and by the lack of explanation as to why this was selected for our class.”

Within hours, Professor Sheng had sent a terse email issuing the first of what would be two apologies. Then, after weeks of emails, open letters and canceled classes, it was announced on Oct. 1 that Professor Sheng — a two-time Pulitzer finalist and winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant — was voluntarily stepping back from the class entirely, in order to allow for a “positive learning environment.”

To some observers, it’s a case of campus “cancel culture” run amok, with overzealous students refusing to accept an apology — with the added twist that the Chinese-born Professor Sheng was a survivor of the Cultural Revolution, during which the Red Guards had seized the family piano.

 

Oct. 14

Top Headlines

 

Jan. 6, Pro-Trump Coup Investigations

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

 

U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

 

World Conflict, Corruption

 

U.S. Media News

 

Top Stories

djt phone amazon public images

seth abramson graphicProof via Substack, Investigation and Commentary: Revelation Involving January 2 Call Between Trump and Insurrectionist Leaders Confirms That Trump Coordinated the January 6 Coup Personally, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 13-14, 2021 (excerpt continued below). In view of this new information, there can no longer be any doubt that the former president (shown above at the White House in a file photo), his lawyers, and top White House advisers were intimately involved in coordinating the chaos of January 6.

washington post logoWashington Post, Georgia judge dismisses lawsuit alleging voter fraud in 2020 election, Felicia Sonmez and Amy B Wang, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). A Georgia judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against members of Fulton County’s election board, ruling that the plaintiffs, who alleged that there were fraudulent mail-in ballots in the 2020 presidential election, lacked standing to sue.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Brian Amero effectively blocks a small group’s efforts to inspect all 147,000 absentee ballots cast in the state’s largest county last November. It also comes one day after investigators testified that they were unable to find any evidence of fraudulent ballots.

georgia mapRobb Pitts, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, welcomed the decision, describing it as “a win for democracy.”

“This lawsuit was the result of the ‘big lie,’ which is nothing more than a meritless conspiracy theory being spread by people who simply cannot accept that their side lost,” Pitts said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Garland Favorito of the group VoterGA, said his team had “prepared diligently to present concrete evidence of our allegations and refute other false claims” at a hearing that had been scheduled for Nov. 15. In a statement, Favorito criticized Amero’s decision.

senate democrats logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Plan New Bid to Break G.O.P. Voting Rights Filibuster, Carl Hulse, Oct. 14, 2021. Senate Democrats will try again next week to advance a voting rights measure, Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, announced on Thursday, though Republicans are expected to maintain their filibuster against the legislation backed by all Democrats.

democratic donkey logoIn a letter laying out the coming agenda for the Senate, Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said he would schedule a vote for next Wednesday to open debate on voting rights legislation that he and fellow Democrats say is needed to offset new restrictions being imposed by Republican-controlled state legislatures around the nation.

Dick Shelby“We cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills,” Mr. Schumer said in the letter. “The Freedom to Vote Act is the legislation that will right the ship of our democracy and establish common sense national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans.”

His decision intensifies pressure on Senator Joe Manchin III, right, Democrat of West Virginia, who had initially been his party’s lone holdout on a sweeping voting rights measure passed by the House. Mr. Manchin helped draft a compromise version that he said he hoped could draw bipartisan backing, and sought time to win over Republicans to support it, but there is little evidence that any G.O.P. senators have embraced the alternative.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Social Security benefits to rise 5.9%, biggest cost-of-living bump in decades, Jeff Stein, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). The increase coming in 2022 is due to rising costs and inflationary pressures. Social Security benefits are paid to retired Americans and those with disabilities.

social security logoThe agency for the first time authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the U.S, a significant turn in the public health debate.

The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that its beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks starting next year — the largest boost to benefits in close to four decades.

The adjustment will be made for 64 million Social Security beneficiaries as well as 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries. Some Americans receive both benefits.

joe biden resized oThe cost-of-living increase, which will impact roughly 70 million people starting in late December and January, is tied to a measure of inflation that has surged this year as prices rise in a U.S. economy emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Experts caution that millions of seniors will in reality see substantially less than a 6 percent bump, because Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from Social Security beneficiaries’ checks and are tied to seniors’ income. The increase in benefits will amount to roughly an additional $92 per month for seniors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday that prices rose 0.4 percent in September compared to August. Overall, prices are up 5.4 percent over the last year. The “cost of living adjustment” that determines Social Security payment hikes is based on a different measure of inflation, but they both capture similar phenomenon in the economy.

The Social Security benefit increase has averaged about 1.7 percent over the last 10 years. This year’s increase amounts to the biggest since 1982, experts say. The price of prescription drugs often used by seniors has exploded, rising by 16 percent in 2021 alone, according to one industry group.

 

Jan. 6, Pro-Trump Coup Investigations 

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump has his own "deep state" and it's more dangerous than any other, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 14, 2021. Donald wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallTrump and his acolytes are often complaining about the "deep state."

When asked to describe their "deep state," Trumpists are unable to provide a coherent answer. Some spew forth the stock villains often cited by wayne madesen report logothe far-right: the CIA, the Federal Reserve, the Vatican, George Soros, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, the globalists, and, of course, their traditional target, the Jews.

The one thing that is standard practice with Trump and his supporters is their use of projection, accusing others of what they, themselves, do. And when it comes to charges that the deep state is out to get them, they fail to mention that a much-more clearly defined deep state supports Trump and his anti-democratic goals to destroy the constitutional order of the United States and replace it with a pluto-theocracy. How do we know about Trump's deep state? We have the list of its members.

Proof via Substack, Investigation and Commentary: Revelation Involving January 2 Call Between Trump and Insurrectionist Leaders Confirms That Trump Coordinated the January 6 Coup Personally, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 13-14, seth abramson graphic2021.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: As Proof has previously reported, on January 2, 2021—just 96 hours before the attack on the Capitol—then-president Donald Trump held a conference call with hundreds of Republican state legislators to communicate to them how key they were to his plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He wanted them to de-certify Joe Biden’s slates of electors in six battleground states, and to do so quickly enough that it would give Vice President Mike Pence a slender pretext to prorogue Congress and postpone the certification of Biden’s 2020 election win, which was then scheduled for January 6.

New details about that call now put it at the heart of Trump’s coup conspiracy, and reframe dramatically the stunning January 4 Oval Office meeting—between Trump, Pence, and Trump attorney John Eastman—that Proof reported on this past Monday.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee preparing to aggressively enforce subpoenas, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Lawmakers on the panel said they are prepared to pursue charges against witnesses such as Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating, and they may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to a Trump Justice Department official.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to ramp up its efforts to force Trump administration officials to comply with its subpoenas as the former president attempts to stymie the inquiry.

jeffrey clark oLawmakers who sit on the panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses like Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating. And the committee may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to Jeffrey Clark, right, a Trump Justice Department official who sought to deploy department resources to support former president Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election.

What happens to the Trump advisers who don’t comply with subpoenas?

“We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt Justice Department log circularand refer them to the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview Tuesday.

Tensions over compliance with subpoenas are increasing as the committee’s plan to hold depositions this week with Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6 — is already facing head winds.

Negotiations between Clark’s legal team and the committee did not proceed as rapidly as the committee hoped, according to a person familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. As a result, the committee is contemplating issuing a subpoena, this person said.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times,‘Lurching Between Crisis and Complacency’: Was This Our Last Covid Surge? Emily Anthes, Oct. 14, 2021. Rising immunity and modest changes in behavior may explain why new recorded cases in the U.S. have declined more than 40 percent since August. But scientists say that despite the optimism heading into the winter season, it is too soon to abandon basic precautions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Weekly jobless claims fall below 300,000 for first time since pandemic, Aaron Gregg, Oct. 14, 2021. The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell below 300,000 for the first time since the pandemic, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The 36,000 drop brought the weekly count to 293,000 and strikingly close to the pre-pandemic mark of 256,000. Though the coronavirus pandemic is keeping some workers on the sidelines, a protracted labor shortage has left many businesses struggling to fill jobs.

In March and April of 2020, more than 20 million workers lost their jobs ― at one point totaling more than a million a day ― as pandemic-inflicted closures took their toll on the country’s service-centric economy. In the 18 months since, the jobless ranks have shrunk significantly.

The decreasing number of layoffs may have less to do with a strong economy than workers’ decisions to leave voluntarily, however. Americans are quitting their jobs at historically high rates, as about 4.3 million left their jobs in August, according to Labor Department data reported Tuesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Reports, F.D.A. Panel Recommends Moderna Boosters for Many Who Got That Vaccine, Staff Reports, Oct. 14, 2021. An agency panel moderna logoendorsed an extra shot from Moderna for people 65 and older and younger adults at high risk because of their medical conditions or jobs. Johnson & Johnson has also asked the F.D.A. to authorize its boosters, and the committee will vote on its request on Friday. Here’s the latest.

  • Biden calls on businesses to ‘step up’ as he expresses optimism about the fight against the virus.New
  • Has the U.S. seen its last coronavirus surge? Don’t count on it, experts say.
  • Here’s a snapshot of where things stand on boosters for the three vaccines in use in the U.S.
  • Here’s why many Black Americans changed their minds about Covid shots.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to meet with pope to discuss coronavirus, climate change, caring for poor, Amy B Wang and Chico Harlan, Oct. 14, 2021. President Biden will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Oct. 29 during a trip to Europe for two high-profile global summits, the White House announced Thursday.

joe biden twitterBiden and Francis will discuss “working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Biden, the United States’ second Catholic president, has been at the center of a debate within the Catholic Church about whether he should be able to receive Communion because of his support for abortion rights.

First lady Jill Biden will join her husband in meeting Francis. Biden will already be traveling to Rome for the Group of 20 summit, hosted by Italy. His meeting with the pope had been widely anticipated.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: F.D.A. Panel Is Scrutinizing Data on Moderna Boosters, Staff Reports, Oct. 14, 2021. A recommendation is expected to follow on whether to authorize a third dose for recipients of the Moderna vaccine. On Friday, the panel will consider boosters for Johnson & Johnson recipients. Here’s the latest virus news.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chicago police union urges officers to ‘hold the line’ over vaccine mandate. Mayor says ‘bring it on,’ Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Tensions between Chicago’s mayor and police over the city’s vaccine mandate grew this week as the head of the police union urged officers to ignore a deadline to report their vaccination status.

Chicago city employees, including police officers, are required to report their vaccination status by Friday. Employees who aren’t vaccinated will be required to get tested twice weekly, a temporary measure until the end of the year as the city decides what to do with unvaccinated employees.

illinois mapBut the head of the Chicago branch of the Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, urged members of the union in a video message this week to “hold the line.”

He told officers not to submit their vaccination statuses, and instead to flood the city with exemption requests on Thursday.

“Submit those all on Thursday, give them everything at one time, and that’s it,” he said. “Do not fill out the portal information,” he added, referring to the reporting of vaccination statuses to the city.

Officers and other city employees who fail to report their vaccination status by Friday will “be placed in a non-disciplinary, no pay status,” according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.

lori lightfoot twitter CustomCatanzara said that “it’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less” over the weekend.

“Whatever happens because of that manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep,” he said.

Lightfoot (D), right, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the city was “prepared,” adding that Catanzara was “doing a patent disservice to his members every single day” by encouraging resistance against the vaccines.

“If you are not vaccinated, you are playing with your life, the life of your family, the life of your colleagues, and members of the public,” Lightfoot said.

The coronavirus vaccines approved in the United States have been proved to be safe and effective, and a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last month found that people who were not fully vaccinated were 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and cdc logo Custom11 times more likely to die of covid-19 than people who were fully vaccinated.

Chicago, like many other large cities across the United States, has required that city employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus, emphasizing that for public-facing employees in particular, like police officers and firefighters, vaccinations protect not only the employees but people in the community from the risks posed by covid-19. Law enforcement officers across the country, from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Denver, have resisted vaccine mandates.

Resistance among many law enforcement officers could be because of the misinformation that has turned many other Americans against the vaccines, experts say. Recent vaccination rates among Chicago police officers were not available, as the figures have not been tracked and as the union this week aims to thwart the city’s attempt to gather that information. In May, after the shots had become widely available, about a third of officers were known to have received a vaccine, though others may have been vaccinated outside of channels that identified them as officers.

washington post logoWashington Post, The WHO has a bold new plan to find covid-19’s origins. China could get in the way, Adam Taylor, Oct. 14, 2021. Without Beijing’s acquiescence, the hunt for the origins of covid-19 is likely to remain unresolved. It’s a conundrum that has raised serious questions about the WHO’s structure.

world health organization logo CustomThe World Health Organization has a bold plan to better investigate the origins of covid-19 and other new outbreaks. It has assembled 26 highly respected scientists from around the world, carefully checked to be representative and free from conflicting interests, to form an independent group and consider not just how this pandemic started, but how other, future outbreaks might begin.

And yet this new plan is already encountering an old and familiar problem: the Chinese government. Without Beijing’s acquiescence, the hunt for the origins of covid-19 is likely to remain unresolved. It’s a conundrum that has raised serious questions about the WHO’s structure and whether it needs reform to better deal with the realities of a complex, divided world.

The proposed list of experts in WHO’s new group, the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO), was announced Wednesday after a long period of development. The group is designed to avoid some of the issues that plagued the previous WHO-backed study of covid-19 origins, which saw a team of 10 international experts partner with Chinese researchers during a visit to Wuhan, where the first cases of covid-19 were reported.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Open the Canada and Mexico Borders for Fully Vaccinated Travelers, Staff reports, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). The Biden administration will lift the travel restrictions in November.

canadian flagThe Biden administration will lift travel restrictions at the borders with Canada and Mexico starting in November for fully vaccinated travelers, reopening the doors of the United States to tourists and separated family members who have been sealed out of the country during the pandemic.

Foreign travelers who provide proof of vaccination and are looking to visit families or friends or shop in the United States will be allowed to enter, senior administration officials said on Tuesday, weeks after the administration said it would soon lift a similar sweeping restriction on foreigners traveling to the country from overseas.

The lifting of the bans will effectively mark the reopening of the United States to travelers and tourism, signaling a new phase in the recovery from the pandemic after the country closed its borders for nearly 19 months.

But the new requirements also indicate that the United States will welcome only visitors who are vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers will continue to be banned from crossing the borders with Mexico or Canada, officials said.

Here’s the latest Covid news.

  • Minnesota hospitals are nearing capacity as a virus surge batters the state.
  • China begins administering additional shots to older and high-risk people.
  • Anchorage approves a mask mandate after two weeks of intense debate.
  • American and Southwest Airlines reject the Texas order banning vaccine mandates.
  • Federal vaccine mandates can override Texas’ sweeping new ban, experts say.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 14, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 240,064,050, Deaths: 4,891,953
U.S. Cases:     45,548,719, Deaths:    739,783
India Cases:     34,020,730, Deaths:    451,469
Brazil Cases:    21,597,949, Deaths:    601,643

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 217.6 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.14, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 187.9 million eligible, or 546.6 percent, who are fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kyrie Irving breaks silence on decision to remain unvaccinated: ‘It’s bigger than the game,’ Ben Golliver, Oct. 14, 2021. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving said he believes he is “being utilized as an example” because he cannot play or practice with his teammates until he is vaccinated.

nba logoOne day after the Brooklyn Nets told Kyrie Irving that he could not play in games or participate in practices until he fulfilled the terms of New York City’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, the seven-time NBA all-star broke his silence, confirming that he remained unvaccinated and calling the decision a “personal choice” that was made without political motivations.

The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate for players — the National Basketball Players Association opposed such efforts — but it is requiring its teams to comply with local mandates. Irving, 29, said he was caught off guard by New York City’s mandate and said that he was “uncomfortable” with the policy, which requires vaccination for members of the Nets and New York Knicks to be eligible to play in home games.

While Irving is the only member of the Nets who remains unvaccinated, he denied that he is anti-vaccine and expressed support for vaccinated citizens. He also repeatedly expressed sympathy toward employees who have lost their jobs because of vaccine mandates at their workplaces.

cdc logo CustomA Centers for Disease Control report found in September that Americans who were not fully vaccinated were 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die of covid-19 than vaccinated people during a study that covered the spring and summer. CDC officials and public health experts have stressed that the vaccine is safe and effective at limiting the spread and deadly impacts of covid-19, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans.

The NBA announced last month that unvaccinated players will be fined if they are unable to play in games because of vaccine mandates, which will cost Irving roughly $380,000 per game — or more than $16 million of his $34.9 million annual salary. The Nets will continue to pay Irving for road games, Marks said Tuesday, and that the “only salary that [Irving] loses is going to be for the home games.”

Related Recent Headlines:

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Senators aim to block tech giants from prioritizing their products over rivals,’ Cat Zakrzewski, Oct. 14, 2021. A bill introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Charles Grassley is widely viewed as a bellwether for the bipartisan efforts to pass legislation regulating Silicon Valley giants.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that they will introduce legislation early next week making it illegal for Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to engage in “self-preferencing,” the tech giants’ practice of giving their own products and services a boost over those of rivals on their platforms.

The bill would effectively outlaw an array of behaviors that lawmakers describe as anticompetitive, like Amazon sucking up data from sellers on its platform to copy the products in-house or Google prioritizing its own services over rivals’ in search results.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls in to rally hosted by Bannon for Virginia GOP candidates, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 14, 2021. Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, below, steered clear Wednesday night as former president Donald Trump phoned into a rally for the state's GOP ticket, headlined by onetime Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon.

glenn youngkin“Glenn Youngkin is a great gentleman,” Trump said, predicting the Republican will beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe while reiterating his false claim of victory in last year’s presidential election. “We won in 2016. We won in 2020 — the most corrupt election in the history of our country, probably one of the most corrupt anywhere. But we’re gonna win it again.”

Trump created a stir hours earlier with a written statement that some Republicans feared could depress turnout in the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election: “If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24.”

Youngkin’s tricky dance with ‘election integrity’ complicates run for Virginia governor

Youngkin’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about Trump’s statement and whether it impacts the party’s effort to get Republicans to the polls in November. But rally organizer John Fredericks said he thought Trump was merely warning voters that they have to get more involved to protect the sanctity of elections, such as serving as a poll watcher.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s latest eruption at Republicans captures a core insight about GOP voters, Greg Sargent Oct. 14, 2021. Donald Trump called in to a rally for Virginia Republicans late Wednesday night, joining a festival of derangement featuring former adviser Stephen K. Bannon hallucinating aloud that Trumpism will rule the United States for the next century.

The former president declared Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin “a great gentleman.”

Yet that came only hours after Trump issued a splenetic statement about fellow Republicans, fuming that if they don’t “solve” the invented problem of a stolen 2020 election, “Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24.”

In Trump’s eyes, Youngkin’s relentless pandering to Trump’s lies about 2020 has, for now anyway, passed his litmus test.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Budget Bill Hangs in Limbo, Kyrsten Sinema Travels in Europe, Shane Goldmacher, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). With the Senate out of session, Ms. Sinema, the Democratic senator from Arizona, has been in Europe on a fund-raising trip.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the moderate Arizona Democrat who has objected to the size and scope of President Biden’s sweeping legislative agenda, has been trailed all over the country by progressive activists seeking to pressure her. They have followed her into a bathroom in Arizona, on an airplane and even to the Boston Marathon.

But this week, with the Senate out of session, those activists would have had to travel even farther to press their case with Ms. Sinema in person — she’s in Europe on a fund-raising trip.

A spokesman for Ms. Sinema said she had participated in fund-raising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee but declined to say where or provide any additional details. One person briefed on the matter said an event had occurred in Paris. It was not clear whether her trip to Europe was at the urging of the party committee.

The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, is also in Europe this week and headlined a dinner on Wednesday in London, with contribution levels as much as $36,500, according to a copy of an invitation. Ms. Sinema’s name does not appear on that invitation.

A spokesman for the Senate committee declined to comment on the events in Europe or on Ms. Sinema’s role.

Although political campaigns and parties cannot raise money from foreign nationals, American citizens living abroad can and do regularly contribute.

Ms. Sinema’s office declined to say how long she would be abroad, what countries she was visiting, how the trip was being paid for and whether she was doing any additional fund-raising for her own campaign. Her political team had reached out to set up meetings in London and Paris, according to two people familiar with the matter.

John LaBombard, a spokesman for Ms. Sinema, said she remained engaged in the negotiations in Washington. “So far this week, Senator Sinema has held several calls — including with President Biden, the White House team, Senator Schumer’s team, and other Senate and House colleagues — to continue discussions on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Mr. LaBombard said.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Democrat Focuses on Voting Rights in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Race, Nick Corasaniti, Oct. 14, 2021. Josh Shapiro, a Democratic candidate and the state’s attorney general, has been on the forefront of legal efforts to defend the 2020 election.

pennsylvania map major citiesMr. Shapiro, the state’s attorney general and a Democratic candidate for governor, has been on the forefront of legal efforts to defend the 2020 election.

The 2022 races for governor in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have been viewed by Democrats as a sea wall against a rising Republican tide of voting restrictions and far-reaching election laws. All three states have Republican-controlled legislatures that attempted to pass new voting laws but were blocked by the threat of a veto, and feature Republican candidates who have advocated for new voting laws.

Pennsylvania is the only state with an open race, as current Gov. Tom Wolf is term limited from running again. Mr. Wolf threw his support behind Mr. Shapiro years before he announced, helping to clear the Democratic field.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's undermining of the electoral process gives U.S. Third World nation status, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 13-14, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. To the delight of autocrats around the world, from Brazil's neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro to Hungarian quasi-dictator Viktor Orban, Donald Trump and his cult-of-personality Republican Party have driven the United States into a category that was once the domain of Third World nations.

wayne madesen report logoWidespread belief among Trump loyalists that elections are "fixed" has undermined faith in the American political process. It was similar propaganda put forth by Adolf Hitler that convinced many Germans in the 1930s that elections were merely a waste of time, a mindset that allowed Hitler to scrap Germany's democratic constitution and declare a "Thousand Year" Nazi Reich.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats send heavy hitters to boost McAuliffe, amid anxiety over Virginia governor’s race, Sean Sullivan, Paul Kane and Laura Vozzella, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Prominent Democrats from across the country are mobilizing to try to lift Terry McAuliffe to victory in the final weeks of the Virginia governor’s race, a critical election that has put Democrats on edge and carries significant national ramifications for the party.

terry mcauliffe oFormer president Barack Obama will hit the campaign trail for McAuliffe later this month as part of an effort to boost turnout among Black voters. So will Stacey Abrams, a rising Democratic star from Georgia, and Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta. First lady Jill Biden will also stump for McAuliffe, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will host a fundraiser for the gubernatorial hopeful.

Public opinion polls show McAuliffe, left, with a slim and hardly insurmountable lead, amid other troubling indicators for the party brand. Some Democratic leaders believe the Virginia race could have a tectonic impact on the party’s legislative agenda and political standing heading into next year’s midterm elections, suggesting a defeat would be close to devastating.

“It would be a Scott Brown moment, I think,” said retiring Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), referring to the Republican senator’s shocking win in a special Massachusetts election during the final negotiations over the Affordable Care Act. Brown’s 2010 victory was an early indicator of the drubbing Democrats endured in the midterms later that year, even as they eventually managed to enact the ACA.

glenn youngkinIn a sign of how politics is increasingly nationalized, many of the issues that have dominated the Virginia campaign — coronavirus vaccine mandates, education and crime, among others — mirror those in other battlegrounds across the country. The flurry of high-profile Democrats on the ground in the final weeks further underlines the national dimensions of the race.

McAuliffe’s enlistment of prominent Democrats contrasts with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin’s quieter approach to national figures in his party, most notably former president Donald Trump. Youngkin, right, embraced Trump as he pursued the GOP nomination but has sought to play down their connection in the general election.

He campaigned in the primary with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and appeared with former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley in the summer, but a Youngkin aide said Wednesday that the campaign has no scheduled public events with Republicans from outside Virginia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Calls intensify to end Wis. election review amid flubs by ex-judge in charge, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 14, 2021. The glaring errors became clear soon after a former Wisconsin judge issued subpoenas earlier this month in a Republican review of the state’s 2020 presidential election. Some of the requests referred to the wrong city. At least one was sent to an official who doesn’t oversee elections. A Latin phrase included in the demands for records and testimony was misspelled.

wisconsin map with largest cities CustomMichael Gableman, the former judge leading the review, admitted days later that he does not have “a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.” He then backed off some of his subpoena demands before reversing course again, telling a local radio host that officials would still be required to testify.

The latest round of reversals and blunders is intensifying calls to end the probe, one of several recent efforts around the country to revisit Joe Biden’s win in states where former president Donald Trump and his supporters have leveled baseless accusations of voter fraud.

Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) this week called the subpoenas unlawful and “dramatically overbroad,” and he urged Republicans to “shut this fake investigation down.” Voting rights advocates, election policy experts and some state and local officials, meanwhile, accuse Gableman of incompetence and say his review — which could cost taxpayers $680,000 or more — will decrease public trust in Wisconsin elections.

“It’s terrible for democracy in the state,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway (D) said in an interview. “It’s corrosive. It undermines confidence in our elections, and it’s deeply insulting to our municipal clerks and poll workers. … The thing that should give everybody some confidence is the fact that our elections are not being run by people like attorney Gableman.”

tina peters jena griswold

washington post logoWashington Post, County clerk who embraced conspiracy theories barred from overseeing elections, Emma Brown, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). A Colorado judge found Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) breached her duties and was “untruthful” when she brought in someone who was not a county employee to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines.

A Colorado judge on Wednesday prohibited a local official who has embraced conspiracy theories from overseeing November’s election, finding she breached and neglected her duties and was “untruthful” when she brought in someone who was not a county employee to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines.

djt maga hatThe effort by Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R), above left, to ferret out supposedly hidden evidence of fraud amounted to an escalation in the attacks on the nation’s voting systems, according to experts, one in which officials who were responsible for election security allegedly took actions that undermined that security in the name of protecting it.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D), above right, filed a lawsuit in August seeking to formally strip Peters of her election duties after passwords for Mesa County’s voting machines were posted online and copies of the hard drives were presented at a symposium hosted by MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, who denies that President Biden won the 2020 election.

Judge Valerie J. Robison found Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, had falsely represented that a man named “Gerald Wood” was a county employee so he would be allowed to attend a manual software update for the Dominion machines, a closely guarded process known as a “trusted build.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The new deadline to pass Biden’s agenda is coming up fast, Jacqueline Alemany and Theodoric Meyer, Oct. 13, 2021. New deadline, old problems: Less than two weeks after House Democrats missed a deadline to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill, the party is staring down another one.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, right, say they’re aiming to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a larger package chuck schumer smilestuffed full of Democrats’ child care, health care and climate change priorities by Oct. 31, when a short-term extension of highway funding is set to run out.

senate logo squareCoincidentally, Oct. 31 is the day before the much-anticipated United Nations climate summit kicks off in Glasgow, where administration officials are eager to show off legislation that would establish credibility in negotiations with foreign governments. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last month that Biden expected the reconciliation bill — much of which is focused on fighting climate change — would “move forward in advance of that.”

(Asked about it on Tuesday, Psaki said Biden would tout the administration's commitment to combating climate change in Glasgow “regardless of where the package stands.”)

And two days later, Virginians will head to the polls to elect a new governor in a contest lawmakers and the White House are watching closely. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has implored Democrats in Washington to pass the infrastructure bill by Election Day.

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U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Woman who boasted of joining in Capitol riot admits guilt in plea deal, Paul Duggan, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Texas woman who was charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and boasted on social media, “Hell yes, I’m proud of my actions,” pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Jenny Cudd, a 36-year-old florist and former mayoral candidate in the western Texas city of Midland, is one of more than 600 people charged so far in what federal authorities have called the largest investigation in U.S. history. She is among more than 70 defendants who have pleaded guilty in deals with the U.S. attorney’s office in the District.

Appearing in U.S. District Court in Washington via video from Texas, Cudd pleaded guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building. In return, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Fretto said, the government will move to dismiss several other charges against her, including a felony count, at her March 18 sentencing hearing.

Although the crime that Cudd pleaded guilty to carries a jail term of up to a year, Fretto and defense attorney Marina Medvin agreed that federal sentencing guidelines in the case call for a maximum of six months behind bars and possibly no incarceration. However, Judge Trevor N. McFadden warned Cudd before her plea that he has the power to impose a tougher sentence than the guidelines recommend.

Cudd was among a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol in a riot that forced the evacuation of the building, disrupted Congress’s confirmation of President Biden’s election victory and left five people dead. The charges she initially faced were punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The FBI said Cudd boasted about the attack in a Facebook video: “We just pushed, pushed, and pushed, and yelled go and yelled charge. We just pushed and pushed, and we got it. . . . We got up to the top of the Capitol and there was a door open and we went inside. . . . We did break down [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s office door and somebody stole her gavel and took a picture sitting in the chair flipping off the camera.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. to Investigate Reports of Abuse in Texas’ Juvenile Prisons, Katie Benner, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Accusations of excessive force, sexual misconduct and the use of isolation and pepper spray prompted the inquiry into the treatment of incarcerated children.

texas mapThe Justice Department said on Wednesday that it was investigating juvenile correctional facilities in Texas over allegations of physical violence, sexual abuse and other mistreatment of children held there.

The investigation, which will also examine the state’s use of isolation and chemicals like pepper spray, is part of a broader effort to overhaul the criminal justice system and address conditions in prisons, a goal that in recent years has had bipartisan support and was pursued by the Obama and Trump administrations before President Biden took office. And it follows other recent Justice Department investigations into adult correctional facilities in states including Georgia and New Jersey.

“Prison conditions and the conditions inside of institutions where young people are detained is a priority issue for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department,” Kristen Clarke, who leads the division, said at a news conference.

“No child who was sent to a Texas facility for treatment and rehabilitation should be subjected to violence and abuse, nor denied basic services,” she said.

The department opens its inquiries into correctional facilities based on public documents, news reports, social media posts and conversations with people involved in local prison systems that reveal instances of brutal violence and sexual abuse, neglect of the mentally ill, and other serious improprieties.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Man Is Sentenced for Using Dating App to Target Gay Men, Johnny Diaz, Oct. 14, 2021. The man, Daniel Jenkins, was part of a group that used the app Grindr to lure gay men to an apartment complex in Dallas to rob and assault them, prosecutors said.

A Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison on Wednesday for his connection in a scheme that used the popular dating app Grindr to target gay men for violent hate crimes, prosecutors said.

daniel jenkinsThe man, Daniel Jenkins, 22, right, of Dallas, pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, carjacking, one hate crime count and one count of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Mr. Jenkins was the last of four defendants to be sentenced in the conspiracy that used Grindr, a social media app that is used primarily by gay men. “This defendant targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in the statement. She added that the sentence “underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to aggressively prosecuting bias-motivated crimes, including crimes against the L.G.B.T.Q.I. community.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Progressives may not love what Biden’s Supreme Court commission has to say, Theodoric Meyer and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 14, 2021. That's because the commission isn't actually charged with making recommendations, according to the White House. Instead, the draft report is expected to include “an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”

Progressives who want President Biden's Supreme Court commission to endorse dramatic changes to the court — including upping the number of justices from nine to 13 — may be disappointed this afternoon when its draft report is released to the public.

That's because the commission isn't actually charged with making recommendations, according to the White House. Instead, the draft report is expected to include “an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.” Biden won’t weigh in on the draft until it becomes final next month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

Nearly a year ago, Biden pledged to create the commission as a way to buy himself time with progressives pushing him to expand the court as Republicans rushed to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death weeks before the 2020 election, even though Republicans blocked Merrick Garland from getting a hearing four years earlier.

Since Biden fulfilled his promise in April, liberal activists have been trying to convince the commission expanding SCOTUS is the only way to restore balance to it.

“In my over 40 years as head of [the progressive advocacy group Alliance for Justice], I would never before have thought I would be sitting before this Commission advocating for court expansion,” Nan Aron told the commission in July. “It is not something I ever contemplated. But I believe that at this point, there is truly no other choice.”

But the 36-member commission has spent relatively little time discussing court expansion — “court-packing,” to its opponents — in its public meetings this year.

robert bauerInstead, the commission — co-chaired by Bob Bauer, right, a former Obama White House counsel, and Cristina Rodríguez, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration — has heard testimony from dozens of experts on a variety of other proposals.

Several law professors made the case for allowing justices to serve only 18 years on the court before taking on reduced roles — an idea Bauer himself has endorsed in the past.

“My sense was that the 18-year idea does have some traction,” Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor who's argued for Supreme Court term limits for nearly two decades and who testified before the commission in July. “Many of the other proposed reforms I thought met with much more skepticism, like court packing.”

 

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, center, with businessman Lev Parnas, above right, and their colleague Ignor Fruman, with Parnas and Fruman arrested while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles Airport.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutors argue Giuliani associate Lev Parnas knew donations he funneled were illegal, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani who hobnobbed at events attended by then-President Donald Trump illegally funneled foreign funds from a Russian investor to American political candidates to try to win their loyalty and earn favors, prosecutors argued at the start of his trial on Wednesday.
2021 Election: Complete coverage and analysis

Lev Parnas and another man, Andrey Kukushkin, allegedly conspired to transfer $1 million from financier Andrey Muraviev to donate to candidates who could potentially assist in getting licenses to run legal recreational cannabis businesses. Muraviev has not been charged.

“This is what secret foreign money infiltrating American elections looks like,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aline Flodr said in her opening statement in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Flodr argued that Parnas and Kukushkin were well aware of U.S. election laws that prohibited straw donations from foreign sources. She told jurors that text message and email evidence will prove the pair purposely sought to hide the true source of the donations and “blatantly” violated the law.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Trump gone, advocates flood Justice Dept. with requests to investigate police, David Nakamura, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Hampered by limited resources — and facing growing caseloads on voting rights, hate crimes and other civil rights issues — Justice officials are struggling to sort through the requests and respond.

Civil rights leaders in Kansas City, Mo., hoped to win the Justice Department’s attention in July when they unveiled a 15-page letter calling for a federal investigation into alleged excessive force by the city’s police department.

They described an urgent need for intervention at a time when police in other jurisdictions, including Minneapolis and Louisville, have drawn greater scrutiny. But a line is forming rapidly at the Justice Department’s door. Last week, activists a few miles west — in Kansas City, Kan. — published a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post demanding a federal probe into the separate police agency that patrols their city.

“This is more than just a cry for help from the middle of America,” they wrote in the ad addressed to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who oversees the civil litigating divisions.

The competing missives from opposite sides of the Missouri River illustrate the challenge for Justice officials as they try to respond to mounting calls for police accountability sparked by social-justice protests last year. After facing resistance from the Trump administration, which viewed intervention into local policing as federal overreach, elected officials and community activists across the country are flooding the Biden administration with pleas for help.

Hampered by limited resources — and facing growing caseloads on voting rights, hate crimes and other civil rights issues — Justice officials said they are working to sort through the requests and respond. On Wednesday, federal authorities announced an investigation into the Texas Juvenile Justice Department over abuse allegations.

“It’s a system failure that we don’t have a pattern-or-practice investigation here,” said Tricia Rojo Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, who co-signed the advertisement in The Post. She was referring to the sweeping civil probes that Attorney General Merrick Garland has launched into allegations of systemic and unconstitutional police misconduct in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix.

 

dzhokhar tsarnaev headphones reuters colorado

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court to consider Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence, Robert Barnes, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). The Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether the death penalty should be reinstated for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (shown in custody in a photo distributed by Reuters).

The court will review a decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. In July, the panel agreed with Tsarnaev’s lawyers that the judge overseeing his trial did not adequately question potential jurors for bias in the case, which received massive publicity.

It also said some evidence was improperly withheld that might have indicated Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, was more culpable for the bombing. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed as police closed in on the brothers days after the April, 2013 attack.

The case created a dilemma for the Justice Department, which had asked the Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court decision when Donald Trump was president. President Biden opposes the death penalty.

But the administration did not change its position after the court accepted the case.

“The district court’s fair and careful management” of Tsarnaev’s trial resulted in “an impartial jury that delivered a nuanced verdict recommending capital punishment only for the murders that respondent personally committed,” Acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher wrote in a brief to the court.

Supreme Court takes the bench after long absence, but things have changed

The brief said Tsarnaev’s criticisms of “two out of the hundreds of separate judgment calls required from the court over the course of this complex case are unwarranted.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 28, is being held in a federal prison in Colorado. He admitted his role in the bombing, which killed three people and wounded hundreds of others at the finish line of the annual race. At issue is the appeals court decision that he is entitled to a new penalty-phase trial to determine whether he deserves execution.

The appeals court in July ruled that part of the trial could have been tainted by jurors who had already made up their minds because of the publicity surrounding the case.

A trove of emails in a workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, above left, went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades, including against DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

A trove of emails in a workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, above left, went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades, including against DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jon Gruden is collateral damage. Where’s the accountability for Dan Snyder? Mike Wise, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Mike Wise is a former Post sports columnist and host of “The Mike Wise Show.”

Jon Gruden is sports’ latest cretin in our midst. The racist, misogynistic, homophobic emails he exchanged with Bruce Allen, former president of the Washington Football Team, are just part of the digital footprint of filth discovered during the NFL investigation of the team’s toxic culture.

But Gruden’s freefall — though deserved — should also be recognized as one of the all-time misdirection plays in league history. The disgraced coach is collateral damage from a 10-month investigation that validated reports of Washington’s culture of sexual and verbal harassment of female employees under the stewardship of owner Dan Snyder.

washington post logoWashington Post, WFT offered money in exchange for public silence about workplace, former employees say, Will Hobson, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Women who worked for the Washington Football Team are speaking out again after emails surfaced revealing more evidence of a toxic workplace at the franchise.

nfl logoLawyers representing the Washington Football Team offered a financial settlement this year in exchange for the silence of female former team employees who allege they endured sexual harassment while working there, according to two former employees.

No specific figure was discussed, but the offer was expected to be “disrespectfully low,” said Emily Applegate, a former marketing coordinator who was the first to publicly speak out about her experiences while working with the team last year in a Washington Post report. The offer was conveyed by attorneys representing the team at Reed Smith law firm, through discussions with Lisa Banks, the lead attorney for female former team employees.

Banks, who represents nearly 40 former team employees, told Applegate and the others that, in exchange for the money, they would have to sign nondisclosure agreements and agree to stop doing news interviews and posting on social media about their experiences while working for the team.

Attorneys at Reed Smith in D.C. representing the team and owner Daniel Snyder did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday, nor did a team spokeswoman.

More than a dozen women allege sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former team employees

“It was pretty easy for us to say no. That wasn’t the purpose for why we said anything,” Applegate said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Banks, in an interview, declined to comment on the negotiations she had with the team’s attorneys. She did not dispute Applegate’s description of the offer, which was supported by Megan Imbert, a former producer in the team’s broadcast department.

 

World Conflict, Corruption

washington post logoWashington Post, Bow-and-arrow attack that killed 5 appears to be an act of terrorism, Norwegian security service says, Erin Cunningham, Ellen Francis and Rachel Pannett, Oct. 14, 2021. An attack by a man armed with a bow and arrow that killed five people in a Norwegian town appears to be a “terrorist act,” police said on Thursday.

The victims, four women and a man, were all between 50 and 70 years old. The police security service said the ongoing investigation should give more details and find the motive behind the rare killings, the country’s worst such assault in years.

Two people, including an off-duty officer, were injured in the Wednesday evening rampage outside the Norwegian capital, which the incoming prime minister described as cruel. After a confrontation, law enforcement officers in Kongsberg, southwest of Oslo, arrested a 37-year-old Danish citizen and said he appeared to be acting alone.

Norwegian media reported that a court had granted a restraining order last year for the alleged attacker to stay away from two of his family members for six months after he threatened to kill one of them. The police attorney said psychiatric experts would assess him on Thursday and that he had confessed to Wednesday’s attack.

Police in the Scandinavian country, most of whom are usually unarmed, were temporarily ordered to carry weapons on Wednesday night, the justice minister said.

The killings shook the town hours before acting prime minister Erna Solberg, who called them “gruesome,” was due to leave office. The incoming prime minister, Jonas Gahr Store, who is taking over on Thursday, also said it was “a cruel and brutal act.”

Wednesday’s death toll is Norway’s worst since 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist, killed 77 people in a bombing and mass shooting. He is serving Norway’s maximum sentence of 21 years, which can be extended indefinitely.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israeli minister says ‘no way’ to U.S. reopening of consulate in Jerusalem, Amy Cheng, Oct. 14, 2021 (print ed.). No way would Israel agree to have the United States reopen its consulate dedicated to Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem, said Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Saar. His comment comes ahead of a meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats in Washington this week, with the topic likely to be on the agenda.

When pressed during a public conference Tuesday about whether Israel would allow the consulate’s reopening if the Biden administration pushed for it, Saar repeatedly registered his opposition, a response that drew applause from the audience.

israel flag“I spoke with [Prime Minister Naftali Bennett] a couple of times on the issue. We are on the same page, and we don’t see differently,” Saar added. “Someone said it’s an electoral commitment. But for us, it’s a generation’s commitment. We will not compromise on this.”

The State Department could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, said in May that the United States would reopen the Jerusalem consulate that traditionally engaged with antony blinken o newPalestinians, but observers say the issue presents a dilemma for the Biden White House.

Although the administration may wish to reopen the consulate, it does not want the issue to become a wedge in Israeli domestic politics or weaken a government it considers “more moderate than its predecessor,” according to David Makovsky, a senior adviser to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Obama era.

Bennett headed the small, right-wing Yamina party before taking office by putting together a coalition government with more-centrist parties in the fourth nationwide election in two years. Bennett is the first prime minister to have lived in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank — illegal under international law — and has made clear his objection to Palestinian statehood.

Nir Barkat, a member of the Knesset and a top contender to replace former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as leader of the right-wing Likud party, proposed a bill in July that sought to bar countries from creating diplomatic missions in Jerusalem that are not missions to Israel.

U.S. consular doors can be opened in Jerusalem only with Israel’s approval, said Ron Hassner, who teaches international conflict and religion at the University of California at Berkeley. “No traffic light goes up, no street is paved, and no mail is collected in East Jerusalem unless Israel does so,” he told The Washington Post. “It’s unthinkable for a foreign entity to set up diplomatic offices without the permission of the ruling authority. The Israelis are the only such authority.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Deadly fighting rages in Beirut after gunmen fire on protesters, Sarah Dadouch and Nader Durgham, Oct. 14, 2021. Gunmen opened fire on a Hezbollah-organized demonstration Thursday in the Lebanese capital, killing at least six people and raising the specter of renewed violence and revenge attacks across the city.

lebanon resized flagThe brazen assault on Lebanon’s most powerful party, both militarily and politically, represented a dangerous escalation in a country that has been teetering on the edge of collapse for the past year.

Hezbollah, which held the demonstration to call for the removal of the judge investigating a blast that tore through Beirut last year, accused the rival Lebanese Forces, a right-wing Christian movement, of staging the attack, setting up a showdown between the two heavily armed groups.

ny times logoNew York Times, At Least 46 Die as Blaze Rips Through ‘Ghost Building’ in Taiwan, Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien, Oct. 14, 2021. Dozens more were injured after a blaze broke out at a deteriorated, 13-story building that housed low-income and older residents in Kaohsiung.

 

U.S. Media News

The Atlantic, Investigation: Inside Alden Global Capital, McKay Coppins (at The Atlantic and the author of The Wilderness, a book about the battle over the future of the Republican Party), Oct. 14, 2021. A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms.

The Tribune Tower rises above the streets of downtown Chicago in a majestic snarl of Gothic spires and flying buttresses that were designed to exude power and prestige.

atlantic logo horizontalWhen plans for the building were announced in 1922, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime owner of the Chicago Tribune, said he wanted to erect “the world’s most beautiful office building” for his beloved newspaper. The best architects of the era were invited to submit designs; lofty quotes about the Fourth Estate were selected to adorn the lobby. Prior to the building’s completion, McCormick directed his foreign correspondents to collect “fragments” of various historical sites—a brick from the Great Wall of China, an emblem from St. Peter’s Basilica—and send them back to be embedded in the tower’s facade. The final product, completed in 1925, was an architectural spectacle unlike anything the city had seen before—“romance in stone and steel,” as one writer described it. A century later, the Tribune Tower has retained its grandeur. It has not, however, retained the Chicago Tribune.

tribune publishing logoTo find the paper’s current headquarters one afternoon in late June, I took a cab across town to an industrial block west of the river. After a long walk down a windowless hallway lined with cinder-block walls, I got in an elevator, which deposited me near a modest bank of desks near the printing press. The scene was somehow even grimmer than I’d imagined. Here was one of America’s most storied newspapers—a publication that had endorsed Abraham Lincoln and scooped the Treaty of Versailles, that had toppled political bosses and tangled with crooked mayors and collected dozens of Pulitzer Prizes—reduced to a newsroom the size of a Chipotle.

Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this? On the surface, the answer might seem obvious. Craigslist killed the Classified section, Google and Facebook swallowed up the ad market, and a procession of hapless newspaper owners failed to adapt to the digital-media age, making obsolescence inevitable. This is the story we’ve been telling for decades about the dying local-news industry, and it’s not without truth. But what’s happening in Chicago is different.

In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.

alden global capital logoTwo days after the deal was finalized, Alden announced an aggressive round of buyouts. In the ensuing exodus, the paper lost the Metro columnist who had championed the occupants of a troubled public-housing complex, and the editor who maintained a homicide database that the police couldn’t manipulate, and the photographer who had produced beautiful portraits of the state’s undocumented immigrants, and the investigative reporter who’d helped expose the governor’s offshore shell companies. When it was over, a quarter of the newsroom was gone.

The hollowing-out of the Chicago Tribune was noted in the national press, of course. There were sober op-eds and lamentations on Twitter and expressions of disappointment by professors of journalism. But outside the industry, few seemed to notice. Meanwhile, the Tribune’s remaining staff, which had been spread thin even before Alden came along, struggled to perform the newspaper’s most basic functions. After a powerful Illinois state legislator resigned amid bribery allegations, the paper didn’t have a reporter in Springfield to follow the resulting scandal. And when Chicago suffered a brutal summer crime wave, the paper had no one on the night shift to listen to the police scanner.

As the months passed, things kept getting worse. Morale tanked; reporters burned out. The editor in chief mysteriously resigned, and managers scrambled to deal with the cuts. Some in the city started to wonder if the paper was even worth saving. “It makes me profoundly sad to think about what the Trib was, what it is, and what it’s likely to become,” says David Axelrod, who was a reporter at the paper before becoming an adviser to Barack Obama. Through it all, the owners maintained their ruthless silence—spurning interview requests and declining to articulate their plans for the paper. Longtime Tribune staffers had seen their share of bad corporate overlords, but this felt more calculated, more sinister.

“It’s not as if the Tribune is just withering on the vine despite the best efforts of the gardeners,” Charlie Johnson, a former Metro reporter, told me after the latest round of buyouts this summer. “It’s being snuffed out, quarter after quarter after quarter.” We were sitting in a coffee shop in Logan Square, and he was still struggling to make sense of what had happened. The Tribune had been profitable when Alden took over. The paper had weathered a decade and a half of mismanagement and declining revenues and layoffs, and had finally achieved a kind of stability. Now it might be facing extinction.

  • “They call Alden a vulture hedge fund, and I think that’s honestly a misnomer,” Johnson said. “A vulture doesn’t hold a wounded animal’s head underwater. This is predatory.”

When Alden first started buying newspapers, at the tail end of the Great Recession, the industry responded with cautious optimism. These were not exactly boom times for newspapers, after all—at least someone wanted to buy them. Maybe this obscure hedge fund had a plan. One early article, in the trade publication Poynter, suggested that Alden’s interest in the local-news business could be seen as “flattering” and quoted the owner of The Denver Post as saying he had “enormous respect” for the firm. Reading these stories now has a certain horror-movie quality: You want to somehow warn the unwitting victims of what’s about to happen.

Of course, it’s easy to romanticize past eras of journalism. The families that used to own the bulk of America’s local newspapers—the Bonfilses of Denver, the Chandlers of Los Angeles—were never perfect stewards. They could be vain, bumbling, even corrupt. At their worst, they used their papers to maintain oppressive social hierarchies. But most of them also had a stake in the communities their papers served, which meant that, if nothing else, their egos were wrapped up in putting out a respectable product.

  • The model is simple: gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring out as much cash as possible.

The 21st century has seen many of these generational owners flee the industry, to devastating effect. In the past 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers have gone out of business. Those that have survived are smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable to acquisition. Today, half of all daily newspapers in the U.S. are controlled by financial firms, according to an analysis by the Financial Times, and the number is almost certain to grow.

What threatens local newspapers now is not just digital disruption or abstract market forces. They’re being targeted by investors who have figured out how to get rich by strip-mining local-news outfits. The model is simple: Gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring as much cash as possible out of the enterprise until eventually enough readers cancel their subscriptions that the paper folds, or is reduced to a desiccated husk of its former self.

  • John Temple: My newspaper died 10 years ago. I’m worried the worst is yet to come.

The men who devised this model are Randall Smith and Heath Freeman, the co-founders of Alden Global Capital. Since they bought their first newspapers a decade ago, no one has been more mercenary or less interested in pretending to care about their publications’ long-term health. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that Alden-owned newspapers have cut their staff at twice the rate of their competitors; not coincidentally, circulation has fallen faster too, according to Ken Doctor, a news-industry analyst who reviewed data from some of the papers. That might sound like a losing formula, but these papers don’t have to become sustainable businesses for Smith and Freeman to make money.

With aggressive cost-cutting, Alden can operate its newspapers at a profit for years while turning out a steadily worse product, indifferent to the subscribers it’s alienating. “It’s the meanness and the elegance of the capitalist marketplace brought to newspapers,” Doctor told me. So far, Alden has limited its closures primarily to weekly newspapers, but Doctor argues it’s only a matter of time before the firm starts shutting down its dailies as well.

This investment strategy does not come without social consequences. When a local newspaper vanishes, research shows, it tends to correspond with lower voter turnout, increased polarization, and a general erosion of civic engagement. Misinformation proliferates. City budgets balloon, along with corruption and dysfunction. The consequences can influence national politics as well; an analysis by Politico found that Donald Trump performed best during the 2016 election in places with limited access to local news.

  • margaret sullivan 2015 photoMargaret Sullivan (right): The Constitution doesn’t work without local news

With its acquisition of Tribune Publishing earlier this year, Alden now controls more than 200 newspapers, including some of the country’s most famous and influential: the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the New York Daily News. It is the nation’s second-largest newspaper owner by circulation. Some in the industry say they wouldn’t be surprised if Smith and Freeman end up becoming the biggest newspaper moguls in U.S. history.

They are also defined by an obsessive secrecy. Alden’s website contains no information beyond the firm’s name, and its list of investors is kept strictly confidential. When lawmakers pressed for details last year on who funds Alden, the company replied that “there may be certain legal entities and organizational structures formed outside of the United States.”

Smith, a reclusive Palm Beach septuagenarian, hasn’t granted a press interview since the 1980s. Freeman, his 41-year-old protégé and the president of the firm, would be unrecognizable in most of the newsrooms he owns. For two men who employ thousands of journalists, remarkably little is known about them.

Press Run, Commentary: Bah humbug — media blaming Biden for Christmas gift shortage, Eric Boehlert, right, Oct. 14, 2021. Good will towards men. The political press found Eric Boehlertsomething new to blame on President Joe Biden. Itching to maintain the Dems in Disarray narrative, being egged on by Fox News, and stretching common sense to the breaking point, the press is claiming the Democrat faces a “Christmas crisis” of confidence over something he has no control — clogged supply chains.

“Holiday delays could prove politically problematic for the president,” ABC News claimed. “With global supply chain bottlenecks threatening the Christmas shopping season, President Joe Biden will…try to stave off the potentially politically explosive headaches Americans may face as delays threaten holiday gift-giving.”

According to ABC News, if Americans encounter gift-giving delays because retailers are not able to supply purchases in time, it’s going to cause “explosive headaches” because, apparently, voters will blame the West Wing if store shelves aren’t stocked with Barbies.

This twisted logic continues to spread. “White House Scrambles to Address Looming Christmas Crisis,” an ominous Politico headline announced. At Wednesday’s White House press briefing, CBS’s Ed O’Keefe demanded to know if the White House could guarantee that holiday packages will arrive on time.

“If you think President Biden's approval ratings are bad now, just watch what happens if Christmas turns out to be a huge national bummer,” warned The Week. Pointing to “supply chain snarls,” the outlet warned that, “If Americans find themselves unable to celebrate the holidays in the manner to which they've become accustomed they're probably going to be angry. And they're probably going to blame the president.”

Talk about torturous logic. If private suppliers cannot produce on-time goods this gift-giving season because of a Covid-fueled shipping backup, Americans are going to blame the president. “That means Biden must do everything in his limited power to save Christmas — if only to save his still-young presidency,” according to The Week. Now Biden’s entire presidency hangs in the balance.

When did the U.S. stop being a capitalist country? When did the press start assuming the White House controls private industries, including the shipping and handling operations for retailers and suppliers?

 

Oct. 13

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance


U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

 

World Conflict, Corruption

 

U.S. Media News, Views

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Social Security benefits to rise 5.9%, biggest cost-of-living bump in decades, Jeff Stein, Oct. 13, 2021. The increase coming in 2022 is due to rising costs and inflationary pressures. Social Security benefits are paid to retired Americans and those with disabilities.

social security logoThe agency for the first time authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the U.S, a significant turn in the public health debate.

The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that its beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks starting next year — the largest boost to benefits in close to four decades.

The adjustment will be made for 64 million Social Security beneficiaries as well as 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries. Some Americans receive both benefits.

joe biden resized oThe cost-of-living increase, which will impact roughly 70 million people starting in late December and January, is tied to a measure of inflation that has surged this year as prices rise in a U.S. economy emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Experts caution that millions of seniors will in reality see substantially less than a 6 percent bump, because Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from Social Security beneficiaries’ checks and are tied to seniors’ income. The increase in benefits will amount to roughly an additional $92 per month for seniors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday that prices rose 0.4 percent in September compared to August. Overall, prices are up 5.4 percent over the last year. The “cost of living adjustment” that determines Social Security payment hikes is based on a different measure of inflation, but they both capture similar phenomenon in the economy.

The Social Security benefit increase has averaged about 1.7 percent over the last 10 years. This year’s increase amounts to the biggest since 1982, experts say. The price of prescription drugs often used by seniors has exploded, rising by 16 percent in 2021 alone, according to one industry group.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ban on vaccine mandates in Texas sharpens political battle lines, Annie Linskey, Fenit Nirappil and Ian Duncan, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Republicans and their allies escalated attacks on public health tactics, drawing corporate America into a cultural and political clash.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas governor bans coronavirus vaccine mandates, including for private businesses, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday banned any entity in his state — including private businesses — from mandating coronavirus vaccines for workers or customers, expanding prior executive orders from his office that prohibited state government entities from imposing similar requirements.

Abbott’s move puts him at odds with some large corporations and with the Biden administration, which last month announced plans to require all employers with 100 or more workers to adopt vaccine mandates or testing regimens. A number of large private companies in Texas have issued mandates.

texas map“If indeed the mandate now is everyone must be vaccinated or . . . tested once a week, we will obviously comply by that mandate,” Doug Parker, chief executive of Fort Worth-based American Airlines, said in a Washington Post Live interview in September.

“All along, as we’ve been going through this, we have been considering mandates and may have done one on our own. But what we wanted to do was do everything we could first to encourage everyone to do so,” he said.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines last week gave all employees until Dec. 8 to get vaccinated or face possible termination. (Many U.S. airlines also are government contractors, which must meet a Dec. 8 federal deadline for coronavirus vaccinations.) Telecom Greg Abbott Customgiant AT&T, also based in Dallas, in August ordered most of its management employees to get vaccinated by this week. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, headquartered in Houston, announced a similar move the same month.

Abbott, left, called the Biden administration’s sweeping plan “yet another instance of federal overreach,” saying in his order that the administration is “bullying” private entities into vaccine mandates, hurting the livelihoods of Texans and threatening the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Although the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment, President Biden appeared dismissive of earlier legal threats by a group of Republican governors including Abbott over his vaccine mandates, saying, “Have at it,” he said.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Trump Close to a Deal to Sell Marquee Washington, D.C., Hotel, Staff Report, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Miami-based CGI Merchant Group in talks to pay ex-president’s family company around $370 million for property in former Old Post Office. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., attracted supporters of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and others with business before the Trump administration.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer President Donald Trump’s family company is in advanced discussions to sell the rights to its opulent Washington, D.C., hotel in a deal worth more than $370 million, say people familiar with the matter.

CGI Merchant Group, a Miami-based investment firm, is in talks to acquire the lease on the hotel, these people said. The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., is located in the former Old Post Office, a short walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in a building featuring some of the largest guest rooms in the capital.

The property is owned by the federal government, but with extensions the lease runs close to 100 years. CGI has also entered into discussions with hotel operators, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.’s Waldorf Astoria luxury brand, about removing the Trump name in favor of that of another hotel manager, these people said.

The lease deal could ultimately fetch closer to $400 million, which would represent roughly a doubling of the money the Trump Organization spent to convert the government building into a luxury hotel, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

The Trump Organization initially hoped to sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal in 2019.

The hotel sales talks have been heating up as Democratic-controlled House committees have been investigating and holding hearings on potential conflicts of interest and emoluments issues surrounding Mr. Trump.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been examining the lease terms between the Trump Organization and the federal government’s General Services Administration for use of the Old Post Office. The deal predates Mr. Trump’s entry into national politics, but the committee is probing how well Mr. Trump managed conflicts of interest while president.

A Friday report from the House committee said the hotel lost more than $70 million between its opening in 2016 and last year, leading the company to inject at least $24 million in aid.

The Trumps have disputed those findings, though their government filings show a slowdown in business. The hotel generated about $150 million in revenue over four years, according to Mr. Trump’s financial disclosures while president. His most recent disclosure, which covered all of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021, showed the hotel’s revenue fell to $15 million, compared with $40 million in 2019.

The Washington, D.C., hotel has been a jewel in the Trump family portfolio. In 2012, the Trumps beat out some of the most experienced and deepest-pocketed names in the lodging business, including Marriott International Inc. and Hilton, for the rights to the lease.

The family’s pledge to spend about $200 million renovating and converting the 19th century post office into a modern luxury hotel was the highest offer, say people familiar with the matter.

About two years ago, the Trumps decided to test the sales market for the hotel’s lease. The family initially hoped it could sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee preparing to aggressively enforce subpoenas, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 13, 2021. Lawmakers on the panel said they are prepared to pursue charges against witnesses such as Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating, and they may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to a Trump Justice Department official.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to ramp up its efforts to force Trump administration officials to comply with its subpoenas as the former president attempts to stymie the inquiry.

Lawmakers who sit on the panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses like Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating. And the committee may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official who sought to deploy department resources to support former president Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election.

What happens to the Trump advisers who don’t comply with subpoenas?

“We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview Tuesday.

Tensions over compliance with subpoenas are increasing as the committee’s plan to hold depositions this week with Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6 — is already facing head winds.

Negotiations between Clark’s legal team and the committee did not proceed as rapidly as the committee hoped, according to a person familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. As a result, the committee is contemplating issuing a subpoena, this person said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Georgia judge dismisses lawsuit alleging voter fraud in 2020 election, Felicia Sonmez and Amy B Wang, Oct. 13, 2021. A Georgia judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against members of Fulton County’s election board, ruling that the plaintiffs, who alleged that there were fraudulent mail-in ballots in the 2020 presidential election, lacked standing to sue.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Brian Amero effectively blocks a small group’s efforts to inspect all 147,000 absentee ballots cast in the state’s largest county last November. It also comes one day after investigators testified that they were unable to find any evidence of fraudulent ballots.

News of the decision was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In his dismissal, Amero wrote that the plaintiffs “allege their votes have been diluted due to the ‘substantial likelihood’ that fraudulent ballots were introduced during ballot processing for the General Election.”

“They also allege that the issue will persist in future elections if not corrected,” he wrote. “However, regardless of the veracity of these allegations, the Court finds Petitioners have still failed to allege a particularized injury.”

Robb Pitts, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, welcomed the decision, describing it as “a win for democracy.”

“This lawsuit was the result of the ‘big lie,’ which is nothing more than a meritless conspiracy theory being spread by people who simply cannot accept that their side lost,” Pitts said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Garland Favorito of the group VoterGA, said his team had “prepared diligently to present concrete evidence of our allegations and refute other false claims” at a hearing that had been scheduled for Nov. 15.

In a statement, Favorito criticized Amero’s decision.

“All citizens of Georgia have a right to know whether or not counterfeit ballots were injected into the Fulton Co. election results, how many were injected, where they came from and how we can prevent it from happening again in future elections,” Favorito said. “It is not adequate for any organization to secretly tell us there are no counterfeit ballots and refuse to let the public inspect them.”

In July, Amero dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims against Fulton County, the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections and the Fulton County Clerk of Superior and Magistrate Courts on the basis of Georgia’s sovereign immunity laws. But he granted a request by the plaintiffs to add the county’s election board members — as individuals, not as a collective group — to the lawsuit as new respondents, which allowed the case to continue.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Covid Has Killed Hundreds of Police Officers. Vaccines Remain a Hard Sell, Mitch Smith, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Far more officers in the U.S. have died from Covid-19 than from any other work-related cause in 2020 and 2021. Even so, unions are fighting mandates.

Over the last year and a half, a majority of the roughly 40 police officers who patrol Baker, La., a suburb of Baton Rouge, tested positive for the coronavirus. All of them recovered and went back to work — until Lt. DeMarcus Dunn got sick.

Lieutenant Dunn, a 36-year-old shift supervisor who coached youth sports and once chased down someone who fled the police station after being arrested, died from Covid-19 on Aug. 13. His wedding had been scheduled for the next day.

Chief Carl K. Dunn said he had assumed that the lieutenant, a distant relative, was vaccinated, but thought it would be inappropriate to ask. It was not until after the death, the chief said, that he was told Lieutenant Dunn had not gotten a shot. For some others in the department who had been resisting vaccination, it was a turning point.

More than 460 American law enforcement officers have died from Covid-19 infections tied to their work since the start of the pandemic, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, making the coronavirus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021. More than four times as many officers have died from Covid-19 as from gunfire in that period. There is no comprehensive accounting of how many American police officers have been sickened by the virus, but departments across the country have reported large outbreaks in the ranks.

While the virus has ravaged policing, persuading officers to take a vaccine has often been a struggle, even though the shots have proven to be largely effective in preventing severe disease and death.

Some elected officials say police officers have a higher responsibility to get vaccinated because they are regularly interacting with members of the public and could unknowingly spread the virus. The debate echoes concerns from earlier in the pandemic, when police officers in some cities resisted wearing masks in public.

Yet as more departments in recent weeks have considered requiring members to be vaccinated, officers and their unions have loudly pushed back, in some cases threatening resignations or flooding systems with requests for exemptions.

In San Jose, Calif., city leaders decided just as a vaccine mandate was taking effect to allow unvaccinated officers to remain employed through the end of the year, with incremental discipline and testing requirements. Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose said he wanted to keep as many police officers as possible on the job, but worried about the public health risks of having unvaccinated officers on the streets.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: U.S. to Open the Canada and Mexico Borders for Fully Vaccinated Travelers, Staff reports, Oct. 13, 2021. The Biden administration will lift the travel restrictions in November.

canadian flagThe Biden administration will lift travel restrictions at the borders with Canada and Mexico starting in November for fully vaccinated travelers, reopening the doors of the United States to tourists and separated family members who have been sealed out of the country during the pandemic.

Foreign travelers who provide proof of vaccination and are looking to visit families or friends or shop in the United States will be allowed to enter, senior administration officials said on Tuesday, weeks after the administration said it would soon lift a similar sweeping restriction on foreigners traveling to the country from overseas.

The lifting of the bans will effectively mark the reopening of the United States to travelers and tourism, signaling a new phase in the recovery from the pandemic after the country closed its borders for nearly 19 months.

But the new requirements also indicate that the United States will welcome only visitors who are vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers will continue to be banned from crossing the borders with Mexico or Canada, officials said.

Here’s the latest Covid news.

  • Minnesota hospitals are nearing capacity as a virus surge batters the state.
  • China begins administering additional shots to older and high-risk people.
  • Anchorage approves a mask mandate after two weeks of intense debate.
  • American and Southwest Airlines reject the Texas order banning vaccine mandates.
  • Federal vaccine mandates can override Texas’ sweeping new ban, experts say.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nearly 3% of U.S. workforce quit their jobs in August, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Some 4.3 million people quit jobs in August, according to the Labor Department — about 2.9 percent of the workforce. The phenomenon is being driven in part by workers who are less tolerant of inconvenient hours, low compensation or trying conditions, because they know there are ample opportunities elsewhere.

The number of people quitting their jobs has surged to record highs, pushed by a combination of factors that include Americans sensing ample opportunity and better pay elsewhere.

Some 4.3 million people quit jobs in August, according to the monthly survey — about 2.9 percent of the workforce, according to new data released Tuesday from the Department of Labor. Those numbers are up from the previous records set in April and nearly matched in July, of about 4 million people quitting.

The phenomenon is being driven in part by workers who are less willing to endure inconvenient hours and poor compensation, quitting at this stage in the pandemic to find better opportunities elsewhere. According to the report, there were 10.4 million job openings in the country at the end of August — down slightly from July’s record high, which was adjusted up to 11.1 million, but still a tremendously high number.

ny times logoNew York Times, Consumer Prices Jumped Last Month, Worrying Washington and Wall St., Jeanna Smialek, Oct. 13, 2021. A key reading of consumer prices jumped more than expected last month, data released on Wednesday showed, raising the stakes for the White House and Federal Reserve as they continue to wager that rapid inflation will cool as the economy returns to normal.

The Consumer Price Index climbed 5.4 percent in September when compared with the prior year, more than expected in a Bloomberg survey of economists and faster than its 5.3 percent increase through August. From August to September, the index rose 0.4 percent, also above expectations. The gains came as housing prices firmed, and as food — especially meat and eggs — cost consumers more. Stripping out volatile food and fuel, inflation is still rapid, at 4 percent in the year through last month.

washington post logoWashington Post, As supply chain troubles mount, Biden to tout longer hours for L.A. port, David J. Lynch, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Top importers such as Walmart, FedEx and UPS are expected to pledge to use the port’s extended hours to remove from the docks shipping containers that have slowed freight operations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Catholic troops should be able to reject vaccine if it violates their conscience, archbishop says, Andrew Jeong and Timothy Bella, Oct. 13, 2021. The archbishop of the U.S. military is arguing that Catholic troops should not be forced to receive the coronavirus vaccine if it “would violate the sanctity” of their conscience, as thousands of active-duty service members remain unvaccinated ahead of a December mandate deadline.
U.S. coronavirus cases tracker and map

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said in a statement Tuesday that although the Catholic Church’s highest doctrinal authority has determined that being vaccinated is not sinful, U.S. troops still can refuse vaccination on religious grounds. He cited Pope Paul VI, who wrote that a man “is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience.”

“Notwithstanding the moral permissibility of these vaccines, the Church treasures her teaching on the sanctity of conscience,” wrote Broglio, who has supported the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for U.S. troops. “Accordingly, no one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience.”

Broglio’s statement comes as hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members remain unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated despite the mandate, according to the Pentagon. Although the military’s vaccination rate has climbed since August after Defense Department leaders, acting on a directive from President Biden, established deadlines for the nation’s 2.1 million troops to get vaccinated, the troops’ response has been scattershot, according to data assessed by The Washington Post.

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near

As of last week, active-duty members of the Navy had the highest rate with about 90 percent fully vaccinated, while the Marine Corps had the lowest rate among active-duty service members at 76.5 percent. About 81 percent of active troops each in the Army and the Air Force were fully vaccinated.

While the Air Force has the most aggressive timeline to get all of their active and reservist airmen vaccinated by Dec. 2, the deadline for Army National Guard and Army Reserve units stretches into next summer. Those components make up roughly a quarter of the entire U.S. military, and they account for nearly 40 percent of the 62 service-member deaths due to covid-19, according to the data assessed by The Post.

More military personnel died of coronavirus infections last month than in all of 2020 — and none of those who died were fully vaccinated, said Pentagon spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz. Defense officials expect deaths to decrease in coming months.

About a quarter-million service members have been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to Pentagon data. The rise in military infections, hospitalizations and deaths mirrored the summer surge fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant and the millions in the United States who remain unvaccinated.

Broglio oversees 1.8 million Catholics affiliated with the U.S. military, though he is not a member himself. As a top Catholic authority, his opinion carries weight, but decisions are made by military leaders.

The archbishop has maintained since the spring that Catholics in uniform should receive coronavirus vaccines and that the shots are morally acceptable, citing guidance from the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In the days leading up to the announcement of the military vaccine mandate, Broglio reaffirmed his support of vaccination, telling the Catholic News Agency that the pope “recognized the morality of the vaccine.”

ny times logonba logoNew York Times, Nets Bar Kyrie Irving From All Practices and Games, Scott Cacciola, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). The Nets announced Tuesday that they were indefinitely barring Kyrie Irving from all team activities until he was “eligible to be a full participant.”

Irving, the team’s starting point guard, had faced the prospect of being able to play only on the road with the Nets this season because of local coronavirus ordinances in New York that require most individuals to be at least partially vaccinated to enter facilities such as sports arenas. The Nets play their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” the Nets said in a statement. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice.”

Irving’s potential absence from home games had created a predicament for the Nets, a team with championship aspirations that had to weigh whether having him around only half the time would be worth it. His teammates had expressed their support for him.

Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play, require all employees and guests 12 and older to show proof of having received at least one vaccine dose, to comply with a city mandate, unless they have a religious or medical exemption. San Francisco has a similar requirement that applies to Chase Center, where the Golden State Warriors play. The mandates in both cities mean that the players from the Knicks, Nets and Golden State cannot play in their teams’ 41 home games without being vaccinated.

The ordinances in New York and San Francisco do not apply to players from visiting teams.

There is the chance, however, that additional players could miss games if other cities enact similar ordinances that prevent unvaccinated people from attending indoor gatherings.

Either way, unvaccinated players face a host of rules and restrictions this season. With limited exceptions, they are required to remain at home or at the team hotel when they are not at games or at practices. They also are not permitted to eat with vaccinated teammates, who have far more freedom to dine out and interact with the public.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 13, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 239,597,224, Deaths: 4,884,258
U.S. Cases:     45,431,167, Deaths:   737,589
India Cases:    34,001,743, Deaths:    451,220
Brazil Cases:   21,590,097, Deaths:    601,442

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 217.4 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.13, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 187.2 million eligible who are fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

Daily Beast, Anti-Masker Alaska Pol Gets COVID, Boasts About Taking Unproven Meds, Zoe Richards, Oct. 13, 2021. Lora Reinbold was previously banned from flying with Alaska Airlines for refusing to mask up. Now she’s relying on a Vicks steamer and ivermectin to keep her out of a hospital.

daily beast logoTwo Republican state senators in Alaska have tested positive for COVID-19 and one has been leveraging her platform on Facebook to tout a cocktail of vitamins and ivermectin as a miracle cure while railing against recommendations by public health officials.

“Its my turn to battle Covid head on... game on!” Republican state Sen. Lora Reinbold wrote on Facebook on Tuesday night. “When I defeat it, I will tell you my recipe.”

Sen. David Wilson also tested positive and was managing minor symptoms. A third lawmaker, Sen. Click Bishop, tested negative in a first test after feeling sick, Anchorage Daily News reported.

On Tuesday night, Reinbold complained on Facebook that she was “completely unimpressed” with instructions she’d supposedly been given to take Tylenol after testing positive, alleging it was a “bad recipe” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health. (The CDC website says a patient’s supervising doctor might recommend ibuprofen to reduce fever, but the agency does not offer formal instructions on treatment).

She claimed she was taking matters into her own hands and was using a Vicks steamer while downing a slew of vitamins, zinc, aspirin and the parasitic drug ivermectin, which has not been proven to treat COVID.

“I am blessed to have gotten Ivirmectin [sic] the ‘de -covider,’” she added, promising those following along on social media that she would provide periodic updates and stay out of the hospital. “Some of them seem like scary places these days,” she wrote.

On Wednesday afternoon, she shared a TikTok video that appeared to show an airline pilot calling a requirement to get vaccinated an “ultimatum” and an affront to “freedom.”

Reinbold has been an ardent opponent of COVID-19 vaccine requirements in Alaska, which has been among the hardest-hit states amid the Delta variant surge in recent weeks.

She backed legislation to bar businesses and local governments from requiring vaccinations, a favored tactic among GOP lawmakers who have boosted their political profiles by defying public health measures intended to curb the spread of the virus.

Reinbold has also routinely balked at mask requirements.

Last month, she was excused from attending floor votes for the remainder of the year after she told legislative leaders she couldn’t fly back and forth to Anchorage because she got into a dispute with staffers on Alaska Airlines when she refused to wear a mask.

In April, Reinbold was banned indefinitely from flying on Alaska Airlines after repeatedly refusing to wear a mask as required by federal transportation authorities.

The positive tests in the legislature come after Anchorage Assembly leaders last week canceled a meeting because Mayor Dave Bronson’s office said two staffers had tested positive for COVID and members who had attended a Thursday meeting came into “really close contact” with them.

At that meeting, Reinbold challenged the proposal for a citywide mask ordinance.

Bronson, who is staunchly unvaccinated, recently apologized after saying that comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust’s yellow Star of David was “actually a credit” to Jewish people.

Masks are mandated in the state’s legislative buildings, including the Capitol, although they are not necessarily required in private offices.

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U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's undermining of the electoral process gives U.S. Third World nation status, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 13, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. To the delight of autocrats around the world, from Brazil's neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro to Hungarian quasi-dictator Viktor Orban, Donald Trump and his cult-of-personality Republican Party have driven the United States into a category that was once the domain of Third World nations.

wayne madesen report logoWidespread belief among Trump loyalists that elections are "fixed" has undermined faith in the American political process. It was similar propaganda put forth by Adolf Hitler that convinced many Germans in the 1930s that elections were merely a waste of time, a mindset that allowed Hitler to scrap Germany's democratic constitution and declare a "Thousand Year" Nazi Reich.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Ruling Signals E-Cigarettes Can Help Smokers Quit, Matt Richtel and Sheila Kaplan, Updated Oct. 13, 2021. The Food and Drug Administration for the first time on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the United States, a significant turn in one of the most contentious public health debates in decades.

fda logoIn greenlighting a device and tobacco-flavored cartridges marketed by R.J. Reynolds under the brand name Vuse, the agency signaled that it believed that the help certain vaping devices offer smokers to quit traditional cigarettes is more significant than the risks of ensnaring a new generation.

“The authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data,” the F.D.A. said in a statement announcing the decision.

The statement concluded, “The F.D.A. determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth.”

The watershed decision could pave the way for authorization of some other electronic cigarettes, including those of the once-dominant maker Juul, to stay on the market. For more than a year, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes have been in a holding pattern — most of their products on the market but awaiting official authorization — as the F.D.A. has investigated whether they were a benefit or a danger to public health.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why would W.Va and Ariz. senators balk at a bill that helps their states so much? Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 13, 2021. At times, figuring jennifer rubin new headshotout what Sens. Joe Machin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) want in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is hard, if not impossible. Which is odd, since it sure seems like an awful lot of the items in the plan would help their states.

Take Medicare expansion. Manchin seems to oppose extending Medicare benefits to cover vision, dental and hearing benefits — among the most popular components of the bill. Supermajorities of Democrats and voters in general support this proposal. In Manchin’s home state, as of 2020, more than 442,000 West Virginians receive Medicare. (In Arizona, the number is about 1.35 million people.) So he wants to swim against the tide of overwhelming public opinion? If his argument is that spending on the elderly should be a lower priority than spending on children and families with children, he has yet to articulate it.

Finally, while it might make sense for a West Virginia senator to oppose green energy measures (although coal is a declining segment of the state’s economy), there is no excuse for Sinema to object to this aspect of the package. She has previously supported investment in solar energy — understandable for someone coming from a state that, as the Arizona Capitol Times reports, has experienced “significant growth in advanced energy jobs, with a recent industry report showing 69,000 jobs in the sector and a growth rate of 3.5%.”

Virtually everything in the Build Back Better plan would aid one or both of the states Manchin and Sinema represent. The package is popular overall, especially with Democrats. If cost of the package is the problem, then at least both holdouts should embrace the savings afforded by the Medicare drug provision. Unless they are simply out for attention or attempting to woo a sliver of right-wing voters and lobbyists back home (at the risk of alienating progressives), their opposition is inexplicable. No wonder progressive negotiators in the Senate and House haven’t heard much from them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The new deadline to pass Biden’s agenda is coming up fast, Jacqueline Alemany and Theodoric Meyer, Oct. 13, 2021. New deadline, old problems: Less than two weeks after House Democrats missed a deadline to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill, the party is staring down another one.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer say they’re aiming to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a larger package stuffed full of Democrats’ child care, health care and climate change priorities by Oct. 31, when a short-term extension of highway funding is set to run out.

Coincidentally, Oct. 31 is the day before the much-anticipated United Nations climate summit kicks off in Glasgow, where administration officials are eager to show off legislation that would establish credibility in negotiations with foreign governments. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last month that Biden expected the reconciliation bill — much of which is focused on fighting climate change — would “move forward in advance of that.”

(Asked about it on Tuesday, Psaki said Biden would tout the administration's commitment to combating climate change in Glasgow “regardless of where the package stands.”)

And two days later, Virginians will head to the polls to elect a new governor in a contest lawmakers and the White House are watching closely. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has implored Democrats in Washington to pass the infrastructure bill by Election Day.

ny times logoNew York Times, Of Four Family Policies in Democrats’ Bill, Which Is Most Important? Claire Cain Miller, Oct. 13, 2021. We asked 18 academics what they would choose if they could pick only one: paid leave, child care, pre-K or child allowances.

The safety net spending bill proposed by Democrats in Congress includes major benefits for families: paid leave, child care, pre-K and child allowances. But as they negotiate over the size of the bill, they may need to choose. Senator Joe Manchin, one of the two centrists whom Democrats must persuade to vote with them, has suggested that they pick just one, Axios reported. In a letter to colleagues Monday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote, “Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from members is to do fewer things well.”

We asked 18 academics who study family policy — scholars of sociology, economics, public policy, social work and law — what they would choose if they could have only one, based on evidence from research in the United States and other countries.

All said it was a choice they would not want to make — proponents of more generous family policies say they all work together. “People need resources for coordinating family and employment across the life span,” said Joanna Pepin, a sociologist at the University at Buffalo. “Picking just one policy is akin to putting a fire out in one room of a house engulfed in flames and stopping.”

Democrats are considering other ways to spend less but keep all four programs, like giving child benefits only to low earners, offering fewer than 12 weeks of paid leave, or making the policies expire after several years. But the exercise of choosing one forces a closer look beyond the politics and at the policies themselves — who would be helped by each program, and where there is greatest need.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. John Yarmuth, chairman of House Budget Committee, will not run for reelection, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) speaks at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 21. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced Tuesday that he will not run for reelection in 2022, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.

john yarmuthYarmuth, right, has represented the Louisville-based 3rd District of Kentucky since 2007 and has led the powerful budget panel since 2019. He becomes the 10th House Democrat to announce they will not seek reelection in 2022, which is expected to be a challenging year for the president’s party.

“I always said I couldn’t imagine being here longer than 10 years,” Yarmuth said in a video posted on social media Tuesday afternoon. “After every election, I was asked how long I intended to serve, and I never had an answer. Today, I do: This term will be my last.”

News of Yarmuth’s retirement was first reported by NBC News.

Yarmuth said that he is in excellent health but that he will be 75 by the time his current term in Congress ends, and “the desire to have more control of my time in the years I have left has become a high priority.”

“Candidly, I have found new and incomparable joy in spending time with my young grandson, and I’d like to spend more of my golden years with my family in Louisville,” he said in the video.

In addition to steering President Biden’s agenda through Congress, Yarmuth said he “will be working hard to ensure that our community is represented in Congress by the best possible Democratic man or woman.”

State Rep. Attica Scott (D) announced in July that she was launching a primary challenge against Yarmuth. “I am running for Congress for the Louisvillians who have asked me for years to run, including the Black women who have never had a representative from Kentucky in Congress who looks like us,” Scott said in announcing her bid, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

State Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) announced Tuesday afternoon that he also was joining the race.

Kentucky’s 3rd District has been in Democratic hands since 2007, when Yarmuth took office after ousting Rep. Anne Northup (R). The district includes almost all of Jefferson County, the most populous and diverse in the state, and leans heavily Democratic; even so, Northup represented it in Congress for a decade.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republicans’ campaign arm, cast Yarmuth’s announcement as a sign of the tough terrain Democrats face in 2022.

“Smart Democrats know their days in the majority are numbered, so they are retiring or seeking other offices,” NRCC spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement.

While Kentucky has not yet begun its redistricting process, as the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, Yarmuth faced the prospect of state Republicans breaking apart his district and making it unwinnable for a Democrat through redistricting.

Roll Call, Analysis: New lines, new ratings for House races in Indiana, Nathan L. Gonzales, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.).  Republican-crafted map solidifies 7-2 delegation split Not only did Indiana Republicans opt against squeezing one more seat out of their congressional delegation, they solidified the status quo and potentially left the state without a competitive House race for the next decade.

Republicans need a net gain of just five seats in 2022 to retake the majority, but the fight for the House won’t be taking place in the Hoosier State next year. Unless there are a couple of political earthquakes, Indiana will likely send seven Republicans and two Democrats to Washington for the foreseeable future.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hochul Leads Democratic Field in First Major Poll of N.Y. Governor’s Race, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.).  A Marist College poll found that voters favored Gov. Kathy Hochul over potential primary rivals, including the state attorney general, Letitia James.

kathy hochul 2017When Kathy Hochul unexpectedly became governor of New York two months ago, she was immediately faced with two challenges: Leading a state traversing a pandemic while simultaneously building a statewide campaign operation to run for a full term next year.

Ms. Hochul, right, immediately began courting donors and hiring campaign staff, as she faced the prospects of potentially running against Letitia James, the state attorney general, whose office led the sexual harassment investigation that ultimately led to the demise of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and to Ms. Hochul’s ascension.

Ms. Hochul’s efforts appear to be paying off: A Marist College poll released on Tuesday found that Ms. Hochul would beat Ms. James and Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate, if next year’s Democratic primary for governor were held today.

In a hypothetical three-way primary, 44 percent of New York Democrats said they would vote for Ms. Hochul, 28 percent for Ms. James and 15 percent for Mr. Williams, while 13 percent said they were unsure.

In a four-way race that included Mr. Cuomo, 36 percent of Democratic voters said they favored Ms. Hochul, while 24 percent said they would vote for Ms. James, 19 percent for Mr. Cuomo and 9 percent for Mr. Williams; 12 percent said they were unsure.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t sleep on this dangerous 2021 Governor election in Virginia, Kevin Spann, Oct. 13, 2021. Virginia, along with just four other states, attempts to decouple their state and federal contests by holding elections for state offices on odd-numbered years rather than coinciding with the midterm or presidential cycles. Once upon a time, this made state politics somewhat independent of national trends. Candidate-centered rather than party-centered campaigns were rewarded, and many voters split their tickets.

Under the contemporary political climate, this largely just means the party whose base is mobilized carries the day so long as they win over a modicum of independents. In 2009 Democrats got caught resting on their laurels and were beaten badly. The 2013 cycle was a pitched battle with leading Democrats benefitting from going up against awful Republican opponents, and in 2017 Democrats rode the emerging blue wave to victory. This November, Democrats run the risk of once again getting caught with their pants down.

Polling thus far is competitive, with former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe holding a modest lead. Three factors, though, seriously threaten Democrats’ prospects in the state. The first is Republican Glenn Youngkin. Youngkin, a political novice and former CEO of the Carlyle Group, avoided a bloody primary against several MAGA diehards’ thanks only to a wrinkle in the state’s electoral system that allows parties to sometimes nominate candidates via closed party conventions rather than traditional primaries. Thus far, Youngkin seems to have pulled off the balancing act of satisfying MAGA types while simultaneously convincing some swing and conservative-leaning voters that his politics are in the vein of traditional Republicans like Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan.

McAuliffe must also contend with a progressive third party candidate Princess Blanding of the newly established Liberation Party. There is little reason to think Blanding will receive many votes beyond hard-line socialist types, but this may still represent a problem for Democrats. In previous elections like McAuliffe’s last race for governor, Dems benefited from semi-high profile Libertarian candidates siphoning votes away from the Republican nominee. In this race, however, it’s McAuliffe that has to defend his flank. Lastly, Democrats have to contend with Virginia voters’ tendency to split their tickets.

While ticket-splitting nationwide has plummeted, it remains a factor in Virginia, where voters have long shown a tendency toward divided government. At the state level, Democrats currently have unified party control for the first time since the early 90s. As such, unless Democrats properly sell their accomplishments over the past few years, it is far from inconceivable that swing voters will favor checking Democrats in the form of either a Republican governor or state legislature. However, if Democrats navigate these headwinds, it will strongly suggest that the state has fully transitioned from purple to blue.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate candidate Herschel Walker cancels fundraiser after uproar over donor’s use of vaccine-needle swastika in profile, Mariana Alfaro, Oct. 13, 2021. A fundraiser for Republican Herschel Walker, a U.S. Senate candidate in Georgia, was canceled Wednesday after its host was criticized for featuring an image that used a swastika made out of syringes on her Twitter profile.

Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a Republican donor, was set to host a fundraiser for Walker this weekend in Parker, Tex., according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which first noted Wednesday morning that her Twitter profile picture resembled the symbol. That specific rendering of the vaccine-needle swastika has been co-opted by activists nationwide who oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates and compare them to Nazi treatment of the Jews.

Within hours of the Journal-Constitution’s report, the account’s profile picture had been changed and Walker had called off the event despite initially standing by Viviano-Langlais.

On Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign defended the image as being “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic.”

“Herschel unequivocally opposes anti-semitism and bigotry of all kinds,” the spokeswoman told the Journal-Constitution. By 3 p.m. Eastern time, however, the spokeswoman said Walker would no longer be attending the event and emphasized his support for the Jewish community.

“Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry of all forms,” Walker spokeswoman Mallory Blount told The Washington Post. “Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates, the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign.”

Viviano-Langlais, a Texas filmmaker, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The campaign’s walk-back was not enough for the Georgia Democratic Party, which initially accused Walker of defending the symbol “for nothing more than some campaign cash.”

“Herschel Walker defended a swastika, and canceling a fundraiser does not change the fact that he failed to condemn a hateful, anti-Semitic symbol,” Dan Gottlieb, a spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Walker, supported by Trump, jumps into U.S. Senate race in Georgia

Walker, a former National Football League running back whose career was bookended with stints with the Dallas Cowboys, has refused to say whether he is vaccinated. He officially received former president Donald Trump’s endorsement in September, months after Trump first raised the possibility that the former University of Georgia star could run a strong campaign against Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, a freshman Democrat.

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U.S. Courts, Law, Military, Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutors argue Giuliani associate Lev Parnas knew donations he funneled were illegal, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 13, 2021. An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani who hobnobbed at events attended by then-President Donald Trump illegally funneled foreign funds from a Russian investor to American political candidates to try to win their loyalty and earn favors, prosecutors argued at the start of his trial on Wednesday.
2021 Election: Complete coverage and analysis

Lev Parnas and another man, Andrey Kukushkin, allegedly conspired to transfer $1 million from financier Andrey Muraviev to donate to candidates who could potentially assist in getting licenses to run legal recreational cannabis businesses. Muraviev has not been charged.

“This is what secret foreign money infiltrating American elections looks like,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aline Flodr said in her opening statement in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Flodr argued that Parnas and Kukushkin were well aware of U.S. election laws that prohibited straw donations from foreign sources. She told jurors that text message and email evidence will prove the pair purposely sought to hide the true source of the donations and “blatantly” violated the law.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Trump gone, advocates flood Justice Dept. with requests to investigate police, David Nakamura, Oct. 13, 2021. Hampered by limited resources — and facing growing caseloads on voting rights, hate crimes and other civil rights issues — Justice officials are struggling to sort through the requests and respond.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump cronies who defy subpoenas may be prosecuted. Here’s why that matters, Greg Sargent, Oct. 13, 2021. The right wing in this country, particularly under Donald Trump, has pulled off a spectacular trick. It has persuaded many neutral observers that its chronic anti-democratic bad acting is a natural and inevitable background feature of our politics that is properly seen as beyond accountability, and that forbearance in response is the price for future democratic stability.

This is why the coming battle over Trump cronies who are likely to defy the Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoenas is so important. At stake is not just whether we’ll achieve basic accountability for a sustained effort to overturn U.S. democracy.

Also at stake is whether our system can uphold the rule of law in the face of a concerted campaign to cow good faith actors into accepting that the price of peace is special treatment that places bad actors above the law.

CNN reports that the select committee is likely to refer any Trump advisers and allies who defy subpoenas to the Justice Department for prosecution. As of now, one — Stephen K. Bannon — is not cooperating. What former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and political adviser Dan Scavino will do remains unclear.

If they have not indicated cooperation by the deposition deadlines of Oct. 14 and Oct. 15, the next step should be to refer the matter for Justice Department prosecution. But as CNN reports, it’s unclear what would happen then:

Holding non-compliant witnesses in criminal contempt would take the Justice Department agreeing to prosecute those individuals in federal court — a matter that Attorney General Merrick Garland has not weighed in on publicly to date or indicated if he would support.

In an interview, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the select committee, weighed in strongly behind the idea that the Justice Department should act aggressively.

“Given the nature of the congressional investigation, the Department of Justice would have every reason to enforce criminal contempt referrals from Congress,” Raskin told me. “This is about protecting the democracy against violent insurrections and coups.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge calls for Justice Department civil rights probe into D.C. jail’s treatment of Jan. 6 detainees, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 13, 2021. A federal judge found the warden of the D.C. jail and director of the D.C. Department of Corrections in contempt of court Wednesday and called on the Justice Department to investigate whether the jail is violating the civil rights of dozens of detained Jan. 6 defendants.
2021 Election: Complete coverage and analysis

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington acted after finding that jail officials failed to turn over information needed to approve surgery recommended four months ago for a Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendant’s broken wrist.

The defendant, Christopher Worrell, is an accused Florida Proud Boys member charged with four felonies, including rioting and spraying pepper gel at police at a critical point leading to the initial Capitol breach.

The failure of D.C. officials to turn over medical records is “more than just inept and bureaucratic jostling of papers,” Lamberth said in a hearing, raising the possibility of deliberate mistreatment.

“I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abused. I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6th defendant or not, but I find this matter should be referred to the attorney general of the United States for a civil rights investigation into whether the D.C. Department of Corrections is violating the civil rights of January 6th defendants . . . in this and maybe other cases.”

Lamberth stopped short of imposing further civil sanctions on jail officials, who belatedly produced the records Tuesday, or ordering the release of inmates. But he suggested that the U.S. Marshals Service may have to move inmates from the D.C. jail to other detention facilities if they are being treated improperly.

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed receipt of the referral Wednesday and declined to comment further.

The case spotlights spiraling frustration among U.S. judges over conditions at the long-troubled D.C. jail, specifically the effect of pandemic restrictions and crippling staff shortages at the facility, which houses 1,500 federal and local detainees.

Conditions at the 45-year-old facility have long been criticized by inmates, lawyers and judges. But the complaints reached new heights this spring after prisoner advocates criticized the prolonged confinement of detainees to stamp out the coronavirus pandemic. For about 400 days, jail officials imposed a 23-hour-a-day lockdown to enforce social distancing before restrictions were eased during the summer.

Now defense lawyers argue that complaints like Worrell’s related to medical care behind bars are the tip of the iceberg. Several have claimed in court that a lack of computers, a video conference room and jail guards, in addition to continued pandemic measures, threaten some inmates’ constitutional rights to counsel and to view government evidence against them and contribute to their defense.

Also lurking beneath such concerns is the question of how long judges will allow prosecutors to continue to ask defendants to waive their rights to a speedy trial nine months after the Capitol riot led to assaults on about 140 police officers and disrupted Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election results.

A handful of Capitol breach defendants have aggressively raised concerns, but the same problems face hundreds of D.C. jail inmates awaiting trial, most of them on local charges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Marine officer who blasted U.S. officials over Afghan withdrawal to plead guilty to some charges, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). A Marine officer whose viral videos criticizing senior officials for how they withdrew from Afghanistan created a political uproar will plead guilty to several charges and seek a discharge that allows him to keep some military benefits, one of his lawyers said Tuesday.

stuart schellerLt. Col. Stuart Scheller is scheduled for court-martial at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Thursday, and faces charges that include disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, and dereliction in the performance of duties. He burst into public view in August when, in the immediate aftermath of a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans, he posted a video while in uniform questioning why no senior leader had admitted making mistakes in how the withdrawal was carried out.

One of Scheller's attorneys, Tim Parlatore, said in a phone interview that he could not yet get into the specifics of a pretrial agreement because some of the details are “still up in the air.” But he said the case began with Scheller demanding accountability from others, and it would “make him a hypocrite” if the Marine did not accept responsibility for his own actions.

dzhokhar tsarnaev headphones reuters colorado

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court to consider Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence, Robert Barnes, Oct. 13, 2021. The Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether the death penalty should be reinstated for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (shown in custody in a photo distributed by Reuters).

The court will review a decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. In July, the panel agreed with Tsarnaev’s lawyers that the judge overseeing his trial did not adequately question potential jurors for bias in the case, which received massive publicity.

It also said some evidence was improperly withheld that might have indicated Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, was more culpable for the bombing. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed as police closed in on the brothers days after the April, 2013 attack.

The case created a dilemma for the Justice Department, which had asked the Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court decision when Donald Trump was president. President Biden opposes the death penalty.

But the administration did not change its position after the court accepted the case.

“The district court’s fair and careful management” of Tsarnaev’s trial resulted in “an impartial jury that delivered a nuanced verdict recommending capital punishment only for the murders that respondent personally committed,” Acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher wrote in a brief to the court.

Supreme Court takes the bench after long absence, but things have changed

The brief said Tsarnaev’s criticisms of “two out of the hundreds of separate judgment calls required from the court over the course of this complex case are unwarranted.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 28, is being held in a federal prison in Colorado. He admitted his role in the bombing, which killed three people and wounded hundreds of others at the finish line of the annual race. At issue is the appeals court decision that he is entitled to a new penalty-phase trial to determine whether he deserves execution.

The appeals court in July ruled that part of the trial could have been tainted by jurors who had already made up their minds because of the publicity surrounding the case.

A trove of emails in a workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, above left, went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades, including against DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

A trove of emails in a workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, above left, went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades, including against DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

washington post logoWashington Post, NFL won’t release more from Washington Football Team investigation despite anger over offensive emails, Mark Maske, Beth Reinhard and Will Hobson, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). The NFL does not plan to release more materials from the investigation into the workplace of the Washington Football nfl logoTeam, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday, despite calls for more transparency after the emergence of emails sent to a former team executive that included racist and homophobic language and lewd images.

The league remained unwavering in that stance Tuesday even as the NFL Players Association and others connected to the investigation sought access to more information about a trove of emails obtained by attorney Beth Wilkinson during her probe of the team’s workplace.

Jon Gruden resigned Monday as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after reports that he used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language in emails to Bruce Allen, Washington’s former team president, and others. Allen faces no immediate formal discipline, but it would be “highly unlikely” the NFL would permit Allen to work in the league again, the person with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.

 

World Conflict, Corruption

washington post logoWashington Post, Israeli minister says ‘no way’ to U.S. reopening of consulate in Jerusalem, Amy Cheng, Oct. 13, 2021. No way would Israel agree to have the United States reopen its consulate dedicated to Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem, said Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Saar. His comment comes ahead of a meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats in Washington this week, with the topic likely to be on the agenda.

When pressed during a public conference Tuesday about whether Israel would allow the consulate’s reopening if the Biden administration pushed for it, Saar repeatedly registered his opposition, a response that drew applause from the audience.

israel flag“I spoke with [Prime Minister Naftali Bennett] a couple of times on the issue. We are on the same page, and we don’t see differently,” Saar added. “Someone said it’s an electoral commitment. But for us, it’s a generation’s commitment. We will not compromise on this.”

The State Department could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, said in May that the United States would reopen the Jerusalem consulate that traditionally engaged with antony blinken o newPalestinians, but observers say the issue presents a dilemma for the Biden White House.

Although the administration may wish to reopen the consulate, it does not want the issue to become a wedge in Israeli domestic politics or weaken a government it considers “more moderate than its predecessor,” according to David Makovsky, a senior adviser to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Obama era.

Bennett headed the small, right-wing Yamina party before taking office by putting together a coalition government with more-centrist parties in the fourth nationwide election in two years. Bennett is the first prime minister to have lived in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank — illegal under international law — and has made clear his objection to Palestinian statehood.

Nir Barkat, a member of the Knesset and a top contender to replace former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as leader of the right-wing Likud party, proposed a bill in July that sought to bar countries from creating diplomatic missions in Jerusalem that are not missions to Israel.

U.S. consular doors can be opened in Jerusalem only with Israel’s approval, said Ron Hassner, who teaches international conflict and religion at the University of California at Berkeley. “No traffic light goes up, no street is paved, and no mail is collected in East Jerusalem unless Israel does so,” he told The Washington Post. “It’s unthinkable for a foreign entity to set up diplomatic offices without the permission of the ruling authority. The Israelis are the only such authority.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: World gearing up intelligence coverage of the U.S., Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 12-13, 2021. Sources close to the U.S. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallIntelligence Community are reporting that the world's intelligence services, friendly and adversarial, are increasing their intelligence surveillance of and collection operations in the United States.

The purpose of the increased operations is not for usual military and economic intelligence gathering reasons. Intelligence summaries and briefs wayne madesen report logoreaching world capitals from foreign embassies and other sources in Washington, DC and around the country increasingly report that the United States is now firmly in the category of "politically unstable," a designation normally applied to countries governed by shaky regimes in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Among the intelligence agencies adopting an aggressive surveillance stance are those of countries that cozied up to the Trump administration and are fearful of a backlash among elements of the Biden administration, the U.S. military, Democratic Party officeholders, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Miami Herald, Leak provides ID of Saudis behind Florida real estate empire, Shirsho Dasgupta and Deena Sabry, Oct. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Using shell companies, a prominent Saudi with ties to the royal family bought these properties and others in Florida. This reporting was made possible by a massive leak of secret documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with partner news organizations around the globe, including the Miami Herald.

miami herald logoIn the shadow of Walt Disney World’s iconic palace, a Middle Eastern family with ties to royalty amassed a real estate empire. It encompassed Kissimmee, Groveland, Orlando and Leesburg and comprised undeveloped land and two golf courses. Until very recently it also included seven apartment complexes — in Tampa, Orlando, and a suburban Orlando resort called Championsgate. The Orlando Sentinel reported in 1998 that “members of the Saudi Arabian royal family” had been secretly buying up tracts of undeveloped land in Florida through a network of offshore companies.

But a Miami Herald investigation based on leaked documents has solved a long-running mystery surrounding these deals: Which Saudis? What is the true extent of their business empire? And how close are they to the ruling monarchs?

That family, the Herald found, is the Ibrahims ⁠— among the most influential families in Saudi Arabia. One member, Jawhara Al-Ibrahim was the wife of King Fahd, who ruled the country from 1982 until his death in 2005. Their attorney in Florida: C. David Brown II, Republican fundraiser and friend of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The leaked documents show seven offshore holding companies owned by Khalid I. Al-Ibrahim with Brown as their representative. Prior press releases and news reports tie Al-Ibrahim to a few more. Florida does not require companies doing business in the state to reveal their owners but a Herald analysis of the state’s corporation records found 75 companies whose corporate names, registered agents and mailing addresses were patterned in a way to indicate a connection with the Ibrahims. The Ibrahim name appears on only two.

Fifty-five of those firms are still active and property records the Herald examined show they hold around 95 land parcels in Lake, Osceola and Orange counties worth roughly $65 million. The Herald identified residents who had lived in the apartments at the time the Ibrahims owned them through eviction filings dating back to 1998.

All of them remembered the apartments as comfortable places — “top of the line,” one called them. Some expressed frustration when informed of the ownership records that a billionaire family did not hesitate to evict them when they had fallen on hard times. None of the more than a dozen evictees and attorneys who are listed in the filings who spoke to the Herald had previously heard of the Ibrahims.

The data from 14 offshore service providers from around the world was leaked to the International Consortium of International Journalists, which shared it with the Miami Herald and 150 other news outlets. It comprises 11.9 million records, including emails, company registries, shareholders’ certificates and invoices. The collaboration is now publishing stories under the title “Pandora Papers.”

As the high-end market booms, developers focus on luxury condos to meet the demand of wealthy investors — sometimes from outside Florida ⁠— and lower-income families are priced out. Jaimie Ross of the Florida Housing Coalition, an affordable housing advocacy group, said that wealthy real estate investors — from the United States and abroad — are creating a domino effect with disastrous consequences: “Floridians are priced out of home-ownership. They go into rentals and the rent keeps rising and then what happens? They become homeless.”

 

U.S. Media News, Views

 

The Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinin: Why the Mainstream Media Remains Silent on the JFK Records Deadline, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 13, 2021. With the jacob hornberger newOctober 26 deadline only two weeks from now on releasing the 60-year secret records of the CIA relating to the Kennedy assassination, the silence from the mainstream press is deafening.

The great mainstream defenders of transparency and openness in government, at least when it comes foreign dictatorships, cannot bring themselves to openly advocate for the release of thousands of records relating to the JFK assassination that the CIA still insists on keeping secret.

Why the silence? I will explain the reason, but first please permit me to restate the prediction I have made regarding this matter.

I predict that within the next weeks, President Biden will grant a request by the CIA for continued secrecy of its assassination-related records. I predict that Biden will order the release of some of the records for appearance’s sake, but he will cite “national security” to justify continuing the secrecy of the vast majority of the records.

Why do I make this prediction? Because the reason that the CIA needed to keep these records secret 60 years ago still exists. That same reason was why it it future of freedom foundation logo squareneeded to keep them secret during the 1990s, when the Assassination Records Review Board was enforcing the JFK Records Act of 1992, which mandated the release of all federal records relating to the assassination.

Further, that same reason obviously caused the CIA, despite the law’s mandate, to continue keeping its records secret for another 25 years after the JFK Records Act was enacted. When that deadline came due in 2017, that same reason obviously motivated the CIA to petition President Trump for another extension of time for secrecy, which Trump dutifully granted. That deadline comes due on October 26, 2021 — two weeks from now — and mark my words: The same reason will cause the CIA to request that Biden grant another extension of time for secrecy, which Biden, like Trump, will dutifully grant.

What is the reason that has caused the CIA to want to keep these thousands of records secret from the American people. The reason, I am more convinced than ever, is that the CIA knows that those remaining records constitute more pieces to the overall puzzle of criminal culpability on the part of the CIA in the regime-change operation that took place on November 22,1963.

cia logoAfter all, let’s face it: No matter what definition is put on that nebulous and meaningless term “national security,” there is no possibility that anything bad will happen to the United States if those 60-year-old secret records are released to the American people. The United States will not fall into the ocean. The supposed international communist conspiracy to take over the United States that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia (yes, that Russia!) during the Cold War won’t be reinvigorated. Communist Cuba will not invade the United States. The dominoes near North Vietnam will not fall to the communists. North Korea will not come and get us.

President Biden just ordered the release of President Trump’s secret records relating to the January 6 Capitol protests. Why not the same joe biden resized odecision with respect to those 60-year-old secret records of the CIA relating to the Kennedy assassination?

Why won’t the mainstream press call on Biden to enforce the JFK Records Act of 1992? They’re scared to do so.

In a remarkably candid and direct statement made to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in 2017, New York Senator Charles Schumer explained why they are scared: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer said to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Schumer was referring to President Trump, but actually the admonition applies to everyone. The CIA, the Pentagon, the NSA, and the FBI — i.e., the entire intelligence community — has “six ways from Sunday at getting back” at anyone who takes it on, including newspaper owners, publishers, and editors.

Most people know about Operation Mockingbird, the top-secret operation of the CIA to acquire assets within the mainstream press to advance the CIA’s propaganda. Does anyone really think that the CIA would stop there in the quest to expand its power and influence?

dwight eisenhower mic speechNot a chance! For example, the entire national-security establishment would concentrate on acquiring, installing, and grooming assets in Congress, which sets the budgets. Does anyone think it’s just a coincidence that Congress gives the national-security establishment whatever it wants plus sometimes even more than what it wants? There is good reason why President Eisenhower planned to use the term “military-industrial-congressional” complex in his Farewell Address (shown at right). No one can reasonably deny that Congress is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the national-security establishment.

But they obviously would not stop there. They would also be acquiring assets within the IRS, one of the most powerful and tyrannical agencies within the federal government. There isn’t anyone, including newspaper owners, publishers, and editors, who isn’t afraid of receiving an audit notice from the IRS.

irs logoAnd if it happens, no one would ever be able to prove that it originated with the CIA or the rest of the national-security establishment. It would just look like it was occurring at random. If any victim of an IRS audit accused the CIA or the rest of the national-security establishment of being behind the audit, they would be ready to hurl the infamous “conspiracy theorist” label at him.

What newspaper owner, publisher, or editor wants to take that chance? They all know that the national-security establishment frowns very seriously on any mainstream media outlet that even remotely suggests that the Kennedy assassination was a regime-change operation, no different in principle from those in Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Congo, and Chile both before and after the Kennedy assassination. But they also do not want to take the chance of upsetting the CIA by simply calling on it to release its 60-year-old still-secret records relating to the assassination.

After all, everyone knows that if an entity is powerful enough to regime-change presidents and prime ministers, both foreign and domestic, with impunity, it can easily destroy any mainstream media executive who dares to buck the CIA on the assassination.

It’s just the way life works in a national-security state. It’s why the mainstream media is maintaining strict silence on the upcoming October 26 deadline on the release of those 60-year-old still-secret records of the CIA relating to the Kennedy assassination.

Palmer Report, Opinion: How Andrew Yang destroyed the New York City mayor race, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 13, 2021. Andrew Yang is “quitting” the Democratic Party and bill palmerlaunching some new third party that’ll never gain any traction – but the controversy he’s creating will surely sell some copies of his divisive new book. Given that Yang is now trying to sabotage the Democratic Party on a national level, it’s time to talk about how he already did this same thing in New York.

I’m sure the nation is aware of how badly Andrew Yang destroyed the Democratic primary race for Mayor of New York City this year. His bumbling, no-effort vanity campaign got all the media attention, so qualified candidates got no attention, and corrupt candidates got no vetting. Then at the end Yang imploded in spectacular fashion.

The media deserves blame for sure. But Yang, left, knew what was going on. At some point he pretty clearly decided, consciously or subconsciously, that he andrew yang twitterdidn’t really want to win. But instead of dropping out, he kept hogging the media attention while saying increasingly stupid things that he had to know were going to tank his chances.

By the time everyone figured out Yang wasn’t going to win, it was too late for qualified experienced candidates like Garcia, Stringer, and Wiley to get traction. Contrary to popular belief, they ran solid campaigns, but the New York City media and the national media mostly just ignored them. Then, once Eric Adams pulled into the lead last minute, all kinds of scandals surfaced about him, but there wasn’t time for those to be properly covered or for voters to hear about it all.

eric adamsAnd so Eric Adams, left, accidentally won, even though the vast majority of people voted for someone else, and even a lot of Adams voters came to immediately regret it after hearing about his scandals and of his egregious past positions. He’ll probably be a lousy mayor, and with his scandals, will he even get to finish his term? We’ll see. For the sake of the city, one can only hope he can pull it together.

Right after Yang lost, he came out with a book attacking the Democrats, quitting the party, and starting his own third party. Does this sound like a guy who had any intention of really trying to win a Democratic primary for Mayor? When did he start writing this anti-Democrat book?

Being mayor is hard work, a thankless job, and unprofitable. Publishing a controversial high profile book makes you millions of dollars and you never have to work again. Was Yang’s entire NYC Mayor campaign all about setting up his book, or just the latter parts of it?

Was Andrew Yang always a con artist who was only ever looking to use politics to boost his ego and fortunes? Or did Yang start off meaning well, until he realized he was bad at politics but good for TV ratings, and the media corrupted him at that point? You’ll have to decide.

Either way, the Andrew Yang NYC Mayor debacle stands as Exhibit A of why it’s so dangerous for outsiders who are clueless about politics to just wander in and shit all over the election process, and for the media to see them as an opportunity to boost ratings.

Trump, Yang, Ben Carson, Marianne Williamson, JD Vance. We’re in a crisis where outsiders run stunt political campaigns to boost their wallets while willfully destroying the electoral process. But the media won’t expose this crisis, because the media benefits from this crisis.

What can be done? Stop letting the media feed you fake stunt candidates on a silver platter; change the channel so they’ll have to find some more legitimate way to get ratings. And stop supporting worthless outsider candidates just because you want to stick it to the system.

Also, stop pretending these outsider candidates have good ideas. They don’t. They have theoretical ideas that sound good in a debate soundbite but would never work in practice. Politics and governing are hard, even for qualified people. It’s impossible for unqualified amateurs.

 

Oct. 12

Top Headlines

 

Climate Change, Disasters, Environment

 

Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Operations

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance


Human Rights Scandals, Probes

 

World Corruption, Conflict

 

U.S. Prisons, Crime, Courts

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump nightmare looms again, Michael Gerson, right, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). It is increasingly evident that the nightmare prospect of michael gerson file photoAmerican politics — unified Republican control of the federal government in the hands of a reelected, empowered Donald Trump in 2025 — is also the likely outcome.

Why this is a nightmare should be clear enough. Every new tranche of information released about Trump’s behavior following the 2020 election — most recently an interim report from the Senate Judiciary Committee — reveals a serious and concerted attempt to overthrow America’s legitimate incoming government.

At roughly the same time that Trump was gathering and unleashing his goons to intimidate members of Congress on Jan. 6, he was pressuring Justice Department leaders to provide legal cover for his effort to prevent certification of the election. When they refused, Trump conspired with a lower-level loyalist to take over the department and run it according to the president’s dictates. Under the threat of mass resignations, Trump eventually backed off.

djt maga hatThis led to one of the lamest excuses in the long history of lame political excuses. Trump defenders such as Brit Hume want to award Trump kudos for desisting in the end. “Trump decided against it,” Hume tweeted. “It is not to his credit that he even considered it, but his rejection should be part of any story on it.” But this retrenchment, on Trump’s part, was a recognition of positional weakness, not a display of public virtue. The thing that matters most is this: The current front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination would have broken the constitutional order if he could have broken the constitutional order.

Meanwhile, it is clear that this same lawless, reckless man has a perfectly realistic path back to power. The GOP is a garbage scow of the corrupt, the seditious and their enablers, yet the short- and medium-term political currents are in its favor.

If Trump returns to the presidency, many of the past constraints on his power would be purposely loosed. Many of the professionals and patriots who opposed him in his final days would have been weeded out long before. There is no reason Trump would not try to solidify personal power over military and federal law enforcement units to employ as a bully’s club in times of civil disorder. There is no reason he would refrain from using federal resources to harass political opponents, undermine freedom of the press and change the outcome of elections. These are previously stated goals.

What attitudes and actions does this require of us? Any reaction must begin with a sober recognition. Catastrophe is in the front room. The weather forecast includes the apocalypse.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas governor bans coronavirus vaccine mandates, including for private businesses, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 12, 2021. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday banned any entity in his state — including private businesses — from mandating coronavirus vaccines for workers or customers, expanding prior executive orders from his office that prohibited state government entities from imposing similar requirements.

Abbott’s move puts him at odds with some large corporations and with the Biden administration, which last month announced plans to require all employers with 100 or more workers to adopt vaccine mandates or testing regimens. A number of large private companies in Texas have issued mandates.

texas map“If indeed the mandate now is everyone must be vaccinated or . . . tested once a week, we will obviously comply by that mandate,” Doug Parker, chief executive of Fort Worth-based American Airlines, said in a Washington Post Live interview in September.

“All along, as we’ve been going through this, we have been considering mandates and may have done one on our own. But what we wanted to do was do everything we could first to encourage everyone to do so,” he said.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines last week gave all employees until Dec. 8 to get vaccinated or face possible termination. (Many U.S. airlines also are government contractors, which must meet a Dec. 8 federal deadline for coronavirus vaccinations.) Telecom Greg Abbott Customgiant AT&T, also based in Dallas, in August ordered most of its management employees to get vaccinated by this week. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, headquartered in Houston, announced a similar move the same month.

Abbott, left, called the Biden administration’s sweeping plan “yet another instance of federal overreach,” saying in his order that the administration is “bullying” private entities into vaccine mandates, hurting the livelihoods of Texans and threatening the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Although the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment, President Biden appeared dismissive of earlier legal threats by a group of Republican governors including Abbott over his vaccine mandates, saying, “Have at it,” he said.

 

john eastmanProof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Lawyer John Eastman Speaks Out About January 6—and Makes Everything Worse for Trump, Seth Abramson, Oct. 11-12, seth abramson graphic2021. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, Eastman, above—one of Trump's lawyers on January 6 and a participant in the former president's Willard Hotel war room—offers a stunning defense of Trump's coup conspiracy.

By January 6, 2021, not a single state legislature in the United States—whether GOP-led or otherwise—had voted to de-certify its presidential electors. Indeed, every state had certified its 2020 election results, including every GOP-led state legislature that sent Biden electors to D.C. for the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6.

There was, in short, no way for Trump to receive a second term as President of the United States as dawn broke on January 6 and his legal team, including Giuliani and Eastman, met in the Willard Hotel to stage what one participant (domestic extremist Joe Oltmann) would call a “war room.”

seth abramson proof logoIn his Sacremento Bee op-ed, Eastman admits, stunningly, that on January 6 Trump was suffering from the “absence of certifications of alternate Trump electors from the contested states’ legislatures.” In other words, he admits the “Trump electors” he and Giuliani and Trump’s campaign brought to D.C. had no legal status or significance.

Every time Trump or his allies open their mouths to speak about January 6, they bury themselves and the former president further. No wonder Trump had engaged in such extraordinary actions to try to keep his advisers quiet. In Eastman’s case, Trump may have believed that the fact that Eastman was his lawyer on January 6 would keep him quiet; certainly, with the help of Robert Costello, Trump had successfully kept Rudy Giuliani quiet about the most sensitive components of his coup plotting with Trump.

But now that Eastman has spoken, what he’s said cannot be ignored: not by the FBI, not by the House January 6 Committee, and not by the American people. Eastman’s words confirm that the Trumpist coup conspiracy of January 6—which encompassed Trump’s legal team, political staffers, and top advisers within the White House—was centered on extra-legal actions that could only be accomplished by the very paramilitary entities Trump had just spoken with hours earlier.

In the next 72 hours, Proof will issue a breaking news report explaining this last sentence. It’s being written up right now.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

Climate Change, Disasters, Environment

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 85 percent of the world’s people affected by human-induced climate change, new study shows, Annabelle Timsit and Sarah Kaplan, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Researchers used machine learning to analyze more than 100,000 studies of weather events and found four-fifths of the world’s land area has suffered impacts linked to global warming.

At least 85 percent of the global population has experienced weather events made worse by climate change, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

After using machine learning to analyze and map more than 100,000 studies of events that could be linked to global warming, researchers paired the analysis with a well-established data set of temperature and precipitation shifts caused by fossil fuel use and other sources of carbon emissions.

These combined findings — which focused on events such as crop failures, floods and heat waves — allowed scientists to make a solid link between escalating extremes and human activities. They concluded that global warming has affected 80 percent of the world’s land area.

“We have a huge evidence base now that documents how climate change is affecting our societies and our ecosystems,” said lead author Max Callaghan, a researcher at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Germany.

The study provides hard numbers to back up the lived experiences of people from New York City to South Sudan. “Climate change,” Callaghan said, “is visible and noticeable almost everywhere in the world.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. and E.U. line up global pledges to slash emissions of methane, Kerrin Jeromin, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). A high-tech, low-cost push to track sharks, rhinos and other species amid climate change.

Through the first nine months of 2021, the U.S. has endured 18 separate weather and climate disasters that have cost at least $1 billion, according to the latest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

These 18 events put 2021 in second place for the most billion-dollar disasters behind 2020, when there were 22 such events. Last year shattered the previous annual record of 16 events, which occurred in 2017 and 2011.

A record 22 billion-dollar disasters struck the U.S. in 2020

While 2021′s 18 events trail 2020′s count, 2021′s disasters have been more costly. They are estimated to have resulted in $104.8 billion in damages, surpassing last year’s estimated $100.4 billion.

Moreover, to date, 2021 is ahead of 2020′s pace through September.

  • Already, 18 weather disasters, each costing $1 billion or more, have hit the U.S. this year
  • 2021 is on pace to be among the most active and costliest years for these disasters.
  • This year is on pace to be one of the most active and costliest years for disasters in the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Massive floods hit China’s coal hub, threatening power supplies, Lily Kuo, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Torrential rain in Shanxi province has displaced more than 120,000 people.

China FlagChina’s largest coal-producing region was hit by severe flooding, threatening the country’s already strained power supply and displacing more than 120,000 people as residents called for help from other regions.

Officials in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi said on Sunday that more than 1.75 million people in 11 cities across the province had been affected, with at least 17,000 homes collapsing and almost 200,000 hectares (494,210 acres) of land destroyed. At least six people have died, according to authorities.

Landslides and flooding in neighboring Shaanxi province had displaced at least 70,000 people and killed 12.

washington post logoWashington Post, Big western storm brings fire danger to Calif. and heavy snow to Rockies, Matthew Cappucci and Diana Leonard, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). It comes after a slew of tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma Sunday night.

A strong cross-country storm system is bringing the worst of every season as it sweeps across the nation, featuring howling winds and a serious fire danger in California, heavy snow in the Rockies and, by Tuesday night, a severe thunderstorm threat in the Plains. It comes on the heels of a weekend storm that also brought heavy snow to parts of the West and tornadoes in Oklahoma.

This new storm slamming the West has prompted the National Weather Service to hoist advisories for multiple hazards affecting tens of millions of people from California to Colorado.

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Operations

 djt steve bannon

Donald Trump, left, and Steve Bannon, who has been quoted as backing the idea of a Trump reinstatement, saying that the "return of Trump" will be in "2022 or maybe before."

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: If You Know Who Steve Bannon's Lawyer Is, You Understand How Closely Trump Is Linked to the Cover-Up of His Own seth abramson graphicRole in the January 6 Conspiracy, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 10-11, 2021. Suspicious, possibly corrupt conduct by lawyer Robert Costello confirms Trump is doing more than using public declarations to obstruct the January 6 investigation—he's using his usual backroom ploys.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: Perhaps no top Donald Trump adviser was more important to the former president’s January 6 attack on our democracy than Steve Bannon. Whereas Kimberly Guilfoyle, Katrina Pierson, and Peter Navarro acted as adjuncts to Trump’s will, Bannon’s role was to shape it—to give his patron a vision of what was possible if he’d simply cease thinking (or continue not to think) of the future of the United States or its rule of law.

We know that Bannon recently revealed, in a conference call with GOP leaders, a plan to “control this country” via “20,000 shock troops”—neo-fascists personally recruited by Bannon and ready to seize control of America’s ship of state as soon as the GOP is again in power.

And we know that Bannon now claims the power to defy Congressional subpoenas, with his fig-leaf in asserting this unprecedented right being the absurd declaration that anyone who speaks to a president is protected from ever having to reveal what was said in such a conversation—whether or not they were a member of the federal executive branch when the conversation occurred. It’s rank nonsense, of course (and dangerous nonsense, at that).

But what Americans must now understand is how closely coordinated with Trump Bannon’s defiance of U.S. law appears to be—and how vital to Trump’s own interests it is that Bannon remain quiet, given the white supremacist Trump adviser’s infamous Insurrection Eve claim that “all hell is going to break loose [on January 6].”

Robert Costello Is Either Donald Trump’s Lawyer or the Equivalent

On December 11, 2020, the then-under-indictment Bannon hired Robert J. Costello as his criminal defense lawyer. Thirteen months earlier, in November 2019, Costello had been hired by Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was then facing—and still faces—a federal criminal investigation of his own.
It took under six weeks for Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer to get Trump to pardon Bannon.

You might think that Bannon’s ease in getting a pardon from Trump was due in part to him working for Trump as an adviser during the period he was seeking that pardon, and you’d be right.

But what you might not realize is that Bannon’s connection to Trump came not just in phone calls with the then-president or meetings with the president’s attorney, but via his own lawyer Robert Costello—who, it turns out, is effectively Trump’s advocate as much as he is Bannon’s. And Costello doesn’t just seem to work for Trump, his specific task appears to be getting men who have dirt on Trump to stay quiet in exchange for Trump’s aid.

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: We still don’t know if Trump’s aides will comply with Jan. 6 subpoenas, Jacqueline Alemany and Theodoric Meyer, Oct. 12, 2021. Will they or won't they? The select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection has commanded several prominent aides to former president Donald Trump appear this week before lawmakers.

But with just two days to go until the first ex-adviser is scheduled to appear, it's unclear whether any of them will show.

Mark MeadowsThe select panel ordered Mark Meadows, right, Trump's last White House chief of staff, along with ex-Trump advisers Kash Patel and Stephen Bannon, to this week submit depositions surrounding the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob aiming to overturn President Biden's election.

Meadows and Patel are scheduled to provide testimony on Oct. 15 and 14, respectively, according to Sept. 23 letters transmitting subpoenas from the committee. And despite Trump's demands his former allies not comply with congressional investigators, the committee confirmed last week the two former aides are “engaging” with them.

If they don't show, the panel's chair and ranking member say they will rapidly consider criminal contempt of Congress. Which, to say the least, would dramatically escalate the situation.

Investigators were delayed in serving a subpoena to longtime Trump adviser Dan Scavino, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, potentially putting Scavino on a delayed timetable to provide documents and testimony.

Bannon, however, is not cooperating. He said last week he would not comply with the Jan. 6 panel's sweeping request for documents and testimony, setting up a legal and political battle as the committee seeks to uncover what Trump and his aides did during the Jan. 6 attack and the events leading up to it.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Trump Close to a Deal to Sell Marquee Washington, D.C., Hotel, Staff Report, Oct. 12, 2021. Miami-based CGI Merchant Group in talks to pay ex-president’s family company around $370 million for property in former Old Post Office. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., attracted supporters of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and others with business before the Trump administration.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer President Donald Trump’s family company is in advanced discussions to sell the rights to its opulent Washington, D.C., hotel in a deal worth more than $370 million, say people familiar with the matter.

CGI Merchant Group, a Miami-based investment firm, is in talks to acquire the lease on the hotel, these people said. The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., is located in the former Old Post Office, a short walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in a building featuring some of the largest guest rooms in the capital.

The property is owned by the federal government, but with extensions the lease runs close to 100 years. CGI has also entered into discussions with hotel operators, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.’s Waldorf Astoria luxury brand, about removing the Trump name in favor of that of another hotel manager, these people said.

The lease deal could ultimately fetch closer to $400 million, which would represent roughly a doubling of the money the Trump Organization spent to convert the government building into a luxury hotel, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

The Trump Organization initially hoped to sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal in 2019.

The hotel sales talks have been heating up as Democratic-controlled House committees have been investigating and holding hearings on potential conflicts of interest and emoluments issues surrounding Mr. Trump.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been examining the lease terms between the Trump Organization and the federal government’s General Services Administration for use of the Old Post Office. The deal predates Mr. Trump’s entry into national politics, but the committee is probing how well Mr. Trump managed conflicts of interest while president.

A Friday report from the House committee said the hotel lost more than $70 million between its opening in 2016 and last year, leading the company to inject at least $24 million in aid.

The Trumps have disputed those findings, though their government filings show a slowdown in business. The hotel generated about $150 million in revenue over four years, according to Mr. Trump’s financial disclosures while president. His most recent disclosure, which covered all of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021, showed the hotel’s revenue fell to $15 million, compared with $40 million in 2019.

The Washington, D.C., hotel has been a jewel in the Trump family portfolio. In 2012, the Trumps beat out some of the most experienced and deepest-pocketed names in the lodging business, including Marriott International Inc. and Hilton, for the rights to the lease.

The family’s pledge to spend about $200 million renovating and converting the 19th century post office into a modern luxury hotel was the highest offer, say people familiar with the matter.

About two years ago, the Trumps decided to test the sales market for the hotel’s lease. The family initially hoped it could sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

 Related Recent Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Covid Has Killed Hundreds of Police Officers. Vaccines Remain a Hard Sell, Mitch Smith, Oct. 12, 2021. Far more officers in the U.S. have died from Covid-19 than from any other work-related cause in 2020 and 2021. Even so, unions are fighting mandates.

Over the last year and a half, a majority of the roughly 40 police officers who patrol Baker, La., a suburb of Baton Rouge, tested positive for the coronavirus. All of them recovered and went back to work — until Lt. DeMarcus Dunn got sick.

Lieutenant Dunn, a 36-year-old shift supervisor who coached youth sports and once chased down someone who fled the police station after being arrested, died from Covid-19 on Aug. 13. His wedding had been scheduled for the next day.

Chief Carl K. Dunn said he had assumed that the lieutenant, a distant relative, was vaccinated, but thought it would be inappropriate to ask. It was not until after the death, the chief said, that he was told Lieutenant Dunn had not gotten a shot. For some others in the department who had been resisting vaccination, it was a turning point.

More than 460 American law enforcement officers have died from Covid-19 infections tied to their work since the start of the pandemic, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, making the coronavirus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021. More than four times as many officers have died from Covid-19 as from gunfire in that period. There is no comprehensive accounting of how many American police officers have been sickened by the virus, but departments across the country have reported large outbreaks in the ranks.

While the virus has ravaged policing, persuading officers to take a vaccine has often been a struggle, even though the shots have proven to be largely effective in preventing severe disease and death.

Some elected officials say police officers have a higher responsibility to get vaccinated because they are regularly interacting with members of the public and could unknowingly spread the virus. The debate echoes concerns from earlier in the pandemic, when police officers in some cities resisted wearing masks in public.

Yet as more departments in recent weeks have considered requiring members to be vaccinated, officers and their unions have loudly pushed back, in some cases threatening resignations or flooding systems with requests for exemptions.

In San Jose, Calif., city leaders decided just as a vaccine mandate was taking effect to allow unvaccinated officers to remain employed through the end of the year, with incremental discipline and testing requirements. Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose said he wanted to keep as many police officers as possible on the job, but worried about the public health risks of having unvaccinated officers on the streets.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nearly 3% of U.S. workforce quit their jobs in August, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 12, 2021.Some 4.3 million people quit jobs in August, according to the Labor Department — about 2.9 percent of the workforce. The phenomenon is being driven in part by workers who are less tolerant of inconvenient hours, low compensation or trying conditions, because they know there are ample opportunities elsewhere.

The number of people quitting their jobs has surged to record highs, pushed by a combination of factors that include Americans sensing ample opportunity and better pay elsewhere.

Some 4.3 million people quit jobs in August, according to the monthly survey — about 2.9 percent of the workforce, according to new data released Tuesday from the Department of Labor. Those numbers are up from the previous records set in April and nearly matched in July, of about 4 million people quitting.

The phenomenon is being driven in part by workers who are less willing to endure inconvenient hours and poor compensation, quitting at this stage in the pandemic to find better opportunities elsewhere. According to the report, there were 10.4 million job openings in the country at the end of August — down slightly from July’s record high, which was adjusted up to 11.1 million, but still a tremendously high number.

washington post logoWashington Post, Merck requests emergency use authorization for pill to treat covid, Rachel Pannett and Annabelle Timsit, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Pharmaceutical giant Merck has asked the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorization to its experimental covid-19 antiviral treatment – an oral medication that could be promising in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

merck logoThe treatment, a pill named molnupiravir that cut hospitalizations and deaths by about half in early trials, could be an especially important tool in poor countries, where vaccine supply is low .

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said Monday in a news release that, in addition to their FDA application, they plan to apply for emergency use or marketing authorization in other countries “in the coming months.” Ahead of a decision by U.S. regulators, the companies have already begun producing the pill, and have agreed to sell courses of the treatment to the United States and other countries if they get the green light.

Early trials of the drug showed significant promise in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death among at-risk patients with mild to moderate cases of covid-19. An independent board of experts monitoring the trial recommended it be stopped early because of the promising results, the company said this month — a significant and telling development in a pharmaceutical study.

Here’s what to know

  • Sydney reopened Monday in a test case for Australia’s new strategy of living with the coronavirus.
  • The FDA’s independent advisers will meet Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 to discuss greenlighting booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine, followed by the CDC’s independent advisory committee on Oct. 20 and 21. Separately, the CDC panel will convene Nov. 2 and 3 to discuss pediatric vaccinations.
  • The flu practically vanished last year. Now doctors are bracing for potential “twindemic” of flu and covid-19 spikes
  • In search for covid origins, Hubei caves and wildlife farms draw new scrutiny

ny times logonba logoNew York Times, Nets Bar Kyrie Irving From All Practices and Games, Scott Cacciola, Oct. 12, 2021. The Nets announced Tuesday that they were indefinitely barring Kyrie Irving from all team activities until he was “eligible to be a full participant.”

Irving, the team’s starting point guard, had faced the prospect of being able to play only on the road with the Nets this season because of local coronavirus ordinances in New York that require most individuals to be at least partially vaccinated to enter facilities such as sports arenas. The Nets play their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” the Nets said in a statement. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice.”

Irving’s potential absence from home games had created a predicament for the Nets, a team with championship aspirations that had to weigh whether having him around only half the time would be worth it. His teammates had expressed their support for him.

Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play, require all employees and guests 12 and older to show proof of having received at least one vaccine dose, to comply with a city mandate, unless they have a religious or medical exemption. San Francisco has a similar requirement that applies to Chase Center, where the Golden State Warriors play. The mandates in both cities mean that the players from the Knicks, Nets and Golden State cannot play in their teams’ 41 home games without being vaccinated.

The ordinances in New York and San Francisco do not apply to players from visiting teams.

There is the chance, however, that additional players could miss games if other cities enact similar ordinances that prevent unvaccinated people from attending indoor gatherings.

Either way, unvaccinated players face a host of rules and restrictions this season. With limited exceptions, they are required to remain at home or at the team hotel when they are not at games or at practices. They also are not permitted to eat with vaccinated teammates, who have far more freedom to dine out and interact with the public.

ET Online, Smokey Robinson Reveals He Almost Died From COVID-19, Liz Calvario‍, Oct. 12, 2021. Smokey Robinson reveals he could have died from COVID-19. The legendary Motown singer shared that he was hospitalized last year after contracting the coronavirus and feared he would never sing again.

smoky robinson twitter"I am a Covid survivor. I got it severely and I was hospitalized for 11 days, and four or five of those I do not even remember," Robinson told DailyMail.com. "It really was touch and go and a terribly debilitating ailment. I was not sure that I would ever be able to sing again because it took my voice. I could barely even talk."

Robinson admitted that the experience was "one of the most frightening fights" he's ever had. Even when he got home, he "was hoarse" and "could not try to sing because I was afraid."

"I had to work on my vocal cords and get myself back together. I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, and it was possible, so I did it," he explained.

Doctors told the 81-year-old artist that he was lucky he took care of himself, adding, "But for the grace of God and that fact I probably would not be here talking right now."

"None of this really scared me until after I came home," he elaborated. "When I was there trying to get well while weak I never thought about dying. I was thinking I am going to get well. I looked back and knew that I could've died, because it was that severe. Then it scared me."

He noted that the severity of his condition didn't hit him until it was over. He also shared that he doesn't know how he contracted the virus but began feeling tired.

"Fortunately I never had to use the ventilator. I never lost my taste or smell, but it wiped me out," he said. "I lost all my energy and could not walk from the bed to the bathroom without being exhausted."

Now, he feels "95 percent" better and makes sure to continue working out and taking care of himself. He's also gone back to work, but taking it one show at a time.

"I had to work on my voice as well as my physical self and get myself together," Robinson explained. "The first gig I did was a private event for a hospital in Texas, but we only did 40 minutes. Usually I do two or two and half hours."

"I got through that, which was psychologically a help. Then I did another at 60 minutes. It went well, felt good and I'm not afraid anymore," he added. "I have done three full blown concerts and am back 95 percent."

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 12, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 239,128,312, Deaths: 4,874,993
U.S. Cases:     45,313,353, Deaths:    734,611
India Cases:     33,985,920, Deaths:    450,991
Brazil Cases:    21,582,738, Deaths:    601,266

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 216.9 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.12, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 187.2 million eligible who are fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

Related Recent Headlines:

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Get the message right, Democrats: The reconciliation bill is about supporting families, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 12, 2021. As Democrats continue to negotiate details of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, they should look to the latest American Family Survey from Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University. The seventh edition of the survey, released this week, offers many insights into how families fared in the pandemic and, more importantly, how the government can help them.

First, federal aid to families makes a difference — and recipients know it does. The survey reports: “Single parents with children remain the group most likely to experience a serious economic crisis, but at the same time, 2020 and 2021 saw a marked decrease in the number of families who reported such a serious crisis.”

Why? Government was there with “massive federal aid distributed under both the Trump and Biden administrations.” A wide array of Americans “including three-quarters of low-income American families told [the pollsters] they needed the aid to get by and that it helped them.” Put differently, the support from the American Rescue Plan, which passed exclusively with Democratic votes, made a difference. Maybe Democrats should remind people who lent a hand and who fought that aid tooth and nail.

Finally, the survey shows overwhelming support among Democrats (61 percent) for “helping families directly and spending money on programs and institutions,” and even 43 percent of Republicans agree. “The most popular form of benefit is cash assistance, and Americans favor an average benefit of around $2,400 per year.” That suggests adding up the cash benefits under Biden’s proposals would be beneficial so that voters understand what they are receiving. Moreover, a strong plurality (48 percent) want the wealthy to pay for these benefits, as Biden’s plan proposes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Doing Economics as if Evidence Matters, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Nobel Memorial Prizes in economics are given for paul krugmanlong-term research, not for economists’ role in current debates, so they don’t necessarily have much bearing on the political moment. You might expect the disconnect to be especially strong when the prize is given mainly for the development of new research methods.

And that’s the case for the latest prize, awarded Monday to David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens, leaders in the “credibility revolution” — a change in the way economists use data to assess theories — that has swept economics over the past generation.

It turns out, however, that the credibility revolution is extremely relevant to current debates. For studies using the new approach have, in many though not all cases, strengthened the argument for a more active government role in addressing inequality.

As I’ll explain, that’s not an accident. But first, what’s this revolution all about?

Economists generally can’t do controlled experiments — all we can do is observe. And the trouble with trying to draw conclusions from economic observations is that at any given time and place lots of things are happening. For example, the economy boomed after Bill Clinton raised taxes on high incomes and reduced the budget deficit. But did these fiscal policies cause prosperity, or was Clinton just lucky in presiding over a tech boom?

In the 1990s, however, some economists realized there was an alternative approach, that of exploiting “natural experiments” — situations in which the vagaries of history deliver something close to the kind of controlled trial researchers might want to conduct but can’t.

What they found was that the increased minimum wage had very little if any negative effect on the number of jobs, a result since confirmed by looking at many other instances. These results make the case not just for higher minimum wages, but for more aggressive attempts to reduce inequality in general.

Again, the research honored by this Nobel isn’t political, but it has important political implications. And most of those implications favor a policy move to the left.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. John Yarmuth, chairman of House Budget Committee, will not run for reelection, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 12, 2021. House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) speaks at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 21. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced Tuesday that he will not run for reelection in 2022, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.

john yarmuthYarmuth, right, has represented the Louisville-based 3rd District of Kentucky since 2007 and has led the powerful budget panel since 2019. He becomes the 10th House Democrat to announce they will not seek reelection in 2022, which is expected to be a challenging year for the president’s party.

“I always said I couldn’t imagine being here longer than 10 years,” Yarmuth said in a video posted on social media Tuesday afternoon. “After every election, I was asked how long I intended to serve, and I never had an answer. Today, I do: This term will be my last.”

News of Yarmuth’s retirement was first reported by NBC News.

Yarmuth said that he is in excellent health but that he will be 75 by the time his current term in Congress ends, and “the desire to have more control of my time in the years I have left has become a high priority.”

“Candidly, I have found new and incomparable joy in spending time with my young grandson, and I’d like to spend more of my golden years with my family in Louisville,” he said in the video.

In addition to steering President Biden’s agenda through Congress, Yarmuth said he “will be working hard to ensure that our community is represented in Congress by the best possible Democratic man or woman.”

State Rep. Attica Scott (D) announced in July that she was launching a primary challenge against Yarmuth. “I am running for Congress for the Louisvillians who have asked me for years to run, including the Black women who have never had a representative from Kentucky in Congress who looks like us,” Scott said in announcing her bid, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

State Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) announced Tuesday afternoon that he also was joining the race.

Kentucky’s 3rd District has been in Democratic hands since 2007, when Yarmuth took office after ousting Rep. Anne Northup (R). The district includes almost all of Jefferson County, the most populous and diverse in the state, and leans heavily Democratic; even so, Northup represented it in Congress for a decade.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republicans’ campaign arm, cast Yarmuth’s announcement as a sign of the tough terrain Democrats face in 2022.

“Smart Democrats know their days in the majority are numbered, so they are retiring or seeking other offices,” NRCC spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement.

While Kentucky has not yet begun its redistricting process, as the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, Yarmuth faced the prospect of state Republicans breaking apart his district and making it unwinnable for a Democrat through redistricting.

Roll Call, Analysis: New lines, new ratings for House races in Indiana, Nathan L. Gonzales, Oct. 12, 2021. Republican-crafted map solidifies 7-2 delegation split Not only did Indiana Republicans opt against squeezing one more seat out of their congressional delegation, they solidified the status quo and potentially left the state without a competitive House race for the next decade.

Republicans need a net gain of just five seats in 2022 to retake the majority, but the fight for the House won’t be taking place in the Hoosier State next year. Unless there are a couple of political earthquakes, Indiana will likely send seven Republicans and two Democrats to Washington for the foreseeable future.

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: The meaning of Indigenous People's Day, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 11-12, 2021. President Biden is the first president to proclaim the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallOctober federal holiday that normally marks the anniversary of the arrival in the so-called "New World" of a syphilitic Italian mercenary in the service of the Spanish monarchy as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

It was a long time in coming and is more deserved as a federal holiday than the congressionally-mandated federal holiday hat tip that was enacted to garner votes from Italian-Americans.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1994, my mother was visiting Washington, DC and we had the pleasure of having lunch with Chief Oren Lyons of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, formerly known as the Iroquois Confederacy. My mother, who was one-eighth Lenni-Lenape, was enthralled to hear Chief Lyons recount that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was a powerful democratic federation of six nations -- the Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, and Tuscarora -- that held sway over a vast territory from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River and which has existed since 1552 (the Tuscarora joined later), a mere 60 years after the Italian mercenary first set foot in the Western Hemisphere.

Moreover, its compact of confederation, the "Great Peace" crafted by Hiawatha, the first Tadadaho or Chief of Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, served as a basis for the U.S. Constitution.

washington post logoWashington Post, Defeats, inaction and compromise drag Biden’s poll numbers down, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Support for the president has sunk notably among key Democratic constituencies — Blacks, Latinos, women and young people. The discontent is particularly visible in Georgia, where Democrats had hoped demographic changes and mobilization efforts would offer a blueprint for expanding their electoral map.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).After an initial burst of support, Biden has seen his approval ratings fall significantly in recent months. A Washington Post average of polls since the start of September shows 44 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job approval, while 49 percent disapprove.

And polls suggest support for Biden has sunk notably among key Democratic constituencies — Blacks, Latinos, women and young people. Pew Research Center polls found Biden’s approval rating among Black Americans fell from 85 percent in July to 67 percent in September, while also falling 16 points among Hispanics and 14 points among Asians.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosInterviews with nearly 20 advocates, activists and politicians in the crucial state of Georgia — which Biden won narrowly, in large part due to support from Black voters, after decades of Republican dominance — give a sense of the sentiments behind those numbers. At the center are Black and other minority voters who helped fuel Biden’s victory, but who now see what they consider unfulfilled promises and dwindling hope for meaningful change.

In some sense, the “benefit of the doubt” portion of Biden’s presidency is over. While the president gained initial goodwill among many from simply not being Trump, especially when it came to the coronavirus, now those who supported him are demanding results, and his lack of a devoted base is starting to show.

“If midterms are about enthusiasm and turnout, who do you think is excited to vote on November 2 at this moment?” said Nsé Ufot, chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project, which has registered more than a half-million voters. “Because it ain’t Democrats. It ain’t Black folks. It ain’t young people.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Hochul Leads Democratic Field in First Major Poll of N.Y. Governor’s Race, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Oct. 12, 2021. A Marist College poll found that voters favored Gov. Kathy Hochul over potential primary rivals, including the state attorney general, Letitia James.

When Kathy Hochul unexpectedly became governor of New York two months ago, she was immediately faced with two challenges: Leading a state traversing a pandemic while simultaneously building a statewide campaign operation to run for a full term next year.

Ms. Hochul immediately began courting donors and hiring campaign staff, as she faced the prospects of potentially running against Letitia James, the state attorney general, whose office led the sexual harassment investigation that ultimately led to the demise of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and to Ms. Hochul’s ascension.

Ms. Hochul’s efforts appear to be paying off: A Marist College poll released on Tuesday found that Ms. Hochul would beat Ms. James and Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate, if next year’s Democratic primary for governor were held today.

In a hypothetical three-way primary, 44 percent of New York Democrats said they would vote for Ms. Hochul, 28 percent for Ms. James and 15 percent for Mr. Williams, while 13 percent said they were unsure.

In a four-way race that included Mr. Cuomo, 36 percent of Democratic voters said they favored Ms. Hochul, while 24 percent said they would vote for Ms. James, 19 percent for Mr. Cuomo and 9 percent for Mr. Williams; 12 percent said they were unsure.

 Other Recent Headlines

 

Human Rights Scandals, Probes

 

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, British police drop investigation into Prince Andrew over sexual abuse claims, Jennifer Hassan, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). British law enforcement officials are dropping their investigation into Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, following a review of sexual assault allegations sparked by an American woman who says convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince on at least three occasions.

United Kingdom flagVirginia Giuffre (shown above in an NBC interview and below left in 2001 with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell) filed a lawsuit in August in New York against the prince, alleging that she was first trafficked at the age of 16 by Epstein, who was found dead in a jail cell in August 2019.

prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001The lawsuit, which described the impact of the alleged abuse on Giuffre as “severe and lasting,” prompted British officials to review the allegations. Giuffre says the abuse by the prince first took place in London, at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime companion.

In an email to The Washington Post on Monday, London’s Metropolitan police service said it was “taking no further action” but that it would continue to “liaise with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein.”

The lawsuit in New York remains ongoing, and the prince has until Oct. 29 to respond to the claims, per the Associated Press.

prince andrew jeff epstein news syndication CustomAndrew (shown at right with Epstein) has denied the allegations and said he had no recollection of meeting Giuffre or having sexual encounters with her. A photo of the prince with his hand around Giuffre, apparently taken in London when she was 17, first surfaced in 2011 and posed huge questions for Buckingham Palace.

On Monday, British police also confirmed that they had “reviewed information” separately passed to them by a local broadcaster and that no further action would be taken against the prince.

In June 2021, Channel 4 News reported that Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused, trafficked and groomed multiple women and girls in Britain over a period of 10 years — including to London, where Giuffre alleged Andrew abused her.

Following the report, British police said they would review the claims of rape and sexual assault, which Channel 4 said came from “a combination of publicly available documentation (including court papers), witness accounts, and interviews.” In its report, the broadcaster also explored claims that the royal’s ties to the sex abuse scandal may have influenced Britain’s handling of the case.

The decision by British police to drop their investigation comes at a period of intense scrutiny of Britain’s police force and its treatment of crimes against women. Earlier this year, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer — sparking widespread calls for police reform.

Andrew, who is the second son of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, announced in 2019 that he would be quitting his public duties “for the foreseeable future.”

The announcement came following an interview the prince gave to the BBC in which he attempted to defend his friendship with Epstein. The interview was widely criticized by viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, with one royal watcher calling it “nuclear explosion level bad.”

jon gruden demaurice smith

ny times logoNew York Times, Raiders Coach Resigns After Homophobic and Misogynistic Emails, Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). A trove of emails in a separate workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, above left, went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades, including against DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

Jon Gruden, above left, stepped down Monday as the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders football team hours after emails surfaced in which he had made homophobic and misogynistic remarks, following an earlier report of racist statements about a union leader.

His resignation was a striking departure from the football league for a coach who had won a Super Bowl, been a marquee analyst on ESPN and returned to the N.F.L. in 2018 to lead the resurgent Raiders, which he had coached years before.

nfl logoGruden’s departure came after a New York Times report that N.F.L. officials, as part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation that did not directly involve him, found that Gruden had casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.

He denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, according to emails reviewed by The Times.

Gruden’s messages were sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others, while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football.” In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.

In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell and offensive language to describe some N.F.L. owners, coaches and journalists who cover the league.

Although not with a team at the time, Gruden was still influential in the league and highly coveted as a coach. He had won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2002 season. And in 2018, he was hired for his second stint as the head coach of the Raiders franchise, which includes defensive lineman Carl Nassib, the first active N.F.L. player to publicly declare that he is gay.

The league said last week that it shared emails with the Raiders in which Gruden made derogatory comments.

Gruden told ESPN on Sunday that the league was reviewing emails in which he criticized Goodell, and explained that he had been upset about team owners’ lockout of the players in 2011, when some of the emails were written. Gruden said in that interview that had used an expletive to refer to Goodell and that he did so because he disapproved of Goodell’s emphasis on safety, which he believed was scaring parents into steering their sons away from football.

But Gruden’s behavior was not limited to 2011. Gruden exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.

Gruden also criticized President Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, as well as then-vice president Joe Biden, whom Gruden called a “nervous clueless pussy.” He used similar words to describe Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

The league is already investigating Gruden as a result of another email he wrote to Allen in 2011 in which he used racist terms to describe Smith, who is Black.

In that email, Gruden, who is white and was working for ESPN at the time, criticized Smith’s intelligence and used a racist trope to describe his face. The correspondence was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by The New York Times.

Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one N.F.L. circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, deriding the league policies, and jocularly sharing homophobic language.

Their banter flies in the face of the league’s public denouncements of racism and sexism and its promises to be more inclusive amid criticism for not listening to the concerns of Black players, who make up about 70 percent of rosters. The N.F.L. has in the past struggled to discipline personnel who have committed acts of domestic violence and been condemned for failing to adequately address harassment of women, including N.F.L. cheerleaders.

Gruden's emails to Allen, who was fired by the Washington Football Team at the end of 2019, were reviewed as part of an N.F.L. investigation of workplace misconduct within the franchise that ended this summer. Goodell instructed league executives to look at more than 650,000 emails during the past few months, including those in which Gruden made offensive remarks. Last week, Goodell received a summary of their findings and the league sent the Raiders some of the emails written by Gruden.

In the exchanges, Gruden used his personal email account while Allen wrote from his team account.

Some of the emails between Gruden and Allen also included businessmen friends, Ed Droste, the co-founder of Hooters; Jim McVay, an executive who has run the Outback Bowl, annually held in Tampa, Fla.; and Nick Reader, the founder of PDQ Restaurants, a Tampa-based fried chicken franchise. The exchanges begin as early as 2010 while Gruden was an analyst for “Monday Night Football.” In 2018, he signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the Raiders.

espn logoGruden and Allen are longtime friends and colleagues. Allen was a senior executive with the Raiders from 1995 to 2003, when he worked with Gruden, who was head coach of the team from 1998 to 2001. Gruden became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl that season. Allen became the general manager there in 2004. Allen and Gruden both left the Buccaneers after the 2008 season. While Gruden moved on to a broadcast role with ESPN, Allen became the general manager in Washington in 2010 and later the team’s president.

Allen, who is the son of legendary N.F.L. coach George Allen, and Gruden — whose father coached at Notre Dame and whose brother, Jay, was head coach in Washington from 2014 to 2019 — are part of an exclusive network that cycles between N.F.L. teams, networks and companies affiliated with the league.

 

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Rikers: Dysfunction, Lawlessness and Detainees in Control, Jan Ransom, Jonah E. Bromwich and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). With a staffing emergency disrupting New York City’s main jail complex, detainees have had free rein inside. Some have nearly taken over entire units. Absent and abusive guards as well as the site’s decrepit physical grounds have contributed to the crisis.

Much has been made of the crisis gripping Rikers, New York City’s main jail complex  — the pandemic and a subsequent staffing emergency have taken a brutal toll on incarcerated people and jailers alike — but the sheer lawlessness inside the compound is difficult to fathom.

Detainees in some buildings have seized near total control over entire units, deciding who can enter and leave them, records and interviews show. In other buildings, they have wandered in and out of staff break rooms and similarly restricted areas, with some flouting rules against smoking tobacco and marijuana. Sometimes they have answered phones that were supposed to be manned by guards. Several have stolen keys and used them to free others in custody, who went on to commit slashings and other acts of violence.

The chaos was not limited to incarcerated people. Correction officers have participated in beatings or failed to intervene in hangings and other urgent situations. Last week, a guard was charged with providing a razor blade to a detainee who planned to use it as a weapon.

City officials have accused jail officers of abusing generous sick leave policies — hundreds have been out of work — while the officers’ labor union has said guards are not going to work because conditions in the jails are unsafe and inhumane.

Both sides have cast the situation as an acute crisis.

But the troubles on Rikers Island (spread across eight jail buildings on an island in the East River) trace also to physical grounds that have been neglected for decades, leading to doors that do not lock properly, cells that are too deteriorated to contain detainees and aging objects like radiators that can be ripped apart and turned into weapons. The jail complex is also reliant on guards who — thanks to years of mismanagement and ineffective training — sometimes fail to follow rules meant to keep them and incarcerated people safe

 

World Corruption, Conflict

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why the West has itself to blame for Russian corruption, Toomas Hendrik ( ex-Estonia president), Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.).
Toomas Hendrik Ilves is the former president of Estonia. A version of this text was delivered as a speech at the Warsaw Security Forum on Oct. 5 in Warsaw.

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hounded, persecuted, beaten, poisoned and jailed for standing up to a thuggish autocracy that is well on its way to classic totalitarian rule. His crime? Peacefully using his fundamental human right of freedom of expression to challenge a regime held together by stormtroopers, violence and murder.

Navalny’s story is not a new one. In the decade before the collapse of communism, we saw this tale unfold over and over again. Joseph Brodsky, Natan Sharansky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov and hundreds of others were persecuted for their beliefs by that real-life Mordor, the U.S.S.R.

There is a difference, however. Back in those days, we in the West at least had the moral clarity to stand up to the thugs, and to raise these issues with our governments, in our parliaments, in all possible international forums.

Paradoxically, it helped that our foes were ideologically anti-capitalist. Commissars and Politburo members could hardly buy villas on the Riviera, ski chateaus in St. Moritz, Switzerland, or apartments in a skyscraper owned by a U.S. president. They did not dock their 470-foot yachts in Saint-Tropez, France, or Piraeus, Greece. On our side, taking money from totalitarians counted as bribery or as espionage — bringing severe criminal penalties and social disgrace.

Today, the liberal democratic West has abandoned that one-time clarity. We have become partners in crime, colluding with the enemies of liberty, of our Enlightenment heritage of rule of law and human rights. We are the unindicted co-conspirators of our own demise and the destruction of Russia, collapsing under the weight of its corruption and thievery.

So it is not enough to celebrate the heroism of Navalny and his immense contributions to exposing the miasma of corruption in Russia. That serves only to give us a smug and utterly false sense of moral superiority. To truly honor Navalny, we instead must confront the stench of our own liberal democratic West.

That stench swirls from our own corrupt politicians and political parties, from our naive and greedy governments, and even the most prestigious, centuries-old universities. It swirls from businesses who prize profit over justice, truth and freedom. It swirls from bankers, lawyers and accountants who launder money and reputations. The revelations of the Pandora Papers, like the other tales of financial skulduggery that have come before, once again demonstrate that we ourselves are systematically complicit in the thievery and corruption that plague so many societies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ethiopian government launches ‘staggering’ new offensive against rebel Tigray forces, group says, Rachel Chason, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). The Ethiopian government has launched a “staggering” ground offensive against rebel Tigrayan forces, according to a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, reigniting a devastating civil war that international humanitarian groups say imperils hundreds of thousands.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said in an interview that there was active fighting Monday on at least three fronts in the Amhara region against the troops of the Ethiopian army and Amhara regional militias, involving a combination of soldiers, drones, tanks and airstrikes.

The fighting marked an escalation in Ethiopia’s nearly year-long civil war as the international community has ratcheted up calls for an end to the violence. Months earlier, the Tigrayan rebels had pushed the government forces out of their province and taken up positions in the neighboring Amhara region.

The conflict in Tigray, which is in Ethiopia’s north, began in November when Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, launched a military offensive against the TPLF, a regional political party that had ruled Ethiopia for three decades before the current government came to power in 2018.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: World gearing up intelligence coverage of the U.S., Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 12, 2021. Sources close to the U.S. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallIntelligence Community are reporting that the world's intelligence services, friendly and adversarial, are increasing their intelligence surveillance of and collection operations in the United States.

The purpose of the increased operations is not for usual military and economic intelligence gathering reasons. Intelligence summaries and briefs wayne madesen report logoreaching world capitals from foreign embassies and other sources in Washington, DC and around the country increasingly report that the United States is now firmly in the category of "politically unstable," a designation normally applied to countries governed by shaky regimes in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Among the intelligence agencies adopting an aggressive surveillance stance are those of countries that cozied up to the Trump administration and are fearful of a backlash among elements of the Biden administration, the U.S. military, Democratic Party officeholders, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Miami Herald, Leak provides ID of Saudis behind Florida real estate empire, Shirsho Dasgupta and Deena Sabry, Oct. 12, 2021. Using shell companies, a prominent Saudi with ties to the royal family bought these properties and others in Florida. This reporting was made possible by a massive leak of secret documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with partner news organizations around the globe, including the Miami Herald.

miami herald logoIn the shadow of Walt Disney World’s iconic palace, a Middle Eastern family with ties to royalty amassed a real estate empire. It encompassed Kissimmee, Groveland, Orlando and Leesburg and comprised undeveloped land and two golf courses. Until very recently it also included seven apartment complexes — in Tampa, Orlando, and a suburban Orlando resort called Championsgate. The Orlando Sentinel reported in 1998 that “members of the Saudi Arabian royal family” had been secretly buying up tracts of undeveloped land in Florida through a network of offshore companies.

But a Miami Herald investigation based on leaked documents has solved a long-running mystery surrounding these deals: Which Saudis? What is the true extent of their business empire? And how close are they to the ruling monarchs?

That family, the Herald found, is the Ibrahims ⁠— among the most influential families in Saudi Arabia. One member, Jawhara Al-Ibrahim was the wife of King Fahd, who ruled the country from 1982 until his death in 2005. Their attorney in Florida: C. David Brown II, Republican fundraiser and friend of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The leaked documents show seven offshore holding companies owned by Khalid I. Al-Ibrahim with Brown as their representative. Prior press releases and news reports tie Al-Ibrahim to a few more. Florida does not require companies doing business in the state to reveal their owners but a Herald analysis of the state’s corporation records found 75 companies whose corporate names, registered agents and mailing addresses were patterned in a way to indicate a connection with the Ibrahims. The Ibrahim name appears on only two.

Fifty-five of those firms are still active and property records the Herald examined show they hold around 95 land parcels in Lake, Osceola and Orange counties worth roughly $65 million. The Herald identified residents who had lived in the apartments at the time the Ibrahims owned them through eviction filings dating back to 1998.

All of them remembered the apartments as comfortable places — “top of the line,” one called them. Some expressed frustration when informed of the ownership records that a billionaire family did not hesitate to evict them when they had fallen on hard times. None of the more than a dozen evictees and attorneys who are listed in the filings who spoke to the Herald had previously heard of the Ibrahims.

The data from 14 offshore service providers from around the world was leaked to the International Consortium of International Journalists, which shared it with the Miami Herald and 150 other news outlets. It comprises 11.9 million records, including emails, company registries, shareholders’ certificates and invoices. The collaboration is now publishing stories under the title “Pandora Papers.”

As the high-end market booms, developers focus on luxury condos to meet the demand of wealthy investors — sometimes from outside Florida ⁠— and lower-income families are priced out. Jaimie Ross of the Florida Housing Coalition, an affordable housing advocacy group, said that wealthy real estate investors — from the United States and abroad — are creating a domino effect with disastrous consequences: “Floridians are priced out of home-ownership. They go into rentals and the rent keeps rising and then what happens? They become homeless.”

 

Oct. 11

Top Headlines

 

Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance


World Corruption, Climate, Environment

 

U.S. Prisons, Crime, Courts

 

Sports, Human Rights

 

Top Stories

 djt steve bannon

Donald Trump, left, and Steve Bannon, who has been quoted as backing the idea of a Trump reinstatement, saying that the "return of Trump" will be in "2022 or maybe before."

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: If You Know Who Steve Bannon's Lawyer Is, You Understand How Closely Trump Is Linked to the Cover-Up of His Own seth abramson graphicRole in the January 6 Conspiracy, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 10-11, 2021. Suspicious, possibly corrupt conduct by lawyer Robert Costello confirms Trump is doing more than using public declarations to obstruct the January 6 investigation—he's using his usual backroom ploys.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: Perhaps no top Donald Trump adviser was more important to the former president’s January 6 attack on our democracy than Steve Bannon. Whereas Kimberly Guilfoyle, Katrina Pierson, and Peter Navarro acted as adjuncts to Trump’s will, Bannon’s role was to shape it—to give his patron a vision of what was possible if he’d simply cease thinking (or continue not to think) of the future of the United States or its rule of law.

We know that Bannon recently revealed, in a conference call with GOP leaders, a plan to “control this country” via “20,000 shock troops”—neo-fascists personally recruited by Bannon and ready to seize control of America’s ship of state as soon as the GOP is again in power.

And we know that Bannon now claims the power to defy Congressional subpoenas, with his fig-leaf in asserting this unprecedented right being the absurd declaration that anyone who speaks to a president is protected from ever having to reveal what was said in such a conversation—whether or not they were a member of the federal executive branch when the conversation occurred. It’s rank nonsense, of course (and dangerous nonsense, at that).

But what Americans must now understand is how closely coordinated with Trump Bannon’s defiance of U.S. law appears to be—and how vital to Trump’s own interests it is that Bannon remain quiet, given the white supremacist Trump adviser’s infamous Insurrection Eve claim that “all hell is going to break loose [on January 6].”

Robert Costello Is Either Donald Trump’s Lawyer or the Equivalent

On December 11, 2020, the then-under-indictment Bannon hired Robert J. Costello as his criminal defense lawyer. Thirteen months earlier, in November 2019, Costello had been hired by Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was then facing—and still faces—a federal criminal investigation of his own.
It took under six weeks for Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer to get Trump to pardon Bannon.

You might think that Bannon’s ease in getting a pardon from Trump was due in part to him working for Trump as an adviser during the period he was seeking that pardon, and you’d be right.

But what you might not realize is that Bannon’s connection to Trump came not just in phone calls with the then-president or meetings with the president’s attorney, but via his own lawyer Robert Costello—who, it turns out, is effectively Trump’s advocate as much as he is Bannon’s. And Costello doesn’t just seem to work for Trump, his specific task appears to be getting men who have dirt on Trump to stay quiet in exchange for Trump’s aid.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near, Alex Horton, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members remain unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Pentagon’s first compliance deadlines near, with lopsided rates across the individual services and a spike in deaths among military reservists illustrating how political division over the shots has seeped into a nonpartisan force with unambiguous orders.

Overall, the military’s vaccination rate has climbed since August, when Defense Department leaders, acting on a directive from President Biden, informed the nation’s 2.1 million troops that immunization would become mandatory, exemptions would be rare and those who refuse would be punished. Yet troops’ response has been scattershot, according to data assessed by The Washington Post.

Department of Defense SealFor instance, 90 percent of the active-duty Navy is fully vaccinated, whereas just 72 percent of the Marine Corps is, the data show, even though both services share a Nov. 28 deadline. In the Air Force, more than 60,000 personnel have just three weeks to meet the Defense Department’s most ambitious deadline.

Deaths attributed to covid-19 have soared in parts of the force as some services struggle to inoculate their troops. In September, more military personnel died of coronavirus infections than in all of 2020. None of those who died were fully vaccinated, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz said.

Military officials explain the variance in vaccination rates, in part, by pointing to the staggered deadlines each of the services set for personnel to comply while expressing optimism that, as those dates approach, numbers will quickly rise and a vast majority of troops will carry out their orders. Thousands of troops already have begun their two-shot regimens, like in the Navy, where 98 percent of active-duty sailors have received at least one dose, officials said.

But other services are not on such a steady path, and critics say the large gaps between vaccination deadlines jeopardize how ready the military can be in a moment of crisis. They point specifically to the reserves and National Guard, which over the last two years have been called upon in numerous emergencies — at home and overseas — and yet large numbers of their personnel have so far refused to get vaccinated.

“The Army’s policy is incentivizing inaction until the latest possible date,” said Katherine L. Kuzminski, a military policy expert at the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security, citing plans that require Army Reserve and National Guard personnel to be fully vaccinated more than eight months from now. Coronavirus vaccines have been widely available since the spring.

“The way we’ve seen the virus evolve tells us looking out to June 30 may need to be reconsidered,” Kuzminski said.

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: The meaning of Indigenous People's Day, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 11, 2021. President Biden is the first president to proclaim the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallOctober federal holiday that normally marks the anniversary of the arrival in the so-called "New World" of a syphilitic Italian mercenary in the service of the Spanish monarchy as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

It was a long time in coming and is more deserved as a federal holiday than the congressionally-mandated federal holiday hat tip that was enacted to garner votes from Italian-Americans.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1994, my mother was visiting Washington, DC and we had the pleasure of having lunch with Chief Oren Lyons of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, formerly known as the Iroquois Confederacy. My mother, who was one-eighth Lenni-Lenape, was enthralled to hear Chief Lyons recount that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was a powerful democratic federation of six nations -- the Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, and Tuscarora -- that held sway over a vast territory from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River and which has existed since 1552 (the Tuscarora joined later), a mere 60 years after the Italian mercenary first set foot in the Western Hemisphere.

Moreover, its compact of confederation, the "Great Peace" crafted by Hiawatha, the first Tadadaho or Chief of Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, served as a basis for the U.S. Constitution.

washington post logoWashington Post, Defeats, inaction and compromise drag Biden’s poll numbers down, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 11, 2021. Support for the president has sunk notably among key Democratic constituencies — Blacks, Latinos, women and young people. The discontent is particularly visible in Georgia, where Democrats had hoped demographic changes and mobilization efforts would offer a blueprint for expanding their electoral map.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).After an initial burst of support, Biden has seen his approval ratings fall significantly in recent months. A Washington Post average of polls since the start of September shows 44 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job approval, while 49 percent disapprove.

And polls suggest support for Biden has sunk notably among key Democratic constituencies — Blacks, Latinos, women and young people. Pew Research Center polls found Biden’s approval rating among Black Americans fell from 85 percent in July to 67 percent in September, while also falling 16 points among Hispanics and 14 points among Asians.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosInterviews with nearly 20 advocates, activists and politicians in the crucial state of Georgia — which Biden won narrowly, in large part due to support from Black voters, after decades of Republican dominance — give a sense of the sentiments behind those numbers. At the center are Black and other minority voters who helped fuel Biden’s victory, but who now see what they consider unfulfilled promises and dwindling hope for meaningful change.

In some sense, the “benefit of the doubt” portion of Biden’s presidency is over. While the president gained initial goodwill among many from simply not being Trump, especially when it came to the coronavirus, now those who supported him are demanding results, and his lack of a devoted base is starting to show.

“If midterms are about enthusiasm and turnout, who do you think is excited to vote on November 2 at this moment?” said Nsé Ufot, chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project, which has registered more than a half-million voters. “Because it ain’t Democrats. It ain’t Black folks. It ain’t young people.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden needs a reboot. Fighting for democracy is the key, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). As President Biden confronts a ej dionne w open necksteady slide in his approval ratings, he should move beyond the conventional storyline invoked to explain it and address the larger problems it reveals.

Five months ago, the FiveThirtyEight polling averages pegged Biden at 54.1 percent approval, 39.7 percent disapproval. As of Sunday, Biden’s numbers had dropped to 44.7 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval.

joe biden resized oBiden needs to restore the sense he created early on that he knows where he’s going. This requires refining his original objectives in response to events.

The tension between bipartisan Joe and Democratic Joe is now unsustainable. Biden needs to accept that Republicans will do him no favors between now and the 2022 elections and turn this to his advantage.

He got a glimpse last week of the benefits of a tougher line when the mere threat that he might support rolling back the filibuster pushed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow Democrats to pass a short-term increase in the debt ceiling.

The broader argument for Biden’s presidency comes in two parts. First, insist that everything he wants to do — vaccination mandates, child care, elder care, health care and the rest — is in the interest not only of his own supporters but also of most Americans who voted for Donald Trump.

Harry Truman-style, Biden should press Republicans about what benefits they propose to deny to Americans who need them. Do they want less child care? Less health coverage? More expensive drugs? No tax breaks under the child tax credit? And do recalcitrant Republican governors want an unending pandemic? Biden’s tough speech in Chicago last Thursday on vaccinations was in keeping with his growing militancy on the subject.

He also needs to be more vividly Reagan-esque in describing the stronger, fairer and more prosperous country he’s trying to build. Biden is not bowing to some “liberal wish list.” He’s attempting to bring to life a country less divided — socially, regionally and racially — by creating opportunity where it doesn’t exist now.

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 85 percent of the world’s people affected by human-induced climate change, new study shows, Annabelle Timsit and Sarah Kaplan, Oct. 11, 2021. Researchers used machine learning to analyze more than 100,000 studies of weather events and found four-fifths of the world’s land area has suffered impacts linked to global warming.

At least 85 percent of the global population has experienced weather events made worse by climate change, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

After using machine learning to analyze and map more than 100,000 studies of events that could be linked to global warming, researchers paired the analysis with a well-established data set of temperature and precipitation shifts caused by fossil fuel use and other sources of carbon emissions.

These combined findings — which focused on events such as crop failures, floods and heat waves — allowed scientists to make a solid link between escalating extremes and human activities. They concluded that global warming has affected 80 percent of the world’s land area.

“We have a huge evidence base now that documents how climate change is affecting our societies and our ecosystems,” said lead author Max Callaghan, a researcher at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Germany.

The study provides hard numbers to back up the lived experiences of people from New York City to South Sudan. “Climate change,” Callaghan said, “is visible and noticeable almost everywhere in the world.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. and E.U. line up global pledges to slash emissions of methane, Kerrin Jeromin, Oct. 11, 2021. A high-tech, low-cost push to track sharks, rhinos and other species amid climate change.

Through the first nine months of 2021, the U.S. has endured 18 separate weather and climate disasters that have cost at least $1 billion, according to the latest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

These 18 events put 2021 in second place for the most billion-dollar disasters behind 2020, when there were 22 such events. Last year shattered the previous annual record of 16 events, which occurred in 2017 and 2011.

A record 22 billion-dollar disasters struck the U.S. in 2020

While 2021′s 18 events trail 2020′s count, 2021′s disasters have been more costly. They are estimated to have resulted in $104.8 billion in damages, surpassing last year’s estimated $100.4 billion.

Moreover, to date, 2021 is ahead of 2020′s pace through September.

  • Already, 18 weather disasters, each costing $1 billion or more, have hit the U.S. this year
  • 2021 is on pace to be among the most active and costliest years for these disasters.
  • This year is on pace to be one of the most active and costliest years for disasters in the United States.

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

john eastmanProof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Lawyer John Eastman Speaks Out About January 6—and Makes Everything Worse for Trump, Seth Abramson, Oct. 11, seth abramson graphic2021. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, Eastman, above—one of Trump's lawyers on January 6 and a participant in the former president's Willard Hotel war room—offers a stunning defense of Trump's coup conspiracy.

By January 6, 2021, not a single state legislature in the United States—whether GOP-led or otherwise—had voted to de-certify its presidential electors. Indeed, every state had certified its 2020 election results, including every GOP-led state legislature that sent Biden electors to D.C. for the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6.

There was, in short, no way for Trump to receive a second term as President of the United States as dawn broke on January 6 and his legal team, including Giuliani and Eastman, met in the Willard Hotel to stage what one participant (domestic extremist Joe Oltmann) would call a “war room.”

seth abramson proof logoIn his Sacremento Bee op-ed, Eastman admits, stunningly, that on January 6 Trump was suffering from the “absence of certifications of alternate Trump electors from the contested states’ legislatures.” In other words, he admits the “Trump electors” he and Giuliani and Trump’s campaign brought to D.C. had no legal status or significance.

Every time Trump or his allies open their mouths to speak about January 6, they bury themselves and the former president further. No wonder Trump had engaged in such extraordinary actions to try to keep his advisers quiet. In Eastman’s case, Trump may have believed that the fact that Eastman was his lawyer on January 6 would keep him quiet; certainly, with the help of Robert Costello, Trump had successfully kept Rudy Giuliani quiet about the most sensitive components of his coup plotting with Trump.

But now that Eastman has spoken, what he’s said cannot be ignored: not by the FBI, not by the House January 6 Committee, and not by the American people. Eastman’s words confirm that the Trumpist coup conspiracy of January 6—which encompassed Trump’s legal team, political staffers, and top advisers within the White House—was centered on extra-legal actions that could only be accomplished by the very paramilitary entities Trump had just spoken with hours earlier.

In the next 72 hours, Proof will issue a breaking news report explaining this last sentence. It’s being written up right now.

 

oan logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trump’s favorite channel, One America News, was never ‘news’ at all, Margaret Sullivan, right, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). A stunning margaret sullivan 2015 photoReuters exposé demonstrates that for OAN, “it was never, never the full truth” when covering Trump.

The whitewashing and denialism of the Jan. 6 insurrection started at One America News on that very same day.

As President Donald Trump tried to overturn the legitimate results of the presidential election — inciting a deadly riot along the way — the cable robert herring sr croppedchannel’s brass were sending an all-too-clear message to their team about how to cover this horrifying event.

“Please DO NOT say ‘Trump Supporters Storm Capitol. . . .’ Simply call them demonstrators or protestors. . . . DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!” came the impassioned email directive from a news director to the staff.

The next day, OAN’s top boss, founder Robert Herring Sr., left, ordered producers to get in line behind the president, as he floated the conspiracy theory that it wasn’t Trump supporters breaking those windows and storming those barricades — that it was the leftist movement reuters logoantifa instead.

When Reuters, the global news agency, published its two-part investigation last week of OAN, the most startling finding was that AT&T indirectly provided 90 percent of the channel’s revenue, after letting it be known that it was eager to host a new conservative cable network.

att logoYes, the world’s largest communications company played a major role in creating and sustaining the far-right channel that spins wacky ideas, promotes fraudulent covid-19 cures and, in its fervor, makes the pro-Trump market leader, Fox News, look almost reasonable. (AT&T has challenged aspects of Reuters’ reporting and said that the company, through its offshoot, DirecTV, provides “viewpoints across the political spectrum.”)

But just as noteworthy as AT&T’s involvement was the way Reuters’s John Shiffman pulled back the curtain on how the San Diego-based network operates, relying in part on court documents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The fight between Biden and Trump over executive privilege should be decided in favor of the sitting president, Laurent Sacharoff (law professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law), Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Whose privilege is it anyway?

The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation has escalated along two main fronts. It has demanded Trump-era documents from the National Archives and subpoenaed his former aides to testify.

In the past few days, former president Donald Trump has objected to both inquiries by asserting executive privilege, in a formal letter to the National Archives and by way of individual letters to each potential witness. He is doing so, he has said, “in defense of the Office of the Presidency.”

President Biden has said that the extraordinary circumstances of the Jan. 6 inquiry justify waiving claims of privilege, at least over the archive documents. As for witnesses, Biden has hinted that he will not assert the privilege over most information central to the inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack.

These inconsistent positions raise two questions: Do former presidents have constitutional authority to invoke executive privilege to keep private their communications with top advisers? If so, what happens if the incumbent president disagrees and they end up in court?

The answer in this murky corner of constitutional law isn’t entirely clear — executive privilege itself isn’t mentioned in the Constitution and there have only been a few Supreme Court cases on the subject.

My view is that a president’s ability to invoke executive privilege ends with the presidency. After all, the framers were crafting a chief executive whose power was limited in tenure, unlike the British monarch. As a practical matter, the incumbent president’s interest in safeguarding the institutional interests of the presidency should provide sufficient protection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: One more time Trump tried to undo the will of the voters, Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark asked the attorney ruth marcus twitter Customgeneral for a lift on the way to topple him.

It was Sunday evening, Jan. 3. Clark, a previously obscure Justice Department official, had caught President Trump’s eye as a willing accomplice jeffrey rosenin seeking to overturn the election results — a role that Jeffrey Rosen, left, the acting attorney general, had shown he was unwilling to play.

So Trump, meeting with Clark behind Rosen’s back, had offered to install him in the top job. Clark, then the acting head of the civil division — and a colleague of Rosen’s stretching back decades in government and private practice — told Rosen he’d let him stay on, as the department’s number two.

Now, Rosen and Clark were headed to the White House for a hastily scheduled showdown with the president. Could Clark get a ride in the AG’s motorcade?

Justice Department log circular“Maybe this was ungracious of me, but I declined,” Rosen told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators in an interview transcript released Thursday.

The interviews, with Rosen and others, were included in a committee report that offers new details — some amusing, others chilling — of the slow-motion coup gathering steam inside the Trump administration even before the public insurrection of Jan. 6. The new material underscores the imperative of hearing from Clark himself. What did the president say to him in their private meetings? How did Clark get connected with Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who introduced him to Trump? Who else was involved? The last best hope of obtaining Clark’s testimony appears to be the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As outlined in the report, the White House meeting opened with Trump brazenly summarizing the choice before him. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen. Let that sink in: A sitting president, in the Oval Office no less, announcing that he wants an attorney general who will use the Justice Department to undo the will of the voters.

Specifically, Clark was willing to do what Rosen wouldn’t: send a letter to officials in Georgia — to be replicated with other contested states — declaring that the Justice Department had “taken notice” of “irregularities” in the election and calling on the state to convene a special session of the legislature. This was so preposterously outside the department’s purview that Rosen had summarily refused Clark’s entreaties. Clark, for his part, told Rosen that he’d turn down Trump’s offer to become attorney general if Rosen would simply send the letters himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol Police’s failure to share intelligence internally crippled its Jan. 6 response, former official says, Mariana Alfaro, Oct. 11, 2021. In a joint statement responding to the criticism, members of the Capitol Police’s executive team said many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed.

A former senior official in the U.S. Capitol Police accused two of the department’s top officials of failing to properly share vital intelligence in the days ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, crippling the response to the attack.

yogananda pittmanIn a blistering letter to Congress, the former official claims that Assistant Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, right, and acting assistant chief Sean Gallagher received an intelligence report on Dec. 21 that had specific warnings and information about a potential riot similar to a report that the FBI later provided to the department on Jan. 5.

In the 16-page letter, dated Sept. 28, the former official claims that Pittman and Gallagher deliberately never shared this December intelligence report with other department officials or used it to update security assessments provided to Capitol Police officers.

Sharing that information, the former official alleges, could have “changed the paradigm of that day” and “would have provided the documentation needed to support securing the National Guard and other allied agency manpower for January 6th.” It also would have provided the intelligence needed to procure hard gear and other weapons.

A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop the counting of electoral college votes affirming President Biden’s win. In the worst attack on the seat of democracy since the War of 1812, four people died and an officer who had been sprayed with a powerful chemical irritant, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered a stroke and died the following day. Some 140 members of law enforcement were injured as rioters attacked them wielding flagpoles, baseball bats, stun guns, bear spray and pepper spray.

The individual, who sought anonymity for privacy reasons, declined to comment Monday beyond the letter, saying he wants the focus on the allegations he raised. “This is not about me,” the former official said.

In a joint statement responding to the criticism, members of the Capitol Police’s executive team — which includes Pittman and Gallagher along with Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger — said that while “there is more work to do, many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed.”

The former official claims Pittman lied to Congress when she claimed that the critical information detailed in that December report was shared with assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs. The information contained warnings that individuals online were sharing maps of the Capitol campus and were planning on confronting members of Congress while armed. Pittman told Congress that senior officials in the department were aware of these reports, but the former official claims that this is “unconditionally false.”

“It was never sent or shared. It also was never used to update any intelligence brief forwarded to the commanders,” the official writes, claiming that Gallagher and Pittman were the only officials who had “all the intelligence information” on Jan. 6.

 Related Recent Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Merck requests emergency use authorization for pill to treat covid, Rachel Pannett and Annabelle Timsit, Oct. 11, 2021. Pharmaceutical giant Merck has asked the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorization to its experimental covid-19 antiviral treatment – an oral medication that could be promising in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

merck logoThe treatment, a pill named molnupiravir that cut hospitalizations and deaths by about half in early trials, could be an especially important tool in poor countries, where vaccine supply is low .

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said Monday in a news release that, in addition to their FDA application, they plan to apply for emergency use or marketing authorization in other countries “in the coming months.” Ahead of a decision by U.S. regulators, the companies have already begun producing the pill, and have agreed to sell courses of the treatment to the United States and other countries if they get the green light.

Early trials of the drug showed significant promise in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death among at-risk patients with mild to moderate cases of covid-19. An independent board of experts monitoring the trial recommended it be stopped early because of the promising results, the company said this month — a significant and telling development in a pharmaceutical study.

Here’s what to know

  • Sydney reopened Monday in a test case for Australia’s new strategy of living with the coronavirus.
  • The FDA’s independent advisers will meet Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 to discuss greenlighting booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine, followed by the CDC’s independent advisory committee on Oct. 20 and 21. Separately, the CDC panel will convene Nov. 2 and 3 to discuss pediatric vaccinations.
  • The flu practically vanished last year. Now doctors are bracing for potential “twindemic” of flu and covid-19 spikes
  • In search for covid origins, Hubei caves and wildlife farms draw new scrutiny

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 11, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 238,724,799, Deaths: 4,868,928
U.S. Cases:     45,204,373, Deaths:    733,575
India Cases:    33,971,607, Deaths:     450,814
Brazil Cases:   21,575,820, Deaths:     601,047

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 216.9 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.11, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 187.2 million eligible who are fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

allen west filePalmer Report, Opinion: Trump stooge Allen West gets lambasted after COVID debacle, Fair Observer, Oct. 11, 2021. Another GOP right–wing anti-vaxxer, Texas gubernatorial candidate Allen West, above, has been hospitalized with COVID, pneumonia, and low oxygen. West no doubt received prime medical treatment in Texas at great expense (and is now apparently back home), as opposed to getting an inexpensive vaccine to prevent COVID in the first place.

The selfishness of West and other right-wing blockhead anti-vaxxers hoarding valuable hospital space for preventable COVID treatment has caused those suffering with heart disease, cancer, or some other serious illness other than COVID, not being able to gain access to needed in-patient treatment, often with fatal consequences.

West tweeted that his bout with COVID and receiving monoclonal antibody treatment made him more determined than ever to oppose vaccine mandates. He is appropriately being ripped by many responses to his idiotic tweet, such as one likening West to “crashing your car, being saved by the Jaws of Life and saying you’ll never wear a seatbelt again. Such is the Trumpublican mode of death wish cult thinking.

Related Recent Headlines:

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Rich Have Found Another Way to Pay Less Tax, David Wessel (the director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution), Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Congress tucked a provision into the 2017 tax bill that led to the creation of 8,764 tax havens across the United States called “opportunity zones.”

A capital-gains tax break sold as a way to induce the wealthy to invest in poor neighborhoods, opportunity zones appear to be providing more opportunity for the wealthy to cut their tax bills than to the people who live in designated zones. It’s a case study on how very hard it is to tweak the tax code to direct money to places and activities that Congress favors without creating windfalls for the rich.

Opportunity Zones were partially conceived by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker, made famous by his role in the rise of Napster and Facebook fame. He was sure he had a better way to reduce poverty than policy wonks or bureaucrats did. So he funded a start-up think tank and hired a couple of sharp Washington insiders who skillfully maneuvered opportunity zones into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — with a big assist from Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina. All this with little public scrutiny of details.

And therein lies the problem. Architects of opportunity zones believed that previous attempts to use the tax code to push money to capital-starved neighborhoods flopped because they had too many rules and required investors to navigate maddeningly complex bureaucratic mazes. So their disruptive version of place-based policy had few rules and little government oversight. Once governors designated opportunity zones from a list of census tracts that the law made eligible, almost any investment in a property or business in a zone qualified. One doesn’t need to even assert that an investment will help the people who live in the zone.

During his campaign, President Biden vowed to “reform opportunity zones to fulfill their promise,” but so far the administration hasn’t proposed anything or used its regulatory muscle. And its proposed capital-gains tax increase and other tax increases would only make opportunity zones even more attractive to the tax-averse rich.

washington post logoWashington Post, Global minimum tax on corporations likely to be included in reconciliation bill, Yellen says, Jeanne Whalen, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). The United States and 135 other countries endorsed the measure last week to combat corporate tax-cutting.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said she is confident that Congress will include provisions for a global minimum tax on corporate profits in reconciliation legislation, days after the United States and 135 other nations endorsed the levy to combat tax-cutting.

Each country that signed the deal must pass legislation to enact the measure, which is aimed at limiting corporations’ ability to lower their tax bills by shifting profits to the lowest-tax jurisdictions globally.

“I am confident that what we need to do to come into compliance with the minimum tax will be included in a reconciliation package. I hope that it will be passed and we will be able to reassure the world that the United States will do its part,” Yellen told ABC News’s “This Week” program.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Steve Scalise’s election rhetoric is no less harmful than Trump’s, Philip Bump, Oct. 11, 2021. It suggests that too many people voted instead of alleging nonexistent fraud.

A defining characteristic of being an elected official is the need to maintain support from voters. For Republican officials in recent years, that has meant having to adjust their rhetoric and positions to align with those of Donald Trump, still the party’s guiding light. Sometimes it’s easier than at others; voting for tax cuts is less of a burden than, say, theorizing wide-ranging collusion on election fraud for which there is no proof.

When Trump turned up the volume on that latter crusade before last year’s election, the rest of his party generally sort of nodded along. When the period after the election turned into an all-out effort to overturn the results, centered on unfounded and often fantastical fraud claims, many Republicans were forced into an awkward position. Should they tramp along behind Trump, elevating the nonsense he was spouting? Should they stay silent despite the outrage expressed by so many Republican voters? Or was there … another way?

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to keep members of his caucus from joining in the effort to contest Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Jan. 6, but the lure of appealing to Trump’s base proved too strong. So two Republican senators, Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) cobbled together rationales for doing so that sidestepped Trump’s obviously false claims about rampant fraud. Hawley’s was focused on one specific claim: Pennsylvania had changed its voting laws in a way that contravened the state’s constitution.

Over time, this compromise position became the establishment’s default. They could shout along with the base that the election was wildly tainted while turning to cable-news hosts and quietly explaining that this claim was simply about how states had changed their voting processes in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. When attorney John Eastman was trying to sell Vice President Mike Pence on simply throwing out the election results on Jan. 6, he created two memos making his case. The first, shorter and more direct, simply outlined Pence’s path to stealing a second term in office. The second was longer and clearly meant to seem like a reasoned delineation of how the election’s endgame could unfold. To demonstrate to readers the need for undercutting the election results, Eastman began that second memo with a lengthy list of ways in which states made voting easier in 2020 — as though that itself was a rationale for rejecting the votes that were cast under those expanded systems.

On Sunday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) appeared on “Fox News Sunday” where host Chris Wallace pressed him on the question Republicans hate to answer: Was Biden legitimately elected?

“If you look at a number of states, they didn't follow their state-passed laws that govern the election for president,” Scalise replied. “That is what the United States Constitution says. They don't say the states determine what the rules are. They say the state legislatures determine the rules.”

Wallace pressed him on the point. Was the election stolen?

“What I said is there are states that didn't follow their legislatively set rules. That's what the United States Constitution says,” Scalise replied. “And I think there are a lot of people that want us to get back to what the Constitution says we should be doing. Not just with elections, but a lot of other things, too.”

Over and over, Wallace asked for a straight answer and, over and over, Scalise offered the same evasive one.

Consider what Scalise is doing. He’s intentionally trying not to say that Biden won fairly because that position is anathema to the loudest part of his party’s base. And to avoid saying that, he’s seizing not upon unproven claims of fraud but a similarly inflated assertion that states made it too easy to vote. He doesn’t allege that this led to more fraud or anything along those lines, though others have; he’s simply claiming that because states made it easier to vote, that was the equivalent of an illegitimate Biden win or an election being stolen.

Because legal voters cast votes in a manner that their states have authorized.

In case Scalise wasn't sufficiently obvious in suggesting that the election was stolen not through fraud but through votes he didn't like, he made it more clear. He wanted to try to loop criticism of Georgia's new voter law into his argument, drawing Fox News viewers to his side by condemning those who'd attacked Georgia's law. After all, he said, the law was simply “cleaning up some of the mess” from the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, A decade of partisan conflict has turned Wisconsin into two states in one — deeply red vs. deeply blue, Dan Balz, Oct. 11, 2021. For the wisconsin map with largest cities Custompast decade the state has been an incubator for the kind of tribal politics and deep divisions that characterize civic life in Washington and much of the rest of the nation.

While Wisconsin has been closely divided for a long time — four of the last six presidential elections were decided by less than a percentage point — the widening gulf between the two parties exposed in 2011 foreshadowed the extent to which American politics would come to focus more on the extremes rather than the middle of the political spectrum.

This has made Wisconsin not a purple state, as many people suggest, but two states in one — the first comprising a few heavily populated blue enclaves and the second a red sea of rural, small-town and suburban geography that surrounds those blue pockets.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Democrats, You’re in Danger, Charles M. Blow, right, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). The Democrats are staring down real danger. They just aren’t charles blow customgetting enough done. They aren’t moving quickly enough on President Biden’s major campaign promises.

The warning signs are all around. Democrats are still wrangling over their infrastructure and social spending bills. And the longer the fight drags on, the uglier it looks. Washington watchers are right — to a degree — to say that this is simply the way that large legislation is worked through. It’s a slog.

In the end, I believe that the Democrats will have no choice but to pass something, no matter the size, because the consequence of failure is suicide. Democrats must go into the midterms with something that they can call a win, with something that at least inches closer to the transformations Biden has promised.

But the budget isn’t the only issue. There is still a crisis at the border. In August, the Pew Research Center noted that the U.S. Border Patrol had reported “nearly 200,000 encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in July, the highest monthly total in more than two decades.”

Furthermore, the Senate parliamentarian has advised Democrats against including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants in their spending bill. It is not clear if Senate Democrats will try to get around the parliamentarian’s nonbinding ruling, but 92 legal scholars have called on them to do just that.

Then there is the massive, widespread assault on voting rights rolling out across the country, what some have rightly referred to as Jim Crow 2.0.

Biden is better than Trump, but that’s not enough. People didn’t just vote for Biden to vanquish a villain, they also wanted a champion. That champion has yet to emerge.

ny times logoNew York Times, When Child Care Costs Twice as Much as the Mortgage, Jason DeParle, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden’s huge social policy bill aims to address a problem that weighs on many families — and the teachers and child care centers serving them. 

The plan would cap child care expenses at 7 percent of families’ income, offer subsidies to child care centers and more. Yet its prospects remain uncertain.

Democrats describe the problem as a fundamental market failure — it simply costs more to provide care than many families can afford — and are pushing an unusually ambitious plan to bridge the gap with federal subsidies.

The huge social policy bill being pushed by President Biden would cap families’ child care expenses at 7 percent of their income, offer large subsidies to child care centers, and require the centers to raise wages in hopes of improving teacher quality. A version before the House would cost $250 billion over a decade and raise annual spending fivefold or more within a few years. An additional $200 billion would provide universal prekindergarten.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: One person who deserves blame for Biden’s stalled agenda is Joe Biden, Philip Bump, Oct. 11, 2021. Over the weekend, CBS News released the results of a new poll conducted by YouGov. Most Americans don’t know any of the specifics of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation — though most have heard that it was originally pegged at $3.5 trillion in spending.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a strong supporter of the legislation, responded to the poll by blasting news coverage.

“Americans don’t know what’s in the Build Back Better plan because the corporate media doesn’t discuss it,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “Let’s stop the beltway gossip and start talking about lowering prescription drug costs, expanding Medicare, childcare and housing — and combatting climate change.”

It is true that the media — at least cable news programs — have dedicated more conversation to the price of the bill than to its components. Over the past six months, there have been far more mentions of “trillion” in conversations about legislation on cable news than of “prescription” (a reference to proposed prescription-drug price changes) or “clean energy.”

But this shouldn’t really be surprising. The legislation went from a large package centered on infrastructure to two bills, one including the infrastructure components and one containing … everything else. The administration went from having an umbrella descriptor for the investments it wanted to make to a vague phrase aimed at branding it.

Think about the first major legislation that Biden signed into law: a large package of legislation centered on coronavirus relief. It included checks for Americans and a tax credit for parents, along with a lot of other things. But the point was obvious, as was the shorthand. It was presented as addressing the pandemic, even if the manner in which that happened was expansive. It was popular and passed easily.

When Biden first announced his infrastructure bill, it seemed to me that he had learned an important lesson. Have a popular top line and attach a number of other components and you improve the odds of passage. It’s easy to describe: This is infrastructure. Yes, his definition of “infrastructure” was again expansive, looping in things that aren’t usually associated with infrastructure, such as promoting clean energy. But this, too, was defensible, given the ways in which climate change will affect (and, this summer, was affecting) the country’s transit systems.

Then Biden made a political bet. He’d run on the idea of being able to bring Republicans to the table to negotiate legislation, and he did so, working with moderate Democrats and Republican senators to break the infrastructure package into two pieces. The first was mostly traditional investments in bridges and roads; the second was the leftovers, now unable to hang on to “infrastructure’s” coattails. Biden insisted that the two were a package deal, but that meant defending both together on Capitol Hill and in the media.

CBS News’s poll shows that the major components of the leftovers bill have strong support. That said, there’s no independent descriptor besides Biden’s “Build Back Better” branding that quickly explains what it contains. One can easily convey what the coronavirus relief bill was focused on and what the bipartisan infrastructure bill is, but what’s the throughline to the other bill? Even in his tweet, Sanders just lists a bunch of components, in part to illustrate what it contains but also because there’s not really anything that allows it to gel.

Or, there wasn’t, until Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) raised objections to the bill’s price tag. That focus on cost was vague and generally detached from the legislation’s components; neither senator has indicated which specific components they want to see stripped out. But this centered the conversation on cost. The Democratic Party’s internal debate over how to get the cost down, a debate that has included discussions of how different programs might be funded or removed, has continued to reinforce that this is the defining point of debate.

Congress passed a huge military spending bill last month on a bipartisan basis that evoked little opposition, a reminder that it is happy to spend money when it wants to. And by centering the discussion on cost, it is absolutely the case that the public isn’t likely to understand what the legislation contains. Most Americans have little time and interest in understanding what legislation does, which is a central reason that politicians try to come up with umbrella descriptors that offer a shorthand. The separated-out “Build Back Better” framing lost to “$3.5 trillion.” Perhaps “infrastructure-plus” or something similar wouldn’t have.

In the CBS News poll, those who had heard about key components of the bill, such as paid family leave, were more likely to approve of it. But it’s not clear whether their support stemmed from hearing about those components or whether their support for Biden’s agenda prompted them to learn about what this proposal contains.

The bill isn’t doomed. It seems likely to be slimmed down, and the White House and Democrats will have a new chance to define what it is and what it does. Newspapers, which have lots of time and space to go into detail, will continue to explain the particulars of the policy and the “beltway gossip” that’s spurring political decision-making.

But if Biden and his party can’t figure out how to effectively tell Americans what this revamped bill is about, the politics will not get much easier.

 

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Rikers: Dysfunction, Lawlessness and Detainees in Control, Jan Ransom, Jonah E. Bromwich and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Oct. 11, 2021. With a staffing emergency disrupting New York City’s main jail complex, detainees have had free rein inside. Some have nearly taken over entire units. Absent and abusive guards as well as the site’s decrepit physical grounds have contributed to the crisis.

Much has been made of the crisis gripping Rikers, New York City’s main jail complex  — the pandemic and a subsequent staffing emergency have taken a brutal toll on incarcerated people and jailers alike — but the sheer lawlessness inside the compound is difficult to fathom.

Detainees in some buildings have seized near total control over entire units, deciding who can enter and leave them, records and interviews show. In other buildings, they have wandered in and out of staff break rooms and similarly restricted areas, with some flouting rules against smoking tobacco and marijuana. Sometimes they have answered phones that were supposed to be manned by guards. Several have stolen keys and used them to free others in custody, who went on to commit slashings and other acts of violence.

The chaos was not limited to incarcerated people. Correction officers have participated in beatings or failed to intervene in hangings and other urgent situations. Last week, a guard was charged with providing a razor blade to a detainee who planned to use it as a weapon.

City officials have accused jail officers of abusing generous sick leave policies — hundreds have been out of work — while the officers’ labor union has said guards are not going to work because conditions in the jails are unsafe and inhumane.

Both sides have cast the situation as an acute crisis.

But the troubles on Rikers Island (spread across eight jail buildings on an island in the East River) trace also to physical grounds that have been neglected for decades, leading to doors that do not lock properly, cells that are too deteriorated to contain detainees and aging objects like radiators that can be ripped apart and turned into weapons. The jail complex is also reliant on guards who — thanks to years of mismanagement and ineffective training — sometimes fail to follow rules meant to keep them and incarcerated people safe

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year After ‘Defund,’ Police Departments Get Their Money Back, J. David Goodman, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). The abrupt reversals have come in response to rising levels of crime in major cities, the exodus of officers and political pressures.

washington post logoWashington Post, Navy nuclear engineer and his wife charged with trying to share submarine secrets with a foreign country, Devlin Barrett and Martin Weil, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). A Navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with repeatedly trying to pass secrets about U.S. nuclear submarines to a foreign country, in an alleged espionage plot discovered by the FBI, according to court documents.

Authorities say Jonathan Toebbe, who has a top-secret clearance, “has passed, and continues to pass, Restricted Data as defined by the Atomic Energy Act . . . to a foreign government . . . with the witting assistance of his spouse, Diana Toebbe,” according to a criminal complaint filed in West Virginia and unsealed Sunday.

FBI logoThe court papers say that in December 2020, an FBI official received a package that had been sent to the foreign country containing U.S. Navy documents, a letter and instructions for how to conduct encrypted communications with the person offering the information.

The letter in the package said: “Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.”

FBI agents then posed as spies for the foreign country and began communicating by email with the person, suggesting a meeting, but the person said that was too risky, noting that they were risking their life in offering the information to the foreign government.

Toebbe allegedly asked for $100,000 in cryptocurrency, saying “I understand this is a large request. However, please remember I am risking my life for your benefit and I have taken the first step. Please help me trust you fully.”

The undercover FBI agent persuaded Toebbe to conduct a “dead drop” of information in late June in West Virginia’s Jefferson County after Toebbe received about $10,000 worth of cryptocurrency, according to the charging papers.

ny times logoNew York Times, Nurse Dies After She Is Knocked to Ground in Times Square, Ashley Southall, Updated Oct. 11, 2021. When a small community hospital in New Jersey was overrun with Covid patients, a cancer nurse dutifully showed up for work every night.

On Friday, with the worst days of the pandemic over, the nurse, Maria Ambrocio, 58, visited Times Square with a friend. But their outing turned tragic when she was knocked to the ground by a man who had snatched a cellphone and was running away, the police and officials at the Consulate General of the Philippines said.

Ms. Ambrocio, of Bayonne, N.J., was taken to Bellevue Hospital with a traumatic brain injury and died after she was taken off life support on Saturday.

After she fell to the ground, the suspect, Jermaine Foster, 26, crashed into a police officer who arrested him, the police said. He was ordered held in jail on charges of murder and robbery on Sunday, according to the police and court records.

The death of a Filipino American nurse in a random violent street crime drew outrage from Filipino government officials and Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president who is likely to become the city’s next mayor.

The consulate said in a Facebook post that Ms. Ambrocio was knocked down “by someone who was described as a mentally disturbed homeless man.” Mr. Foster had been to Bellevue Hospital for repeated psychiatric evaluations, according to an official who did not want to be named in disclosing information protected by medical privacy rules.

It appeared to be the latest incident in the city’s mental health crisis, which has seen people with serious and untreated mental illnesses arrested in crimes that include shoving people on the subway, killing sleeping homeless men and assaulting people of Asian descent.

The city has struggled to come up with an effective remedy, said Tom Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance.

“Our city needs to come together and solve these problems, and those of us who work in these areas are willing and able to help,” he said. “Let her death not be in vain.”

Though the police do not believe that Mr. Foster targeted Ms. Ambrocio in a hate crime, the consulate, which Ms. Ambrocio had just visited on Friday before her death, said in its post that the killing was the latest violence against a Filipino committed by a homeless and mentally ill person. Consular officials called for a more visible police presence in Times Square and more attention to mental health issues, particularly among the city’s homeless.

 

World Corruption, Climate, Environment

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The City of London Is Hiding the World’s Stolen Money, Nicholas Shaxson (author of “Treasure Islands,” a book about tax havens, and “The Finance Curse,” about oversize global finance), Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). In 1969, two years after the Cayman Islands, a British territory, passed its first law to allow secretive offshore trusts, an official government report struck an ominous note. A tide of glossy propositions from private developers, it warned, was washing through the islands. Cayman was fast becoming a state captured by shady finance.

Those were the pungent beginnings of a modern system brought to light by the Pandora Papers, an enormous data leak coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The papers exposed a smorgasbord of secretive and questionable financial dealings by more than 330 politicians and public officials from over 90 countries and territories — and over 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States and elsewhere. On display was a dizzying array of chicanery and wealth hoarding, often by the very people who should crack down on it.

The revelations, published on Oct. 3, are global in scope. But if there is one country at the system’s heart, it is Britain. Taken together with its partly controlled territories overseas, Britain is instrumental in the worldwide concealment of cash and assets. It is, as a member of the ruling Conservative Party said last week, “the money laundering capital of the world.” And the City of London, its gilded financial center, is at the system’s core.

For Britain, whose bloated financial sector exacerbates widespread economic problems, that’s bad enough. For the world, at the mercy of an economic system rigged for the rich, it’s even worse.

washington post logoWashington Post, In secret tapes, palm oil execs disclose corruption, Desmond Butler, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Global Witness, an environmental and human rights organization, sent undercover investigators to get the scoop Undercover investigators illuminate the dark side of an industry that is clearcutting virgin rainforests.

Global Witness’s two-year investigation is a rare behind-the-scenes look at the corruption, labor abuses and destructive environmental practices in an industry that is clearing carbon-rich rainforests and emitting greenhouse gases at a rate that has become a growing concern for climate scientists. The world’s most common vegetable oil has spawned vast fortunes, while coming under scrutiny for its labor practices and environmental impact.

The report includes recordings of oil-palm managers detailing corruption and labor abuses to investigators posing as commodity traders. The investigation has already provoked a response from 17 corporations, some of which have pledged to remove the palm oil companies the advocacy group identified as their suppliers.

“A pattern of coercion and violence right across PNG has denied local people the traditional use of forests integral to their culture and livelihoods,” the authors of the report write. “Huge areas of tropical forests have been deforested, and much more remains at risk unless action is taken.”

The group’s undercover investigators taped an executive from a Papua New Guinea-based company called Tobar Investment Ltd. seemingly confirming the Watwat resident’s account of the police raid of the village, which came in response to the destruction of palm trees on the plantation.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Massive and Costly Fight Against the Dixie Fire, Brent McDonald, Sashwa Burrous, Eden Weingart and Meg Felling, Oct. 11, 2021 (interactive report). To battle the nearly one-million-acre blaze, California launched a military-style operation. Some experts wonder whether that approach is sustainable.

One grew to a size larger than Rhode Island and leveled a Gold Rush-era town. Another swelled to a quarter million acres as it came within a few miles of Lake Tahoe. Another burned down 900 buildings and was the first ever to reach a million acres.

In the past two years, California has found itself under siege from more large-scale fires burning with greater intensity than at any time on record. Giant blazes are tearing across the state with greater speed and frequency, destroying towns and sending smoke hurtling hundreds of miles away. Nine of California’s 20 largest fires have occurred since 2020, according to Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency. Four of them are still burning. The fires have forced state and federal officials to marshal armies of people and resources at all cost.

In late August, New York Times journalists shadowed emergency crews in a remote forested area of Northern California as they battled the Dixie fire, which at nearly a million acres is the second largest fire in state history. Over several weeks, the operation grew to a scale rarely seen before: Thousands of personnel were deployed, as well as hundreds of bulldozers, aircraft and other equipment, along with millions of gallons of water and flame retardant. Officials spent more than $610 million over three months to bring the fire under control — by far the most expensive suppression campaign in California history, according to the head of Cal Fire.

The Dixie fire shows that as wildfires have grown in size, so has the magnitude of the effort to combat them. But as government budgets become strained and extreme drought and the effects of climate change alter the landscape, battling megafires — massive blazes that spread quickly and burn at high intensity — is increasingly costly, raising questions about the long-term sustainability of the firefight.

At the height of the operation, 6,579 people worked around the clock to battle the Dixie fire.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ethiopian government launches ‘staggering’ new offensive against rebel Tigray forces, group says, Rachel Chason, Oct. 11, 2021. The Ethiopian government has launched a “staggering” ground offensive against rebel Tigrayan forces, according to a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, reigniting a devastating civil war that international humanitarian groups say imperils hundreds of thousands.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said in an interview that there was active fighting Monday on at least three fronts in the Amhara region against the troops of the Ethiopian army and Amhara regional militias, involving a combination of soldiers, drones, tanks and airstrikes.

The fighting marked an escalation in Ethiopia’s nearly year-long civil war as the international community has ratcheted up calls for an end to the violence. Months earlier, the Tigrayan rebels had pushed the government forces out of their province and taken up positions in the neighboring Amhara region.

The conflict in Tigray, which is in Ethiopia’s north, began in November when Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, launched a military offensive against the TPLF, a regional political party that had ruled Ethiopia for three decades before the current government came to power in 2018.

washington post logoWashington Post, British police drop investigation into Prince Andrew over sexual abuse claims, Jennifer Hassan, Oct. 11, 2021. British law enforcement officials are dropping their investigation into Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, following a review of sexual assault allegations sparked by an American woman who says convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince on at least three occasions.

Virginia Giuffre filed a lawsuit in August in New York against the prince, alleging that she was first trafficked at the age of 16 by Epstein, who was found dead in a jail cell in August 2019.

The lawsuit, which described the impact of the alleged abuse on Giuffre as “severe and lasting,” prompted British officials to review the allegations. Giuffre says the abuse by the prince first took place in London, at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime companion.

In an email to The Washington Post on Monday, London’s Metropolitan police service said it was “taking no further action” but that it would continue to “liaise with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein.”

The lawsuit in New York remains ongoing, and the prince has until Oct. 29 to respond to the claims, per the Associated Press.

Andrew has denied the allegations and said he had no recollection of meeting Giuffre or having sexual encounters with her. A photo of the prince with his hand around Giuffre, apparently taken in London when she was 17, first surfaced in 2011 and posed huge questions for Buckingham Palace.

On Monday, British police also confirmed that they had “reviewed information” separately passed to them by a local broadcaster and that no further action would be taken against the prince.

In June 2021, Channel 4 News reported that Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused, trafficked and groomed multiple women and girls in Britain over a period of 10 years — including to London, where Giuffre alleged Andrew abused her.

Following the report, British police said they would review the claims of rape and sexual assault, which Channel 4 said came from “a combination of publicly available documentation (including court papers), witness accounts, and interviews.” In its report, the broadcaster also explored claims that the royal’s ties to the sex abuse scandal may have influenced Britain’s handling of the case.

The decision by British police to drop their investigation comes at a period of intense scrutiny of Britain’s police force and its treatment of crimes against women. Earlier this year, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer — sparking widespread calls for police reform.

Andrew, who is the second son of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, announced in 2019 that he would be quitting his public duties “for the foreseeable future.”

The announcement came following an interview the prince gave to the BBC in which he attempted to defend his friendship with Epstein. The interview was widely criticized by viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, with one royal watcher calling it “nuclear explosion level bad.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Big western storm brings fire danger to Calif. and heavy snow to Rockies, Matthew Cappucci and Diana Leonard, Oct. 11, 2021. It comes after a slew of tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma Sunday night.

A strong cross-country storm system is bringing the worst of every season as it sweeps across the nation, featuring howling winds and a serious fire danger in California, heavy snow in the Rockies and, by Tuesday night, a severe thunderstorm threat in the Plains. It comes on the heels of a weekend storm that also brought heavy snow to parts of the West and tornadoes in Oklahoma.

This new storm slamming the West has prompted the National Weather Service to hoist advisories for multiple hazards affecting tens of millions of people from California to Colorado.

Other Global Headline News

 

Sports, Human Rights

jon gruden demaurice smith

ny times logoNew York Times, Raiders Coach Resigns After Homophobic and Misogynistic Emails, Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman, Oct. 11, 2021. A trove of emails in a separate workplace misconduct case show Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, above left, went beyond previously disclosed racist comments to issue broad tirades, including against DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

Jon Gruden, above left, stepped down Monday as the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders football team hours after emails surfaced in which he had made homophobic and misogynistic remarks, following an earlier report of racist statements about a union leader.

His resignation was a striking departure from the football league for a coach who had won a Super Bowl, been a marquee analyst on ESPN and returned to the N.F.L. in 2018 to lead the resurgent Raiders, which he had coached years before.

nfl logoGruden’s departure came after a New York Times report that N.F.L. officials, as part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation that did not directly involve him, found that Gruden had casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.

He denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, according to emails reviewed by The Times.

Gruden’s messages were sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others, while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football.” In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.

In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell and offensive language to describe some N.F.L. owners, coaches and journalists who cover the league.

Although not with a team at the time, Gruden was still influential in the league and highly coveted as a coach. He had won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2002 season. And in 2018, he was hired for his second stint as the head coach of the Raiders franchise, which includes defensive lineman Carl Nassib, the first active N.F.L. player to publicly declare that he is gay.

The league said last week that it shared emails with the Raiders in which Gruden made derogatory comments.

Gruden told ESPN on Sunday that the league was reviewing emails in which he criticized Goodell, and explained that he had been upset about team owners’ lockout of the players in 2011, when some of the emails were written. Gruden said in that interview that had used an expletive to refer to Goodell and that he did so because he disapproved of Goodell’s emphasis on safety, which he believed was scaring parents into steering their sons away from football.

But Gruden’s behavior was not limited to 2011. Gruden exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.

Gruden also criticized President Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, as well as then-vice president Joe Biden, whom Gruden called a “nervous clueless pussy.” He used similar words to describe Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, above right, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

The league is already investigating Gruden as a result of another email he wrote to Allen in 2011 in which he used racist terms to describe Smith, who is Black.

In that email, Gruden, who is white and was working for ESPN at the time, criticized Smith’s intelligence and used a racist trope to describe his face. The correspondence was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by The New York Times.

Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one N.F.L. circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, deriding the league policies, and jocularly sharing homophobic language.

Their banter flies in the face of the league’s public denouncements of racism and sexism and its promises to be more inclusive amid criticism for not listening to the concerns of Black players, who make up about 70 percent of rosters. The N.F.L. has in the past struggled to discipline personnel who have committed acts of domestic violence and been condemned for failing to adequately address harassment of women, including N.F.L. cheerleaders.

Gruden's emails to Allen, who was fired by the Washington Football Team at the end of 2019, were reviewed as part of an N.F.L. investigation of workplace misconduct within the franchise that ended this summer. Goodell instructed league executives to look at more than 650,000 emails during the past few months, including those in which Gruden made offensive remarks. Last week, Goodell received a summary of their findings and the league sent the Raiders some of the emails written by Gruden.

In the exchanges, Gruden used his personal email account while Allen wrote from his team account.

Some of the emails between Gruden and Allen also included businessmen friends, Ed Droste, the co-founder of Hooters; Jim McVay, an executive who has run the Outback Bowl, annually held in Tampa, Fla.; and Nick Reader, the founder of PDQ Restaurants, a Tampa-based fried chicken franchise. The exchanges begin as early as 2010 while Gruden was an analyst for “Monday Night Football.” In 2018, he signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the Raiders.

espn logoGruden and Allen are longtime friends and colleagues. Allen was a senior executive with the Raiders from 1995 to 2003, when he worked with Gruden, who was head coach of the team from 1998 to 2001. Gruden became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl that season. Allen became the general manager there in 2004. Allen and Gruden both left the Buccaneers after the 2008 season. While Gruden moved on to a broadcast role with ESPN, Allen became the general manager in Washington in 2010 and later the team’s president.

Allen, who is the son of legendary N.F.L. coach George Allen, and Gruden — whose father coached at Notre Dame and whose brother, Jay, was head coach in Washington from 2014 to 2019 — are part of an exclusive network that cycles between N.F.L. teams, networks and companies affiliated with the league.

Oct. 10

Top Headlines

 

World News


More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance


U.S. Crime, Courts

 

Sports, Media News

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Pandora Papers Investigation: How money flowed from Dominican sugar fields to a S. Dakota tax haven, Zoeann Murphy, Debbie Cenziper, Will Fitzgibbon, Whitney Shefte and Salwan Georges, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). For decades, the U.S. government has condemned prominent offshore tax havens, where liberal rules and guarantees of discretion have drawn oligarchs, business tycoons and politicians.

icij logoBut a cache of more than 11.9 million secret documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with The Washington Post and other media outlets around the globe found that some of the most sought-after tax havens are now in the United States — and that the expanding U.S. trust industry is becoming a repository for some fortunes linked to individuals or companies that have been accused of worker exploitation and other human rights abuses.

washington post logoWashington Post, An energy crisis is gripping the world, with potentially grave consequences, Will Englund, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). How China and Europe are catching the brunt of it

Advocates for renewable energy say the global crisis shows the need to move further away from coal, gas and oil as prices for those commodities spike. Their critics contend just the opposite — that wind and solar have been tested and came up lacking.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden faces shrinking timetable to salvage his agenda, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). White House has only a short stretch to pass two major bills and avoid a government default.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).At one point during a private 90-minute Zoom call with liberal lawmakers on Monday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) asked President Biden why he had not simply locked Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a room and forced them to cut a deal on the Democrats’ economic package.

Smiling back at Khanna, Biden said, “Ro, that would be like asking for a homicide,” according to two people on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private exchange.

Biden’s joking response underlined a serious fact: He faces daunting difficulties now that the recent dramas over his economic plans have left him just a few weeks to salvage his agenda, right his presidency and tackle problems that in some cases were years in the making.

Democrats are pushing to pass his infrastructure bill by month’s end, following recent setbacks on Capitol Hill, along with a broad safety net package. The two bills include major climate provisions that Biden wants to tout at a global climate summit next month, and Democrats also want something to show Virginia’s voters before their Nov. 2 vote for governor.

“If we don’t pass one of those before the gubernatorial election, it’s a huge, huge mistake,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), referring to the infrastructure bill and a separate measure, to boost U.S. science and research, both of which have passed the Senate but not the House. “We’ve got two major wins — two major bipartisan wins. … Let’s get at least one if not both of those wins for the president on the board.”

A recent deal with Senate Republicans, meanwhile, staved off a disastrous government default until December, but at the cost of ensuring that a politically explosive debt-limit fight will unfold as the White House is struggling to push through the other bills.

This upcoming stretch may be Biden’s last chance to revive a presidency that has suffered major blows in recent months. Since being rocked by the Afghan withdrawal and the surging delta variant over the summer, Biden’s approval rating has fallen steadily, hitting a low of 38 percent in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Some of the campaign pledges that inspired Biden’s supporters, from voting rights to immigration reform, have fallen by the wayside. A jobs report Friday suggested the economy has been slowed down by the delta variant.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: One more time Trump tried to undo the will of the voters, Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark asked the attorney ruth marcus twitter Customgeneral for a lift on the way to topple him.

It was Sunday evening, Jan. 3. Clark, a previously obscure Justice Department official, had caught President Trump’s eye as a willing accomplice jeffrey rosenin seeking to overturn the election results — a role that Jeffrey Rosen, left, the acting attorney general, had shown he was unwilling to play.

So Trump, meeting with Clark behind Rosen’s back, had offered to install him in the top job. Clark, then the acting head of the civil division — and a colleague of Rosen’s stretching back decades in government and private practice — told Rosen he’d let him stay on, as the department’s number two.

Now, Rosen and Clark were headed to the White House for a hastily scheduled showdown with the president. Could Clark get a ride in the AG’s motorcade?

Justice Department log circular“Maybe this was ungracious of me, but I declined,” Rosen told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators in an interview transcript released Thursday.

The interviews, with Rosen and others, were included in a committee report that offers new details — some amusing, others chilling — of the slow-motion coup gathering steam inside the Trump administration even before the public insurrection of Jan. 6. The new material underscores the imperative of hearing from Clark himself. What did the president say to him in their private meetings? How did Clark get connected with Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who introduced him to Trump? Who else was involved? The last best hope of obtaining Clark’s testimony appears to be the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As outlined in the report, the White House meeting opened with Trump brazenly summarizing the choice before him. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen. Let that sink in: A sitting president, in the Oval Office no less, announcing that he wants an attorney general who will use the Justice Department to undo the will of the voters.

Specifically, Clark was willing to do what Rosen wouldn’t: send a letter to officials in Georgia — to be replicated with other contested states — declaring that the Justice Department had “taken notice” of “irregularities” in the election and calling on the state to convene a special session of the legislature. This was so preposterously outside the department’s purview that Rosen had summarily refused Clark’s entreaties. Clark, for his part, told Rosen that he’d turn down Trump’s offer to become attorney general if Rosen would simply send the letters himself.

 

World News

xi jinping with flag Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, China’s Xi vows peaceful ‘unification’ with Taiwan, days after sending a surge of warplanes near the island, Adela Suliman, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). China’s President Xi Jinping (shown above) on Saturday vowed to achieve “peaceful unification” with Taiwan, just days after a record number of Chinese military jets conducted drills close to the island, escalating tensions between the two sides.

“Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete unification,” Xi said.

China Flag“The historic mission of achieving the complete unification of our country must be realized, and can be realized,” he added, speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People during an event to commemorate 110 years since a revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty in 1911.

Nearly 150 warplanes were flown into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone over the past week — prompting Taiwan’s defense minister to say on Wednesday that military tensions with Beijing were at their worst point in more than four decades. Over the last few years, China’s air force has repeatedly sent planes deeper into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, occasionally crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial maritime border.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Starting a Fire’: U.S. and China Enter Dangerous Territory over Taiwan, Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). The self-ruled island has moved to the heart of deepening discord and rivalry between the two superpowers, with the potential to ignite military conflagration and reshape the regional order.

The 25 Chinese fighter jets, bombers and other warplanes flew in menacing formations off the southern end of Taiwan, a show of military might on China’s National Day, Oct. 1. The incursions, dozens upon dozens, continued into the night and the days that followed and surged to the highest numbers ever on taiwan flagMonday, when 56 warplanes tested Taiwan’s beleaguered air defenses.

Taiwan’s jets scrambled to keep up, while the United States warned China that its “provocative military activity” undermined “regional peace and stability.” China did not cower. When a Taiwanese combat air traffic controller radioed one Chinese aircraft, the pilot dismissed the challenge with an obscenity involving the officer’s mother.

As such confrontations intensify, the balance of power around Taiwan is fundamentally shifting, pushing a decades-long impasse over its future into a dangerous new phase.

After holding out against unification demands from China’s communist rulers for more than 70 years, Taiwan is now at the heart of the deepening discord between China and the United States. The island’s fate has the potential to reshape the regional order and even to ignite a military conflagration — intentional or not.

China’s military might has, for the first time, made a conquest of Taiwan conceivable, perhaps even tempting. The United States wants to thwart any invasion but has watched its military dominance in Asia steadily erode. Taiwan’s own military preparedness has withered, even as its people become increasingly resistant to unification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abductions by the busload: Haitians are being held hostage by a surge in kidnappings, Widlore Mérancourt and Anthony Faiola, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Doctors at work, preachers in church, police on patrol: No one is safe in the most troubled nation in the hemisphere.

Other Global Headline News

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction 

MIDNIGHT IN WASHINGTON: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could

By Adam Schiff. Random House. 510 pp. $30.

adam schiff march 20 2019 hearing cnn screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Adam Schiff points to a second insurrection — by members of Congress themselves, Carlos Lozada, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). In his memoir, the House Intelligence Committee chair (shown above) argues America barely passed Trump’s “stress test” of American democracy .

How do you know when democracy is threatened?

Well, an actual physical assault is a good tip-off. “Be prepared to don your gas mask in the event the room is breached,” a Capitol Police officer warned Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and his fellow lawmakers in the House chamber on Jan. 6, as rioters penetrated the building. “Be prepared to get down under your chairs if necessary.”

Schiff begins his memoir, Midnight in Washington, with scenes of that day, recalling that, as they huddled in a secure location within the Capitol complex, some of his colleagues were already considering whether to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting the attack. But the violence against the Capitol — carried out when lawmakers gathered to certify the 2020 election results — was not the only offensive against the American experiment that Schiff witnessed. “What took place inside our chamber, with the challenge to the electors, was every bit as much an attack on our democracy,” he asserts. “We can reinforce the doors and put up fences. But we cannot guard our democracy against those who walk the halls of Congress, have taken an oath to uphold our Constitution, but refuse to do so.”

In effect, there were two insurrections, not one, Schiff argues, and he is more interested in the insurrectionists wearing suits and ties than in the shirtless ones in buffalo horns. “We came so close to losing our democracy,” he writes, looking back on the varied political and legalistic efforts to overturn the 2020 vote and to convince the public that the contest was illegitimate. “The system held, if barely.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Without these changes, U.S. democracy will remain vulnerable to Trump and other bad actors, Editorial Board, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.).  “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.” These, according to a new Senate Judiciary Committee report, were the words of President Donald Trump, pressuring the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, to upend a free-and-fair vote. Three days after Mr. Trump uttered them, a mob he had inflamed with lies ransacked the Capitol as lawmakers met to count duly cast electoral votes.

The Senate report details how Mr. Trump tried persistently to enlist the Justice Department in his scheme to overturn the 2020 election results. His pressure campaign, after Attorney General William P. Barr resigned in December, featured calls and meetings with Mr. Rosen and other top Justice Department staff. It continued as Mr. Trump sent them a preposterous petition he wanted them to file with the Supreme Court asking the justices to void Joe Biden’s victory. It reached its zenith in a cockamamie plot to force Mr. Rosen to pressure state governments to cook the results or be replaced by Jeffrey Clark, a lower-ranking Justice official who would go along with the scheme.

Mr. Trump failed because Mr. Rosen and other officials in key positions refused to cooperate and threatened to resign. But they could not stop Mr. Trump from forcing the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and replacing him with a lawyer the then-president thought would pursue the fraud investigations he wanted to see.

Senate Republicans played down these revelations, arguing that, following the Russia investigation, it was reasonable for Mr. Trump to mistrust the Justice Department and the FBI. But, leaving aside the fact that the Russia probe was a well-founded and legitimate counterintelligence investigation, Mr. Trump, in this case, was not exercising reasonable skepticism; he was trying to hold on to power against the wishes of the American people, based on widely debunked mistruths about the 2020 vote. Anyone seeking to play down that fact today is complicit in his plot to undermine U.S. democracy.

The seriousness of Mr. Trump’s effort to nullify an election, his continuing lies about the results and the willingness of so many Republicans to indulge those lies call for several responses.

The investigations must continue. The House’s Jan. 6 committee should compel Mr. Clark, who did not cooperate with the Senate Judiciary panel, to testify. The House and the Justice Department must enforce the committee’s subpoenas, which several Trump confidantes appear prepared to flout on the former president’s say-so. The National Archives should turn over documents immediately. If courts are involved, judges must act with urgency. Mr. Trump learned how to run out the clock by gaming the judicial system; courts must not let that happen again.

Most urgently, Congress must reinforce elements of the nation’s democratic infrastructure vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors such as Mr. Trump. It should revamp the ancient Electoral Count Act to limit partisan interference in presidential vote tallying, and it should impose federal election standards that insulate state election officials from political pressure. Republicans who still respect the Constitution should be willing to join in this effort.

Related Recent Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Moderna, Racing for Profits, Keeps Covid Vaccine Out of Reach of Poor, Rebecca Robbins, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Moderna, whose coronavirus vaccine moderna logoappears to be the world’s best defense against Covid-19, has been supplying its shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit.

After developing a breakthrough vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the U.S. government, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer, according to Airfinity, a data firm that tracks vaccine shipments.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 10, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 238,415,079, Deaths: 4,864,204
U.S. Cases:     45,179,209, Deaths:    733,058
India Cases:     33,953,475, Deaths:    450,621
Brazil Cases:   21,567,181, Deaths:    600,880

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 216.9 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct.10, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 187.2 million eligible who are fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

Associated Press via Washington Post, Allen West, Texas GOP gubernatorial hopeful, has covid-19, Staff Report, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Tea party firebrand Allen West, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor of Texas, said Saturday that he has received monoclonal antibody injections after being diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia.

The antibodies are used to treat those in the early stages of a coronavirus infection.

“My chest X-rays do show COVID pneumonia, not serious. I am probably going to be admitted to the hospital,” West wrote. “There’s a concern about my oxygen saturation levels, which are at 89 and they should be at 95.”

He also said his wife, Angela West, also tested positive and has received monoclonal antibodies. According to his Twitter account, Allen West did not get vaccinated against the virus, but his wife did.

Allen West on Thursday said he had attended a “packed house” Mission Generation Annual Gala & Fundraiser in Seabrook, Texas. On Saturday he tweeted that he is “suspending in-person events until receiving an all-clear indication.”

West is a former Texas Republican Party chair and Florida congressman. He announced in July that he would challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbot, who is running for a third term and has been endorsed by Donald Trump.

Related Recent Headlines:

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Imminent effect of redistricting: Sharper partisan elbows, less compromise, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). In initial maps released by multiple states, mapmakers have sharply curbed the number of competitive seats. That suggests a coming decade of even more deeply entrenched partisanship for Congress.

In Texas, a proposed Republican reworking of U.S. House districts would reduce the state’s 12 competitive districts to one. In Oregon, the approved Democratic map shored up two competitive seats, making them more solidly blue. In Indiana, Republicans eliminated the state’s only competitive seat by shifting it from a district former president Trump won by two percentage points to one he would have won by 16.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosRedistricting is just getting started around the country, but the first maps released suggest a coming decade of even more deeply entrenched partisanship for Congress.

Most House lawmakers already represent solidly partisan constituencies. Every two years, party control is determined by the outcome of only a few dozen seats. Next year, Republicans need to flip only a handful of seats to wrest power away from Democrats.

Of the country’s 435 congressional districts, Trump or President Biden won just 50 of them by five or less percentage points. Those swing districts could be reduced by at least a third after redistricting, experts estimate.

“There are really only about three dozen truly competitive seats anyway and partisans have realized in these polarized times the best way to flip a district is to gerrymander it after the Census,” said David Daley, a senior fellow for FairVote, a nonpartisan voting rights advocacy organization, and author of two books on modern redistricting. “Now partisans are coming back for more.”

Ahead of the 2022 contests, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had listed two Texas districts currently held by Republicans as targets to flip in 2022, but the proposed new map would push them out of reach. The 23rd, which stretches along the border from San Antonio to El Paso, would go from a district Trump won by less than two percentage points to one he won by seven, and the 24th, located in northern Dallas, would turn from one Biden won by five points to one Trump would have won by twelve.

Democrats had also hoped to target Indiana’s lone competitive district, which will now become solidly Republican.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats edge toward dumping Iowa’s caucuses as the first presidential vote, Michael Scherer, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). High-ranking Democrats have tired of its role in selecting a nominee, seeing the state as unrepresentative of the party and the country. Bungled 2020 results didn’t help.

President Biden is not a big fan. Former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez is openly opposed. And elsewhere in the Democratic inner sanctum, disdain for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus has been rising for years.

Now the day of reckoning for Iowa Democrats is fast approaching, as the national party starts to create a new calendar for the 2024 presidential nomination that could remove Iowa from its privileged position for the first time since 1972, when candidates started flocking to the state for an early jump on the race to the White House.

The caucuses’ reputation has been damaged by high barriers to participation, a dearth of racial diversity, the rightward drift in the state’s electorate and a leftward drift in the Democratic participants. The state party’s inability to count the results in 2020 only deepened dismay in the party.

Biden, who handily won the party’s nomination in 2020, noted the lack of diversity in the caucus during the campaign — “It is what it is,” he said of the calendar — and called his fourth-place finish in the state a “gut punch.”

“We have to be honest with ourselves, and Iowa is not representative of America,” Perez said Friday in an interview. “We need a primary process that is reflective of today’s demographics in the Democratic Party.”

Others in Biden’s extended orbit have come to similar conclusions about the caucuses, for varied reasons.

“It is not suited to normal people, people that actually have daily lives,” South Carolina State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of that state’s Democratic Party and a longtime Biden ally, said of the caucuses. He described the laborious process of participating, over multiple hours, in person, on a weeknight, as far more restrictive than the requirements of a new voter law in Texas that Democrats universally oppose.

“I just think the caucus process as it exists in Iowa is not suitable in 21st-century America,” he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, When Child Care Costs Twice as Much as the Mortgage, Jason DeParle, Oct. 10, 2021. President Biden’s huge social policy bill aims to address a problem that weighs on many families — and the teachers and child care centers serving them. 

The plan would cap child care expenses at 7 percent of families’ income, offer subsidies to child care centers and more. Yet its prospects remain uncertain.

Democrats describe the problem as a fundamental market failure — it simply costs more to provide care than many families can afford — and are pushing an unusually ambitious plan to bridge the gap with federal subsidies.

The huge social policy bill being pushed by President Biden would cap families’ child care expenses at 7 percent of their income, offer large subsidies to child care centers, and require the centers to raise wages in hopes of improving teacher quality. A version before the House would cost $250 billion over a decade and raise annual spending fivefold or more within a few years. An additional $200 billion would provide universal prekindergarten.

 

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year After ‘Defund,’ Police Departments Get Their Money Back, J. David Goodman, Oct. 10, 2021. The abrupt reversals have come in response to rising levels of crime in major cities, the exodus of officers and political pressures.

washington post logoWashington Post, Navy nuclear engineer and his wife charged with trying to share submarine secrets with a foreign country, Devlin Barrett and Martin Weil, Oct. 10, 2021. A Navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with repeatedly trying to pass secrets about U.S. nuclear submarines to a foreign country, in an alleged espionage plot discovered by the FBI, according to court documents.

Authorities say Jonathan Toebbe, who has a top-secret clearance, “has passed, and continues to pass, Restricted Data as defined by the Atomic Energy Act . . . to a foreign government . . . with the witting assistance of his spouse, Diana Toebbe,” according to a criminal complaint filed in West Virginia and unsealed Sunday.

The court papers say that in December 2020, an FBI official received a package that had been sent to the foreign country containing U.S. Navy documents, a letter and instructions for how to conduct encrypted communications with the person offering the information.

The letter in the package said: “Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.”

FBI agents then posed as spies for the foreign country and began communicating by email with the person, suggesting a meeting, but the person said that was too risky, noting that they were risking their life in offering the information to the foreign government.

Toebbe allegedly asked for $100,000 in cryptocurrency, saying “I understand this is a large request. However, please remember I am risking my life for your benefit and I have taken the first step. Please help me trust you fully.”

The undercover FBI agent persuaded Toebbe to conduct a “dead drop” of information in late June in West Virginia’s Jefferson County after Toebbe received about $10,000 worth of cryptocurrency, according to the charging papers.

Sports, Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Tyson Fury scores 11th-round knockout in slugfest with Deontay Wilder to retain heavyweight belt, Glynn A. Hill, Oct. 10, 2021. Wilder mounted perhaps his most impressive performance of their three fights after being dominated in the second fight. But in the end, the result remained the same as Fury retained his World Boxing Council heavyweight championship in his first title defense.

 

Oct. 9

Top Headlines


World News

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Courts, Police, Civil Rights

 

More World News

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

 

Inside DC

 

Media, Tech News

 

Top Stories

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden rejects Trump’s request to withhold records related to Jan. 6 attack, Tom Hamburger, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The White House said President Biden “determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States.”

Congress’s quest for definitive answers about what led a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6 appears headed for a historic showdown between the former president and his successor in the White House.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).The battle lines became more clear Friday, when President Biden rejected Trump’s request to block documents from the House committee investigating the insurrection, citing the gravity of the assault on democracy.

“The president’s dedicated to ensuring that something like that could never happen again, which is why the administration is cooperating with ongoing investigations,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Trump swiftly responded by formally claiming executive privilege over about 50 documents requested initially by the select committee and issuing a statement calling Democrats “drunk on power” and insisting that “this assault on the constitution and important legal precedent will not work.”

Meanwhile, urged on by Trump, his longtime adviser Stephen K. Bannon told the committee he will not comply with the panel’s sweeping request for documents and testimony.

To learn exactly what Trump and his aides did during the Jan. 6 attack, the committee now faces a legal and political conflict that could escalate into a richard nixon headshot Customconstitutional struggle unseen since President Richard M. Nixon, left, fought release of White House information five decades ago. Nixon took his fight to the courts, where his losses helped establish the limits of executive power.

Legal experts said they think Biden, as the sitting president, is more likely to prevail in court. But they said the legal questions raised by this conflict are significant.

“This is one of the historic tests of executive power,” said Walter Dellinger, who was solicitor general under President Bill Clinton and now teaches constitutional law at Duke University. Still, he said, “the decision of the current president not to assert executive privilege is going to weigh heavily” on those having to make the decision.

The claims by Trump and Biden were both sent to the National Archives, which is in possession of the records sought by the committee. In his letter to the Archives on Friday, Trump argued that dozens of those records “contain information subject to executive privilege, including the presidential communications and deliberative process privileges.”

Trump also made a more sweeping claim to “protective assertion of constitutionally based privilege with respect to all additional records” that were requested.

“A former president has a chance to review the materials, to raise issues of privilege and, if the former and the current presidents cannot reach some agreement, to take the dispute to the courts,” Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, said in an interview last month.

The skirmish is just the latest to envelop the committee, which Republican leaders boycotted after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected two of their picks for the panel. Some Republicans agreed to participate anyway, including the panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

The committee has also sought documents and testimony from several top Trump aides, who were urged earlier this week by Trump’s attorney to cite executive privilege for matters having to do with presidential decision-making. While Bannon said he would not comply with the requests, the committee said Friday that two other officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Pentagon adviser Kash Patel — are “engaging with the committee.”

“The Select Committee fully expects all of these witnesses to comply with our demands for both documents and deposition testimony,” said the statement signed by Cheney and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman. It added that “we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.”

Bannon worked at the White House in 2017. But he was not working for the administration in 2020 or 2021. Several legal experts questioned whether executive privilege could shield Bannon from responding to requests for information about what happened during a period when he was not a White House employee.

The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral-college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left 140 law enforcement officers injured.

Dellinger, the constitutional scholar, heard echoes of inquiries into the conduct of past presidents.

“This is similar to Watergate and the Iran Contra affair where sensitive internal executive branch communications were turned over to investigators,” he said. “A president does have a need to consult with his senior aides in confidence and express those views . . . but judicial decisions indicate that the incumbent president is given the most weight” when deciding what to release.

What’s more, he said, “these circumstances are extraordinary, involving an effort to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas appeals court reinstates strict six-week abortion ban, two days after it was lifted, Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Abortion care is a ‘calling’ for this Texas doctor. Now he faces a dilemma: Risk lawsuits, or quit.

A federal appeals court late Friday reinstated the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bars the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted a request filed Friday afternoon by the Texas attorney general to temporarily suspend a judge’s order blocking the law, which has halted most abortions in the state.

Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) had asked the appeals court to reverse the injunction by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman, who sided with the Biden ken paxton mugadministration Wednesday night and characterized the abortion ban as an “unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.”

A three-judge panel of the conservative-leaning court gave the Justice Department until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the appeal.

Paxton, shown at left in a mug shot from a pending dispute, told the appeals court that the Justice Department has no legal authority to sue the state and said the appeals court must intervene immediately to lift the injunction.

The lower-court judge overstepped, Paxton said in his filing, by halting a law that is enforced by private citizens, not state government officials.

“A court ‘cannot lawfully enjoin the world at large’ let alone hold Texas responsible for the filings of private citizens that Texas is powerless to prevent,” the filing states.

It asked the court to rule on that issue by Tuesday morning and to temporarily suspend Pitman’s injunction “as soon as possible.”

The brief order from the 5th Circuit, issued about five hours after the appeal was filed, did not rule on the merits of the state’s request. Any decision from the 5th Circuit could put the issue back before the Supreme Court, which declined to block the law when it took effect Sept. 1 but said it raises serious constitutional questions.

In response to the appeals court's order Friday, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “The Supreme Court needs to step in and stop this madness. It’s unconscionable that the Fifth Circuit stayed such a well-reasoned decision that allowed constitutionally protected services to return in Texas."

For the nearly 48 hours that the ban was lifted, abortion providers were scrambling to decide whether to resume terminating pregnancies beyond the six-week mark — a point at which many patients do not yet know they are pregnant.

In his ruling late Wednesday, Pitman — a nominee of President Barack Obama — also took issue with the law’s enforcement mechanism, among other things.
Media News

 

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate, Alan Rappeport and Liz Alderman, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). More than 130 nations agreed on Friday to a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules, with officials backing a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been leading the negotiations, said 136 countries and jurisdictions had signed on to the deal.

“Today’s agreement will make our international tax arrangements fairer and work better,” Mathias Cormann, the organization’s secretary general, said in a statement. “We must now work swiftly and diligently to ensure the effective implementation of this major reform.”

The agreement is the culmination of years of fraught negotiations that were revived this year after President Biden took office and renewed the United States’ commitment to multilateralism. Finance ministers have been racing to finalize the agreement, which they hope will reverse a decades-long race to the bottom of corporate tax rates that have encouraged companies to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, depriving nations of money they need to build new infrastructure and combat global health crises.

washington post logoWashington Post, Islamic State claims responsibility for Afghan mosque blast that killed nearly 50, injured dozens, Sudarsan Raghavan and Ellen Francis, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). An Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers in northern Afghanistan, killing nearly 50 Shiite Muslim worshipers and wounding dozens more, underscoring the growing challenge the extremist group poses to the authority of the Taliban.

It was the latest in a string of attacks on religious facilities and the deadliest since U.S. troops exited the country in August. And it raises questions about the ability of Afghanistan’s new rulers to usher in a stable and secure country after two decades of war.

“I saw more than 40 dead bodies lying around,” said Ghausuddin, a 60-year-old engineer who arrived at the mosque minutes after the blast and spoke on the condition that only his middle name be used, for his safety. “There was blood everywhere. In every family, one or two people were either injured or killed.”

The suicide bomber walked into the male section of the Sayed Abad mosque in Kunduz and detonated his explosives, witnesses said. All of the victims were members of Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara minority, long persecuted by Sunni Muslim extremist groups, including the Taliban. Bilal Karimi, the deputy Taliban spokesman, said Friday night that the blast had killed 46 worshipers and injured another 143.

The Islamic State-Khorasan, the Afghanistan branch of the Syria- and Iraq-based network, claimed responsibility for the attack late Friday in a statement issued on its Amaq news channel.

The bombing came five days after ISIS-K claimed that it had orchestrated a bombing outside a Kabul mosque Sunday, killing at least two people, during a memorial service for the mother of the Taliban’s acting deputy information minister and main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.

washington post logoWashington Post, Facing stunning levels of deaths, U.S. and Mexico revamp strained security cooperation, Mary Beth Sheridan, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). In a bid to mend their frayed security relationship, senior U.S. and Mexican officials met Friday to overhaul the Merida Initiative, a pact that has channeled billions of dollars in aid to Mexico but failed to curb massive drug trafficking and spiraling bloodshed.

mexico flag1President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, below left, has repeatedly criticized the 13-year-old security accord, saying it promoted an ineffective “war on drugs.” But his aides say the longtime leftist saw few possibilities to renegotiate it with President Donald Trump, who had suggested sending the U.S. military to tackle Mexican drug violence. López Obrador regards President Biden’s drug policy, with its emphasis on treatment and andrés lópez obrador wprevention, as providing political space for a reset, they said.

Homicides in Mexico are stuck at historically high rates, while deaths in the United States from fentanyl smuggled across the border have soared.

“It’s time for a comprehensive approach to our security cooperation” that emphasizes “not only strengthening law enforcement, but also public health, the rule of law, inclusive economic opportunities,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the agreement, dubbed the Bicentennial Framework, was broader than the Merida Initiative. The new plan would seek to drive down homicides in Mexico, decrease drug abuse, tackle arms trafficking and seize chemicals used in making drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamines, he said.

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Imminent effect of redistricting: Sharper partisan elbows, less compromise, Colby Itkowitz, In initial maps released by multiple states, mapmakers have sharply curbed the number of competitive seats. That suggests a coming decade of even more deeply entrenched partisanship for Congress.

In Texas, a proposed Republican reworking of U.S. House districts would reduce the state’s 12 competitive districts to one. In Oregon, the approved Democratic map shored up two competitive seats, making them more solidly blue. In Indiana, Republicans eliminated the state’s only competitive seat by shifting it from a district former president Trump won by two percentage points to one he would have won by 16.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosRedistricting is just getting started around the country, but the first maps released suggest a coming decade of even more deeply entrenched partisanship for Congress.

Most House lawmakers already represent solidly partisan constituencies. Every two years, party control is determined by the outcome of only a few dozen seats. Next year, Republicans need to flip only a handful of seats to wrest power away from Democrats.

Of the country’s 435 congressional districts, Trump or President Biden won just 50 of them by five or less percentage points. Those swing districts could be reduced by at least a third after redistricting, experts estimate.

“There are really only about three dozen truly competitive seats anyway and partisans have realized in these polarized times the best way to flip a district is to gerrymander it after the Census,” said David Daley, a senior fellow for FairVote, a nonpartisan voting rights advocacy organization, and author of two books on modern redistricting. “Now partisans are coming back for more.”

Ahead of the 2022 contests, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had listed two Texas districts currently held by Republicans as targets to flip in 2022, but the proposed new map would push them out of reach. The 23rd, which stretches along the border from San Antonio to El Paso, would go from a district Trump won by less than two percentage points to one he won by seven, and the 24th, located in northern Dallas, would turn from one Biden won by five points to one Trump would have won by twelve.

Democrats had also hoped to target Indiana’s lone competitive district, which will now become solidly Republican.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats edge toward dumping Iowa’s caucuses as the first presidential vote, Michael Scherer, Oct. 9, 2021. High-ranking Democrats have tired of its role in selecting a nominee, seeing the state as unrepresentative of the party and the country. Bungled 2020 results didn’t help.

President Biden is not a big fan. Former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez is openly opposed. And elsewhere in the Democratic inner sanctum, disdain for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus has been rising for years.

Now the day of reckoning for Iowa Democrats is fast approaching, as the national party starts to create a new calendar for the 2024 presidential nomination that could remove Iowa from its privileged position for the first time since 1972, when candidates started flocking to the state for an early jump on the race to the White House.

The caucuses’ reputation has been damaged by high barriers to participation, a dearth of racial diversity, the rightward drift in the state’s electorate and a leftward drift in the Democratic participants. The state party’s inability to count the results in 2020 only deepened dismay in the party.

Biden, who handily won the party’s nomination in 2020, noted the lack of diversity in the caucus during the campaign — “It is what it is,” he said of the calendar — and called his fourth-place finish in the state a “gut punch.”

“We have to be honest with ourselves, and Iowa is not representative of America,” Perez said Friday in an interview. “We need a primary process that is reflective of today’s demographics in the Democratic Party.”

Others in Biden’s extended orbit have come to similar conclusions about the caucuses, for varied reasons.

“It is not suited to normal people, people that actually have daily lives,” South Carolina State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of that state’s Democratic Party and a longtime Biden ally, said of the caucuses. He described the laborious process of participating, over multiple hours, in person, on a weeknight, as far more restrictive than the requirements of a new voter law in Texas that Democrats universally oppose.

“I just think the caucus process as it exists in Iowa is not suitable in 21st-century America,” he said.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, San Francisco to ease indoor masking rules as cases fall, Andrew Jeong and Adela Suliman, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). San Francisco will begin easing some indoor masking rules starting Oct. 15, so long as new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations decline or remain stable, the city said. It will limit the relaxation of rules to settings with no more than 100 people, all of whom must be fully vaccinated and over 12 years old, it said. The gathering area must also have proper ventilation, among other conditions.

“I’m excited that we’re once again at a place where we can begin easing the mask requirements,” Mayor London Breed (D) said in a statement with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Settings such as offices, fitness centers, religious gatherings and indoor college classes are eligible, provided they meet the criteria.

Official data showed that around 75 percent of the population in San Francisco was fully vaccinated as of late Thursday — above the state average of 60 percent, according to a Washington Post tracker. The number of new infections has also been decreasing in San Francisco, with the city averaging around 80 new infections per day over the past week, according to government data.

In other news:

  • Doctors are bracing for potential ‘twindemic’ of flu and covid-19 spikes
  • WHO finalizes official definition of ‘long covid’
  • Essential covid-19 supplies from WHO arrive in North Korea

washington post logoWashington Post, Economy added 194,000 jobs in September, another weak month heading into final stretch of 2021, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.).  The U.S. economy added just 194,000 jobs in September, the Department of Labor reported Friday, a disappointing month that reflects how severely the delta variant is hampering the country’s recovery.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent in August. The data is a snapshot of the economy from the second week of September, when daily coronavirus cases were still near the peak caused by the delta variant.

Economists had been hoping for robust jobs growth in September, as school reopenings allowed parents who left work to care for children earlier in the pandemic returned to the labor force.

But that sunny outlook has been challenged in recent months, as the delta variant’s surge — and large pockets of resistance to get the vaccine — have raised questions about the country’s ability to stage a speedy recovery.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion, The New Jobs Numbers Are Pretty Good, Actually, Neil Irwin, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). They fell far short of analyst expectations, but they reflect a steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries.

It’s not as bad as it looks.

That’s the most important thing to take away from Friday’s release of the September jobs report, which found that employers added 194,000 jobs last month, a far cry from the 500,000 analysts expected. The initial response among experts was to wonder whether it called for an exclamation of a mere “oof” or a more extreme “ooooooof.”

But when you peel apart the details, there is less reason to be concerned than that headline would suggest. The story of the economy in the second half of 2021 remains one of steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries. It is being held back by supply constraints and, in September at least, the emergence of the Delta variant. But the direction is clear, consistent and positive.

Much of the disappointment in payroll growth came from strange statistical quirks around school reopening. The number of jobs in state local education combined with private education fell by 180,000 in September — when the customary seasonal adjustments are applied.

There is reason to think the pandemic made those seasonal adjustments misleading. Schools reopened in September en masse, and employed 1.28 million more people (excluding seasonal adjustments) in September than in August. But a “normal” year, whatever that means anymore, would have featured an even bigger surge in employment. In other words, this might be a statistical artifact of a shrinking education sector earlier in the pandemic, not new information about what is happening this fall.

Another detail in the report that takes some of the sting out of the weak payroll gains was news that July and August numbers were revised up by a combined 169,000 jobs, implying the economy entered the fall in a stronger place than it had seemed.

Meanwhile, the focus on the underwhelming job growth numbers has masked what should be viewed as unambiguously good news.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, from 5.2 percent in August. It fell for good reasons, not bad — the number of people unemployed dropped by a whopping 710,000 while the number of people working rose by a robust 526,000. (These numbers are based on a survey of households, in contrast with the payroll numbers that are based on a survey of businesses; the two diverge from time to time, including this month.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Moderna, Racing for Profits, Keeps Covid Vaccine Out of Reach of Poor, Rebecca Robbins, Oct. 9, 2021. Moderna, whose coronavirus vaccine moderna logoappears to be the world’s best defense against Covid-19, has been supplying its shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit.

After developing a breakthrough vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the U.S. government, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer, according to Airfinity, a data firm that tracks vaccine shipments.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 9, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 238,114,188, Deaths: 4,859,930
U.S. Cases:     45,135,620, Deaths:   732,477
India Cases:     33,935,309, Deaths:   450,408
Brazil Cases:    21,550,730, Deaths:   600,493

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 216.6 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct. 9, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 186.9 million people, or 65.2 %. of those eligible to be fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

Related Recent Headlines:

 

More World News

washington post logoWashington Post, S. Korea charges 15 in sex abuse case as military grapples with mistreatment of female and trans soldiers, Amy Cheng and Grace Moon, Oct. 9, 2021. Two recent suicides in the ranks of the South Korean armed forces — and the perceived delay in accountability — have sparked public outrage, forcing the country to once again confront its poor treatment of women and sexual minorities.

South Korea FlagOn Thursday, a South Korean court ruled that the military unlawfully discriminated against the country’s first openly transgender soldier, Byun Hui-su, when it discharged her following her gender-reassignment surgery in 2019. The court ordered her reinstatement but the victory came seven months too late: Byun took her life in March.

And on Friday, military prosecutors charged fifteen people as part of a case involving the sexual abuse of a female noncommissioned officer, who was only identified by her last name of Lee. Authorities are also seeking a 15-year prison sentence for the Air Force master sergeant who committed the alleged incident.

washington post logoWashington Post, Germany investigates possible ‘Havana Syndrome’ sonic attack on U.S. Embassy staff, Amy Cheng, Oct. 9, 2021. Biden signs legislation to aid U.S. personnel suffering from ‘Havana Syndrome.’

German police confirmed Friday an investigation into an “alleged sonic attack” targeting U.S. Embassy staff in Berlin, who are among the roughly 200 cases of a mysterious illness reported by U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers stationed around the world.

german flagAs of August, at least two U.S. government employees based in Germany have logged symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and severe headaches, according to numerous media reports. These are among the signs of “Havana Syndrome,” an affliction named after the Cuban capital where such cases were first reported.

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin could not immediately be reached for comment early Saturday. A State Department spokesman declined to discuss specific cases but said that various government agencies were “actively working to identify the cause of these incidents and whether they may be attributed to a foreign actor” and that the Department “is focused on providing care for those affected.”

Berlin police did not release further information about their probe.

On Friday, President Biden signed into law a bipartisan bill to financially support U.S. government personnel believed to be suffering from Havana Syndrome.

ny times logoNew York Times, Facing Criminal Inquiry, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Resigns, Melissa Eddy, Oct. 9, 2021.  The move came amid intense pressure from all sides, with Mr. Kurz’s partners in the government, the Greens, threatening to quit the coalition unless his conservative People’s Party replaced him as chancellor. The country’s president issued a stern statement urging all players to put party politics aside in the interest of stability.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Pandora Papers gave us rare transparency. Is there hope for more? Editorial Board, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). In Greek mythology, Zeus, king of the gods, presented Pandora a beautiful container, warning her never to open it. Pandora ignored Zeus and released upon the world pain, disease, poverty, war and death. No doubt many kleptocrats today wish the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists was not quite so curious. In cooperation with The Post and other major news organizations, these reporters have received and analyzed millions of shell-corporation documents that were never intended to be made public. This has brought angst to those whose questionable dealings have been exposed. For everyone else, the Pandora Papers, as they are known, provide much-needed transparency.

There’s nothing new about wealthy individuals’ use of shell corporations, registered in locations such as Panama or the Isle of Jersey, to conceal their holdings from competitors, tax authorities and the media. What’s especially troubling, though, is the degree to which so many people whose political roles should not make them rich can exploit corporate secrecy laws to hide enormous wealth of dubious origin. One example: the Pandora Papers revealed that the family and associates of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan used offshore companies to acquire $700 million worth of property in Britain, mostly in London. Art collector Douglas Latchford (now deceased) used offshore trusts essentially to launder the sale of looted antiquities from Cambodia, some of which eventually wound up in major museum collections.

Of course, by no means is all the money being sheltered ill-gotten. But the big picture — of a vast, no-questions-asked-zone, open to legitimate and illegitimate transactions alike — is concerning. Corruption and cronyism can undermine political stability and legitimacy as surely as violence can, albeit more insidiously. To the extent the world’s offshore havens are facilitating official malfeasance, they are contributing to the global decline of democracy.

The Pandora Papers also showed that one such haven is located right here in the United States: South Dakota’s permissive trust laws have made it a popular destination for foreign wealth. As The Post reported, there is no evidence that any of the money parked in South Dakota came from criminal activity. Trust companies are legally forbidden knowingly to accept such funds. There may nevertheless be a need to require greater due diligence by the intermediaries — trust companies, lawyers and real estate professionals — who handle international fortunes in the United States, as suggested in a new legislative proposal, the Enablers Act, with bipartisan support in the House. Multilateral cooperation on corruption and money-laundering should be a major part of the Biden administration’s promised effort to restore global democratic development.

As long as there are ill-gotten gains, there will be a market for hiding them. Realistically, there is only so much governments can do. In the myth, though, hope remained even after Pandora’s mistake. By exposing the machinations of the world’s kleptocrats, the Pandora Papers gave hope to those who favor greater accountability — and, equally usefully, fear to those who oppose it.

maria ressa rappler

ny times logoNew York Times, The 2021 Nobel Prizes: Maria Ressa is only the 18th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in its 126-year history, Shashank Bengali, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). In receiving the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, the Philippine journalist Maria Ressa (shown via a Rappler file photo) became only the 18th woman to be selected for the award in its 126-year history.

philippines flagWith half the world made up of women, the obvious question arises: Why have so few been granted the committee’s most prestigious prize and, more broadly, been generally underrepresented across the Nobel prizes?

Addressing the criticism, the Nobel committee in 2017 acknowledged its poor track record.

“We are disappointed looking at the larger perspective that more women have not been awarded,” said Göran Hansson, vice chair of the board of directors of the Nobel Foundation.

“Part of it is that we go back in time to identify discoveries,” he said. “We have to wait until they have been verified and validated before we can award the prize. There was an even larger bias against women then. There were far fewer women scientists if you go back 20 or 30 years.”

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Time to aggressively prosecute Trump machine to the fullest extent of the law! Webster Griffin Tarpley, right, Oct. 9, 2021. House AND Senate webster tarpley twittercommittees close in on GOP crimes of January 6 and in months-long effort to use Department of Justice to subvert November vote count; Mitch blinks on debt default;

Jobless rate falls from 5.2% to 4.8% in a month, but Wall Street’s controlled media can‘t contain their ”disappointment”;

Rejecting unrealistic advice from outside ”experts,” Biden signals abundant booster availability in US while increasing vaccine exports;
Defeatist essay by neocon prince Kagan unleashes wave of fashionable panic among liberals: he calls for popular front against fascism with ”zombie” GOPers like Romey informed by ”republican virtue” (!!);

”Mr. Globalization” Thomas Friedman challenges Dems to show the courage of Liz Cheney, but cannot see this would be devastating for working-class base; New York Times resident reactionary Douthat foolishly downplays danger of Trump dictatorship;

Jonathan Chait does better, judging that ”anybody fighting Biden now is helping Trump’s next coup,” since ”all Republican politics is now functionally authoritarian”; But all fall short of calling for outright extinction of Republican Party, the surest way to defend Constitutional government.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: It Can't Happen Here? It almost did happen here! Wayne Madsen, left (former Navy intelligence officer, now wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcompleting his 21st book, which will document a near-century of fascist growth in America that was temporarily blocked by the Allied victory in WW II over the fascist powers), Oct. 8-9, 2021.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis released the novel, "It Can't Happen Here." The story dealt with the rise of a fascist con-artist dictator in the United States, Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip.

The year before It Can't Happen Here was released, Lewis's wife, famed journalist Dorothy Thompson, became the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany. Lewis, obviously alarmed over how easy it was for Adolf Hitler to lull the German people into granting him and his Nazi Party dictatorial powers, looked around and saw the rising popularity of the demagogic governor of Louisiana, Huey P. Long, the Nazi propaganda coming from Henry Ford, and the formation of the pro-Nazi Friends of New Germany and the German-American Bund, the latter extremely active in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

wayne madesen report logoAs more information is uncovered about the events that led up to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, the premise of Lewis's novel, a fascist takeover of the United States, has jumped from the pages of 1930s fiction to current newspaper headlines.

An interim report by the Senate Judiciary Committee has revealed how close Donald Trump was to carrying out a coup by stacking the Department of Justice with his own inexperienced cronies in an attempt to place a dubious "legal" imprimatur on de-certifying the 2020 election in a bid to remain in power. The Senate report also provides more details about Trump's co-conspirators in his fascist coup plan.

What occurred in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021, makes the October 20, 1973, "Saturday Night Massacre" -- the evening Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General refused to do so, thus resulting in their resignations -- look like a minor scuffle in a playground.

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: New Evidence Emerges About Where Congresswoman Lauren Boebert Was in the Hours Before the January 6 seth abramson graphicAttack, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 7- 8, 2021. While we don't yet know all the details of this newly discovered, secretive Insurrection Eve meeting, what we do know points to it being critical—and suggests it may have been held at the White House.

Introduction: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) may have one of the most peculiar backgrounds of any person ever to serve in the United States Congress. The New York Post notes that despite being fairly young—Boebert entered Congress at the age of 34—the Colorado politician has, along with her husband Jayson, “racked up arrests” in her home state, and is widely known for “dust-ups” with uniformed police.

The Denver Post called Boebert’s criminal record “unusually long” for anyone seeking public office, let alone someone who loudly and repeatedly professes her love for the police. The Post also adds to the criminal incidents mentioned above another fact-pattern that involved involve allegations of Criminal Harassment and many instances of the now-Congresswoman skipping out on court dates without explanation. During one of her several arrests she loudly declared that the careers of the arresting officers would be ruined once she exposed them through her “friends at Fox News.” A friend of the police Lauren Boebert certainly was not in the years leading up to her implicit encouragement of violence against police officers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Boebert’s history of deceit, violence, lawlessness, and contempt for rule of law raises the natural question of what role she may have played in encouraging and seth abramson proof logofacilitating the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Because Boebert wasn’t sworn into office until January 3—just 72 hours before the attack—there was little opportunity for her to be actively engaged in a Capitol plot as a congresswoman (that is, at the level potentially available to a newly minted insurrectionist member of the House) until January 4 at the earliest. This makes the question of how Lauren Boebert spent her first 48 hours in Congress—post-January 3, pre-January 6—of great interest to federal investigators.

Due to some fantastic sleuthing by a Proof reader, Proof has new information on this....[reserved for "Proof" subscribers]

Palmer Report, Opinion: A half step away from a full blown crisis, Robert Harrington, Oct. 9, 2021. Before the insurrection, there was, well, the insurrection. Perhaps every bit as insidious and potentially injurious to the republic as the riot of January sixth was the quiet but devastating attempt by Donald Trump to influence his acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to use legal threats against states to decertify the election. To his credit, Rosen resisted Trump’s “full court press,” as senator Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, phrased it.

“Today’s interim staff report sheds new light on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to co-opt the Department of Justice into helping overturn the 2020 election,” Durbin said in remarks on the floor Thursday morning. “We were a half-step away from a full-blown constitutional crisis.”

The timeline went like this. First Trump got Rudy Giuliani and others to file sixty lawsuits in several jurisdictions to undermine the election results. When those sixty lawsuits failed he turned to attorney general Bill Barr and asked him to use the power of the DOJ to intimidate states where Trump lost. Trump wanted Barr to ask the states to throw out the election results and appoint new electors. When Barr refused and instead announced that the election was fair and Biden won, Barr then fell on his sword and resigned on December 23, 2020.

At that point Trump worked on the acting AG Rosen trying to get him to pressure states into overturning the election. When Rosen refused, Trump turned to the mob on January 6th, 2021, and asked them to do his dirty work for him. No doubt what he said to the mob, that he was going to go to the Capitol with them, was the same lie he told everyone else. Trump wanted to overturn the results of the election using any means possible, all of those means illegal, but he wanted others to do it for him. If the effort failed Trump wanted others to take the blame.

It’s chilling when you think about it. The only thing standing between Trump and the overthrow of the lawfully constituted government of the United States of America was a bunch of corrupt Republicans. It may very well be the case that America didn’t fall late last year and early this year because Republicans blocked Trump. Had more of them been insane like Giuliani, the outcome might have been very different.

Had Trump got his way, Durbin’s “full-blown constitutional crisis” might well have been the end result and America could have split into two violent and warring halves. So the Constitution hung by a shoestring composed entirely of Republicans. It is, perhaps, because they hadn’t yet fully evolved into the horrors they are becoming that we were saved. Had those Republicans been more like Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan and Rudy himself, there would have been no help for us.

It may be that Donald Trump acted too soon. Republicans are several different degrees of awful, but they are all getting worse with each passing year. This is why we cannot allow another Republican administration to take power ever again. The next one just might turn out as bad as the one Donald Trump wishes he had.

Other Recent Headlines:

 

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell vows Republicans will not help raise debt ceiling in December, Amy B Wang, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.).  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday vowed that Republicans will not offer any more assistance to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. In a letter sent to President Biden, McConnell made clear he would be willing to allow the United States to default on its national debt rather than work with Democrats.

The letter came a day after the Senate passed a bill on a party-line vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling through early December, temporarily staving off a potential government shutdown and default. McConnell and Biden also spoke about the matter by phone Friday, said a person familiar with the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to confirm a private phone call.

In the letter to Biden, McConnell took credit on behalf of Republicans for having “filled the leadership vacuum,” likely referring to the handful of GOP senators who had helped advance Thursday’s measure procedurally. No Republican senators ultimately supported the final measure, which passed on a 50-to-48 vote.

After the vote Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) took to the Senate floor to praise the result — and to blast Republicans for what he described as a “risky drama.” What had been avoided, Schumer said, was “a first-ever, Republican-manufactured default on the national debt.”

“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” Schumer added. “For the good of America’s families, for the good of our economy, Republicans must recognize in the future that they should approach fixing the debt limit in a bipartisan way.”

McConnell said that Schumer’s speech had “poisoned the well even further” and indicated that, when the issue arises again in December, Democrats should not bank on any Republican help.

“Last night, in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry, and corrosive that even Democratic Senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him,” McConnell wrote. “This childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch.”

The Republicans’ opposition to raising the debt ceiling in a bipartisan manner had for weeks frustrated Schumer and his fellow Democrats, who repeatedly pointed out that the debt ceiling covered past spending, including bipartisan initiatives to respond to the coronavirus pandemic enacted last year. But the entreaties failed to loosen the GOP blockade until McConnell offered a roughly two-month extension after meeting with his conference Wednesday.

That deal drew attacks from former president Donald Trump, who mocked McConnell’s offer as a weak surrender.

Many Democrats had been calling to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation, but faced resistance within their own party — most notably from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who on Thursday could be seen reacting to Schumer’s floor speech by placing his head in his hands.

Manchin joined the Republican chorus to criticize Schumer’s speech afterward.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate at this time,” Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju late Thursday as he left the Capitol. “I just think that basically what we’ve got to do is find a pathway forward, to make sure that we de-weaponize. We have to de-weaponize.”

Manchin did not elaborate when asked how the Senate would raise the debt ceiling come December if Republicans once again refused to cooperate but suggested he was still opposed to eliminating the filibuster rules.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. Trump hotel made millions from foreign nations but still struggled, documents show, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.).  Hundreds of pages of the hotel’s financial documents show that the federally leased hotel lost $71 million while Trump was in office.

Donald Trump’s luxury Washington hotel lost more than $70 million while he was in office despite reaping millions in payments from foreign governments, according to federal documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday.

carolyn maloney oThe committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, released hundreds of pages of financial documents on the property Friday that it received from the General Services Administration, the agency that leased the federally owned property to Trump’s company beginning in 2013.

Maloney and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) allege the documents show that Trump received an estimated $3.7 million from foreign governments and received preferential treatment from Deutsche Bank when the bank allowed Trump to defer payments for six years on the principal of the property’s $170 million loan.

The findings “raise new and troubling questions about former President Trump’s lease with GSA and the agency’s ability to manage the former President’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant,” the two Democrats said in a news release.

Maloney and Connolly also wrote a 27-page letter Friday to GSA administrator Robin Carnahan saying the documents warranted further investigation.

Previous reporting from The Washington Post showed the 263-room property was running about half empty and losing money, but the documents provide by far the most detailed accounting to date of the hotel and how Trump won the contract for the lease in 2013.

 

More On U.S. Courts, Crime, Police, Civil Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department won’t pursue federal charges against Wisconsin officer in shooting of Jacob Blake, David Nakamura, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Authorities cited a lack of evidence that Rusten Sheskey used excessive force during the incident, which sparked protests earlier this year.

The Justice Department said Friday that it would not seek federal criminal civil rights charges against police officer Rusten Sheskey of Kenosha, Wis., in the shooting of a Black man last summer that reignited social-justice protests.

The department said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Sheskey used excessive force. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in January that his office would not seek charges against Sheskey, who had been on administrative leave since the shooting. He returned to the job in April and was not disciplined by the police department.

jacob blake cropped2Jacob Blake, left, now 30, was left partially paralyzed after Sheskey, who is White, fired seven times into his back as Blake attempted to enter a sport utility vehicle that he had been driving during the August 2020 incident.

Before a fatal shooting, teenage Kenosha suspect idolized police

In his written report, Graveley said Blake was carrying an open knife in his right hand. The report also says video footage showed Blake carrying a knife. Blake’s uncle disputed the characterization that he was brandishing the weapon, while an attorney for the family described Blake as posing no threat.

The shooting set off a week of demonstrations in Kenosha, which in turn led to the fatal shootings of two men, allegedly by a 17-year-old who traveled 20 miles from his home to join armed men claiming to protect businesses in the city from rioters.

When he announced that he would not charge Sheskey early this year, Gravely said Blake’s encounter with the police was prompted when a woman called 911 to report him, and would be viewed as a domestic-abuse case based on the call and prior contacts between Blake and the woman, who was his girlfriend.

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Parents Are Convicted in the Varsity Blues Admissions Trial, Anemona Hartocollis, Updated Oct. 9, 2021. Gamal Abdelaziz, a former casino executive, and John Wilson, a private equity financier, were the first people to stand trial in the federal investigation known as Operation Varsity Blues.

The investigation has snared more than 50 parents, coaches, exam administrators and others in an admissions scheme that implicated college athletic programs at the University of Southern California, Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest and Georgetown. Many other wealthy parents, including some celebrities, have pleaded guilty rather than take their chances in court.

Mr. Abdelaziz, 64, was accused of paying $300,000 in 2018 to have his daughter admitted to U.S.C. as a top-ranked basketball recruit even though she did not make the varsity team in high school. Mr. Wilson, 62, was accused of paying $220,000 in 2014 to have his son admitted as a water polo recruit at U.S.C. His son did play water polo, but prosecutors said he was not good enough to compete at the university.

Mr. Wilson was also accused of agreeing to pay $1.5 million in 2018 to have his twin daughters, who were good students, admitted to Harvard and Stanford as recruited athletes.

ny times logoNew York Times, An Expert on the Criminal Mind, Now He’s Suspected in an Arson Spree, Thomas Fuller and Livia Albeck-Ripka, Oct. 9, 2021 (print ed.).  A criminology professor was charged with setting fire to part of the Sierra Nevada forest amid several arson incidents in Northern California this year.

He drove out of the Lumberjacks restaurant parking lot on a Tuesday in August, up Main Street, past the fire station and the gun shop. Then, Gary Maynard left the small city of Susanville in the northeastern corner of California and headed up a steep highway into the Sierra Nevada, where, prosecutors say, he set the forest ablaze.

Mr. Maynard, a criminology professor who specializes in deviancy, now sits in a Sacramento jail awaiting a hearing. The crime expert, investigators say, became a criminal himself.

 

Media, Tech News

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook and its apps suffer another outage, Mike Isaac, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Facebook and its family of apps were inaccessible for about facebook logotwo hours on Friday afternoon, the second time in a week that the social network experienced widespread problems with its services.

The site DownDetector.com, a service that relies on reports from users to determine whether websites are having problems, showed that all of Facebook’s main products — Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and the “big blue app” of Facebook — suffered downtime at around 3 p.m. Eastern time.

 

Oct. 8

Top Headlines


Virus Victims, Responses

 

World News

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

 

Inside DC

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

 

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Top Stories

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden rejects Trump’s request to withhold records related to Jan. 6 attack, Tom Hamburger, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 8, 2021. The White House said President Biden “determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States.”

Congress’s quest for definitive answers about what led a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6 appears headed for a historic showdown between the former president and his successor in the White House.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).The battle lines became more clear Friday, when President Biden rejected Trump’s request to block documents from the House committee investigating the insurrection, citing the gravity of the assault on democracy.

“The president’s dedicated to ensuring that something like that could never happen again, which is why the administration is cooperating with ongoing investigations,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Trump swiftly responded by formally claiming executive privilege over about 50 documents requested initially by the select committee and issuing a statement calling Democrats “drunk on power” and insisting that “this assault on the constitution and important legal precedent will not work.”

Meanwhile, urged on by Trump, his longtime adviser Stephen K. Bannon told the committee he will not comply with the panel’s sweeping request for documents and testimony.

To learn exactly what Trump and his aides did during the Jan. 6 attack, the committee now faces a legal and political conflict that could escalate into a richard nixon headshot Customconstitutional struggle unseen since President Richard M. Nixon, left, fought release of White House information five decades ago. Nixon took his fight to the courts, where his losses helped establish the limits of executive power.

Legal experts said they think Biden, as the sitting president, is more likely to prevail in court. But they said the legal questions raised by this conflict are significant.

“This is one of the historic tests of executive power,” said Walter Dellinger, who was solicitor general under President Bill Clinton and now teaches constitutional law at Duke University. Still, he said, “the decision of the current president not to assert executive privilege is going to weigh heavily” on those having to make the decision.

The claims by Trump and Biden were both sent to the National Archives, which is in possession of the records sought by the committee. In his letter to the Archives on Friday, Trump argued that dozens of those records “contain information subject to executive privilege, including the presidential communications and deliberative process privileges.”

Trump also made a more sweeping claim to “protective assertion of constitutionally based privilege with respect to all additional records” that were requested.

“A former president has a chance to review the materials, to raise issues of privilege and, if the former and the current presidents cannot reach some agreement, to take the dispute to the courts,” Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, said in an interview last month.

The skirmish is just the latest to envelop the committee, which Republican leaders boycotted after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected two of their picks for the panel. Some Republicans agreed to participate anyway, including the panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

The committee has also sought documents and testimony from several top Trump aides, who were urged earlier this week by Trump’s attorney to cite executive privilege for matters having to do with presidential decision-making. While Bannon said he would not comply with the requests, the committee said Friday that two other officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Pentagon adviser Kash Patel — are “engaging with the committee.”

“The Select Committee fully expects all of these witnesses to comply with our demands for both documents and deposition testimony,” said the statement signed by Cheney and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman. It added that “we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.”

Bannon worked at the White House in 2017. But he was not working for the administration in 2020 or 2021. Several legal experts questioned whether executive privilege could shield Bannon from responding to requests for information about what happened during a period when he was not a White House employee.

The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral-college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left 140 law enforcement officers injured.

Dellinger, the constitutional scholar, heard echoes of inquiries into the conduct of past presidents.

“This is similar to Watergate and the Iran Contra affair where sensitive internal executive branch communications were turned over to investigators,” he said. “A president does have a need to consult with his senior aides in confidence and express those views . . . but judicial decisions indicate that the incumbent president is given the most weight” when deciding what to release.

What’s more, he said, “these circumstances are extraordinary, involving an effort to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tells Former Aides to Defy Subpoenas From Jan. 6 Panel, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Former President Trump’s instruction raises the prospect of the committee issuing criminal referrals for some of his close advisers as early as Friday.

Former President Donald J. Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday.

In a letter reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday deadline to respond

washington post logoWashington Post, Bannon refuses to comply with congressional investigators seeking information about the Jan. 6 insurrection, Tom Hamburger, Oct. 8, 2021. Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon has notified the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he cannot comply with the panel’s sweeping request for documents and testimony, according to a letter Bannon’s attorney sent to the committee.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: It Can't Happen Here? It almost did happen here! Wayne Madsen, left (former Navy intelligence officer, now wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcompleting his 21st book, which will document a near-century of fascist growth in America that was temporarily blocked by the Allied victory in WW II over the fascist powers), Oct. 8, 2021.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis released the novel, "It Can't Happen Here." The story dealt with the rise of a fascist con-artist dictator in the United States, Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip.

The year before It Can't Happen Here was released, Lewis's wife, famed journalist Dorothy Thompson, became the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany. Lewis, obviously alarmed over how easy it was for Adolf Hitler to lull the German people into granting him and his Nazi Party dictatorial powers, looked around and saw the rising popularity of the demagogic governor of Louisiana, Huey P. Long, the Nazi propaganda coming from Henry Ford, and the formation of the pro-Nazi Friends of New Germany and the German-American Bund, the latter extremely active in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

wayne madesen report logoAs more information is uncovered about the events that led up to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, the premise of Lewis's novel, a fascist takeover of the United States, has jumped from the pages of 1930s fiction to current newspaper headlines.

An interim report by the Senate Judiciary Committee has revealed how close Donald Trump was to carrying out a coup by stacking the Department of Justice with his own inexperienced cronies in an attempt to place a dubious "legal" imprimatur on de-certifying the 2020 election in a bid to remain in power. The Senate report also provides more details about Trump's co-conspirators in his fascist coup plan.

What occurred in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021, makes the October 20, 1973, "Saturday Night Massacre" -- the evening Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General refused to do so, thus resulting in their resignations -- look like a minor scuffle in a playground.

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: New Evidence Emerges About Where Congresswoman Lauren Boebert Was in the Hours Before the January 6 seth abramson graphicAttack, Seth Abramson, left, Oct.7- 8, 2021. While we don't yet know all the details of this newly discovered, secretive Insurrection Eve meeting, what we do know points to it being critical—and suggests it may have been held at the White House.

Introduction: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) may have one of the most peculiar backgrounds of any person ever to serve in the United States Congress. The New York Post notes that despite being fairly young—Boebert entered Congress at the age of 34—the Colorado politician has, along with her husband Jayson, “racked up arrests” in her home state, and is widely known for “dust-ups” with uniformed police.

The Denver Post called Boebert’s criminal record “unusually long” for anyone seeking public office, let alone someone who loudly and repeatedly professes her love for the police. The Post also adds to the criminal incidents mentioned above another fact-pattern that involved involve allegations of Criminal Harassment and many instances of the now-Congresswoman skipping out on court dates without explanation. During one of her several arrests she loudly declared that the careers of the arresting officers would be ruined once she exposed them through her “friends at Fox News.” A friend of the police Lauren Boebert certainly was not in the years leading up to her implicit encouragement of violence against police officers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The congresswoman, who regularly deletes tweets just after posting them, infamously tweeted “Today is 1776” on Insurrection Day, and then not once but twice tweeted out the location of members of Congress, including House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as the attack unfolded.

Boebert was later accused by her peers of giving a “large” Capitol tour to a group of unidentified persons on Insurrection Eve.

Boebert’s history of deceit, violence, lawlessness, and contempt for rule of law raises the natural question of what role she may have played in encouraging and seth abramson proof logofacilitating the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Because Boebert wasn’t sworn into office until January 3—just 72 hours before the attack—there was little opportunity for her to be actively engaged in a Capitol plot as a congresswoman (that is, at the level potentially available to a newly minted insurrectionist member of the House) until January 4 at the earliest. This makes the question of how Lauren Boebert spent her first 48 hours in Congress—post-January 3, pre-January 6—of great interest to federal investigators.

Due to some fantastic sleuthing by a Proof reader, Proof has new information on this....[reserved for "Proof" subscribers]

With the Guardian reporting that Trump is “preparing to direct” some of his top aides—including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump political adviser Dan Scavino (who now appears to be missing), and former post-election Trump whisperer Steve Bannon—to defy Congressional subpoenas, the discovery that a non-executive branch employee like Boebert, who can’t claim executive privilege, may have been at one of the most important and secretive insurrection planning meetings could change the scope of the House January 6 Committee investigation considerably. Let’s hope so.

himself has already lied about that day so many times that anything he tells the FBI now will directly contradict at least two or three of prior public statements.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas appeals court reinstates strict six-week abortion ban, two days after it was lifted, Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 8, 2021. Abortion care is a ‘calling’ for this Texas doctor. Now he faces a dilemma: Risk lawsuits, or quit.

A federal appeals court late Friday reinstated the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bars the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted a request filed Friday afternoon by the Texas attorney general to temporarily suspend a judge’s order blocking the law, which has halted most abortions in the state.

Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) had asked the appeals court to reverse the injunction by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman, who sided with the Biden ken paxton mugadministration Wednesday night and characterized the abortion ban as an “unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.”

A three-judge panel of the conservative-leaning court gave the Justice Department until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the appeal.

Paxton, shown at left in a mug shot from a pending dispute, told the appeals court that the Justice Department has no legal authority to sue the state and said the appeals court must intervene immediately to lift the injunction.

The lower-court judge overstepped, Paxton said in his filing, by halting a law that is enforced by private citizens, not state government officials.

“A court ‘cannot lawfully enjoin the world at large’ let alone hold Texas responsible for the filings of private citizens that Texas is powerless to prevent,” the filing states.

It asked the court to rule on that issue by Tuesday morning and to temporarily suspend Pitman’s injunction “as soon as possible.”

The brief order from the 5th Circuit, issued about five hours after the appeal was filed, did not rule on the merits of the state’s request. Any decision from the 5th Circuit could put the issue back before the Supreme Court, which declined to block the law when it took effect Sept. 1 but said it raises serious constitutional questions.

In response to the appeals court's order Friday, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “The Supreme Court needs to step in and stop this madness. It’s unconscionable that the Fifth Circuit stayed such a well-reasoned decision that allowed constitutionally protected services to return in Texas."

For the nearly 48 hours that the ban was lifted, abortion providers were scrambling to decide whether to resume terminating pregnancies beyond the six-week mark — a point at which many patients do not yet know they are pregnant.

In his ruling late Wednesday, Pitman — a nominee of President Barack Obama — also took issue with the law’s enforcement mechanism, among other things.
Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate, Alan Rappeport and Liz Alderman, Oct. 8, 2021. More than 130 nations agreed on Friday to a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules, with officials backing a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been leading the negotiations, said 136 countries and jurisdictions had signed on to the deal.

“Today’s agreement will make our international tax arrangements fairer and work better,” Mathias Cormann, the organization’s secretary general, said in a statement. “We must now work swiftly and diligently to ensure the effective implementation of this major reform.”

The agreement is the culmination of years of fraught negotiations that were revived this year after President Biden took office and renewed the United States’ commitment to multilateralism. Finance ministers have been racing to finalize the agreement, which they hope will reverse a decades-long race to the bottom of corporate tax rates that have encouraged companies to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, depriving nations of money they need to build new infrastructure and combat global health crises.

jeffrey burnham mugPalmer Report, Opinion: Anti-vaxxer lunatic goes on murder spree, Jesse Green, Oct. 7, 2021. Anti-vax conspiracy theorists now have more blood on their hands. A Maryland man shot and killed his pharmacist brother, his sister-in-law, and an 83-year-old woman. It appears he killed the elderly woman to order to steal her car and killed his pharmacist brother and sister-in-law because his brother had been administering COVID vaccines.

bill palmer report logo headerJeffrey Allen Burnham of Cumberland, Maryland, shown above in a mug shot, got it in his head that he had to kill his brother and his sister-in-law, stating that he needed to do that because his brother was “killing people with the COVID shot.” He first killed Rebecca Reynolds and took her car to drive to his brother’s home in Ellicott City, where he then killed his brother Brian Robinette and sister-in-law Kelly Sue Robinette, then stole his brother’s car to escape. He was arrested in West Virginia on October 1.

I hope Burnham spends the rest of his life in prison, and that he lives a very long time.

At the same time, the anti-vax movement needs to also be held accountable. Their message is resonating with unstable people and bringing them to commit acts of violence against people involved with distributing and administering COVID vaccine shots. I don’t know if Burnham would’ve found another excuse if the pandemic hadn’t happened, but he got the message from someone that his brother was killing people with the COVID vaccine and acted on that message, killing three human beings. I highly doubt whoever Burnham got the message from could be held criminally liable, but it doesn’t diminish the truth that person or persons who spread such messages were accessories to these crimes, and now three people are dead.

I would hope this tragedy wakes some people up to the dangerous effect their words are having, but I highly doubt it will.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What if Things Are About to Get Better? Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). That was the summer of our discontent. Early this paul krugmanyear many of us were expecting to see dramatic improvements in the quality of our lives. Miraculous vaccines offered the hope of a quick end to the pandemic and a return to normal life. The return to normality would, we hoped, also set the stage for a rapid economic rebound. When President Biden predicted a “summer of joy,” that didn’t seem unreasonable.

But it was not to be. The vaccination drive, after early successes, stalled in the face of widespread resistance, intensified by politically motivated misinformation and disinformation; and in an inadequately vaccinated nation, the Delta variant led to a deadly third wave of infections. While job growth has been fast by historical standards, the economy has been crimped both by the persistence of Covid-19 and by snarled supply chains. And a surge in homicides has revived some of the old dystopian fears of social breakdown.

The result has been widespread frustration, with many people predicting that things will stay bad or get worse in the months ahead.

But what if the current gloom is overdone? As regular readers know, I’m not an optimist by temperament — and I’m as terrified as everyone should be by the threat right-wing radicalism poses to U.S. democracy. But there’s a good case that in the quite near future we’ll see substantial progress against the three C’s: Covid, containers (i.e., supply-chain issues) and crime. We didn’t get our summer of joy, but we might be heading for a spring of relief.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Reports, San Francisco to ease indoor masking rules as cases fall, Andrew Jeong and Adela Suliman, Oct. 8, 2021. San Francisco will begin easing some indoor masking rules starting Oct. 15, so long as new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations decline or remain stable, the city said. It will limit the relaxation of rules to settings with no more than 100 people, all of whom must be fully vaccinated and over 12 years old, it said. The gathering area must also have proper ventilation, among other conditions.

“I’m excited that we’re once again at a place where we can begin easing the mask requirements,” Mayor London Breed (D) said in a statement with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Settings such as offices, fitness centers, religious gatherings and indoor college classes are eligible, provided they meet the criteria.

Official data showed that around 75 percent of the population in San Francisco was fully vaccinated as of late Thursday — above the state average of 60 percent, according to a Washington Post tracker. The number of new infections has also been decreasing in San Francisco, with the city averaging around 80 new infections per day over the past week, according to government data.

In other news:

  • Doctors are bracing for potential ‘twindemic’ of flu and covid-19 spikes
  • WHO finalizes official definition of ‘long covid’
  • Essential covid-19 supplies from WHO arrive in North Korea

washington post logoWashington Post, Economy added 194,000 jobs in September, another weak month heading into final stretch of 2021, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 8, 2021. The U.S. economy added just 194,000 jobs in September, the Department of Labor reported Friday, a disappointing month that reflects how severely the delta variant is hampering the country’s recovery.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent in August. The data is a snapshot of the economy from the second week of September, when daily coronavirus cases were still near the peak caused by the delta variant.

Economists had been hoping for robust jobs growth in September, as school reopenings allowed parents who left work to care for children earlier in the pandemic returned to the labor force.

But that sunny outlook has been challenged in recent months, as the delta variant’s surge — and large pockets of resistance to get the vaccine — have raised questions about the country’s ability to stage a speedy recovery.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion, The New Jobs Numbers Are Pretty Good, Actually, Neil Irwin, Oct. 8, 2021. They fell far short of analyst expectations, but they reflect a steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries.

It’s not as bad as it looks.

That’s the most important thing to take away from Friday’s release of the September jobs report, which found that employers added 194,000 jobs last month, a far cry from the 500,000 analysts expected. The initial response among experts was to wonder whether it called for an exclamation of a mere “oof” or a more extreme “ooooooof.”

But when you peel apart the details, there is less reason to be concerned than that headline would suggest. The story of the economy in the second half of 2021 remains one of steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries. It is being held back by supply constraints and, in September at least, the emergence of the Delta variant. But the direction is clear, consistent and positive.

Much of the disappointment in payroll growth came from strange statistical quirks around school reopening. The number of jobs in state local education combined with private education fell by 180,000 in September — when the customary seasonal adjustments are applied.

There is reason to think the pandemic made those seasonal adjustments misleading. Schools reopened in September en masse, and employed 1.28 million more people (excluding seasonal adjustments) in September than in August. But a “normal” year, whatever that means anymore, would have featured an even bigger surge in employment. In other words, this might be a statistical artifact of a shrinking education sector earlier in the pandemic, not new information about what is happening this fall.

Another detail in the report that takes some of the sting out of the weak payroll gains was news that July and August numbers were revised up by a combined 169,000 jobs, implying the economy entered the fall in a stronger place than it had seemed.

Meanwhile, the focus on the underwhelming job growth numbers has masked what should be viewed as unambiguously good news.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, from 5.2 percent in August. It fell for good reasons, not bad — the number of people unemployed dropped by a whopping 710,000 while the number of people working rose by a robust 526,000. (These numbers are based on a survey of households, in contrast with the payroll numbers that are based on a survey of businesses; the two diverge from time to time, including this month.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Pfizer asks FDA to authorize vaccine for children 5 to 11, Ben Guarino, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). An estimated 28 million children would be eligible for the shots in the United States if regulators give the green light. U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, have asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their coronavirus vaccine for emergency use for children 5 to 11 years old, the companies announced Thursday.

pfizer logoAn estimated 28 million children in the United States would be eligible for the shots if regulators give the green light — a process expected to take several weeks. The coronavirus vaccine would be the first available in this country for children younger than 12 years old.

An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet Oct. 26 to discuss Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric vaccine. Officials have said its authorization could occur between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

“With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against covid-19,” Pfizer said in a tweet. Pfizer and BioNTech submitted initial data to the FDA last month for a regimen of two 10-microgram doses in children — one-third the amount given to older patients.

  • Washington Post, Moderna to build vaccine plant in Africa to produce 500 million doses a year for lower-income nations

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Oct. 8, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:

World Cases: 237,676,493, Deaths: 4,852,063
U.S. Cases:    45,021,734, Deaths:    730,210
India Cases:    33,915,569, Deaths:    450,160
Brazil Cases:   21,532,558, Deaths:    599,865

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 216.3 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Oct. 8, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 186.6 million people of those eligible fully vaccinated.

The United States reached President Biden’s target of getting at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults just about a month after his goal of July 4.

Related Recent Headlines:

 

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Pandora Papers gave us rare transparency. Is there hope for more? Editorial Board, Oct. 8, 2021. In Greek mythology, Zeus, king of the gods, presented Pandora a beautiful container, warning her never to open it. Pandora ignored Zeus and released upon the world pain, disease, poverty, war and death. No doubt many kleptocrats today wish the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists was not quite so curious. In cooperation with The Post and other major news organizations, these reporters have received and analyzed millions of shell-corporation documents that were never intended to be made public. This has brought angst to those whose questionable dealings have been exposed. For everyone else, the Pandora Papers, as they are known, provide much-needed transparency.

There’s nothing new about wealthy individuals’ use of shell corporations, registered in locations such as Panama or the Isle of Jersey, to conceal their holdings from competitors, tax authorities and the media. What’s especially troubling, though, is the degree to which so many people whose political roles should not make them rich can exploit corporate secrecy laws to hide enormous wealth of dubious origin. One example: the Pandora Papers revealed that the family and associates of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan used offshore companies to acquire $700 million worth of property in Britain, mostly in London. Art collector Douglas Latchford (now deceased) used offshore trusts essentially to launder the sale of looted antiquities from Cambodia, some of which eventually wound up in major museum collections.

Of course, by no means is all the money being sheltered ill-gotten. But the big picture — of a vast, no-questions-asked-zone, open to legitimate and illegitimate transactions alike — is concerning. Corruption and cronyism can undermine political stability and legitimacy as surely as violence can, albeit more insidiously. To the extent the world’s offshore havens are facilitating official malfeasance, they are contributing to the global decline of democracy.

The Pandora Papers also showed that one such haven is located right here in the United States: South Dakota’s permissive trust laws have made it a popular destination for foreign wealth. As The Post reported, there is no evidence that any of the money parked in South Dakota came from criminal activity. Trust companies are legally forbidden knowingly to accept such funds. There may nevertheless be a need to require greater due diligence by the intermediaries — trust companies, lawyers and real estate professionals — who handle international fortunes in the United States, as suggested in a new legislative proposal, the Enablers Act, with bipartisan support in the House. Multilateral cooperation on corruption and money-laundering should be a major part of the Biden administration’s promised effort to restore global democratic development.

As long as there are ill-gotten gains, there will be a market for hiding them. Realistically, there is only so much governments can do. In the myth, though, hope remained even after Pandora’s mistake. By exposing the machinations of the world’s kleptocrats, the Pandora Papers gave hope to those who favor greater accountability — and, equally usefully, fear to those who oppose it.

Vanity Fair, Mitch McConnell’s Big Trump Problem Isn’t Going Away, Eric Lutz, Oct. 8, 2021. The former president gave McConnell yet another verbal thrashing after the Senate Minority Leader strategically agreed to raise the debt limit. And the rants are liable to continue.

Mitch McConnell on Thursday gave Senate Democrats the votes they needed to temporarily lift the debt ceiling, keeping the country from financial catastrophe for now and, more importantly for the minority leader, ensuring that no one touches the filibuster so he can use it to thwart the rest of Joe Biden’s agenda. It was a calculated concession: Republicans were days away from taking the blame for a default, and pressure was mounting on conservative Democrats to alter the Senate procedure to avoid disaster. There was no sign that Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin were going to cave, of course, but for McConnell, it was better safe than sorry: He decided to “moot” the criticism from Democrats and remove all doubt that his favorite tool of obstruction would be preserved.

The ostensible leader of his party sees things differently. Never a particularly sharp strategic thinker, Donald Trump railed against McConnell’s move during a rambling Fox News interview Thursday with Sean Hannity, his longtime pal and confidant, describing the retreat as a gift to Democrats and calling for the Kentucky Republican to be replaced. “The Republican Senate needs new leaders,” Trump told Hannity. “Mitch is not the guy. Not the right guy. He’s not doing the job.” McConnell, Trump continued, gave Chuck Schumer and the Democrats “more than a lifeline”: “He gave them so much time to figure out what to do because they were in a big bind. They were unable to do anything.”

“That’s not a good thing that happened today,” Trump added. “He made a big mistake.”

Trump’s frustration with McConnell almost certainly has less to do with the debt ceiling and more to do with the criticism he faced from the senator after the January 6 insurrection. McConnell didn’t go to bat for him in his second impeachment trial earlier this year and rebuked him in a floor speech, and Trump has been trying to oust him ever since. But McConnell is also a bizarre target for Trump’s rage: He wound up voting against impeachment, and he did more to advance Trump’s despicable agenda during his presidency than just about anybody. Trump, though, is a sucker for appearances, and the idea that McConnell would take even a performative stand against him or make a strategic concession to Democrats is too much for him to process. “It’s a shame,” Trump said of McConnell.

Later in the interview, the former president went on a wildly racist rant about Haitians, suggesting, as he has previously, that migrants from the Caribbean nation “probably have AIDS.” Allowing Haitian migrants to enter the U.S. is “like a death wish,” he said, “like a death wish for our country.” Speaking of a death wish for the country, a recent Pew poll found that more than two-thirds of Republican voters want Trump to continue leading the party, and almost half think he should run to retake the White House in 2024. If he somehow manages to do so, Mitch “not the right guy” McConnell—who handily won re-election in 2020—would be right there alongside him.

maria ressa rappler

ny times logoNew York Times, The 2021 Nobel Prizes: Maria Ressa is only the 18th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in its 126-year history, Shashank Bengali, Oct. 8, 2021.  In receiving the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, the Philippine journalist Maria Ressa (shown via a Rappler file photo) became only the 18th woman to be selected for the award in its 126-year history.

With half the world made up of women, the obvious question arises: Why have so few been granted the committee’s most prestigious prize and, more broadly, been generally underrepresented across the Nobel prizes?

Addressing the criticism, the Nobel committee in 2017 acknowledged its poor track record.

“We are disappointed looking at the larger perspective that more women have not been awarded,” said Göran Hansson, vice chair of the board of directors of the Nobel Foundation.

“Part of it is that we go back in time to identify discoveries,” he said. “We have to wait until they have been verified and validated before we can award the prize. There was an even larger bias against women then. There were far fewer women scientists if you go back 20 or 30 years.”

washington post logoWashington Post, CIA creates new ‘mission center’ to counter China, Shane Harris, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). CIA Director William Burns called the country “the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century.”

CIA LogoThe CIA is creating a new center focused exclusively on gathering intelligence about China and countering its espionage against the United States, another sign that senior U.S. officials are preparing for an all-encompassing, years-long struggle with Beijing.

In remarks to agency personnel on Wednesday, CIA Director William J. Burns characterized the new China Mission Center as an effort to “further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government.”

Describing an effort that will enlist every corner of the spy agency, a senior CIA official drew comparisons to the Cold War fight against the Soviet Union, but said China was a more formidable and complicated rival given the size of its economy, which is completely entwined with that of the United States, and its own global reach.

 

More On Trump-Led Fraud, Riot, Obstruction

Palmer Report, Opinion: January 6th Committee confirms it’s absolutely enforcing Steve Bannon subpoenas, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 8, 2021. This past week a number of bill palmermedia pundits built up the absurd notion that at the January 6th Committee was going to take some unspecified but magical subpoena enforcement action at 12:01am last night. When that didn’t happen, because this isn’t a movie script and things are more complicated than that in the real world, those same pundits bashed the committee for not waving an instant magic wand.

bill palmer report logo headerThings got even uglier this morning when pundits began claiming to know for certain that there would be no January 6th subpoena enforcement at all. But the January 6th Committee itself just used its official Twitter account to confirm that “This is all nonsense.” Liz Cheney, the number two on the committee, added that “This is not true. 1/6 Committee is making significant progress and we will enforce subpoenas.”

Now the committee has released an official statement revealing that Mark Meadows and Kash Patel did in fact already respond to the subpoenas; so much for the media’s insistence that everyone who was subpoenaed would just magically ignore it. The committee is also confirming that it’s going to do to Steve Bannon exactly what it previously said it would: it’s making a criminal referral against him to the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress. As we explained earlier in the week, this will result in Bannon being criminally indicted, arrested, put on trial, and likely sent to prison – though none of that will instantly happen via magic wand.

So all the kerfuffle and doomsday hand-wringing by the pundits last night and this morning was for nothing. The January 6th Committee has in fact already scared multiple witnesses into taking their subpoenas seriously, and it is in fact making a criminal referral to bust Bannon.

Yes, the committee’s press release says that it will “swiftly consider” the criminal referral against Bannon, and yes, a number of media pundits are now insisting that this wording means nothing will be done. But they know that’s a bunch of crap. As Palmer Report has pointed out numerous times, phrases like “swiftly consider” are politician-speak for “we have absolutely already decided to do this.”

Keep in mind that Steve Bannon isn’t defying this subpoena because he thinks he can magically get away with ignoring it. He’s doing this because he’s currently under confirmed criminal investigation in New York State, and because he fully expects that the DOJ’s January 6th criminal probe will find its way to him, and he’s afraid that he’ll further incriminate himself if he testifies to Congress in the meantime. He’s got no good options, and he’s choosing what he thinks is the least bad option for himself. But even he can’t possibly be under the impression that he’s going to “get away” with anything. In the real world, that’s simply not how anything works.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Republican election strategy comes out of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, Wayne Madsen, left (former Navy intelligence officer, now completing his 21st book, which will document a near-century of fascist growth in America that was temporarily blocked by the Allied victory in WW II over the fascist powers), Oct. 7-8, 2021. The gerrymandering of U.S. House of Representatives [left] and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallstate legislative seats, as well as the adoption of restrictive voting laws and partisan vote counting "audits" and unofficial election oversight by pro-Donald Trump GOP hacks, comes straight out of the segregationist policies of minority white-ruled Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.

wayne madesen report logoRepublicans in states like Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and other states, fearful of shrinking white populations and the voting clout of non-white groups, have decided to opt for the minority-rule election tricks employed by the two racist regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa. By resorting to the minority-rule and apartheid playbooks, Republicans hope to ensure continued white rule with only a facade of democratic legitimacy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prominent Christian Conservative Lawyer Tried to Block Election Result, Eric Lipton and Mark Walker, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). The lawyer played a critical role in the lawsuit that Republican state attorneys general filed in December to try to overturn the election of President Biden.

One of the nation’s most prominent religious conservative lawyers played a critical behind-the-scenes role in the lawsuit that Republican state attorneys general filed in December in a last-ditch effort to overturn the election of President Biden, documents show.

The lawyer, Michael P. Farris, is the chief executive of a group known as Alliance Defending Freedom, which is active in opposing abortion and gay rights. He circulated a detailed draft of the lawsuit that Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, ultimately filed against states including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin in an effort to help President Donald J. Trump remain in office.

Mr. Paxton filed the lawsuit on Dec. 7, after making some changes but keeping large chunks of the draft circulated by Mr. Farris.

An additional 17 Republican attorneys general filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting Mr. Paxton’s lawsuit. Within four days, the matter was rejected by the court. But Mr. Farris’s role highlighted how religious conservatives supported Mr. Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to retain power by blocking certification of Mr. Biden’s victory.

“Please find a much-improved version of the complaint attached,” Mr. Farris wrote in an email on Nov. 30 to the chief deputy attorney general in South Carolina, one of several Republicans whom Mr. Farris and a team of other conservative lawyers were trying to convince to file the lawsuit. “I will call you and update you on the alternatives.”

The email, obtained via an open records request by The New York Times and researchers at Mount Holyoke College, included a detailed 42-page legal complaint, accusing the states of violating the Constitution by changing the rules related to absentee ballots and other election details without formal approval from state legislatures.

The complaint Mr. Farris sent had conveniently left the identification of the Republican attorney general’s office that would ultimately file the litigation blank, instead writing “000 Street Ave, Capitol City, ST 00000, (111) 222-3333, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Counsel of Record.”

Mr. Farris declined a request for an interview, but in an email he confirmed his role in the postelection effort, saying his involvement was not a part of his work at the Alliance for Defending Freedom, a nonprofit group that is prohibited under federal law from playing any role in a political campaign.
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“While it’s true that I care about this issue on a personal level, it is not something that ADF works on in any capacity,” he wrote. “As President and CEO, my charge is to focus on ADF’s mission, which is to protect Americans’ God-given freedoms. I have nothing to say about the details of the way forward on the issue of election integrity other than the hope that all Americans take the issue seriously.”

Two dozen federal agencies flagged the biggest dangers posed by a warming planet. The list spreads across American society.

ny times logoNew York Times, Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election, Katie Benner, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). A Senate panel fleshed out how Donald Trump pursued his plan to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to pursue unfounded reports of fraud. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts and describes how officials fought them off.

Even by the standards of President Donald J. Trump, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Mr. Trump’s desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his unfounded claims of election fraud.

Justice Department log circularOn the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. pat cipollone file croppedCipollone, left, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan.

Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a “murder-suicide pact,” one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat.

Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency.

capitol riot shaman jacob chasney

Other Recent Headlines:

 

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Leaders Seal Deal on Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase, Emily Cochrane, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Top Senate Democrats and Republicans said on Thursday that they had struck a deal to allow the debt ceiling to be raised through early December, temporarily staving off the threat of a first-ever default on the national debt after the G.O.P. agreed to temporarily drop its blockade of an increase.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, announced Thursday morning that he had reached an agreement with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, to clear the way for a vote on a short-term extension, with 11 days left before a possible default.

The movement came the day after Mr. McConnell backed down partially from his refusal to allow any such increase to move forward, offering a temporary reprieve as political pressure mounted to avoid being blamed for a fiscal calamity.

“It’s our hope that we can get this done as soon as today,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The agreement would boost the legal debt cap by $480 billion, according to a Senate aide familiar with the details, which the Treasury Department estimates would be enough to allow the government to continue borrowing through Dec. 3. The current limit is $28.4 trillion, since Aug. 1.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell vows Republicans will not help raise debt ceiling in December, Amy B Wang, Oct. 8, 2021. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday vowed that Republicans will not offer any more assistance to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. In a letter sent to President Biden, McConnell made clear he would be willing to allow the United States to default on its national debt rather than work with Democrats.

The letter came a day after the Senate passed a bill on a party-line vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling through early December, temporarily staving off a potential government shutdown and default. McConnell and Biden also spoke about the matter by phone Friday, said a person familiar with the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to confirm a private phone call.

In the letter to Biden, McConnell took credit on behalf of Republicans for having “filled the leadership vacuum,” likely referring to the handful of GOP senators who had helped advance Thursday’s measure procedurally. No Republican senators ultimately supported the final measure, which passed on a 50-to-48 vote.

After the vote Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) took to the Senate floor to praise the result — and to blast Republicans for what he described as a “risky drama.” What had been avoided, Schumer said, was “a first-ever, Republican-manufactured default on the national debt.”

“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” Schumer added. “For the good of America’s families, for the good of our economy, Republicans must recognize in the future that they should approach fixing the debt limit in a bipartisan way.”

McConnell said that Schumer’s speech had “poisoned the well even further” and indicated that, when the issue arises again in December, Democrats should not bank on any Republican help.

“Last night, in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry, and corrosive that even Democratic Senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him,” McConnell wrote. “This childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch.”

The Republicans’ opposition to raising the debt ceiling in a bipartisan manner had for weeks frustrated Schumer and his fellow Democrats, who repeatedly pointed out that the debt ceiling covered past spending, including bipartisan initiatives to respond to the coronavirus pandemic enacted last year. But the entreaties failed to loosen the GOP blockade until McConnell offered a roughly two-month extension after meeting with his conference Wednesday.

That deal drew attacks from former president Donald Trump, who mocked McConnell’s offer as a weak surrender.

Many Democrats had been calling to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation, but faced resistance within their own party — most notably from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who on Thursday could be seen reacting to Schumer’s floor speech by placing his head in his hands.

Manchin joined the Republican chorus to criticize Schumer’s speech afterward.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate at this time,” Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju late Thursday as he left the Capitol. “I just think that basically what we’ve got to do is find a pathway forward, to make sure that we de-weaponize. We have to de-weaponize.”

Manchin did not elaborate when asked how the Senate would raise the debt ceiling come December if Republicans once again refused to cooperate but suggested he was still opposed to eliminating the filibuster rules.

ny times logoNew York Times, S.B.A. Overpaid $4.5 Billion on ‘Illogical’ Small Business Grant Claims, Stacy Cowley, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). A program gave money to 700,000 self-employed people who improperly claimed to have as many as a million employees, according to an inspector general’s report.

An emergency relief program hastily rolled out in the early days of the pandemic [in 2020 under the Trump administration] had such poor fraud protections that it improperly doled out nearly $4.5 billion to self-employed people who said they had additional workers — even those who made wildly implausible claims, like having one million employees.

sba logo bestThe $20 billion program, called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, offered small businesses immediate grants of up to $10,000 in the months after the pandemic shuttered much of the economy. But hundreds of thousands of the grants it made were inflated because there was no system to catch applications with “flawed or illogical information,” Hannibal Ware, the Small Business Administration’s inspector general, wrote in a report released on Thursday.

The report, which described how the agency could have spotted obviously bogus applications by taking even rudimentary steps to prevent fraud, was the latest black eye for the S.B.A., a tiny department that was thrust to the front lines of the government’s pandemic response. The agency also ran the Paycheck Protection Program, which gave out $800 billion in bank-issued loans but often left lenders and borrowers scrambling to comply with confusing and shifting rules. Fraud was a problem there, too: Tens of billions of dollars may have been taken improperly.

The loan advance grants were created by Congress in March 2020 as part of its first coronavirus aid package. Intended to quickly get money to devastated companies, the program offered grants to businesses that applied for a disaster loan — and allowed applicants to keep the money even if their loan request was rejected.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. Trump hotel made millions from foreign nations but still struggled, documents show, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 8, 2021. Hundreds of pages of the hotel’s financial documents show that the federally leased hotel lost $71 million while Trump was in office.

Donald Trump’s luxury Washington hotel lost more than $70 million while he was in office despite reaping millions in payments from foreign governments, according to federal documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday.

carolyn maloney oThe committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, released hundreds of pages of financial documents on the property Friday that it received from the General Services Administration, the agency that leased the federally owned property to Trump’s company beginning in 2013.

Maloney and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) allege the documents show that Trump received an estimated $3.7 million from foreign governments and received preferential treatment from Deutsche Bank when the bank allowed Trump to defer payments for six years on the principal of the property’s $170 million loan.

The findings “raise new and troubling questions about former President Trump’s lease with GSA and the agency’s ability to manage the former President’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant,” the two Democrats said in a news release.

Maloney and Connolly also wrote a 27-page letter Friday to GSA administrator Robin Carnahan saying the documents warranted further investigation.

Previous reporting from The Washington Post showed the 263-room property was running about half empty and losing money, but the documents provide by far the most detailed accounting to date of the hotel and how Trump won the contract for the lease in 2013.

huffington post logoHuffPost, Donald Trump’s IRS Commissioner Has Been A Great Team Player For Democrats, Arthur Delaney, Oct. 8, 2021. The man who once shielded Trump's tax returns has been an ally on social policy and tax enforcement.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig is serving a five-year term that began during the Trump administration. Unlike with some other Trump holdovers, President Joe Biden has decided to stick with him.

Democrats did not love Charles Rettig when he was Donald Trump’s IRS commissioner. One lawmaker even said he was so bad he literally belonged in jail.

irs logoBut Democrats like Rettig now that he’s Joe Biden’s IRS commissioner, and nobody has clamored for him to be fired like some other holdovers from the Trump administration.

The IRS is pivotal to Democrats’ domestic policy agenda, and Rettig has been doing his job with gusto ― not only making sure millions of child tax credit payments go out each month, but also helping the Biden administration in its push for much stronger IRS enforcement.

Several congressional Democrats praised Rettig to HuffPost, saying they have a good working relationship and that he’s a competent administrator.

“His work on the implementation of the child tax credit expansion has been important, as it is one of the most transformative policies to come out of Washington in generations,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said.

Rettig, 64, doesn’t have much of a political background, having enjoyed a long career representing wealthy clients under IRS audit before Donald Trump tapped him to head the IRS, an agency Republicans have vilified for decades.
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Early on, Rettig sent an important signal about how he would do the job.

During his confirmation hearing in 2018, Rettig said he hoped to “put a significant dent in the tax gap,” the revenue that the IRS misses mostly because of nonpayment by wealthy folks like his former clients, whose income often isn’t reported on regular payroll forms. The tax gap isn’t a huge priority for Republicans, but Rettig also said he wanted to modernize the IRS computer system and that he would resist political pressure. Fifteen Democrats ultimately joined with all Republicans that year in voting to confirm him as commissioner.

“People change their attitudes when their job is on the line.”
- Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)

Some of the good vibes dissipated after Democrats won the House of Representatives and asked Rettig to hand over copies of Trump’s tax returns, per a federal law that says the Treasury Department “shall” furnish any returns that tax policy committees request.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — the Cabinet official overseeing the IRS at the time — stepped in to deny the request, which had been directed to Rettig. Under questioning from Democrats on Capitol Hill, Rettig tried to stay out of it, noting that the IRS is a mere bureau of the Treasury.

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

ny times logoNew York Times, With Biden Agenda at Stake, Activists Target Sinema, Dividing Democrats, Luke Broadwater, Oct. 8, 2021. Progressive activists have adopted more aggressive tactics against Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona as she declined to answer questions. In the days after cellphone camera-toting protesters trailed Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona into a university restroom to confront her for opposing parts of President Biden’s agenda, top Senate Democrats drafted a statement of outrage on behalf of their centrist colleague.

“Following someone into a bathroom and filming the encounter is plainly inappropriate, and it crosses a clear line,” the senators wrote. “What happened in that video was a clear violation of Senator Sinema’s privacy that has no place in our public discourse, and we resolutely condemn it.”

But the statement was never released. Senator Bernie Sanders, the progressive independent from Vermont, refused to sign after other Democrats rebuffed his demand that it include a call for Ms. Sinema to embrace Mr. Biden’s multitrillion-dollar social safety net, education, climate and tax plan. The letter organizers then decided against sending out the message of support for a senator who has angered some of her constituents by refusing to meet with them or answer their questions.

axios logoThe flap, reported earlier by Axios, reflects a broader dispute among Democrats about how to navigate internal divisions over Mr. Biden’s agenda, how aggressively to confront party holdouts standing in the way of his plans, and what the best strategy is for delivering on their promises to their progressive base.

It is unfolding at a time of maximum stakes for the president and his party, as they assemble a sprawling domestic policy package that could be their final opportunity to enact crucial priorities and muscle them through Congress while they retain unified control of Washington.

 

djt hands up mouth open Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: This confirms Donald Trump has no future in politics, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 8, 2021. To hear a number of major media pundits (on the left and bill palmerright) tell it, Donald Trump has already magically locked up the 2024 Republican nomination for President, and he has a good chance of winning the White House as well. Of course this just happens to be the perfect doomsday narrative for helping the media boost its sagging ratings in 2021, so of course it’s being pushed loudly, regardless of whether it’s realistic or not. But what does the factual truth say?

bill palmer report logo headerNew polling from Pew Research, which falls roughly in line with previous polling from other outlets, says that while 67% of Republicans want Donald Trump to remain involved in the Republican Party, just 44% of them want him to run in 2024. Given that no other Republican has emerged as a clear 2024 alternative, this means that a majority of Republicans would rather anyone be the nominee but Trump.

Given Trump’s massive name recognition at this early stage and a total lack of declared 2024 Republican candidates, this number is devastating for him. It makes clear that while most remaining Republican voters are still aligned with Trump’s garbage views and criminal behavior, most of them have now decided that Trump is washed up and isn’t viable in 2024.

republican elephant logoWhat’s interesting is that Trump keeps making moves in 2021 aimed at vaguely pretending that he’s going to end up being a candidate in 2024, such as launching a Super PAC, so he can keep shoveling money in his pockets. But given that even most of his own fans are saying they don’t want him to run 2024, donations to his faux-campaign could end up being a lot less than what he’s hoping for.

In any case, this polling makes clear that Donald Trump is done in politics. Republican voters don’t want to have to relive another four years of his ineptitude and failures. Instead they want a new bullshitter to come along who talks like Trump and behaves like Trump, but isn’t Trump, and therefore doesn’t have Trump’s baggage. This isn’t anything new for Republicans; they always end up wanting someone shiny and new to sell them the same old convenient lies that they’re addicted to. Unfortunately for Trump, even his own supporters now see him as too compromised to be able to effectively sell them those lies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Democrats See Three Governor’s Races as Critical for Fair Elections, Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.).  Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania all have Democratic governors and G.O.P.-led legislatures that are pushing hard to rewrite election laws. At stake are how easy it is to vote, who controls the electoral system and, some Democrats worry, whether results will be accepted no matter who wins.

In three critical battleground states, Democratic governors have blocked efforts by Republican-controlled legislatures to restrict voting rights and undermine the 2020 election.

tom wolf o CustomNow, the 2022 races for governor in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — states that have long been vital to Democratic presidential victories, including Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s — are taking on major new significance.

gretchen whitmer o smile CustomAt stake are how easy it is to vote, who controls the electoral system and, some Democrats worry, whether the results of federal, state and local elections will be accepted no matter which party wins.

That has left Govs. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, right, and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, above left, standing alone, in what is already expected to be a difficult year for their party, as what Democrats view as a sea wall against a rising Republican tide of voting restrictions and far-reaching election laws.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinions Thanks to McConnell, even Biden is losing faith in the filibuster, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). No one in Washington ej dionne w open neckdisputes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s cleverness, his understanding of Senate rules or his skill at tying Democrats in political and procedural knots.

But this time, the Kentucky Republican’s cleverness may have caught up with him. By risking economic havoc in refusing to give Democrats a clean chance to suspend the debt ceiling, McConnell may destroy the very arrangements that have afforded him so much power.

Until this week, McConnell, left, could count on President Biden’s affection for Senate traditions to keep in place a filibuster that vastly enhances the minority party’s power by requiring 60 votes to pass most measures, and not the simple majority our Constitution’s authors envisioned.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedAs long as Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years, opposed filibuster reform, there was little chance that Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — the adjudicators of just about everything in today’s 50-50 Senate — would reconsider their embrace of it.

But late Tuesday, Biden met McConnell’s hardball with some hardball of his own. Asked by a reporter if Democrats should consider altering the filibuster rules to get a debt-ceiling vote through, the president replied: “Oh, I think that’s a real possibility.”

Bang! With seven words, Biden brought home the profound irrationality of our current governing system.

It’s not just that the debt ceiling is a useless relic of the debates around the financing of World War I. It’s also that the filibuster of old has been transformed through abuse into a barrier to normal governing.

Just look at the numbers. From 1917 through 1970 (53 years), there were only 58 cloture motions to shut off filibusters. From 1971 to 2006 (35 years), there were 928 cloture motions. From 2007 to now (14 years), there have been 1,410 cloture motions.

Today’s filibuster is far removed from Senate “traditions.” Manchin and Sinema want to restore some comity to the Senate. Good idea, and changing the filibuster rules is the right path to that end.

By Wednesday afternoon, McConnell seemed to feel the heat. To take pressure off his caucus, he offered Democrats a path to raise the debt ceiling temporarily into December. Senate Democrats saw the move as McConnell blinking.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than a dozen prominent Trump allies to host fundraiser for Ohio congressional candidate facing domestic violence allegations, Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.).  Several of the co-hosts declined to comment when asked whether they still plan to attend in light of the accusations against former Trump White House aide Max Miller, who through his lawyer has denied the allegations.

More than a dozen high-profile Republicans are co-hosting a fundraiser next week for Max Miller, an Ohio congressional candidate and former Trump White House aide who faces allegations of domestic violence.

In a Washington Post op-ed, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, right, on Tuesday accused her former boyfriend of being violent toward her during Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).their time working in the White House. She did not name him. But within hours of the piece’s publication online, Miller sued Grisham, alleging defamation. Through his lawyer, he denied the allegations.

According to an invitation obtained by The Washington Post, the fundraiser will take place in Alexandria, Va., on Oct. 13. News of the event was first reported by Politico.

The main hosts listed on the invitation are Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Mercedes Schlapp, the former White House director of strategic communications.

More than a dozen other Republicans, many of whom have close ties to former president Donald Trump, are also listed. They include Reps. Ronny Jackson (Tex.) and Billy Long (Mo.), former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.

One of the co-hosts, Bondi, said Wednesday that she still plans to attend the fundraiser.

“I have full faith Max Miller will be a great congressman for Ohio,” Bondi said in a text message. “I have not read Grisham’s book, nor will I, because it was intended to hurt many good people including Melania Trump.”

Bondi recently replaced former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as head of the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC, after a Trump donor accused Lewandowski of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a charity event in Las Vegas. Lewandowski’s lawyer denied the allegations.

Related Recent Headlines:

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The political craziness in Idaho, Aaron Blake, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). There is no shortage of Republican lawmakers seeking to out-provoke each other in the service of appealing to the party’s Trumpian base — with the troll-off in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary high on that list.

But perhaps nothing compares to the craziness in Idaho these days.

Twice now, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) has seized upon the absence of Gov. Brad Little (R) from the state to try to push through a pet policy of the far right — despite the fact that Little can just as quickly reverse the orders when he returns.

washington post logo

Washington Post, Marines link accident at sea that killed 9 to burnout from pandemic, border duties, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). A new investigation into the drowning of nine U.S. service members last year says that senior commanders responsible for ensuring troops’ safety failed to keep up with mounting demands imposed on them due to the coronavirus pandemic, the prospect of war with Iran and President Donald Trump’s militarization of the southern border.

Department of Defense SealReleased Wednesday, the report does not excuse those Marine Corps officials whose lack of oversight was faulted previously in the sinking of a 26-ton amphibious assault vehicle during predeployment training off the California coast. Rather, it scrutinizes what a senior military leader determined were other contributing factors. Lt. Gen. Carl Mundy III said it would be “a mistake to discount or overlook” the demands on commanders, their staffs and rank-and-file troops ahead of the disaster on July 30, 2020.

“The claims on their time and attention surfaced in a number of interviews with several senior officers who described the conditions during this period as second only to their experience in combat,” Mundy wrote.

Numerous Marine officers were removed from their jobs after the incident, including Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi, who at the time was the commanding general of 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine Corps investigators previously found that the deaths were “preventable,” with complacency, shoddy maintenance and inspections, and inadequate training all leading to the tragedy.

The results of this latest Marine Corps investigation were released along with the findings of a parallel Navy inquiry that uncovered communication problems between the services on the day of the disaster, in which the armored ship-to-shore transport craft took on water and sank off the coast of San Clemente Island while returning to the USS Somerset.

Business Insider, Stephanie Grisham says when Trump 'needed someone to tell him how awesome he was' he'd call Matt Gaetz, who would 'sing for his supper,' Eliza matt gaetz officialRelman, Oct. 7, 2021. Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary, wrote in her new memoir that White House staffers believed Rep. Matt Gaetz "would do anything" for former President Donald Trump.

Grisham said Trump's aides would get Gaetz, a Florida Republican, on the phone to give the president pep talks or run interference on news shows.

"We all knew that whenever Trump needed someone to defend him on TV on anything, Gaetz was our boy," Grisham wrote in "I'll Take Your Questions Now."

She went on: "He would do anything for Trump and a TV hit — though not necessarily in that order. When the president needed someone to tell him how awesome he was, the staff would get Gaetz on the line and he'd sing for his supper."

The Florida congressman, who is facing a federal sex-trafficking investigation on suspicion of paying a 17-year-old girl for sex, has long been closely allied with Trump. At one point during Trump's presidency, Gaetz signed a letter nominating Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize. Two sources told The New York Times in an April report that shortly before Trump left office, Gaetz privately asked the White House for a preemptive pardon for any crimes he may have committed. Trump has said Gaetz never asked him for a pardon, and the congressman has denied the sex-trafficking allegations.

Gaetz told Insider that Trump "relied" on him more as a messenger than he did Grisham, who never held a press briefing while in the White House.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Bernie Sanders’s curious talking point on Manchin and Sinema, Aaron Blake, Oct. 7, 2021. It’s Bernie vs Manchin as spending breakthrough remains elusive.

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More On U.S. Courts, Crime, Police, Civil Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why is a prominent federal judge hiring a law clerk who said she hates Black people? Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 8, 2021. For a graduating ruth marcus twitter Customlaw student, a clerkship with a federal appeals court judge is a glittering credential. With the right judge, it can be a steppingstone to the most sought-after credential of all, a clerkship at the Supreme Court itself. One of those reliable “feeder” judges is William H. Pryor Jr., chief judge of the 11th Circuit and on Donald Trump’s original shortlist for the Supreme Court.

Pryor has just selected his next crop of law clerks, including Crystal Clanton of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, a development first reported by the legal website Above the Law.

Clanton, 26, is Pryor’s first clerk from Scalia, according to a list published by the school, but she is notable for another reason: racist comments she appears to have made years ago when working for the conservative youth group Turning Point USA.

“I hate black people. Like f--- them all … I hate blacks. End of story,” Clanton, then the group’s national field director, wrote in a text message to a fellow Turning Point employee unearthed by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer in 2017. (Her version was unexpurgated.)

In an email to Mayer then, Clanton wrote, “I have no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.” It’s not clear how old Clanton was when she wrote the text.

Clanton left Turning Point right after Mayer’s story appeared, and ended up working for conservative activist Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom she had met while at Turning Point.

Pryor has sent on law clerks to every conservative justice except Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and most of those have worked for Thomas, who over the years has selected an astonishing 13 Pryor clerks.

And this is the truly worrisome part of the Clanton story: that a sitting federal judge is credentialing someone with this kind of hateful statement in her background, and perhaps grooming her for a post that’s even more important, a Supreme Court clerkship.

It gives me no pleasure to focus on Clanton, who did not respond to requests for comment. I have daughters her age, one of whom happens to be in law school. We all do stupid things when we are young, and some of us do terrible things. We should allow some space for repentance and forgiveness.

But there is no evidence of repentance here, and her reported comments are astonishing in their savagery. This is not a case of a racial slur directed in anger at a single individual — not that such conduct would be in any way acceptable. This is even worse: animus expressed toward an entire race.

Nor was this an isolated outburst. The year after the New Yorker story, the website Mediaite, reporting on Clanton’s hiring by Ginni Thomas, described a Snapchat message featuring “a photo of a man who appears to be Arab and a caption written by Clanton that reads, ‘Just thinking about ways to do another 9/11.’”

Someone who writes such things would not be hired in my private-sector workplace or most others, unless I miss my guess. Moreover, judicial clerkships are federal positions, paid for by taxpayer dollars, where dispensing equal justice under the law is job one.

And federal judges are called on to interpret and enforce the law impartially. Ask yourself: How do Black litigants — or Black lawyers — with cases before Pryor have confidence of a fair ruling in their cases with a clerk with Clanton’s record waiting in chambers? How do litigants in employment discrimination or voting rights cases have confidence that they will be treated equally in his court?

Indeed, there is a reasonable question about whether someone who has expressed these views and not apologized should be admitted to law school, let alone the bar; after all, state bars generally require evidence of good moral character.

In Virginia, where Clanton attends law school, that includes any “conduct that reflects adversely upon the character or fitness of an applicant,” although in making that assessment bar officials take into account the applicant’s age at the time of the conduct and “evidence of rehabilitation.”

Did Pryor know of Clanton’s texts before he hired her? Do her comments concern him? If not, why not? I put those questions to Pryor by email. I haven’t heard back.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department won’t pursue federal charges against Wisconsin officer in shooting of Jacob Blake, David Nakamura, Oct. 8, 2021. Authorities cited a lack of evidence that Rusten Sheskey used excessive force during the incident, which sparked protests earlier this year.

The Justice Department said Friday that it would not seek federal criminal civil rights charges against police officer Rusten Sheskey of Kenosha, Wis., in the shooting of a Black man last summer that reignited social-justice protests.

The department said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Sheskey used excessive force. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in January that his office would not seek charges against Sheskey, who had been on administrative leave since the shooting. He returned to the job in April and was not disciplined by the police department.

Jacob Blake, now 30, was left partially paralyzed after Sheskey, who is White, fired seven times into his back as Blake attempted to enter a sport utility vehicle that he had been driving during the August 2020 incident.

Before a fatal shooting, teenage Kenosha suspect idolized police

In his written report, Graveley said Blake was carrying an open knife in his right hand. The report also says video footage showed Blake carrying a knife. Blake’s uncle disputed the characterization that he was brandishing the weapon, while an attorney for the family described Blake as posing no threat.

The shooting set off a week of demonstrations in Kenosha, which in turn led to the fatal shootings of two men, allegedly by a 17-year-old who traveled 20 miles from his home to join armed men claiming to protect businesses in the city from rioters.

When he announced that he would not charge Sheskey early this year, Gravely said Blake’s encounter with the police was prompted when a woman called 911 to report him, and would be viewed as a domestic-abuse case based on the call and prior contacts between Blake and the woman, who was his girlfriend.

ny times logoNew York Times, Damian Williams, an unassuming figure with stellar credentials, is now the most powerful federal law enforcement official in Manhattan, Benjamin Weiser, Oct. 7, 2021. On Tuesday, Mr. Williams, 41, right, was confirmed by the Senate to be the next United States attorney for the Southern District of New York — a position whose occupants have included future judges, senators, cabinet members and a New York City mayor. The appointment would make Mr. Williams the most powerful federal law enforcement official in Manhattan and, significantly, the first Black person to lead the storied 232-year-old office.

damian williams headshotThe Southern District handles some of the nation’s most complex fraud, terrorism and corruption cases, including prosecutions that reached former President Donald J. Trump’s inner circle. The office is preparing to try Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime companion to Jeffrey Epstein, on sex-trafficking charges (she has pleaded not guilty), and it is investigating Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, Trump lawyer and onetime Southern District U.S. attorney, over his dealings in Ukraine before the 2020 presidential election. He has denied wrongdoing.

Mr. Williams assumes the Southern District’s leadership roughly 16 months after the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer and the ensuing mass protests calling for an end to racism in the criminal justice system.

“Beyond his extraordinary qualifications, Damian is the right person at this time in history to be the U.S. attorney for Manhattan,” said Theodore V. Wells Jr., a Black partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss and one of the nation’s most prominent litigators.

“It’s important for both Blacks and whites to see a person of African-American descent — especially in this time where there’s so much social unrest — in that top job,” Mr. Wells said.

Another issue Mr. Williams will confront is diversity in his office: Of its 232 assistant U.S. attorneys and executives, only seven — including himself — are African American.

Mr. Williams’s ascent follows several years of tumult in the office, which has long guarded its independence from Washington, earning it the nickname the Sovereign District.

Two of the previous four top Southern District prosecutors were fired by the Trump administration, most recently last year when the office was rocked by the dismissal of Geoffrey S. Berman after Attorney General William P. Barr tried unsuccessfully to replace him with a political ally. The New York Times has also reported that Mr. Barr and other Justice Department officials tried to interfere with some of the office’s key cases and investigations.

Mr. Williams declined to comment for this article, which is based on interviews with more than two dozen of his former colleagues, defense lawyers and others who have known him for years.

 ny times logoNew York Times, 18 Ex-N.B.A. Players Are Charged in $4 Million Insurance Fraud Scheme, Benjamin Weiser and Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 7, 2021. Federal prosecutors said Glen Davis, Sebastian Telfair and Tony Allen were among the players involved in a plot to file fraudulent medical claims.

The prosecutors said that the former players — and one player’s spouse who was also charged — submitted claims totaling $3.9 million, and they ultimately received about $2.5 million in fraudulent proceeds.

nba logoWhile none of the defendants were superstars, several were well-known players, like the defensive stalwart Tony Allen, and Ronald Glen Davis, who went by his middle name and was nicknamed “Big Baby.” Both played on the Boston Celtics team that won the N.B.A. championship in 2008.

Another defendant, Terrence Williams, who prosecutors said had orchestrated the scheme, found some success during his college years at the University of Louisville but had an unremarkable professional career after being drafted in the first round by the New Jersey Nets in 2009.

Mr. Williams also received kickbacks of at least $230,000 from 10 of the former players accused of participating in the scheme, the indictment said.

Some of the medical claims made by the former players were identical, straining credulity, prosecutors suggested.

Mr. Davis, Mr. Allen and a third defendant, Tony Wroten, for example, all claimed to have had root canals on the same six teeth on the same date in April 2016 — and crowns on those teeth a month later, the indictment said.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right and partisan Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: The Supreme Court’s Pain — and Our Anger, Linda Greenhouse (shown at right on the cover of her memoir, "Just a Journalist"), Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). In January 2001, the Supreme Court linda greenhouse cover just a journalistwas hurting. Thirty-six days after Election Day, on Dec. 12, 2000, the justices had divided 5 to 4 in its vote that stopped the Florida recount and effectively called the presidential election for the Republican candidate, George W. Bush.

In the ensuing weeks, with the court in a monthlong winter recess, justices on both sides of Bush v. Gore fanned out across the world to reassure the public, and perhaps themselves, that normal life at the Supreme Court would resume.

Two decades later, as a new Supreme Court term begins, the court is hurting again. The majority’s refusal a month ago to prevent Texas from shutting down access to legal abortion while lower courts weigh challenges to the state’s bizarre vigilante law — a law paused yesterday night by a federal judge — has once again turned a harsh public spotlight on a 5-to-4 division among the justices. And once again members of the court have taken to the road in defense of the institution’s ability to render impartial justice.

But there is a difference. The justices’ defensiveness comes with an edge. The conservatives appear to have deflected any impulse toward self-examination to a critique of how the media has covered the court’s recent actions. The problem isn’t the court, in other words, it’s those who presume to explain the court to the public.

Three polls within the past month show that fewer than a third of Americans want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade. Yet it appears that only a third of the justices can be counted on to preserve the right to abortion as defined by the court’s current precedents. The culture war that brought us to this point may acquire another tangible manifestation as women unlucky enough to live in red states are forced to travel hundreds of miles from home to exercise what for 50 years was their constitutional right.

ny times logoNew York Times, An Expert on the Criminal Mind, Now He’s Suspected in an Arson Spree, Thomas Fuller and Livia Albeck-Ripka, Oct. 8, 2021. A criminology professor was charged with setting fire to part of the Sierra Nevada forest amid several arson incidents in Northern California this year.

He drove out of the Lumberjacks restaurant parking lot on a Tuesday in August, up Main Street, past the fire station and the gun shop. Then, Gary Maynard left the small city of Susanville in the northeastern corner of California and headed up a steep highway into the Sierra Nevada, where, prosecutors say, he set the forest ablaze.

Mr. Maynard, a criminology professor who specializes in deviancy, now sits in a Sacramento jail awaiting a hearing. The crime expert, investigators say, became a criminal himself.

 

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Liberal Activist Who Targets Republicans With a MAGA Masquerade, Trip Gabriel, Oct. 7, 2021. Pretending to be like-minded, Lauren Windsor has generated headlines by coaxing conservatives into making revealing statements about their views. Mike Pence told her, “I love your heart.”

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio confided in her that Donald J. Trump would soon announce he was running again for president in 2024.

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia, revealed to her that he could not publicly press his anti-abortion agenda for fear of losing independent voters.

All of them made these comments to Lauren Windsor, a liberal activist who has turned a hidden camera, a Tennessee drawl and a knack for disarming her targets with words of sympathetic conservatism into a loaded political weapon.

Posing as a true believer — in Mr. Trump or a stolen 2020 election — Ms. Windsor approaches Republican leaders at party gatherings and tries to coax them into revealing things that they might wish to keep in the G.O.P. family.

Since late last year, as she has traveled widely around the country, several of her recordings have generated headlines.

Her encounter in December 2020 with Tommy Tuberville, then a senator-elect from Alabama, elicited the first real evidence that some Republicans in the Senate would reject the Electoral College votes certifying Mr. Biden’s victory, a move based on groundless claims of fraud. “We’re going to have to do it in the Senate,” Mr. Tuberville told Ms. Windsor after a speech, as an aide hustled him away.

“More Republicans should follow his lead,” Mr. Trump tweeted after the recording was uploaded. Eight G.O.P. senators including Mr. Tuberville ended up voting on Jan. 6 to overturn the election results, even after rioters stormed the Capitol that day.

Ms. Windsor, 40, calls herself an “advocacy journalist,” though her methods fall beyond the pale of mainstream journalism, where reporters generally shy away from assuming false identities and secretly recording conversations.

She says her stings are justified by Republicans’ efforts to spread disinformation about the election and to weaken the nation’s democratic underpinnings through restrictive new voting laws and measures taking greater control over how elections are run.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” she said in an interview. Assuming a false identity, she argued, can produce a truer record of a politician’s views. “Acting like you’re one of them — you’re going to elicit different answers than if you have a reporter in somebody’s face and they know you’re a journalist.”

While Ms. Windsor’s videos are often picked up by left-leaning news outlets, the political impact of them can be limited. Some of her Republican targets dismiss her videos as nothing they haven’t said before, in so many words.

The bait she dangles to draw out a response can be highly tendentious. “This is a Christian state, and Democrats are not Christian,” she told a cowboy-hatted Texas legislator in the Capitol in Austin.

Claiming to have been at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, she challenged Mr. Pence about why he didn’t “stop the election from being stolen.” The former vice president didn’t bite: “Read the Constitution,” he said, before offering parting praise of her “heart.”

A spokesman for Mr. Youngkin, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, denied he had said anything privately that he had not uttered publicly, even though he told Ms. Windsor that he had to be discreet about his anti-abortion views. “When I’m governor and I have a majority in the House, we can start going on offense,” he said to her in their encounter. “But as a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get.”

Her practices have drawn inevitable comparisons to the right-wing gotcha squad Project Veritas, but she says there are crucial differences.

While Project Veritas has embedded moles in left-leaning groups and Democratic campaigns, Ms. Windsor says she avoids such methods.

She makes her undercover recordings at public events in brief encounters. She usually uploads the full interaction to her YouTube page, The Undercurrent, or in segments on Twitter (which limits a video’s length).

And while Project Veritas has often targeted unknown junior staff members, Ms. Windsor says she tends to set her sights on senior Republican officials.

Ms. Windsor also ha