June 2022 News, Views

 

 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative news and view in June 2022

 

June 30

Top Headlines

 

More On U.S. Courts' Radical Activism

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

 

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

World News, Global Human Rights

 

U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

More On Ukraine War

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Pandemic, Public Health, Disasters 

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

Media, Religion, Education, Sports News

 

Top Stories

 

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 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, Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.’s Authority on Emissions, Adam Liptak, June 30, 2022. The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.

epa general logoThe vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent, saying that the majority had stripped the E.P.A. of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

The decision appeared to rule out approaches to regulation like a cap-and-trade system at a time when experts are issuing dire warnings on climate change.

The ruling further signals that the court’s conservative majority is deeply skeptical of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues.

The “major questions doctrine” requires Congress to authorize in plain and direct language any sweeping actions by administrative agencies that could transform the economy.

The doctrine, a judicially created principle of statutory interpretation, follows from the premise that Congress, as the Supreme Court put it in a 2001 decision, “does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions — it does not, one might say, hide elephants in mouse holes.”

 joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden chastises court, backs setting aside filibuster to codify abortion rights, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro, June 30, 2022. Today, President Biden chastised the Supreme Court for “outrageous behavior” and said he would support an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it easier to write abortion protections into law.

Biden, speaking on the world stage in Madrid, called the court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade “destabilizing” and said an exception should be made to a Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.

Meanwhile, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is poised Thursday to make history, becoming the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is scheduled to be sworn in during a ceremony at the court at noon Eastern time, just minutes after Justice Stephen G. Breyer makes his retirement official. Biden’s nominee was confirmed by the Senate in April but has been waiting for Breyer to conclude his tenure.

Before the ceremony, the court is expected to issue its final two opinions of a highly significant term. The remaining cases concern the “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy enacted under President Donald Trump and the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

scotus gop six

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court lets N.Y. vaccine mandate stand without religious exemption, Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, June 30, 2022. Three conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, objected to their colleagues’ refusal to review the state’s requirement.

Over the objection of three justices, the Supreme Court on Thursday left in place New York’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for health-care workers that does not include a religious exemption.

The court’s action came on the final day of the term, as the justices also announced which cases they will review when the court reconvenes in October. Notably, they declined to take additional cases concerning significant rulings this month to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion and expand the right to carry firearms in public. Instead, the justices returned to lower courts more than a half-dozen related matters and instructed those judges to look again at their rulings on the basis of the Supreme Court’s new guidance.

In the New York vaccination case, the court had rejected in December an emergency request from doctors, nurses and other medical workers who said they were being forced to choose between their livelihoods and their faith. They said they should receive a religious exemption because the state’s rule allows one for those who decline the vaccine for medical reasons.

 

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris introduce at a White House ceremony Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson, center, a judge on the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals (pool photo, Feb. 25, 2022).

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris introduce at a White House ceremony Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson, center, a judge on the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals (pool photo, Feb. 25, 2022). She is shown below at right on June 30 with the retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, whom she replaced.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes First Black Female Supreme Court Justice, Annie Karni, June 30, 2022. Ketanji Brown Jackson took the judicial oath just after noon on Thursday, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Justice Jackson, 51, was confirmed in April, when the Senate voted 53 to 47 on her nomination. She is replacing Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 83, who stepped down with the conclusion of the court’s current term.

ketanji brown jackson stephen breyerJustice Jackson took both a constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and a judicial oath, administered by Justice Breyer, making her the nation’s 116th justice and sixth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

The brief swearing-in ceremony took place in the West Conference Room at the Supreme Court, before a small gathering of Judge Jackson’s family, including her two daughters. Her husband, Dr. Patrick G. Jackson, held the two Bibles on which she swore: a family Bible and a King James Version that is the property of the court.

“I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice Roberts said and shook her hand. He added that there would be a formal investiture in the fall, but the oaths would “allow her to undertake her duties, and she’s been anxious to get to them without any further delay.”

Justice Jackson made no statement.

Her rise to the court will not change its ideological balance — the newly expanded conservative wing will retain its 6-to-3 majority.

She joins at a time of sharp polarization about the court, especially in the wake of its ruling striking down Roe v. Wade and ending the constitutional right to abortion, and in the wake of rulings in which the court has shown its deep skepticism of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues facing the country.

Minutes after Justice Jackson’s swearing-in, anti-abortion protesters staging a peaceful sit-in were arrested outside the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration and Justice Jackson have underscored the historic import of her elevation to the nation’s highest court.

 

scotus democracy docket state legs

washington post logoWashington Post, A radical change in how federal elections are conducted will be reviewed in court’s next term, Robert Barnes, June 30, 2022. The justices will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map rejected by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider what would be a radical change in the way federal elections are conducted, giving state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for contests even if their actions violated state constitutions and resulted in extreme partisan gerrymandering for congressional seats.

The court will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map that was drawn by the GOP-led legislature but rejected as a violation of the state constitution by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court in March let the North Carolina high court ruling stand for the upcoming fall elections. But three of the court’s conservative justices at the time said they were skeptical state courts had a role in refereeing the rules for federal elections, and a fourth said the issue was ripe for consideration.

Supreme Court rejects GOP request to overturn congressional maps in NC, Pennyslvania

State courts have played an influential role in the congressional redistricting battles following the 2020 Census. Judges have reined in Republican gerrymanders in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, for instance, and rejected maps drawn by Democratic-led legislatures in New York and Maryland.

But the effort to have the Supreme Court examine what is called the independent state legislature doctrine has been a Republican-led effort. The GOP controls both houses of the legislature in 30 states.

The doctrine comes from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” While most often invoked in the redistricting process, the independent state legislature doctrine would also give lawmakers control over issues such as voter qualification, voting by mail and other election procedures.

Politico, Analysis:The conservative Supreme Court is just getting warmed up, Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, June 30, 2022. Affirmative action, voting rights and state power over elections are on the line next.

The massive jolt the new conservative Supreme Court supermajority delivered to the political system last week by overturning Roe v. Wade could just be the beginning.

politico CustomThe next targets could include voting rights, state courts’ power over elections, affirmative action and laws banning discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Even as the justices wrapped up their work and began their summer break Thursday following an unusually rocky term, the court signaled that its poor standing with the public won’t deter justices from taking up ideologically-charged disputes that could sow havoc in American politics.

In addition to overturning a nearly half-century-long federal right to an abortion, the court struck down gun-licensing laws in the most populous states, expanded state funding for religious schools, broadened the rights of public-school employees to pray publicly at work and halted lower court orders requiring two states to redraw congressional boundaries to give minority voters a better chance of electing candidates of their choice.

“What the court did just on abortion, guns and congressional power in the last eight days—that alone is momentous [but] if these justices stay together over the next few years, I don’t even think the first shoe has dropped,” University of California at Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen said. “There’s so much more the Supreme Court could do to change American society.”

On Thursday, minutes after dealing a severe blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce power-plant emissions to combat climate change, the high court announced it will take up a case from North Carolina next term that could give state legislatures vast power to draw district lines and set election rules even if state courts, commissions or executive officials disagree.

The so-called independent state legislature theory has lingered at the fringes of election-law debates for years, but was seized upon by former President Donald Trump in 2020 in his unsuccessful efforts to overturn Biden’s win.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory,” Hasen said. “It could have some far-reaching and unintended consequences.”

 

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

ny times logoNew York Times, Aide’s Testimony Highlights Legal Risk for Trump, Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush, Updated June 29, 2022. Experts Say Revelations Could Be Path Toward Future Charges.

It was one of the most dramatic moments in a presentation filled with them: Just before President Donald J. Trump went onstage near the White House last year and urged his supporters to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol, an aide testified on Tuesday, he was told that some of them were armed.

Justice Department log circularIt was also a potentially consequential moment for any prosecution of Mr. Trump, legal experts said. Knowing that his crowd of supporters had the means to be violent when he exhorted them to march to the Capitol — and declared that he wanted to go with them — could nudge Mr. Trump closer to facing criminal charges, legal experts said.

“This really moved the ball significantly, even though there is still a long way to go,” said Renato Mariotti, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor in Illinois.

Knowing that his supporters were armed when he urged them to march on Jan. 6 could expose former President Trump to charges, legal experts said.

The testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, chipped away at any potential defense that Mr. Trump was just expressing views about election fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee subpoenas former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). The decision follows testimony from former aide Cassidy Hutchinson that identified the lawyer as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House. Committee members have come to believe that the former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation.

pat cipollone file croppedThe House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Wednesday evening after blockbuster testimony from a former aide identified the lawyer as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House.

The decision followed extensive negotiations between Cipollone, right, and the committee, as well as sharply escalating pressure on him in recent days to come forward and testify. Committee members have come to believe that the former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation, given his proximity to Trump and presence during key moments before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The subpoena is likely to trigger a lengthy legal battle.

Cipollone sat for an informal interview with the committee on April 13, according to a letter from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), but he has declined to cooperate further.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Russian forces withdraw from Snake Island; Biden speaks at NATO summit, David Walker, Jennifer Hassan, Bryan Pietsch and Amy Cheng, June 30, 2022.  Analysis: Did Putin inadvertently create a stronger NATO? Finland, Sweden to sign NATO accession protocol Tuesday; Zelensky thanks Britain for additional $1.2 billion to Ukraine.

Russia’s defense ministry says its forces have withdrawn from Snake Island, a highly contested island in the Black Sea that Russia occupied soon after its February invasion. Moscow framed the move as an effort to create a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from Ukraine. Officials in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, however, said Russian troops had evacuated following missile and artillery strikes.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded 144 prisoners each in an exchange that saw the return of some Ukrainian fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant during a brutal siege before Russia seized control of Mariupol. Meanwhile, Russian forces are continuing their offensive operations around Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, where regional governor Serhiy Haidai said 15,000 civilians remain as evacuation efforts continue. “The city itself is under constant fire,” Haidai said.

NATO leaders are meeting Thursday in Madrid for a third and final day. President Biden announced at the gathering Wednesday that the United States will increase its military presence in Europe, citing Russia’s invasion. The new deployments will include a permanent headquarters for the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland.

Here’s what else to know

  • Finland and Sweden are expected to formally sign the NATO accession protocol on Tuesday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin still intends to capture most of Ukraine and the war is likely to grind on, top U.S. intelligence official Avril Haines said.
  • Syria said it will recognize the independence of two self-declared breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine that are aligned with Russia.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Ukraine Drives Russian Forces From Snake Island, a Setback for Moscow, June 30, 2022. The retreat came after sustained Ukrainian attacks, including with newly arrived Western weapons, and could undermine Russia’s control over shipping lanes.

 

More On U.S. Supreme Court's Radical Activism

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: The ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency case is the product of a multiyear G.O.P. drive to tilt courts against climate action, Coral Davenport, June 30, 2022. The case decided on Thursday, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming.

Coming up through the federal courts are more climate cases, some featuring novel legal arguments, each carefully selected for its potential to reduce the government’s ability to regulate industries and businesses that produce greenhouse gases.

“The West Virginia vs. E.P.A. case is unusual, but it’s emblematic of the bigger picture. A.G.s are willing to use these unusual strategies more,” said Paul Nolette, a professor of political science at Marquette University who has studied state attorneys general.

The plaintiffs say they want to hem in what they call the administrative state, the E.P.A. and other federal agencies that set rules and regulations that affect the American economy. That should be the role of Congress, which is more accountable to voters, said Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general and one of the leaders of the Republican group bringing the lawsuits.

But Congress has barely addressed the issue of climate change. Instead, for decades it has delegated authority to the agencies because it lacks the expertise possessed by the specialists who write the complicated rules and regulations, and who can respond quickly to changes in the science, particularly when Capitol Hill is gridlocked.

West Virginia v. E.P.A. is also notable for the tangle of connections between the plaintiffs and the Supreme Court justices who will decide their case. The Republican plaintiffs share many of the donors who were behind efforts to nominate and confirm five of the Republicans on the bench — John G. Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

“It’s a pincer move,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the progressive watchdog group True North Research and a former senior Justice Department official. “They are teeing up the attorneys to bring the litigation before the same judges that they handpicked.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are the major Supreme Court decisions in 2022 so far, Adam Liptak and Jason Kao, Updated June 30, 2022. The leak in May of a draft of the decision overruling Roe v. Wade seemed to expose new fault lines at the Supreme Court in the first full term in which it has been dominated by a 6-to-3 conservative supermajority, including three justices appointed by President Donald J. Trump. The court’s public approval ratings have been dropping, and its new configuration has raised questions about whether it is out of step with public opinion.

According to a recent survey from researchers at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Texas, the public is closely divided on how the court should rule in several major cases. In many of them, though, respondents held starkly different views based on their partisan affiliations. Here is a look at the major cases this term.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Dobbs Is Not the Only Reason to Question the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court, Ezra Klein, June 30, 2022. Since the Dobbs decision came down, I’ve heard a lot of liberals lamenting the Republican theft of the Supreme Court.

As the story goes, Mitch McConnell stole the majority when he refused to give Merrick Garland so much as a hearing in 2016, holding the vacancy open until Donald Trump took office in 2017. McConnell’s justification was his deep commitment to small-d democracy: No seat should be filled in a presidential election year; the people should be given a chance to weigh in. In 2020, he lit that invented principle aflame when he rushed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The vote on Barrett took place eight days before Election Day.

mitch mcconnellMcConnell, right, gaslit the nation, but he didn’t steal any seats. Nothing he did was against the rules, which was why Democrats found themselves powerless to stop him. Liberals, in their anger, have too often ignored the logic of McConnell’s actions. He understood what too many have ignored: America’s age of norms is over. This is the age of power. And there’s a reason for that.

Let’s start here: The Supreme Court has changed. In the ’50s and ’60s, you would have had a hard time inferring a justice’s political background from his votes, as this analysis by Lee Epstein and Eric Posner shows. In the ’90s, Byron White, a Democratic appointee, had a more conservative voting record than all but two of the Republican-appointed justices — Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist. John Paul Stevens, an anchor of the court’s liberal wing until his retirement in 2010, was appointed by Gerald Ford, a Republican.

But this record of independence was understood, by the parties that produced it, as a record of failure. The vetting process by which nominees are chosen was revamped to all but guarantee ideological predictability. In recent years, “justices have hardly ever voted against the ideology of the president who appointed them,” Epstein and Posner find.

Our political system is not designed for political parties this different, and this antagonistic. It wasn’t designed for political parties at all. The three branches of our system were intended to check each other through competition. Instead, parties compete and cooperate across branches, and power in one can be used to build power in another — as McConnell well understood.

Making matters worse is that the Supreme Court has gone from being undemocratic to being anti-democratic. Lifetime appointments are iffy under the best of circumstances, but the vagaries of retirements and deaths have given Republicans a control that makes a mockery of the public will.

Five of the court’s six Republican justices were appointed by presidents who initially took office after losing the popular vote (and, in the case of George W. Bush, after a direct intercession by five of the court’s conservatives in Bush v. Gore). Donald Trump was able to make more appointments in one term than Barack Obama was able to make in two.

ny times logoNew York Times, Wisconsin Court Validates a Republican Strategy to Preserve Power, Michael Wines, June 29, 2022. The Senate’s method wisconsin supreme court seal Customof keeping G.O.P. board members in office, by refusing to confirm replacements nominated by Gov. Tony Evers, was endorsed by a State Supreme Court ruling.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively handed the Republican-controlled State Senate broad authority over the composition of state boards and commissions, three and a half years into the term of a Democratic governor whose duties include naming wisconsin map with largest cities Customboard members.

The ruling allows a Republican member of the state Natural Resources Board whose term expired in May 2021, Frederick Prehn, to keep tony evers ohis position. Dr. Prehn had refused to step down, arguing that a replacement to his post has not been confirmed.

The court’s 4-3 opinion, which fell along ideological lines, turned on a technical question of when the seat on the board would be legally vacant. But its practical effect was to affirm a strategy devised by the State Senate to keep Republican board members in office simply by refusing to confirm replacements nominated by Gov. Tony Evers, right, a Democrat.

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Antiabortion lawmakers want to block patients from crossing state lines, Caroline Kitchener and Devlin Barrett, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Some advocacy groups and their allies are crafting legislative language that could be adopted in Republican-led state capitals.

Several national antiabortion groups and their allies in Republican-led state legislatures are advancing plans to stop people in states where abortion is banned from seeking the procedure elsewhere, according to people involved in the discussions.

The idea has gained momentum in some corners of the antiabortion movement in the days since the Supreme Court struck down its 49-year-old precedent protecting abortion rights nationwide, triggering abortion bans across much of the Southeast and Midwest.

The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal organization, is drafting model legislation for state lawmakers that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a resident of a state that has banned abortion from terminating a pregnancy outside of that state. The draft language will borrow from the novel legal strategy behind a Texas abortion ban enacted last year in which private citizens were empowered to enforce the law through civil litigation.

. But it seems more likely that G.O.P. voters — or at least a critical mass of them — are saying thank you and moving on from Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Think About What the World Was Really Like Before Roe, Gail Collins, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Where do they want to take us?

Think about what the world was like back when women had little or no ability to control reproduction. There was, of course, the spinsterhood option. But as much as later generations venerated Susan B. Anthony, her way of life didn’t have widespread appeal. Most went for marriage, which generally meant centering your life around making your husband happy and your house spick-and-span.

Anything else was … selfishness.

Totally understandable, however, that most women earlier in our history would yearn to be homemakers. By the middle of the 19th century the cities were filling up with lower-income women putting in 13 or 14 hours a day on the job. One of them, Hester Vaughn, became a feminist cause. As suffragists told her story, she was raped by her employer in Philadelphia, left pregnant and abandoned in one cold attic room with no food. Eventually she went into labor alone and was found lying on the floor next to her dead baby. She was tried for infanticide and sentenced to be hanged, then finally pardoned by the governor. Becoming an excellent example of the need for an abortion option.

Maybe it’s not fair to pin Hester Vaughn’s fate on Clarence Thomas, but we ought to look back at the time he seems to feel was a golden era in reproductive rights. We’re talking about the land before Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruling in 1965 that held, in part, that it was unconstitutional for states to ban the sale of contraceptives.

At the time, anyone convicted of using a birth control device in Connecticut — even a married couple already raising six kids — could be sentenced to up to a year in prison. In one of the very few times the matter ever came up for official debate in the state legislature, The Times reported a motion to change the law was defeated on a voice vote that “took less than a minute.”

When it came to abortion, the whole country was talking about Sherri Finkbine, the host of a children’s TV show in Arizona. She was pregnant with her fifth child in 1962 when she discovered that a sedative her husband had brought back from an overseas trip contained thalidomide, and that she’d taken enough to cause damage to the fetus.

Finkbine scheduled an abortion, but she felt obliged to let the world know how dangerous those sedatives could be. Her attempt to be an anonymous source was a total failure, and when her story became public, the hospital canceled her procedure, the courts refused to give her any support and she lost her job hosting “Romper Room.”

Finally, after a lot of publicity, she succeeded in getting an abortion in Sweden, where the physician who performed the procedure said the fetus was massively deformed. But when she returned home, she discovered she’d been deemed “unfit to work with children” by a local TV station.

Obviously things are different now. Nevertheless, overturning Roe has pushed us back in time, and before we get shoved any further it’s a good idea to remember that control over reproduction is at the absolute center of the story of women in the modern world.

When it came to things like employment and careers, the great, cosmic dividing line between men and women was always that employers didn’t have to worry about men becoming pregnant. Then along came contraception. Everything changed and a father who dreamed about having his child take over the family business didn’t fall into despair when he heard the baby was going to be a girl. Soon, new mothers had the joy — and yeah, the challenge — of knowing they’d be able to mesh parenthood with careers of their own.

While nobody’s admitting it, this is what the anti-choice movement wants to retract. Let’s remind the Supreme Court of it every day.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The End of Roe, the End of Trump, Bonnie Kristian (a journalist and a fellow at Defense Priorities, a foreign policy think tank), June 30, 2022. For many backers of former President Donald Trump, Friday’s Supreme Court decision was a long-awaited vindication.

The court’s 6-to-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the landmark 1973 abortion case Roe v. Wade. It’s an outcome made possible by Mr. Trump’s three appointments to the bench — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — and his supporters were quick to thank him for the win and jeer at Never Trumpers who had doubted the president. Dobbs will be “the enduring legacy of President Donald J. Trump,” tweeted Andrew Giuliani, who this week lost the Republican primary for governor of New York, and who is the son of the former Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Conventional wisdom holds that this praise will translate to votes for Mr. Trump for the next Republican presidential nomination. This ruling “will likely be at the heart of his appeal to conservatives if/when he runs for president again in 2024,” argued CNN’s Chris Cillizza shortly after Dobbs dropped. Mr. Trump promptly took credit for the ruling while potential rivals were conspicuously silent.

Predicting voter behavior is often a fool’s errand, and conventional wisdom might prove correct. But it seems more likely that G.O.P. voters — or at least a critical mass of them — are saying thank you and moving on from Mr. Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas attorney general says he would defend sodomy law if court revisits 2003 ruling, Timothy Bella, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the fundamental right to an abortion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) appeared to express support for Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion that the high court could review other precedents that may be deemed “demonstrably erroneous,” including those affecting the LGBTQ community.

One of the cases mentioned by Thomas was Lawrence v. Texas, which prevents states from banning intimate same-sex relationships. The landmark 2003 ruling struck down a 1973 Texas law that criminalized the act of sodomy. But as Roe v. Wade was overturned, Paxton said he would defend the state’s defunct sodomy law if the Supreme Court were to follow Thomas’s remarks and eventually revisits Lawrence.

“I mean, there’s all kinds of issues here, but certainly the Supreme Court has stepped into issues that I don’t think there’s any constitutional provision dealing with,” Paxton said in a Friday interview with NewsNation anchor Leland Vittert. “They were legislative issues, and this is one of those issues, and there may be more. So it would depend on the issue and dependent on what state law had said at the time.”

When asked whether the Texas legislature would pass a similar sodomy law and if Paxton would defend it and bring it to the Supreme Court, the Republican attorney general, who is running for reelection in November, suggested he would be comfortable supporting a law outlawing intimate same-sex relationships.

“Yeah, look, my job is to defend state law, and I’ll continue to do that,” Paxton said to Vittert. “That is my job under the Constitution, and I’m certainly willing and able to do that.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion is illegal for millions. Will Big Tech help prosecute it? Gerrit De Vynck, Caroline O'Donovan, Nitasha Tiku and Elizabeth Dwoskin, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Tech companies share data with police every day. Privacy advocates and some tech employees say that needs to change now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

Even before Roe v. Wade was overturned, tech workers and privacy advocates had a big question: Will Big Tech help in abortion prosecutions by sharing user data with police?

Nearly a week since the Supreme Court decision made abortion illegal for millions of Americans, the companies still haven’t given an answer. And some employees are getting frustrated, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

On Monday, an Amazon employee posted a petition internally that called for “immediate and decisive action against the threat to our basic human rights with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.” Microsoft and Google employees on internal message boards have vented frustration at their leaders’ silence. Some Facebook employees, who were told in May by managers not to discuss abortion on internal platforms, are also angry.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Many Women, Roe Was About More Than Abortion. It Was About Freedom, Julie Bosman, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, some women are reconsidering their plans, including where they live, and wondering how best to channel their anger.

Countless women wept. Some spent the weekend burning white-hot with rage, commiserating with friends and mothers and sisters. Many were fearful, recognizing the feeling of a freedom being taken away and thinking to themselves: This could only get worse.

Millions of American women spent the past five days absorbing the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, erasing the constitutional right to a legal abortion that had held for nearly a half-century.

The decision instantly reordered the lives of women across the country.

Some women, especially conservative Christians, reveled in the decision as a moral and legal victory. But a poll released on Sunday revealed that a sizable majority of women in the United States — 67 percent — opposed the court’s ruling to overturn Roe, and 52 percent of Americans said it was a step backward for the nation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Illinois Abortion Clinics Prepare for a Rush of Patients After Roe, Allison McCann, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). The 67 clinics operating in neighboring states could stop offering abortions or close altogether, sending thousands more patients to Illinois.

illinois mapIllinois is quickly emerging as an island of abortion access for people in the Midwest and the South, as neighboring states move to ban the procedure after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. Providers in the state had been preparing for a surge of people seeking abortion services, but many said this week that they were still overwhelmed by patients’ reactions to the decision.

There were roughly 50,000 abortions performed in Illinois in 2020, and around on

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More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Liz Cheney says Republicans face a choice: Trump or the Constitution, Julian Mark, June 30, 2022. The Wyoming Republican called Trump ‘a domestic threat that we have never faced before.’ Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) rattled off a list Wednesday night of what she considers the biggest threats facing the country, ranging from government regulation to inflation. But one threat looms above all others, she warned: former president Donald Trump.

“At this moment we’re confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before — and that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic,” Cheney said from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

An outspoken Trump critic, Cheney chided GOP members she said have made themselves “willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.” Now, she said, they face a choice.

“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said.

The statement was met with applause.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hutchinson testimony: Assessing the basis for aide’s explosive claims, Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 30, 2022 (print ed.).  Some of her testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, given under oath, was based on firsthand knowledge; other details were relayed secondhand.

Testimony on Tuesday by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was a thunderbolt placed in the hands of the House select committee investigating the pro-Trump riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

But Hutchinson’s testimony has also come under criticism — from former president Donald Trump himself, from his political allies and, obliquely, from the United States Secret Service, which issued a statement Tuesday evening expressing interest in “responding formally and on the record to the committee regarding new allegations that surfaced in today’s testimony.”

In live testimony and clips of her videotaped deposition, Hutchinson recounted a raft of details from the final days of the Trump administration. According to her testimony, which was given under oath, she was an eyewitness to some of these scenes. Other events and conversations, she said, were relayed to her after the fact. In some instances, there’s corroborating evidence for her recollections. Members of the Jan. 6 committee say the cooperation of additional witnesses, in particular former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, would help fill in key details. 

  

The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: Cassidy Hutchinson Changes Everything, Norman Eisen (right, was special counsel to the House Judiciary norman eisen SmallCommittee during the first impeachment of Donald Trump), June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Tuesday’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, the final chief of staff for President Donald Trump, snapped attention back to the Jan. 6 committee in a striking finale to the first stretch of the hearings, which are expected to resume in July.

Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony was certainly a surprise — delivering shocking and consequential revelations — but it has hardly been the only one. The hearings have been packed with them.

Committee members said they wouldn’t play prosecutor before they started. That bit of misdirection has sharpened the surprise of what can plausibly be considered the committee’s prosecutorial approach against the former president.

The committee has repeatedly referred to criminal law and did so again with Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony. For example, she recounted an exchange with the White House counsel Pat Cipollone in which he urged her to make sure Mr. Trump did not go to the Capitol, worried that if he went, it might provoke “charges of every crime imaginable.”

In each hearing, the committee has skillfully built on a foundation of fact.

Is there sufficient evidence for a seditious conspiracy criminal case related to Mr. Trump’s actions and inaction on Jan. 6, like those brought against the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and their leaders? The evidence is powerful but is not yet sufficient to overcome the very high bar of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Trump agreed with the rioters to attack the Capitol. But the new testimony advances proving other possible crimes, like obstruction of Congress, with Mr. Trump’s role in the violence as the culmination of that scheme.

Each hearing has saved a surprise for the end. Last Thursday’s, for example, ended with the revelations that six members of Congress had sought presidential pardons. On Tuesday it was screenshots, presented by Representative Liz Cheney, of messages presumably from supporters of Mr. Trump to witnesses, insinuating that Mr. Trump was watching and “does read transcripts” and “knows you’re loyal.” They showed possible witness tampering and potential obstruction of justice.

The hearings have very gradually introduced villains, first focusing on Mr. Trump, then on legal helpers for his attempted coup, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark. On Tuesday we met a fourth, Mr. Meadows. That is part of how the committee has been so shrewd; it has slowly expanded the cast of characters.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that the hearings seem to be having an impact. That is what polls suggest: In one, three-quarters of voters had heard or read about the investigation, and 60 percent supported it, including a third of Republicans. In another, 58 percent of Americans believed that the former president should be charged with crimes related to his actions on and before Jan. 6. That’s up six percentage points from before the hearings started, and includes almost 20 percent of Republicans.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR),  Investigative Commentary: WMR's initial analysis of January 6th event concluded that it was a coup d'état, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, June 29-July 5, 2022. Two days following what was, at the time, being referred to as a "riot," "violent protest," and "political demonstration" by the corporate media was correctly identified as a coup d'état by WMR.

wayne madesen report logoAlthough many of the facts about the coup were not yet known, this publication drew attention to several indications and warnings that the attack on the U.S. Capitol represented a seditious insurrection against the United States by Donald Trump and his key advisers.

The violent nature of the coup attempt is exemplified by a photograph of one occupier armed with a pistol and carrying a supply of zip ties, also known as flex cuffs, which indicates he and others planned to take hostages. A duffel bag full of the plastic cuffs was found at the northern door to the Capitol. Other rioters were arrested with Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, fire accelerants -- including napalm -- and additional weaponry. Other weapons discovered by the House Select Committee included AR-15 assault rifles, Glock machine pistols, bear spray, and spears.

There may have also been foreign intelligence involvement in the coup. Some rioters who broke a window to gain access to the Capitol were heard speaking fluent Russian. It is now up to the Justice Department to prosecute all the coup participants, foreign and domestic.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Hearings: Hutchinson Testimony Exposes Tensions Between Parallel Inquiries, Glenn Thrush, Luke Broadwater and Michael S. Schmidt, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Lawmakers did not give prosecutors transcripts of interviews with Cassidy Hutchinson before her public testimony, leaving them feeling blindsided.

The explosive testimony of a former Trump White House aide on Tuesday may have increased the likelihood of new prosecutions stemming from the attack on the Capitol, but it also bared lingering conflicts between the Justice Department and congressional investigators.

The federal prosecutors working on the case watched the aide’s appearance before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and were just as astonished by her account of former President Donald J. Trump’s increasingly desperate bid to hold on to power as other viewers. The panel did not provide them with videos or transcripts of her taped interviews with committee members beforehand, according to several officials, leaving them feeling blindsided.

The testimony from the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked for Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, came at a critical moment in parallel investigations that will soon converge, and possibly collide, as the committee wraps up a public inquiry geared for maximum political effect and the department intensifies a high-stakes investigation aimed at securing airtight convictions.

Her revelations ramped up calls that the committee summon a former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who could verify some of her disclosures and who repeatedly resisted efforts to subvert the election. Late Wednesday, the panel said it had subpoenaed Mr. Cipollone after he refused to publicly testify.

Committee members have repeatedly suggested that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has not moved fast enough to follow up their investigative leads. But for reasons that are not entirely clear — classic Washington bureaucratic territorialism, the department’s unwillingness to share information or the desire to stage-manage a successful public forum — members have resisted turning over hundreds of transcripts until they are done with their work.

Senior Justice Department officials say that has slowed their investigation. Ms. Hutchinson’s name has not yet appeared on subpoenas and other court documents related to their investigation into the effort to overturn the 2020 election, and she did not seem to be a primary witness before the hearings.

The committee and its supporters say its independence has allowed it to create an investigative road map for the department’s subsequent inquiries, even if members remain divided over whether to make an official criminal referral to Mr. Garland.

“It’s fair to regard this series of most recent hearings as a slow-motion referral in plain view of conduct warranting, at minimum, criminal investigation and potential prosecution,” said David H. Laufman, a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official. “They haven’t held back anything.”

At each of its hearings this month, the panel has presented evidence that members believe could be used to bolster a criminal investigation. The committee has provided new details about cases that could be built around a conspiracy to defraud the American people and Mr. Trump’s own donors, as well as plans to submit false slates of electors to the National Archives and obstruct an official proceeding of Congress.

At its hearing on Tuesday, the committee laid out how Mr. Trump had forewarning of violence, allowed a mob of his loyalists to attack the Capitol and, in fact, agreed with what they were doing.

A person familiar with the panel’s work said Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and vice chairwoman of the committee, took a leading role overseeing the team investigating Mr. Trump’s inner circle and was instrumental in organizing the surprise hearing featuring Ms. Hutchinson.

Over the past month, the committee has aired hours of testimony — none more significant than Ms. Hutchinson’s narrative of Mr. Trump’s actions on the day of the attack — that legal experts believe bolstered a potential criminal case against Mr. Trump for inciting the mob or attempting to obstruct the special session of Congress.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, China’s Leader Hails a Hong Kong ‘Reborn From Ashes’ Amid Crackdown, Alexandra Stevenson, Zixu Wang and Austin Ramzy, June 30, 2022. Before Xi Jinping’s tightly controlled appearance, Hong Kong sent officials, diplomats and others to hotels for days of isolation and Covid tests.

Since the pandemic erupted in 2020, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has been hunkered down in a virus-free bubble within his country’s closed borders. On Thursday, he left the safe confines of the mainland for the first time, arriving in Hong Kong for a tightly scripted visit aimed at reinforcing his authority over the city.

Mr. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by schoolchildren and supporters who waved flower bouquets and small Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they stepped off a high-speed train at the sealed-off West Kowloon station to begin a two-day visit. Lion dancers performed as the neatly ordered rows of greeters chanted, “Warmly welcome, warmly welcome.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel’s Parliament Dissolves, Paving Way for Another Election, Patrick Kingsley, June 30, 2022. The decision brought down the coalition government and installed Yair Lapid, a centrist, as interim prime minister. Exhausted and exasperated Israelis will be asked to vote again in November.

washington post logoWashington Post, New Zealand labels Proud Boys and the Base far-right terrorist groups, Andrew Jeong, June 30, 2022. New Zealand designated two U.S. far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Base, as terrorist organizations this month, as the Pacific nation grapples with the potential spread of right-wing extremism within its borders.

A top New Zealand police official approved the designation on June 20, but the declaration wasn’t published by the government until Monday. Canada has designated both entities as terrorist groups, while Britain has labeled the Base an extremist organization. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said New Zealand actively reviews and updates its terrorist blacklist regularly.

The declaration makes it illegal for New Zealand residents to fund or support either group, which join the Islamic State and al-Shabab on the list.

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.S. moves closer to selling F-16s to Turkey, Michael D. Shear and Steven Erlanger, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). A day after Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a Biden administration official said that Washington “supports Turkey’s modernization of its fighter fleet.”

Flag of TurkeyThe United States on Wednesday signaled a new willingness to sell upgraded F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, moving closer to satisfying the ally’s longstanding request a day after Turkey dropped its opposition to efforts by Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance.

Senior American officials had said just hours earlier that President Biden did not bargain with Turkey in exchange for its support for expanding NATO. A senior administration official told reporters late Tuesday that Turkey had not asked for the F-16s during the negotiations.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Scotland’s leader seeks new independence vote in October 2023, Karla Adam, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Nicola Sturgeon, the most senior politician in Scotland, proposed Tuesday to hold a fresh referendum on Scottish independence in October 2023 through a maneuver that she hopes can bypass Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to permit such a vote.

National Press Club, Statement on Murder of Mexican Journalist Antonio de la Cruz, June 29, 2022. Following is a statement by Jen Judson, President of the National Press Club and Gil Klein, President of the National Press Club Journalism Institute on the murder of Antonio de la Cruz, a reporter for the Mexican newspaper Expreso, today in Tamaulipas.

national  press club logoWe call on the Mexican government and law enforcement to bring to justice the killers of Antonio de la Cruz – the 12th journalist murdered in Mexico this year. Those who murder journalists must be arrested, prosecuted and punished. Because cases of violence against Mexican journalists are almost never solved, the state is sending a very bad message to the gangs and cartels who carry out these atrocities. De la Cruz was active on social media and regularly denounced politicians for corruption. In the same attack where he was killed, his wife was also killed, and their daughter was injured. This kind of tragedy must stop. Journalists must have better protection and when they are attacked the response from law enforcement and the government must be swift and vigorous.”

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the U.S. and worldwide.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.

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U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, A West Coast union dockworkers’ contract is ending, Kurtis Lee, June 30, 2022. A failure to reach a new agreement could hurt truckers and retailers, too.

The outcome will be crucial not only for the union dockworkers and port operators, but also for the ecosystem of workers surrounding the ports, and for a global supply chain reeling from coronavirus lockdowns and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Inflation’s surge to the highest rate in more than four decades is due, in part, to supply chain complications.

The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 22,000 workers at 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle, and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing the shipping terminals, is set to expire on Friday. The union members primarily operate machinery like cranes and forklifts that move cargo containers on and off ships.

In a statement this month, representatives of the two sides said that they didn’t expect a deal by the deadline but that they were dedicated to working toward an agreement.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Vanishing Moderate Democrat, Jason Zengerle, Photo Illustrations by Justin Metz, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Their positions are popular. So why are they going extinct?

Early last year, as Democrats were preparing to control the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, Josh Gottheimer met with Nancy Pelosi to discuss their party’s message. Sitting in the House speaker’s office in the U.S. Capitol, he opened up the YouTube app on his iPhone. There was something he wanted to show her.

democratic donkey logoGottheimer, who represents a wealthy suburban and exurban House district in northern New Jersey, was first elected to Congress in 2016; his victory over a seven-term Republican incumbent, in a district in which Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton, was one of the Democrats’ few bright spots that year. Since his arrival in Washington, however, Gottheimer has been the cause of more headaches than celebrations for Pelosi and her leadership team.

As co-chairman of the Problem Solvers Caucus — a group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans that quixotically aspires to the goal of bipartisan compromise — he has frequently found himself at odds with his fellow Democrats on everything from foreign policy to President Biden’s domestic agenda to Pelosi’s leadership.

This year, with Democrats clinging to a 10-seat majority in the House (almost guaranteed to drop to nine with a special election in Nebraska on June 28), most political handicappers expect Republicans to reclaim control of the chamber easily; the only real uncertainty is just how big the Red Wave will be, with predictions about the number of seats Republicans will gain ranging from less than 20 to more than 60. (Despite the public hearings of the House committee investigating Jan. 6, most Democrats running for election are not attempting to make the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election a referendum on Republicans.)

The bigger, more consequential question — not just for the moderates but for all Democrats — is whether this projected midterm wipeout is merely a cyclical occurrence or the manifestation of a much deeper and more intractable problem.

Over the last decade, the Democratic Party has moved significantly to the left on almost every salient political issue.

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U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

 

r kelly denied bail

washington post logoWashington Post, R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years for sex trafficking, racketeering convictions, Samantha Chery, June 29, 2022. Witnesses testified that the R&B singer and his team would use the performer’s celebrity to lure and make travel arrangements for his victims, many of them minors hoping for their big break in the music business, only for them to be sexually abused by Kelly.

R&B star R. Kelly (shown above in a file photo after being denied bail following conviction) was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday for charges related to nearly 30 years’ worth of allegations that he physically and sexually abused women and minors.

His 2021 trial was one of the most high-profile cases to spring from the #MeToo movement. It is also one of the most prominent cases in which the victims were mostly Black women.

Prosecutors had asked for a 25-year sentence while Kelly’s defense team had argued for 14 to 17½ years.

r kelly twitter“The public has to be protected from behaviors like this,” Judge Ann M. Donnelly said as she delivered Kelly’s sentence, according to media reports. “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years.”

Last year, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn found Kelly, 55, (shown in a Twitter photo) guilty of one count of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, a law created to curb sex trafficking across state lines.

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida judge blocks new law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks, Lori Rozsa, June 30, 2022. A Florida judge on Thursday blocked a new law to ban abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy, saying the measure is unconstitutional because it violates the privacy provision of the state’s constitution.

The temporary injunction by Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper is expected to take effect as soon as a written order is signed. The law is slated to take effect Friday. The decision comes nearly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to states to regulate abortion.

The state is expected to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has appointed three of the seven justices.

While 20 years of Republican-led legislatures have chipped away at abortion rights in Florida, overall access to the procedure has been upheld in court cases and on the ballot as part of the state’s constitutional right to privacy.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Court clears Biden to shut down Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers, Robert Barnes, June 30, 2022. The policy requires some asylum seekers who enter the country illegally, mainly from Central and South America, to return to Mexico while they await a hearing.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled for the Biden administration on a controversial immigration policy, saying it had the authority to reverse a Trump-era initiative that requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are reviewed in U.S. courts.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for himself and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the court’s three liberals, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Roberts said federal immigration law gives the executive discretion: He may return asylum seekers to Mexico, but is not required to do so.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett dissented.

Barrett said that she agreed with the majority on the merits of the decision but that the court should not have decided the case and should have remanded it to lower courts.

ny times logoNew York Times, Truck Carrying Dead Migrants Passed Through Checkpoint in Texas, James Dobbins, J. David Goodman and Miriam Jordan, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Border Patrol officials say truck traffic is too voluminous to check every vehicle at the dozens of immigration checkpoints on roadways near the border.

A tractor-trailer that ended up in San Antonio with more than 50 dead or dying migrants passed through a federal immigration checkpoint inside the United States without being inspected, a top Mexican official said on Wednesday.

The truck crossed the checkpoint, operated by the Border Patrol, shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday as it drove north along Interstate 35 from the border region, the official, Francisco Garduño Yáñez, the head of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration, said at a news conference that featured images of the truck and its driver at the checkpoint.

The Mexican official also said that the rig had driven by a Border Patrol station in the town of Cotulla; that station does not operate a highway checkpoint.

 

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 Airp

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas sentenced to 20 months in prison, Shayna Jacobs, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Parnas was convicted at trial of campaign-finance violations and separately pleaded guilty to stealing investment funds.

Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was sentenced to 20 months in prison Wednesday for defrauding investors in a sham company and for illegally making donations to U.S. political candidates on behalf of a Russian businessman.

Parnas was convicted at trial on campaign-finance related charges last year and pleaded guilty separately to stealing investment funds directed to a defunct business entity called Fraud Guarantee.

He personally pocketed $2 million.

Parnas was affiliated with Giuliani while working on President Donald Trump’s behalf to seek incriminating information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine before the 2020 election.

Although federal prosecutors in New York also have been investigating Giuliani for his dealings in Ukraine during that time period, he has not been charged.

Parnas and another man, Igor Fruman, were discussed at Trump’s first impeachment trial, which focused on the then-president’s alleged campaign to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sonny Barger, biker outlaw and founder of Hells Angels, dies at 83, Paul W. Valentine, June 30, 2022. For decades, he was the public face of a nationwide counterculture tribe with a tradition of crime and violence — much of it involving Mr. Barger, a fact he boastfully acknowledged.

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More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

washington post logoWashington Post, Journalists in Uvalde are stonewalled, hassled, threatened with arrest, Arelis R. Hernández and Paul Farhi, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Reporters came to Texas to tell the story of the Robb Elementary School massacre. But ‘we were seen as enemies’ by police, they say.

Journalists had been threatened with arrest for getting too close to the mourners, so Houston Chronicle reporter Julian Gill stayed in the designated media area when he reported on funerals the week after the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Nevertheless, a phalanx of uniformed bikers confronted Gill outside the cemetery gates. They called themselves “Guardians of the Children” and claimed to be working with police officers who stood watch.

“I’m not trying to disturb anyone, guys,” Gill told the bikers, in a video he posted online. “I’m not trying to ask anybody any questions. I just wanted to watch. That’s all we can do, right?”

But the bikers followed and harassed journalists anyway, Gill wrote in the Chronicle. When he accidentally bumped into a Guardian who claimed to be a paramedic, the bikers accused him of assault and battery. “As a public servant, that’s kind of a felony,” the biker-paramedic said in the video.

 

More On Ukraine War

 

More on War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52-year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine in April.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: A Confident Vladimir Putin Shifts Out of Wartime Crisis Mode, Anton Troianovski, June 30, 2022. Cloistered and spouting grievances at the start of the war on Ukraine, the Russian leader now appears publicly, projecting the aura of a calm, paternalistic leader shielding his people from the dangers of the world.

Early in his war against Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appeared tense, angry and even disoriented. He spent days out of the public eye, threatened the West with nuclear strikes, and lashed out at antiwar Russians as “scum.”

But in June, a new Putin has emerged, very much resembling his prewar image: relaxed, patient and self-confident.

Holding court with young people, he compared himself casually to Peter the Great, Russia’s first emperor. Addressing an economic conference, he dismissed the notion that sanctions could isolate Russia and crowed that they were harming the West even more. And on Wednesday, he strode, smiling, across a sun-baked airport tarmac in Turkmenistan, slinging off his suit jacket before ducking into his Russian-made armored limousine to head for a five-country summit meeting.

 

nato logo flags name

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Turkey drops opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Emily Rauhala, Loveday Morris, Rick Noack and Matt Viser, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). The alliance’s expansion opens the week’s second summit of world leaders, with the Ukraine war again their prime focus.

Flag of TurkeyTurkey agreed on Tuesday to drop its opposition to the NATO bids of Sweden and Finland, paving the way for the alliance to grow and highlighting how Russia’s war in Ukraine is reshaping the post-Cold War order and reinvigorating transatlantic ties.

As NATO opened a three-day summit in Madrid, those countries’ leaders signed a memorandum finland flagconfirming that Turkey will support the two Nordic nations’ paths to accession. “Welcoming Finland and Sweden into the alliance will make them safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference after the signing ceremony. “This is vital as we face the biggest security crisis in decades.”

Swedish flagThe question of how to respond to the crisis triggered by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is front of mind for President Biden and other heads of state and government who have gathered this week, first in Germany for a Group of Seven meeting and now in Spain with NATO’s meeting.

The news of Turkey’s turnaround after a month of opposition drew an even greater spotlight to a summit expected to focus on Ukraine’s urgent need for more advanced weapons as its fighters are hammered in the east by Russian forces. The leaders here are also expected to address longer-term strategic questions raised by the Kremlin’s aggression and China’s global ambitions.

The sudden announcement Tuesday evening followed a commitment by G-7 leaders earlier in the day that their countries would “urgently” explore ways to impose price caps on Russian oil and gas to hurt Moscow’s ability to finance the war. But those leaders, meeting at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany’s Bavarian Alps, stopped short of agreeing to new energy sanctions.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. freezes $1 billion of Russian oligarch’s assets hidden in Delaware, Jeff Stein, June 30, 2022. Treasury Department announces new sanctions on trust of Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin.

The Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it is freezing more than $1 billion hidden by a Russian oligarch in a Delaware-based trust in violation of U.S. law, as the Biden administration seeks to crack down on Kremlin elites in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Suleiman Abusaidovich Kerimov, a billionaire with ties to President Vladimir Putin and a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, was found to have stashed the funds through a complex web of opaque legal arrangements and shell companies in violation of U.S. sanctions, the Treasury Department said. Kerimov has been under sanctions by the U.S. government since 2018 over Russia’s violence in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s allies have frequently taken advantage of what is known as the offshore finance system to hide assets in countries such as Belize, Singapore, Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland and in U.S. states such as Delaware and South Dakota. But many of these longtime havens have helped find and freeze Russian funds held there since the war began.

Kerimov’s funds — held by the Delaware-based Heritage Trust — are among the largest asset holdings of a Russian oligarch frozen by the U.S. government since the outset of the war.

washington post logoWashington Post, NATO is united on Ukraine. Good, but plenty could still go wrong, David Ignatius, right, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). NATO david ignatiussolidarity was on display at a summit meeting this week in Madrid. One after another, officials pledged to stay the course and combat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

But as this war bleeds into summer and civilians continue to perish in horrific rocket attacks, NATO needs to ask how its strategy might fail. We can imagine some of the ways in which a hypothetical “Red Team” analysis might reveal how Ukraine’s allies could squander their current advantages and lose this conflict.

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Record heat wave cooks Japan, straining power grid, Karina Tsui, Julia Mio Inuma and Ian Livingston, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). The last time Japan recorded consistently high temperatures in June was in 1875.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Where there’s bodies, there’s treasure’: A hunt as Lake Mead shrinks, Joshua Partlow, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). The reservoir supplying electricity to 350,000 homes as well as irrigation and drinking water to about 25 million people stands at a record low.

As the nation’s largest reservoir has plummeted to about a quarter of its former size, barrels have taken on a grisly new significance. But the human remains discovered in a rusted-out barrel last month — suspected of being a decades-old mob execution — are not the only artifacts and oddities that have turned up in the mud. There have also been handguns, baby strollers, tackle boxes, vintage Coors cans, Prada sunglasses, exploded ordnance, real human jaw bones, fake human skeletons, ancient arrowheads, concrete mooring blocks, dozens of sunken boats and untold amounts of scattered trash.

The declining water levels have become a source of morbid fascination for visitors and longtime residents alike. In a place where party barges and speedboats once frolicked, Americans now wander the heat-ravaged West, searching for wreckage. Online groups have sprung up dedicated to documenting the dramatic disappearance of a lake that supplies electricity to 350,000 homes as well as irrigation and drinking water to some 25 million people across the Southwest.

Recent Headlines

 

Pandemic Public Health, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis, Chris Hamby and Michael Forsythe (The reporters pored over a trove of more than 100,000 documents to investigate McKinsey’s unknown work for opioid makers), June 30, 2022 (print ed.). A trove of documents revealed how the consulting firm helped clients target doctors, drive up sales and market pills twice as potent as OxyContin.

In patches of rural Appalachia and the Rust Belt, the health authorities were sounding alarms that a powerful painkiller called Opana had become the drug of choice among people abusing prescription pills.

It was twice as potent as OxyContin, the painkiller widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, and was relatively easy to dissolve and inject. By 2015, government investigations and scientific publications had linked its misuse to clusters of disease, including a rare and life-threatening blood disorder and an H.I.V. outbreak in Indiana.

Opana’s manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Endo, had scaled back promotion of the drug. But months later, the company abruptly changed course, refocusing resources on the drug by assigning more sales representatives.

The push was known internally as the Sales Force Blitz — and it was conducted with consultants at McKinsey & Company, who had been hired by Endo to provide marketing advice about its chronic-pain medicines and other products.

The untold story of McKinsey’s work for Endo was among the revelations found by The New York Times in a repository of more than 100,000 documents obtained by a coalition of state attorneys general in a legal settlement related to McKinsey’s opioid work.

Much has been disclosed over the years about McKinsey’s relationship with Purdue Pharma, including the consulting firm’s recommendation that the drug maker “turbocharge” its sales of OxyContin. But The Times found that the firm played a far deeper and broader role in advising clients involved in the opioid crisis than was publicly disclosed.

The newly released McKinsey records include more than 15 years of emails, slide presentations, spreadsheets, proposals and other documents. They provide a sweeping and detailed depiction of a firm that became a trusted adviser to companies at the core of an epidemic that has claimed half a million American lives.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Boy Scout escaped Amtrak wreckage to comfort a dying truck driver, Jonathan Edwards, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Eli Skrypczak played on his phone Monday afternoon while aboard an Amtrak train hurtling through the heartland of Missouri. The 15-year-old Boy Scout and hundreds of other passengers were unaware of the dump truck ahead that was about to change their lives.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two more newspapers close every week — and ‘news deserts’ grow larger, Margaret Sullivan, right, June 30, 2022 (print ed.).  In margaret sullivan 2015 photopoorer, less-wired parts of the U.S., it’s harder to find credible news about your local community. That has dire implications for democracy. Penelope Muse Abernathy may be the nation’s foremost expert on what media researchers call “news deserts”— and she’s worried.

News deserts are communities lacking a news source that provides meaningful and trustworthy local reporting on issues such as health, government and the environment. It’s a vacuum that leaves residents ignorant of what’s going on in their world, incapable of fully participating as informed citizens. What’s their local government up to? northwestern logoWho deserves their vote? How are their tax dollars being spent? All are questions that go unanswered in a news desert.

Local newspapers are hardly the only news sources that can do the job, but they are the ones that have traditionally filled that role. And they are disappearing.

One-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public Wednesday from Northwestern University’s Medill School, where Abernathy is a visiting professor.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, FCC commissioner calls on Google and Apple to ban TikTok app, Aaron Gregg, June 29, 2022. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, expressed concerns that personal data from millions of U.S. TikTok users is being accessed in China.

apple logo rainbowA Federal Communications commissioner is calling on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores over concerns that user data from the wildly popular social media platform is being accessed in China.

In a tweet Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr shared a letter addressed to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, the chief executives of Apple and Google parent Alphabet, respectively. He raised concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership, saying that “it harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”

google logo customCarr can’t single-handedly compel them to ban TikTok, since the FCC doesn’t regulate app stores. But the request nonetheless underscores the scrutiny that the leading tech firms continue to draw from powerful regulators in both parties and marks yet another chapter in TikTok’s complicated dance with the U.S. government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact-checking movement grapples with a world awash in false claims, Glenn Kessler, June 29, 2022. Members of fact-checking organizations from around the globe met last week for their first in-person conference in three years, confronting a world awash in baseless claims promoted by politicians and even governments and increasingly embraced by receptive audiences.

nancy pelosi gavel safe oenwashington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi receives Communion at Vatican after earlier U.S. bishop refusal, Stefano Pitrelli and Amy B Wang, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, a Catholic and vocal supporter of abortion rights, received Holy Communion on Wednesday during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, according to an attendee at the Mass.

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New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

 

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

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U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

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Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

ny times logoNew York Times, Aide’s Testimony Highlights Legal Risk for Trump, Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush, Updated June 29, 2022. Experts Say Revelations Could Be Path Toward Future Charges.

It was one of the most dramatic moments in a presentation filled with them: Just before President Donald J. Trump went onstage near the White House last year and urged his supporters to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol, an aide testified on Tuesday, he was told that some of them were armed.

It was also a potentially consequential moment for any prosecution of Mr. Trump, legal experts said. Knowing that his crowd of supporters had the means to be violent when he exhorted them to march to the Capitol — and declared that he wanted to go with them — could nudge Mr. Trump closer to facing criminal charges, legal experts said.

“This really moved the ball significantly, even though there is still a long way to go,” said Renato Mariotti, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor in Illinois.

Knowing that his supporters were armed when he urged them to march on Jan. 6 could expose former President Trump to charges, legal experts said.

The testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, chipped away at any potential defense that Mr. Trump was just expressing views about election fraud.

 

djt jan 6 twitter

Donald Trump rouses supporters in a speech outside the White House just prior to the mob's assault on the U.S. Capitol, which contained elected members of Congress giving final certification of November election results on Jan. 6, 2021 in advance of President-elect Joe Biden's planned Inaugution.

ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump did not care about the potential for violence on Jan. 6, Cassidy Hutchinson told the House panel, Luke Broadwater and Michael S. Schmidt, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The first White House aide to testify publicly before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack provided a damning account on Tuesday of how former President Donald J. Trump, knowing his supporters were armed and threatening violence, urged them to march to the Capitol and sought to join them there, privately siding with them as they stormed the building and called for the hanging of the vice president.

The testimony from the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, was extraordinary even by the standards of Mr. Trump’s norm-busting presidency and the inquiry’s remarkable string of revelations this month. In fly-on-the-wall anecdotes delivered in a quiet voice, she described how frantic West Wing aides failed to stop Mr. Trump from encouraging the violence or persuade him to try to end it, and how the White House’s top lawyer feared that Mr. Trump might be committing crimes as he steered the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

Mark MeadowsDrawing from conversations she said she overheard in the West Wing and others contemporaneously relayed to her by top officials, Ms. Hutchinson, a 26-year-old who was an aide to Mark Meadows, right, Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff, provided crucial details about what the former president was doing and saying before and during the riot. She painted a portrait of an unhinged president obsessed with clinging to power and appearing strong, and willing to tolerate violence as a result — as long as it was not directed at him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee subpoenas former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, June 29, 2022. The decision follows testimony from former aide Cassidy Hutchinson that identified the lawyer as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House. Committee members have come to believe that the former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation.

pat cipollone file croppedThe House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Wednesday evening after blockbuster testimony from a former aide identified the lawyer as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House.

The decision followed extensive negotiations between Cipollone, right, and the committee, as well as sharply escalating pressure on him in recent days to come forward and testify. Committee members have come to believe that the former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation, given his proximity to Trump and presence during key moments before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The subpoena is likely to trigger a lengthy legal battle.

Cipollone sat for an informal interview with the committee on April 13, according to a letter from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), but he has declined to cooperate further.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 Committee Hearings: Trump sought to lead armed mob to Capitol, aide says, Mike DeBonis and Jacqueline Alemany, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an assistant to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, delivered stunning revelations about the day of the attack. She told Congress that Donald Trump knew his supporters were carrying weapons, physically assailed a Secret Service agent and mused about pardoning rioters.

A former White House official revealed explosive new details Tuesday about President Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, telling Congress that he knew his supporters were carrying weapons, insisted on personally leading the armed mob to the Capitol, physically assailed the senior Secret Service agent who told him it was not possible, expressed support for the hanging of his own vice president, and mused about pardoning the rioters.

The testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an assistant to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was the most chilling to date in the House select committee’s Jan. 6 investigation. Recounting granular detail and private dialogue, she presented to the public a penetrating account of Trump’s actions and mind-set as the Capitol came under siege from his own supporters, who were determined to stop the counting of electoral votes and impede the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Testifying alone, her appearance punctuated by clips from taped depositions given by herself and others, the 25-year-old Hutchinson detailed how Trump and other powerful officials around him alternately encouraged, tolerated and excused the insurrection as it unfolded in front of them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: All the bombshells Cassidy Hutchinson dropped about Trump and Jan. 6, Amber Phillips, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection held a surprise hearing Tuesday that featured a key witness: Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to former president Donald Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Hutchinson is not a household name, but she has become central to the committee investigation — sitting for taped interviews and being the only live witness at the Tuesday hearing. In live testimony, Hutchinson provided an intimate, detailed and shocking look inside the West Wing and at the president specifically on the day of the attack. Trump issued blanket denials of almost all of these allegations.

Here are some of her most stunning revelations about Trump: 1. Trump knew his supporters had weapons — and encouraged them to march on the Capitol. And he tried to go, too.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Turkey drops opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Emily Rauhala, Loveday Morris, Rick Noack and Matt Viser, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The alliance’s expansion opens the week’s second summit of world leaders, with the Ukraine war again their prime focus.

Flag of TurkeyTurkey agreed on Tuesday to drop its opposition to the NATO bids of Sweden and Finland, paving the way for the alliance to grow and highlighting how Russia’s war in Ukraine is reshaping the post-Cold War order and reinvigorating transatlantic ties.

As NATO opened a three-day summit in Madrid, those countries’ leaders signed a memorandum finland flagconfirming that Turkey will support the two Nordic nations’ paths to accession. “Welcoming Finland and Sweden into the alliance will make them safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference after the signing ceremony. “This is vital as we face the biggest security crisis in decades.”

Swedish flagThe question of how to respond to the crisis triggered by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is front of mind for President Biden and other heads of state and government who have gathered this week, first in Germany for a Group of Seven meeting and now in Spain with NATO’s meeting.

The news of Turkey’s turnaround after a month of opposition drew an even greater spotlight to a summit expected to focus on Ukraine’s urgent need for more advanced weapons as its fighters are hammered in the east by Russian forces. The leaders here are also expected to address longer-term strategic questions raised by the Kremlin’s aggression and China’s global ambitions.

The sudden announcement Tuesday evening followed a commitment by G-7 leaders earlier in the day that their countries would “urgently” explore ways to impose price caps on Russian oil and gas to hurt Moscow’s ability to finance the war. But those leaders, meeting at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany’s Bavarian Alps, stopped short of agreeing to new energy sanctions.

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Antiabortion lawmakers want to block patients from crossing state lines, Caroline Kitchener and Devlin Barrett, June 29, 2022.  Some advocacy groups and their allies are crafting legislative language that could be adopted in Republican-led state capitals.

Several national antiabortion groups and their allies in Republican-led state legislatures are advancing plans to stop people in states where abortion is banned from seeking the procedure elsewhere, according to people involved in the discussions.

The idea has gained momentum in some corners of the antiabortion movement in the days since the Supreme Court struck down its 49-year-old precedent protecting abortion rights nationwide, triggering abortion bans across much of the Southeast and Midwest.

The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal organization, is drafting model legislation for state lawmakers that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a resident of a state that has banned abortion from terminating a pregnancy outside of that state. The draft language will borrow from the novel legal strategy behind a Texas abortion ban enacted last year in which private citizens were empowered to enforce the law through civil litigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas attorney general says he would defend sodomy law if court revisits 2003 ruling, Timothy Bella, June 29, 2022. Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the fundamental right to an abortion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) appeared to express support for Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion that the high court could review other precedents that may be deemed “demonstrably erroneous,” including those affecting the LGBTQ community.

One of the cases mentioned by Thomas was Lawrence v. Texas, which prevents states from banning intimate same-sex relationships. The landmark 2003 ruling struck down a 1973 Texas law that criminalized the act of sodomy. But as Roe v. Wade was overturned, Paxton said he would defend the state’s defunct sodomy law if the Supreme Court were to follow Thomas’s remarks and eventually revisits Lawrence.

“I mean, there’s all kinds of issues here, but certainly the Supreme Court has stepped into issues that I don’t think there’s any constitutional provision dealing with,” Paxton said in a Friday interview with NewsNation anchor Leland Vittert. “They were legislative issues, and this is one of those issues, and there may be more. So it would depend on the issue and dependent on what state law had said at the time.”

When asked whether the Texas legislature would pass a similar sodomy law and if Paxton would defend it and bring it to the Supreme Court, the Republican attorney general, who is running for reelection in November, suggested he would be comfortable supporting a law outlawing intimate same-sex relationships.

“Yeah, look, my job is to defend state law, and I’ll continue to do that,” Paxton said to Vittert. “That is my job under the Constitution, and I’m certainly willing and able to do that.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion is illegal for millions. Will Big Tech help prosecute it? Gerrit De Vynck, Caroline O'Donovan, Nitasha Tiku and Elizabeth Dwoskin, June 29, 2022.  Tech companies share data with police every day. Privacy advocates and some tech employees say that needs to change now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

Even before Roe v. Wade was overturned, tech workers and privacy advocates had a big question: Will Big Tech help in abortion prosecutions by sharing user data with police?

Nearly a week since the Supreme Court decision made abortion illegal for millions of Americans, the companies still haven’t given an answer. And some employees are getting frustrated, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

On Monday, an Amazon employee posted a petition internally that called for “immediate and decisive action against the threat to our basic human rights with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.” Microsoft and Google employees on internal message boards have vented frustration at their leaders’ silence. Some Facebook employees, who were told in May by managers not to discuss abortion on internal platforms, are also angry.

 

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

 

The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: Cassidy Hutchinson Changes Everything, Norman Eisen (right, was special counsel to the House Judiciary norman eisen SmallCommittee during the first impeachment of Donald Trump), June 29, 2022. Tuesday’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, the final chief of staff for President Donald Trump, snapped attention back to the Jan. 6 committee in a striking finale to the first stretch of the hearings, which are expected to resume in July.

Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony was certainly a surprise — delivering shocking and consequential revelations — but it has hardly been the only one. The hearings have been packed with them.

Committee members said they wouldn’t play prosecutor before they started. That bit of misdirection has sharpened the surprise of what can plausibly be considered the committee’s prosecutorial approach against the former president.

The committee has repeatedly referred to criminal law and did so again with Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony. For example, she recounted an exchange with the White House counsel Pat Cipollone in which he urged her to make sure Mr. Trump did not go to the Capitol, worried that if he went, it might provoke “charges of every crime imaginable.”

In each hearing, the committee has skillfully built on a foundation of fact.

Is there sufficient evidence for a seditious conspiracy criminal case related to Mr. Trump’s actions and inaction on Jan. 6, like those brought against the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and their leaders? The evidence is powerful but is not yet sufficient to overcome the very high bar of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Trump agreed with the rioters to attack the Capitol. But the new testimony advances proving other possible crimes, like obstruction of Congress, with Mr. Trump’s role in the violence as the culmination of that scheme.

Each hearing has saved a surprise for the end. Last Thursday’s, for example, ended with the revelations that six members of Congress had sought presidential pardons. On Tuesday it was screenshots, presented by Representative Liz Cheney, of messages presumably from supporters of Mr. Trump to witnesses, insinuating that Mr. Trump was watching and “does read transcripts” and “knows you’re loyal.” They showed possible witness tampering and potential obstruction of justice.

The hearings have very gradually introduced villains, first focusing on Mr. Trump, then on legal helpers for his attempted coup, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark. On Tuesday we met a fourth, Mr. Meadows. That is part of how the committee has been so shrewd; it has slowly expanded the cast of characters.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that the hearings seem to be having an impact. That is what polls suggest: In one, three-quarters of voters had heard or read about the investigation, and 60 percent supported it, including a third of Republicans. In another, 58 percent of Americans believed that the former president should be charged with crimes related to his actions on and before Jan. 6. That’s up six percentage points from before the hearings started, and includes almost 20 percent of Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cassidy Hutchinson’s path from trusted insider to explosive witness, Michael Kranish, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany and Eugene Scott, June 29, 2022 (print ed.) ‘I was disgusted,’ former aide to Mark Meadows says in testimony revealing new details.

cassidy hutchinson twitterCassidy Hutchinson, shown at right in a Twitter photo, was about to turn 24, already a key official at the White House after a meteoric ascent from obscurity, when she heard a startling noise. It was early December 2020, and President Donald Trump was livid because his attorney general said the election had not been stolen.

Upon investigating the noise, Hutchinson was told by a White House valet that Trump had thrown a porcelain plate against the dining room wall, which was now dripping ketchup. Hutchinson grabbed a towel to wipe up the mess as the valet told her to steer clear of the president because “he’s really, really ticked off about this right now.”

It was a turning point in an extraordinary effort to subvert the transfer of presidential power, as Hutchinson recalled it in dramatic testimony Tuesday before the House Jan. 6 committee. In a riveting two hours, Hutchinson added layers of stunning detail from her one-of-a-kind vantage as principal assistant to Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff, which put her steps from the Oval Office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: A President Untethered, Peter Baker, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). In the final, frenzied days of his administration, Donald J. Trump’s behavior turned increasingly volatile as he smashed dishware and lunged at his own Secret Service agent, according to testimony.

He flung his lunch across the room, smashing the plate in a fit of anger as ketchup dripped down the wall. He appeared to endorse supporters who wanted to hang his own vice president. And in a scene laid out by a former aide that seemed more out of a movie than real life, he tried to wrestle away the steering wheel of his presidential vehicle and lunged at his own Secret Service agent.

Former President Donald J. Trump has never been seen as the most stable occupant of the Oval Office by almost anyone other than himself, but the breathtaking testimony presented by his former aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, at Tuesday’s House select committee hearing portrayed an unhinged commander in chief veering wildly out of control as he desperately sought to cling to power and egged on armed supporters to help make it happen.

The president that emerged from her account was volatile, violent and vicious, single-minded in his quest to overturn an election he lost no matter what anyone told him, anxious to head to the Capitol to personally disrupt the constitutional process that would finalize his defeat, dismissive of warnings that his actions could lead to disaster and thoroughly unbothered by the prospect of sending to Congress a mob of supporters that he knew included people armed with deadly weapons.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Bombshell hearing raises a question: Why was Trump’s lawyer terrified? Paul Waldman, right, and Greg Sargent, June paul waldman28, 2022 (print ed.). The testimony delivered Tuesday to the Jan. 6 House select committee by Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, was full of bombshells.

But one may have escaped some people’s notice: the moment she describes White House Counsel Pat Cipollone warning about the criminal liability that then-President Donald Trump and others might face as the mob descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

CNN, Secret Service officials: Agents willing to dispute Trump SUV incident under oath, Poppy Harlow and Josh Campbell, June 29, 2022.  Officials from the US Secret Service have announced that Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel, the agents named in Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, are willing to testify before the Jan. 6 committee and dispute Hutchinson's account of an alleged incident involving then-President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, 5 stunning revelations about Jan. 6 from Cassidy Hutchinson, Jennifer Rubin, June 28, 2022. Cassidy Hutchinson’s surprise testimony before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection produced a lot of anticipatory buzz. How big would the hearing be? Did the hasty announcement of the testimony produce excessive expectations?

Let’s put it this way: The parlor game in identifying who would be the Jan. 6 committee’s John Dean — the insider who devastated the Nixon administration during the Watergate investigations — may finally have an undisputed winner.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pro-Trump web raced to debunk Jan. 6 testimony. Then they got confused, Drew Harwell, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The former president’s supporters quickly spun an online conspiracy theory that he couldn’t have possibly lunged for his driver’s steering wheel on Jan. 6, 2021. When evidence suggested otherwise, they tried other routes to distract from the truth.

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: The optimistic melancholy of Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, Robin Givhan, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The witness called him “sir.” When Cassidy Hutchinson, the former White House aide, testified before the Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday afternoon, she addressed Chairman Bennie G. Thompson with a word that afforded him respect as a man, not merely as an official. His tone during these hearings has not been that of a cold prosecutor or an enraged legislator. Thompson has been firm but gentlemanly. Even optimistic. He has been a point of stillness as the committee sorts through the chaotic cesspool of January 6.

He wouldn’t be the one questioning Hutchinson, drawing out the lurid details of a president in the throes of a diabolical temper tantrum, but he was the one setting the tone for the day’s hearing, just as he had done for the five preceding ones.

Thompson (D-Miss.), 74, starts each hearing by giving himself permission to stop it — he can call a 10 minute recess if need be. He recognizes himself for an opening statement. And his remarks typically include a bit of gratitude that his witnesses have agreed to appear. Thompson has a low octave voice and his words move at an unhurried pace. He has been in Congress since 1993, but he maintains his hometown Bolton, Miss., accent, which is neither a drawl nor a twang but a precise manner of speaking that makes the most pointed excoriations and complex testimony sound like a front porch oral history.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR),  Investigative Commentary: WMR's initial analysis of January 6th event concluded that it was a coup d'état, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, June 29-July 5, 2022. Two days following what was, at the time, being referred to as a "riot," "violent protest," and "political demonstration" by the corporate media was correctly identified as a coup d'état by WMR.

wayne madesen report logoAlthough many of the facts about the coup were not yet known, this publication drew attention to several indications and warnings that the attack on the U.S. Capitol represented a seditious insurrection against the United States by Donald Trump and his key advisers.

The violent nature of the coup attempt is exemplified by a photograph of one occupier armed with a pistol and carrying a supply of zip ties, also known as flex cuffs, which indicates he and others planned to take hostages. A duffel bag full of the plastic cuffs was found at the northern door to the Capitol. Other rioters were arrested with Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, fire accelerants -- including napalm -- and additional weaponry. Other weapons discovered by the House Select Committee included AR-15 assault rifles, Glock machine pistols, bear spray, and spears.

There may have also been foreign intelligence involvement in the coup. Some rioters who broke a window to gain access to the Capitol were heard speaking fluent Russian. It is now up to the Justice Department to prosecute all the coup participants, foreign and domestic.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Everything just changed, Bill Palmer, June 29, 2022. For the first five January 6th public hearings, I already knew most of bill palmerwhat was presented – as did many of you – because it was all reported by major newspapers a long time ago. Each hearing had a few new tidbits here and there, but it was really just a matter of taking everything that was publicly known and packaging it in such a way that the average American would hear about it, and the whole would be seen as more than the sum of the parts.

bill palmer report logo headerTuesday’s sixth public hearing, starring Cassidy Hutchinson, was the first hearing where most of what was presented was brand new to me. That’s a big deal. It means the January 6th Committee really has managed to unearth much more damning details and plotlines than the media has been able to unearth.

republican elephant logoSo this isn’t just going to be about whether the sum total of what’s been uncovered to date will be enough to convince midterm voters to punish Donald Trump’s complicit Republican Party. This is going to be about how much more the committee has been able to uncover.

Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman, who worked for a long time as a researcher for the January 6th Committee, publicly hinted after Tuesday’s hearing that Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the committee has uncovered. This would be nothing short of stunning, given just how stunning the Hutchinson hearing was in its own right.

Everything has now changed. The parameters of these hearings have just changed entirely. It’s never been about just how ugly Trump’s criminal conspiracy was. Whatever one can imagine, it was surely even worse. It’s always been about what could be uncovered, and how ugly that would be. Trump and his people behaved idiotically, but they did work hard to try to cover up as much of this as they could after the fact. Now it appears the committee has managed to puncture much deeper into Trump’s criminal plot than even the most optimistic of observers could have imagined. It now looks like we’re just getting started.

 

World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Colombia’s Truth Commission Is Highly Critical of U.S. Policy, Julie Turkewitz and Genevieve Glatsky, June 29, 2022 (print ed.).  A special truth commission criticized Colombia’s security forces and the United States for their role in a half-century conflict that left at least 450,000 people dead. It was a 58-year conflict, involved almost every sector of Colombian society, and cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of American dollars.

And on Tuesday, a government-appointed truth commission released the most comprehensive examination yet of Colombia’s brutal internal conflict, which spanned 1958 to 2016.

The report was highly critical of the security model that dominated the country for decades, which the authors said treated much of the population as internal enemies, and it called for sweeping transformation of the police and military.

It also delivered a sharp rebuke of United States policy in Colombia, saying that mounting a war against drug trafficking had disastrous social and environmental effects, turning poor farmers into enemies of the state and poisoning once fertile landscapes.

“The consequences of this concerted and largely U.S.-driven approach,” the report said, led to a “hardening of the conflict in which the civilian population has been the main victim.”

Declassified documents used to compile the report, which were obtained by The New York Times, show that Washington believed for years that the Colombian military was engaged in extrajudicial killings and was working with right-wing paramilitaries, and yet continued to deepen its relationship with the armed forces.

The report, which was four years in the making and involved more than 14,000 individual and collective interviews, was a product of the 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and its largest rebel force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. It is meant to aid in healing after the war, and included a new estimate of the dead: 450,000 people, nearly twice the number previously believed.

At a ceremony marking the report’s publication, some victims cried in their seats, while others shouted for recognition for their loved ones. Some of the commissioners, who were responsible for creating the report, wore T-shirts that read: “There is future if there is truth.”

The list of victims “is unending and the accumulated pain is unbearable,” the Rev. Francisco de Roux, who led the truth commission, told a packed theater in downtown Bogotá, the capital. “Why did we watch the massacres on television, day after day, as if they were a cheap soap opera?”

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.S. moves closer to selling F-16s to Turkey, Michael D. Shear and Steven Erlanger, June 29, 2022. A day after Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a Biden administration official said that Washington “supports Turkey’s modernization of its fighter fleet.”

Flag of TurkeyThe United States on Wednesday signaled a new willingness to sell upgraded F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, moving closer to satisfying the ally’s longstanding request a day after Turkey dropped its opposition to efforts by Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance.

Senior American officials had said just hours earlier that President Biden did not bargain with Turkey in exchange for its support for expanding NATO. A senior administration official told reporters late Tuesday that Turkey had not asked for the F-16s during the negotiations.

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel’s Spies Have Hit Iran Hard. In Tehran, Some Big Names Paid the Price, Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman, June 29, 2022. After a series of damaging failures, a senior Iranian intelligence official lost his job and a Revolutionary Guards general was said to have been arrested.

Israel FlagFor more than a decade, he was a feared presence in Iran, presiding over a vast intelligence apparatus. He crushed domestic dissent and political rivals, and expanded covert operations beyond Iran’s borders to target dissidents and enemies abroad.

Hossein Taeb, a 59-year-old cleric and chief of intelligence for the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, seemed untouchable.

That was until he was abruptly removed from his position last week, a casualty of a relentless campaign by Israel to undermine Iran’s security by targeting its officials and military sites, according to officials and analysts in both countries.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Scotland’s leader seeks new independence vote in October 2023, Karla Adam, June 29, 2022. Nicola Sturgeon, the most senior politician in Scotland, proposed Tuesday to hold a fresh referendum on Scottish independence in October 2023 through a maneuver that she hopes can bypass Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to permit such a vote.

National Press Club, Statement on Murder of Mexican Journalist Antonio de la Cruz, June 29, 2022. Following is a statement by Jen Judson, President of the National Press Club and Gil Klein, President of the National Press Club Journalism Institute on the murder of Antonio de la Cruz, a reporter for the Mexican newspaper Expreso, today in Tamaulipas.

national  press club logoWe call on the Mexican government and law enforcement to bring to justice the killers of Antonio de la Cruz – the 12th journalist murdered in Mexico this year. Those who murder journalists must be arrested, prosecuted and punished. Because cases of violence against Mexican journalists are almost never solved, the state is sending a very bad message to the gangs and cartels who carry out these atrocities. De la Cruz was active on social media and regularly denounced politicians for corruption. In the same attack where he was killed, his wife was also killed, and their daughter was injured. This kind of tragedy must stop. Journalists must have better protection and when they are attacked the response from law enforcement and the government must be swift and vigorous.”

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the U.S. and worldwide.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, The Vanishing Moderate Democrat, Jason Zengerle, Photo Illustrations by Justin Metz, June 29, 2022. Their positions are popular. So why are they going extinct?

Early last year, as Democrats were preparing to control the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, Josh Gottheimer met with Nancy Pelosi to discuss their party’s message. Sitting in the House speaker’s office in the U.S. Capitol, he opened up the YouTube app on his iPhone. There was something he wanted to show her.

democratic donkey logoGottheimer, who represents a wealthy suburban and exurban House district in northern New Jersey, was first elected to Congress in 2016; his victory over a seven-term Republican incumbent, in a district in which Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton, was one of the Democrats’ few bright spots that year. Since his arrival in Washington, however, Gottheimer has been the cause of more headaches than celebrations for Pelosi and her leadership team.

As co-chairman of the Problem Solvers Caucus — a group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans that quixotically aspires to the goal of bipartisan compromise — he has frequently found himself at odds with his fellow Democrats on everything from foreign policy to President Biden’s domestic agenda to Pelosi’s leadership.

This year, with Democrats clinging to a 10-seat majority in the House (almost guaranteed to drop to nine with a special election in Nebraska on June 28), most political handicappers expect Republicans to reclaim control of the chamber easily; the only real uncertainty is just how big the Red Wave will be, with predictions about the number of seats Republicans will gain ranging from less than 20 to more than 60. (Despite the public hearings of the House committee investigating Jan. 6, most Democrats running for election are not attempting to make the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election a referendum on Republicans.)

The bigger, more consequential question — not just for the moderates but for all Democrats — is whether this projected midterm wipeout is merely a cyclical occurrence or the manifestation of a much deeper and more intractable problem.

Over the last decade, the Democratic Party has moved significantly to the left on almost every salient political issue.

ny times logoNew York Times, Five Takeaways From Tuesday’s Elections, Reid J. Epstein, June 29, 2022. Democratic interference in Republican primaries paid off in some places but not others, election-denying candidates were halted in Colorado, and incumbents proved their staying power.

The biggest question heading into Tuesday’s primaries was whether Democrats would be successful in guiding Republican voters to choose weak nominees for the general election.

In Illinois, Democrats’ biggest and most sustained investment succeeded, but in Colorado, Republicans chose candidates who didn’t have nominal primary support from across the aisle, setting up several general elections that are expected to be very competitive.

Elsewhere, far-right candidates remade Republican politics down the ballot in Illinois, while incumbents who aren’t facing ethics inquiries coasted to victories. And a special election in Nebraska was far closer than anyone expected.

Politico, Casten beats Newman in matchup of Dem incumbents in Illinois, Myah Ward, June 29, 2022. Redistricting forced the incumbents to fight it out for the same seat in an intense, sometimes awkward, race for a Chicago-area seat.

politico CustomRep. Sean Casten beat out fellow Rep. Marie Newman in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 6th District on Tuesday, coming out on top in the member-versus-member battle for a Chicago-area seat.

Redistricting forced the incumbents to fight it out for the same seat in an intense, sometimes awkward, race. While the new democratic donkey logoboundaries favored Newman, Casten benefited from the profile — and campaign fundraising prowess — he built while flipping a battleground seat in the 2018 election.

Casten’s victory came after a quiet conclusion to the campaign, following the recent death of his 17-year-old daughter. Before the tragedy, both Democrats were in an ethics battle: Newman is facing a House ethics probe looking into whether she promised to hire a political rival in exchange for his support. Casten has faced scrutiny for his 2018 campaign’s dealings with a super PAC funded by his father.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Democrats must stop promoting GOP extremists, Editorial Board, June 29, 2022. Democracy itself is on the ballot this election year. The country needs a broad coalition to defeat candidates who would help former president Donald Trump, or another politician in his mold, again attempt a coup in 2024. Which is why it is not just shameless, but dangerous, that Democrats have spent tens of millions this year promoting Republican extremists.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Rudy Giuliani on Defensive After Uproar Over Assault Claim, Dana Rubinstein June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Two days after rudy giuliani recentRudy Giuliani, right, claimed a worker had assaulted him at a Staten Island supermarket, the once-vaunted former mayor was spending Tuesday morning like many men his age: complaining about his aches and pains.

“My shoulder hurts like hell and I’ve got a big lump on the back,” he said, smiling incongruously as he spoke to an audience of reporters and supporters in a Facebook broadcast from an indeterminate location. “And I don’t complain.”

Despite the video that quickly emerged showing that the supermarket worker in question had merely tapped Mr. Giuliani on the back, and despite a Staten Island prosecutor’s decision to reduce the charges against the man from a felony to misdemeanors, Mr. Giuliani held fast to his narrative: He was attacked, the city has gone to seed, and only his son, a candidate for governor with scant relevant experience, could make New Yorkers safe again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election deniers in Colo. rejected in favor of more moderate Republicans, Colby Itkowitz, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The Democratic and Republican nominating contests marked the first time Americans went to the polls since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Republican primary voters in Colorado on Tuesday rejected three hard-line election deniers in statewide contests in favor of more moderate opponents — including a U.S. Senate contender who supports some abortion rights.

The rebuke of the far-right hopefuls came as House Republicans in more conservative areas across the country prevailed over primary challengers who criticized them for supporting a never-formed independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. And Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who had been poised to reject certification of the 2020 election results but switched his vote after the Jan. 6 attack, also advanced from his primary.

The results of these closely watched primaries, projected by the Associated Press, marked a collective blow to insurgent challengers pressing their case at a time when the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 is under a national spotlight. Tuesday’s primaries unfolded against the backdrop of an explosive congressional hearing about the insurrection and former president Donald Trump’s conduct that day. They also marked the first time Americans went to the polls since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — bringing into the forefront Republican divisions over abortion policy positions and rhetoric.

Politico, New turmoil rocks crypto as court orders hedge fund to liquidate, Sam Sutton, June 29, 2022. Three Arrows Capital saw its fortunes crumble after its $200 million investment in Luna.

politico CustomA British Virgin Islands court has ordered the crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital to liquidate its assets, another blow to digital asset markets that are already cratering amid the collapse of once-high-flying startups.

The unwinding of Three Arrows, which had been one of the industry’s top investment firms, will likely spell big trouble for lending platforms and digital asset businesses whose finances are tied to the beleaguered hedge fund’s balance sheet. Digital asset markets have fallen by more than $2 trillion since last fall, erasing about two-thirds of the industry’s total market capitalization.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

 

r kelly denied bail

washington post logoWashington Post, R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years for sex trafficking, racketeering convictions, Samantha Chery, June 29, 2022. Witnesses testified that the R&B singer and his team would use the performer’s celebrity to lure and make travel arrangements for his victims, many of them minors hoping for their big break in the music business, only for them to be sexually abused by Kelly.

R&B star R. Kelly (shown above in a file photo after being denied bail following conviction) was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday for charges related to nearly 30 years’ worth of allegations that he physically and sexually abused women and minors.

His 2021 trial was one of the most high-profile cases to spring from the #MeToo movement. It is also one of the most prominent cases in which the victims were mostly Black women.

Prosecutors had asked for a 25-year sentence while Kelly’s defense team had argued for 14 to 17½ years.

r kelly twitter“The public has to be protected from behaviors like this,” Judge Ann M. Donnelly said as she delivered Kelly’s sentence, according to media reports. “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years.”

Last year, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn found Kelly, 55, (shown in a Twitter photo) guilty of one count of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, a law created to curb sex trafficking across state lines.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison, Shayna Jacobs, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Maxwell, 60, groomed and peddled girls and young women to financier Jeffrey Epstein for at least a decade.

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking young sexual abuse victims to financier Jeffrey Epstein, a recognition of her extensive role in recruiting the girls and young women and facilitating their encounters.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan had calculated the federal sentencing guidelines to suggest a 15-to-19-year prison term for Maxwell, 60, who as Epstein’s longtime girlfriend managed an evolving roster of victims to give him daily sexualized massages.

But after hearing from several victims who said they are still affected by the abuse they suffered, and from Maxwell herself, Nathan imposed a two-decade sentence. She said it was “important to note [Maxwell’s] lack of acceptance of responsibility” for the abuse, which occurred between 1994 and 2004.

 

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 Airp

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas sentenced to 20 months in prison, Shayna Jacobs, June 29, 2022. Parnas was convicted at trial of campaign-finance violations and separately pleaded guilty to stealing investment funds.

Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was sentenced to 20 months in prison Wednesday for defrauding investors in a sham company and for illegally making donations to U.S. political candidates on behalf of a Russian businessman.

Parnas was convicted at trial on campaign-finance related charges last year and pleaded guilty separately to stealing investment funds directed to a defunct business entity called Fraud Guarantee.

He personally pocketed $2 million.

Parnas was affiliated with Giuliani while working on President Donald Trump’s behalf to seek incriminating information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine before the 2020 election.

Although federal prosecutors in New York also have been investigating Giuliani for his dealings in Ukraine during that time period, he has not been charged.

Parnas and another man, Igor Fruman, were discussed at Trump’s first impeachment trial, which focused on the then-president’s alleged campaign to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens.

washington post logojeff fortenberryWashington Post, Ex-GOP congressman Jeff Fortenberry gets probation for lying to FBI, María Luisa Paúl, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The Nebraska Republican, right, was convicted in March of lying to federal investigators about campaign donations

washington post logoWashington Post, Flint water charges tossed because of ‘one-man grand jury,’ court says, Lateshia Beachum, June 29, 2022. Charges against former Michigan governor Rick Snyder (R), right, and other government officials linked to the Flint water crisis must be tossed out because of problems with the prosecution that included a “one-man grand jury,” the state’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

rick snyder 2013Last year, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) appointed a group of prosecutors to examine whether crimes were committed when Flint’s water became contaminated with lead and possible Legionella bacteria, which can lead to several health conditions, including Legionnaire’s disease. The prosecution eventually sought an indictment of Snyder on charges of willful neglect of duty, to which he pleaded not guilty.

In its opinion issued Tuesday, the Michigan Supreme Court said a “one-man grand jury” consisting of Genesee-based 7th Circuit Judge David Newblatt “considered the evidence behind closed doors, and then issued indictments against defendants [and] defendants’ cases were assigned to a Genesee Circuit Court judge.” The unanimous decision sends the case back to the 7th Circuit Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court says Oklahoma can prosecute crimes in ‘Indian country,’ Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, June 29, 2022.  Separately, the court ruled for an Army reservist and Iraq War veteran who wants to sue the state of Texas over his treatment upon returning to his civilian job. In a pair of closely divided decisions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Oklahoma officials in a case involving state prosecutions within Indian reservations and ruled for an Army reservist who said he was mistreated by his public employer after returning from Iraq.

The decisions come as the high court prepares to end a consequential term Thursday with two remaining opinions on the president’s powers over immigration policy and to combat climate change. After the court announces its final rulings, Justice Stephen G. Breyer will formally retire at noon. His departure will clear the way for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the high court.

The Oklahoma decision announced Wednesday limits the reach of a 2020 ruling that reclassified a large swath of the state, including the city of Tulsa, as Indian land and disrupted criminal prosecutions. The 5-to-4 decision, criticized by tribal leaders, said state officials have the authority to prosecute non-Indians for crimes against Native Americans within a tribal reservation.

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

washington post logoWashington Post, Journalists in Uvalde are stonewalled, hassled, threatened with arrest, Arelis R. Hernández and Paul Farhi, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Reporters came to Texas to tell the story of the Robb Elementary School massacre. But ‘we were seen as enemies’ by police, they say.

Journalists had been threatened with arrest for getting too close to the mourners, so Houston Chronicle reporter Julian Gill stayed in the designated media area when he reported on funerals the week after the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Nevertheless, a phalanx of uniformed bikers confronted Gill outside the cemetery gates. They called themselves “Guardians of the Children” and claimed to be working with police officers who stood watch.

“I’m not trying to disturb anyone, guys,” Gill told the bikers, in a video he posted online. “I’m not trying to ask anybody any questions. I just wanted to watch. That’s all we can do, right?”

But the bikers followed and harassed journalists anyway, Gill wrote in the Chronicle. When he accidentally bumped into a Guardian who claimed to be a paramedic, the bikers accused him of assault and battery. “As a public servant, that’s kind of a felony,” the biker-paramedic said in the video.

 

U.S. Immigration, Deportation News

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid breathtaking toll from smuggling incident, fears of more death this summer along border, Eva Ruth Moravec, Arelis R. Hernández, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). As the medical examiner worked to match identification cards with bodies found inside an abandoned tractor-trailer in South Texas, the death toll rose to 51 and investigators detained three people.

The breathtaking toll of the deadliest smuggling incident of its kind on U.S. soil gripped San Antonio on Tuesday as the medical examiner worked to match identification cards with bodies, the death toll rose and investigators detained three people. Three of the 16 people initially rescued died, officials said. With 11 still hospitalized, they asked the public to pray for those still fighting for their lives.

 

U.S. Abortion Law, Medical Updates

washington post logoWashington Post, You scheduled an abortion. Planned Parenthood’s website could tell Facebook, Tatum Hunter, June 29, 2022. The organization left marketing trackers running on its scheduling pages.

The Supreme Court’s decision last week overturning the nationwide right to an abortion in the United States may have sent worried people flooding to Planned Parenthood’s website to learn about nearby clinics or schedule services.

facebook logoBut if they used the organization’s online scheduling tool, it appears Planned Parenthood could share people’s location — and, in some cases, even the method of abortion they selected — with big tech companies.

An investigation by Lockdown Privacy, the maker of an app that blocks online tracking, found that Planned Parenthood’s web scheduler can share information with a variety of third parties, including Google, Facebook, TikTok and Hotjar, a tracking tool tiktok logo square Customthat says it helps companies understand how customers behave. These outside companies receive data including IP addresses, approximate Zip codes and service selections, which privacy experts worry could be valuable to state governments looking to prosecute abortions.

Big Tech silent on data collection as workers call for post-Roe action

In a video shared with The Washington Post, Lockdown founder Johnny Lin visited the Planned Parenthood website, opened the scheduling tool, input a Zip code and selected “surgical abortion” as a service. As he clicked around, a development tool let him see how data such as his IP address was being shared with Google, Facebook and many other third-party companies.

Only the companies would know for sure how they use our data, but any data sitting on servers is vulnerable to potential cyberattacks or government subpoenas. In a criminal abortion case, an IP address would be pertinent because with the help of internet service providers, law enforcement can trace IP addresses back to individuals.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Many Women, Roe Was About More Than Abortion. It Was About Freedom, Julie Bosman, June 29, 2022. After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, some women are reconsidering their plans, including where they live, and wondering how best to channel their anger.

Countless women wept. Some spent the weekend burning white-hot with rage, commiserating with friends and mothers and sisters. Many were fearful, recognizing the feeling of a freedom being taken away and thinking to themselves: This could only get worse.

Millions of American women spent the past five days absorbing the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, erasing the constitutional right to a legal abortion that had held for nearly a half-century.

The decision instantly reordered the lives of women across the country.

Some women, especially conservative Christians, reveled in the decision as a moral and legal victory. But a poll released on Sunday revealed that a sizable majority of women in the United States — 67 percent — opposed the court’s ruling to overturn Roe, and 52 percent of Americans said it was a step backward for the nation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Illinois Abortion Clinics Prepare for a Rush of Patients After Roe, Allison McCann, June 29, 2022. The 67 clinics operating in neighboring states could stop offering abortions or close altogether, sending thousands more patients to Illinois.

illinois mapIllinois is quickly emerging as an island of abortion access for people in the Midwest and the South, as neighboring states move to ban the procedure after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. Providers in the state had been preparing for a surge of people seeking abortion services, but many said this week that they were still overwhelmed by patients’ reactions to the decision.

There were roughly 50,000 abortions performed in Illinois in 2020, and around one in five was for a patient traveling from out of state. There are currently 29 abortion providers in Illinois, but as clinics in surrounding states stop providing abortions or close altogether, these providers say they may not be able to meet the demand.

Four of Illinois’s neighbors immediately banned abortion after the court’s decision on Friday, and two others — Ohio and Tennessee — now restrict the procedure to six weeks into a pregnancy. A ban in Michigan is temporarily blocked by a court there, and lawmakers in Indiana and Iowa are expected to consider abortion bans in the coming months.

Politico, GWU to keep Clarence Thomas on payroll after Roe backlash, Olivia Olander, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The justice suggested the Supreme Court "reconsider" rulings on contraception and same-sex marriage in his concurring opinion overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.

politico CustomGeorge Washington University will not cancel Justice Clarence Thomas’ constitutional law class or fire him, despite backlash against his concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the university announced on Tuesday.

“Debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission,” it said in a statement addressed to “the George Washington University Community.”

GWU has “received requests from some members of the university” and others that they fire Thomas, an adjunct professor who teaches a constitutional law seminar, the statement said.

“Just as we affirm our commitment to academic freedom, we affirm the right of all members of our communities to voice their opinions,” the statement said.

However, the university added, the justice’s views don’t represent those of the school.

The letter specifically addressed criticisms of Thomas’ argument that the substantive due process doctrine is a “legal fiction,” a belief on which he doubled down in his concurring opinion overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Can pregnant patients receive chemotherapy? The many unanswered questions doctors face after abortion ruling, Ariana Eunjung Cha, June 29, 2022 (print ed.).  Some worry gray areas in new abortion bans force a choice between breaking their oath and breaking the law.

  • jennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Abortion and women’s lives are on the ballot in Kansas, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 29, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortions in Texas can temporarily resume, judge rules, Caroline Kitchener and Meryl Kornfield, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). A Texas "trigger ban" is still scheduled to take effect 30 days from last week’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Abortion providers and patients in Texas were again thrown into disarray by a court decision, this time rebooking appointments they had canceled just days before.

On Tuesday, after a judge granted a temporary restraining order to allow clinics to offer abortions for at least two weeks without criminal prosecution, staff members at Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, an abortion clinic in San Antonio, immediately started calling patients they had turned away on Friday when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“Can you get here today?” executive administrator Andrea Gallegos asked each woman. “Just come as soon as you can,” she said, aware that the state could file an appeal at any time.

The clinic performed 10 abortions Tuesday, Gallegos said, and it has scheduled more patients for Wednesday. Clinics that had sued the state, including Alamo, had stopped their abortion procedures Friday but raced to take advantage of a fleeting reprieve Tuesday after Harris County Judge Christine Weems (D) ruled that a pre-Roe ban enforced by Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and prosecutors would “inevitably and irreparably chill the provision of abortions in the vital last weeks in which safer abortion care remains available and lawful in Texas.”

 

More On Ukraine War

 

More on War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52-year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine in April.

washington post logoWashington Post, NATO is united on Ukraine. Good, but plenty could still go wrong, David Ignatius, June 29, 2022. Brussels — NATO solidarity was on display at a summit meeting this week in Madrid. One after another, officials pledged to stay the course and combat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

But as this war bleeds into summer and civilians continue to perish in horrific rocket attacks, NATO needs to ask how its strategy might fail. We can imagine some of the ways in which a hypothetical “Red Team” analysis might reveal how Ukraine’s allies could squander their current advantages and lose this conflict.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Rapes by Russian Soldiers, a Difficult Quest for Justice, Valerie Hopkins, June 29, 2022. Women who were attacked in a village near Kyiv face daunting challenges in getting such crimes prosecuted. “I want them to be punished,” said one victim.

ukraine flagEvery day, Viktoriya has to walk past the house where she was raped by a Russian soldier the same age as her teenage son.

Russian troops arrived in her two-street village, near the Kyiv suburb of Borodianka, in early March. Soon afterward, she said, two of them raped her and a neighbor, killed two men, including her neighbor’s husband, and destroyed several homes.

“If you do not think about it all, you can live,” Viktoriya said in an interview in the village on a recent rainy day. “But it is certainly not forgotten.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Near Kherson, Ukrainians regain territory in major counteroffensive, Isabelle Khurshudyan, June 29, 2022. 
With Russian forces focused mainly in the east, Ukraine has retaken occupied towns in the south.

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

climate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Italy hits record June temperatures as another heat wave sweeps Europe, Ian Livingston, June 29, 2022 (print ed.)  Temperatures were 15 to 35 degrees above normal over much of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa.

washington post logoWashington Post, Record heat wave cooks Japan, straining power grid, Karina Tsui, Julia Mio Inuma and Ian Livingston, June 29, 2022. The last time Japan recorded consistently high temperatures in June was in 1875.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sea change? World leaders say ‘ocean emergency’ requires swift action, Maxine Joselow, June 29, 2022 (print ed.).  Delegates from more than 20 nations are meeting in Lisbon to draft a treaty on protecting the world’s oceans.

The ocean covers about 70 percent of Earth’s surface, yet it is often missing from discussions about tackling climate change, plastic pollution, biodiversity loss and other pressing environmental threats facing the planet.

Thousands of scientists and activists hope to shift the conversation at this week’s United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, where leaders from more than 20 nations are set to issue a declaration on protecting the high seas against exploitation and restoring ocean health.

“Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an ocean emergency,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres told delegates at the opening of the conference. “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”

The ocean covers about 70 percent of Earth’s surface, yet it is often missing from discussions about tackling climate change, plastic pollution, biodiversity loss and other pressing environmental threats facing the planet.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

Thousands of scientists and activists hope to shift the conversation at this week’s United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, where leaders from more than 20 nations are set to issue a declaration on protecting the high seas against exploitation and restoring ocean health.

“Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an ocean emergency,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres told delegates at the opening of the conference. “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Where there’s bodies, there’s treasure’: A hunt as Lake Mead shrinks, Joshua Partlow, June 28, 2022 (print ed.). The reservoir supplying electricity to 350,000 homes as well as irrigation and drinking water to about 25 million people stands at a record low.

As the nation’s largest reservoir has plummeted to about a quarter of its former size, barrels have taken on a grisly new significance. But the human remains discovered in a rusted-out barrel last month — suspected of being a decades-old mob execution — are not the only artifacts and oddities that have turned up in the mud. There have also been handguns, baby strollers, tackle boxes, vintage Coors cans, Prada sunglasses, exploded ordnance, real human jaw bones, fake human skeletons, ancient arrowheads, concrete mooring blocks, dozens of sunken boats and untold amounts of scattered trash.

The declining water levels have become a source of morbid fascination for visitors and longtime residents alike. In a place where party barges and speedboats once frolicked, Americans now wander the heat-ravaged West, searching for wreckage. Online groups have sprung up dedicated to documenting the dramatic disappearance of a lake that supplies electricity to 350,000 homes as well as irrigation and drinking water to some 25 million people across the Southwest.

 

Pandemic Public Health, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Omicron Subvariants Are Dominant in the U.S., the C.D.C. Estimates, Adeel Hassan, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). BA.4 and BA.5 were first detected in South Africa less than six months ago, and a booster dose could be available in the fall. Follow updates.

Continuing their rapid march across the United States, the Omicron subvariants known as BA.4 and BA.5 have together become dominant among new coronavirus cases, according to new estimates on Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of the week ending Saturday, BA.4 made up 15.7 percent of new cases, and BA.5 was 36.6 percent, accounting for about 52 percent of new cases in the United States, numbers that experts said should rise in the weeks to come.

The statistics, released Tuesday morning, are based on modeling and can be revised as more data comes in, which happened in late December, when the agency’s estimates missed the mark.

The release came on the day that an expert committee recommended Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration plan on an updated booster shot of the coronavirus vaccines that targets some form of the Omicron variant, even though the virus might evolve yet again by the fall.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Monkeypox Spreads, U.S. Plans a Vaccination Campaign, Apoorva Mandavilli, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). l States will be given vaccine doses from the federal stockpile, but supplies of the safest type are limited.

Clinics nationwide will begin offering vaccinations against monkeypox to anyone who may have been exposed to the virus, federal health officials announced on Tuesday.

Until now, immunizations were offered only to people with a known exposure.

States will receive doses of a safer and newer monkeypox vaccine called Jynneos from the federal stockpile, based on the number of cases and the proportion of the state’s population at risk for severe disease, the officials said at a news briefing.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Boy Scout escaped Amtrak wreckage to comfort a dying truck driver, Jonathan Edwards, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Eli Skrypczak played on his phone Monday afternoon while aboard an Amtrak train hurtling through the heartland of Missouri. The 15-year-old Boy Scout and hundreds of other passengers were unaware of the dump truck ahead that was about to change their lives.

 

Media, Religion, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two more newspapers close every week — and ‘news deserts’ grow larger, Margaret Sullivan, right, June 29, 2022.  In margaret sullivan 2015 photopoorer, less-wired parts of the U.S., it’s harder to find credible news about your local community. That has dire implications for democracy. Penelope Muse Abernathy may be the nation’s foremost expert on what media researchers call “news deserts”— and she’s worried.

News deserts are communities lacking a news source that provides meaningful and trustworthy local reporting on issues such as health, government and the environment. It’s a vacuum that leaves residents ignorant of what’s going on in their world, incapable of fully participating as informed citizens. What’s their local government up to? northwestern logoWho deserves their vote? How are their tax dollars being spent? All are questions that go unanswered in a news desert.

Local newspapers are hardly the only news sources that can do the job, but they are the ones that have traditionally filled that role. And they are disappearing.

One-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public Wednesday from Northwestern University’s Medill School, where Abernathy is a visiting professor.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, FCC commissioner calls on Google and Apple to ban TikTok app, Aaron Gregg, June 29, 2022. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, expressed concerns that personal data from millions of U.S. TikTok users is being accessed in China.

apple logo rainbowA Federal Communications commissioner is calling on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores over concerns that user data from the wildly popular social media platform is being accessed in China.

google logo customIn a tweet Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr shared a letter addressed to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, the chief executives of Apple and Google parent Alphabet, respectively. He raised concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership, saying that “it harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in tiktok logo square CustomBeijing.”

Carr can’t single-handedly compel them to ban TikTok, since the FCC doesn’t regulate app stores.

But the request nonetheless underscores the scrutiny that the leading tech firms continue to draw from powerful regulators in both parties and marks yet another chapter in TikTok’s complicated dance with the U.S. government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact-checking movement grapples with a world awash in false claims, Glenn Kessler, June 29, 2022. Members of fact-checking organizations from around the globe met last week for their first in-person conference in three years, confronting a world awash in baseless claims promoted by politicians and even governments and increasingly embraced by receptive audiences.

nancy pelosi gavel safe oenwashington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi receives Communion at Vatican after earlier U.S. bishop refusal, Stefano Pitrelli and Amy B Wang, June 29, 2022. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, a Catholic and vocal supporter of abortion rights, received Holy Communion on Wednesday during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, according to an attendee at the Mass.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigating The Other Cancel Culture: How a Public University Is Bowing to a Conservative Crusade, Daniel Golden and Kirsten Berg, June 29, 2022. With a rising national profile and donor base and relatively little state funding, Boise State University should be able to resist pressure by the Idaho Legislature. Instead the university, led by a liberal transplant, has repeatedly capitulated. 

 

June 28

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

U.S. Immigration, Deportation News

 

Jan. 6 U.S. Defendant Prosecutions, Election Probes

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters


More On Ukraine War

 

Public Health, Pandemic News

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters


Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

 

Top Stories

 

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 Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices go against public opinion on abortion, guns, Michael Scherer, June 25, 2022. Ruling against Roe v. Wade punctuates shift on Supreme Court. Until recently, the court hewed closely to shifting public views on key social issues like same-sex marriage, private sexual conduct, workplace protections for transgender people, and popular support for laws and executive orders on immigration and health care.

Analysis: The Supreme Court rolls back a right and inflames a divided country; Abortion plea: ‘If I just give you this money, can you give me this pill?’ French lawmakers propose enshrining abortion rights in constitution; ‘Bring rifles’: Extremist groups on left, right call for violence over ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s new majority boldly signaled with twin rulings this week that public opinion would not interfere with conservative plans to shift the nation’s legal landscape.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s dominance might end with a whimper, not a bang, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 28, 2022. Pollsters, pundits and jennifer rubin new headshotRepublican operatives have long insisted that the House Jan. 6 committee’s hearings won’t change voters’ minds, largely because Republican voters deep in the right-wing media cocoon are ignoring the hearings. But there’s evidence the “nothing matters” crowd is wrong.

For starters, polling shows increased interest in prosecuting defeated former president Donald Trump. Even before the committee’s blockbuster hearings last week — which featured damning testimony from former Justice Department officials in the Trump administration, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R), and Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss — the percentage of Americans who thought Trump should be charged with a crime was rising. An ABC News-Ipsos poll found that 58 percent of Americans agreed with that earlier this month, compared with 52 percent who said the same in April.

Plus, the right-wing media bubble might not block out exposure to the hearings’ findings entirely. Fox News host Brian Kilmeade let on that Trump’s lawyers never came up with evidence of voter fraud. He also called Trump “unhinged.” And during the network’s coverage last Thursday, Bret Baier remarked on the fact that the hearings featured officials “who again were working for President Trump, [and] stood up saying, ‘we have an oath to the Constitution.’ ” (Disclaimer: I am an MSNBC contributor.) While some voters might not have tuned in to watch the proceedings live, coverage is all over social media. It’s hard to ignore the hearings entirely.

Certainly, MAGA-rally-attending conspiracy theorists are not going to be swayed by any of that. But a mainstream Republican reading an article in, say, the Wall Street Journal will surely absorb the enormity of the evidence against Trump.

These voters — the Republicans who convinced themselves Trump was preferable to “socialist” Democrats or who believe Democrats are out to pollute children’s minds with critical race theory — are crucial to Trump’s support. For them, the choice might now be Trump or someone who hates Democrats as much as they do but can spare them from Trump’s obsession with 2020.

Trump’s likely 2024 opponents must be licking their chops. As Politico recently reported, an adviser to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis characterized the hearings as a “continuation of the exhausting circus that surrounds Trump.” The DeSantis adviser insists that big-money donors (who are presumably more rational than the average MAGA conspiratorialist) have become “sick of the s---show.” That helps to explain the anecdotal evidence that DeSantis provides an escape route for Republicans looking for someone “like Trump but less crazy.”

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

NBC News, Inside DC: Former Senate security chief dies; death not considered suspicious, Julie Tsirkinm, June 28, 2022. Michael Stenger, the former sergeant-at-arms who oversaw Senate security during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, was found dead Monday morning, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Stenger’s cause of death is not yet known. U.S. Capitol Police declined to comment. The medical examiner in Virginia did not handle his death, a spokesman said, indicating it was not considered suspicious.

Fox News reported that Stenger had cancer.

Stenger, who was nominated to be the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms in 2018, resigned the day after the Capitol riot after he faced backlash from lawmakers over his handling of security during the riots.

In the wake of Jan. 6, Stenger, as well as former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, came under fire for security failures at the Capitol. Even though would-be rioters openly planned online to try to occupy the building in the weeks leading up to the attack, officials blamed a lack of intelligence.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who nominated Stenger to his post in 2018, when he was the majority leader, said on Jan. 7 that he had asked for and received Stenger's resignation. Sund and Irving also resigned that day.

Stenger spent much of his career working for the Secret Service before he joined the Senate as an assistant sergeant-at-arms in 2011. He also served in the Marine Corps, attaining the rank of captain.

 

June 26

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

U.S. Immigration, Deportation News

 

Top Stories

 

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 Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Justices go against public opinion on abortion, guns, Michael Scherer, June 25, 2022. Ruling against Roe v. Wade punctuates shift on Supreme Court. Until recently, the court hewed closely to shifting public views on key social issues like same-sex marriage, private sexual conduct, workplace protections for transgender people, and popular support for laws and executive orders on immigration and health care.

Analysis: The Supreme Court rolls back a right and inflames a divided country; Abortion plea: ‘If I just give you this money, can you give me this pill?’ French lawmakers propose enshrining abortion rights in constitution; ‘Bring rifles’: Extremist groups on left, right call for violence over ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s new majority boldly signaled with twin rulings this week that public opinion would not interfere with conservative plans to shift the nation’s legal landscape.

The court rejected Roe v. Wade, a 49-year-old legal precedent that guaranteed the right to an abortion, after a string of national polls showed a clear majority of Americans wanted the opposite result. A similar court majority invalidated a 108-year-old New York state law restricting who can carry concealed guns that is supported by nearly 8 in 10 New Yorkers, according to a recent poll by Siena College.

Rather than ignore the dissonance, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority in the abortion decision, attacked the notion that the court should consider the public will. He quoted late chief justice William H. Rehnquist from a previous ruling: “The Judicial Branch derives its legitimacy, not from following public opinion, but from deciding by its best lights.”

“We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey,” Alito continued in the court’s opinion in the case that overturned the constitutional right to abortion. “And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.”

Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here's which could be next.

The assertion punctuates a shift that has been evident on the high court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020. The high court during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and early Donald Trump administrations generally hewed closely to shifting public views on key social issues like same-sex marriage, private sexual conduct, workplace protections for transgender people and popular support for laws and executive orders on immigration and health care.

Maya Sen, a professor of public policy at Harvard University, is one of several academics who have noted the recent shift by studying public polling on issues decided by the high court over the course of more than a decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, Access to Abortion Plummets After Supreme Court Ruling, Julie Bosman, June 25, 2022. As more trigger laws banning abortion take effect, the country is rapidly sorting into two — a half where abortion is still legal, and a half where it is now outlawed or severely restricted.

Americans awakened on Saturday to a new and rapidly shifting reality where abortion, a basic legal right for nearly a half-century, was outlawed in some states and permitted in others, and where initial bursts of elation and shock after the declaration that Roe v. Wade had been overturned gave way to action.

Demonstrations and spontaneous celebrations erupted in dozens of cities across the country. While abortion opponents cheered a long-fought victory, outraged protesters thronged by the thousands in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Louisville, Ky., condemning the Supreme Court and vowing that they would resist the decision.

ny times logoNew York Times, Can women be banned from traveling to other states to get an abortion? Ava Sasani, June 25, 2022. There are currently no abortion bans that attempt to prosecute women who cross state lines to seek an abortion.

However, states could try in the future, said David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University. “There is no guarantee that an aggressive prosecutor might try to stretch the law as much as they can.”

In his concurring decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that women who travel to neighboring states to receive an abortion would be protected by the constitutional right to interstate travel.

People who assist a woman seeking an abortion in a neighboring state could also be at risk of prosecution.

“It’s hard to tell at this point, but I think it’s likely that [the prosecutors] will go after the people that help the woman get the abortion,” he said. “The person who drives them, the doctor who sees them.”

Both Texas and Oklahoma recently passed abortion bans that allow private citizens to sue people who perform abortions or who otherwise help someone get one.

Many organizations are still encouraging patients who cannot seek an abortion in their home state to travel across state lines to receive care, including a handful of companies that have pledged to cover travel expenses for employees who need abortions.

 ny times logoNew York Times, SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE, Adam Liptak, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Ends Constitutional Right to Abortion; Draft Opinion Had Leaked.

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

The decision, which echoed a leaked draft opinion published by Politico in early May, will result in a starkly divided country in which abortion is severely restricted or forbidden in many red states but remains freely available in most blue ones.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, voted with the majority but said he would have taken “a more measured course,” stopping short of overruling Roe outright. The court’s three liberal members dissented.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, concerned a law enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute, a calculated challenge to Roe, included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Lower courts ruled for the clinic, saying the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which prohibited states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, currently about 23 weeks.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

The decision, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years, will lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

It will also be one of the signal legacies of former President Trump: All three of his appointees were in the majority ruling.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here’s which could be next, Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul, N. Kirkpatrick, Daniela Santamariña and Lauren Tierney, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court released a decision on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, touching off a cascade of antiabortion laws that probably will take effect across roughly half the country.

Without the landmark precedent in place, the national abortion landscape will change quickly. First, 13 states with “trigger bans,” designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Thomas’s concurring opinion raises questions about what rights might be next, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that elicited fears about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

samuel alito oIn the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, left, the court said that nothing in its decision “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Justice Thomas said he agreed with that.

However, he noted that in its rationale, the court’s majority found that a right to abortion was not a form of “liberty” protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Then, he took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating clarence thomas HRsodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

Justice Thomas, right, wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.

This kind of language is just what advocates for reproductive rights and for L.G.B.T.Q. rights have been fearing. Defenders of the right to abortion have repeatedly warned that if Roe fell, the right to contraception and same-sex marriage would be next.

Abortion opponents, who fought hard to overturn Roe, have insisted they have no interest in trying to undo the right to contraception.

But already, states like Missouri are trying to restrict access to contraception by banning public funding for certain methods: intrauterine devices and the so-called morning after pill. And some Republicans, notably Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have said that the Griswold case was wrongly decided. Earlier this year, Ms. Blackburn called Griswold “constitutionally unsound.”

 

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says restoring abortion rights is up to voters, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Newsom, West Coast governors pledge ‘sanctuary’ for abortion rights; Dick’s Sporting Goods to reimburse travel expenses for employees who seek abortion; Dispatch from Jackson, Miss: Vow to keep seeing patients.

President Biden called the Supreme Court’s decision a “tragic error” and implored voters to elect candidates in November who will support abortion rights and broader rights to privacy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs gun-control legislation into law, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Marianna Sotomayor, June 25, 2022. Moments before he signed a bipartisan gun-control bill into law, President Biden recounted meeting family members of gun violence victims in Uvalde, Tex., Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., and dozens of mourning communities in between.

“Their message to us was do something,” Biden said. “How many times have you heard that? Just do something. For God’s sake, just do something. But today we did.”

The gun-control act is the most significant law of its kind in the last three decades, although Biden has conceded it doesn’t do everything that he wants — or everything that advocates have asked for.

The legislation was the result of negotiations by a handful of Republican and Democratic senators, led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo.

In addition to providing funding for mental health services and school security initiatives, the legislation expands criminal background checks for some gun buyers, bars a larger group of domestic-violence offenders from purchasing firearms, and funds programs that would allow authorities to seize guns from troubled individuals.

The bill passed the House overwhelmingly along party lines, 234 to 193, with no Democratic defections. Fourteen Republicans voted in favor, including Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Tex.), who represents Uvalde, the city that is now home to the second-largest mass school shooting in U.S. history.

The movement on gun control happens at a tumultuous moment in Washington. The House passed the legislation on the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Celebrations in the Capitol over breaking a 30-year logjam on gun control happened at the same time that virulent protests were going on a short walk away in front of the nation’s highest court.

“Jill and I know how painful and devastating the decision is for so many American, and I mean so many Americans,” Biden said.

He said his administration was now focused on making sure states didn’t break other laws as they sought to restrict access to abortion. “We’re going to take actions to protect women’s rights and reproductive health,” he said.

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The ruling comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control. The Senate is close to passing a bipartisan package of gun safety measures, a major step toward ending a yearslong stalemate in Congress.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent. (Excerpted story continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia could soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Liz Sly, June 25, 2022. Small shifts in territorial control matter less than the overall balance of forces, which analysts say could shift back in favor of Ukraine in the coming months.

The Russian military will soon exhaust its combat capabilities and be forced to bring its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to a grinding halt, according to Western intelligence predictions and military experts.

“There will come a time when the tiny advances Russia is making become unsustainable in light of the costs and they will need a significant pause to regenerate capability,” said a senior Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

The assessments come despite continued Russian advances against outgunned Ukrainian forces, including the capture on Friday of the town of Severodonetsk, the biggest urban center taken by Russia in the east since launching the latest Donbas offensive nearly three months ago.

The Russians are now closing in on the adjacent city of Lysychank, on the opposite bank of the Donetsk river. The town’s capture would give Russia almost complete control of the Luhansk oblast, one of two oblasts, or provinces, comprising the Donbas region. Control of Donbas is the publicly declared goal of Russia’s “special military operation,” although the multi-front invasion launched in February made it clear that Moscow’s original ambitions were far broader.
Smoke rises over Severodonetsk during a battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Capturing Lysychank presents a challenge because it stands on higher ground and the Donetsk river impedes Russian advances from the east. So instead, Russian troops appear intent on encircling the city from the west, pressing southeast from Izyum and northeast from Popasna on the western bank of the river.

But the “creeping” advances are dependent almost entirely on the expenditure of vast quantities of ammunition, notably artillery shells, which are being fired at a rate almost no military in the world would be able to sustain for long, said the senior Western official.

Russia meanwhile is continuing to suffer heavy losses of equipment and men, calling into question how much longer it can remain on the attack, the official said.

Officials refuse to offer a time frame, but Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, citing British intelligence assessments, indicated this week that Russia would be able to continue to fight on only for the “next few months.” After that, “Russia could come to a point when there is no longer any forward momentum because it has exhausted its resources,” he told the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.

Russian commentators are also noting the challenges, emphasizing a chronic shortage of manpower. “Russia does not have enough physical strength in the zone of the special military operation in Ukraine …. taking into account the almost one thousand kilometer (or more) line of confrontation,” wrote Russian military blogger Yuri Kotyenok on his Telegram account. He estimated that Russia would need 500,000 troops to attain its goals, which would only be possible with a large-scale mobilization of military men, a potentially risky and unpopular move that President Vladimir Putin has so far refrained from undertaking.

 

U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Steady, Commentary: A day at the Supreme Court that shakes America to its core, Dan Rather (right, author and former CBS Evening News dan rather 2011anchor and managing editor), June 24-25, 2022.

What to say that hasn’t been said but needs to be said again, and again, and again:

dan rather steady logoThis is not a court of humble jurists who are bound in any way by fidelity to precedent, the law, or common sense. There is nothing “conservative” about these damaging decisions, or the men and woman who have imposed their extreme views upon the American populace.

Right-wing politicians decry “elitism,” but what is more elitist than unelected and unaccountable activists using the language of legal argumentation as a fig leaf for their naked exercise of power?

There is no way that these decisions would pass a vote of the American public. Indeed, a majority of the justices were installed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And the polling on the issues these rulings tear asunder suggests that what these justices are doing is unpopular — in many cases, very unpopular.

But they sneer from their echo chamber of extremism. They are emboldened by a system that has been fixed, with the complicity of Mitch McConnell and others, to advantage minority viewpoints by leveraging a branch of government not designed to be a political actors' stage in order to circumvent the legislative and executive branches.

Where to begin, and where will it end?The Supreme Court has further cemented its role as a reactionary force in American life.

Today it was abortion, on top of recent decisions on gun regulations, public funding for religious schools, and Miranda rights. Soon they will likely gut environmental regulations, and we can guess at what comes next — gay marriage? Contraception?

We can’t let this moment pass without recognizing what a horrific decision today's is, and how it will relegate women to second-class status in decision-making over their own bodies. This will lead to a host of suffering and likely death. It will imprison women where control will be imposed by the state. It is the opposite of freedom. It is a right that existed — and still should.

The Supreme Court depends on its legitimacy, and today that is as tattered as the constitutional rights on which it has trampled. The Roberts court will be marked as a cabal of intemperance that made America far less safe and far less free. It will be noted for its zealotry and its cynical embrace of the ends justifying the means.

But as with all chapters of history, how our present is ultimately viewed depends on what comes next. Will these rulings lead to outrage-fueled activism that upends the political system, or apathy and defeatism? Will the majority mobilize? Will there be reforms? Will there be a recalibration of the current balance of power?

I leave you today with the words of Sherrilyn Ifill, civil rights lawyer and president and director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has experienced the fight from the trenches of justice, and her perspective mirrors my own. I could not have expressed it better.

Remember that we have never seen the America we’ve been fighting for. So no need to be nostalgic. Right on the other side of this unraveling is opportunity. If we keep fighting no matter what, take care of ourselves & each other, stay strategic & principled, & use all our power.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Roe’s demise, abortion will soon be banned across much of red America, Caroline Kitchener, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark precedent will prompt immediate changes to the country’s abortion landscape. The tremors from Friday’s sweeping Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will ripple across the country almost immediately, with roughly half of all states poised to ban or drastically restrict abortion.

Thirteen states will outlaw abortion within 30 days with “trigger bans” that were designed to take effect as soon as Roe was overturned. These laws make an exception for cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but most do not include exceptions for rape or incest.

In many states, trigger bans will activate as soon as a designated state official certifies the decision, which Republican lawmakers expect to happen within minutes.

“They just need to acknowledge, ‘Yes, this has occurred,’ ” said Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who has championed much of his state’s antiabortion legislation, including its trigger ban. “I’ll be happy to see the butcher mill in Little Rock, Arkansas, shut down for good.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden confronts a bombshell that could define his presidency, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Tyler Pager, Ashley Parker and Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Roe’s demise could give Biden a way to find his voice and re-energize his presidency — or just escalate the divisions that have made it so hard to govern.

President Biden seized on the demise of Roe v. Wade on Friday as a way to re-energize Democrats’ electoral prospects and revive his presidency, urging voters to choose candidates who support abortion rights as he sought to regain the voice of an administration that has been struggling amid a turbulent political landscape.

Speaking from the White House two hours after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision, Biden said his administration would do everything it could to protect abortion rights but stressed that the ultimate power for change lay with millions of shocked and angry Americans whom he urged to carry their outrage into voting booths this November.

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” Biden said. “Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality — they’re all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect women’s rights in states where they will face the consequences of today’s decision.”

joe biden twitterDemocrats hold narrow majorities in Congress, but party leaders have been unable to persuade all their members to eliminate the Senate filibuster, and their 50 Senate seats are far short of the 60 they would need to codify abortion rights. On Friday, as protesters streamed to the Supreme Court, Biden sought to entrench himself as a leader in the fight to protect abortion access, a battle that could define the trajectory of his presidency.

While Republicans hope the midterm elections are a referendum on high inflation and ballooning gas prices, the Supreme Court’s decision gives Biden and his party a new target — a high court with an approval rating lower than the president’s that is widely seen by Biden’s base as a dangerous vestige of the Trump presidency.

Many Democrats have worried that simply attacking GOP “extremism” would not be enough to overcome voters’ anxiety about bread-and-butter issues in November. The abortion ruling, they hope, could change that, especially since it could signal the court’s willingness to take aim at rights like contraception and same-sex marriage.

“Can you run a day-to-day campaign against the Republican MAGA agenda when [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas said he wants to come for contraception next? Oh, yeah, you can,” said Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for the Obama White House. “For things to break through, there has to be a real and present threat on things that impact people’s lives. And they now have that in spades.”

The decision, perhaps the most far-reaching Supreme Court ruling in a half-century, lands as Biden is already struggling to govern a country riven by bitter cultural divisions. The president has often been on the defensive in recent months, looking for ways to enact meaningful policy and deliver a resonant message.

It’s not clear whether Roe’s demise will give Biden a path to find his voice and re-energize his presidency, or will simply exacerbate the social divisions that have created such obstacles to governing.

Some Democrats were dismayed that the White House did not have a more robust plan to push abortion rights, especially given that news of the decision leaked nearly two months ago. Biden promised to take actions like ensuring abortion pills that can be received in the mail are widely available and fighting states that try to prevent women from traveling to obtain abortions elsewhere, but he stressed that the only real way to guarantee abortion rights is to enshrine them in federal law, which takes a Congress prepared to do that.

Biden, who was first sworn into the Senate just before the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973, has been at times uncomfortable wading into one of the nation’s most incendiary debates, even as abortion access entered the mainstream of his party’s platform. A devout Catholic who still attends mass every Sunday, Biden’s views on the issue have evolved, though sometimes too slowly for Democratic Party supporters.

Although White House officials conceded the issue does not always come easy to him, they say that he has become more aware of how abortion bans disproportionately harm poor women and women of color, and that he is now unequivocal in his support for abortion.

“He is never going to be the president of NARAL when he leaves office — that is not his comfort area,” a former White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the president, referring to the abortion rights group. “I think a lot of it has been educating and informing himself on who is impacted by bans on abortion. There is a huge equity issue, and that piece is important to him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 24-25, 2022. While we jennifer rubin new headshotknew from the leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion that Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent were hanging by a thread, and yet when the opinion came down Friday morning — a virtual copy of the leaked draft — many Americans no doubt felt a wave of disbelief, anger, dread and fear.

The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason.

 As the dissent (by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) made clear, the majority opinion is as radical as any in its history: “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

ny times logoNew York Times, For conservative Christians, ending Roe was a spiritual victory that came after a decades-long campaign, Elizabeth Dias, June 25, 2022. For nearly 50 years, conservative Christians marched, strategized and prayed. And then, on an ordinary Friday morning in June, the day they had dreamed of finally came.

Ending the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade took a decades-long campaign, the culmination of potlucks in church gymnasiums and prayers in the Oval Office. It was the moment they long imagined, an outcome many refused to believe was impossible, the sign of a new America.

For many conservative believers and anti-abortion groups grounded in Catholic or evangelical principles, the Supreme Court’s decision was not just a political victory but a spiritual one.

National Public Radio (NPR), All Things Considered Interview: Former governor whose bill was at the center of Roe ruling reacts to SCOTUS' npr logodecision, Mary Louise Kelly, June 24, 2024. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Phil Bryant, below right, the Republican former governor of Mississippi who signed a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, let's turn now to the state that brought us to this moment, Mississippi.

KELLY: Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only abortion provider in the state and the defendant in the case that the Supreme Court decided today. It concerned a state law enacted in 2018. The governor who signed that bill into law was then-Governor Republican Phil Bryant, and he joins me now. Governor Bryant, welcome.

phil bryantPHIL BRYANT, right: I'm glad to be with you. It's a glorious day for those of us that are very pro-life.

KELLY: Well, I think people will have already gathered that this is the ruling you were hoping for. Can I ask your first thought when you heard the news?

BRYANT: Well, I was prayerful. To God be the glory, as - which I told everyone. There'll be a lot of politicians, and rightfully so, people who've helped that would try to take credit for this. That will be those that are campaigning for office that would say, that's exactly what I would have done. But when we had the opportunity in 2018 to protect innocent lives starting at 15 weeks, and of course, we then - we passed a more stringent anti-abortion bill after that. But we just believe that it's murder. We believe that it's a tearing apart of the human body in the womb. And so we were very happy, I was, and I know many of us that heard that ruling today.

KELLY: Walk me through what exactly changes now in Mississippi. You have a trigger law that kicks in.

BRYANT: We do.

KELLY: Mississippi, as we mentioned, only has one clinic providing abortions. What do these next days look like in your state?

BRYANT: Well, I think people will start thinking about something called individual responsibility. I think they're going to have to take into consideration that I might not be able to get an abortion on demand. I might not be able to do that just for my convenience. And so I think - I hope and I believe that there will be adults who will be more responsible and not bring about a life that they do not want.

This is not the most complicated thing in the world. Any seventh and eighth grader probably begins to realize where babies come from. And so for an adult female to say, well, you know, I just don't - I don't think this is what I want to do right now, I hope they will see more clearly through that process. And I know things happen. Look. I'm just saying that the life of that unborn child was where we were thinking and what we were doing when all of this began and even into today.

KELLY: In your years in office, you, of course, were governor for everybody in Mississippi, whatever their politics.

BRYANT: Correct.

KELLY: What do you say to Mississippians, like some of the ones we heard in that tape from outside the clinic today, who believe it is the right of women to decide what happens inside their own bodies and who are devastated...

BRYANT: I...

KELLY: ...At today's decision?

BRYANT: I would say first you need to kneel and pray to God, who is the God of everyone, that in your heart, you can understand that that is a living human being. And so try as you might to find God in this. Try to pray and have him open your eyes and come into your heart and realize this is your child. This is a human being who has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And you're about to take all that away for your convenience. Pray. That's what I would tell them. Pray hard.

KELLY: When you say women are choosing an abortion because it is for their convenience, I just want to push you on that, because there are a lot of women who would say, this is not about my convenience. This is not a choice anyone wants to make. This is about my right to control my body.

BRYANT: And I would tell men and women that you have a responsibility. We all did, and all of us are - fall short of the grace of God. But please consider your responsibilities. And, men, take the responsibility of being the father. So we don't want to wish - we're not hardhearted. We understand these difficult situations. It's why we work so hard here to make adoption easier for families who can't have children and families who want desperately to have a child. So look. I'm not mad at anyone. I'm not judging anyone. I am just saying that the Supreme Court upheld a law today that said that the states have the right to regulate abortions and that we will continue to do that within the confines of the Constitution of the United States laws.

KELLY: Phil Bryant. He was the governor of Mississippi from 2012 to 2020. Governor Bryant, thank you.

BRYANT: Thank you.

KELLY: One of many voices we are hearing from today as we cover this landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Overturning Roe could threaten rights conservatives hold dear, Julia Bowes, June 24, 2022. Parental rights stem from the same liberty that the Supreme Court just began rolling back.

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U.S. Immigration, Deportation News

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, ICE Agents Are Blocked From Using Discretion in Deportation Arrests, Miriam Jordan, June 25, 2022. The Biden administration had instructed agents to focus on immigrants considered a threat. But a judge’s order means millions more could now be targeted.

A Biden administration policy that prioritized the arrest of undocumented immigrants who are considered a threat to public safety and national security has been suspended as of Saturday, rendering millions of people vulnerable to deportation.

us dhs big eagle logo4A federal judge in Texas had ruled the prioritization policy illegal on June 10, a ruling that took effect late Friday after a federal appeals court failed to issue any decision blocking it. The Department of Homeland Security said it effectively had no discretion under the ruling to set priorities for how its agents enforced the nation’s immigrant-removal laws.

“While the department strongly disagrees with the Southern District of Texas’ court decision to vacate the guidelines, D.H.S. will abide by the court’s order as it continues to appeal it,” the department said in a statement.

It said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis “in a professional and responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland.”

The court order leaves the government in an unusual situation. Recent administrations have set at least some priorities establishing which undocumented immigrants should be targeted for removal, in most cases trying to identify people who have committed crimes or who pose some other threat before moving on to others. The Trump administration significantly broadened the range of immigrants identified for deportation, but, even then, there was some guidance to target criminals, legal experts said.

USTR seal Custom 2The removal of the guidelines is likely to renew some of the fears that plagued immigrant communities during Donald J. Trump’s presidency, when nearly anyone without legal residence was subject to arrest, though the Biden administration has pledged to take a measured approach to enforcement even without a prioritization policy.

In a policy memo to immigration agents last year, the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, had directed agents not only to prioritize immigrants involved in crimes and security threats, but to take into consideration other factors in deciding whether to apprehend them — such as whether they had lived in the United States for many years, were of advanced age or had U.S.-born children.

This leaves nearly all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country theoretically open to arrest and deportation, though exactly who would be targeted and how is unclear.

 

Jan. 6 U.S. Defendant Prosecutions, Election Probes

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers’ defense ordered to disclose if Sidney Powell is funding attorneys, Spencer S. Hsu, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Oath Keepers’ defense ordered to disclose if Sidney Powell is funding attorneys.

A federal judge on Friday ordered defense attorneys for alleged members of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy to disclose whether their legal fees are being paid by anyone other than their clients after prosecutors warned of potential conflicts of interest if former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell is helping raise money for some of the legal defense as reported.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington came during a week of rapid developments in the Justice Department investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which appears to have expanded into broader alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

On Wednesday, federal agents conducted a search at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory. That same day, agents delivered subpoenas and took other investigative steps probing efforts by Trump, Clark and supporters to undo Biden’s victories in a half-dozen key states by creating bogus slates of alternate electors in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere.

In the latest move Friday, Ali Alexander, a right-wing activist who helped organize the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that drew Trump supporters to Washington, appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington. He had testified in private in December to a House panel investigating the events of Jan. 6.

“I have been asked to appear before the Grand Jury today to testify about the same subject matter as my prior testimony before the Committee,” Alexander said in a statement released by his attorney Paul Kamenar, who accompanied him at both events. Alexander noted he has filed a lawsuit opposing a House subpoena for his and a volunteer’s phone records, but “out of respect for the Grand Jury process” declined further comment on his testimony.

In a since-deleted video on Periscope weeks before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander said he and hard-line Republican Trump supporters Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) “schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting” to change the minds of those who wouldn’t go against certifying Biden’s win.

At the time of this committee testimony, Alexander said in a statement that he “did not plan or participate in any illegal activity.” He said in the statement that he was assured when he received a grand jury subpoena that he “was not a target but a fact witness,” and was asked to testify because the committee has not given prosecutors transcripts of its witness interviews.

In the Oath Keepers criminal case, the Justice Department asked the court this week to probe possible financial relationships between attorneys for defendants accused of trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and a nonprofit entity run by Powell, who as Trump’s representative spread false election claims and filed a series of failed lawsuits to overturn the results.

Prosecutors expressed concern that support from Powell’s group could give Oath Keepers attorneys a reason to oppose clients’ cooperation that could be damaging to Trump’s interests or make plea deals less likely, which could be against the interest of a particular defendant. The government asked Mehta to ensure there was no outside “interference with the lawyer’s independence … or with the client-lawyer relationship.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. broadens Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy indictment of Oath Keepers, Spencer S. Hsu, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Florida member Jeremy Brown, a retired Special Forces soldier and ex-GOP congressional candidate, also says he expects to face conspiracy charge.

U.S. prosecutors have broadened a seditious conspiracy charge against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and eight co-defendants, filing an amended indictment Thursday that alleges the group conspired to use force to oppose the authority of the federal government as well as to oppose the lawful transfer of power to President Biden in attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The superseding indictment, returned by a grand jury Wednesday, adds a second prong by which prosecutors can ask a jury to find Rhodes and accused co-conspirators guilty at a trial set for Sept. 26. Charging papers allege that the group coordinated travel, equipment and firearms and stashed weapons outside Washington, ready “to answer Rhodes’ call to take up arms at Rhodes’ direction.”

The new indictment does not allege new facts, but gives the Justice Department more leeway in proving a violation of the historically rare, Civil War-era charge in this case. It also aligns the count lodged against Rhodes’s Oath Keepers group with a seditious conspiracy indictment brought against five leaders of a second far-right group with a history of violence, the Proud Boys and its former chairman, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump and his crackpots brought us to the brink of ‘losing it all,’ Dana Milbank, right, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). On the dana milbank newestevening of Jan. 3, 2021, the United States was about one bunch short of becoming a banana republic.

President Donald Trump, obsessed with overturning his election defeat, was about to replace his attorney general for the second time in as many weeks for refusing to validate his lies about election fraud. But this time he was threatening to appoint as acting attorney general an unknown environmental lawyer by the name of Jeffrey Clark — roundly derided by his Justice Department colleagues as “off-kilter” and “not competent.”

Clark had never tried a criminal case, but he had delusions of grandeur (he had repeatedly insisted DOJ upgrade his job title) and one key qualification: He embraced Trump’s debunked election claims, including the loony notion that thermostats could have been used to control voting machines. He had promised that if Trump appointed him attorney general he would publicly (and falsely) announce that the department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States” — boosting the illegal scheme to overturn the results using fake electors.

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Jan. 6 House Committee Probes, Revelations

 Jan. 6 Defendant Prosecutions, Probes  

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial Board: The Supreme Court Puts Gun Rights Above the Human Life, Editorial Board, June 25, 2022. The Supreme Court this week embraced a vision of the Second Amendment that is profoundly at odds with precedent and the dangers that American communities face today, upending the longstanding practice of letting states decide for themselves how to regulate gun possession in public.

This decision reveals the vast gulf between ideologues on the court and those Americans — ordinary people and their representatives in Congress — who want this country to be safer from guns. As the high court issued its 135-page ruling, the Senate, across the street, approved an 80-page bipartisan bill that tightens restrictions on who can possess and purchase a gun. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Friday, and President Biden signed it Saturday. This breakthrough came after decades of virtually no congressional action on gun safety and was fueled by public outrage over a series of mass shootings, including the recent massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo.

Gun enthusiasts and gun manufacturers have long sought a ruling like the one the court delivered on Thursday: Its decision in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, is an assertion that the Second Amendment trumps reasonable efforts to protect public safety. The United States as it exists today — awash in insufficiently regulated, high-powered weapons and afflicted by staggeringly high rates of gun homicide and suicide — is the society that their preferred policies have created. The best that gun control advocates can hope for after the Bruen ruling is what Congress passed: gradual legislative tinkering.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Requiem for the Supreme Court, Linda Greenhouse, June 25, 2022. They did it because they could. It was as simple as that.

With the stroke of a pen, Justice Samuel Alito and four other justices, all chosen by Republican presidents running on successive party platforms committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, erased the constitutional right to reproductive autonomy that the Supreme Court recognized more than 49 years ago. As the dissenting opinion — written by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — observed, never before had the court rescinded an individual right and left it up to the states whether to respect what had once been anchored in the Constitution.

The practical consequences of the decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, are enormous and severe. Abortion, now one of the most common medical procedures, will be banned or sharply limited in about half the country. Excluding miscarriages, nearly one in five pregnancies ends in abortion in the United States, and one American woman in four will terminate a pregnancy during her lifetime. Two generations of women in this country have come of age secure in the knowledge that an unintended pregnancy need not knock their lives off course. “After today,” as the dissent pointed out, “young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had.”

What the court delivered on Friday is a requiem for the right to abortion. As Chief Justice John Roberts, who declined to join Justice Alito’s opinion, may well suspect, it is also a requiem for the Supreme Court.

Consider the implication of Justice Alito’s declaration that Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” from the start. Five of the seven justices in the Roe majority — all except William O. Douglas and Thurgood Marshall — were appointed by Republican presidents. The votes necessary to preserve the right to abortion 19 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Roe follow-up decision that the court also overturned on Friday, came from five Republican-appointed justices.

In asserting that these justices led the court into grave error from which it must now be rescued, Justice Alito and his majority are necessarily saying that these predecessors, joining the court over a period of four decades, didn’t know enough, or care enough, to use the right methodology and reach the right decision. The arrogance and unapologetic nature of the opinion are breathtaking. (Of the justices who decided Casey in 1992, the only member of the court still serving is Justice Clarence Thomas, a dissenter then, who wrote in a concurring opinion on Friday that now that the court has overturned the right to abortion, it should also reconsider its precedents on contraception, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and same-sex marriage.)

The dissenting justices wrote on Friday, “The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.” They observed, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them. The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law.”

Those sentences are as terrifying as they are obviously correct. Where do they leave the court, now having voluntarily shed the protection offered by its usual stance that it is simply the passive recipient of the disputes that the public brings to its door?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s gun ruling is a serious misfire, George F. Will, right, June 26, 2022 (print ed.). Thomas, in his george f will63-page opinion, was characteristically meticulous and exhaustive in marshaling evidence of an enduring American tradition of permitting public carry of firearms by people with “ordinary” self-defense needs. And he found no “American tradition” that could justify New York’s “proper-cause requirement.”

But in an amicus brief supporting New York, former federal appellate judge (on the 4th Circuit) J. Michael Luttig demonstrated that, regarding the public carrying of loaded guns, there is an American tradition even older than the nation of striking a “delicate balance between the Second Amendment’s twin concerns for self-defense and public safety.”

The court’s ruling, however, does not treat those as “twin,” meaning equal, concerns.

Indeed, it treats the second, public safety, as irrelevant to the framers.

  • New York Times, Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control (Continued from above).

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden Will Push Congress for a Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lydia DePillis, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Vulnerable Democrats have championed the move ahead of the midterms, but the White House will face an uphill battle to get Congress to approve the holiday.

Joe Biden portrait 2President Biden called on Congress on Wednesday to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, an effort to give Americans “just a little bit of breathing room” from soaring fuel prices even as economists and lawmakers in both parties expressed skepticism that the move would make much of a difference.

During an afternoon speech, Mr. Biden asked Congress to lift the federal taxes — about 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel — through the end of September, shortly before the fall midterm elections. The president also asked states to suspend their own gas taxes, hoping to alleviate the economic pain that has contributed to his diminishing popularity.

“I fully understand that the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Mr. Biden said. “But it will provide families some immediate relief. Just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Alaska’s June wildfires break records, fueled by hot, dry weather, Jacob Feuerstein and Nathaniel Herz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). A record number of acres have burned this month in Alaska, forcing Indigenous people from their homes, compromising air quality and stretching firefighting resources thin.

More than 1 million acres have gone up in flames already, officials reported last weekend, the earliest date on record that the state has reached that milestone. The abnormally warm and dry weather — intensified by human-caused climate change — has helped ignite more than 300 wildfires in recent weeks. More than 100 are still burning, including the East Fork Fire, which has charred over 165,000 acres and now ranks as the state’s fifth-largest tundra fire on record.

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More U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Cancel $6 Billion in Student Loans for Defrauded Borrowers, Stacy Cowley, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Around 200,000 former students who attended schools that they said defrauded them will have $6 billion in federal loans canceled under a sweeping settlement announced on Wednesday, the latest move by the Biden administration to address the student loan crisis by eliminating some debts.

Those who applied for relief — some as long as seven years ago — will have their loans wiped out if they attended one of more than 150 schools named in the class-action settlement, nearly all of which are for-profit colleges and vocational programs. The deal reverses 128,000 denial notices — which a federal judge called “disturbingly Kafkaesque” — that were sent to relief applicants during the Trump administration.

Many of the schools included in the settlement are out of business. They include large chains like the Art Institutes and other campuses run by the Dream Center, whose operations abruptly collapsed in 2019, and those owned by Career Education Corporation. The latter, at its miguel cardonapeak, enrolled tens of thousands of students at more than 100 locations. The deal also includes a few colleges that are still operating, including the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University and DeVry University.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, right, called the deal “fair and equitable for all parties.”

The Education Department granted relief to applicants from the schools included in the deal “based on strong indicia regarding substantial misconduct by listed schools, whether credibly alleged or in some instances proven,” according to the settlement papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Those borrowers’ loans will be fully eliminated, and any payments they made will be refunded.

The deal, which must be approved by a federal judge, was greeted with cheers and relief by borrowers. “This is probably the sexiest thing I’ve seen in a long time!” one posted in a Facebook group. “My school listed as a bad actor and my debt will be wiped out.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The I.R.S. backlog of unprocessed tax returns has grown to 21 million, Alan Rappeport, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The national taxpayer advocate criticized the Biden administration for being slow to make changes at the Internal Revenue Service.

The backlog of tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service has grown to more than 20 million in the last year despite efforts by the Biden administration to process filings and send out refunds more quickly, the national taxpayer advocate said in a report published on Wednesday.

irs logoThe report offers a critical assessment of the Biden administration’s handling of the I.R.S., which has been burdened by staffing and funding shortages in recent years while taking on the responsibility of delivering economic relief money during the pandemic.

The tax agency’s independent watchdog said the I.R.S. was slow to use relief funds that it received as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2021. It said the agency should have moved more quickly to ramp up hiring, reassign employees and make technology changes that could have eased the backlog.

“That the backlog continues to grow is deeply concerning, primarily because millions of taxpayers have been waiting six months or more to receive their refunds,” Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, wrote in the report.

A year ago, the I.R.S. had 20 million unprocessed tax returns. That backlog had grown to 21.3 million as of the last week of May.
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The I.R.S. disputed the taxpayer advocate’s findings and said more recent data, through June 10, showed unprocessed returns had dipped below 20 million and were down slightly from June 2021.

“The I.R.S. is committed to having healthy inventories by the end of this year and continues to make strong progress handling unprocessed tax returns,” Jodie Reynolds, an I.R.S. representative, said in a statement.

Paper tax returns continue to bog down the I.R.S. as the documents must be manually transcribed into its antiquated computer systems.

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U.S. Law, Courts, Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: June 24, 2022: The Day Chief Justice Roberts Lost His Court, Adam Liptak, June 25, 2022 (print ed.).  Outflanked by five impatient justices to his right, Chief Justice John Roberts is now a marginal figure.

In the most important case of his 17-year tenure, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. found himself entirely alone.

He had worked for seven months to persuade his colleagues to join him in merely chipping away at Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. But he was outflanked by the five justices to his right, who instead reduced Roe to rubble.

In the process, they humiliated the nominal leader of the court and rejected major elements of his jurisprudence.

The moment was a turning point for the chief justice. Just two years ago, after the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy made him the new swing justice, he commanded a kind of influence that sent experts hunting for historical comparisons. Not since 1937 had the chief justice also been the court’s fulcrum, able to cast the decisive vote in closely divided cases.

Chief Justice Roberts mostly used that power to nudge the court to the right in measured steps, understanding himself to be the custodian of the court’s prestige and authority. He avoided what he called jolts to the legal system, and he tried to decide cases narrowly.

But that was before a crucial switch. When Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appointed by President Donald J. Trump, succeeded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal icon, after her death in 2020, Chief Justice Roberts’s power fizzled.

“This is no longer John Roberts’s court,” Mary Ziegler, a law professor and historian at the University of California, Davis, said on Friday.

The chief justice is now in many ways a marginal figure. The five other conservatives are impatient and ambitious, and they do not need his vote to achieve their goals. Voting with the court’s three liberals cannot be a particularly appealing alternative for the chief justice, not least because it generally means losing.

Chief Justice Roberts’s concurring opinion in Friday’s decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, illustrated his present and perhaps future unhappy lot. He had tried for seven months to persuade a single colleague to join his incremental approach in the case, starting with carefully planned questioning when the case was argued in December. He failed utterly.

In the end, the chief justice filed a concurring opinion in which he spoke for no one but himself.

“It leaves one to wonder whether he is still running the show,” said Allison Orr Larsen, a law professor at the College of William & Mary.

The chief justice will face other challenges. Though Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” both liberal and conservative members of the court expressed doubts.

Justice Clarence Thomas, for instance, wrote in a concurring opinion that the court should go on to overrule three “demonstrably erroneous decisions” — on same-sex marriage, gay intimacy and contraception — based on the logic of Friday’s opinion.

In Friday’s abortion decision, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that he was ready to sustain the Mississippi law at issue in the case, one that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The only question before the court was whether that law was constitutional, and he said it was.

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek at Least 30 Years of Prison for Ghislaine Maxwell, Benjamin Weiser, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ms. Maxwell, who will be sentenced next week, showed an “utter lack of remorse” for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse girls, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell had made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, is to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.

Ms. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking, after a monthlong trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. The lawyers suggested that the government had decided to prosecute Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019 to appease his victims and “repair the tarnished reputations” of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier died.

The defense also suggested that blame for Ms. Maxwell’s conduct lay with Mr. Epstein and her father, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who they said was a cruel and intimidating parent.

The government, in its letter on Wednesday to Judge Nathan, dismissed those claims, asserting that if anything stood out from Ms. Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “utter lack of remorse.”

“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility,” the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”

The prosecutors said Ms. Maxwell’s attempt “to cast aspersions on the government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive.”

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More On Ukraine War

More on War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52-year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine in April.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden is heading to Europe in an attempt to ready U.S. allies for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, David E. european union logo rectangleSanger June 25, 2022. In March, talk of victory was in the air. Now, maintaining unity against President Vladimir V. Putin is looking harder, with President Biden heading to Germany and Spain to rally Europe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Russia Fires Barrage of Missiles at Targets Across Ukraine, Marc Santora, Megan Specia and Ivan Nechepurenko, June 25, 2022. Officials said over 40 missiles were fired from Belarus’s airspace, just hours before its leader was to meet with President Vladimir Putin. Follow updates. Officials said the attacks included over 40 missiles fired from Belarusian airspace and appeared to hit mostly military targets. They came hours before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with Belarus’s leader.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Ukraine to withdraw troops from besieged Severodonetsk, Victoria Bisset, Adela Suliman, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng and Mary Ilyushina, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Turkey denies receiving stolen grain; U.K. pledges $450 million to global food relief; ‘No one is abandoning our boys’ despite Severodonetsk withdrawal, governor says.

Ukraine will withdraw its troops defending Severodonetsk, the embattled eastern city that is the locus of Russia’s war effort, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said early Friday. Russia had been shelling the city “almost every day for four months,” Haidai said, adding that it made no sense to keep fighters in such a dangerous position. Russian troops were also advancing toward the neighboring city of Lysychansk, he added.

The setbacks in eastern Ukraine are in contrast to Kyiv’s recent wins off the battlefield. On Thursday, the European Union decided to grant Ukraine membership candidate status — a first step in a lengthy process, but a move President Volodymyr Zelensky nonetheless welcomed as “historic.” “Ukraine is not a bridge … not a buffer between Europe and Asia, not a sphere of influence,” he said Friday, rejecting Moscow’s justifications for its invasion of Ukraine. “Ukraine is a future equal partner for at least 27 E.U. countries.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The war in Ukraine is on track to be among modern history’s bloodiest, Paul Poast ( an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and a nonresident fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs), June 24, 2022.  It is killing far more soldiers per day than the typical war — and all signs point to protracted conflict.

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Public Health, Pandemic News

 

deborah birx djt white house photo cropped

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Covid Adviser Says She Was Asked to Water Down Guidance, Noah Weiland and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Dr. Deborah Birx, shown above at center in a file photo from her time serving in the Trump administration, said there was a consistent effort by former President Trump’s administration to stifle information as cases surged in 2020. Follow updates.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, President Donald J. Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, told a congressional committee investigating the federal pandemic response that Trump White House officials asked her to change or delete parts of the weekly guidance she sent state and local health officials, in what she described as a consistent effort to stifle information as virus cases surged in the second half of 2020.

Dr. Birx, who publicly testified to the panel Thursday morning, also told the committee that Trump White House officials withheld the reports from states during a winter outbreak and refused to publicly release the documents, which featured data on the virus’s spread and recommendations for how to contain it.

Her account of White House interference came in a multiday interview the committee conducted in October 2021, which was released on Thursday with a set of emails Dr. Birx sent to colleagues in 2020 warning of the influence of a new White House pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, who she said downplayed the threat of the virus. The emails provide fresh insight into how Dr. Birx and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, grappled with what Dr. Birx called the misinformation spread by Dr. Atlas.

The push to downplay the threat was so pervasive, Dr. Birx told committee investigators, that she developed techniques to avoid attention from White House officials who might have objected to her public health recommendations. In reports she prepared for local health officials, she said, she would sometimes put ideas at the ends of sentences so that colleagues skimming the text would not notice them.

In her testimony on Thursday, she offered similarly withering assessments of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, suggesting that officials in 2020 had mistakenly viewed the coronavirus as akin to the flu even after seeing high Covid-19 death rates in Asia and Europe. That, she said, had caused a “false sense of security in America” as well as a “sense among the American people that this was not going to be a serious pandemic.”

washington post logoWashington Post, WHO weighs declaring monkeypox a global emergency as European cases surge, Jennifer Hassan and Annabelle Timsit, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). The World Health Organization is weighing whether to declare monkeypox an international emergency — a decision that world health organization logo Customcould come as early as Friday. A declaration could escalate the global response as cases rapidly rise in Britain despite efforts to contain it.

Britain, where almost 800 cases of the virus have been recorded in the past month, has the highest reported number of infections outside of Central and West Africa — and case trends here are worrying experts throughout Europe, the epicenter of the outbreak, who are weighing the best approach in the midst of the years-long coronavirus pandemic.

Monkeypox cases rose almost 40 percent in Britain in under five days, according to data shared by the U.K. Health Security Agency. As of June 16, 574 cases had been recorded, and by June 20, the number had risen to 793.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Orders Juul to Stop Selling E-Cigarettes, Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The agency ruled against the company’s application to stay on the market, a heavy blow to the vaping brand. An appeal is expected.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul to stop selling e-cigarettes on the U.S. market, a profoundly damaging blow to a once-popular company whose brand was blamed for the teenage vaping crisis.

juulThe order affects all of Juul’s products on the U.S. market, the overwhelming source of the company’s sales. Juul’s sleek vaping cartridges and sweet-flavored pods helped usher in an era of alternative nicotine products that became exceptionally popular among young people, and invited intense scrutiny from antismoking groups and regulators who feared they would do more harm to young people than good to former smokers.

In its ruling, the agency said that Juul had provided insufficient and conflicting data about potentially harmful chemicals that could leach out of Juul’s proprietary e-liquid pods.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Have Nothing’: Afghan Quake Survivors Despair Over Recovery, Christina Goldbaum and Safiullah Padshah, Photographs by Kiana Hayeri, June 25, 2022. With the economy in ruins and aid in short supply, earthquake survivors in this remote stretch of Afghanistan wonder what their next move could be.

The earthquake this past week wreaked havoc on this remote, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing around 1,000 people and destroying the homes of thousands more. It was a devastating blow for a place that has seen unrelenting hardship for decades, and had been desperately hoping for any sort of respite after the war ended and the Taliban seized control of the country.

The people of Geyan District saw little benefit from the American era in Afghanistan. This is among the poorest places in the country, and people survive hand-to-mouth with the little money they earn collecting firewood and harvesting pine nuts each fall. Then, as now, the government was distant, and families have had to rely on each other when times get hard.

The advent of Taliban rule has not changed that here. Though government officials are scrambling to bring aid stores to the area after the quake, it will have little lasting effect on the worsening desperation of daily life, or the suffering from widespread death.

During the 20-year-long war between the Taliban insurgency and the previous Western backed government, residents were caught in grueling fighting that tore through villages across this swath of Afghanistan. Shelling from Pakistan — targeting Pakistani militants who have sought refuge along Afghanistan’s eastern border — has rained down from the sky, killing civilians and destroying homes. Nature itself has wrought its own violence with frequent floods, hail storms and deadly earthquakes woven into the fabric of life here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghanistan quake kills more than 1,000, injures 1,500, officials say, Haq Nawaz Khan, Adela Suliman, Shaiq Hussain and Karina Tsui, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The 5.9-magnitude earthquake sparked tremors that were felt in Pakistan and India.

The earthquake flattened homes while many people were sleeping, with its epicenter in the mountainous area near the country’s border with Pakistan — about 27 miles from the city of Khost — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which put the magnitude at 6.1.

Tremors were also felt in Pakistan and India, according to Pakistan’s National Seismic Monitoring Center.

Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim, acting deputy minister for the country’s disaster management authority, said at a news conference that “some villages have been completely destroyed.” Muslim said he was relaying information from rescue officials and was “waiting for the details about the damages to houses.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Sri Lanka’s economy has ‘completely collapsed,’ prime minister says, Bryan Pietsch, Niha Masih and Hafeel Farisz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.).  “Collapsed.” A “serious situation.” And potentially, a “fall to rock bottom.”

Those are some of the ways Sri Lanka’s prime minister described his country’s faltering economy Wednesday as the island nation faces extreme food and fuel shortages.
Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for the latest updates on Russia's war in Ukraine.

sri lanka flagThe comments to Parliament from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe come after weeks of turmoil caused by government incompetence, experts say — a dynamic exacerbated by global inflation and supply chain disarray amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka shuts down, families struggle for food as crisis deepens

“We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food,” Wickremesinghe said, speaking in Sinhala. “Our economy has faced a complete collapse.”

Sri Lanka, a country of 23 million off the southeastern coast of India, has essentially had the door to fuel supplies shut in its face, as its national Ceylon Petroleum Corp. is $700 million in debt.

 

shireen abu akleh file

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank, Shira Rubin and Kareem Fahim, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Israeli authorities originally said the fatal shots came from Palestinian gunmen.

Israel FlagA veteran Palestinian American journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday, summarizing the results of the office’s investigation into the fatal shooting in May of Shireen Abu Akleh, a correspondent for Al Jazeera.

Abu Akleh was not shot “from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities,” Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

A correspondent with decades of experience for Al Jazeera news network covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head early on the morning on May 11, while reporting on an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. Witnesses said the fire appeared to come from a convoy of Israeli military vehicles, but Israeli officials initially said she was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire, before reversing course and saying it was possible she unintentionally been shot by an Israeli soldier.

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Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

ny times logoNew York Times, Leader of the QAnon Conspiracy Theory Returns, Stuart A. Thompson, June 25, 2022. Three posts on Friday night signaled the resurfacing of a figure who used a variety of conspiracy theories to marshal support for former President Trump.

After more than a year of silence, the mysterious figure behind the QAnon conspiracy theory has reappeared.

The figure, who is known only as Q, posted for the first time in over a year on Friday on 8kun, the anonymous message board where the account last appeared. “Shall we play the game again?” a post read in the account’s typical cryptic style. The account that posted had a unique identifier used on previous Q posts.

The posts surprised disinformation researchers and signaled the ominous return of a figure whose conspiracy theories about an imaginary ring of elite sex traffickers marshaled support for then-President Donald J. Trump. Message boards and Telegram channels devoted to QAnon lit up with the news, as followers speculated about the meaning of Q’s return.

Politico, Book bombs: Trump aide tell-alls fail to sell, Daniel Lippman, Meridith McGraw and Max Tani, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). A number of top aides to the 45th president churned out books after his presidency ended. The public isn’t buying. Multiple book editors and publishers interviewed for this politico Customstory said the hefty advances doled out to the authors before publication – for some, in the millions, like Kellyanne Conway and Bill Barr – might not be made back by the publisher with sales.

A year after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, right, released a tell-all book about his 10 Mark Meadowsmonths in the White House that promised to be a “frank, candid account” of running Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

The buzz around it was heavy. But in the publishing world, it was a bust.

mark meadows book chief chiefThe Chief’s Chief has sold only 21,569 books, according to NPD Bookscan, a market research firm that tracks book sales. And it’s not the only book by an ex-Trump aide that has failed to fly off the shelves.

The memoir of Deborah Birx, the Covid response coordinator under Trump, has sold fewer than 6,000 copies; Dr. Scott Atlas’ book sold 27,013 copies; Dr. Ben Carson’s book sold 21,786 copies; former White House press secretary turned Trump critic Stephanie Grisham sold 38,249 books; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has sold 42,273 books since it was published in late May; and former defense secretary Mark Esper sold 20,900 books.

Former attorney general Bill Barr sold 64,103 books.

But the one Trump post-White House book sales that did best appears to be Peter Navarro’s, whose In Trump Time has sold 80,218 copies of his book so far. The book, unlike the others, is less a revelation about life inside the former administration than an ode to Trump’s approach to governance. Perhaps for that reason, it has earned extensive publicity in MAGA circles and is currently advertised on Steve Bannon’s The War Room website.

 

dan snyder jacket

washington post logoWashington Post, In snubbing House panel, Snyder may have increased his legal peril, Liz Clarke and Mark Maske, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Congress will subpoena the Washington Commanders owner, shown above. What does that really mean?

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder successfully avoided the fate of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who fielded 2½ hours of questions during a congressional hearing Wednesday, simply by refusing to take part.

carolyn maloney oBut in doing so, Snyder may have compounded his legal peril and complicated the reckoning the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is determined to have over his role in the Washington’s NFL franchise’s workplace that it has spent eight months investigating.

Snyder soon is expected to be served with a subpoena to give a sworn deposition to the committee next week as Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, chairwoman of the committee, announced.

Prosecutors say this screenshot of surveillance video from the U.S. Capitol shows Hatchet Speed, circled in red, on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C.)

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June 25

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U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

U.S. Immigration, Deportation News

 

Jan. 6 U.S. Defendant Prosecutions, Election Probes

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters


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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 Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Justices go against public opinion on abortion, guns, Michael Scherer, June 25, 2022. Ruling against Roe v. Wade punctuates shift on Supreme Court. Until recently, the court hewed closely to shifting public views on key social issues like same-sex marriage, private sexual conduct, workplace protections for transgender people, and popular support for laws and executive orders on immigration and health care.

Analysis: The Supreme Court rolls back a right and inflames a divided country; Abortion plea: ‘If I just give you this money, can you give me this pill?’ French lawmakers propose enshrining abortion rights in constitution; ‘Bring rifles’: Extremist groups on left, right call for violence over ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s new majority boldly signaled with twin rulings this week that public opinion would not interfere with conservative plans to shift the nation’s legal landscape.

The court rejected Roe v. Wade, a 49-year-old legal precedent that guaranteed the right to an abortion, after a string of national polls showed a clear majority of Americans wanted the opposite result. A similar court majority invalidated a 108-year-old New York state law restricting who can carry concealed guns that is supported by nearly 8 in 10 New Yorkers, according to a recent poll by Siena College.

Rather than ignore the dissonance, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority in the abortion decision, attacked the notion that the court should consider the public will. He quoted late chief justice William H. Rehnquist from a previous ruling: “The Judicial Branch derives its legitimacy, not from following public opinion, but from deciding by its best lights.”

“We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey,” Alito continued in the court’s opinion in the case that overturned the constitutional right to abortion. “And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.”

Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here's which could be next.

The assertion punctuates a shift that has been evident on the high court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020. The high court during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and early Donald Trump administrations generally hewed closely to shifting public views on key social issues like same-sex marriage, private sexual conduct, workplace protections for transgender people and popular support for laws and executive orders on immigration and health care.

Maya Sen, a professor of public policy at Harvard University, is one of several academics who have noted the recent shift by studying public polling on issues decided by the high court over the course of more than a decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, Access to Abortion Plummets After Supreme Court Ruling, Julie Bosman, June 25, 2022. As more trigger laws banning abortion take effect, the country is rapidly sorting into two — a half where abortion is still legal, and a half where it is now outlawed or severely restricted.

Americans awakened on Saturday to a new and rapidly shifting reality where abortion, a basic legal right for nearly a half-century, was outlawed in some states and permitted in others, and where initial bursts of elation and shock after the declaration that Roe v. Wade had been overturned gave way to action.

Demonstrations and spontaneous celebrations erupted in dozens of cities across the country. While abortion opponents cheered a long-fought victory, outraged protesters thronged by the thousands in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Louisville, Ky., condemning the Supreme Court and vowing that they would resist the decision.

ny times logoNew York Times, Can women be banned from traveling to other states to get an abortion? Ava Sasani, June 25, 2022. There are currently no abortion bans that attempt to prosecute women who cross state lines to seek an abortion.

However, states could try in the future, said David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University. “There is no guarantee that an aggressive prosecutor might try to stretch the law as much as they can.”

In his concurring decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that women who travel to neighboring states to receive an abortion would be protected by the constitutional right to interstate travel.

People who assist a woman seeking an abortion in a neighboring state could also be at risk of prosecution.

“It’s hard to tell at this point, but I think it’s likely that [the prosecutors] will go after the people that help the woman get the abortion,” he said. “The person who drives them, the doctor who sees them.”

Both Texas and Oklahoma recently passed abortion bans that allow private citizens to sue people who perform abortions or who otherwise help someone get one.

Many organizations are still encouraging patients who cannot seek an abortion in their home state to travel across state lines to receive care, including a handful of companies that have pledged to cover travel expenses for employees who need abortions.

 ny times logoNew York Times, SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE, Adam Liptak, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Ends Constitutional Right to Abortion; Draft Opinion Had Leaked.

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

The decision, which echoed a leaked draft opinion published by Politico in early May, will result in a starkly divided country in which abortion is severely restricted or forbidden in many red states but remains freely available in most blue ones.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, voted with the majority but said he would have taken “a more measured course,” stopping short of overruling Roe outright. The court’s three liberal members dissented.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, concerned a law enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute, a calculated challenge to Roe, included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Lower courts ruled for the clinic, saying the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which prohibited states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, currently about 23 weeks.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

The decision, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years, will lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

It will also be one of the signal legacies of former President Trump: All three of his appointees were in the majority ruling.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here’s which could be next, Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul, N. Kirkpatrick, Daniela Santamariña and Lauren Tierney, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court released a decision on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, touching off a cascade of antiabortion laws that probably will take effect across roughly half the country.

Without the landmark precedent in place, the national abortion landscape will change quickly. First, 13 states with “trigger bans,” designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Thomas’s concurring opinion raises questions about what rights might be next, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that elicited fears about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

samuel alito oIn the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, left, the court said that nothing in its decision “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Justice Thomas said he agreed with that.

However, he noted that in its rationale, the court’s majority found that a right to abortion was not a form of “liberty” protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Then, he took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating clarence thomas HRsodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

Justice Thomas, right, wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.

This kind of language is just what advocates for reproductive rights and for L.G.B.T.Q. rights have been fearing. Defenders of the right to abortion have repeatedly warned that if Roe fell, the right to contraception and same-sex marriage would be next.

Abortion opponents, who fought hard to overturn Roe, have insisted they have no interest in trying to undo the right to contraception.

But already, states like Missouri are trying to restrict access to contraception by banning public funding for certain methods: intrauterine devices and the so-called morning after pill. And some Republicans, notably Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have said that the Griswold case was wrongly decided. Earlier this year, Ms. Blackburn called Griswold “constitutionally unsound.”

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says restoring abortion rights is up to voters, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Newsom, West Coast governors pledge ‘sanctuary’ for abortion rights; Dick’s Sporting Goods to reimburse travel expenses for employees who seek abortion; Dispatch from Jackson, Miss: Vow to keep seeing patients.

President Biden called the Supreme Court’s decision a “tragic error” and implored voters to elect candidates in November who will support abortion rights and broader rights to privacy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs gun-control legislation into law, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Marianna Sotomayor, June 25, 2022. Moments before he signed a bipartisan gun-control bill into law, President Biden recounted meeting family members of gun violence victims in Uvalde, Tex., Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., and dozens of mourning communities in between.

“Their message to us was do something,” Biden said. “How many times have you heard that? Just do something. For God’s sake, just do something. But today we did.”

The gun-control act is the most significant law of its kind in the last three decades, although Biden has conceded it doesn’t do everything that he wants — or everything that advocates have asked for.

The legislation was the result of negotiations by a handful of Republican and Democratic senators, led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo.

In addition to providing funding for mental health services and school security initiatives, the legislation expands criminal background checks for some gun buyers, bars a larger group of domestic-violence offenders from purchasing firearms, and funds programs that would allow authorities to seize guns from troubled individuals.

The bill passed the House overwhelmingly along party lines, 234 to 193, with no Democratic defections. Fourteen Republicans voted in favor, including Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Tex.), who represents Uvalde, the city that is now home to the second-largest mass school shooting in U.S. history.

The movement on gun control happens at a tumultuous moment in Washington. The House passed the legislation on the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Celebrations in the Capitol over breaking a 30-year logjam on gun control happened at the same time that virulent protests were going on a short walk away in front of the nation’s highest court.

“Jill and I know how painful and devastating the decision is for so many American, and I mean so many Americans,” Biden said.

He said his administration was now focused on making sure states didn’t break other laws as they sought to restrict access to abortion. “We’re going to take actions to protect women’s rights and reproductive health,” he said.

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The ruling comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control. The Senate is close to passing a bipartisan package of gun safety measures, a major step toward ending a yearslong stalemate in Congress.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent. (Excerpted story continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia could soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Liz Sly, June 25, 2022. Small shifts in territorial control matter less than the overall balance of forces, which analysts say could shift back in favor of Ukraine in the coming months.

The Russian military will soon exhaust its combat capabilities and be forced to bring its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to a grinding halt, according to Western intelligence predictions and military experts.

“There will come a time when the tiny advances Russia is making become unsustainable in light of the costs and they will need a significant pause to regenerate capability,” said a senior Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

The assessments come despite continued Russian advances against outgunned Ukrainian forces, including the capture on Friday of the town of Severodonetsk, the biggest urban center taken by Russia in the east since launching the latest Donbas offensive nearly three months ago.

The Russians are now closing in on the adjacent city of Lysychank, on the opposite bank of the Donetsk river. The town’s capture would give Russia almost complete control of the Luhansk oblast, one of two oblasts, or provinces, comprising the Donbas region. Control of Donbas is the publicly declared goal of Russia’s “special military operation,” although the multi-front invasion launched in February made it clear that Moscow’s original ambitions were far broader.

Capturing Lysychank presents a challenge because it stands on higher ground and the Donetsk river impedes Russian advances from the east. So instead, Russian troops appear intent on encircling the city from the west, pressing southeast from Izyum and northeast from Popasna on the western bank of the river.

But the “creeping” advances are dependent almost entirely on the expenditure of vast quantities of ammunition, notably artillery shells, which are being fired at a rate almost no military in the world would be able to sustain for long, said the senior Western official.

Russia meanwhile is continuing to suffer heavy losses of equipment and men, calling into question how much longer it can remain on the attack, the official said.

Officials refuse to offer a time frame, but Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, citing British intelligence assessments, indicated this week that Russia would be able to continue to fight on only for the “next few months.” After that, “Russia could come to a point when there is no longer any forward momentum because it has exhausted its resources,” he told the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.

Russian commentators are also noting the challenges, emphasizing a chronic shortage of manpower. “Russia does not have enough physical strength in the zone of the special military operation in Ukraine …. taking into account the almost one thousand kilometer (or more) line of confrontation,” wrote Russian military blogger Yuri Kotyenok on his Telegram account. He estimated that Russia would need 500,000 troops to attain its goals, which would only be possible with a large-scale mobilization of military men, a potentially risky and unpopular move that President Vladimir Putin has so far refrained from undertaking.

 

U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Steady, Commentary: A day at the Supreme Court that shakes America to its core, Dan Rather (right, author and former CBS Evening News dan rather 2011anchor and managing editor), June 24-25, 2022.

What to say that hasn’t been said but needs to be said again, and again, and again:

dan rather steady logoThis is not a court of humble jurists who are bound in any way by fidelity to precedent, the law, or common sense. There is nothing “conservative” about these damaging decisions, or the men and woman who have imposed their extreme views upon the American populace.

Right-wing politicians decry “elitism,” but what is more elitist than unelected and unaccountable activists using the language of legal argumentation as a fig leaf for their naked exercise of power?

There is no way that these decisions would pass a vote of the American public. Indeed, a majority of the justices were installed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And the polling on the issues these rulings tear asunder suggests that what these justices are doing is unpopular — in many cases, very unpopular.

But they sneer from their echo chamber of extremism. They are emboldened by a system that has been fixed, with the complicity of Mitch McConnell and others, to advantage minority viewpoints by leveraging a branch of government not designed to be a political actors' stage in order to circumvent the legislative and executive branches.

Where to begin, and where will it end?The Supreme Court has further cemented its role as a reactionary force in American life.

Today it was abortion, on top of recent decisions on gun regulations, public funding for religious schools, and Miranda rights. Soon they will likely gut environmental regulations, and we can guess at what comes next — gay marriage? Contraception?

We can’t let this moment pass without recognizing what a horrific decision today's is, and how it will relegate women to second-class status in decision-making over their own bodies. This will lead to a host of suffering and likely death. It will imprison women where control will be imposed by the state. It is the opposite of freedom. It is a right that existed — and still should.

The Supreme Court depends on its legitimacy, and today that is as tattered as the constitutional rights on which it has trampled. The Roberts court will be marked as a cabal of intemperance that made America far less safe and far less free. It will be noted for its zealotry and its cynical embrace of the ends justifying the means.

But as with all chapters of history, how our present is ultimately viewed depends on what comes next. Will these rulings lead to outrage-fueled activism that upends the political system, or apathy and defeatism? Will the majority mobilize? Will there be reforms? Will there be a recalibration of the current balance of power?

I leave you today with the words of Sherrilyn Ifill, civil rights lawyer and president and director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has experienced the fight from the trenches of justice, and her perspective mirrors my own. I could not have expressed it better.

Remember that we have never seen the America we’ve been fighting for. So no need to be nostalgic. Right on the other side of this unraveling is opportunity. If we keep fighting no matter what, take care of ourselves & each other, stay strategic & principled, & use all our power.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Roe’s demise, abortion will soon be banned across much of red America, Caroline Kitchener, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark precedent will prompt immediate changes to the country’s abortion landscape. The tremors from Friday’s sweeping Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will ripple across the country almost immediately, with roughly half of all states poised to ban or drastically restrict abortion.

Thirteen states will outlaw abortion within 30 days with “trigger bans” that were designed to take effect as soon as Roe was overturned. These laws make an exception for cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but most do not include exceptions for rape or incest.

In many states, trigger bans will activate as soon as a designated state official certifies the decision, which Republican lawmakers expect to happen within minutes.

“They just need to acknowledge, ‘Yes, this has occurred,’ ” said Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who has championed much of his state’s antiabortion legislation, including its trigger ban. “I’ll be happy to see the butcher mill in Little Rock, Arkansas, shut down for good.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden confronts a bombshell that could define his presidency, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Tyler Pager, Ashley Parker and Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Roe’s demise could give Biden a way to find his voice and re-energize his presidency — or just escalate the divisions that have made it so hard to govern.

President Biden seized on the demise of Roe v. Wade on Friday as a way to re-energize Democrats’ electoral prospects and revive his presidency, urging voters to choose candidates who support abortion rights as he sought to regain the voice of an administration that has been struggling amid a turbulent political landscape.

Speaking from the White House two hours after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision, Biden said his administration would do everything it could to protect abortion rights but stressed that the ultimate power for change lay with millions of shocked and angry Americans whom he urged to carry their outrage into voting booths this November.

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” Biden said. “Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality — they’re all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect women’s rights in states where they will face the consequences of today’s decision.”

joe biden twitterDemocrats hold narrow majorities in Congress, but party leaders have been unable to persuade all their members to eliminate the Senate filibuster, and their 50 Senate seats are far short of the 60 they would need to codify abortion rights. On Friday, as protesters streamed to the Supreme Court, Biden sought to entrench himself as a leader in the fight to protect abortion access, a battle that could define the trajectory of his presidency.

While Republicans hope the midterm elections are a referendum on high inflation and ballooning gas prices, the Supreme Court’s decision gives Biden and his party a new target — a high court with an approval rating lower than the president’s that is widely seen by Biden’s base as a dangerous vestige of the Trump presidency.

Many Democrats have worried that simply attacking GOP “extremism” would not be enough to overcome voters’ anxiety about bread-and-butter issues in November. The abortion ruling, they hope, could change that, especially since it could signal the court’s willingness to take aim at rights like contraception and same-sex marriage.

“Can you run a day-to-day campaign against the Republican MAGA agenda when [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas said he wants to come for contraception next? Oh, yeah, you can,” said Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for the Obama White House. “For things to break through, there has to be a real and present threat on things that impact people’s lives. And they now have that in spades.”

The decision, perhaps the most far-reaching Supreme Court ruling in a half-century, lands as Biden is already struggling to govern a country riven by bitter cultural divisions. The president has often been on the defensive in recent months, looking for ways to enact meaningful policy and deliver a resonant message.

It’s not clear whether Roe’s demise will give Biden a path to find his voice and re-energize his presidency, or will simply exacerbate the social divisions that have created such obstacles to governing.

Some Democrats were dismayed that the White House did not have a more robust plan to push abortion rights, especially given that news of the decision leaked nearly two months ago. Biden promised to take actions like ensuring abortion pills that can be received in the mail are widely available and fighting states that try to prevent women from traveling to obtain abortions elsewhere, but he stressed that the only real way to guarantee abortion rights is to enshrine them in federal law, which takes a Congress prepared to do that.

Biden, who was first sworn into the Senate just before the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973, has been at times uncomfortable wading into one of the nation’s most incendiary debates, even as abortion access entered the mainstream of his party’s platform. A devout Catholic who still attends mass every Sunday, Biden’s views on the issue have evolved, though sometimes too slowly for Democratic Party supporters.

Although White House officials conceded the issue does not always come easy to him, they say that he has become more aware of how abortion bans disproportionately harm poor women and women of color, and that he is now unequivocal in his support for abortion.

“He is never going to be the president of NARAL when he leaves office — that is not his comfort area,” a former White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the president, referring to the abortion rights group. “I think a lot of it has been educating and informing himself on who is impacted by bans on abortion. There is a huge equity issue, and that piece is important to him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 24-25, 2022. While we jennifer rubin new headshotknew from the leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion that Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent were hanging by a thread, and yet when the opinion came down Friday morning — a virtual copy of the leaked draft — many Americans no doubt felt a wave of disbelief, anger, dread and fear.

The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason.

 As the dissent (by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) made clear, the majority opinion is as radical as any in its history: “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: In orgy of tyranny, Supremes strike down Roe, attack New York gun law, and weaken Miranda, Webster G. Tarpley, June 25, 2022. Trump-backed court majority seeks nothing less than total fascist dictatorship, with warning that more human rights will be trampled as GOP’s nightmare scenario unfolds;

Task now is to galvanize a United Front of the American people for the extinction of the Republican Party; this will require going beyond divide and conquer identity politics; For best results, do not genderize, do not racialize, do not urbanize or otherwise divide the resistance; Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress must be maintained and expanded at all costs; House January 6 hearings open dramatic window on GOP degeneracy;

Roots of current judicial depravity in originalism, textualism, and other forms of legal positivism which negate justice, morality, and humanity; The triumph of cynical rube bait; Supreme Court needs four new justices free of financier control and at home in the twenty-first century; this can be done by simple statute; Signs of GOP decline: new gun law shows weakness of NRA; Southern Baptists wracked by scandal; Lawsuits vs Fox by voting machine firms could cripple Murdoch machine;

EU admits Ukraine and Moldova to candidate status, with Georgia next; G-7 and NATO summits this coming week; More Russian threats to Lithuania over transit rights to Kaliningrad exclave;

June 22 is anniversary of Barbarossa 1941, when Hitler beat Stalin to the draw by two weeks; June 27 marks 80 years since the tragedy of Arctic convoy PQ-17, decimated on the Murmansk run.

ny times logoNew York Times, For conservative Christians, ending Roe was a spiritual victory that came after a decades-long campaign, Elizabeth Dias, June 25, 2022. For nearly 50 years, conservative Christians marched, strategized and prayed. And then, on an ordinary Friday morning in June, the day they had dreamed of finally came.

Ending the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade took a decades-long campaign, the culmination of potlucks in church gymnasiums and prayers in the Oval Office. It was the moment they long imagined, an outcome many refused to believe was impossible, the sign of a new America.

For many conservative believers and anti-abortion groups grounded in Catholic or evangelical principles, the Supreme Court’s decision was not just a political victory but a spiritual one.

National Public Radio (NPR), All Things Considered Interview: Former governor whose bill was at the center of Roe ruling reacts to SCOTUS' npr logodecision, Mary Louise Kelly, June 24, 2024. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Phil Bryant, below right, the Republican former governor of Mississippi who signed a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, let's turn now to the state that brought us to this moment, Mississippi.

KELLY: Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only abortion provider in the state and the defendant in the case that the Supreme Court decided today. It concerned a state law enacted in 2018. The governor who signed that bill into law was then-Governor Republican Phil Bryant, and he joins me now. Governor Bryant, welcome.

phil bryantPHIL BRYANT, right: I'm glad to be with you. It's a glorious day for those of us that are very pro-life.

KELLY: Well, I think people will have already gathered that this is the ruling you were hoping for. Can I ask your first thought when you heard the news?

BRYANT: Well, I was prayerful. To God be the glory, as - which I told everyone. There'll be a lot of politicians, and rightfully so, people who've helped that would try to take credit for this. That will be those that are campaigning for office that would say, that's exactly what I would have done. But when we had the opportunity in 2018 to protect innocent lives starting at 15 weeks, and of course, we then - we passed a more stringent anti-abortion bill after that. But we just believe that it's murder. We believe that it's a tearing apart of the human body in the womb. And so we were very happy, I was, and I know many of us that heard that ruling today.

KELLY: Walk me through what exactly changes now in Mississippi. You have a trigger law that kicks in.

BRYANT: We do.

KELLY: Mississippi, as we mentioned, only has one clinic providing abortions. What do these next days look like in your state?

BRYANT: Well, I think people will start thinking about something called individual responsibility. I think they're going to have to take into consideration that I might not be able to get an abortion on demand. I might not be able to do that just for my convenience. And so I think - I hope and I believe that there will be adults who will be more responsible and not bring about a life that they do not want.

This is not the most complicated thing in the world. Any seventh and eighth grader probably begins to realize where babies come from. And so for an adult female to say, well, you know, I just don't - I don't think this is what I want to do right now, I hope they will see more clearly through that process. And I know things happen. Look. I'm just saying that the life of that unborn child was where we were thinking and what we were doing when all of this began and even into today.

KELLY: In your years in office, you, of course, were governor for everybody in Mississippi, whatever their politics.

BRYANT: Correct.

KELLY: What do you say to Mississippians, like some of the ones we heard in that tape from outside the clinic today, who believe it is the right of women to decide what happens inside their own bodies and who are devastated...

BRYANT: I...

KELLY: ...At today's decision?

BRYANT: I would say first you need to kneel and pray to God, who is the God of everyone, that in your heart, you can understand that that is a living human being. And so try as you might to find God in this. Try to pray and have him open your eyes and come into your heart and realize this is your child. This is a human being who has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And you're about to take all that away for your convenience. Pray. That's what I would tell them. Pray hard.

KELLY: When you say women are choosing an abortion because it is for their convenience, I just want to push you on that, because there are a lot of women who would say, this is not about my convenience. This is not a choice anyone wants to make. This is about my right to control my body.

BRYANT: And I would tell men and women that you have a responsibility. We all did, and all of us are - fall short of the grace of God. But please consider your responsibilities. And, men, take the responsibility of being the father. So we don't want to wish - we're not hardhearted. We understand these difficult situations. It's why we work so hard here to make adoption easier for families who can't have children and families who want desperately to have a child. So look. I'm not mad at anyone. I'm not judging anyone. I am just saying that the Supreme Court upheld a law today that said that the states have the right to regulate abortions and that we will continue to do that within the confines of the Constitution of the United States laws.

KELLY: Phil Bryant. He was the governor of Mississippi from 2012 to 2020. Governor Bryant, thank you.

BRYANT: Thank you.

KELLY: One of many voices we are hearing from today as we cover this landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Overturning Roe could threaten rights conservatives hold dear, Julia Bowes, June 24, 2022. Parental rights stem from the same liberty that the Supreme Court just began rolling back.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Immigration, Deportation News

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, ICE Agents Are Blocked From Using Discretion in Deportation Arrests, Miriam Jordan, June 25, 2022. The Biden administration had instructed agents to focus on immigrants considered a threat. But a judge’s order means millions more could now be targeted.

A Biden administration policy that prioritized the arrest of undocumented immigrants who are considered a threat to public safety and national security has been suspended as of Saturday, rendering millions of people vulnerable to deportation.

us dhs big eagle logo4A federal judge in Texas had ruled the prioritization policy illegal on June 10, a ruling that took effect late Friday after a federal appeals court failed to issue any decision blocking it. The Department of Homeland Security said it effectively had no discretion under the ruling to set priorities for how its agents enforced the nation’s immigrant-removal laws.

“While the department strongly disagrees with the Southern District of Texas’ court decision to vacate the guidelines, D.H.S. will abide by the court’s order as it continues to appeal it,” the department said in a statement.

It said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis “in a professional and responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland.”

The court order leaves the government in an unusual situation. Recent administrations have set at least some priorities establishing which undocumented immigrants should be targeted for removal, in most cases trying to identify people who have committed crimes or who pose some other threat before moving on to others. The Trump administration significantly broadened the range of immigrants identified for deportation, but, even then, there was some guidance to target criminals, legal experts said.

USTR seal Custom 2The removal of the guidelines is likely to renew some of the fears that plagued immigrant communities during Donald J. Trump’s presidency, when nearly anyone without legal residence was subject to arrest, though the Biden administration has pledged to take a measured approach to enforcement even without a prioritization policy.

In a policy memo to immigration agents last year, the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, had directed agents not only to prioritize immigrants involved in crimes and security threats, but to take into consideration other factors in deciding whether to apprehend them — such as whether they had lived in the United States for many years, were of advanced age or had U.S.-born children.

This leaves nearly all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country theoretically open to arrest and deportation, though exactly who would be targeted and how is unclear.

 

Jan. 6 U.S. Defendant Prosecutions, Election Probes

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers’ defense ordered to disclose if Sidney Powell is funding attorneys, Spencer S. Hsu, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Oath Keepers’ defense ordered to disclose if Sidney Powell is funding attorneys.

A federal judge on Friday ordered defense attorneys for alleged members of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy to disclose whether their legal fees are being paid by anyone other than their clients after prosecutors warned of potential conflicts of interest if former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell is helping raise money for some of the legal defense as reported.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington came during a week of rapid developments in the Justice Department investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which appears to have expanded into broader alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

On Wednesday, federal agents conducted a search at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory. That same day, agents delivered subpoenas and took other investigative steps probing efforts by Trump, Clark and supporters to undo Biden’s victories in a half-dozen key states by creating bogus slates of alternate electors in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere.

In the latest move Friday, Ali Alexander, a right-wing activist who helped organize the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that drew Trump supporters to Washington, appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington. He had testified in private in December to a House panel investigating the events of Jan. 6.

“I have been asked to appear before the Grand Jury today to testify about the same subject matter as my prior testimony before the Committee,” Alexander said in a statement released by his attorney Paul Kamenar, who accompanied him at both events. Alexander noted he has filed a lawsuit opposing a House subpoena for his and a volunteer’s phone records, but “out of respect for the Grand Jury process” declined further comment on his testimony.

In a since-deleted video on Periscope weeks before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander said he and hard-line Republican Trump supporters Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) “schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting” to change the minds of those who wouldn’t go against certifying Biden’s win.

At the time of this committee testimony, Alexander said in a statement that he “did not plan or participate in any illegal activity.” He said in the statement that he was assured when he received a grand jury subpoena that he “was not a target but a fact witness,” and was asked to testify because the committee has not given prosecutors transcripts of its witness interviews.

In the Oath Keepers criminal case, the Justice Department asked the court this week to probe possible financial relationships between attorneys for defendants accused of trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and a nonprofit entity run by Powell, who as Trump’s representative spread false election claims and filed a series of failed lawsuits to overturn the results.

Prosecutors expressed concern that support from Powell’s group could give Oath Keepers attorneys a reason to oppose clients’ cooperation that could be damaging to Trump’s interests or make plea deals less likely, which could be against the interest of a particular defendant. The government asked Mehta to ensure there was no outside “interference with the lawyer’s independence … or with the client-lawyer relationship.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. broadens Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy indictment of Oath Keepers, Spencer S. Hsu, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Florida member Jeremy Brown, a retired Special Forces soldier and ex-GOP congressional candidate, also says he expects to face conspiracy charge.

U.S. prosecutors have broadened a seditious conspiracy charge against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and eight co-defendants, filing an amended indictment Thursday that alleges the group conspired to use force to oppose the authority of the federal government as well as to oppose the lawful transfer of power to President Biden in attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The superseding indictment, returned by a grand jury Wednesday, adds a second prong by which prosecutors can ask a jury to find Rhodes and accused co-conspirators guilty at a trial set for Sept. 26. Charging papers allege that the group coordinated travel, equipment and firearms and stashed weapons outside Washington, ready “to answer Rhodes’ call to take up arms at Rhodes’ direction.”

The new indictment does not allege new facts, but gives the Justice Department more leeway in proving a violation of the historically rare, Civil War-era charge in this case. It also aligns the count lodged against Rhodes’s Oath Keepers group with a seditious conspiracy indictment brought against five leaders of a second far-right group with a history of violence, the Proud Boys and its former chairman, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump and his crackpots brought us to the brink of ‘losing it all,’ Dana Milbank, right, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). On the dana milbank newestevening of Jan. 3, 2021, the United States was about one bunch short of becoming a banana republic.

President Donald Trump, obsessed with overturning his election defeat, was about to replace his attorney general for the second time in as many weeks for refusing to validate his lies about election fraud. But this time he was threatening to appoint as acting attorney general an unknown environmental lawyer by the name of Jeffrey Clark — roundly derided by his Justice Department colleagues as “off-kilter” and “not competent.”

Clark had never tried a criminal case, but he had delusions of grandeur (he had repeatedly insisted DOJ upgrade his job title) and one key qualification: He embraced Trump’s debunked election claims, including the loony notion that thermostats could have been used to control voting machines. He had promised that if Trump appointed him attorney general he would publicly (and falsely) announce that the department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States” — boosting the illegal scheme to overturn the results using fake electors.

Recent Headlines 

Jan. 6 House Committee Probes, Revelations

 Jan. 6 Defendant Prosecutions, Probes  

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial Board: The Supreme Court Puts Gun Rights Above the Human Life, Editorial Board, June 25, 2022. The Supreme Court this week embraced a vision of the Second Amendment that is profoundly at odds with precedent and the dangers that American communities face today, upending the longstanding practice of letting states decide for themselves how to regulate gun possession in public.

This decision reveals the vast gulf between ideologues on the court and those Americans — ordinary people and their representatives in Congress — who want this country to be safer from guns. As the high court issued its 135-page ruling, the Senate, across the street, approved an 80-page bipartisan bill that tightens restrictions on who can possess and purchase a gun. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Friday, and President Biden signed it Saturday. This breakthrough came after decades of virtually no congressional action on gun safety and was fueled by public outrage over a series of mass shootings, including the recent massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo.

Gun enthusiasts and gun manufacturers have long sought a ruling like the one the court delivered on Thursday: Its decision in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, is an assertion that the Second Amendment trumps reasonable efforts to protect public safety. The United States as it exists today — awash in insufficiently regulated, high-powered weapons and afflicted by staggeringly high rates of gun homicide and suicide — is the society that their preferred policies have created. The best that gun control advocates can hope for after the Bruen ruling is what Congress passed: gradual legislative tinkering.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Requiem for the Supreme Court, Linda Greenhouse, June 25, 2022. They did it because they could. It was as simple as that.

With the stroke of a pen, Justice Samuel Alito and four other justices, all chosen by Republican presidents running on successive party platforms committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, erased the constitutional right to reproductive autonomy that the Supreme Court recognized more than 49 years ago. As the dissenting opinion — written by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — observed, never before had the court rescinded an individual right and left it up to the states whether to respect what had once been anchored in the Constitution.

The practical consequences of the decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, are enormous and severe. Abortion, now one of the most common medical procedures, will be banned or sharply limited in about half the country. Excluding miscarriages, nearly one in five pregnancies ends in abortion in the United States, and one American woman in four will terminate a pregnancy during her lifetime. Two generations of women in this country have come of age secure in the knowledge that an unintended pregnancy need not knock their lives off course. “After today,” as the dissent pointed out, “young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had.”

What the court delivered on Friday is a requiem for the right to abortion. As Chief Justice John Roberts, who declined to join Justice Alito’s opinion, may well suspect, it is also a requiem for the Supreme Court.

Consider the implication of Justice Alito’s declaration that Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” from the start. Five of the seven justices in the Roe majority — all except William O. Douglas and Thurgood Marshall — were appointed by Republican presidents. The votes necessary to preserve the right to abortion 19 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Roe follow-up decision that the court also overturned on Friday, came from five Republican-appointed justices.

In asserting that these justices led the court into grave error from which it must now be rescued, Justice Alito and his majority are necessarily saying that these predecessors, joining the court over a period of four decades, didn’t know enough, or care enough, to use the right methodology and reach the right decision. The arrogance and unapologetic nature of the opinion are breathtaking. (Of the justices who decided Casey in 1992, the only member of the court still serving is Justice Clarence Thomas, a dissenter then, who wrote in a concurring opinion on Friday that now that the court has overturned the right to abortion, it should also reconsider its precedents on contraception, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and same-sex marriage.)

The dissenting justices wrote on Friday, “The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.” They observed, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them. The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law.”

Those sentences are as terrifying as they are obviously correct. Where do they leave the court, now having voluntarily shed the protection offered by its usual stance that it is simply the passive recipient of the disputes that the public brings to its door?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s gun ruling is a serious misfire, George F. Will, right, June 26, 2022 (print ed.). Thomas, in his george f will63-page opinion, was characteristically meticulous and exhaustive in marshaling evidence of an enduring American tradition of permitting public carry of firearms by people with “ordinary” self-defense needs. And he found no “American tradition” that could justify New York’s “proper-cause requirement.”

But in an amicus brief supporting New York, former federal appellate judge (on the 4th Circuit) J. Michael Luttig demonstrated that, regarding the public carrying of loaded guns, there is an American tradition even older than the nation of striking a “delicate balance between the Second Amendment’s twin concerns for self-defense and public safety.”

The court’s ruling, however, does not treat those as “twin,” meaning equal, concerns.

Indeed, it treats the second, public safety, as irrelevant to the framers.

  • New York Times, Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control (Continued from above).

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden Will Push Congress for a Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lydia DePillis, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Vulnerable Democrats have championed the move ahead of the midterms, but the White House will face an uphill battle to get Congress to approve the holiday.

Joe Biden portrait 2President Biden called on Congress on Wednesday to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, an effort to give Americans “just a little bit of breathing room” from soaring fuel prices even as economists and lawmakers in both parties expressed skepticism that the move would make much of a difference.

During an afternoon speech, Mr. Biden asked Congress to lift the federal taxes — about 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel — through the end of September, shortly before the fall midterm elections. The president also asked states to suspend their own gas taxes, hoping to alleviate the economic pain that has contributed to his diminishing popularity.

“I fully understand that the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Mr. Biden said. “But it will provide families some immediate relief. Just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Alaska’s June wildfires break records, fueled by hot, dry weather, Jacob Feuerstein and Nathaniel Herz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). A record number of acres have burned this month in Alaska, forcing Indigenous people from their homes, compromising air quality and stretching firefighting resources thin.

More than 1 million acres have gone up in flames already, officials reported last weekend, the earliest date on record that the state has reached that milestone. The abnormally warm and dry weather — intensified by human-caused climate change — has helped ignite more than 300 wildfires in recent weeks. More than 100 are still burning, including the East Fork Fire, which has charred over 165,000 acres and now ranks as the state’s fifth-largest tundra fire on record.

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More U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Cancel $6 Billion in Student Loans for Defrauded Borrowers, Stacy Cowley, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Around 200,000 former students who attended schools that they said defrauded them will have $6 billion in federal loans canceled under a sweeping settlement announced on Wednesday, the latest move by the Biden administration to address the student loan crisis by eliminating some debts.

Those who applied for relief — some as long as seven years ago — will have their loans wiped out if they attended one of more than 150 schools named in the class-action settlement, nearly all of which are for-profit colleges and vocational programs. The deal reverses 128,000 denial notices — which a federal judge called “disturbingly Kafkaesque” — that were sent to relief applicants during the Trump administration.

Many of the schools included in the settlement are out of business. They include large chains like the Art Institutes and other campuses run by the Dream Center, whose operations abruptly collapsed in 2019, and those owned by Career Education Corporation. The latter, at its miguel cardonapeak, enrolled tens of thousands of students at more than 100 locations. The deal also includes a few colleges that are still operating, including the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University and DeVry University.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, right, called the deal “fair and equitable for all parties.”

The Education Department granted relief to applicants from the schools included in the deal “based on strong indicia regarding substantial misconduct by listed schools, whether credibly alleged or in some instances proven,” according to the settlement papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Those borrowers’ loans will be fully eliminated, and any payments they made will be refunded.

The deal, which must be approved by a federal judge, was greeted with cheers and relief by borrowers. “This is probably the sexiest thing I’ve seen in a long time!” one posted in a Facebook group. “My school listed as a bad actor and my debt will be wiped out.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The I.R.S. backlog of unprocessed tax returns has grown to 21 million, Alan Rappeport, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The national taxpayer advocate criticized the Biden administration for being slow to make changes at the Internal Revenue Service.

The backlog of tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service has grown to more than 20 million in the last year despite efforts by the Biden administration to process filings and send out refunds more quickly, the national taxpayer advocate said in a report published on Wednesday.

irs logoThe report offers a critical assessment of the Biden administration’s handling of the I.R.S., which has been burdened by staffing and funding shortages in recent years while taking on the responsibility of delivering economic relief money during the pandemic.

The tax agency’s independent watchdog said the I.R.S. was slow to use relief funds that it received as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2021. It said the agency should have moved more quickly to ramp up hiring, reassign employees and make technology changes that could have eased the backlog.

“That the backlog continues to grow is deeply concerning, primarily because millions of taxpayers have been waiting six months or more to receive their refunds,” Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, wrote in the report.

A year ago, the I.R.S. had 20 million unprocessed tax returns. That backlog had grown to 21.3 million as of the last week of May.
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The I.R.S. disputed the taxpayer advocate’s findings and said more recent data, through June 10, showed unprocessed returns had dipped below 20 million and were down slightly from June 2021.

“The I.R.S. is committed to having healthy inventories by the end of this year and continues to make strong progress handling unprocessed tax returns,” Jodie Reynolds, an I.R.S. representative, said in a statement.

Paper tax returns continue to bog down the I.R.S. as the documents must be manually transcribed into its antiquated computer systems.

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U.S. Law, Courts, Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: June 24, 2022: The Day Chief Justice Roberts Lost His Court, Adam Liptak, June 25, 2022 (print ed.).  Outflanked by five impatient justices to his right, Chief Justice John Roberts is now a marginal figure.

In the most important case of his 17-year tenure, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. found himself entirely alone.

He had worked for seven months to persuade his colleagues to join him in merely chipping away at Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. But he was outflanked by the five justices to his right, who instead reduced Roe to rubble.

In the process, they humiliated the nominal leader of the court and rejected major elements of his jurisprudence.

The moment was a turning point for the chief justice. Just two years ago, after the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy made him the new swing justice, he commanded a kind of influence that sent experts hunting for historical comparisons. Not since 1937 had the chief justice also been the court’s fulcrum, able to cast the decisive vote in closely divided cases.

Chief Justice Roberts mostly used that power to nudge the court to the right in measured steps, understanding himself to be the custodian of the court’s prestige and authority. He avoided what he called jolts to the legal system, and he tried to decide cases narrowly.

But that was before a crucial switch. When Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appointed by President Donald J. Trump, succeeded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal icon, after her death in 2020, Chief Justice Roberts’s power fizzled.

“This is no longer John Roberts’s court,” Mary Ziegler, a law professor and historian at the University of California, Davis, said on Friday.

The chief justice is now in many ways a marginal figure. The five other conservatives are impatient and ambitious, and they do not need his vote to achieve their goals. Voting with the court’s three liberals cannot be a particularly appealing alternative for the chief justice, not least because it generally means losing.

Chief Justice Roberts’s concurring opinion in Friday’s decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, illustrated his present and perhaps future unhappy lot. He had tried for seven months to persuade a single colleague to join his incremental approach in the case, starting with carefully planned questioning when the case was argued in December. He failed utterly.

In the end, the chief justice filed a concurring opinion in which he spoke for no one but himself.

“It leaves one to wonder whether he is still running the show,” said Allison Orr Larsen, a law professor at the College of William & Mary.

The chief justice will face other challenges. Though Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” both liberal and conservative members of the court expressed doubts.

Justice Clarence Thomas, for instance, wrote in a concurring opinion that the court should go on to overrule three “demonstrably erroneous decisions” — on same-sex marriage, gay intimacy and contraception — based on the logic of Friday’s opinion.

In Friday’s abortion decision, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that he was ready to sustain the Mississippi law at issue in the case, one that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The only question before the court was whether that law was constitutional, and he said it was.

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek at Least 30 Years of Prison for Ghislaine Maxwell, Benjamin Weiser, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ms. Maxwell, who will be sentenced next week, showed an “utter lack of remorse” for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse girls, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell had made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, is to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.

Ms. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking, after a monthlong trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. The lawyers suggested that the government had decided to prosecute Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019 to appease his victims and “repair the tarnished reputations” of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier died.

The defense also suggested that blame for Ms. Maxwell’s conduct lay with Mr. Epstein and her father, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who they said was a cruel and intimidating parent.

The government, in its letter on Wednesday to Judge Nathan, dismissed those claims, asserting that if anything stood out from Ms. Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “utter lack of remorse.”

“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility,” the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”

The prosecutors said Ms. Maxwell’s attempt “to cast aspersions on the government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive.”

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More On Ukraine War

More on War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52-year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine in April.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden is heading to Europe in an attempt to ready U.S. allies for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, David E. european union logo rectangleSanger June 25, 2022. In March, talk of victory was in the air. Now, maintaining unity against President Vladimir V. Putin is looking harder, with President Biden heading to Germany and Spain to rally Europe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Russia Fires Barrage of Missiles at Targets Across Ukraine, Marc Santora, Megan Specia and Ivan Nechepurenko, June 25, 2022. Officials said over 40 missiles were fired from Belarus’s airspace, just hours before its leader was to meet with President Vladimir Putin. Follow updates. Officials said the attacks included over 40 missiles fired from Belarusian airspace and appeared to hit mostly military targets. They came hours before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with Belarus’s leader.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Ukraine to withdraw troops from besieged Severodonetsk, Victoria Bisset, Adela Suliman, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng and Mary Ilyushina, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Turkey denies receiving stolen grain; U.K. pledges $450 million to global food relief; ‘No one is abandoning our boys’ despite Severodonetsk withdrawal, governor says.

Ukraine will withdraw its troops defending Severodonetsk, the embattled eastern city that is the locus of Russia’s war effort, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said early Friday. Russia had been shelling the city “almost every day for four months,” Haidai said, adding that it made no sense to keep fighters in such a dangerous position. Russian troops were also advancing toward the neighboring city of Lysychansk, he added.

The setbacks in eastern Ukraine are in contrast to Kyiv’s recent wins off the battlefield. On Thursday, the European Union decided to grant Ukraine membership candidate status — a first step in a lengthy process, but a move President Volodymyr Zelensky nonetheless welcomed as “historic.” “Ukraine is not a bridge … not a buffer between Europe and Asia, not a sphere of influence,” he said Friday, rejecting Moscow’s justifications for its invasion of Ukraine. “Ukraine is a future equal partner for at least 27 E.U. countries.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The war in Ukraine is on track to be among modern history’s bloodiest, Paul Poast ( an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and a nonresident fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs), June 24, 2022.  It is killing far more soldiers per day than the typical war — and all signs point to protracted conflict.

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Public Health, Pandemic News

 

deborah birx djt white house photo cropped

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Covid Adviser Says She Was Asked to Water Down Guidance, Noah Weiland and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Dr. Deborah Birx, shown above at center in a file photo from her time serving in the Trump administration, said there was a consistent effort by former President Trump’s administration to stifle information as cases surged in 2020. Follow updates.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, President Donald J. Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, told a congressional committee investigating the federal pandemic response that Trump White House officials asked her to change or delete parts of the weekly guidance she sent state and local health officials, in what she described as a consistent effort to stifle information as virus cases surged in the second half of 2020.

Dr. Birx, who publicly testified to the panel Thursday morning, also told the committee that Trump White House officials withheld the reports from states during a winter outbreak and refused to publicly release the documents, which featured data on the virus’s spread and recommendations for how to contain it.

Her account of White House interference came in a multiday interview the committee conducted in October 2021, which was released on Thursday with a set of emails Dr. Birx sent to colleagues in 2020 warning of the influence of a new White House pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, who she said downplayed the threat of the virus. The emails provide fresh insight into how Dr. Birx and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, grappled with what Dr. Birx called the misinformation spread by Dr. Atlas.

The push to downplay the threat was so pervasive, Dr. Birx told committee investigators, that she developed techniques to avoid attention from White House officials who might have objected to her public health recommendations. In reports she prepared for local health officials, she said, she would sometimes put ideas at the ends of sentences so that colleagues skimming the text would not notice them.

In her testimony on Thursday, she offered similarly withering assessments of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, suggesting that officials in 2020 had mistakenly viewed the coronavirus as akin to the flu even after seeing high Covid-19 death rates in Asia and Europe. That, she said, had caused a “false sense of security in America” as well as a “sense among the American people that this was not going to be a serious pandemic.”

washington post logoWashington Post, WHO weighs declaring monkeypox a global emergency as European cases surge, Jennifer Hassan and Annabelle Timsit, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). The World Health Organization is weighing whether to declare monkeypox an international emergency — a decision that world health organization logo Customcould come as early as Friday. A declaration could escalate the global response as cases rapidly rise in Britain despite efforts to contain it.

Britain, where almost 800 cases of the virus have been recorded in the past month, has the highest reported number of infections outside of Central and West Africa — and case trends here are worrying experts throughout Europe, the epicenter of the outbreak, who are weighing the best approach in the midst of the years-long coronavirus pandemic.

Monkeypox cases rose almost 40 percent in Britain in under five days, according to data shared by the U.K. Health Security Agency. As of June 16, 574 cases had been recorded, and by June 20, the number had risen to 793.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Orders Juul to Stop Selling E-Cigarettes, Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The agency ruled against the company’s application to stay on the market, a heavy blow to the vaping brand. An appeal is expected.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul to stop selling e-cigarettes on the U.S. market, a profoundly damaging blow to a once-popular company whose brand was blamed for the teenage vaping crisis.

juulThe order affects all of Juul’s products on the U.S. market, the overwhelming source of the company’s sales. Juul’s sleek vaping cartridges and sweet-flavored pods helped usher in an era of alternative nicotine products that became exceptionally popular among young people, and invited intense scrutiny from antismoking groups and regulators who feared they would do more harm to young people than good to former smokers.

In its ruling, the agency said that Juul had provided insufficient and conflicting data about potentially harmful chemicals that could leach out of Juul’s proprietary e-liquid pods.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Have Nothing’: Afghan Quake Survivors Despair Over Recovery, Christina Goldbaum and Safiullah Padshah, Photographs by Kiana Hayeri, June 25, 2022. With the economy in ruins and aid in short supply, earthquake survivors in this remote stretch of Afghanistan wonder what their next move could be.

The earthquake this past week wreaked havoc on this remote, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing around 1,000 people and destroying the homes of thousands more. It was a devastating blow for a place that has seen unrelenting hardship for decades, and had been desperately hoping for any sort of respite after the war ended and the Taliban seized control of the country.

The people of Geyan District saw little benefit from the American era in Afghanistan. This is among the poorest places in the country, and people survive hand-to-mouth with the little money they earn collecting firewood and harvesting pine nuts each fall. Then, as now, the government was distant, and families have had to rely on each other when times get hard.

The advent of Taliban rule has not changed that here. Though government officials are scrambling to bring aid stores to the area after the quake, it will have little lasting effect on the worsening desperation of daily life, or the suffering from widespread death.

During the 20-year-long war between the Taliban insurgency and the previous Western backed government, residents were caught in grueling fighting that tore through villages across this swath of Afghanistan. Shelling from Pakistan — targeting Pakistani militants who have sought refuge along Afghanistan’s eastern border — has rained down from the sky, killing civilians and destroying homes. Nature itself has wrought its own violence with frequent floods, hail storms and deadly earthquakes woven into the fabric of life here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghanistan quake kills more than 1,000, injures 1,500, officials say, Haq Nawaz Khan, Adela Suliman, Shaiq Hussain and Karina Tsui, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The 5.9-magnitude earthquake sparked tremors that were felt in Pakistan and India.

The earthquake flattened homes while many people were sleeping, with its epicenter in the mountainous area near the country’s border with Pakistan — about 27 miles from the city of Khost — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which put the magnitude at 6.1.

Tremors were also felt in Pakistan and India, according to Pakistan’s National Seismic Monitoring Center.

Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim, acting deputy minister for the country’s disaster management authority, said at a news conference that “some villages have been completely destroyed.” Muslim said he was relaying information from rescue officials and was “waiting for the details about the damages to houses.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Sri Lanka’s economy has ‘completely collapsed,’ prime minister says, Bryan Pietsch, Niha Masih and Hafeel Farisz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.).  “Collapsed.” A “serious situation.” And potentially, a “fall to rock bottom.”

Those are some of the ways Sri Lanka’s prime minister described his country’s faltering economy Wednesday as the island nation faces extreme food and fuel shortages.
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sri lanka flagThe comments to Parliament from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe come after weeks of turmoil caused by government incompetence, experts say — a dynamic exacerbated by global inflation and supply chain disarray amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka shuts down, families struggle for food as crisis deepens

“We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food,” Wickremesinghe said, speaking in Sinhala. “Our economy has faced a complete collapse.”

Sri Lanka, a country of 23 million off the southeastern coast of India, has essentially had the door to fuel supplies shut in its face, as its national Ceylon Petroleum Corp. is $700 million in debt.

 

shireen abu akleh file

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank, Shira Rubin and Kareem Fahim, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Israeli authorities originally said the fatal shots came from Palestinian gunmen.

Israel FlagA veteran Palestinian American journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday, summarizing the results of the office’s investigation into the fatal shooting in May of Shireen Abu Akleh, a correspondent for Al Jazeera.

Abu Akleh was not shot “from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities,” Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

A correspondent with decades of experience for Al Jazeera news network covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head early on the morning on May 11, while reporting on an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. Witnesses said the fire appeared to come from a convoy of Israeli military vehicles, but Israeli officials initially said she was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire, before reversing course and saying it was possible she unintentionally been shot by an Israeli soldier.

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Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

ny times logoNew York Times, Leader of the QAnon Conspiracy Theory Returns, Stuart A. Thompson, June 25, 2022. Three posts on Friday night signaled the resurfacing of a figure who used a variety of conspiracy theories to marshal support for former President Trump.

After more than a year of silence, the mysterious figure behind the QAnon conspiracy theory has reappeared.

The figure, who is known only as Q, posted for the first time in over a year on Friday on 8kun, the anonymous message board where the account last appeared. “Shall we play the game again?” a post read in the account’s typical cryptic style. The account that posted had a unique identifier used on previous Q posts.

The posts surprised disinformation researchers and signaled the ominous return of a figure whose conspiracy theories about an imaginary ring of elite sex traffickers marshaled support for then-President Donald J. Trump. Message boards and Telegram channels devoted to QAnon lit up with the news, as followers speculated about the meaning of Q’s return.

Politico, Book bombs: Trump aide tell-alls fail to sell, Daniel Lippman, Meridith McGraw and Max Tani, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). A number of top aides to the 45th president churned out books after his presidency ended. The public isn’t buying. Multiple book editors and publishers interviewed for this politico Customstory said the hefty advances doled out to the authors before publication – for some, in the millions, like Kellyanne Conway and Bill Barr – might not be made back by the publisher with sales.

A year after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, right, released a tell-all book about his 10 Mark Meadowsmonths in the White House that promised to be a “frank, candid account” of running Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

The buzz around it was heavy. But in the publishing world, it was a bust.

mark meadows book chief chiefThe Chief’s Chief has sold only 21,569 books, according to NPD Bookscan, a market research firm that tracks book sales. And it’s not the only book by an ex-Trump aide that has failed to fly off the shelves.

The memoir of Deborah Birx, the Covid response coordinator under Trump, has sold fewer than 6,000 copies; Dr. Scott Atlas’ book sold 27,013 copies; Dr. Ben Carson’s book sold 21,786 copies; former White House press secretary turned Trump critic Stephanie Grisham sold 38,249 books; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has sold 42,273 books since it was published in late May; and former defense secretary Mark Esper sold 20,900 books.

Former attorney general Bill Barr sold 64,103 books.

But the one Trump post-White House book sales that did best appears to be Peter Navarro’s, whose In Trump Time has sold 80,218 copies of his book so far. The book, unlike the others, is less a revelation about life inside the former administration than an ode to Trump’s approach to governance. Perhaps for that reason, it has earned extensive publicity in MAGA circles and is currently advertised on Steve Bannon’s The War Room website.

 

dan snyder jacket

washington post logoWashington Post, In snubbing House panel, Snyder may have increased his legal peril, Liz Clarke and Mark Maske, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Congress will subpoena the Washington Commanders owner, shown above. What does that really mean?

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder successfully avoided the fate of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who fielded 2½ hours of questions during a congressional hearing Wednesday, simply by refusing to take part.

carolyn maloney oBut in doing so, Snyder may have compounded his legal peril and complicated the reckoning the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is determined to have over his role in the Washington’s NFL franchise’s workplace that it has spent eight months investigating.

Snyder soon is expected to be served with a subpoena to give a sworn deposition to the committee next week as Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, chairwoman of the committee, announced.

Prosecutors say this screenshot of surveillance video from the U.S. Capitol shows Hatchet Speed, circled in red, on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C.)

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June 24

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

Jan. 6 Insurrection Hearings, U.S. Election Integrity  

 

Jan. 6 Defendant Prosecutions, Probes  

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters


More On Ukraine War

 

Public Health, Pandemic News

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters


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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 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, SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE, Adam Liptak, June 24, 2022. Ends Constitutional Right to Abortion; Draft Opinion Had Leaked.

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

The decision, which echoed a leaked draft opinion published by Politico in early May, will result in a starkly divided country in which abortion is severely restricted or forbidden in many red states but remains freely available in most blue ones.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, voted with the majority but said he would have taken “a more measured course,” stopping short of overruling Roe outright. The court’s three liberal members dissented.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, concerned a law enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute, a calculated challenge to Roe, included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Lower courts ruled for the clinic, saying the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which prohibited states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, currently about 23 weeks.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

The decision, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years, will lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

It will also be one of the signal legacies of former President Trump: All three of his appointees were in the majority ruling.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here’s which could be next, Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul, N. Kirkpatrick, Daniela Santamariña and Lauren Tierney, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court released a decision on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, touching off a cascade of antiabortion laws that probably will take effect across roughly half the country.

Without the landmark precedent in place, the national abortion landscape will change quickly. First, 13 states with “trigger bans,” designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Thomas’s concurring opinion raises questions about what rights might be next, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 24, 2022. Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that elicited fears about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

samuel alito oIn the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, left, the court said that nothing in its decision “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Justice Thomas said he agreed with that.

However, he noted that in its rationale, the court’s majority found that a right to abortion was not a form of “liberty” protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Then, he took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating clarence thomas HRsodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

Justice Thomas, right, wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.

This kind of language is just what advocates for reproductive rights and for L.G.B.T.Q. rights have been fearing. Defenders of the right to abortion have repeatedly warned that if Roe fell, the right to contraception and same-sex marriage would be next.

Abortion opponents, who fought hard to overturn Roe, have insisted they have no interest in trying to undo the right to contraception.

But already, states like Missouri are trying to restrict access to contraception by banning public funding for certain methods: intrauterine devices and the so-called morning after pill. And some Republicans, notably Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have said that the Griswold case was wrongly decided. Earlier this year, Ms. Blackburn called Griswold “constitutionally unsound.”

 

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Biden says restoring abortion rights is up to voters, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2022. Newsom, West Coast governors pledge ‘sanctuary’ for abortion rights; Dick’s Sporting Goods to reimburse travel expenses for employees who seek abortion; Dispatch from Jackson, Miss: Vow to keep seeing patients.

President Biden called the Supreme Court’s decision a “tragic error” and implored voters to elect candidates in November who will support abortion rights and broader rights to privacy.

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Trump Tried to Misuse Justice Dept., Former Officials Say, Luke Broadwater and Staff Reports, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Jan. 6 Panel Examines Trump’s Pressure on Agency.

A White House lawyer told Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who wanted to push forward with a plan by former President Donald J. Trump to subvert the 2020 election results based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, that he would be committing a felony if he did so, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol revealed on Thursday.

As the committee opened its fifth hearing revealing the findings of its investigation, lawmakers played video of Eric Herschmann, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office recounting how, after hearing Mr. Clark’s proposal, he used a pair of expletives and said: “Congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony.”

The disclosure came as the panel began laying out evidence of how Mr. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election. To help make the case, the committee is taking testimony from three former top Justice Department officials who, unlike Mr. Clark, pushed back strongly on Mr. Trump’s efforts to misuse the attorney general’s office to overturn his defeat, an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal ends.

“He wanted the Justice Department to legitimize his lies,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said of Mr. Trump, who at one point proposed placing Mr. Clark at the helm when other officials refused to bow to his demands.

The witnesses testifying are Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former acting attorney general; Richard P. Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general; and Steven A. Engel, the former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Among the other revelations by the panel on Thursday:

The committee played new testimony from former Attorney General Bill Barr in which he suggested in a videotaped deposition that he was aware that Mr. Trump wanted to use false claims of voter fraud as a pretense for refusing to leave office. Had he not moved quickly to investigate and debunk Mr. Trump’s voting fraud allegations, Mr. Barr said, “I’m not sure we would have had a transition at all.”

The committee displayed on a large screen Mr. Donoghue’s handwritten note of Mr. Trump’s instructions to the Justice Department: “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the committee, is playing a central role in the questioning of witnesses and presentation of evidence. He has hinted that the hearing could reveal more information about members of Congress who sought pardons after Jan. 6.

The panel is planning at least two more hearings for July, according to its chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. Those sessions are expected to detail how a mob of violent extremists attacked Congress and how Mr. Trump did nothing to call off the violence for more than three hours.

 

steven engel jeffrey rosen richard donoghue jonathan ernst pool getty images june 23 2022

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, former Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue attend the fifth hearing held by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2022 in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC (Pool Photo by Jonathan Ernst via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Examines Trump’s Pressure on the Justice Department, Luke Broadwater, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). At its fifth hearing, set for 3 p.m. on Thursday, the House committee turned its focus to how President Donald J. Trump tried to enlist the Justice Department in his efforts to cling to power.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol unveiled new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday.

 

jeffrey clark nyt

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Officials Search Home of Trump Justice Dept. Official, Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark Was Central to Efforts to Overturn Election.

Federal investigators descended on the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official shown above in a file photo, on Wednesday in connection with the department’s sprawling inquiry into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

It remained unclear exactly what the investigators may have been looking for, but Mr. Clark was central to President Donald J. Trump’s unsuccessful effort in late 2020 to strong-arm the nation’s top prosecutors into supporting his claims of election fraud.

The law enforcement action at Mr. Clark’s home in suburban Virginia came just one day before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was poised to hold a hearing examining Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department after his election defeat.

The hearing was expected to explore Mr. Clark’s role in helping Mr. Trump bend the department to his will and ultimately help in a bid to persuade officials in several key swing states to change the outcome of their election results.

Politico, Multiple House Republicans sought pardons after Capitol riot, hearing reveals, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Former politico Customtop Department of Justice officials who testified thwarted the then-president's election subversion by threatening a mass resignation. Days after Jan. 6, 2021, Republican lawmakers who strategized with President Donald Trump asked top White House officials to help louis gohmertarrange for pardons, according to testimony released Thursday by the select panel investigating the Capitol attack.

Several top Trump White House aides at the time, including special assistant Cassidy Hutchinson and aide Johnny McEntee, described outreach from multiple members of Congress seeking clemency: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), matt gaetz o Customabove right, Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Additionally, according to the former Trump aides’ testimony, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), below right, sent an email on Jan. 11, 2021, asking for “all purpose” pardons for every lawmaker who objected to electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. mo brooks oRep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) never asked for a pardon but did request an update on the status of requests by other members, Hutchinson said.

The flurry of pardon requests followed what the select committee showed was weeks of efforts by Trump’s top congressional Republican defenders to spread misinformation about the results of the 2020 election. Those GOP lawmakers also helped apply pressure on the Justice Department to legitimize those false fraud claims. None of the lawmakers ever received pardons.

 

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The ruling comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control. The Senate is close to passing a bipartisan package of gun safety measures, a major step toward ending a yearslong stalemate in Congress.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent. (Excerpted story continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Ukraine to withdraw troops from besieged Severodonetsk, Victoria Bisset, Adela Suliman, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng and Mary Ilyushina, June 24, 2022. Turkey denies receiving stolen grain; U.K. pledges $450 million to global food relief; ‘No one is abandoning our boys’ despite Severodonetsk withdrawal, governor says.

Ukraine will withdraw its troops defending Severodonetsk, the embattled eastern city that is the locus of Russia’s war effort, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said early Friday. Russia had been shelling the city “almost every day for four months,” Haidai said, adding that it made no sense to keep fighters in such a dangerous position. Russian troops were also advancing toward the neighboring city of Lysychansk, he added.

The setbacks in eastern Ukraine are in contrast to Kyiv’s recent wins off the battlefield. On Thursday, the European Union decided to grant Ukraine membership candidate status — a first step in a lengthy process, but a move President Volodymyr Zelensky nonetheless welcomed as “historic.” “Ukraine is not a bridge … not a buffer between Europe and Asia, not a sphere of influence,” he said Friday, rejecting Moscow’s justifications for its invasion of Ukraine. “Ukraine is a future equal partner for at least 27 E.U. countries.”

  

U.S. Abortion Ruling, Laws, Commentary 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Steady, Commentary: A day at the Supreme Court that shakes America to its core, Dan Rather (right, author and former CBS Evening News dan rather 2011anchor and managing editor), June 24, 2022.

What to say that hasn’t been said but needs to be said again, and again, and again:

dan rather steady logoThis is not a court of humble jurists who are bound in any way by fidelity to precedent, the law, or common sense. There is nothing “conservative” about these damaging decisions, or the men and woman who have imposed their extreme views upon the American populace.

Right-wing politicians decry “elitism,” but what is more elitist than unelected and unaccountable activists using the language of legal argumentation as a fig leaf for their naked exercise of power?

There is no way that these decisions would pass a vote of the American public. Indeed, a majority of the justices were installed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And the polling on the issues these rulings tear asunder suggests that what these justices are doing is unpopular — in many cases, very unpopular.

But they sneer from their echo chamber of extremism. They are emboldened by a system that has been fixed, with the complicity of Mitch McConnell and others, to advantage minority viewpoints by leveraging a branch of government not designed to be a political actors' stage in order to circumvent the legislative and executive branches.

Where to begin, and where will it end?The Supreme Court has further cemented its role as a reactionary force in American life.

Today it was abortion, on top of recent decisions on gun regulations, public funding for religious schools, and Miranda rights. Soon they will likely gut environmental regulations, and we can guess at what comes next — gay marriage? Contraception?

We can’t let this moment pass without recognizing what a horrific decision today's is, and how it will relegate women to second-class status in decision-making over their own bodies. This will lead to a host of suffering and likely death. It will imprison women where control will be imposed by the state. It is the opposite of freedom. It is a right that existed — and still should.

The Supreme Court depends on its legitimacy, and today that is as tattered as the constitutional rights on which it has trampled. The Roberts court will be marked as a cabal of intemperance that made America far less safe and far less free. It will be noted for its zealotry and its cynical embrace of the ends justifying the means.

But as with all chapters of history, how our present is ultimately viewed depends on what comes next. Will these rulings lead to outrage-fueled activism that upends the political system, or apathy and defeatism? Will the majority mobilize? Will there be reforms? Will there be a recalibration of the current balance of power?

I leave you today with the words of Sherrilyn Ifill, civil rights lawyer and president and director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has experienced the fight from the trenches of justice, and her perspective mirrors my own. I could not have expressed it better.

Remember that we have never seen the America we’ve been fighting for. So no need to be nostalgic. Right on the other side of this unraveling is opportunity. If we keep fighting no matter what, take care of ourselves & each other, stay strategic & principled, & use all our power.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Roe’s demise, abortion will soon be banned across much of red America, Caroline Kitchener, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark precedent will prompt immediate changes to the country’s abortion landscape. The tremors from Friday’s sweeping Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will ripple across the country almost immediately, with roughly half of all states poised to ban or drastically restrict abortion.

Thirteen states will outlaw abortion within 30 days with “trigger bans” that were designed to take effect as soon as Roe was overturned. These laws make an exception for cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but most do not include exceptions for rape or incest.

In many states, trigger bans will activate as soon as a designated state official certifies the decision, which Republican lawmakers expect to happen within minutes.

“They just need to acknowledge, ‘Yes, this has occurred,’ ” said Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who has championed much of his state’s antiabortion legislation, including its trigger ban. “I’ll be happy to see the butcher mill in Little Rock, Arkansas, shut down for good.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 24, 2022. While we jennifer rubin new headshotknew from the leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion that Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent were hanging by a thread, and yet when the opinion came down Friday morning — a virtual copy of the leaked draft — many Americans no doubt felt a wave of disbelief, anger, dread and fear.

The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason.

 As the dissent (by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) made clear, the majority opinion is as radical as any in its history: “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

National Public Radio (NPR), All Things Considered Interview: Former governor whose bill was at the center of Roe ruling reacts to SCOTUS' npr logodecision, Mary Louise Kelly, June 24, 2024. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Phil Bryant, below right, the Republican former governor of Mississippi who signed a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, let's turn now to the state that brought us to this moment, Mississippi.

KELLY: Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only abortion provider in the state and the defendant in the case that the Supreme Court decided today. It concerned a state law enacted in 2018. The governor who signed that bill into law was then-Governor Republican Phil Bryant, and he joins me now. Governor Bryant, welcome.

phil bryantPHIL BRYANT, right: I'm glad to be with you. It's a glorious day for those of us that are very pro-life.

KELLY: Well, I think people will have already gathered that this is the ruling you were hoping for. Can I ask your first thought when you heard the news?

BRYANT: Well, I was prayerful. To God be the glory, as - which I told everyone. There'll be a lot of politicians, and rightfully so, people who've helped that would try to take credit for this. That will be those that are campaigning for office that would say, that's exactly what I would have done. But when we had the opportunity in 2018 to protect innocent lives starting at 15 weeks, and of course, we then - we passed a more stringent anti-abortion bill after that. But we just believe that it's murder. We believe that it's a tearing apart of the human body in the womb. And so we were very happy, I was, and I know many of us that heard that ruling today.

KELLY: Walk me through what exactly changes now in Mississippi. You have a trigger law that kicks in.

BRYANT: We do.

KELLY: Mississippi, as we mentioned, only has one clinic providing abortions. What do these next days look like in your state?

BRYANT: Well, I think people will start thinking about something called individual responsibility. I think they're going to have to take into consideration that I might not be able to get an abortion on demand. I might not be able to do that just for my convenience. And so I think - I hope and I believe that there will be adults who will be more responsible and not bring about a life that they do not want.

This is not the most complicated thing in the world. Any seventh and eighth grader probably begins to realize where babies come from. And so for an adult female to say, well, you know, I just don't - I don't think this is what I want to do right now, I hope they will see more clearly through that process. And I know things happen. Look. I'm just saying that the life of that unborn child was where we were thinking and what we were doing when all of this began and even into today.

KELLY: In your years in office, you, of course, were governor for everybody in Mississippi, whatever their politics.

BRYANT: Correct.

KELLY: What do you say to Mississippians, like some of the ones we heard in that tape from outside the clinic today, who believe it is the right of women to decide what happens inside their own bodies and who are devastated...

BRYANT: I...

KELLY: ...At today's decision?

BRYANT: I would say first you need to kneel and pray to God, who is the God of everyone, that in your heart, you can understand that that is a living human being. And so try as you might to find God in this. Try to pray and have him open your eyes and come into your heart and realize this is your child. This is a human being who has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And you're about to take all that away for your convenience. Pray. That's what I would tell them. Pray hard.

KELLY: When you say women are choosing an abortion because it is for their convenience, I just want to push you on that, because there are a lot of women who would say, this is not about my convenience. This is not a choice anyone wants to make. This is about my right to control my body.

BRYANT: And I would tell men and women that you have a responsibility. We all did, and all of us are - fall short of the grace of God. But please consider your responsibilities. And, men, take the responsibility of being the father. So we don't want to wish - we're not hardhearted. We understand these difficult situations. It's why we work so hard here to make adoption easier for families who can't have children and families who want desperately to have a child. So look. I'm not mad at anyone. I'm not judging anyone. I am just saying that the Supreme Court upheld a law today that said that the states have the right to regulate abortions and that we will continue to do that within the confines of the Constitution of the United States laws.

KELLY: Phil Bryant. He was the governor of Mississippi from 2012 to 2020. Governor Bryant, thank you.

BRYANT: Thank you.

KELLY: One of many voices we are hearing from today as we cover this landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Overturning Roe could threaten rights conservatives hold dear, Julia Bowes, June 24, 2022. Parental rights stem from the same liberty that the Supreme Court just began rolling back.

Recent Headlines

 

Jan. 6 Insurrection Hearings, Election Threats

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 big thing: DOJ's last stand, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu, June 23-24, 2022. By the afternoon of Jan. 3, 2021, the White House presidential call log had begun referring to election denier and little-known Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark as the "acting Attorney General," the House Jan. 6 committee revealed in its explosive fifth hearing today.

axios logoWhy it matters: Had former President Trump followed through on his scheme to install Clark atop the Justice Department in the waning days of his presidency, America's top law enforcement agency may have officially thrown its weight behind his false claims of election fraud.

It was only the threat of mass resignations by DOJ leadership — including the three witnesses who testified at today's hearing — that prevented the chaos that would have ensued.

Meanwhile: The FBI carried out a pre-dawn raid of Clark's house yesterday, seizing his electronic devices and leaving him out on the street in his pajamas, the New York Times reports.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr testified in a taped deposition that the "responsible thing to do" was to investigate Trump's claims of voter fraud directly after the election, rather than allow the president to use them as a pretense for staying in office. "I sort of shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the department was 'we're not even looking at this until after Biden's in office.' I'm not sure we would have had a transition at all," Barr said.

2. Clark's "murder-suicide pact."

Clark proposed sending a letter to Georgia officials saying DOJ had "significant concerns" about voting irregularities, and that the Georgia state legislature should call a special session to consider changing its electors.

"Congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you'd take as attorney general would be committing a felony," Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann replied in disgust, according to his testimony to the committee.

Former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue testified that White House counsel Pat Cipollone called the letter a "murder-suicide pact" and said it would "damage everyone that touches it."

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 panel names five Republicans who allegedly sought Trump pardons, Devlin Barrett, June 24, 2022 (print ed.).  Videotaped testimony named Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.) and Scott Perry (Pa.), as lawmakers who sought preemptive pardons after or, in at least one case, before the Capitol breach.

washington post logoWashington Post, How close the Justice Dept. came to catastrophe under Trump, Michael Kranish and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). With raw emotion, former officials described to the Jan. 6 committee how close the department came to catastrophe

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 5 takeaways from hearing on Trump’s Justice Dept. plot, Aaron Blake, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday held its fifth major hearing, this one focused on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on the Justice Department to help him overturn the election.

The plot was spearheaded within the department by an official named Jeffrey Clark, whose home federal agents searched Wednesday in a significant development that reflects the increasing legal jeopardy faced by Trump’s allies and perhaps Trump himself. Trump at one point considered installing Clark as acting attorney general to further the plot — which prompted mass resignation threats.

washington post logoWashington Post, The role Rep. Scott Perry played in promoting ‘Italygate,’ false claims of fraud, Jacqueline Alemany, Emma Brown and Amy Gardner, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Of all the fantastical false claims of fraud and vote manipulation in the 2020 presidential election, “Italygate” was one of the most extreme. And Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) was at the heart of bringing it to Donald Trump’s attention.

This particular allegation of fraud centered around what one former Justice Department official described Thursday as an “absurd” claim: that an Italian defense contractor had conspired with senior CIA officials to use military satellites to flip votes from Trump to Joe Biden. As The Washington Post has reported, the theory was pushed by a Virginia horse-country socialite who once gave an extended television interview from a 22-bedroom mansion that she repeatedly described as her own, even though it was not.

But as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol demonstrated Thursday, Italygate also made its way to the highest levels of the U.S. government. The committee showed Dec. 31, 2020, text messages between Perry and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that included a YouTube video about it, with Perry asking: “Why can’t we just work with the Italian government?”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 5 lessons from a devastating Jan. 6 hearing, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 24, 2022. There were a number of revelations jennifer rubin new headshotfrom the House Jan. 6 committee’s hearings on Thursday regarding former president Donald Trump’s attempt to enlist the Justice Department in his scheme to steal the election. All of them were simply devastating.

For example: Former attorney general William P. Barr made clear he had investigated claims of voter fraud before leaving in December 2020 so as to be able to rebut false claims of fraud. He testified that there may not have been a presidential transition if that had not happened.

We also finally learned the identities of the Republican members of Congress who requested pardons from Trump: Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.), Steve Perry (Penn.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.).

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe committee’s star witnesses — Richard Donoghue, former acting U.S. deputy attorney general; Jeff Rosen, former acting attorney general; and Steven A. Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel — all testified that former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump attempted to name as his acting attorney general, had repeatedly been told that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Clark nevertheless pressured Justice Department leaders to send a letter to states falsely claiming the election was fraudulent to justify pulling back their electors. Coincidentally, it was reported that the FBI searched Clark’s home on Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump and his crackpots brought us to the brink of ‘losing it all,’ Dana Milbank, right, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). On the dana milbank newestevening of Jan. 3, 2021, the United States was about one bunch short of becoming a banana republic.

President Donald Trump, obsessed with overturning his election defeat, was about to replace his attorney general for the second time in as many weeks for refusing to validate his lies about election fraud. But this time he was threatening to appoint as acting attorney general an unknown environmental lawyer by the name of Jeffrey Clark — roundly derided by his Justice Department colleagues as “off-kilter” and “not competent.”

Clark had never tried a criminal case, but he had delusions of grandeur (he had repeatedly insisted DOJ upgrade his job title) and one key qualification: He embraced Trump’s debunked election claims, including the loony notion that thermostats could have been used to control voting machines. He had promised that if Trump appointed him attorney general he would publicly (and falsely) announce that the department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States” — boosting the illegal scheme to overturn the results using fake electors.

 

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as her mother, Ruby Freeman, dressed in red, looks on (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, As Jan. 6 committee targets Trump, his consternation at McCarthy grows, Marianna Sotomayor, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The kevin mccarthyHouse minority leader’s bet to exclude the ro-Trump GOP perspective from the Jan. 6 committee could prove costly to his potential speakership bid; In prepared remarks, Rosen says Justice ‘held firm’ against Trump’s election fraud pressure.

  • Washington Post, What to expect at today’s Jan. 6 House committee hearing
  • Watch live: The Post’s coverage of the hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. ET

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. wants to know whether Sidney Powell is funding Oath Keepers’ defense, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to probe possible financial relationships between members of the Oath Keepers accused of trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and a nonprofit entity run by former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell that spread false election claims.

The unusual request follows media reports that Powell’s nonprofit organization, Defending the Republic, has used some of the millions of dollars it has raised through spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election to pay legal fees for Oath Keepers members facing trial. According to BuzzFeed and Mother Jones articles cited in the filing, four defendants — including Stewart Rhodes, who founded the self-styled militia group — have taken funds from Powell’s organization.

All four are accused of obstructing Congress’s counting of electoral college votes on Jan. 6, 2021; Rhodes and two others are accused of engaging in a seditious conspiracy against the United States.

U.S. prosecutors asked the trial judge to ensure, in private if necessary, that counsel is complying with legal ethics that bar outside funding for legal defense unless the client gives informed consent. The rules prohibit attorneys from sharing confidential client information with outsiders except under certain circumstances. The government also is asking the judge to ensure that the involvement of Powell’s group results in “no interference with the lawyer’s independence ... or with the client-lawyer relationship.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Ron Johnson under fire over fake-electors disclosure at hearing, Colby Itkowitz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Weeks before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), right, held a hearing on election fraud in an attempt to legitimize former president Donald ron johnson oTrump’s false allegations of voting irregularities. Four days before the attack on the Capitol, Johnson signed a statement with nine other Republican senators that they intended to object to certifying Joe Biden’s electors and demand “an emergency 10-day audit of the election.”

This week, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot revealed that Johnson’s chief of staff tried to deliver to Vice President Mike Pence a slate of fake electors backing Trump, raising questions about the Wisconsin Republican’s role in a deliberate and coordinated plan to block Biden’s win and give Trump the presidency.

The disclosure also underscores the extent of Johnson’s role as one of Congress’s most prominent election deniers and Jan. 6 apologists — spreading conspiracy theories about rigged votes and playing down the severity of the violent assault on the Capitol as mostly “peaceful,” while floating the idea that it might have been an inside job by the FBI.

  • Washington Post, Jan. 6 committee counsel leaving to explore run for U.S. Senate in Missouri, Isaac Arnsdorf, Amy Gardner, Carol D. Leonnig and Jacqueline Alemany, June 23, 2022.

 

 Alex Holder is a British documentary filmmaker show at left with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot (Photo via Alex Holder).

Alex Holder is a British documentary filmmaker show at left with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot (Photo via Alex Holder).

ny times logoNew York Times, A British documentary filmmaker is a potentially key witness in the House’s Jan. 6 investigation, Maggie Haberman, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker who had extensive access to President Donald J. Trump and his family ahead of and after the 2020 election, has emerged late in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a new and potentially important witness.

Mr. Holder is testifying behind closed doors on Thursday morning before the House committee investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the election he lost. His deposition is taking place ahead of a separate public hearing by the committee on Thursday about Mr. Trump’s effort to install a loyalist to run the Justice Department in the closing weeks of his administration.

Mr. Holder’s footage — some 11 hours of it with the Trump family discussing the campaign and the election — was subpoenaed by the committee ahead of the interview.

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Jan. 6 Defendant Prosecutions, Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. broadens Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy indictment of Oath Keepers, Spencer S. Hsu, June 24, 2022. Fla. member Jeremy Brown, retired Special Forces soldier and ex-GOP congressional candidate, also says he expects to face conspiracy charge.

U.S. prosecutors have broadened a seditious conspiracy charge against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and eight co-defendants, filing an amended indictment Thursday that alleges the group conspired to use force to oppose the authority of the federal government as well as to oppose the lawful transfer of power to President Biden in attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The superseding indictment, returned by a grand jury Wednesday, adds a second prong by which prosecutors can ask a jury to find Rhodes and accused co-conspirators guilty at a trial set for Sept. 26. Charging papers allege that the group coordinated travel, equipment and firearms and stashed weapons outside Washington, ready “to answer Rhodes’ call to take up arms at Rhodes’ direction.”

The new indictment does not allege new facts, but gives the Justice Department more leeway in proving a violation of the historically rare, Civil War-era charge in this case. It also aligns the count lodged against Rhodes’s Oath Keepers group with a seditious conspiracy indictment brought against five leaders of a second far-right group with a history of violence, the Proud Boys and its former chairman, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It will be bad if Garland prosecutes Trump — and worse if he doesn’t, Eugene Robinson, right, June 24, 2022 (print eugene robinson headshot Customed.).  It will set a disturbing precedent if Attorney General Merrick Garland prosecutes former president Donald Trump for alleged crimes. But I believe it will set a worse precedent if Garland doesn’t.

There are obvious risks in a political system where criminal charges and jail sentences can be used to achieve political ends.

All we need to do is look to South America, where former presidents Carlos Menem of Argentina, Alberto Fujimori of Peru and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil all were sentenced to prison terms for various crimes including, in Fujimori’s case, the creation of a murderous right-wing death squad. In each case, die-hard supporters believed their hero had been railroaded for political purposes. Those prosecutions may have served justice. But their sentences did nothing, at least in the short term, for unity or stability.

washington post logoWashington Post, Intelligence contractor, alleged Nazi sympathizer charged in Jan. 6 riot, Spencer S. Hsu, June 24, 2022. Hatchet Speed, a Navy reservist from McLean, spoke of how to ‘wipe out’ Jews and bought a dozen firearms after the Capitol attack, U.S. alleges.

A Navy reservist described by prosecutors as a heavily armed Nazi sympathizer with top-level U.S. government security clearance was arrested Wednesday in McLean, Va., and charged with breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys, according to court filings.

Hatchet M. Speed, who worked until recently with a U.S. defense and intelligence cyberoperations contractor based in nearby Vienna, posed an “alarming” threat to public safety, prosecutors said in court filings unsealed Thursday.

They cited his alleged statements to an undercover FBI employee in which he “espoused the use of violence to further his anti-government and anti-Semitic ideologies,” and his firearm-related purchases totaling over $50,000 after the Capitol attack in a bout of “panic” buying that included a dozen pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles.

U.S. prosecutors did not ask to jail Speed, but they requested a judge detain him until court authorities could find and remove weapons that were not seized in a search of his home and storage unit when he was arrested. An FBI search found 13 firearms, seven silencers, evidence of three more unrecovered suppressors and 25 firearms belonging to housemates, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis J. Loeb wrote.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui ordered that Speed be held on home detention at a motel for the time being, in keeping with a standard release condition that defendants not possess firearms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge delays Proud Boys trial in fallout from House Jan. 6 hearings, Spencer S. Hsu, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Defendants and prosecutors warned that the planned release of a report and witness transcripts from the investigation into the Capitol attack could upend trial preparations.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington, D.C., said at a hearing he “reluctantly” reached the decision to delay the scheduled Aug. 8 trial of former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four others on seditious conspiracy and other charges, but acknowledged strong concerns from prosecutors and defense lawyers that the House Select Committee investigating the breach may divulge key evidence that they have not seen.

The move to a trial now set for December came as televised House hearings this month that have focused in part on alleged actions by Proud Boys members amid what lawmakers say is potentially criminal behavior by President Donald Trump and others who falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen before the attack on Congress.

 

derrick evans

washington post logoWashington Post, W.Va. politician sentenced to 3 months for Jan. 6 role, Tom Jackman, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Derrick Evans, above, had just been sworn in to his first term in the state House of Delegates. He resigned before serving after he was charged in the Capitol riot.

A West Virginia state legislator who helped lead the charge of protesters who overwhelmed police on the east side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and live-streamed the insurrection on Facebook, was sentenced Wednesday to three months in jail for the felony of committing civil disorder.

derrick evans fbiDerrick Evans, 37, of Prichard, W.Va., proclaimed himself an activist and also live-streamed his protests outside of West Virginia’s only abortion clinic, leading the clinic to build a 10-foot fence around the the building and a clinic volunteer to obtain a restraining order against him. He was known for taking his phone and streaming his protests against Black Lives Matter or drag brunches. Evans ran for the state House of Delegates first as a Democrat, then won as a Republican in 2020. He was sworn in on Dec. 14, 2020.

Before he stormed the Capitol, ex-W.Va. lawmaker, right, harassed women at an abortion clinic

In the weeks before Jan. 6, on his “Derrick Evans - The Activist” Facebook page, which had 32,000 followers, Evans called for others to join him in the journey to the Capitol, according to court records show. He posted memes of Donald Trump saying things such as “Fight for Trump” and “A Storm is Coming,” court records show. He documented his bus trip to Washington on Facebook, and on Jan. 6 bypassed Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse and went straight to the east side of the Capitol for several hours, prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

As the crowd grew, Evans put on a helmet and shouted out updates to the crowd about the violence occurring on the west side of the Capitol, where rioters first breached the building, the sentencing memo states. Prosecutors played clips of Evans’s live-stream video in court Wednesday, showing him yelling at police officers, “You go tell your liberal mayor to go kiss rocks!”

Eventually, the mob on the east side pushed through the Rotunda doors. Evans narrated as they did, according to the video. “We’re taking this house, I told you today! Patriots stand up!...My people didn’t vote for me because I was a coward.” And finally, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

Eventually, the mob on the east side pushed through the Rotunda doors. Evans narrated as they did, according to the video. “We’re taking this house, I told you today! Patriots stand up!...My people didn’t vote for me because I was a coward.” And finally, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

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More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control (Continued from above).

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

new york map citiesThe New York law requires that people seeking a license to carry a handgun outside their homes show a “proper cause.” California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws, according to briefs filed in the case.

Two men who were denied the licenses they sought in New York sued, saying that “the state makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

The men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, were authorized to carry guns for target practice and hunting away from populated areas, state officials told the Supreme Court, and Mr. Koch was allowed to carry a gun to and from work.

“Nash and Koch did not receive unrestricted licenses because neither demonstrated a nonspeculative need to carry a handgun virtually anywhere in public,” Barbara D. Underwood, New York’s solicitor general, told the justices in a brief.

In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court recognized an individual right to keep guns in the home for self-defense. Since then, it has been almost silent on the scope of Second Amendment rights.

Indeed, the court for many years turned down countless appeals in Second Amendment cases. In the meantime, lower courts generally sustained gun control laws.

But they were divided on the question posed by the case from New York: whether states can stop law-abiding citizens from carrying guns outside their homes for self-defense unless they can satisfy the authorities that they have a good reason for doing so.

Last year, for instance, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco upheld Hawaii’s law by a 7-to-4 vote.

“Our review of more than 700 years of English and American legal history reveals a strong theme: Government has the power to regulate arms in the public square,” Judge Jay S. Bybee, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote for the majority.

The federal appeals court in Chicago, on the other hand, struck down an Illinois law that banned carrying guns in public. And a federal appeals court in Washington struck down a restrictive District of Columbia law that it said amounted to “a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun.”

The court’s reluctance to hear Second Amendment cases changed as its membership shifted to the right in recent years. President Donald J. Trump’s three appointees — Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — have all expressed support for gun rights.

And the Supreme Court’s most conservative members have long deplored the court’s reluctance to explore the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment.

In 2017, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that he had detected “a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous,” Justice Thomas wrote. “But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense.”

In 2019, not long after Justice Kavanaugh’s arrival, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a New York City gun regulation that had allowed residents to keep guns in their homes to take them to one of seven shooting ranges in the city. But it prohibited them from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns were unloaded and locked in containers separate from ammunition.

After the court granted review, the city repealed the regulation, and the court eventually dismissed the case as moot. In a concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that he was concerned that lower courts were not sufficiently sensitive to Second Amendment rights. “The court should address that issue soon,” he wrote.

In June, however, the court turned down some 10 appeals in Second Amendment cases. Since it takes only four votes to grant review, there is good reason to think that the court’s conservative wing, which at the time had five members, was unsure it could secure Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s vote.

Justice Barrett’s arrival changed that calculus. Six months after she joined the court, it agreed to hear the New York case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, No. 20-843.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York criticized the ruling, saying “it shows this is an activist court that is undermining precedent and undermining common sense state laws that protect citizens and uphold public safety.”

The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

It also comes after a spate of mass shootings has renewed the debate over gun control, and as a group of senators is racing to pass legislation. Follow updates.

 

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion on the gun law case, is the court’s most committed advocate of gun rights, Adam Liptak, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in the gun case decided on Thursday, is the Supreme Court’s most ardent supporter of the Second Amendment.

After the Supreme Court established an individual constitutional right to own guns in a pair of decisions in 2008 and 2010, it turned down appeals from lower-court rulings sustaining gun control laws in the next decade.

Justice Thomas responded by issuing a series of sharp dissents accusing his colleagues of treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right.

In 2015, when the court refused to hear a challenge to a Chicago suburb’s ordinance that banned semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, Justice Thomas said the court had abdicated its responsibility to enforce the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles,” Justice Thomas wrote, referring, he said, to “modern sporting rifles.”

“The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting,” Justice Thomas wrote. “Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”

In 2017, when the court turned down a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that placed strict limits on carrying guns in public, Justice Thomas again chastised the court for what he called “a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force,” he wrote, “the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a state denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Fierce Madres’: Uvalde parents’ collective grief is turning into collective rage, Silvia Foster-Frau and Teo Armus, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The mothers and grandmothers filed into the school board meeting, a sea of maroon T-shirts with “Fierce Madres” emblazoned on their chests, ready to confront local officials after the shooting at Robb Elementary.

Angeli Gomez was called to speak first. On the day of the attack, she’d been briefly handcuffed by police as she tried to get into the school. The farmworker eventually jumped a fence and snatched her two sons from their classrooms.

“If nothing is done with this council to ensure the safety of our children, perhaps it is time for individuals who are willing to risk their lives for our children to fill your seats,” said Gomez, 30, her braids brushing the words “Hispanic Moms United” on the shirt’s back.

It has been nearly one month since the May 24 mass shooting, when a gunman stormed into an Uvalde, Tex., elementary school and killed 19 children and two teachers while police stood for over an hour outside the classroom where he was shooting.

Now, after a long procession of funerals, the collective grief here is turning into collective rage. Moms and dads, some who lost children in the attack, are showing up at town meetings teary-eyed and angry to demand school police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo’s firing. A local group calling for gun laws has grown to more than 1,000 members in just a few days — a feat in a Southwest Texas town where hunting tourism remains a large driver of the economy and private gun ownership is commonplace. Protesters are expected to gather at the town square this weekend to demand accountability.

“I am one pissed grandma,” said Estella Martinez, 70, a member of the Fierce Madres, a Latina mom-driven group that formed a week ago.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate passes bipartisan gun violence bill, marking breakthrough, Mike DeBonis, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The bill is poised to pass the House today and be signed by President Biden. It includes the most significant new gun restrictions since the mid-1990s.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Cornyn goes there on the NRA and its ‘business model,’ Aaron Blake, June 23, 2022. Nobody has come in for more criticism from the right over the Senate’s bipartisan gun bill than Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). Cornyn has spearheaded the negotiations and isn’t backing down despite the attacks — from Donald Trump, from Fox News and from his own state GOP.

And, in fact, Cornyn offered some pretty unvarnished comments Wednesday about the National Rifle Association — comments that amount to a significant and unusual rebuke of the nation’s leading gun group from a leading GOP senator.

While speaking to reporters about the bill, Cornyn emphasized that the NRA was consulted extensively. But he indicated that the group would never be onboard with pretty much anything because of its “business model.”

“We worked with the NRA, listened to their concerns, but in the end I think they simply — they have a membership and a business model that will not allow them to support any legislation,” Cornyn said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s gun ruling is a serious misfire, George F. Will, right, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Thomas, in his george f will63-page opinion, was characteristically meticulous and exhaustive in marshaling evidence of an enduring American tradition of permitting public carry of firearms by people with “ordinary” self-defense needs. And he found no “American tradition” that could justify New York’s “proper-cause requirement.”

But in an amicus brief supporting New York, former federal appellate judge (on the 4th Circuit) J. Michael Luttig demonstrated that, regarding the public carrying of loaded guns, there is an American tradition even older than the nation of striking a “delicate balance between the Second Amendment’s twin concerns for self-defense and public safety.”

The court’s ruling, however, does not treat those as “twin,” meaning equal, concerns.

Indeed, it treats the second, public safety, as irrelevant to the framers.

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden Will Push Congress for a Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lydia DePillis, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Vulnerable Democrats have championed the move ahead of the midterms, but the White House will face an uphill battle to get Congress to approve the holiday.

Joe Biden portrait 2President Biden called on Congress on Wednesday to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, an effort to give Americans “just a little bit of breathing room” from soaring fuel prices even as economists and lawmakers in both parties expressed skepticism that the move would make much of a difference.

During an afternoon speech, Mr. Biden asked Congress to lift the federal taxes — about 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel — through the end of September, shortly before the fall midterm elections. The president also asked states to suspend their own gas taxes, hoping to alleviate the economic pain that has contributed to his diminishing popularity.

“I fully understand that the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Mr. Biden said. “But it will provide families some immediate relief. Just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Alaska’s June wildfires break records, fueled by hot, dry weather, Jacob Feuerstein and Nathaniel Herz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). A record number of acres have burned this month in Alaska, forcing Indigenous people from their homes, compromising air quality and stretching firefighting resources thin.

More than 1 million acres have gone up in flames already, officials reported last weekend, the earliest date on record that the state has reached that milestone. The abnormally warm and dry weather — intensified by human-caused climate change — has helped ignite more than 300 wildfires in recent weeks. More than 100 are still burning, including the East Fork Fire, which has charred over 165,000 acres and now ranks as the state’s fifth-largest tundra fire on record.

Recent Headlines

 

More U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Cancel $6 Billion in Student Loans for Defrauded Borrowers, Stacy Cowley, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Around 200,000 former students who attended schools that they said defrauded them will have $6 billion in federal loans canceled under a sweeping settlement announced on Wednesday, the latest move by the Biden administration to address the student loan crisis by eliminating some debts.

Those who applied for relief — some as long as seven years ago — will have their loans wiped out if they attended one of more than 150 schools named in the class-action settlement, nearly all of which are for-profit colleges and vocational programs. The deal reverses 128,000 denial notices — which a federal judge called “disturbingly Kafkaesque” — that were sent to relief applicants during the Trump administration.

Many of the schools included in the settlement are out of business. They include large chains like the Art Institutes and other campuses run by the Dream Center, whose operations abruptly collapsed in 2019, and those owned by Career Education Corporation. The latter, at its miguel cardonapeak, enrolled tens of thousands of students at more than 100 locations. The deal also includes a few colleges that are still operating, including the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University and DeVry University.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, right, called the deal “fair and equitable for all parties.”

The Education Department granted relief to applicants from the schools included in the deal “based on strong indicia regarding substantial misconduct by listed schools, whether credibly alleged or in some instances proven,” according to the settlement papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Those borrowers’ loans will be fully eliminated, and any payments they made will be refunded.

The deal, which must be approved by a federal judge, was greeted with cheers and relief by borrowers. “This is probably the sexiest thing I’ve seen in a long time!” one posted in a Facebook group. “My school listed as a bad actor and my debt will be wiped out.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The I.R.S. backlog of unprocessed tax returns has grown to 21 million, Alan Rappeport, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The national taxpayer advocate criticized the Biden administration for being slow to make changes at the Internal Revenue Service.

The backlog of tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service has grown to more than 20 million in the last year despite efforts by the Biden administration to process filings and send out refunds more quickly, the national taxpayer advocate said in a report published on Wednesday.

irs logoThe report offers a critical assessment of the Biden administration’s handling of the I.R.S., which has been burdened by staffing and funding shortages in recent years while taking on the responsibility of delivering economic relief money during the pandemic.

The tax agency’s independent watchdog said the I.R.S. was slow to use relief funds that it received as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2021. It said the agency should have moved more quickly to ramp up hiring, reassign employees and make technology changes that could have eased the backlog.

“That the backlog continues to grow is deeply concerning, primarily because millions of taxpayers have been waiting six months or more to receive their refunds,” Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, wrote in the report.

A year ago, the I.R.S. had 20 million unprocessed tax returns. That backlog had grown to 21.3 million as of the last week of May.
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The I.R.S. disputed the taxpayer advocate’s findings and said more recent data, through June 10, showed unprocessed returns had dipped below 20 million and were down slightly from June 2021.

“The I.R.S. is committed to having healthy inventories by the end of this year and continues to make strong progress handling unprocessed tax returns,” Jodie Reynolds, an I.R.S. representative, said in a statement.

Paper tax returns continue to bog down the I.R.S. as the documents must be manually transcribed into its antiquated computer systems.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek at Least 30 Years of Prison for Ghislaine Maxwell, Benjamin Weiser, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ms. Maxwell, who will be sentenced next week, showed an “utter lack of remorse” for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse girls, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell had made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, is to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.

Ms. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking, after a monthlong trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. The lawyers suggested that the government had decided to prosecute Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019 to appease his victims and “repair the tarnished reputations” of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier died.

The defense also suggested that blame for Ms. Maxwell’s conduct lay with Mr. Epstein and her father, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who they said was a cruel and intimidating parent.

The government, in its letter on Wednesday to Judge Nathan, dismissed those claims, asserting that if anything stood out from Ms. Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “utter lack of remorse.”

“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility,” the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”

The prosecutors said Ms. Maxwell’s attempt “to cast aspersions on the government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive.”

Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine War

More on War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52-year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine in April.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Demand for Russian Oil Surges in Asia, Blunting Effect of Sanctions, Victoria Kim and Clifford Krauss, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). China and India are snapping up Russian crude, dulling the West’s efforts to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the latest.

A surge in demand from Asia for discounted Russian oil is making up for the sharply lower number of barrels being sold to Europe, dulling the effects of the West’s efforts to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine and keeping revenue flowing to the Kremlin.

Most of the additional oil has gone to two countries: China and India. China’s imports of Russian oil rose 28 percent in May from the previous month, hitting a record high and helping Russia overtake Saudi Arabia as China’s largest supplier. And most of the increase went to India, which has gone from taking in almost no Russian oil to bringing in more than 760,000 barrels a day, according to shipping data analyzed by Kpler, a market research firm.

Although South Korea and Japan have cut back on Russian oil, those volumes are a fraction of what is being bought by China and India.

“Asia has saved Russian crude production,” said Viktor Katona, an analyst at Kpler. “Russia, instead of falling further, is almost close to its prepandemic levels.”

Russian oil is being sold at a steep discount because of the risks associated with sanctions imposed to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Even so, soaring energy prices have led to an uptick in oil revenue for Russia, which took in $1.7 billion more last month than it did in April, according to the International Energy Agency.

Although it remains to be seen how much Asia will continue buying the oil as Europe weans itself off Russian energy, the shift has allowed Moscow to maintain its production levels and defy analysts’ expectations that its output would plunge. And it has offered another indication of the support Russia enjoys from China, whose top leader, Xi Jinping, has offered to deepen cooperation with Moscow despite its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian crude sales dropped by 554,000 barrels a day to Europe from March to May, while Asia refiners increased their take by 503,000 barrels a day — nearly a replacement of one for one. Of those, 165,000 barrels are going to China from eastern Russian ports instead of the Baltic and Black Sea ports that traditionally supply Europe. Russian sales to India reached a record 841,000 barrels a day in May, eight times the annual average from last year.

J.P. Morgan commodities experts estimate that China can buy an additional million barrels of Russian crude a day as China recovers from Covid and attempts to add to its strategic crude stockpiles on the cheap. Russian Urals crude is selling for a $30 discount to Brent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The war in Ukraine is on track to be among modern history’s bloodiest, Paul Poast ( an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and a nonresident fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs), June 24, 2022.  It is killing far more soldiers per day than the typical war — and all signs point to protracted conflict.

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Public Health, Pandemic News

 

deborah birx djt white house photo cropped

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Covid Adviser Says She Was Asked to Water Down Guidance, Noah Weiland and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Dr. Deborah Birx, shown above at center in a file photo from her time serving in the Trump administration, said there was a consistent effort by former President Trump’s administration to stifle information as cases surged in 2020. Follow updates.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, President Donald J. Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, told a congressional committee investigating the federal pandemic response that Trump White House officials asked her to change or delete parts of the weekly guidance she sent state and local health officials, in what she described as a consistent effort to stifle information as virus cases surged in the second half of 2020.

Dr. Birx, who publicly testified to the panel Thursday morning, also told the committee that Trump White House officials withheld the reports from states during a winter outbreak and refused to publicly release the documents, which featured data on the virus’s spread and recommendations for how to contain it.

Her account of White House interference came in a multiday interview the committee conducted in October 2021, which was released on Thursday with a set of emails Dr. Birx sent to colleagues in 2020 warning of the influence of a new White House pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, who she said downplayed the threat of the virus. The emails provide fresh insight into how Dr. Birx and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, grappled with what Dr. Birx called the misinformation spread by Dr. Atlas.

The push to downplay the threat was so pervasive, Dr. Birx told committee investigators, that she developed techniques to avoid attention from White House officials who might have objected to her public health recommendations. In reports she prepared for local health officials, she said, she would sometimes put ideas at the ends of sentences so that colleagues skimming the text would not notice them.

In her testimony on Thursday, she offered similarly withering assessments of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, suggesting that officials in 2020 had mistakenly viewed the coronavirus as akin to the flu even after seeing high Covid-19 death rates in Asia and Europe. That, she said, had caused a “false sense of security in America” as well as a “sense among the American people that this was not going to be a serious pandemic.”

washington post logoWashington Post, WHO weighs declaring monkeypox a global emergency as European cases surge, Jennifer Hassan and Annabelle Timsit, June 24, 2022. The World Health Organization is weighing whether to declare monkeypox an international emergency — a decision that world health organization logo Customcould come as early as Friday. A declaration could escalate the global response as cases rapidly rise in Britain despite efforts to contain it.

Britain, where almost 800 cases of the virus have been recorded in the past month, has the highest reported number of infections outside of Central and West Africa — and case trends here are worrying experts throughout Europe, the epicenter of the outbreak, who are weighing the best approach in the midst of the years-long coronavirus pandemic.

Monkeypox cases rose almost 40 percent in Britain in under five days, according to data shared by the U.K. Health Security Agency. As of June 16, 574 cases had been recorded, and by June 20, the number had risen to 793.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Orders Juul to Stop Selling E-Cigarettes, Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). The agency ruled against the company’s application to stay on the market, a heavy blow to the vaping brand. An appeal is expected.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul to stop selling e-cigarettes on the U.S. market, a profoundly damaging blow to a once-popular company whose brand was blamed for the teenage vaping crisis.

juulThe order affects all of Juul’s products on the U.S. market, the overwhelming source of the company’s sales. Juul’s sleek vaping cartridges and sweet-flavored pods helped usher in an era of alternative nicotine products that became exceptionally popular among young people, and invited intense scrutiny from antismoking groups and regulators who feared they would do more harm to young people than good to former smokers.

In its ruling, the agency said that Juul had provided insufficient and conflicting data about potentially harmful chemicals that could leach out of Juul’s proprietary e-liquid pods.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghanistan quake kills more than 1,000, injures 1,500, officials say, Haq Nawaz Khan, Adela Suliman, Shaiq Hussain and Karina Tsui, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The 5.9-magnitude earthquake sparked tremors that were felt in Pakistan and India.

The earthquake flattened homes while many people were sleeping, with its epicenter in the mountainous area near the country’s border with Pakistan — about 27 miles from the city of Khost — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which put the magnitude at 6.1.

Tremors were also felt in Pakistan and India, according to Pakistan’s National Seismic Monitoring Center.

Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim, acting deputy minister for the country’s disaster management authority, said at a news conference that “some villages have been completely destroyed.” Muslim said he was relaying information from rescue officials and was “waiting for the details about the damages to houses.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Sri Lanka’s economy has ‘completely collapsed,’ prime minister says, Bryan Pietsch, Niha Masih and Hafeel Farisz, June 24, 2022 (print ed.).  “Collapsed.” A “serious situation.” And potentially, a “fall to rock bottom.”

Those are some of the ways Sri Lanka’s prime minister described his country’s faltering economy Wednesday as the island nation faces extreme food and fuel shortages.
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sri lanka flagThe comments to Parliament from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe come after weeks of turmoil caused by government incompetence, experts say — a dynamic exacerbated by global inflation and supply chain disarray amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka shuts down, families struggle for food as crisis deepens

“We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food,” Wickremesinghe said, speaking in Sinhala. “Our economy has faced a complete collapse.”

Sri Lanka, a country of 23 million off the southeastern coast of India, has essentially had the door to fuel supplies shut in its face, as its national Ceylon Petroleum Corp. is $700 million in debt.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank, Shira Rubin and Kareem Fahim, June 24, 2022.  Israeli authorities originally said the fatal shots came from Palestinian gunmen.

A veteran Palestinian American journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday, summarizing the results of the office’s investigation into the fatal shooting in May of Shireen Abu Akleh, a correspondent for Al Jazeera.
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Abu Akleh was not shot “from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities,” Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

A correspondent with decades of experience for Al Jazeera news network covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head early on the morning on May 11, while reporting on an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. Witnesses said the fire appeared to come from a convoy of Israeli military vehicles, but Israeli officials initially said she was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire, before reversing course and saying it was possible she unintentionally been shot by an Israeli soldier.

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Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

Politico, Book bombs: Trump aide tell-alls fail to sell, Daniel Lippman, Meridith McGraw and Max Tani, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). A number of top aides to the 45th president churned out books after his presidency ended. The public isn’t buying. Multiple book editors and publishers interviewed for this politico Customstory said the hefty advances doled out to the authors before publication – for some, in the millions, like Kellyanne Conway and Bill Barr – might not be made back by the publisher with sales.

A year after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, right, released a tell-all book about his 10 Mark Meadowsmonths in the White House that promised to be a “frank, candid account” of running Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

The buzz around it was heavy. But in the publishing world, it was a bust.

mark meadows book chief chiefThe Chief’s Chief has sold only 21,569 books, according to NPD Bookscan, a market research firm that tracks book sales. And it’s not the only book by an ex-Trump aide that has failed to fly off the shelves.

The memoir of Deborah Birx, the Covid response coordinator under Trump, has sold fewer than 6,000 copies; Dr. Scott Atlas’ book sold 27,013 copies; Dr. Ben Carson’s book sold 21,786 copies; former White House press secretary turned Trump critic Stephanie Grisham sold 38,249 books; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has sold 42,273 books since it was published in late May; and former defense secretary Mark Esper sold 20,900 books.

Former attorney general Bill Barr sold 64,103 books.

But the one Trump post-White House book sales that did best appears to be Peter Navarro’s, whose In Trump Time has sold 80,218 copies of his book so far. The book, unlike the others, is less a revelation about life inside the former administration than an ode to Trump’s approach to governance. Perhaps for that reason, it has earned extensive publicity in MAGA circles and is currently advertised on Steve Bannon’s The War Room website.

 

dan snyder jacket

washington post logoWashington Post, In snubbing House panel, Snyder may have increased his legal peril, Liz Clarke and Mark Maske, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Congress will subpoena the Washington Commanders owner, shown above. What does that really mean?

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder successfully avoided the fate of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who fielded 2½ hours of questions during a congressional hearing Wednesday, simply by refusing to take part.

carolyn maloney oBut in doing so, Snyder may have compounded his legal peril and complicated the reckoning the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is determined to have over his role in the Washington’s NFL franchise’s workplace that it has spent eight months investigating.

Snyder soon is expected to be served with a subpoena to give a sworn deposition to the committee next week as Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, chairwoman of the committee, announced.

Prosecutors say this screenshot of surveillance video from the U.S. Capitol shows Hatchet Speed, circled in red, on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C.)

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June 23

Top Headlines

 

Jan. 6 Insurrection Hearings, U.S. Election Integrity  

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters


More On Ukraine War

 

Abortion, Public Health News

 

Pandemic News

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters


Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

 

Top Stories

 

 House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Trump Tried to Misuse Justice Dept., Former Officials Say, Luke Broadwater and Staff Reports, June 23, 2022. Jan. 6 Panel Examines Trump’s Pressure on Agency.

A White House lawyer told Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who wanted to push forward with a plan by former President Donald J. Trump to subvert the 2020 election results based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, that he would be committing a felony if he did so, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol revealed on Thursday.

As the committee opened its fifth hearing revealing the findings of its investigation, lawmakers played video of Eric Herschmann, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office recounting how, after hearing Mr. Clark’s proposal, he used a pair of expletives and said: “Congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony.”

The disclosure came as the panel began laying out evidence of how Mr. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election. To help make the case, the committee is taking testimony from three former top Justice Department officials who, unlike Mr. Clark, pushed back strongly on Mr. Trump’s efforts to misuse the attorney general’s office to overturn his defeat, an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal ends.

“He wanted the Justice Department to legitimize his lies,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said of Mr. Trump, who at one point proposed placing Mr. Clark at the helm when other officials refused to bow to his demands.

The witnesses testifying are Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former acting attorney general; Richard P. Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general; and Steven A. Engel, the former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Among the other revelations by the panel on Thursday:

The committee played new testimony from former Attorney General Bill Barr in which he suggested in a videotaped deposition that he was aware that Mr. Trump wanted to use false claims of voter fraud as a pretense for refusing to leave office. Had he not moved quickly to investigate and debunk Mr. Trump’s voting fraud allegations, Mr. Barr said, “I’m not sure we would have had a transition at all.”

The committee displayed on a large screen Mr. Donoghue’s handwritten note of Mr. Trump’s instructions to the Justice Department: “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the committee, is playing a central role in the questioning of witnesses and presentation of evidence. He has hinted that the hearing could reveal more information about members of Congress who sought pardons after Jan. 6.

The panel is planning at least two more hearings for July, according to its chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. Those sessions are expected to detail how a mob of violent extremists attacked Congress and how Mr. Trump did nothing to call off the violence for more than three hours.

 

steven engel jeffrey rosen richard donoghue jonathan ernst pool getty images june 23 2022

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, former Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue attend the fifth hearing held by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2022 in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC (Pool Photo by Jonathan Ernst via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Examines Trump’s Pressure on the Justice Department, Luke Broadwater, June 23, 2022. At its fifth hearing, set for 3 p.m. on Thursday, the House committee turned its focus to how President Donald J. Trump tried to enlist the Justice Department in his efforts to cling to power.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol unveiled new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday.

 

jeffrey clark nyt

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Officials Search Home of Trump Justice Dept. Official, Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2022. Jeffrey Clark Was Central to Efforts to Overturn Election.

Federal investigators descended on the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official shown above in a file photo, on Wednesday in connection with the department’s sprawling inquiry into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

It remained unclear exactly what the investigators may have been looking for, but Mr. Clark was central to President Donald J. Trump’s unsuccessful effort in late 2020 to strong-arm the nation’s top prosecutors into supporting his claims of election fraud.

The law enforcement action at Mr. Clark’s home in suburban Virginia came just one day before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was poised to hold a hearing examining Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department after his election defeat.

The hearing was expected to explore Mr. Clark’s role in helping Mr. Trump bend the department to his will and ultimately help in a bid to persuade officials in several key swing states to change the outcome of their election results.

Politico, Multiple House Republicans sought pardons after Capitol riot, hearing reveals, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, June 23, 2022. Former politico Customtop Department of Justice officials who testified thwarted the then-president's election subversion by threatening a mass resignation. Days after Jan. 6, 2021, Republican lawmakers who strategized with President Donald Trump asked top White House officials to help louis gohmertarrange for pardons, according to testimony released Thursday by the select panel investigating the Capitol attack.

Several top Trump White House aides at the time, including special assistant Cassidy Hutchinson and aide Johnny McEntee, described outreach from multiple members of Congress seeking clemency: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), matt gaetz o Customabove right, Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Additionally, according to the former Trump aides’ testimony, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), below right, sent an email on Jan. 11, 2021, asking for “all purpose” pardons for every lawmaker who objected to electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. mo brooks oRep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) never asked for a pardon but did request an update on the status of requests by other members, Hutchinson said.

The flurry of pardon requests followed what the select committee showed was weeks of efforts by Trump’s top congressional Republican defenders to spread misinformation about the results of the 2020 election. Those GOP lawmakers also helped apply pressure on the Justice Department to legitimize those false fraud claims. None of the lawmakers ever received pardons.

 

 Alex Holder is a British documentary filmmaker show at left with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot (Photo via Alex Holder).

Alex Holder is a British documentary filmmaker show at left with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot (Photo via Alex Holder).

ny times logoNew York Times, A British documentary filmmaker is a potentially key witness in the House’s Jan. 6 investigation, Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2022. Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker who had extensive access to President Donald J. Trump and his family ahead of and after the 2020 election, has emerged late in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a new and potentially important witness.

Mr. Holder is testifying behind closed doors on Thursday morning before the House committee investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the election he lost. His deposition is taking place ahead of a separate public hearing by the committee on Thursday about Mr. Trump’s effort to install a loyalist to run the Justice Department in the closing weeks of his administration.

Mr. Holder’s footage — some 11 hours of it with the Trump family discussing the campaign and the election — was subpoenaed by the committee ahead of the interview.

 

Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, DC (Justice Department photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Issues More Subpoenas in Trump Electors Investigation, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors sought information from two men who had worked on behalf of former President Trump’s campaign and a third who signed up as an elector in Georgia.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department stepped up its criminal investigation of a plan by Donald J. Trump and his allies to create so-called fake slates of electors in a bid to keep Mr. Trump in power during the 2020 election, as federal agents delivered grand jury subpoenas on Wednesday to at least three people connected to the plan.

One of those who received a subpoena, according to two people familiar with the matter, was Brad Carver, a lawyer and official of the Georgia Republican Party who claimed to be one of Mr. Trump’s electors in the state, which was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Another subpoena recipient was Thomas Lane, an official who worked on behalf of Mr. Trump’s campaign in Arizona and New Mexico, the people said.

A third person, Sean Flynn, a Trump campaign aide in Michigan, also got a subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter. The issuance of new subpoenas was first reported by The Washington Post.

None of the three men could be reached for comment about the subpoenas.

The fake elector plan is the focus of one of two known prongs of the Justice Department’s broad grand jury investigation of Mr. Trump’s multiple and interlocking attempts to subvert the election. The other has focused on a wide cast of political organizers, White House aides and members of Congress connected in various ways to Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech near the White House that directly preceded the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 23, 2022. Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The ruling comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control. The Senate is close to passing a bipartisan package of gun safety measures, a major step toward ending a yearslong stalemate in Congress.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent. (Excerpted story continued below.)

 

uvalde massacre all victims

washington post logoWashington Post, Police response in Uvalde was ‘an abject failure,’ Texas DPS chief says, Arelis R. Hernández, Timothy Bella and Mark Berman, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday assailed the police response to the massacre at a Uvalde, Tex., elementary school last month as “an abject failure,” describing in damning detail how officers quickly entered the school and obtained protective shields but still left defenseless children (shown above in family photos) trapped inside with the gunman for more than an hour.

In a stark, minute-by-minute breakdown, Steven C. McCraw, who directs the public safety agency, offered the most detailed official account so far about what happened during the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School. The timeline he gave was dire, detailing how for minute after agonizing minute, law enforcement officials kept waiting to pursue the gunman inside the classroom where he lurked — even waiting for a key to the room without first trying the door, which was apparently unlocked, McCraw said.

In McCraw’s telling, just three minutes after the gunman was in the school and entered a classroom, several police officers were also inside, some carrying rifles. Within 19 minutes, police had a protective ballistic shield inside. Not long after, a student inside called 911, and more ballistic shields arrived. More gunfire periodically rang out from the attacker.

But law enforcement officials still waited outside, entering the classroom only after a harrowing delay that featured multiple 911 calls from students inside. The police response has drawn widespread condemnation over the decision to wait so long to confront the gunman, who officials say killed 19 children and two teachers during the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade.

  • Washington Post, Timeline: How police responded to the Texas school shooter, June 21, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, E.U. poised to back Ukraine’s candidate status. Here’s what that means, Emily Rauhala and Karina Tsui, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The move would mark a historic moment for the bloc and a major morale boost for Kyiv. However, full membership would still be years or even decades away.

European leaders meeting Thursday are expected to back E.U. candidate status for Ukraine, a move that would mark a historic moment for the bloc and a major morale boost for Kyiv amid war with Russia.
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Support for Ukrainian candidacy does not grant membership but would be a first step on the long and difficult road to joining the bloc. Full membership would still be years or even decades away.

Ukraine has long pushed for a path to membership, but Russia’s invasion added a new sense of urgency. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for special consideration, an idea backed by some member states and strongly opposed by others.

In a matter of months, however, Zelensky’s personal appeals, dogged Ukrainian diplomacy and support from high-profile E.U. officials and leaders have made what seemed like a long shot feel almost inevitable. Heading into Thursday’s summit, all 27 members states have expressed support for the idea of granting Ukraine candidate status, according to officials and diplomats, with conditions to be met later.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Orders Juul to Stop Selling E-Cigarettes, Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, June 23, 2022. The agency ruled against the company’s application to stay on the market, a heavy blow to the vaping brand. An appeal is expected.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul to stop selling e-cigarettes on the U.S. market, a profoundly damaging blow to a once-popular company whose brand was blamed for the teenage vaping crisis.

The order affects all of Juul’s products on the U.S. market, the overwhelming source of the company’s sales. Juul’s sleek vaping cartridges and sweet-flavored pods helped usher in an era of alternative nicotine products that became exceptionally popular among young people, and invited intense scrutiny from antismoking groups and regulators who feared they would do more harm to young people than good to former smokers.

In its ruling, the agency said that Juul had provided insufficient and conflicting data about potentially harmful chemicals that could leach out of Juul’s proprietary e-liquid pods.

  

Jan. 6 Insurrection Hearings, Election Threats

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 big thing: DOJ's last stand, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu, June 23, 2022. By the afternoon of Jan. 3, 2021, the White House presidential call log had begun referring to election denier and little-known Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark as the "acting Attorney General," the House Jan. 6 committee revealed in its explosive fifth hearing today.

axios logoWhy it matters: Had former President Trump followed through on his scheme to install Clark atop the Justice Department in the waning days of his presidency, America's top law enforcement agency may have officially thrown its weight behind his false claims of election fraud.

It was only the threat of mass resignations by DOJ leadership — including the three witnesses who testified at today's hearing — that prevented the chaos that would have ensued.

Meanwhile: The FBI carried out a pre-dawn raid of Clark's house yesterday, seizing his electronic devices and leaving him out on the street in his pajamas, the New York Times reports.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr testified in a taped deposition that the "responsible thing to do" was to investigate Trump's claims of voter fraud directly after the election, rather than allow the president to use them as a pretense for staying in office. "I sort of shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the department was 'we're not even looking at this until after Biden's in office.' I'm not sure we would have had a transition at all," Barr said.

2. Clark's "murder-suicide pact."

Clark proposed sending a letter to Georgia officials saying DOJ had "significant concerns" about voting irregularities, and that the Georgia state legislature should call a special session to consider changing its electors.

"Congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you'd take as attorney general would be committing a felony," Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann replied in disgust, according to his testimony to the committee.

Former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue testified that White House counsel Pat Cipollone called the letter a "murder-suicide pact" and said it would "damage everyone that touches it."

 

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as her mother, Ruby Freeman, dressed in red, looks on (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A question for Garland: Do you know how it feels for POTUS to target you? Jennifer Rubin, right, June 23, 2022. Attorney General Merrick Garland is surely familiar with jennifer rubin newest circularRepublicans’ indifference to (if not encouragement of) threats of violence directed at government officials. When he vowed to investigate threats against local officials such as school board members, Senate Republicans harangued him, falsely accusing him of labeling parents as “domestic terrorists.” Republicans also objected when he vowed to look into passengers assailing airline personnel over mask rules.

So Garland could not have been entirely surprised by testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday detailing the threats, doxxing and violations of privacy brought upon public officials from MAGA zealots egged on by the “big lie.”

The targets of violence were not only politicians such as former vice president Mike Pence, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers. They also included election workers such as Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, who were harassed for nothing more than serving their country responsibly:

Moss’s testimony before the committee was transfixing: “It’s turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t transfer calls. I don’t want anyone knowing my name.” She added: “I don’t go anywhere with my mom. I don’t go to the grocery store at all. I haven’t been anywhere at all. I’ve gained about 60 pounds.” And she testified: “I don’t do nothing anymore. I don’t want to go anywhere. I second-guess everything I do. It’s affected my life in a major way. In every way. All because of lies.”

As Freeman put it in her video testimony to the committee: “Do you know what it feels like to have the president of the United States target you?”

Donald Trump and his thuggish supporters have ruined these women’s lives. The defeated former president’s attacks on them were also part of a broader campaign he initiated against election workers in many states to promote his lie that the election was stolen, prompting his supporters to increase the volume of their wrath against those who would determine his political future.

That orchestrated violence was the background for Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling to plead in a 2020 news conference: “Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed. ... Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up. And if you take a position of leadership, show some.” Yet that same night, Trump was at it again, flogging the “big lie.”

Garland would be wise to heed that warning. His prosecutors have gone after the foot soldiers who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, but those individuals likely would not have been in D.C. that day if not for Trump. Similarly, no one would have launched the deluge of threats and smears at Freeman and Moss if it weren’t for the former president’s lies.

Palmer Report, Opinion: January 6th public hearings just turned very ugly for Matt Gaetz, Bill Palmer, right, June 23, 2022. Today’s January 6th bill palmerCommittee public hearing focused primarily on testimony from former Trump DOJ officials, who spelled out the illegal things that Donald Trump and Jeffrey Clark asked them to do.

bill palmer report logo headerBut at the end of the hearing, the committee took things in a different direction by revealing evidence supporting the media’s prior reporting that certain House Republicans sought pardons from Trump. Front and center: Matt Gaetz.

Emails, along with testimony from various people from the Trump administration, spelled out that Matt Gaetz sought a broad blanket pardon from Trump. According to Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, Gaetz requested a pardon that’s “as broad as you can describe. Mark Meadows’ top aide Cassidy Hutchinson also testified that Gaetz sought such a pardon.

Matt Gaetz, who is under DOJ criminal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of underage girls and other crimes, has previously disputed that he sought a Trump pardon. It’s not clear why the January 6th Committee is suddenly pushing Gaetz front and center.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Certain Republican Congressmen are having a really bad day, Bill Palmer, June 23, 2022. It’s long been reported that certain Republicans in Congress sought pardons from Donald Trump, in relation to the election overthrow plot and other alleged crimes. It’s also long been reported that Trump conspired with certain Republicans in Congress on the election overthrow plot. Now these two storylines are coming to a head.

bill palmer report logo headerAt the start of today’s January 6th public hearing, the committee announced that at the end of the hearing, testimony from Trump’s own people will reveal all the Republican members of Congress who sought pardons.

And during today’s hearing, testimony revealed that Donald Trump gave these instructions to the DOJ: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and Republican Congressmen.”

So now at least two groups of Republican Congressman are having a really bad day – those who plotted with Trump on the election overthrow, and those who sought pardons from Trump – and of course there will likely be overlap between those two groups. So much for the pundit narrative that the January 6th Committee was somehow too “timid” to go after House Republicans by name. Clearly, the committee is swinging for the fences.

 

Proud Boys leader Enique Tarrio, right, poses with a

Proud Boys leader Enique Tarrio, right, poses with a "White Power" handsign for a photo displayed on Facebook with Trump ally and longtime Republican operative Roger Stone, a fellow Floridian.

ny times logoNew York Times, Parallel inquiries into the Proud Boys and Jan. 6 have caused tension between a House panel and the Justice Department, Alan Feuer, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). For the past year or so, the Justice Department and the House select committee on Jan. 6 have largely managed to avoid interfering with each other, even though both have been driving hard and fast over the same terrain in pursuit of the facts about the mob attack on the Capitol last year and what led to it.

But in recent days, in a sign of mounting tension, the parallel inquiries have bumped into each other as defense lawyers and prosecutors in one of the most prominent criminal cases — the Proud Boys sedition case — reached a rare point of agreement: that the committee’s efforts are causing headaches to the normal course of orderly prosecution.

At a hearing on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Washington, the two opposing sides joined forces in asking a judge to put some breathing room between the case and the committee’s work, and delay the marquee trial that was supposed to start in August.

Judge Timothy J. Kelly ultimately granted the request, saying that the Proud Boys trial will now begin in December. As part of his ruling, Judge Kelly noted the committee’s role in the delay.

“Every party before me believes the trial should be continued for reasons of the activities of the Jan. 6 committee,” Judge Kelly said. He pointed out that even though one of the Proud Boys defendants — Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former leader — opposed the delay, pushing back the trial was “the first thing that all of the parties in this case have agreed on.”

It was perhaps inevitable that tensions would arise between the two investigations that are being conducted at the same time, along similar lines of inquiry, by separate branches of the government.

The Justice Department has been wrangling in recent weeks with the committee over access to transcripts of interviews the House panel has conducted, with the committee signaling that it could begin sharing some material with federal prosecutors next month while withholding other material until its inquiry wraps up in September.

But the Proud Boys case is the first of more than 820 criminal matters connected to the Capitol attack in which the competing interests of the House committee and the Justice Department have become a legal issue.

From the start, the two investigations have had different purposes and have been guided by different rules.

By the panel’s own account, the committee’s inquiry was intended to explore as fully as possible the roots of the violence at the Capitol, and it is ultimately meant to propose legislation to prevent something similar from happening again. Its investigators have been graced with a relatively free hand to subpoena records and witnesses even though dozens of people — particularly those close to former President Donald J. Trump — have refused to comply with its demands.

The Justice Department, by contrast, has a narrower if potentially more consequential goal in mind: to figure out if anyone connected to the Capitol attack or to Mr. Trump’s various efforts to subvert the election should be charged with federal crimes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 Live Updates: As Jan. 6 committee targets Trump, his consternation at McCarthy grows, Marianna Sotomayor, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, June 23, 2022. The kevin mccarthyHouse minority leader’s bet to exclude the ro-Trump GOP perspective from the Jan. 6 committee could prove costly to his potential speakership bid; In prepared remarks, Rosen says Justice ‘held firm’ against Trump’s election fraud pressure.

  • Washington Post, What to expect at today’s Jan. 6 House committee hearing
  • Watch live: The Post’s coverage of the hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. ET

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. wants to know whether Sidney Powell is funding Oath Keepers’ defense, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, June 23, 2022. The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to probe possible financial relationships between members of the Oath Keepers accused of trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and a nonprofit entity run by former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell that spread false election claims.

The unusual request follows media reports that Powell’s nonprofit organization, Defending the Republic, has used some of the millions of dollars it has raised through spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election to pay legal fees for Oath Keepers members facing trial. According to BuzzFeed and Mother Jones articles cited in the filing, four defendants — including Stewart Rhodes, who founded the self-styled militia group — have taken funds from Powell’s organization.

All four are accused of obstructing Congress’s counting of electoral college votes on Jan. 6, 2021; Rhodes and two others are accused of engaging in a seditious conspiracy against the United States.

U.S. prosecutors asked the trial judge to ensure, in private if necessary, that counsel is complying with legal ethics that bar outside funding for legal defense unless the client gives informed consent. The rules prohibit attorneys from sharing confidential client information with outsiders except under certain circumstances. The government also is asking the judge to ensure that the involvement of Powell’s group results in “no interference with the lawyer’s independence ... or with the client-lawyer relationship.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Ron Johnson under fire over fake-electors disclosure at hearing, Colby Itkowitz, June 23, 2022. Weeks before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), right, held a hearing on election fraud in an attempt to legitimize former president Donald ron johnson oTrump’s false allegations of voting irregularities. Four days before the attack on the Capitol, Johnson signed a statement with nine other Republican senators that they intended to object to certifying Joe Biden’s electors and demand “an emergency 10-day audit of the election.”

This week, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot revealed that Johnson’s chief of staff tried to deliver to Vice President Mike Pence a slate of fake electors backing Trump, raising questions about the Wisconsin Republican’s role in a deliberate and coordinated plan to block Biden’s win and give Trump the presidency.

The disclosure also underscores the extent of Johnson’s role as one of Congress’s most prominent election deniers and Jan. 6 apologists — spreading conspiracy theories about rigged votes and playing down the severity of the violent assault on the Capitol as mostly “peaceful,” while floating the idea that it might have been an inside job by the FBI.

  • Washington Post, Jan. 6 committee counsel leaving to explore run for U.S. Senate in Missouri, Isaac Arnsdorf, Amy Gardner, Carol D. Leonnig and Jacqueline Alemany, June 23, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge delays Proud Boys trial in fallout from House Jan. 6 hearings, Spencer S. Hsu, June 23, 2022. Defendants and prosecutors warned that the planned release of a report and witness transcripts from the investigation into the Capitol attack could upend trial preparations.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington, D.C., said at a hearing he “reluctantly” reached the decision to delay the scheduled Aug. 8 trial of former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four others on seditious conspiracy and other charges, but acknowledged strong concerns from prosecutors and defense lawyers that the House Select Committee investigating the breach may divulge key evidence that they have not seen.

The move to a trial now set for December came as televised House hearings this month that have focused in part on alleged actions by Proud Boys members amid what lawmakers say is potentially criminal behavior by President Donald Trump and others who falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen before the attack on Congress.

 

derrick evans

washington post logoWashington Post, W.Va. politician sentenced to 3 months for Jan. 6 role, Tom Jackman, June 23, 2022. Derrick Evans, above, had just been sworn in to his first term in the state House of Delegates. He resigned before serving after he was charged in the Capitol riot.

A West Virginia state legislator who helped lead the charge of protesters who overwhelmed police on the east side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and live-streamed the insurrection on Facebook, was sentenced Wednesday to three months in jail for the felony of committing civil disorder.

derrick evans fbiDerrick Evans, 37, of Prichard, W.Va., proclaimed himself an activist and also live-streamed his protests outside of West Virginia’s only abortion clinic, leading the clinic to build a 10-foot fence around the the building and a clinic volunteer to obtain a restraining order against him. He was known for taking his phone and streaming his protests against Black Lives Matter or drag brunches. Evans ran for the state House of Delegates first as a Democrat, then won as a Republican in 2020. He was sworn in on Dec. 14, 2020.

Before he stormed the Capitol, ex-W.Va. lawmaker, right, harassed women at an abortion clinic

In the weeks before Jan. 6, on his “Derrick Evans - The Activist” Facebook page, which had 32,000 followers, Evans called for others to join him in the journey to the Capitol, according to court records show. He posted memes of Donald Trump saying things such as “Fight for Trump” and “A Storm is Coming,” court records show. He documented his bus trip to Washington on Facebook, and on Jan. 6 bypassed Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse and went straight to the east side of the Capitol for several hours, prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

As the crowd grew, Evans put on a helmet and shouted out updates to the crowd about the violence occurring on the west side of the Capitol, where rioters first breached the building, the sentencing memo states. Prosecutors played clips of Evans’s live-stream video in court Wednesday, showing him yelling at police officers, “You go tell your liberal mayor to go kiss rocks!”

Eventually, the mob on the east side pushed through the Rotunda doors. Evans narrated as they did, according to the video. “We’re taking this house, I told you today! Patriots stand up!...My people didn’t vote for me because I was a coward.” And finally, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

Eventually, the mob on the east side pushed through the Rotunda doors. Evans narrated as they did, according to the video. “We’re taking this house, I told you today! Patriots stand up!...My people didn’t vote for me because I was a coward.” And finally, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

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More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 23, 2022. Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control (Continued from above).

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

new york map citiesThe New York law requires that people seeking a license to carry a handgun outside their homes show a “proper cause.” California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws, according to briefs filed in the case.

Two men who were denied the licenses they sought in New York sued, saying that “the state makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

The men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, were authorized to carry guns for target practice and hunting away from populated areas, state officials told the Supreme Court, and Mr. Koch was allowed to carry a gun to and from work.

“Nash and Koch did not receive unrestricted licenses because neither demonstrated a nonspeculative need to carry a handgun virtually anywhere in public,” Barbara D. Underwood, New York’s solicitor general, told the justices in a brief.

In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court recognized an individual right to keep guns in the home for self-defense. Since then, it has been almost silent on the scope of Second Amendment rights.

Indeed, the court for many years turned down countless appeals in Second Amendment cases. In the meantime, lower courts generally sustained gun control laws.

But they were divided on the question posed by the case from New York: whether states can stop law-abiding citizens from carrying guns outside their homes for self-defense unless they can satisfy the authorities that they have a good reason for doing so.

Last year, for instance, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco upheld Hawaii’s law by a 7-to-4 vote.

“Our review of more than 700 years of English and American legal history reveals a strong theme: Government has the power to regulate arms in the public square,” Judge Jay S. Bybee, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote for the majority.

The federal appeals court in Chicago, on the other hand, struck down an Illinois law that banned carrying guns in public. And a federal appeals court in Washington struck down a restrictive District of Columbia law that it said amounted to “a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun.”

The court’s reluctance to hear Second Amendment cases changed as its membership shifted to the right in recent years. President Donald J. Trump’s three appointees — Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — have all expressed support for gun rights.

And the Supreme Court’s most conservative members have long deplored the court’s reluctance to explore the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment.

In 2017, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that he had detected “a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous,” Justice Thomas wrote. “But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense.”

In 2019, not long after Justice Kavanaugh’s arrival, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a New York City gun regulation that had allowed residents to keep guns in their homes to take them to one of seven shooting ranges in the city. But it prohibited them from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns were unloaded and locked in containers separate from ammunition.

After the court granted review, the city repealed the regulation, and the court eventually dismissed the case as moot. In a concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that he was concerned that lower courts were not sufficiently sensitive to Second Amendment rights. “The court should address that issue soon,” he wrote.

In June, however, the court turned down some 10 appeals in Second Amendment cases. Since it takes only four votes to grant review, there is good reason to think that the court’s conservative wing, which at the time had five members, was unsure it could secure Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s vote.

Justice Barrett’s arrival changed that calculus. Six months after she joined the court, it agreed to hear the New York case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, No. 20-843.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York criticized the ruling, saying “it shows this is an activist court that is undermining precedent and undermining common sense state laws that protect citizens and uphold public safety.”

The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

It also comes after a spate of mass shootings has renewed the debate over gun control, and as a group of senators is racing to pass legislation. Follow updates.

 

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion on the gun law case, is the court’s most committed advocate of gun rights, Adam Liptak, June 23, 2022. Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in the gun case decided on Thursday, is the Supreme Court’s most ardent supporter of the Second Amendment.

After the Supreme Court established an individual constitutional right to own guns in a pair of decisions in 2008 and 2010, it turned down appeals from lower-court rulings sustaining gun control laws in the next decade.

Justice Thomas responded by issuing a series of sharp dissents accusing his colleagues of treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right.

In 2015, when the court refused to hear a challenge to a Chicago suburb’s ordinance that banned semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, Justice Thomas said the court had abdicated its responsibility to enforce the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles,” Justice Thomas wrote, referring, he said, to “modern sporting rifles.”

“The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting,” Justice Thomas wrote. “Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”

In 2017, when the court turned down a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that placed strict limits on carrying guns in public, Justice Thomas again chastised the court for what he called “a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force,” he wrote, “the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a state denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.”

Politico, Firm splits with lawyers who won gun rights case at Supreme Court, Josh Gerstein, June 23, 2022. The exit follows a decision by Kirkland & Ellis to drop Second Amendment litigation.

Two of the lawyers responsible for a major victory for gun rights forces at the Supreme Court on Thursday are parting with their prominent law firm after it announced it would no longer handle Second Amendment litigation.

politico CustomFormer Solicitor General Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, a regular Supreme Court litigator, said they were launching their own firm after Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis decided to step back from gun-related litigation.

“We were given a stark choice: either withdraw from ongoing representations or withdraw from the firm,” Clement said in a statement. “Anyone who knows us and our views regarding professional responsibility and client loyalty knows there was only one course open to us: We could not abandon ongoing representations just because a client’s position is unpopular in some circles.”

The announcements, which appeared coordinated, emerged on the same day that the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, to strike down New York’s law limiting concealed-carry permits to those who can demonstrate a “proper purpose” to have such weapons outside the home. Clement argued the case before the justices in November, and Murphy’s name appeared immediately below Clement’s on the briefs.

Clement’s departure from Kirkland & Ellis echoes a similar episode about a decade ago when he left Atlanta-based King & Spalding after that firm moved to distance itself from Clement’s work to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning benefits for same-sex couples.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun deal in Senate moves closer to reality after key snags resolved, Mike DeBonis and Leigh Ann Caldwell, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). A tentative deal in the Senate that would toughen federal gun laws and provide billions of dollars in new money to prevent future mass shootings moved closer to reality Tuesday after negotiators settled key disagreements that had delayed the drafting of a bill, putting it on a glide path to be passed into law by the end of the month.

The breakthrough came more than a week after 20 senators — 10 from each party — signed on to a framework agreement that coupled modest new gun restrictions with some $15 billion of new federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades.

While agreement from 10 Republican senators on a deal in principle was a clear breakthrough, signaling there could be enough GOP support to beat a Senate filibuster, it did not guarantee that the negotiators would succeed in translating those elements into final text. But with the key disputes resolved, people involved in the negotiations said text of the bill is set to be released as soon as Tuesday afternoon, with an initial Senate procedural vote coming just hours afterward.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Buried in the gun deal is a significant advance, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, June 23, 2022. The bill that a bipartisan group of senators rolled out this week contains provisions that represent a serious advance of a longtime liberal goal — even if many of its other features could be described as weak or inadequate.

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden Will Push Congress for a Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lydia DePillis, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Vulnerable Democrats have championed the move ahead of the midterms, but the White House will face an uphill battle to get Congress to approve the holiday.

Joe Biden portrait 2President Biden called on Congress on Wednesday to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, an effort to give Americans “just a little bit of breathing room” from soaring fuel prices even as economists and lawmakers in both parties expressed skepticism that the move would make much of a difference.

During an afternoon speech, Mr. Biden asked Congress to lift the federal taxes — about 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel — through the end of September, shortly before the fall midterm elections. The president also asked states to suspend their own gas taxes, hoping to alleviate the economic pain that has contributed to his diminishing popularity.

“I fully understand that the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Mr. Biden said. “But it will provide families some immediate relief. Just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Records to topple in Southeast amid ‘dangerous’ heat near 105 degrees, Matthew Cappucci, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). On Wednesday, records were set from New Orleans to Raleigh. A stifling heat dome has been baking much of the southern U.S. for about two weeks now, and it’s showing no signs of relaxing its grip on the Lower 48. An intense pulse of heat is setting records in the Southeast, with highs near 105 degrees in parts of Georgia and the Florida Panhandle and heat index values topping 110.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

On Wednesday, temperatures as high as 100 to 106 degrees swelled over 9 states in the Southeast. More than a dozen cities set record highs, including Macon, Ga.(105), Memphis (102), Tuscaloosa, Ala. (101), Charlotte (101), Nashville (101), Raleigh (100) and New Orleans (96).

Wednesday’s 105 in Macon was its highest temperature ever observed so early in the year.

Many of the same areas of the Southeast will continue to simmer on Thursday.

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More U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, New Biden Rules Would Bar Discrimination Against Transgender Students, Erica L. Green, June 23, 2022. President Biden’s proposed rules would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, setting up a clash with state lawmakers and conservative groups.

The Biden administration on Thursday proposed new rules governing how schools must respond to sex discrimination, rolling back major parts of a Trump administration policy that narrowed the scope of campus sexual misconduct investigations and cementing the rights of transgender students into law.

The proposal would overhaul an expansive rule finalized under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which for the first time codified how colleges and K-12 schools investigate sexual assault on campus. The proposal would also address discrimination under Title IX, the federal law signed 50 years ago today that prohibits the exclusion from, or denial of, educational benefits on the basis of sex in federally funded programs.

The Trump administration rules, issued in 2020, narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, expanded the due process rights of students accused of harassment and assault, relieved schools of some legal liabilities, and required schools to hold courtroom-like proceedings called “live hearings” that allowed cross-examination of parties. Ms. DeVos’s rules did not define “sex-based harassment,” per se, and the administration had taken the position that Title IX did not extend to gender identity.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Cancel $6 Billion in Student Loans for Defrauded Borrowers, Stacy Cowley, June 23, 2022. Around 200,000 former students who attended schools that they said defrauded them will have $6 billion in federal loans canceled under a sweeping settlement announced on Wednesday, the latest move by the Biden administration to address the student loan crisis by eliminating some debts.

Those who applied for relief — some as long as seven years ago — will have their loans wiped out if they attended one of more than 150 schools named in the class-action settlement, nearly all of which are for-profit colleges and vocational programs. The deal reverses 128,000 denial notices — which a federal judge called “disturbingly Kafkaesque” — that were sent to relief applicants during the Trump administration.

Many of the schools included in the settlement are out of business. They include large chains like the Art Institutes and other campuses run by the Dream Center, whose operations abruptly collapsed in 2019, and those owned by Career Education Corporation. The latter, at its peak, enrolled tens of thousands of students at more than 100 locations. The deal also includes a few colleges that are still operating, including the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University and DeVry University.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called the deal “fair and equitable for all parties.”

The Education Department granted relief to applicants from the schools included in the deal “based on strong indicia regarding substantial misconduct by listed schools, whether credibly alleged or in some instances proven,” according to the settlement papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Those borrowers’ loans will be fully eliminated, and any payments they made will be refunded.

The deal, which must be approved by a federal judge, was greeted with cheers and relief by borrowers. “This is probably the sexiest thing I’ve seen in a long time!” one posted in a Facebook group. “My school listed as a bad actor and my debt will be wiped out.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Economy Updates: Powell says the Fed is ‘not trying to provoke’ a recession, but it is ‘certainly a possibility,’ Jeanna Smialek, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, testified before a Senate committee at a moment of rapid inflation and rising interest rates

The Pelosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, on Capitol Hill in 2019 (Photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times).

The Pelosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, on Capitol Hill in 2019 (Photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Nancy Pelosi’s Napa: Wealthy Friends and a Husband’s Porsche Crash, Jacob Bernstein and Holly Secon, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). An accident involving Paul Pelosi shines a light on the House speaker’s California life among the vineyards.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had just urged Brown University graduates to stay resilient and summon their “better angels” on Memorial Day weekend when she was forced to turn her attention to a less uplifting situation: her husband’s arrest in California.

The details emerging from the incident were not especially flattering.

The night before, May 28, Paul Pelosi, 82, had been in Oakville, among the country’s most exclusive enclaves, leaving a small dinner at the hedgerow-lined estate of Alexander Mehran, a longtime friend and Democratic donor.

Mr. Pelosi got behind the wheel of his black 2021 Porsche 911 to drive the six miles to the Pelosis’ Napa Valley country house. It was around 10 p.m., according to a police report and eyewitnesses.

He went a little more than half a mile and was trying to cross State Route 29 and make a left. But a Jeep was coming down the highway and hit Mr. Pelosi’s car as he made the turn.

The police who responded arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and suspicion of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content or higher. He is due back in court on Aug. 3. If criminal charges are filed, he will be arraigned then. (The driver of the Jeep was not arrested.)

ny times logoNew York Times, The I.R.S. backlog of unprocessed tax returns has grown to 21 million, Alan Rappeport, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The national taxpayer advocate criticized the Biden administration for being slow to make changes at the Internal Revenue Service.

The backlog of tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service has grown to more than 20 million in the last year despite efforts by the Biden administration to process filings and send out refunds more quickly, the national taxpayer advocate said in a report published on Wednesday.

irs logoThe report offers a critical assessment of the Biden administration’s handling of the I.R.S., which has been burdened by staffing and funding shortages in recent years while taking on the responsibility of delivering economic relief money during the pandemic.

The tax agency’s independent watchdog said the I.R.S. was slow to use relief funds that it received as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2021. It said the agency should have moved more quickly to ramp up hiring, reassign employees and make technology changes that could have eased the backlog.

“That the backlog continues to grow is deeply concerning, primarily because millions of taxpayers have been waiting six months or more to receive their refunds,” Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, wrote in the report.

A year ago, the I.R.S. had 20 million unprocessed tax returns. That backlog had grown to 21.3 million as of the last week of May.
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The I.R.S. disputed the taxpayer advocate’s findings and said more recent data, through June 10, showed unprocessed returns had dipped below 20 million and were down slightly from June 2021.

“The I.R.S. is committed to having healthy inventories by the end of this year and continues to make strong progress handling unprocessed tax returns,” Jodie Reynolds, an I.R.S. representative, said in a statement.

Paper tax returns continue to bog down the I.R.S. as the documents must be manually transcribed into its antiquated computer systems.

ny times logoNew York Times, Economy Updates: Powell says the Fed is ‘not trying to provoke’ a recession, but it is ‘certainly a possibility,’ Jeanna Smialek, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, testified before a Senate committee at a moment of rapid inflation and rising interest rates.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis’s 2018 Rival, Charged With Conspiracy and Fraud, Patricia Mazzei, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The former Democratic nominee for Florida governor was indicted in a criminal case stemming from his time as Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate.

andrew gillum oAndrew Gillum, right, the Democrat who lost the 2018 Florida governor’s race to Ron DeSantis, surrendered to federal authorities in Tallahassee on Wednesday after he and a close associate were charged with conspiracy and 19 counts of fraud over how they raised and used funds when he was mayor of Tallahassee and a candidate for governor.

Mr. Gillum, 42, was also charged with making false statements to the F.B.I. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.

The arrest is the latest detour from Mr. Gillum’s once-ascendant career. He came within 32,000 votes of the governorship — which would have made him Florida’s first Black governor and a future White House hopeful — only to lose his political direction and face personal struggles. In 2020, the police found him in a Miami Beach hotel room where another man was suffering from a possible drug overdose.

Mr. Gillum entered rehab to seek treatment for alcoholism shortly after. He later came out as bisexual in an interview that also featured his wife.

The charges stem from a federal investigation into Tallahassee City Hall that began in 2015 and involved undercover F.B.I. agents posing as developers. Revelations from the investigation, including that Mr. Gillum had socialized with the undercover agents in New York, where they took a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and saw the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” were an issue in the 2018 campaign. Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, said at the time that Mr. Gillum could not be trusted to run the state.

democratic donkey logoThe 21-count indictment against Mr. Gillum shows that a grand jury filed the charges against him on June 7. Also charged was Sharon Lettman-Hicks, 53, a confidante of Mr. Gillum’s since he was in college.

In a statement, Mr. Gillum said he had run all of his political campaigns “with integrity.”

“Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political,” he said. “There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”

The indictment covers events involving Mr. Gillum and Ms. Lettman-Hicks from 2016 to 2019. The false statements charge against Mr. Gillum is related to his interactions with the undercover agents.

According to the indictment, beginning in 2016, Mr. Gillum and two unnamed associates solicited campaign contributions from the undercover agents for Mr. Gillum’s newly formed Forward Florida Political Action Committee. To keep the agents’ names private, the associates promised to funnel the contributions in other ways, including through Ms. Lettman-Hicks’s company, P&P Communications. In exchange, they were promised “unencumbered government contracts,” according to one of the unnamed associates.

Mr. Gillum told one of the undercover agents that he “should separate in his mind the campaign contributions and the Tallahassee projects,” the indictment says, adding that Mr. Gillum also “indicated he looked favorably on” the undercover agent’s proposed development projects.

The indictment says that when Mr. Gillum voluntarily spoke to F.B.I. agents in 2017, he “falsely represented” that the undercover agents posing as developers never offered him anything and that he had stopped communicating with them after they tried to link their contributions to support for potential Tallahassee projects.

The fraud and conspiracy charges are related to Mr. Gillum’s dealings with Ms. Lettman-Hicks with regards to P&P Communications and Mr. Gillum’s campaign.

In 2017, when he became a candidate for governor, Mr. Gillum resigned from his position with People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group whose Tallahassee office was leased from Ms. Lettman-Hicks. Mr. Gillum lost his annual $122,500 salary, and Ms. Lettman-Hicks lost $3,000 in monthly rent. Mr. Gillum was also paid about $70,500 a year as mayor, a position he held from 2014 to 2018.

Mr. Gillum then became an employee of P&P Communications, where he was given a monthly salary of $10,000. According to the indictment, hiring Mr. Gillum was “only a cover used to provide him funds that he lost” after his resignation from People for the American Way.

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek at Least 30 Years of Prison for Ghislaine Maxwell, Benjamin Weiser June 23, 2022. Ms. Maxwell, who will be sentenced next week, showed an “utter lack of remorse” for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse girls, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell had made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, is to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.

Ms. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking, after a monthlong trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. The lawyers suggested that the government had decided to prosecute Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019 to appease his victims and “repair the tarnished reputations” of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier died.

The defense also suggested that blame for Ms. Maxwell’s conduct lay with Mr. Epstein and her father, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who they said was a cruel and intimidating parent.

The government, in its letter on Wednesday to Judge Nathan, dismissed those claims, asserting that if anything stood out from Ms. Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “utter lack of remorse.”

“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility,” the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”

The prosecutors said Ms. Maxwell’s attempt “to cast aspersions on the government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive.”

washington post logoWashington Post, S. Dakota attorney general convicted on impeachment charges, removed from office, Andrea Salcedo, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Jason Ravnsborg was charged with leaving the scene after fatally hitting a man with his car in 2020.

On Tuesday, two months after the South Dakota House of Representatives voted to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) for fatally running over a man and leaving the scene because he thought he had hit a deer, the state Senate convicted him on two impeachment charges in connection with the 2020 incident.

The Senate voted to remove the attorney general from office and to ban Ravnsborg — the first South Dakota official to ever be impeached — from running for office in the state.

The first conviction was for causing the death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever on Sept. 12, 2020. The Senate also found Ravnsborg guilty of misleading investigators and using his position as the state’s top law-enforcement official in an attempt to favorably shape the course of the investigation.

“This person ran down an innocent South Dakotan,” Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the Senate’s highest-ranking Republican, said during his remarks, the Associated Press reported.

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More On Ukraine War

More on War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52-year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine in April.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Demand for Russian Oil Surges in Asia, Blunting Effect of Sanctions, Victoria Kim and Clifford Krauss, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). China and India are snapping up Russian crude, dulling the West’s efforts to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the latest.

A surge in demand from Asia for discounted Russian oil is making up for the sharply lower number of barrels being sold to Europe, dulling the effects of the West’s efforts to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine and keeping revenue flowing to the Kremlin.

Most of the additional oil has gone to two countries: China and India. China’s imports of Russian oil rose 28 percent in May from the previous month, hitting a record high and helping Russia overtake Saudi Arabia as China’s largest supplier. And most of the increase went to India, which has gone from taking in almost no Russian oil to bringing in more than 760,000 barrels a day, according to shipping data analyzed by Kpler, a market research firm.

Although South Korea and Japan have cut back on Russian oil, those volumes are a fraction of what is being bought by China and India.

“Asia has saved Russian crude production,” said Viktor Katona, an analyst at Kpler. “Russia, instead of falling further, is almost close to its prepandemic levels.”

Russian oil is being sold at a steep discount because of the risks associated with sanctions imposed to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Even so, soaring energy prices have led to an uptick in oil revenue for Russia, which took in $1.7 billion more last month than it did in April, according to the International Energy Agency.

Although it remains to be seen how much Asia will continue buying the oil as Europe weans itself off Russian energy, the shift has allowed Moscow to maintain its production levels and defy analysts’ expectations that its output would plunge. And it has offered another indication of the support Russia enjoys from China, whose top leader, Xi Jinping, has offered to deepen cooperation with Moscow despite its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian crude sales dropped by 554,000 barrels a day to Europe from March to May, while Asia refiners increased their take by 503,000 barrels a day — nearly a replacement of one for one. Of those, 165,000 barrels are going to China from eastern Russian ports instead of the Baltic and Black Sea ports that traditionally supply Europe. Russian sales to India reached a record 841,000 barrels a day in May, eight times the annual average from last year.

J.P. Morgan commodities experts estimate that China can buy an additional million barrels of Russian crude a day as China recovers from Covid and attempts to add to its strategic crude stockpiles on the cheap. Russian Urals crude is selling for a $30 discount to Brent.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Asia is buying discounted Russian oil, making up for Europe’s cutbacks.
  • Ukraine urges civilians to flee the occupied south ahead of a promised counteroffensive.
  • Moscow threatens Lithuania over applying E.U. sanctions to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave.
  • Russia is boasting over oil revenues, but sanctions are likely to hurt later in the year.
  • In pictures: The flaming ruin left by a strike, one of thousands near the eastern front.
  • Russia blunts sting of Western sanctions by sending more crude to China and India.
  • A Russian journalist’s Nobel medal sells for $103.5 million.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: As More Villages Fall to Russia, Pivotal Showdown Looms in Eastern Ukraine, Matthew Mpoke Bigg, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Moscow’s forces seized more villages around two key cities in Luhansk Province, though its gains in eastern Ukraine have come at a tremendous cost. In the south, Ukraine’s offshore strikes suggest that its forces are beginning to use more powerful Western weapons.

Approaching a pivotal moment in their invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have tightened their vise around two key eastern cities, raising the risk their slow, brutal advance will capture the cities and trap the Ukrainian troops defending them.

The fall of the two neighboring cities, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, would all but complete Russia’s conquest of Luhansk Province, a major part of the Donbas region that the Russians are attempting to seize in the four-month-old war. That would give a strategic and symbolic victory to President Vladimir V. Putin, and open avenues for Russia’s military to advance deeper into Ukraine.

The Russians have captured three more villages south of the cities, moving them within easier artillery range of Lysychansk, where Ukrainian forces are digging in on high ground for what could be a pitched battle for the city. Moscow’s forces already control most of Sievierodonetsk, to the east, which sits on lower ground and has been reduced to a ruins by Russian bombardment.

“Russian forces are getting closer to Lysychansk,” Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian regional administrator, warned Wednesday on Telegram, the messaging app, as he confirmed the capture of the villages Mirna Dolina, Pidlisne and Toshkivka.

After failing to seize Ukraine’s two biggest cities, Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, early in the war, Mr. Putin shifted his focus to Donbas, the eastern region that is Ukraine’s industrial heartland, where Russian-backed separatists have waged war since 2014. The invasion has been much harder for Russian forces, who have suffered setbacks and heavy losses — as have the Ukrainians — and Mr. Putin is seen by Western analysts as being eager for something he can call success.

Russia tightened its vise around two eastern cities, the fall of which would all but complete its conquest of Luhansk Province.
Ukrainian forces’ offshore strikes in the south suggest that they are using more powerful Western weapons. Get updates on the war.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Letters written, tanks in position as battle for Lysychansk looms, Steve Hendrix and Serhii Korolchuk, Photos by Heidi Levine, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). With bodies piling up in a mass grave, the military dug in and last few residents hiding underground, a city awaits an expected Russian onslaught; First trial of Russian soldier on rape charge to begin Thursday; Germany raises alert level on gas supplies after cuts; European Union leaders expected to back ‘candidate status’ for Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Russia closes in on Lysychansk as Zelensky rallies support for E.U. candidacy, David Walker, Amy Cheng, Ellen Francis and Bryan Pietsch, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Russia declares area outside U.S. Embassy in Moscow ‘Donetsk People’s Republic Square’; Ukrainian photojournalist ‘executed in cold blood’ by Russians, group says.

The fate of the eastern Luhansk region hangs in the balance as Russian forces intensify efforts to seize control. Ukraine says the village of Toshkivka, south of Lysychansk, fell to Russia earlier this week and is now being used as a base to bombard the city. “Hellish battles” are ongoing in Severodonetsk, the regional governor said Wednesday, while Lysychansk is “constantly suffering from enemy fire.” The mayor of Severodonetsk says up to 8,000 people are still holed up in his city, while others have been transported to Russian-held areas.

Ukraine said it inflicted “significant losses” in an attack on Russian-occupied Snake Island in the Black Sea. Moscow said its forces repelled the attack, but a series of before-and-after satellite images released by Maxar appeared to show newly damaged and charred areas on parts of the island on June 21. Russia has been fortifying Snake Island to secure its defenses in the Black Sea, where a naval blockade is preventing Ukrainian grain exports.

Ahead of a European Commission summit Thursday and Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is conducting a marathon session of calls with leaders across the continent to maximize his country’s chances of being granted candidate status for membership in the European Union. “The lives of thousands of people depend directly on the speed of our partners — on the speed of implementation of their decisions to help Ukraine,” he said in a speech Tuesday night.

Here’s what else to know

  • Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says Russian forces “executed” a Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier who accompanied him in a forest near Kyiv in March.
  • The White House said Moscow’s suggestion that two Americans captured by Russian forces in Ukraine could face the death penalty was “totally appalling.”
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Tuesday and tapped a former top Justice Department official to help Ukraine with its war crimes prosecutions.

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Abortion News, Commentary

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Texas Anti-Abortion Group Targets Pregnant Women Online, Staff Report, June 23, 2022. Every year, hundreds of thousands of women in the United States use Google to search for abortion providers. They often find anti-abortion centers instead.

 ny times logoNew York Times, What’s the Plan for the Tampon Shortage? Anna Grace Lee, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). As some consider switching to reusable menstrual products, factors like cost, accessibility and long-held personal preferences could be barriers.

The tampon shortage is the latest supply chain issue to affect daily life for women, just weeks after a shortage of baby formula left many families scrambling.

washington post logoWashington Post, The most common abortion procedures and when they occur, Brittany Shammas, Aaron Steckelberg and Daniela Santamariña, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The number of abortions performed in the United States has fallen significantly in recent years. Nearly 1 in 4 women will have the procedure by the age of 45.

Nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade established the right to abortion across the United States, the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the landmark ruling. The move would trigger immediate bans in some states and major restrictions in others, dramatically reshaping access to a procedure that has been protected in America since 1973.

The number of abortions performed in the United States has been on a downward trend for three decades. In 2019, there were 629,898 abortions reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 765,651 in 2010 and 1.4 million in 1990. That data does not include numbers from California, Maryland and New Hampshire.

New research by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization that supports abortion rights, suggests the long-term decline may be reversing, with an increase in 2020.

Nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States will have the procedure by the age of 45, according to an estimate from the Guttmacher Institute. The group estimates that 18 percent of U.S. pregnancies end in induced abortions.

Most abortions happen in the first trimester. In 2019, nearly 80 percent of the procedures reported to the CDC were performed before the 10th week of pregnancy. Almost 93 percent were performed before the 13th week.

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Pandemic News

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Covid Adviser Says She Was Asked to Water Down Guidance, Noah Weiland and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 23, 2022. Dr. Deborah Birx said there was a consistent effort by former President Trump’s administration to stifle information as cases surged in 2020. Follow updates.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, President Donald J. Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, told a congressional committee investigating the federal pandemic response that Trump White House officials asked her to change or delete parts of the weekly guidance she sent state and local health officials, in what she described as a consistent effort to stifle information as virus cases surged in the second half of 2020.

Dr. Birx, who publicly testified to the panel Thursday morning, also told the committee that Trump White House officials withheld the reports from states during a winter outbreak and refused to publicly release the documents, which featured data on the virus’s spread and recommendations for how to contain it.

Her account of White House interference came in a multiday interview the committee conducted in October 2021, which was released on Thursday with a set of emails Dr. Birx sent to colleagues in 2020 warning of the influence of a new White House pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, who she said downplayed the threat of the virus. The emails provide fresh insight into how Dr. Birx and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, grappled with what Dr. Birx called the misinformation spread by Dr. Atlas.

The push to downplay the threat was so pervasive, Dr. Birx told committee investigators, that she developed techniques to avoid attention from White House officials who might have objected to her public health recommendations. In reports she prepared for local health officials, she said, she would sometimes put ideas at the ends of sentences so that colleagues skimming the text would not notice them.

In her testimony on Thursday, she offered similarly withering assessments of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, suggesting that officials in 2020 had mistakenly viewed the coronavirus as akin to the flu even after seeing high Covid-19 death rates in Asia and Europe. That, she said, had caused a “false sense of security in America” as well as a “sense among the American people that this was not going to be a serious pandemic.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Vaccinations to Begin for America’s Young Children, but Hurdles Remain, Jill Cowan, June 21, 2022. Providing shots to children under 5 is a long-awaited milestone in the immunization effort, but it is being greeted with mixed emotions. Here’s the latest.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghanistan quake kills more than 1,000, injures 1,500, officials say, Haq Nawaz Khan, Adela Suliman, Shaiq Hussain and Karina Tsui, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The 5.9-magnitude earthquake sparked tremors that were felt in Pakistan and India.

The earthquake flattened homes while many people were sleeping, with its epicenter in the mountainous area near the country’s border with Pakistan — about 27 miles from the city of Khost — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which put the magnitude at 6.1.

Tremors were also felt in Pakistan and India, according to Pakistan’s National Seismic Monitoring Center.

Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim, acting deputy minister for the country’s disaster management authority, said at a news conference that “some villages have been completely destroyed.” Muslim said he was relaying information from rescue officials and was “waiting for the details about the damages to houses.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Sri Lanka’s economy has ‘completely collapsed,’ prime minister says, Bryan Pietsch, Niha Masih and Hafeel Farisz, June 23, 2022.  “Collapsed.” A “serious situation.” And potentially, a “fall to rock bottom.”

Those are some of the ways Sri Lanka’s prime minister described his country’s faltering economy Wednesday as the island nation faces extreme food and fuel shortages.
Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for the latest updates on Russia's war in Ukraine.

sri lanka flagThe comments to Parliament from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe come after weeks of turmoil caused by government incompetence, experts say — a dynamic exacerbated by global inflation and supply chain disarray amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka shuts down, families struggle for food as crisis deepens

“We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food,” Wickremesinghe said, speaking in Sinhala. “Our economy has faced a complete collapse.”

Sri Lanka, a country of 23 million off the southeastern coast of India, has essentially had the door to fuel supplies shut in its face, as its national Ceylon Petroleum Corp. is $700 million in debt.

washington post logoWashington Post, South Africa completes massive corruption inquiry into Zuma administration. Will justice follow? Ryan Lenora Brown, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). For three years, South Africans watched live on television as a massive corruption inquiry took aim at some of its post powerful people. The accusations centered on the country’s former president, Jacob Zuma, and his associates, and the misdeeds recounted were sprawling and salacious.

On Wednesday evening, the commission charged with investigating these allegations released the final sections of its report from the hearings, the beginning of the final chapter in a public reckoning that has gripped the country since 2018.

“The report is far more than a record of widespread corruption, fraud and abuse,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday evening at a ceremony announcing the release of the final volumes from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. “It is also an instrument through which the country can work to ensure that such events are never allowed to happen again.”

south africa flag after 1994Like the previous sections of the report, this one detailed endemic government corruption under Zuma, Ramaphosa’s predecessor, whose administration diverted resources intended for some of the country’s poorest people and lined the pockets of some of its wealthiest.

In one instance, more than $20 million earmarked for small-scale Black dairy farmers under a program called Zero Tolerance for Hunger was doled out instead to a family of wealthy Indian business executives and their associates. In another, a state-owned railway relied on by millions of working class people to travel to work fell into “almost total ruin,” according to the inquiry, as a result of theft and mismanagement. The country’s state-run broadcaster — the main source of news for those unable to afford cable — was run by a CEO who was found to have axed stories critical of the government and gave valuable contracts to Zuma’s son. Authorities at the state intelligence agency stole money and set up a parallel spy network, the report said.

But its release came at a moment when Ramaphosa’s own credibility is under fire. Earlier this month, allegations surfaced that the president had covered up the theft of millions of dollars from a game farm he owns.

“Ramaphosa’s ticket was to fight corruption, but people are now asking, ‘Does he still have the capacity to point fingers at his comrades?’” says Hlengiwe Ndlovu, a senior lecturer in governance at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. “He’s lost a lot of his authority.”

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Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

Politico, Book bombs: Trump aide tell-alls fail to sell, Daniel Lippman, Meridith McGraw and Max Tani,  A number of top aides to the 45th president churned out books after his presidency ended. The public isn’t buying. Multiple book editors and publishers interviewed for this politico Customstory said the hefty advances doled out to the authors before publication – for some, in the millions, like Kellyanne Conway and Bill Barr – might not be made back by the publisher with sales.

A year after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, right, released a tell-all book about his 10 Mark Meadowsmonths in the White House that promised to be a “frank, candid account” of running Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

The buzz around it was heavy. But in the publishing world, it was a bust.

mark meadows book chief chiefThe Chief’s Chief has sold only 21,569 books, according to NPD Bookscan, a market research firm that tracks book sales. And it’s not the only book by an ex-Trump aide that has failed to fly off the shelves.

The memoir of Deborah Birx, the Covid response coordinator under Trump, has sold fewer than 6,000 copies; Dr. Scott Atlas’ book sold 27,013 copies; Dr. Ben Carson’s book sold 21,786 copies; former White House press secretary turned Trump critic Stephanie Grisham sold 38,249 books; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has sold 42,273 books since it was published in late May; and former defense secretary Mark Esper sold 20,900 books.

Former attorney general Bill Barr sold 64,103 books.

But the one Trump post-White House book sales that did best appears to be Peter Navarro’s, whose In Trump Time has sold 80,218 copies of his book so far. The book, unlike the others, is less a revelation about life inside the former administration than an ode to Trump’s approach to governance. Perhaps for that reason, it has earned extensive publicity in MAGA circles and is currently advertised on Steve Bannon’s The War Room website.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Allows Fox News Defamation Suit to Include Fox Corporation, Jeremy W. Peters, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The decision broadens the possible legal exposure to the highest ranks of the Fox media empire.

A judge presiding in the defamation lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems ruled this week that the cable channel’s parent fox news logo Smallcompany, Fox Corporation, can be included in the suit, broadening the possible legal exposure to the highest ranks of the Fox media empire.

Dominion had argued that Fox Corporation should also be part of the litigation because its two most senior executives, dominion voting systemsRupert and Lachlan Murdoch, played “a direct role in participating in, approving and controlling” statements that fed false perceptions of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

In a decision, Judge Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court said Dominion had “adequately pleaded” facts supporting its claim that Fox Corporation was “directly liable” for what Fox News put on the air. He reasoned that the Murdochs were widely known to have a hand in shaping Fox News coverage. Judge Davis also said it was reasonable to infer that Fox Corporation had “participated in the creation and publication of Fox News’s defamatory statements.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall Are Said to Be Divorcing, Jim Rutenberg and Benjamin Mullin, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). The media mogul’s fourth divorce is unlikely to change the ownership structure of Mr. Murdoch’s empire, but it could reverberate through companies such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.

The October-December pairing — Ms. Hall is 65, Mr. Murdoch 91 — made the couple the regular subject of rival tabloids, with paparazzi regularly catching the two smiling broadly on a pristine beach, in a wintry football stadium or at a black-tie opening.

 

dan snyder jacket

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington NFL owner conducted ‘shadow investigation’ of accusers, House panel finds, Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Nicki Jhabvala, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and members of his legal team conducted a “shadow investigation” and compiled a “dossier” targeting former team employees, their attorneys and journalists in an attempt to discredit carolyn maloney ohis accusers and shift blame following allegations of widespread misconduct in the team’s workplace, according to the findings of the investigation conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Moreover, Snyder (shown above in a Washington Post file photo) hired private investigators and lawyers to unearth inappropriate emails and evidence aimed at convincing the NFL and Beth Wilkinson, who was conducting a league-sponsored investigation into sexual harassment in the organization, that Snyder’s longtime team president Bruce Allen was primarily responsible for any workplace issues.

The preliminary findings were detailed in a 29-page memo from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, the committee’s chairwoman, to fellow committee members ahead of Wednesday’s Capitol Hill hearing on the Commanders’ workplace at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify under oath. Snyder has declined to take part, objecting to the date and the terms.

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June 22

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Jan. 6 Insurrection Hearings, U.S. Election Integrity  

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters


More On Ukraine War

 

Abortion, Public Health News

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

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More On U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

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Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s pressure drew violence, threats to resistant officials, committee reveals, Rosalind S. Helderman and Jacqueline Alemany, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). In its fourth public hearing, the House committee shared new evidence of President Donald Trump’s involvement in organizing the false elector strategy.

In the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump engaged in an unrelenting campaign targeting state and local officials — many of them fellow Republicans — riling up his supporters and putting in physical danger officials who refused to help overturn his election loss, according to new information outlined Tuesday by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

At its fourth public hearing, the committee laid out how menace and violence trailed Trump’s election falsehoods, afflicting everyone who resisted, from high-level elected officials to ordinary election workers. And it showed how a several ominous episodes foreshadowed the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, as Trump’s supporters invaded a state legislative building in Arizona, barged into the home of an election worker’s grandmother in Georgia to make a “citizen’s arrest,” and sent thousands of threatening text messages to officials around the country.

The committee Tuesday disclosed new evidence of Trump’s personal involvement in one element of the effort to overturn the election: Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, testified that Trump himself called to ask for the party’s help organizing the false elector strategy.

This hearing included some of the most emotional testimony so far. Mother-and-daughter election workers in Georgia, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, described how their lives were upended after Trump falsely accused them of engaging in fraud while counting votes on election night at an arena in Atlanta. Moss became tearful as she testified, as did Freeman, who was seated in the hearing room immediately behind her daughter.

“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” asked Freeman, whom Trump named 18 times during a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state. “The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me.”

Rusty Bowers, Arizona state House Speaker, from left, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State, and Gabe Sterling, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State, are sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

 Rusty Bowers, Arizona state House Speaker, from left, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State, and Gabe Sterling, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State, are sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

ny times logoNew York Times, State Officials Recount Resisting Trump’s Pressure to Overturn Election, Luke Broadwater, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). Republican state officials testified about the pressure they faced from Donald J. Trump and his campaign to overturn election results, and on the threats of violence they faced from his followers.

Former President Donald J. Trump was directly involved in a scheme to put forward slates of false pro-Trump electors in states won by Joseph R Biden Jr., the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol revealed Tuesday during a hearing delving into his pressure campaign on state officials to help him invalidate his defeat.

The committee played deposition video from Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, who testified that Mr. Trump had personally called her about helping further the scheme. Mr. Trump put conservative lawyer John Eastman on the phone with Ms. McDaniel “to talk about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors,” she testified.

The revelation came during the fourth of the panel’s hearings this month, in which it called Republican state officials from Arizona and Georgia who testified about how Mr. Trump clung to claims of election fraud that he knew — or should have known — were false, relentlessly pressured them to embrace the lies and overturn the election results, and knowingly put them at risk when they refused to go along.

Among the committee’s findings revealed Thursday:

  • Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives, recounted how he resisted intensive pressure by Mr. Trump and his lieutenants to overturn his loss in the state.
  • “I didn’t want to be used as a pawn,” Mr. Bowers testified, explaining why he refused to call a hearing to examine the possibility of removing electors for Mr. Biden and replacing them with electors for Mr. Trump. He told the panel that he had refused two entreaties from Mr. Trump and several more from his legal advisers, who said repeatedly that they had evidence of fraud sufficient to reverse the election outcome, but never produced any. “You are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.”
  • The committee emphasized that Mr. Trump and his top lawyers knew they didn’t have evidence of widespread election fraud. Mr. rudy giuliani recentBowers testified that Mr. Giuliani, right, also admitted he had not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud, he said. “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence,” Mr. Bowers recalled Mr. Giuliani saying.
  • At another point, Mr. Eastman, another outside lawyer instrumental in the plan to submit fake electors for Mr. Trump, responded to Mr. Bowers questioning how he could legally participate in the scheme by saying, “Just do it and let the courts work it out.”
  • Mr. Trump and his allies didn’t care that election workers were facing death threats because of their false claims of fraud. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the committee, played video of Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official who also testified in person on Tuesday, warning about the threats election workers were facing.
  • Mr. Bowers testified that a man affiliated with the Three Percenters militia group, carrying a gun, threatened his neighbor.
  • “Donald Trump didn’t care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them; he went forward with his fake allegations anyway,” Ms. Cheney said.
  • Mr. Trump’s lawyers were deeply involved in his scheme to stay in power. The panel played a montage of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Eastman and Cleta Mitchell, as they worked to overturn the election. Mr. Giuliani held hearings and made calls to Republican lawmakers around the country. The scheme to use fake electors is the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

The Republican National Committee helped the Trump campaign arrange the slates of fake electors, the committee showed. Trump lawyer Justin Clark said in a deposition video that he told Kenneth Chesebro, a fellow Trump lawyer: “I don’t think this is the right thing to do.”

Mr. Bowers said Mr. Giuliani tried to use party loyalty as an argument for overturning the election in Arizona. “Aren’t we all Republicans here?” Mr. Bowers said Mr. Giuliani told him.

In another new revelation implicating Republican members of Congress, the committee showed texts from an aide to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, to an aide of former Vice President Mike Pence, indicating that Mr. Johnson on Jan. 6 wanted to hand deliver a slate of fake electors from Wisconsin to Mr. Pence. Mr. Pence’s aide responded: “Do not give that to him.”

On the morning on Jan. 6, 2021, Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, called his state’s House speaker, Rusty Bowers, and asked him to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Bowers testified on Tuesday.

Later that day, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, sought to hand deliver fake electors from his state and from Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence, texts released by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack showed. An aide to Mr. Pence, told of Mr. Johnson’s intention, responded to an aide to the senator, “Don’t give that to him.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Issues More Subpoenas in Trump Electors Investigation, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, June 22, 2022. Prosecutors sought information from two men who had worked on behalf of former President Trump’s campaign and a third who signed up as an elector in Georgia.

The Justice Department stepped up its criminal investigation of a plan by Donald J. Trump and his allies to create so-called fake slates of electors in a bid to keep Mr. Trump in power during the 2020 election, as federal agents delivered grand jury subpoenas on Wednesday to at least three people connected to the plan.

One of those who received a subpoena, according to two people familiar with the matter, was Brad Carver, a lawyer and official of the Georgia Republican Party who claimed to be one of Mr. Trump’s electors in the state, which was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Another subpoena recipient was Thomas Lane, an official who worked on behalf of Mr. Trump’s campaign in Arizona and New Mexico, the people said.

A third person, Sean Flynn, a Trump campaign aide in Michigan, also got a subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter. The issuance of new subpoenas was first reported by The Washington Post.

None of the three men could be reached for comment about the subpoenas.

The fake elector plan is the focus of one of two known prongs of the Justice Department’s broad grand jury investigation of Mr. Trump’s multiple and interlocking attempts to subvert the election. The other has focused on a wide cast of political organizers, White House aides and members of Congress connected in various ways to Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech near the White House that directly preceded the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

 

uvalde massacre all victims

washington post logoWashington Post, Police response in Uvalde was ‘an abject failure,’ Texas DPS chief says, Arelis R. Hernández, Timothy Bella and Mark Berman, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday assailed the police response to the massacre at a Uvalde, Tex., elementary school last month as “an abject failure,” describing in damning detail how officers quickly entered the school and obtained protective shields but still left defenseless children (shown above in family photos) trapped inside with the gunman for more than an hour.

In a stark, minute-by-minute breakdown, Steven C. McCraw, who directs the public safety agency, offered the most detailed official account so far about what happened during the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School. The timeline he gave was dire, detailing how for minute after agonizing minute, law enforcement officials kept waiting to pursue the gunman inside the classroom where he lurked — even waiting for a key to the room without first trying the door, which was apparently unlocked, McCraw said.

In McCraw’s telling, just three minutes after the gunman was in the school and entered a classroom, several police officers were also inside, some carrying rifles. Within 19 minutes, police had a protective ballistic shield inside. Not long after, a student inside called 911, and more ballistic shields arrived. More gunfire periodically rang out from the attacker.

But law enforcement officials still waited outside, entering the classroom only after a harrowing delay that featured multiple 911 calls from students inside. The police response has drawn widespread condemnation over the decision to wait so long to confront the gunman, who officials say killed 19 children and two teachers during the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade.

  • Washington Post, Timeline: How police responded to the Texas school shooter, June 21, 2022.

New York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: As More Villages Fall to Russia, Pivotal Showdown Looms in Eastern Ukraine, Matthew Mpoke Bigg, June 22, 2022. Moscow’s forces seized more villages around two key cities in Luhansk Province, though its gains in eastern Ukraine have come at a tremendous cost. In the south, Ukraine’s offshore strikes suggest that its forces are beginning to use more powerful Western weapons.

Approaching a pivotal moment in their invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have tightened their vise around two key eastern cities, raising the risk their slow, brutal advance will capture the cities and trap the Ukrainian troops defending them.

The fall of the two neighboring cities, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, would all but complete Russia’s conquest of Luhansk Province, a major part of the Donbas region that the Russians are attempting to seize in the four-month-old war. That would give a strategic and symbolic victory to President Vladimir V. Putin, and open avenues for Russia’s military to advance deeper into Ukraine.

The Russians have captured three more villages south of the cities, moving them within easier artillery range of Lysychansk, where Ukrainian forces are digging in on high ground for what could be a pitched battle for the city. Moscow’s forces already control most of Sievierodonetsk, to the east, which sits on lower ground and has been reduced to a ruins by Russian bombardment.

“Russian forces are getting closer to Lysychansk,” Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian regional administrator, warned Wednesday on Telegram, the messaging app, as he confirmed the capture of the villages Mirna Dolina, Pidlisne and Toshkivka.

After failing to seize Ukraine’s two biggest cities, Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, early in the war, Mr. Putin shifted his focus to Donbas, the eastern region that is Ukraine’s industrial heartland, where Russian-backed separatists have waged war since 2014. The invasion has been much harder for Russian forces, who have suffered setbacks and heavy losses — as have the Ukrainians — and Mr. Putin is seen by Western analysts as being eager for something he can call success.

Russia tightened its vise around two eastern cities, the fall of which would all but complete its conquest of Luhansk Province.
Ukrainian forces’ offshore strikes in the south suggest that they are using more powerful Western weapons. Get updates on the war.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Russia closes in on Lysychansk as Zelensky rallies support for E.U. candidacy, David Walker, Amy Cheng, Ellen Francis and Bryan Pietsch, June 22, 2022. Russia declares area outside U.S. Embassy in Moscow ‘Donetsk People’s Republic Square’; Ukrainian photojournalist ‘executed in cold blood’ by Russians, group says.

The fate of the eastern Luhansk region hangs in the balance as Russian forces intensify efforts to seize control. Ukraine says the village of Toshkivka, south of Lysychansk, fell to Russia earlier this week and is now being used as a base to bombard the city. “Hellish battles” are ongoing in Severodonetsk, the regional governor said Wednesday, while Lysychansk is “constantly suffering from enemy fire.” The mayor of Severodonetsk says up to 8,000 people are still holed up in his city, while others have been transported to Russian-held areas.

Ukraine said it inflicted “significant losses” in an attack on Russian-occupied Snake Island in the Black Sea. Moscow said its forces repelled the attack, but a series of before-and-after satellite images released by Maxar appeared to show newly damaged and charred areas on parts of the island on June 21. Russia has been fortifying Snake Island to secure its defenses in the Black Sea, where a naval blockade is preventing Ukrainian grain exports.

Ahead of a European Commission summit Thursday and Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is conducting a marathon session of calls with leaders across the continent to maximize his country’s chances of being granted candidate status for membership in the European Union. “The lives of thousands of people depend directly on the speed of our partners — on the speed of implementation of their decisions to help Ukraine,” he said in a speech Tuesday night.

Here’s what else to know

  • Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says Russian forces “executed” a Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier who accompanied him in a forest near Kyiv in March.
  • The White House said Moscow’s suggestion that two Americans captured by Russian forces in Ukraine could face the death penalty was “totally appalling.”
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Tuesday and tapped a former top Justice Department official to help Ukraine with its war crimes prosecutions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghanistan quake kills more than 1,000, injures 1,500, officials say, Haq Nawaz Khan, Adela Suliman, Shaiq Hussain and Karina Tsui, June 22, 2022. The 5.9-magnitude earthquake sparked tremors that were felt in Pakistan and India.

The earthquake flattened homes while many people were sleeping, with its epicenter in the mountainous area near the country’s border with Pakistan — about 27 miles from the city of Khost — according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which put the magnitude at 6.1.

Tremors were also felt in Pakistan and India, according to Pakistan’s National Seismic Monitoring Center.

Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim, acting deputy minister for the country’s disaster management authority, said at a news conference that “some villages have been completely destroyed.” Muslim said he was relaying information from rescue officials and was “waiting for the details about the damages to houses.”

dan snyder jacket

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington NFL owner conducted ‘shadow investigation’ of accusers, House panel finds, Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Nicki Jhabvala, June 22, 2022. Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and members of his legal team conducted a “shadow investigation” and compiled a “dossier” targeting former team employees, their attorneys and journalists in an attempt to discredit his accusers and shift blame following allegations of widespread misconduct in the team’s workplace, according to the findings of the investigation conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Moreover, Snyder (shown above in a Washington Post file photo) hired private investigators and lawyers to unearth inappropriate emails and evidence aimed at convincing the NFL and Beth Wilkinson, who was conducting a league-sponsored investigation into sexual harassment in the organization, that Snyder’s longtime team president Bruce Allen was primarily responsible for any workplace issues.

carolyn maloney oThe preliminary findings were detailed in a 29-page memo from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, the committee’s chairwoman, to fellow committee members ahead of Wednesday’s Capitol Hill hearing on the Commanders’ workplace at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify under oath. Snyder has declined to take part, objecting to the date and the terms.

  

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 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, Supreme Court Rejects Maine’s Ban on Aid to Religious Schools, Adam Liptak, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The decision was the latest in a series of rulings forbidding the exclusion of religious institutions from government programs.

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Maine may not exclude religious schools from a state tuition program. The decision, from a court that has grown exceptionally receptive to claims from religious people and groups in a variety of settings, was the latest in a series of rulings requiring the government to aid religious institutions on the same terms as other private organizations.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent.

The case, Carson v. Makin, No. 20-1088, arose from an unusual program in Maine, which requires rural communities without public secondary schools to arrange for their young residents’ educations in one of two ways. They can sign contracts with nearby public schools, or they can pay tuition at a private school chosen by parents so long as it is, in the words of a state law, “a nonsectarian school in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Two families in Maine that send or want to send their children to religious schools challenged the law, saying it violated their right to freely exercise their faith.

 

supreme court Custom

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, The Major Supreme Court Decisions in 2022, Adam Liptak and Jason Kao, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The leak in May of a draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade seemed to expose new fault lines at the Supreme Court in the first full term in which it has been dominated by a 6-to-3 conservative supermajority, including three justices appointed by President Donald J. Trump. The court’s public approval ratings have been dropping, and its new configuration has raised questions about whether it is out of step with public opinion.

According to a recent survey from researchers at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Texas, the public is closely divided on how the court should rule in several major cases. In many of them, though, respondents held starkly different views based on their partisan affiliations. Here is a look at the major cases this term.

 

Jan. 6 Insurrection Hearings, Election Threats

ny times logoNew York Times, “I took an oath,” Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker, said of rejecting efforts to overturn the election, Maggie Haberman, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). Over nearly an hour, Rusty Bowers, a Republican who is the speaker of the House of Representatives in Arizona, testified on Tuesday in painstaking and emotional detail about the pressure campaign he faced over several weeks after the Nov. 3, 2020, election, in which President Donald J. Trump lost the state.

Mr. Bowers, speaking slowly, also told the House select committee about the harassment he experienced outside his home from Trump supporters in the weeks before Jan. 6, 2021, in which he was called a “pedophile” and other epithets.

Mr. Bowers, who spoke about the Constitution in reverential and spiritual terms, had tears in his eyes as he described his gravely ill daughter enduring some of the harassment outside their house. (She died in late January.)

Politico, Insurrection Fallout: Ron Johnson tried to hand fake elector info to Mike Pence on Jan. 6, panel reveals, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). A top aide said the Wisconsin Republican senator wanted to give Pence the list of pro-Trump electors as he prepared to certify the 2020 election.

politico CustomA top aide to Sen. Ron Johnson, right, attempted to arrange a handoff of false, pro-Trump electors from the senator to Mike Pence ron johnson ojust minutes before the then-vice president began to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

The aide, Sean Riley, told Pence’s legislative director Chris Hodgson that Johnson wanted to hand Pence lists of the fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin for Pence to introduce during the counting of electoral votes that certified Joe Biden’s win. The attempt was revealed in text messages obtained by the Jan. 6 select committee during its fourth public hearing on Tuesday.

“Do not give that to him,” Hodgson replied.

republican elephant logoThe attempted handoff shows just how much former President Donald Trump and his allies tried to lean on Pence to introduce false slates of electors that could have thrown the 2020 election from Biden to Donald Trump. The committee laid out an intense pressure campaign, led primarily by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani, to push state legislatures to appoint pro-Trump electors and override the will of voters in their states.

In video and live testimony, state legislative leaders in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan — all Republicans — described repeated, sometimes daily pressure from Trump and his allies in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Michigan State Senate leader Mike Shirkey recalled in video testimony how, after Trump tweeted out his phone number, he received thousands of messages from Trump supporters asking him to appoint Michigan’s electors through the legislature.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify under oath. Snyder has declined to take part, objecting to the date and the terms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Those ignoring the Jan. 6 revelations are guaranteeing more violence, Dana Milbank, right, June 22, 2022. Rep. dana milbank newestAdam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of two Republicans on the House Jan. 6 committee, recently made public a letter mailed to his home threatening to kill him, his wife and his 5-month-old child.

“There’s violence in the future, I’m going to tell you,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can’t expect any differently.”

The ongoing threat of violence was at the core of Tuesday’s hearing of the select committee, which explored the campaign by President Donald Trump and his lawyers to pressure state legislators and election officials to overturn the election results — and the harassment, intimidation and threats they set off.

Shaye Moss, a Georgia election worker who with her mother was falsely accused by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani of wrongdoing, testified about how Trump supporters busted into her grandmother’s home to perform a “citizens arrest,” and about how their constant threats and vile, racist attacks have caused her to become a recluse and gain 60 pounds. Her mother had to abandon her home for two months at the FBI’s urging.

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican, testified about the man with a pistol who threatened his neighbor and the people who came to his house with “panel trucks with videos of me, proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician,” upsetting his wife and terminally ill daughter.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, testified about the doxing of his email and cellphone, the “sexualized attacks” on his wife of 40 years and the break-in of the home of his late son’s widow.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 4 lessons from Trump’s pressure campaign on election officials, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 22, 2022. The House Jan. jennifer rubin new headshot6 committee on Tuesday provided multiple memorable moments, including Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers’s moving devotion to the Constitution.

Beyond that, viewers should draw at least four conclusions about former president Donald Trump’s campaign to pressure election officials:

1) Forget the excuses about Trump’s “intent.” The evidence the committee presented on Tuesday largely destroyed the bogus argument that “intent” is a barrier to prosecution. Bowers’s testimony about Rudy Giuliani’s supposed gaffe that the Trump camp had “lots of theories” but no “evidence” was as damning a confession as any.

The attempts to deceive electors also point to corrupt intent. Former Michigan GOP chair Laura Cox testified that the Trump campaign told her that fake electors would “hide overnight” in the state Capitol to cast votes in the chamber. She said she responded “in no uncertain terms that that was insane and inappropriate.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Parallel inquiries into the Proud Boys and Jan. 6 have caused tension between a House panel and the Justice Department, Alan Feuer, June 22, 2022.  For the past year or so, the Justice Department and the House select committee on Jan. 6 have largely managed to avoid interfering with each other, even though both have been driving hard and fast over the same terrain in pursuit of the facts about the mob attack on the Capitol last year and what led to it.

But in recent days, in a sign of mounting tension, the parallel inquiries have bumped into each other as defense lawyers and prosecutors in one of the most prominent criminal cases — the Proud Boys sedition case — reached a rare point of agreement: that the committee’s efforts are causing headaches to the normal course of orderly prosecution.

At a hearing on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Washington, the two opposing sides joined forces in asking a judge to put some breathing room between the case and the committee’s work, and delay the marquee trial that was supposed to start in August.

Judge Timothy J. Kelly ultimately granted the request, saying that the Proud Boys trial will now begin in December. As part of his ruling, Judge Kelly noted the committee’s role in the delay.

“Every party before me believes the trial should be continued for reasons of the activities of the Jan. 6 committee,” Judge Kelly said. He pointed out that even though one of the Proud Boys defendants — Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former leader — opposed the delay, pushing back the trial was “the first thing that all of the parties in this case have agreed on.”

It was perhaps inevitable that tensions would arise between the two investigations that are being conducted at the same time, along similar lines of inquiry, by separate branches of the government.

The Justice Department has been wrangling in recent weeks with the committee over access to transcripts of interviews the House panel has conducted, with the committee signaling that it could begin sharing some material with federal prosecutors next month while withholding other material until its inquiry wraps up in September.

But the Proud Boys case is the first of more than 820 criminal matters connected to the Capitol attack in which the competing interests of the House committee and the Justice Department have become a legal issue.

From the start, the two investigations have had different purposes and have been guided by different rules.

By the panel’s own account, the committee’s inquiry was intended to explore as fully as possible the roots of the violence at the Capitol, and it is ultimately meant to propose legislation to prevent something similar from happening again. Its investigators have been graced with a relatively free hand to subpoena records and witnesses even though dozens of people — particularly those close to former President Donald J. Trump — have refused to comply with its demands.

The Justice Department, by contrast, has a narrower if potentially more consequential goal in mind: to figure out if anyone connected to the Capitol attack or to Mr. Trump’s various efforts to subvert the election should be charged with federal crimes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Speaker at meeting of Ginni Thomas group called Biden’s win illegitimate long after Jan. 6, video shows, Emma Brown, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). Two months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to help President Donald Trump stay in office, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, right, attended a gathering ginni thomas gage skidmoreof right-wing activists where a speaker declared to roaring applause that Trump was still the “legitimate president,” a video recording of the event shows.

“There is a robbery that is going on in this country right now,” pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant told the crowd, according to video posted to Facebook by an attendee. “In fact, I say it to you and I’ll say it loud and clear, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I won’t bite my tongue. I do believe that Donald John Trump is the only legitimate president.”

The event on March 6, 2021, was a meeting of Frontliners for Liberty. The group vaulted from obscurity to national attention last week with the disclosure that Thomas had invited pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman to speak to its members in December 2020.

The revelation, originating from emails that a judge ordered Eastman to turn over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, showed that Thomas was in contact with Eastman, a key legal architect of the attempt to subvert the election. The judge, David O. Carter of the Central District of California, wrote in a June 7 opinion that the emails, including two in which the group’s “high-profile leader” invited Eastman to speak — were relevant to the committee’s work.

republican elephant logoWhile text messages and emails unearthed in recent weeks have shown that Thomas was involved in those efforts before Jan. 6, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings and interviews with several people involved in the group.

One photograph from the Orlando event shows Bryant posing with Thomas. Others show Thomas wearing a name tag decorated with a yellow ribbon she and others wore saying “Trouble Maker.”

  • Analysis: 6 video clips to catch up on from the Jan. 6 hearings so far
  • Panel seeks footage from filmmaker with access to Trump

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Prosecute Trump? Put Yourself in Merrick Garland’s Shoes, Jack Goldsmith, right, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The jack goldsmith wevidence gathered by the Jan. 6 committee and in some of the federal cases against those involved in the Capitol attack poses for Attorney General Merrick Garland one of the most consequential questions that any attorney general has ever faced: Should the United States indict former President Donald Trump?

The basic allegations against Mr. Trump are well known. In disregard of advice by many of his closest aides, including Attorney General William Barr, he falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and stolen; he pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes for Joe Biden during the electoral count in Congress on Jan. 6; and he riled up a mob, directed it to the Capitol and refused for a time to take steps to stop the ensuing violence.

merrick garlandTo indict Mr. Trump for these and other acts, Mr. Garland, left, must make three decisions, each more difficult than the previous, and none of which has an obvious answer.

First, he must determine whether the decision to indict Mr. Trump is his to make. If Mr. Garland decides that a criminal investigation of Mr. Trump is warranted, Justice Department regulations require him to appoint a special counsel if the investigation presents a conflict of interest for the department and if Mr. Garland believes such an appointment would be in the public interest.

If Mr. Garland opens a Trump investigation and keeps the case — decisions he might already have made — the second issue is whether he has adequate evidence to indict Mr. Trump. The basic question here is whether, in the words of Justice Department guidelines, Mr. Trump’s acts constitute a federal offense and “the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.”.

If Mr. Garland concludes that Mr. Trump has committed convictable crimes, he would face the third and hardest decision: whether the national interest would be served by prosecuting Mr. Trump. This is not a question that lawyerly analysis alone can resolve. It is a judgment call about the nature, and fate, of our democracy.

A failure to indict Mr. Trump in these circumstances would imply that a president — who cannot be indicted while in office — is literally above the law, in defiance of the very notion of constitutional government. It would encourage lawlessness by future presidents, none more so than Mr. Trump should he win the next election. By contrast, the rule of law would be vindicated by a Trump conviction. And it might be enhanced by a full judicial airing of Mr. Trump’s possible crimes in office, even if it ultimately fails.

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a co-author of “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency.”

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden Will Push Congress for a Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lydia DePillis, June 22, 2022. Vulnerable Democrats have championed the move ahead of the midterms, but the White House will face an uphill battle to get Congress to approve the holiday.

President Biden called on Congress on Wednesday to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, an effort to give Americans “just a little bit of breathing room” from soaring fuel prices even as economists and lawmakers in both parties expressed skepticism that the move would make much of a difference.

During an afternoon speech, Mr. Biden asked Congress to lift the federal taxes — about 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel — through the end of September, shortly before the fall midterm elections. The president also asked states to suspend their own gas taxes, hoping to alleviate the economic pain that has contributed to his diminishing popularity.

“I fully understand that the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Mr. Biden said. “But it will provide families some immediate relief. Just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Forest Service says it failed to account for climate change in New Mexico blaze, Joshua Partlow, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). When the U.S. Forest Service started an intentional fire in the Santa Fe National Forest in early April, the aim was to reduce the risk of a destructive blaze.

But the agency relied on poor weather data and failed to understand how climate change had dried out the landscape, ultimately setting a fire that would explode into the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history, the Forest Service said in a new report published on Tuesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Democrats may drop another clean energy proposal to appease Manchin, Maxine Joselow and Vanessa Montalbano, June 22, 2022. Democrats are likely to drop or scale back a key proposal in their party-line bill that would make it easier for clean energy developers to use federal tax credits, as they race to clinch a deal with holdout Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) in the coming weeks, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Manchin has indicated that he will not support a budget reconciliation bill that includes direct pay, in which payments are sent directly to companies that produce clean energy for consumers, according to the two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private negotiations. Politico first reported Manchin's opposition to the proposal.

The Democrat from West Virginia has expressed concern that direct pay would be a handout to the private sector and could reward companies that are losing money, the two people said. He has also voiced concern that the policy could be inflationary amid the fastest inflation in four decades, one of the people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Canada banning single-use plastics to combat pollution, climate change, Adela Suliman, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the ban could eliminate 1.3 million tons of plastic waste over the next decade.

canadian flagCanada will ban the manufacture and importation of “harmful” single-use plastics by the end of the year, the government said, in a sweeping effort to fight pollution and climate change.

Most plastic grocery bags, cutlery and straws would come under the ban, with a few exceptions for medical needs, Canada’s Environment Ministry said Monday.
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“The ban on the manufacture and import of these harmful single-use plastics, barring a few targeted exceptions to recognize specific cases, will come into effect in December 2022,” it said in a statement.

“To provide businesses in Canada with enough time to transition and to deplete their existing stocks, the sale of these items will be prohibited as of December 2023.” It will also stop exporting such plastics by the end of 2025, to prevent international pollution, it added.

washington post logoWashington Post, Historic June heat wave smashes records in Europe, Ian Livingston, June 21, 2022 (print ed.). Hundreds of daily, monthly and all-time record highs have been recorded across the continent. Temperatures between 104 and 110 degrees (40 to 43 Celsius) were common from Spain to Germany. The most extreme temperatures compared to normal focused in France, where monthly and even all-time records were broken.

Numerous events across France were canceled in the unprecedented early-season heat, especially in the southwestern part of the country. In Paris, parks remained open during the night so people could seek relief from hot and typically non-air-conditioned homes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden turns to executive actions to address climate issues, but he’ll still need help from Congress, industry, Dino Grandoni and Anna Phillips, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). “In the end, this is an emergency," the president’s top domestic climate adviser said.

Joe Biden portrait 2With his climate legislation stalled and a Supreme Court case threatening his ability to regulate carbon, President Biden has been leaning more heavily than ever on his own authority to tackle climate change and address what he has called an “existential threat.”
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

“It’s been challenging,” Gina McCarthy, Biden’s national climate adviser, said in a recent phone interview. “But he’s been acting boldly and he’s not just been waiting around for Congress to act.”

Yet acting on his own to address climate change faces sharp limits. Not only will it take time and money to fulfill Biden’s latest executive actions and kick-start clean-energy manufacturing, he will need help from Congress and private industry to do it.

“The bottom line here is that you’re starting from scratch, with no game plan and a lot of bureaucratic hurdles you can jump through,” said James Lucier, managing director of Capital Alpha Partners, an independent research firm.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oil refineries are making a windfall. Why do they keep closing? Evan Halper, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). Companies see only headaches on the horizon for refineries, undercutting the White House push to boost production.

As the energy crunch drives record profits at American oil refineries, the owners of what had been the largest such facility in the Northeast have no regrets about tearing the place down.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners has been hauling out 950 miles of pipe from the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, abandoning the property’s 150-year history of processing crude oil into fuel in this city. The firm is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to convert the 1,300-acre site along the Schuylkill River into a green, high-tech campus for e-commerce and life sciences companies.

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More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun deal in Senate moves closer to reality after key snags resolved, Mike DeBonis and Leigh Ann Caldwell, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). A tentative deal in the Senate that would toughen federal gun laws and provide billions of dollars in new money to prevent future mass shootings moved closer to reality Tuesday after negotiators settled key disagreements that had delayed the drafting of a bill, putting it on a glide path to be passed into law by the end of the month.

The breakthrough came more than a week after 20 senators — 10 from each party — signed on to a framework agreement that coupled modest new gun restrictions with some $15 billion of new federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades.

While agreement from 10 Republican senators on a deal in principle was a clear breakthrough, signaling there could be enough GOP support to beat a Senate filibuster, it did not guarantee that the negotiators would succeed in translating those elements into final text. But with the key disputes resolved, people involved in the negotiations said text of the bill is set to be released as soon as Tuesday afternoon, with an initial Senate procedural vote coming just hours afterward.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The lesson from Uvalde? America has too many police departments, David Von Drehle, right, June 22, 2022. The david von drehle twittermore we know about the police response — or nonresponse — to the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., the less we are likely to learn from it. Humans have a bias for absorbing facts that fit nicely into our existing presumptions, while remaining largely impervious to new ideas. Next to nothing from Uvalde matches the world we’ve learned from TV and movies.

Few ideas are more deeply ingrained in the American psyche than the power of the gun. The gun is alpha and omega; it puts dramas in motion by empowering a bad guy, then wraps them up in the hands of a good guy. If a gun creates a problem, the solution is another gun — or a bigger gun, or a lot of guns.

So it confounds our view of the world to see images from the brightly painted grade-school corridor showing a small army of men packing guns and bigger guns, plus protective helmets and shields — and all these guns are solving nothing. Though armed to the teeth, the good guys are just standing around. The bad guy is a few feet away, with only a door (unlocked, we now learn) between him and the police. Yet most of an hour passes, and little happens apart from the bleeding, the dying and the fear.

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More U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Economy Updates: Powell says the Fed is ‘not trying to provoke’ a recession, but it is ‘certainly a possibility,’ Jeanna Smialek, June 22, 2022. Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, testified before a Senate committee at a moment of rapid inflation and rising interest rates

The Pelosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, on Capitol Hill in 2019 (Photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times).

The Pelosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, on Capitol Hill in 2019 (Photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Nancy Pelosi’s Napa: Wealthy Friends and a Husband’s Porsche Crash, Jacob Bernstein and Holly Secon, June 22, 2022. An accident involving Paul Pelosi shines a light on the House speaker’s California life among the vineyards.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had just urged Brown University graduates to stay resilient and summon their “better angels” on Memorial Day weekend when she was forced to turn her attention to a less uplifting situation: her husband’s arrest in California.

The details emerging from the incident were not especially flattering.

The night before, May 28, Paul Pelosi, 82, had been in Oakville, among the country’s most exclusive enclaves, leaving a small dinner at the hedgerow-lined estate of Alexander Mehran, a longtime friend and Democratic donor.

Mr. Pelosi got behind the wheel of his black 2021 Porsche 911 to drive the six miles to the Pelosis’ Napa Valley country house. It was around 10 p.m., according to a police report and eyewitnesses.

He went a little more than half a mile and was trying to cross State Route 29 and make a left. But a Jeep was coming down the highway and hit Mr. Pelosi’s car as he made the turn.

The police who responded arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and suspicion of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content or higher. He is due back in court on Aug. 3. If criminal charges are filed, he will be arraigned then. (The driver of the Jeep was not arrested.)

ny times logoNew York Times, The I.R.S. backlog of unprocessed tax returns has grown to 21 million, Alan Rappeport, June 22, 2022. The national taxpayer advocate criticized the Biden administration for being slow to make changes at the Internal Revenue Service.

The backlog of tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service has grown to more than 20 million in the last year despite efforts by the Biden administration to process filings and send out refunds more quickly, the national taxpayer advocate said in a report published on Wednesday.

The report offers a critical assessment of the Biden administration’s handling of the I.R.S., which has been burdened by staffing and funding shortages in recent years while taking on the responsibility of delivering economic relief money during the pandemic.

The tax agency’s independent watchdog said the I.R.S. was slow to use relief funds that it received as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2021. It said the agency should have moved more quickly to ramp up hiring, reassign employees and make technology changes that could have eased the backlog.

“That the backlog continues to grow is deeply concerning, primarily because millions of taxpayers have been waiting six months or more to receive their refunds,” Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, wrote in the report.

A year ago, the I.R.S. had 20 million unprocessed tax returns. That backlog had grown to 21.3 million as of the last week of May.
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The I.R.S. disputed the taxpayer advocate’s findings and said more recent data, through June 10, showed unprocessed returns had dipped below 20 million and were down slightly from June 2021.

“The I.R.S. is committed to having healthy inventories by the end of this year and continues to make strong progress handling unprocessed tax returns,” Jodie Reynolds, an I.R.S. representative, said in a statement.

Paper tax returns continue to bog down the I.R.S. as the documents must be manually transcribed into its antiquated computer systems.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Takeaways from the elections in Alabama and Georgia, Aaron Blake, June 22, 2022. Voters in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Washington, D.C., selected their nominees on Tuesday for the November general election, with the first two states holding runoffs.

republican elephant logoThis primary night was sleepier than most, but it did have some significant results. Below are some takeaways.

1. Georgia GOP bucks Trump … again. It has gone from bad to worse for Donald Trump in Georgia.

Last month, Trump’s candidates were drubbed statewide in the Peach State, starting with former senator David Perdue’s massive loss to Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Jody Hice’s remarkably failed bid to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. (Trump’s candidate for attorney general also lost.)

Congressional candidates Vernon Jones and Jake Evans each fell, piling onto Trump’s losses. Adding insult to injury, Jones was defeated by Kemp-endorsed businessman Mike Collins. Each trailed by a Perdue-esque margin, with their opponents winning more than 74 percent of the vote.

.ny times logoNew York Times, Three decades ago, most of New York City’s House lawmakers were Jewish. Now, the last one faces a tough primary, Nicholas Fandos, June 22, 2022. Three decades ago, Jewish lawmakers made up just over half of New York City’s House delegation. Now there is one: Jerrold Nadler, who faces a tough primary battle.

Mr. Nadler, an Upper West Side Democrat who is the longest-serving Jewish member of the House, finds himself fighting for political survival this summer after a court-appointed mapmaker combined key parts of his district with the Upper East Side seat represented by Representative Carolyn Maloney.

The Aug. 23 contest between two powerful Democratic House committee chairs, both nearing the end of storied careers, will undoubtedly turn on many factors, grand and prosaic: ideology, geography, longstanding political rivalries and who turns out to the polls in New York’s sleepy end of summer.

But for Jews, who once numbered two million people in New York City and have done as much as any group to shape its modern identity, the race also has the potential to be a watershed moment — a test of how much being an identifiably Jewish candidate still matters in a city where the tides of demographic and political clout have slowly shifted toward New Yorkers of Black, Latino and Asian heritage.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: WMR, Political instability equals economic woes: a political scientific fact, Wayne Madsen, left, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallJune 21-22, 2022. Biden should place the U.S. economy on a wartime footing.

It is an undeniable fact that political instability, which, in the case of the United States, was brought about by foreign interference in our political system by malign actors, results in financial distress. That includes inflation, shortages, high interest rates, and other economic indicators that point to recession, or worse, depression.

wayne madesen report logo

Right now, with the United States facing a secessionist Texas Republican Party, far-right terrorist groups active in all fifty states, post-pandemic and January 6th political coup politics, the looming threat of Donald Trump and his loyalists scrapping democracy, and other destabilizing factors, the movers and shakers of international finance do not see the United States as a safe bet for either short or long-term investment.

FDR saved the nation from the threat of international and domestic fascism. It is now time for President Biden to step up to that same plate and deal the fascists here and abroad a death blow. If that means taking on the Russians who are threatening NATO member Lithuania and blockading experts from Ukrainian ports, so be it. If that means ordering the preemptive round up of terrorist militias in the United States, so be it. The fascists have already declared war on the United States. It's past time to bring that war home to them, whether at their dachas outside of Moscow or in their militia camps in Idaho.

katie britt mo brooks britt cnn

washington post logoWashington Post, Katie Britt is projected to beat Mo Brooks in Alabama GOP Senate race, Hannah Knowles, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). GOP primary runoffs in Alabama and Georgia on Tuesday featured congressional candidates with dueling claims to the party base.

First-time candidate Katie Britt, above right, on Tuesday won the Republican nomination to represent Alabama in the Senate, the Associated Press projected, defeating Rep. Mo Brooks, above left, after a roller-coaster primary in which former president Donald Trump abandoned a staunch ally.

republican elephant logoBrooks, 68, once seemed well-positioned in the race, with more than a decade in Congress and an endorsement from Trump. But the former president deserted Brooks as he slipped in the polls this year and ultimately backed Britt as strategists predicted she would win. Britt, 40, seeks to replace her old boss, retiring Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R), and has pitched herself as a newcomer with conservative and Christian values.

“I promise you nobody will work harder in the United States Senate,” Britt said in front of a giant American flag after her victory, her husband standing behind her. “I will work tirelessly every day to make Alabama proud.” With 62 percent of ballots tallied, Britt led the way with about 65 percent of the vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Democratic nomination, Bowser on path to becoming D.C.’s second three-term mayor, Michael Brice-Saddler, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). In heavily Democratic D.C., the primary typically determines the outcome of November’s election for most races.

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington Post, Henry Cuellar defeats Jessica Cisneros in contentious Texas primary race, Mariana Alfaro, June 21, 2022. Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar will narrowly get to claim the Democratic nomination for Texas’s 28th Congressional District after a contentious reelection battle against attorney Jessica Cisneros.

A recount of the results of a May 24 runoff found that Cuellar defeated Cisneros by 289 votes. The Associated Press called the race for Cuellar on Tuesday.

While Cuellar had already declared victory following the May 24 election, the AP held off from calling the election, explaining that the results were too close. Cisneros then filed for a recount, which was overseen by the state’s Democratic Party and paid for by her campaign.

In a statement Tuesday, Cuellar said the recount proved what he’d already announced: that it was he who would move on to the November general election.

Cuellar, the lone antiabortion Democrat in the U.S. House, had the support of top-ranking House Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), while Cisneros was endorsed by a new generation of more liberal Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.). The 28th District will be competitive in the fall. Cuellar will now face Republican candidate Cassy Garcia, a former deputy state director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

ny times logoNew York Times, Economy Updates: Powell says the Fed is ‘not trying to provoke’ a recession, but it is ‘certainly a possibility,’ Jeanna Smialek, June 22, 2022. Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, testified before a Senate committee at a moment of rapid inflation and rising interest rates.

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U.S. Law, Courts, Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis’s 2018 Rival, Charged With Conspiracy and Fraud, Patricia Mazzei, June 22, 2022. The former Democratic nominee for Florida governor was indicted in a criminal case stemming from his time as Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate.

andrew gillum oAndrew Gillum, right, the Democrat who lost the 2018 Florida governor’s race to Ron DeSantis, surrendered to federal authorities in Tallahassee on Wednesday after he and a close associate were charged with conspiracy and 19 counts of fraud over how they raised and used funds when he was mayor of Tallahassee and a candidate for governor.

Mr. Gillum, 42, was also charged with making false statements to the F.B.I. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.

The arrest is the latest detour from Mr. Gillum’s once-ascendant career. He came within 32,000 votes of the governorship — which would have made him Florida’s first Black governor and a future White House hopeful — only to lose his political direction and face personal struggles. In 2020, the police found him in a Miami Beach hotel room where another man was suffering from a possible drug overdose.

r. Gillum entered rehab to seek treatment for alcoholism shortly after. He later came out as bisexual in an interview that also featured his wife.

The charges stem from a federal investigation into Tallahassee City Hall that began in 2015 and involved undercover F.B.I. agents posing as developers. Revelations from the investigation, including that Mr. Gillum had socialized with the undercover agents in New York, where they took a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and saw the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” were an issue in the 2018 campaign. Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, said at the time that Mr. Gillum could not be trusted to run the state.

The 21-count indictment against Mr. Gillum shows that a grand jury filed the charges against him on June 7. Also charged was Sharon Lettman-Hicks, 53, a confidante of Mr. Gillum’s since he was in college.

In a statement, Mr. Gillum said he had run all of his political campaigns “with integrity.”

“Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political,” he said. “There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”

The indictment covers events involving Mr. Gillum and Ms. Lettman-Hicks from 2016 to 2019. The false statements charge against Mr. Gillum is related to his interactions with the undercover agents.

According to the indictment, beginning in 2016, Mr. Gillum and two unnamed associates solicited campaign contributions from the undercover agents for Mr. Gillum’s newly formed Forward Florida Political Action Committee. To keep the agents’ names private, the associates promised to funnel the contributions in other ways, including through Ms. Lettman-Hicks’s company, P&P Communications. In exchange, they were promised “unencumbered government contracts,” according to one of the unnamed associates.

Mr. Gillum told one of the undercover agents that he “should separate in his mind the campaign contributions and the Tallahassee projects,” the indictment says, adding that Mr. Gillum also “indicated he looked favorably on” the undercover agent’s proposed development projects.

The indictment says that when Mr. Gillum voluntarily spoke to F.B.I. agents in 2017, he “falsely represented” that the undercover agents posing as developers never offered him anything and that he had stopped communicating with them after they tried to link their contributions to support for potential Tallahassee projects.

The fraud and conspiracy charges are related to Mr. Gillum’s dealings with Ms. Lettman-Hicks with regards to P&P Communications and Mr. Gillum’s campaign.

In 2017, when he became a candidate for governor, Mr. Gillum resigned from his position with People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group whose Tallahassee office was leased from Ms. Lettman-Hicks. Mr. Gillum lost his annual $122,500 salary, and Ms. Lettman-Hicks lost $3,000 in monthly rent. Mr. Gillum was also paid about $70,500 a year as mayor, a position he held from 2014 to 2018.

Mr. Gillum then became an employee of P&P Communications, where he was given a monthly salary of $10,000. According to the indictment, hiring Mr. Gillum was “only a cover used to provide him funds that he lost” after his resignation from People for the American Way.

ny times logoNew York Times, Big Returns for Investing in Fine Wine? It Was Fraud, U.S. Says, Livia Albeck-Ripka, June 22, 2022. The scheme, which the authorities say used “aggressive and deceptive tactics,” defrauded more than 150 people of about $13 million, according to court documents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Minnesota City Reaches $3.2 Million Settlement in Daunte Wright Shooting, Jesus Jiménez, June 22, 2022. The settlement was reached months after a former police officer was sentenced to two years for the fatal shooting of Mr. Wright during a traffic stop.

The city of Brooklyn Center, Minn., has agreed to pay a $3.2 million settlement to the family of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in April 2021 near Minneapolis. The officer said she meant to fire her Taser instead.

The settlement, announced on Tuesday by the legal team for Mr. Wright’s family, will be finalized after an agreement is also reached on “non-monetary” measures, including training for the city’s police. The lawyers said on Tuesday that they anticipated the agreement would include training for the Brooklyn Center Police Department on topics including officer intervention, implicit bias, de-escalation and how to approach mental health crises. As part of the settlement, the University of St. Thomas is set to provide the Police Department with free training on cultural proficiency and implicit bias.

washington post logoWashington Post, S. Dakota attorney general convicted on impeachment charges, removed from office, Andrea Salcedo, June 22, 2022. Jason Ravnsborg was charged with leaving the scene after fatally hitting a man with his car in 2020.

On Tuesday, two months after the South Dakota House of Representatives voted to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) for fatally running over a man and leaving the scene because he thought he had hit a deer, the state Senate convicted him on two impeachment charges in connection with the 2020 incident.

The Senate voted to remove the attorney general from office and to ban Ravnsborg — the first South Dakota official to ever be impeached — from running for office in the state.

The first conviction was for causing the death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever on Sept. 12, 2020. The Senate also found Ravnsborg guilty of misleading investigators and using his position as the state’s top law-enforcement official in an attempt to favorably shape the course of the investigation.

“This person ran down an innocent South Dakotan,” Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the Senate’s highest-ranking Republican, said during his remarks, the Associated Press reported.

  • Washington Post, Minn. city to pay $3.25M in police killing of Daunte Wright, lawyers say, Annabelle Timsit, June 22, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Document reveals details of 2009 sexual assault allegation against Daniel Snyder, Will Hobson, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). An employee for Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her on a team plane, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Washington Post. The allegations, which Snyder has denied, led to a $1.6 million settlement previously reported by The Post.

An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused owner Daniel Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her in April 2009, three months before the team agreed to pay the woman $1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Washington Post.

The woman accused Snyder of asking her for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to a letter sent by an attorney for the team to the woman’s lawyer in 2009. The woman alleged the assault occurred in a private, partitioned area at the back of one of the team’s private planes during a return flight from a work trip to Las Vegas.

Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, the letter states, and a team investigation accused her of fabricating her claims as part of an extortion attempt. But Snyder and the team eventually agreed to pay her a seven-figure sum as part of a settlement in which she agreed not to sue or publicly disclose her allegations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Entertainer Bill Cosby sexually abused teen in 1975, jury in civil trial finds, Reis Thebault and Praveena Somasundaram, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). A California jury on Tuesday found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1975.

The decision in the civil case is the latest defeat in a long legal saga for the 84-year-old comedian, who was once one of America’s most beloved entertainers but has faced dozens of assault allegations over the past two decades. Cosby was freed from prison nearly a year ago, after his 2018 sexual assault conviction was thrown out, overturning the results of a high-profile #MeToo-era case. Cosby’s spokesperson said Tuesday he plans to appeal the latest decision.

Outside the Santa Monica courthouse, Judy Huth, now 64, celebrated the culmination of her years-long legal battle.

“I was elated,” Huth told reporters, describing her reaction to the verdict. “Seriously, it’s been so many years, so many tears, just a long time coming.”

Jurors awarded Huth $500,000 in damages and found that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with Huth, who was then a minor. One of Huth’s attorneys, the prominent feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, said in a statement that her client “won real change” by showing that Cosby “should be held accountable for what he did to her.”

While not a criminal ruling, the successful civil case “shows there is another avenue of justice,” Allred said in a brief post-trial appearance.

Cosby did not attend the proceedings, and he has denied Huth’s allegations. Cosby’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment on the outcome.

Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014. She first met Cosby in April of 1975, when he was filming a movie in San Marino, Calif., court documents say.

Earlier this month, Huth testified that Cosby molested her after he gave her and her friend Donna Samuelson a tour of the Playboy Mansion and game room, the Associated Press reported. Samuelson, who was 17 at the time, took photos that evening and was a witness in the trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top executives quit Pornhub’s parent company amid more controversy, Lateshia Beachum, June 22, 2022 (print ed.).  Two top executives at MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, have resigned amid allegations that the site does not immediately or sufficiently remove content involving nonconsensual and underage sex.

MindGeek confirmed the departures of CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo in a statement Tuesday.

“Antoon and Tassillo leave MindGeek’s day-to-day operations after more than a decade in leadership positions with the company,” the company told The Washington Post. “MindGeek’s executive leadership team will run day-to-day operations on an interim basis, with a search underway for replacements.”

News of the departures come about a week after a New Yorker article detailed people’s attempts to get Porhhub to remove sexually explicit content that involved underage and nonconsensual participants. Announcement of the departures is not related to the piece, MindGeek told The Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deshaun Watson agrees to settle 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The NFL said the civil settlements will have no bearing on the league's disciplinary process.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached settlement agreements in 20 of the 24 active civil lawsuits filed against him by women who accused him of sexual misconduct, the attorney for the women announced Tuesday.

Lawyer Tony Buzbee called the settlement terms confidential and said he expects the remaining four lawsuits to be resolved in court.

“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Buzbee said in a statement. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”

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More On Ukraine War

 ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Demand for Russian Oil Surges in Asia, Blunting Effect of Sanctions, Victoria Kim and Clifford Krauss, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). China and India are snapping up Russian crude, dulling the West’s efforts to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the latest.

A surge in demand from Asia for discounted Russian oil is making up for the sharply lower number of barrels being sold to Europe, dulling the effects of the West’s efforts to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine and keeping revenue flowing to the Kremlin.

Most of the additional oil has gone to two countries: China and India. China’s imports of Russian oil rose 28 percent in May from the previous month, hitting a record high and helping Russia overtake Saudi Arabia as China’s largest supplier. And most of the increase went to India, which has gone from taking in almost no Russian oil to bringing in more than 760,000 barrels a day, according to shipping data analyzed by Kpler, a market research firm.

Although South Korea and Japan have cut back on Russian oil, those volumes are a fraction of what is being bought by China and India.

“Asia has saved Russian crude production,” said Viktor Katona, an analyst at Kpler. “Russia, instead of falling further, is almost close to its prepandemic levels.”

Russian oil is being sold at a steep discount because of the risks associated with sanctions imposed to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Even so, soaring energy prices have led to an uptick in oil revenue for Russia, which took in $1.7 billion more last month than it did in April, according to the International Energy Agency.

Although it remains to be seen how much Asia will continue buying the oil as Europe weans itself off Russian energy, the shift has allowed Moscow to maintain its production levels and defy analysts’ expectations that its output would plunge. And it has offered another indication of the support Russia enjoys from China, whose top leader, Xi Jinping, has offered to deepen cooperation with Moscow despite its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian crude sales dropped by 554,000 barrels a day to Europe from March to May, while Asia refiners increased their take by 503,000 barrels a day — nearly a replacement of one for one. Of those, 165,000 barrels are going to China from eastern Russian ports instead of the Baltic and Black Sea ports that traditionally supply Europe. Russian sales to India reached a record 841,000 barrels a day in May, eight times the annual average from last year.

J.P. Morgan commodities experts estimate that China can buy an additional million barrels of Russian crude a day as China recovers from Covid and attempts to add to its strategic crude stockpiles on the cheap. Russian Urals crude is selling for a $30 discount to Brent.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Asia is buying discounted Russian oil, making up for Europe’s cutbacks.
  • Ukraine urges civilians to flee the occupied south ahead of a promised counteroffensive.
  • Moscow threatens Lithuania over applying E.U. sanctions to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave.
  • Russia is boasting over oil revenues, but sanctions are likely to hurt later in the year.
  • In pictures: The flaming ruin left by a strike, one of thousands near the eastern front.
  • Russia blunts sting of Western sanctions by sending more crude to China and India.
  • A Russian journalist’s Nobel medal sells for $103.5 million.

Recent Headlines

 

Abortion News, Commentary

washington post logoWashington Post, The most common abortion procedures and when they occur, Brittany Shammas, Aaron Steckelberg and Daniela Santamariña, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The number of abortions performed in the United States has fallen significantly in recent years. Nearly 1 in 4 women will have the procedure by the age of 45.

Nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade established the right to abortion across the United States, the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the landmark ruling. The move would trigger immediate bans in some states and major restrictions in others, dramatically reshaping access to a procedure that has been protected in America since 1973.

The number of abortions performed in the United States has been on a downward trend for three decades. In 2019, there were 629,898 abortions reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 765,651 in 2010 and 1.4 million in 1990. That data does not include numbers from California, Maryland and New Hampshire.

New research by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization that supports abortion rights, suggests the long-term decline may be reversing, with an increase in 2020.

Nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States will have the procedure by the age of 45, according to an estimate from the Guttmacher Institute. The group estimates that 18 percent of U.S. pregnancies end in induced abortions.

Most abortions happen in the first trimester. In 2019, nearly 80 percent of the procedures reported to the CDC were performed before the 10th week of pregnancy. Almost 93 percent were performed before the 13th week.

Recent Headlines

 

Pandemic News

ny times logoNew York Times, Vaccinations to Begin for America’s Young Children, but Hurdles Remain, Jill Cowan, June 21, 2022. Providing shots to children under 5 is a long-awaited milestone in the immunization effort, but it is being greeted with mixed emotions. Here’s the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Cases Surge in U.S., but Deaths Stay Near Lows, Benjamin Mueller, June 20, 2022. The coronavirus’s pattern has changed, with most Americans now carrying some immune protection, whether from vaccines, infection or both, experts said. The country is more fortified against Covid deaths than it was earlier in the pandemic, but as resources dry up and immunity wanes, that may not last.

For two years, the coronavirus killed Americans on a brutal, predictable schedule: A few weeks after infections climbed so did deaths, cutting an unforgiving path across the country.

But that pattern appears to have changed. Nearly three months since an ultra-contagious set of new Omicron variants launched a springtime resurgence of cases, people are nonetheless dying from Covid at a rate close to the lowest of the pandemic.

The spread of the virus and the number of deaths in its wake, two measures that were once yoked together, have diverged more than ever before, epidemiologists said. Deaths have ticked up slowly in the northeastern United States, where the latest wave began, and are likely to do the same nationally as the surge pushes across the South and West. But the country remains better fortified against Covid deaths than earlier in the pandemic, scientists said.

Because so many Americans have now been vaccinated or infected or both, they said, the number of people whose immune systems are entirely unprepared for the virus has significantly dwindled.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, As Latin America swings to the left, the U.S. could take a back seat, Samantha Schmidt, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The election of Gustavo Petro, a senator and former guerrilla, as president of Colombia is the most stunning example yet of how the pandemic has transformed the politics of Latin America.

For more than two centuries, Colombia was considered a conservative stalwart in Latin America. Even as leftist governments came and went across the region, a center-right political establishment remained in control — a continuity that cemented the country’s role as a key U.S. ally.

On Sunday night, everything changed.

Gustavo Petro, a senator and former guerrilla, was elected the country’s first leftist president, galvanizing millions of poor, young, struggling Colombians desperate for someone different.

His victory, unthinkable just a generation ago, was the most stunning example yet of how the pandemic has transformed the politics of Latin America. The pandemic hit the economies of this region harder than almost anywhere else in the world, kicking 12 million people out of the middle class in a single year. Across the continent, voters have punished those in power for failing to lift them out of their misery. And the winner has been Latin America’s left, a diverse movement of leaders that could now take a leading role in the hemisphere.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel leader to dissolve Knesset as coalition fails and new elections planned, Shira Rubin, June 21, 2022 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced on Monday that they plan to dissolve the Knesset next week, triggering the path for a fifth round of general Israeli elections in less than four years.

Israel FlagIf the vote passes, Lapid will become the interim prime minister, though Bennett will continue to be in charge of the Iran file, as was outlined in the power sharing agreement. Elections will likely take place on Oct. 25, according to Israeli media.

Bennett and Lapid said in a joint statement that they had “exhausted options to stabilize” their coalition, which is made up of an ideological kaleidoscope of parties — including left wing peaceniks, right wing pro-settlers, and, for the first time in Israeli history an Arab Islamist party — which united a year ago by their desire to oust then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

washington post logoWashington Post, Netanyahu prepares for a comeback in Israel’s next elections, Shira Rubin, June 22, 2022 (print ed.). The announcement of the Israeli governing coalition’s collapse and the preparations for a fifth election in less than four years was met with exasperation by many Israelis. But the news came as a resounding victory for Benjamin Netanyahu, who, over the past year as the head of the opposition, has been preparing for his own comeback.

It is not immediately clear how that would happen, however, since polls show that most Israelis will continue to vote the way they have in the past few elections, producing a polarized, deadlocked Knesset and fragile coalition governments.

Netanyahu, who led Israel for much of the past 20 years, seems to be betting on breaking the political stalemate by galvanizing his right-wing base and painting his opponents as a threat to society.

Israel’s leader to dissolve Knesset, triggering new elections

“A government that depended on terror supporters, which abandoned the personal security of the citizens of Israel, that raised the cost of living to unheard-of heights, that imposed unnecessary taxes, that endangered our Jewish entity. This government is going home,” Netanyahu said Monday in a video posted on Twitter. “My friends and I will form a government … that, above all, will return the national pride to the citizens of Israel.”

The coalition’s collapse is in large part the result of Netanyahu’s efforts to encourage coalition members uncomfortable with its ideological diversity to jump ship.

“From Day One, Netanyahu sought to take down the government, and focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the issues related to the Arabs in Israel,” said Dahlia Scheindlin, a political analyst. “It was low-hanging fruit.”

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Media, Religious, Sports, Cultural News

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Allows Fox News Defamation Suit to Include Fox Corporation, Jeremy W. Peters, June 22, 2022. The decision broadens the possible legal exposure to the highest ranks of the Fox media empire.

A judge presiding in the defamation lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems ruled this week that the cable channel’s parent