Oct. 2022 News, Views

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative news and views in October 2022.

 

 

Oct. 31

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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.


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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

politico CustomPolitico, Law enforcement agencies rush to assess new threats to lawmakers, Erin Banco, Sam Stein and Heidi Przybyla, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.).  Local law enforcement officials are trying to understand the scale of potential threats to the physical safety of high-profile politicians and election workers before the midterms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Man Planned to Kidnap Nancy Pelosi and Break Her Kneecaps, Prosecutors Say, Glenn Thrush, Kellen Browning and Luke Vander Ploeg, Oct. 31, 2022. Intruder Wanted to Break Speaker Pelosi’s Kneecaps, Federal Complaint Says.

Federal prosecutors filed charges on Monday against the man the police said broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home and struck her husband with a hammer.

Federal prosecutors charged the man accused of breaking into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with attempting to kidnap Ms. Pelosi and with assaulting a relative of a federal official, according to charging documents filed on Monday.

david depape 2013The suspect, David DePape, 42, above, was apprehended by the police at the Pelosi home in the early morning hours on Friday. The police said he forcibly entered through the back door of the house, encountered Ms. Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, and, following a struggle over a hammer, struck him with it.

Mr. DePape was looking for Ms. Pelosi, who was in Washington at the time, to interrogate the speaker on an unspecified political matter, according to the federal complaint. If she told the “truth,” he would let her go; if she “lied,” he intended to break her kneecaps because he saw her as “the ‘leader of the pack’ of lies told by the Democratic Party” and wanted her to be wheeled into Congress as a lesson to other Democrats, Mr. DePape told police officers in an interview.

He had “a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, which filed the charges.

The swift action by the Justice Department in bringing federal charges — on the same day the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office filed its own charges against Mr. DePape — reflects the department’s urgency in addressing what it sees as a politically motivated crime shortly before the 2022 midterm elections. There has been a surge in threats and attacks against figures of both political parties in recent years, and Ms. Pelosi, in particular, has long been the subject of vilification and threats.

Federal prosecutors filed charges on Monday against the man the police said broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home and struck her husband with a hammer.

Later on Monday, Brooke Jenkins, the San Francisco district attorney, announced additional state charges. Mr. DePape was charged with six felonies: attempted murder, residential burglary, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment of an elder and threatening family members of public officials. Mr. DePape was expected to be arraigned in superior court on Tuesday.
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Mr. Pelosi, who alerted the police, underwent surgery on Friday after sustaining a fractured skull and serious injuries to his hands and right arm, according to a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi. Mr. Pelosi remains in the intensive care unit of a San Francisco hospital, surrounded by his family, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Law enforcement officials said that Mr. DePape sustained “minor injuries” and was treated at a hospital.

The affidavit from an F.B.I. agent that accompanied the charges provided the most complete, and chilling, narrative of the break-in to date. It detailed a groggy early-morning home invasion that culminated with a single, sudden hammer blow, delivered in the presence of shocked police officers.

Mr. DePape broke a glass door and entered the residence, awakening Mr. Pelosi, who confronted him and then ducked into a bathroom to call 911 at 2:23 a.m. Officers with the San Francisco Police Department arrived eight minutes later to find the two men struggling over a hammer.

When they asked what was going on, Mr. DePape “responded that everything was good,” the agent wrote. At that moment, Mr. DePape yanked the hammer from Mr. Pelosi’s grip and struck him once in the head, rendering him unconscious on the floor.

The officers quickly restrained Mr. DePape, who told them he had left his backpack near the smashed door window on the rear porch. When they examined its contents, they found another hammer, tape, rope, two pairs of gloves — rubber and cloth — and a journal.

The police recovered the zip ties in the bedroom. Mr. DePape later told officers he had intended to tie up Mr. Pelosi until the speaker arrived home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans are continuing to spread baseless claims about the attack, Steven Lee Myers and Stuart A. Thompson, Oct. 31, 2022. Some of the conspiracy theories have already seeped into the Republican mainstream.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, continues to post jokes about it.

rnc logoDinesh D’Souza, the creator of a discredited film about the 2020 election called “2000 Mules,” accused the San Francisco Police Department on Monday of covering up the facts.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, wrote that the “same mainstream media democrat activists” who questioned former President Donald J. Trump’s ties to Russia were now silencing the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk.

The reason: Mr. Musk deleted a post linking to a newspaper that once claimed Hillary Rodham Clinton was dead when she ran for president in 2016.

In the days since Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked by an intruder asking, “Where is Nancy?”, a litany of Republicans and conservatives have spread baseless conspiracy theories about the assault and its motives.

Although the police have not yet detailed all the circumstances of the crime, these theories have already seeped into the Republican mainstream. While many Republican officials have denounced the violence, others have at the very least tolerated, and in some cases cheered, a violent assault on the spouse of a political rival.

The disinformation “isn’t just political,” said Angelo Carusone, the president and chief executive of Media Matters for America, a progressive nonprofit. “It’s much bigger than that; it’s deeper. They’re really rethinking and reshaping a lot of our norms.”

The attack on Mr. Pelosi in the couple’s home in San Francisco early on Friday morning has raised fears about the rise of political violence against elected officials — increasingly, it seems, inspired by a toxic brew of extremism, hate and paranoia that is easily found online.

The assailant, identified by the police as David DePape, 42, posted a series of notes in the days before the attack suggesting that he had fallen under the sway of right-wing conspiracy theories and antisemitism online. Some of the flurry of posts by others questioning the circumstances of the attack appeared intended to deflect attention from Mr. DePape’s views.

No top Republican lawmakers joined in peddling unfounded claims about the attack, but few denounced them, either. Mrs. Clinton, the former first lady and senator who lost to Mr. Trump in 2016, pointedly blamed the party for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories.”

 

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, Supreme Court seems open to ending affirmative action in college admissions, Ann E. Marimow, Nick Anderson, Amy B Wang, Susan Svrluga and Perry Stein, Oct. 31, 2022. Conservative Supreme Court justices on Monday seemed ready to end decades of precedent allowing race-conscious admission decisions at colleges and universities, expressing doubt that the institutions would ever concede an “endpoint” in their use of race to build diverse student bodies.

After nearly five hours of oral argument, the programs at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seemed in doubt. The question is how broad such a decision by the court’s conservative majority might be, and what it would mean for other institutions of higher education.

Overturning the court’s precedents that race can be one factor of many in making admission decisions would have “profound consequences” for “the nation that we are and the nation that we aspire to be,” Solicitor General Elizabeth. B. Prelogar told the justices during arguments in the Harvard case. She said educating a diverse group of national leaders benefited the military, medical and scientific communities and corporate America.

Here’s what to know

  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is often a moderating force and hesitant to overturn court precedent, has long questioned race-conscious government policies and been skeptical of what he has called the “sordid business” of dividing Americans by race.
  • The three Trump nominees — along with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated by President Biden — do not have extensive records on cases involving racial preferences from their tenures as appeals court judges.
  • Recent public opinion polling shows most Americans support a ban on the consideration of race in college admissions, but an equally strong majority backs programs to boost racial diversity on campuses.

The Supreme Court has concluded nearly five hours of argument about the legality of using race as a factor in college admissions, with the justices appearing deeply divided along ideological lines.

In his final comments, attorney Cameron Norris, representing Students for Fair Admissions, emphasized what he called the harms of racial classifications.

“They stigmatize their intended beneficiaries. They increase racial consciousness, which delays the day in which we can move to true racial neutrality. And they cause resentment by treating people differently based on something they can’t change,” he said.

 

Supporters of Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrate the election results Sunday in Rio de Janeiro (Associated Press photo by Bruna Prado).

Supporters of Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrate the election results Sunday in Rio de Janeiro (Associated Press photo by Bruna Prado).

washington post logoWashington Post, Lula defeats Bolsonaro to win third term as Brazil’s president, Anthony Faiola, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, left, reclaimed the office Sunday on pledges to defend democracy, save the Amazon rainforest and bring social justice to Latin America’s largest nation, defeating Brazil’s Trumpian incumbent in a remarkable political comeback some three years after he Lula headshot 2022walked out of a prison cell.

The victory for Lula, who served two terms as president from 2003 to 2010 — returns a leftist titan of the Global South to the world stage, where his progressive voice will stand in sharp contrast to that of right-wing — and now one-term — President Jair Bolsonaro. For Latin America, Lula’s return to the Planalto Palace adds the regional giant to a streak of wins by the left: Lula joins a club of leaders who have brazil flag wavingnow bested the political right in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Honduras, Argentina and Mexico.

His win, which followed a slugfest of a campaign in a deeply divided country awash in fake news and explosive rhetoric, came amid allegations of official suppression of the vote by Bolsonaro’s allies in the police. Overall, the race sounded strong echoes of the 2020 showdown in the United States between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

It pitted Bolsonaro, 67, right, a staunch Trump ally, against Lula, 77, a stalwart of the traditional left who moved to the center during the campaign. Lula’s strength lay in female and low-income voters — particularly the Northeast, heavily populated by people of color — but also in social jair bolsonaro brazilprogressives and power brokers disturbed by Bolsonaro’s authoritarian bent.

Lula has pledged a unity government to work on mending the breaches in Brazilian society of the kind that, in an era of toxic politics, have taken root in democracies across the globe. The margin — Lula won by less than two percentage points — was the closest in Brazilian history. It was the first time an incumbent ran for a second term and lost.

“We have reached the end of one of the most important elections in our history,” Lula told supporters in São Paulo. “An election that put face to face two opposing projects of the country and that today has only one winner: the Brazilian people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil chooses between Lula and Bolsonaro, Anthony Faiola, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Bolsonaro enjoys the backing of ally Trump; The campaign deepened division in an already polarized Brazil; Lula and allies have cast the vote as a referendum on democracy.

In a country of 214 million stretching from the Amazon to the megacities of the Southeast, the outcome will affect the health of the world’s largest rainforest and the state of democracy in Latin America’s largest nation.

More than 500,000 police officers are being deployed after an ugly campaign that stoked Brazil’s culture wars and in which Bolsonaro’s backers have already laid the groundwork for thus far unsupported claims of fraud.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Election Defeat, Bolsonaro Is Silent, and Brazil Braces for Turmoil, Jack Nicas, Oct. 31, 2022. President Jair Bolsonaro has not publicly recognized his loss to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. For months, he had warned that he might not accept defeat.

Brazil on Monday woke up to a moment that it had long been bracing for.

President Jair Bolsonaro narrowly lost the presidential election to his leftist challenger, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, but 12 hours later, he had yet to say anything publicly.

His silence was becoming increasingly worrying because Mr. Bolsonaro, a far-right leader often compared to former President Donald J. Trump, has been warning for months that he might not accept defeat, raising concerns about the stability of Latin America’s largest country and one of the world’s biggest democracies.

Mr. Bolsonaro has consistently claimed, without evidence, that Brazil’s electronic voting system is rife with fraud and that the left was planning to rig the vote. As a result, millions of his supporters have lost faith in the integrity of their nation’s elections, according to polls, and many said publicly that they were prepared to take to the streets at his command.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live: Supreme Court Hears Affirmative Action Arguments, Adam Liptak, Oct. 31, 2022. The court’s conservative supermajority may be skeptical of admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that take account of race to foster educational diversity.

The future of affirmative action in higher education is on the line in a pair of cases being argued at the Supreme Court on Monday challenging race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The court has repeatedly upheld similar programs, most recently in 2016, saying that educational diversity is a compelling interest that justifies taking account of race as one factor among many in admissions decisions. But the court is now dominated by a six-member conservative supermajority, one that is very likely to view the challenged programs with skepticism, imperiling more than 40 years of precedents. In June, the justices overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had established a constitutional right to abortion.

 

More On Threats To U.S. Democracy, Rights, Security

washington post logoWashington Post, Alleged assailant filled blog with delusional thoughts in days before Pelosi attack, Aaron C. Davis and Dalton Bennett, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). San Francisco Bay area resident David DePape wrote that an invisible fairy had attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird. Other posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, Democrats and the media.

The San Francisco Bay area man arrested in the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband filled a blog a week before the incident with delusional thoughts, including that an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird, according to online writings under his name.

David DePape, 42, also published hundreds of blog posts in recent months sharing memes in support of fringe commentators and far-right personalities. Many of the posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, Democrats, the media and transgender people.

During October, DePape published over 100 posts. While each loads, a reader briefly glimpses an image of a person wearing a giant inflatable unicorn costume, superimposed against a night sky. The photos and videos that followed were often dark and disturbing.

He published a drawing of the Devil kneeling and asking a caricature of a Jewish person to teach him the arts of “lying, deception, cheating and incitement.” Several contain lifelike images of rotting human flesh and blood, including a zombified Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton. Others depict headless bodies against bleak, dystopian landscapes.

Before those writings were removed Saturday, The Washington Post reviewed them, as well as gory photos, illustrations and videos on a website that DePape registered under his name in early August and that his daughter confirmed was his. Notably, the voluminous writings do not mention Pelosi. Police say DePape broke into the home Pelosi shares with her husband early Friday, yelled “Where is Nancy?” and attacked 82-year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer.

Pelosi remained hospitalized Saturday, recovering from surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hand, according to the speaker’s office. San Francisco’s police chief and district attorney provided no update, but on Friday local, state and federal authorities said they were working together to investigate DePape’s motive.

 

 

Social media responders promptly created the above caricature of Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, portrayed wearing a tinfoil hat after his weekend moves to retweet with no evidence an ultra-right smear lewd smear of the QAnon type suggesting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi had been involved in lewd behavior when he was attacked at night at his home by a Trump supporter fracturing Pelosi's head with a hammer.

Social media responders promptly created the above caricature of Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, portrayed wearing a tinfoil hat after his weekend moves to retweet with no evidence an ultra-right smear lewd smear of the QAnon type suggesting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi had been involved in lewd behavior when he was attacked at night at his home by a Trump supporter fracturing Pelosi's head with a hammer. Shown below is Musk's Tweet spreading the smear. That prompted many Twitter users to suggest he would be using his newfound power over the platform to spread disinformation helping ultra-right interests, with a goal in part on to help Republicans regain power in the mid-term elections occurring now until Nov. 8 in the United States.

 

Elon Musk Pelosi Retweet

 

Musk made news also over the weekend by setting in motion massive firings at Twitter, especially among content moderators, with one reputed goal being to deprive workers of vesting in stock option rights that many were expecting as of Nov. 1. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk, right-wing figures push misinformation about Pelosi attack, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Twitter’s new owner sowed doubt about law enforcement’s account as suggestions of a “false flag” flooded the site.

An online forum devoted to former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s right-wing radio show alerted its 78,000 subscribers to “very strange new details on Paul Pelosi attack.”

Roger Stone, a longtime political consigliere to former president Donald Trump, took to the fast-growing messaging app Telegram to call the assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband an “alleged attack,” telling his followers that a “stench” surrounded mainstream reporting about the Friday break-in that left Pelosi, 82, with a skull fracture.

twitter bird CustomThe skepticism didn’t stay in right-wing echo chambers but seeped also into the feeds of popular online personalities, including Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, right.

elon musk 2015“There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” he wrote Sunday morning, pointing his 112 million followers to a sensationalist account of the episode published by a site known for spreading right-wing misinformation.

The rush to sow doubt about the assault on Pelosi’s husband illustrates how aggressively influential figures on the right are seeking to dissuade the public from believing facts about the violence, seizing on the event to promote conspiracy theories and provoke distrust. The House speaker has long been a bugbear for the right, which has intensified its rhetorical blitz on her in recent years — even as extreme threats against members of Congress have increased.

These merchants of misinformation, said Carl Cameron, a former longtime Fox News political correspondent, deceive their massive audiences using rumors and lies about everything from the integrity of elections to the details of a police report.

“They are creating a dystopia wherein lying and physical violence become part of our politics,” he said.

Proof via Twitter, Commentary: Is it a dangerous situation when the Twitter CEO is digitally illiterate? @SethAbramson (journalism professor, best-selling seth abramson proof logoauthor of the "Proof" series and attorney), Oct. 30, 2022.  When he indulges conspiracy theories because—as an egomaniacal billionaire—he wants to think he knows better than everyone else? And because no one can lecture him on anything?

Yes.

I’ve diagnosed the problem. @ElonMusk is what academics call “digitally illiterate.” Clinton posted a Los Angeles Times article, and Musk replied with *a post from a fake-news site* that’s already down. Then he wrote “tiny possibility” as a hedge against spreading disinformation.

Politico, Top Republicans deny any link between GOP rhetoric and Paul Pelosi assault, Olivia Olander, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Republican National Committee Chair Ronna politico Customrnc logoMcDaniel called it “unfair” that Democrats would draw a direct line between her party’s villainizing of Pelosi and the Friday home invasion that left the speaker’s husband hospitalized.

And National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who posted a video last week of himself firing a gun with the hashtag #FirePelosi, deflected a question about whether he should have used a weapon along with the hashtag.

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk’s inner circle worked through the weekend to cement Twitter layoff plans, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Faiz Siddiqui, Oct. 31, 2022. The first round of layoffs is expected to target 25 percent of Twitter’s workforce.

Members of billionaire Elon Musk’s inner circle huddled with Twitter’s remaining senior executives throughout the weekend, conducting detailed discussions regarding the site’s approach to content moderation, as well as plans to lay off 25 percent of the workforce to start.

Alex Spiro, a well-known celebrity lawyer who has represented Musk for several years, led those conversations. Spiro is taking an active role in managing several teams at Twitter, including legal, government relations, policy and marketing, according to four people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe them, as well as tweets from some of the people involved.

Longtime Musk associates David Sacks and Jason Calacanis appeared in a company directory over the weekend, according to photos obtained by The Washington Post. Both had official company emails and their titles were “staff software engineer.” Musk’s title in the directory was CEO, although that position has not been publicly announced. He refers to himself as “Chief Twit.”

BuzzFeed News, A New York Post Employee Was Fired For Posting Violent, Racist Tweets On The Newspaper's Account, Julia Reinstein, Oct. 27, 2022. Some of the tweets, which a spokesperson for the paper called "vile and reprehensible," called for President Joe Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be murdered.

Violent and racist content that appeared on the New York Post's website and Twitter account Thursday morning were posted by one of the newspaper's own employees, a company spokesperson said.

new york post logoThe tweets, which were posted just after 9 a.m. and seen by BuzzFeed News, called for the murder of President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Others mentioned "slaughtering illegals," joked about New York Gov. Kathy Hochul being "rape[d] and batter[ed]," and called New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who is Black, a "fried chicken eating monkey."
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Articles on the paper's website were tampered with as well. The headline of an op-ed about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was changed to "We must assassinate AOC for America," and its byline was edited to look like it was by right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro.
Twitter

The offensive posts were deleted shortly after they went up, and the newspaper tweeted that they had been "hacked" and were "investigating the cause."

But an external hack was not, in fact, behind the tweets — it turned out to be a New York Post employee, a spokesperson for the paper later said.

The employee, who was not publicly identified, has been fired.

"The New York Post’s investigation indicates that the unauthorized conduct was committed by an employee, and the employee has been terminated," the spokesperson said. "This morning, we immediately removed the vile and reprehensible content from our website and social media accounts."

  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

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ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Control Hinges on Neck-and-Neck Races, Times/Siena Poll Finds, Lisa Lerer and Ruth Igielnik, Oct. 31, 2022. The contests are close in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Many voters want Republicans to flip the Senate, but prefer the Democrat in their state.

Control of the Senate rests on a knife’s edge, according to new polls by The New York Times and Siena College, with Republican challengers in Nevada and Georgia neck-and-neck with Democratic incumbents, and the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania clinging to what appears to be a tenuous advantage.

The bright spot for Democrats in the four key states polled was in Arizona, where Senator Mark Kelly is holding a small but steady lead over his Republican challenger, Blake Masters.

The results indicate a deeply volatile and unpredictable Senate contest: More people across three of the states surveyed said they wanted Republicans to gain control of the Senate, but they preferred the individual Democratic candidates in their states — a sign that Republicans may be hampered by the shortcomings of their nominees.

Politico, The ground game that flipped the Senate is kicking back into gear, Elena Schneider, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). In Georgia, Sen. Jon Ossoff is reactivating the door-to-door network that helped elect him and fellow Democrat Raphael Warnock two years ago.

politico CustomSen. Jon Ossoff isn’t on the ballot this year. But he’s leaping into Georgia’s midterm campaigns, restarting the organizing machine that helped turn the state blue as Democrats scramble for every tool to prevent Georgia — and the Senate — from flipping back.

Ossoff, who was elected alongside fellow Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Jan. 2021 runoffs, is revving up a field organization that tested innovative ways to get unlikely-to-vote citizens to turn out two years ago. The methods helped mobilize Democratic voters in enough numbers to flip the Senate.

Texas Votebeat, Two leaders of True the Vote jailed by federal judge for contempt of court, Jessica Huseman, Oct 31, 2022. Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips were escorted away after refusing to disclose the name of a mystery man who supposedly helped them investigate election software company Konnech.

Federal marshals escorted two leaders of True the Vote out of a Houston courtroom on Monday morning and into a holding cell. Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips have been held in contempt of court for refusing to release the name of a person of interest in the defamation and computer hacking case against them, who they claim, without proof, is a confidential FBI informant.

texas mapThey will remain in jail until they release the name of the man.

It is the latest surprise development in the strange story, which concerns — depending on who’s describing it — a right-wing elections group allegedly defaming a small technology company, or a small technology company whose alleged security flaws were exposed by a right wing elections group.

Konnech, the election management software company at the center of those claims, filed a federal lawsuit in September alleging that True the Vote’s viral social media campaign targeting the company’s founder and CEO, Eugene Yu, led to personal threats to him and his family and damaged his company’s business.

In podcasts and interviews, Phillips described a dramatic night in early 2021 in a Dallas hotel, where a man he later identified as Mike Hasson revealed what True the Vote has said was hard evidence of Konnech’s alleged influence on the 2020 election.

The involvement of a third man was unknown until a Thursday hearing, when Konnech’s attorney’s pressed Phillips for additional information about what Phillips claimed was an hours-long Konnech research session in Dallas that night. On the stand, Phillips revealed that another “analyst” was present in the room when Hasson allegedly offered evidence he’d uncovered about Konnech, showing the company had stored American poll worker data on a server in China. Neither he nor Engelbrecht would release the third man’s name, saying he was in danger from “drug cartels.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Truth About America’s Economic Recovery, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 31, 2022.As we approach the midterm elections, most paul krugmanpolitical coverage I see frames the contest as a struggle between Republicans taking advantage of a bad economy and Democrats trying to scare voters about the G.O.P.’s regressive social agenda. Voters do, indeed, perceive a bad economy. But perceptions don’t necessarily match reality.

In particular, while political reporting generally takes it for granted that the economy is in bad shape, the data tell a different story. Yes, we have troublingly high inflation. But other indicators paint a much more favorable picture. If inflation can be brought down without a severe recession — which seems like a real possibility — future historians will consider economic policy in the face of the pandemic a remarkable success story.

When assessing the state of the economy, what period should we use for comparison? I’ve noted before that Republicans like to compare the current economy with an imaginary version of January 2021, one in which gas was $2 a gallon but less pleasant realities, like sky-high deaths from Covid and deeply depressed employment, are airbrushed from the picture. A much better comparison is with February 2020, just before the pandemic hit with full force.

So how does the current economy compare with the eve of the pandemic?

First, we’ve had a more or less complete recovery in jobs and production. The unemployment rate, at 3.5 percent, is right back where it was before the virus struck. So is the percentage of prime-age adults employed. Gross domestic product is close to what the Congressional Budget Office was projecting prepandemic.

 

oregon map

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If Oregon Turns Red, Whose Fault Will That Be? Michelle Goldberg, right, Oct. 31, 2022. An ad for one of the candidates for governor of michelle goldberg thumbOregon begins with shots of trash and the tarp-covered tent encampments that line many of Portland’s streets.

“Nobody in Oregon would say, ‘Let’s keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing,’” says the candidate. She continues, “I called for a homelessness state of emergency nearly three years ago, while Kate Brown” — the current Democratic governor — “did nothing.”

It’s not a surprising message in a campaign in which homelessness and crime are central issues. What’s surprising is the messenger: Tina Kotek, the former Democratic speaker of the Oregon House, running to succeed Brown.

Kotek’s ad is a sign of the indefensibility of the status quo in one of the country’s most progressive cities, and of the unexpected political peril Oregon Democrats face as a result. Most polls show that her opponent, Christine Drazan, the former Republican minority leader in Oregon’s House, has a slight lead in the race. If Drazan wins, it will be a sign that no place is immune to the right’s message on public disorder, whose resonance is also making Gov. Kathy Hochul’s race to keep her post in New York uncomfortably close.

A Republican hasn’t won the Oregon governor’s race in 40 years. And while progressive states electing G.O.P. governors is nothing new, Drazan — like New York’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Lee Zeldin — is far more conservative than the Rockefeller-style Republicans who lead Massachusetts and Vermont. She has an A rating from the N.R.A. and an endorsement from Oregon Right to Life, meaning that just months after the end of Roe v. Wade, Oregon could end up with an abortion opponent in charge.

Some Oregon Democrats argue that Drazan’s competitiveness is a fluke, a product of the well-funded spoiler campaign being run by Betsy Johnson, a centrist ex-Democrat who has received $3.75 million from the Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

But that doesn’t explain why so many Democrats are willing to defect to Johnson in the first place. (FiveThirtyEight’s polling average has her getting 13.8 percent of the vote.) Nor does it explain why Democrats are struggling in congressional districts neighboring Portland. The Cook Political Report rates Oregon’s Sixth District, which went for Joe Biden by 13 points, a tossup, even though the Republican nominee is, like Georgia’s Herschel Walker, an abortion opponent who reportedly paid for the abortion of a woman he dated.

“Four of our six House seats could end up in red territory,” Senator Jeff Merkley told me after a rally here with Kotek and Bernie Sanders. The fact that Sanders was in Oregon in the first place — Biden and Elizabeth Warren have also come through — is a sign of how shaky things are for Democrats in the formerly safely blue state.

Part of the story here is about the national political environment, but it’s also about the catastrophe of homelessness in Portland, which, as in other West Coast cities, looks very different than on the East Coast.New York has a higher rate of homelessness than Oregon, but a larger percentage of people sleeping in shelters than on the streets.

By contrast, in Multnomah County, which includes much of Portland, most people experiencing homelessness sleep either in tents or vehicles. The tents line streets and fill parking lots; they are a constant reminder that we’re living through a time of widespread social collapse.

There is no reason to believe that Drazan has a viable plan to fix a hellishly complex problem. Most of her proposals, aside from repealing Measure 110, the drug decriminalization ballot initiative Portland passed in 2020, are vague. But the manifest failure of Democrats to make things better has created a runway for her and others like her. “Instead of enabling homelessness, we must balance our approach with a mind-set of both compassion and accountability,” Drazan told Oregon Public Broadcasting. It’s not surprising that this message is resonating.

washington post logoWashington Post, New boundaries, new dynamics have Democrats hopeful in Michigan swing district, Marianna Sotomayor, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). John Gibbs knocked off the more moderate Republican Rep. Peter Meijer in the GOP primary. Democrats think it gives them an opening.

Even as Republican confidence about winning back control of the House grows in the final stage of the midterms, races such as the one in Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, could complicate their task.

washington post logoWashington Post, How one small-town lawyer faced down the plans of election skeptics, Stephanie McCrummen, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Phil Landrum, who has been the Pickens County, Ga., attorney for 21 years, said he has noticed in the past few years a kind of mob mentality taking hold, heedless of law.

georgia mapAmong the many anonymous jobs at the grass roots of American democracy, the county attorney is one of the most anonymous of all. Phil Landrum’s office is a small brick building with a two-chair waiting room and a framed copy of the Magna Carta. His days are usually spent advising county boards on the minutiae of state law, a job that has lately included defending his corner of the nation’s voting system against a barrage of attempts to upend it.

Thousands of local officials across the country find themselves in a similar position as former president Donald Trump and his allies continue to spread false claims about the security of America’s elections, and urge their followers to take action.

Hand-marked ballots, hand tallies, hand recounts — grass-roots activists around the country are trying to persuade local authorities to rely less on electronic voting results and more on bygone processes that experts say are far more vulnerable to human error and fraud.

The activists are making their case in areas they deem friendly — mostly rural, Trump-supporting counties where disinformation is rampant, opposing views are rare, and local officials are usually people they know. And that is what happened in Pickens County.

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More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

washington post logoWashington Post, Opening statements set to begin in Trump Organization’s criminal trial, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 31, 2022. The criminal tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization is set for opening statements Monday, with prosecutors looking to prove allegations that the company for years provided untaxed compensation for executives.

The criminal tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization is set for opening statements Monday, with prosecutors looking to prove allegations that the company for years provided untaxed compensation for executives.

The trial is the result of a three-year probe of the Trump Organization’s business practices by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and former district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Bragg has said he is still evaluating whether former president Donald Trump committed crimes when allegedly manipulating the value of his assets to get favorable loan and interest rates, or devaluing his assets to reduce his tax liability.

Trump and three of his adult children who have served as executives at the company have not been charged personally.

The Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corp. proceedings in New York Supreme Court could last up to six weeks and are expected to involve witnesses who still work at the company, including longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who is on paid leave, and comptroller Jeffrey McConney. Both are alleged to have orchestrated a scheme to pad the compensation packages for company executives with perks that weren’t taxed during 15 years from 2005 to 2021.

Trump Organization’s criminal trial on fraud charges to start Monday

Weisselberg was the only individual indicted with the companies. He pleaded guilty in August and agreed to testify at the organization’s trial. In exchange for his testimony, he will receive a five-month jail sentence. He had been facing up to 15 years in prison.

McConney was a grand jury witness and has been given immunity from prosecution under New York state law.

In recent days, prosecutors warned prospective jurors that some witnesses may be hesitant to testify. Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger told jurors during voir dire Thursday that some witnesses in the case are still employed by the Trump Organization and its subsidiary, and they “may be reluctant at times to answer some questions.”

“It’s understandable … They are testifying against their employers,” Hoffinger said.

The selected panel of 18 jurors includes six alternates.

The tax fraud and conspiracy case was filed in July 2021 and alleges that Weisselberg and McConney, who ran the company’s finances, kept two sets of books to reflect actual compensation, with unreported executive perks such as cars and pricey apartments, and compensation figures that were reported to state and federal tax authorities. The company is based at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

Weisselberg personally saved over $900,000 in taxes through the false reporting, according to prosecutors. He is expected to testify about his own conduct and his plea agreement limits the scope of what he’s required to discuss.

The Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. could owe a combined maximum fine of $1.6 million, if convicted.

Politico, Despite Eastman appeal, Jan. 6 committee accesses 8 disputed emails, A federal judge had ruled they were evidence of a likely crime, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Congressional investigators have obtained eight disputed emails that attorney John Eastman — a key architect of Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election — had asked a federal appeals court to shield from lawmakers.

politico CustomEastman revealed in a Sunday court filing that he delivered a link to the Jan. 6 select committee providing access to the eight emails last week — an effort to comply with a federal district court judge’s order — but asked the committee to refrain from reviewing the records while he mounted an appeal.

Instead, the select committee rejected his request, questioning whether a formal appeal had been lodged, and downloaded the documents, Eastman indicated. He is now asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to demand that the select committee return or destroy the documents — and prevent the panel from making use of them until the appeals court takes action.

“While a stay barring the production is no longer available, an order directing the return or destruction of the documents and barring further use of them pending the appeal remains a viable remedy,” Eastman’s attorney Anthony Caso wrote.

But such an order by a court against Congress would be an extraordinary step by one coequal branch against another, and would be virtually impossible to enforce. A similar effort by Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich — who asked a judge to claw back financial records from the select committee after JP Morgan provided them in December — was met with extreme skepticism from a district court judge in Washington, D.C.

Politico, Democrats turn to Obama to rescue them from a midterm shellacking, Christopher Cadelago, Oct. 31, 2022. With his approval ratings sagging, Joe Biden is largely on the sidelines. Into the void has stepped his former boss, by far the party's top surrogate.

politico CustomBarack Obama joked at a campaign rally in Milwaukee over the weekend that the state’s Democratic governor — Tony Evers, the bespectacled one-time science teacher mired in a neck-and-neck race for a second term — had “more of a Clark Kent” than a Superman vibe.

“But don’t let the glasses fool you,” Obama said, chuckling.

If anyone’s looking to be rescued in this final stretch before the midterms, it’s the Democratic Party. And it’s turning, yet again, to the 44th president to save them from freefall.

With Joe Biden’s poll numbers stuck in the low 40s, the sitting president has largely been absent from the trail in the final weeks of the campaign, opting for a mix of speeches from the Washington area and headlining fundraisers. Into the void stepped his former boss, who reminded crowds over the weekend that he remains — far and away — his party’s most effective surrogate.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Men exonerated in Malcolm X killing to receive $36 million, Staff Report, Oct. 31, 2022. Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam were exonerated last year in the 1965 assassination.

The city of New York is settling lawsuits filed on behalf of two men who were exonerated last year for the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, agreeing to pay $26 million for the wrongful convictions which led to both men spending decades behind bars.

The state of New York will pay an additional $10 million. David Shanies, an attorney representing the men, confirmed the settlements on Sunday.

“Muhammad Aziz, Khalil Islam, and their families suffered because of these unjust convictions for more than 50 years,” said Shanies said in an email. “The City recognized the grave injustices done here, and I commend the sincerity and speed with which the Comptroller’s Office and the Corporation Counsel moved to resolve the lawsuits.”

Shanies said the settlements send a message that “police and prosecutorial misconduct cause tremendous damage, and we must remain vigilant to identify and correct injustices.”

Last year, a Manhattan judge dismissed the convictions of Aziz, now 84, and Islam, who died in 2009, after prosecutors said new evidence of witness intimidation and suppression of exculpatory evidence had undermined the case against the men. Then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. apologized for law enforcement’s “serious, unacceptable violations of law and the public trust.”

washington post logoWashington Post, White House rejects promoting general involved in Capitol riot response, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Pentagon backed Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, the director of the Army staff, to become a four-star general. But the Biden administration nixed his promotion.

The White House rejected a recommendation by senior Pentagon officials to promote an Army general who came under intense scrutiny after the Pentagon’s slow response to the riot at the Capitol, defense officials said, pushing the officer to a near-certain retirement.

walter piattLt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, right, the director of the Army staff, was backed to become the four-star general at Army Futures Command by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth — both of whom were appointed by President Biden — and Gen. James McConville, the Army’s top officer, said two defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. The White House declined to send a nomination for Piatt to the Senate for months, the officials said, effectively killing the possibility.

Piatt has agreed to stay in his present position for several more months at the request of McConville and Wormuth, and “has the full trust and confidence of Army senior leaders to execute the immense responsibility this position requires,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “With almost 40 years of active service, Lt. Gen. Piatt is eligible to retire this year but will remain as Director of the Army Staff until next summer.”

Piatt, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. The White House in September nominated another officer, Lt. Gen. James Rainey, to lead Futures Command and quickly gained confirmation for him. Rainey was promoted to four-star general and took over at Futures Command in Austin this month.

Defense News reported in September that Army officials feared Piatt’s candidacy for the position was in trouble, and Rainey took the job the following month after it sat open for nearly a year. But some senior Pentagon officials were sympathetic to Piatt and disappointed he was denied, defense officials said.

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Top Global, Human Rights News

Politico, Kremlin accused of ‘weaponizing food’ in halt of Ukraine grain deal, Jones Hayden, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The U.S. accused Moscow of “weaponizing food” in suspending its participation in a U.N.-brokered deal allowing grain shipments to leave Ukraine’s ports.

politico CustomU.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is engaged in “intense contacts” aimed at bringing Russia back to the deal, the organization said on Sunday, after the Kremlin on Saturday said it was halting the agreement for an “indefinite period,” citing an attack on a base in occupied Crimea that Russia blamed on Ukraine.

The grain export deal, designed to make sure Ukrainian agricultural products can reach international markets, is considered critical to global food security given Ukraine’s role as a major producer of foodstuffs. state, have responded to the offensive by killing prominent clan leaders in an apparent effort to dissuade grassroots support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran charges female journalists who helped break Amini’s story with being CIA spies, Miriam Berger, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The two female Iranian journalists who helped break the story of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman whose death in the custody of the so-called morality police last month sparked a nationwide uprising, were formally accused late Friday of being CIA spies and the “primary sources of news for foreign media” — the former a crime punishable by the death penalty in Iran.

Journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi have been held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since late September as Iran’s clerical leaders have struggled to contain an outpouring of public anger and protests calling for their overthrow. Women and young Iranians have been at the forefront of the uprising, the longest running demonstrations in decades.

Iran FlagIn the joint statement sent to Iranian media late Friday local time, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence agency of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the highly-feared guardians of Iran’s security state, accused the CIA of orchestrating Hamedi and Mohammadi’s reporting, and said “allied spy services and fanatic proxies,” planned the nationwide, leaderless unrest.

As protests rock Iran, its most feared security force is lying in wait

The CIA, along with British, Israeli and Saudi spy agencies, “planned extensively to launch a nationwide riot in Iran with the aim of committing crimes against the great nation of Iran and its territorial integrity, as well as laying the groundwork for the intensification of external pressures,” the unsubstantiated statement charged. It also claimed without providing evidence that the two journalists were trained abroad and sent to provoke Amini’s family and spread disinformation.

washington post logoWashington Post, South Koreans confront the trauma of the Halloween crowd crush, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Bryan Pietsch and Kelly Kasulis Cho, Updated Oct. 31, 2022. Soaring death tolls. Thousands of witnesses. Endless news and social media images of suffering. Large-scale mental health help is needed across the country.

south korea flag SmallAs the names of those killed in Saturday’s crowd crush in Itaewon trickle out and residents pay their respects at mourning altars dedicated to the victims, South Korea’s collective trauma is only just beginning.

The soaring death tolls. Social media images and videos of the chaos and suffering. Endless news coverage. Thousands of witnesses and emergency personnel, and countless more people who have heard their accounts and grieved with them. South Korean residents are reeling from the horror that unfolded Saturday night, which killed at least 154 and injured 149 more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seoul crowd crush kills at least 153; American among 20 foreigners dead, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Rachel Pannett, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Bryan Pietsch, Grace Moon, Julie Yoon and Annabelle Timsit, Updated Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Officials said they have identified nearly all of the victims of a deadly crowd crush during Halloween celebrations in the South Korean capital on Saturday evening that left at least 153 dead and about 82 injured.

Two U.S. nationals are among the dead, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul said in a statement. Earlier, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters told The Washington Post that 20 foreign nationals from 10 different countries, including one American, had been killed in the crush.

Shocked residents questioned how a night of holiday festivities turned into one of the deadliest incidents in the nation’s recent peacetime history. President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday toured the narrow alleyways of the Itaewon nightlife district, where the crush occurred. Police tape blocked off the scene, littered with debris from the melee the night before, including plastic pumpkin candy buckets and Halloween masks.

  • Washington Post, Here’s what causes crowd surges like the deadly one in Seoul, Praveena Somasundaram and Joyce Sohyun Lee

washington post logoWashington Post, Indian police file homicide charges, arrest 9, as bridge toll passes 134, Gerry Shih and Niha Masih, Oct. 31, 2022. The contractor, Oreva, wrapped up a six-month renovation of the bridge and reopened it Friday but didn’t get government approval for its work.

Indian officials filed homicide charges Monday against the operators of a suspension bridge and arrested nine people after at least 134 people died when the recently renovated footbridge collapsed, sending tourists plunging into the Machchhu River in western Gujarat state.
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In addition to the dead, there are still a number of people missing as of midday Monday, Ashok Yadav, a Gujarat police official, told The Washington Post. Some outlets, citing unnamed officials, reported the death toll could be higher, exceeding 140. The accident took place in Morbi, a riverside town known for its Victorian-era bridge and old town, and came amid a holiday rush. Tourists have been celebrating Diwali as well as the Gujarati New Year, which fell this year on Oct. 26.

Videos from the scene showed a crowd snapping smartphone photos from the crowded bridge on Sunday evening when it began to sway violently before collapsing. Some officials estimated up to 400 people were packed onto the bridge — far more than the safe limit — when the suspension cables buckled and the 760-foot span gave away.

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More On Ukraine War

 

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the recently appointed new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine (Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the recently appointed new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine (Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

washington post logoWashington Post, They escaped Russian occupation. Now they want to go back, Michael E. Miller and Anastacia Galouchka, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). When Russian tanks rolled into the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson last spring, the young couple decided it was time to leave.

Russian FlagThey fled to Kyiv, where Anton got a job driving a taxi and soon Nastya became pregnant. But she missed her mother, who had been left behind. So, last month, newly married Nastya did the unthinkable: She went back.

ukraine flagAlmost 15 million Ukrainians — a third of the population — have been forced from their homes since Russia invaded in February, according to the United Nations, many leaving loved ones behind. Among the displaced are the Kherson residents now desperate to return home despite the danger and uncertainty of life under Russian occupation and the acute risk of being trapped in heavy fighting.

The seemingly crazy decision to go back, by Anton, Nastya and others like them, highlights the impossible choices that war throws at ordinary people, who are caught in a conflicting swirl of allegiances and emotions. Is it better to be safe while friends and relatives remain in harm’s way? Or should all be together in the line of fire?

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Power, water outages in Kyiv, key cities after strikes on infrastructure, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Leo Sands, Oct. 31, 2022. Kyiv strikes cause injuries, damage to critical infrastructure; Kremlin claims it’s too ‘dangerous’ to export grain through Black Sea; Newly mobilized Russian reservists are ‘poorly equipped,’ Britain says.

Russia unleashed a fresh wave of attacks across Ukraine on Monday, damaging more than a dozen critical infrastructure facilities and causing sustained power outages, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shymal, reported missile and drone strikes on 18 targets in 10 regions, the heaviest and most widespread strikes since a similar barrage two weeks ago.

The strikes come two days after drones damaged Russian warships in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, which Ukraine has not taken responsibility for. After that attack, Moscow withdrew from a U.N.-brokered deal to safeguard grain being exported out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, triggering concerns for global food supplies.

Here’s what else to know

  • Multiple districts in the capital, Kyiv, have been cut off from power, and 80 percent of the city is without water after strikes on nearby facilities, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
  • Two strikes hit critical infrastructure in the city of Kharkiv, its mayor said on Telegram, leaving part of the region without power. In Zaporizhzhia, the governor accused Russian forces of damaging a critical infrastructure facility. No casualties have been reported there so far but officials warned of interruptions to infrastructure supplies.
  • Ukraine said it resumed agricultural exports out of its Black Sea ports Monday despite Russia’s withdrawal from the U.N.-brokered grain deal safeguarding the passage of the cargo vessels. According to Reuters, Turkey and the U.N. also resumed their inspections of ships departing Ukraine.
  • Washington Post, Missiles slam Ukraine as Russia strikes infrastructure in new air barrage, Francesca Ebel, Oct. 31, 2022.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Bigotry, Regulation

 

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, The most diverse Supreme Court ever confronts affirmative action, Robert Barnes, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The most diverse group of Supreme Court justices in history will gather Monday to confront the issue that has vexed and deeply divided past courts: whether affirmative action in college admissions recognizes and nourishes a multicultural nation or impermissibly divides Americans by race.

The authority of college administrators to use race in a limited way to build a diverse student body has barely survived previous challenges. But even a defender of such policies, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, wrote in 2003 that racial preferences were not likely to be needed in 25 years. And a more dominant conservative majority is in place now.

It will be the first review of past decisions by a Supreme Court on which White men do not make up the majority. The body has undergone an almost complete turnover since O’Connor’s prediction, and includes justices who say affirmative action programs directly shaped their lives.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).The court now has two Black members — and they seem to have opposite views of whether race-based policies are authorized by the Constitution. The court’s most senior member, Justice Clarence Thomas, left, is an outspoken opponent of affirmative action: “racial paternalism … as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination,” he has written.

ketanji brown jackson robeKetanji Brown Jackson, right, the court’s newest member and its first Black female justice, staked out her position on just her second day on the bench: there is no reason to believe the Constitution forbids race-conscious policies.

Americans support diversity in college admissions, but not use of race to make decisions, poll shows

Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina justice, is the boldest defender of what she prefers to call “race-sensitive” admission policies; she has offered herself as the “perfect affirmative action child” — one who would not have been transported from Bronx housing projects to the Ivy League without a boost, but excelled as a top student once she got there.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Colleges will racially discriminate no matter how the Supreme Court rules, George F. Will, right, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Two george f willmomentous cases the Supreme Court will hear Monday concern racial preferences in admissions to Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear Monday concern two cases that are momentous, even though the desirable harvard logooutcomes would not prevent the losing parties from continuing reprehensible practices.

By holding that such preferences violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws and the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of racial discrimination by recipients of federal funding, the court can bolster the wholesome belief held by a large, diverse American majority: that the nation’s laws should be colorblind.

New York Times, Commentary: On Affirmative Action, What Once Seemed Unthinkable Might Become Real, Linda Greenhouse

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More World News, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Suspension bridge collapses in India, killing at least 60, according to media reports, Sammy Westfall, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The bridge, in Morbi, Gujarat state in western India, is nearly a century old. 

  • New York Times, Evidence ‘Invalidated’ in Explosive Report on Mexico’s 43 Missing Students, Oct. 29, 2022.

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Abortion Law, Pandemic, Public Health News

ny times logoNew York Times, OB-GYN Residency Programs Face Tough Choice on Abortion Training, Jan Hoffman, Oct. 27, 2022. Many residency programs for obstetricians and gynecologists are in a risky position, caught between state abortion bans and accreditation requirements.

Many medical residency programs that are educating the next generation of obstetricians and gynecologists are facing a treacherous choice.

If they continue to provide abortion training in states where the procedure is now outlawed, they could be prosecuted. If they don’t offer it, they risk losing their accreditation, which in turn would render their residents ineligible to receive specialty board certification and imperil recruitment of faculty and medical students.

The quandary became clear last month, when the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education formally reaffirmed its longstanding requirement that OB-GYN residency programs make abortion training available.

“You have a legal body, the state, saying abortion is a crime and an accrediting body saying it’s a crucial part of training,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in the history of abortion. “I can’t think of anything else like that.”

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Climate, Drought, Hurricanes, Energy

washington post logoWashington Post, Along a withered Mississippi, a mixture of frustration, hope and awe, Brady Dennis, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). A Post reporter drove more than 400 miles along the drought-stricken Mississippi River. Here’s what he found.

Over several days this past week, Washington Post climate reporter Brady Dennis drove more than 400 miles in five states, from Memphis to Cairo, Ill., talking with people whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked to the Mississippi River and with people who had come to marvel at how drastically the ongoing drought has weakened it.

Historically low water levels have caused far-reaching concerns over yet another rupture in the international supply chain and what that could mean overseas and for typical Americans. The Mississippi, after all, is the nation’s aquatic superhighway, carrying roughly 60 percent of the nation’s corn and soybean exports south, and critical supplies such as fertilizer and fuel back north.

What it looks like as drought strangles the mighty Mississippi

But along the Mississippi, the worries these days are more visceral and immediate.

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U.S. Media, Education, Space, Sports

 

elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk’s planned Twitter layoffs appear to be imminent, Faiz Siddiqui, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Gerrit De Vynck, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Tesla engineers were on-site to evaluate the Twitter staff’s code, workers said, as anxiety built around Musk’s silence.

Elon Musk’s plans to lay off large number of Twitter employees are getting underway, a course of action that could prompt fundamental changes in the way more than 200 million daily users experience the site.

Layoffs are expected to be broad, according to three people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive matters. One of the first organizations to be impacted will likely be legal, trust, and safety, the organization that sets policy and oversees content moderation, one of the people said. Managers in information security and privacy were also among those drawing up lists of layoff targets Saturday, a fourth person who spoke under the same conditions added.

Two of the people said that layoffs were likely to happen before Nov. 1, when employees are set to receive stock grants, cutting them off from compensation they had expected to receive.

The Washington Post previously reported that Musk planned to cut nearly 75 percent of the workforce of 7,500. One of the people familiar with the discussions said this week the cuts would be closer to 50 percent.

Musk’s new ownership is expected to bring sweeping changes to the social media company, which has long been regarded as an underperformer in Silicon Valley. Musk broke with the previous management over the company’s approach to policing speech online. He is expected to ease its content moderation efforts, and indicated Friday in a tweet that he would not reinstate any banned accounts until he convened a new council on content moderation — as well as saying he had not yet made any changes to those policies at Twitter.

But the uncertainty inside the company is most evident around staff cuts and changes, as workers have waited for weeks to learn if they might still have a role at Twitter following the acquisition.

Elon Musk, the Twitter deal and his quest to save ‘all life on Earth’

Musk has a reputation as a fierce manager who demands the most out of his employees, quick to replace those who underperform and even subjecting some to “rage firings.” But he is also revered in his field, with a unique ability to attract talent to his companies as they embark on missions regarded as world-changing.

 

Ye, the performer, designer and political provocateur formerly known Kanye West, poses with the logo of Addisdas, his former business partner and a company with roots in the Nazi era of Germany that can no longer afford association with Ye despite the huge profits they have made together.

Ye, the performer, designer and political provocateur formerly known Kanye West, poses with the logo of Addisdas, his former business partner and a company with roots in the Nazi era of Germany that can no longer afford association with Ye despite the huge profits they have made together. The graphic illustrate how a different athletic shoe company later repulshed his overtures.

ny times logocharles blow beard twitterNew York Times, Opinion: The Self-Destruction of Ye, Charles M. Blow, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Honestly, I never expected this episode of Kanye West drama to last as long as it has. I certainly didn’t expect myself to care much about it. I figured I’d weigh in once and move on.

“Billionaire Maker of Ugly Shoes and Oversized Jackets Ends Career With Reckless Mouth.”

That, I thought, would be it. But it hasn’t been. His embrace of anti-Black, antisemitic and white supremacist language wasn’t the only thing that interested me. I have also been watching the reactions to his fall, which, in all their strange contradictions, have exposed ugly truths about power in this country — who can and will demand accountability, how corporations exploit culture and character until they imperil profits, how some people absorb and accept insult and give too long a leash to those with the most money and most fame.

Let me first say this: West, who now goes by Ye, should have become a pariah when he was talking about slavery as a choice, making a mockery of Black ancestors whose suffering was anything but a choice. But Ye wasn’t vanquished. He offered a weak-tea apology, and the odiousness of the offense faded. People packed his concerts and bought his clothing. Corporations flocked to be associated with him.

He should have become a pariah when he gushed over Donald Trump in the Oval Office and said of his MAGA hat: “There was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman.”

But nothing. The deals continued. The legend grew.

So long as he was a Black man positioning himself in opposition to Black people’s interests, he was a phenom. He was counterculture. He was a disrupter. He was above and beyond conventional thinking and conventional labels.

But of course, he wasn’t beyond labels. Black people have known for centuries what to call people like Ye, who claim to be the epitome of Blackness but enrich themselves by defaming it and commodifying its culture. There are many names for what he is, but one of the printable ones is “sellout.”

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Oct. 30

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Supporters of Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrate the election results Sunday in Rio de Janeiro (Associated Press photo by Bruna Prado).

 

Top Global, Human Rights News

 

More On Threats To U.S. Democracy, Rights, Security

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Economy, Governance

 

Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

 

More On Ukraine War


U.S. Courts, Immigration, Race, Bigotry, Regulation

 

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Pandemic, Public Health, Abortion Bans, #MeToo

 

Climate, Hurricanes, Drought, Energy Issues

 

Media, Sports, Culture, Education

 

Top Stories

 

Supporters of Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrate the election results Sunday in Rio de Janeiro (Associated Press photo by Bruna Prado).

Supporters of Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrate the election results Sunday in Rio de Janeiro (Associated Press photo by Bruna Prado).

washington post logoWashington Post, Lula defeats Bolsonaro to win third term as Brazil’s president, Anthony Faiola, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 30, 2022.
Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reclaimed the office Sunday on pledges to defend democracy, save the Amazon rainforest and bring social justice to Latin America’s largest nation.

Lula headshot 2022Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, left, reclaimed the office Sunday on pledges to defend democracy, save the Amazon rainforest and bring social justice to Latin America’s largest nation, defeating Brazil’s Trumpian incumbent in a remarkable political comeback some three years after he walked out of a prison cell.

brazil flag wavingThe victory for Lula, who served two terms as president from 2003 to 2010 — returns a leftist titan of the Global South to the world stage, where his progressive voice will stand in sharp contrast to that of right-wing — and now one-term — President Jair Bolsonaro. For Latin America, Lula’s return to the Planalto Palace adds the regional giant to a streak of wins by the left: Lula joins a club of leaders who have now bested the political right in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Honduras, Argentina and Mexico.

His win, which followed a slugfest of a campaign in a deeply divided country awash in fake news and explosive rhetoric, came amid allegations of official suppression of the vote by Bolsonaro’s allies in the police. Overall, the race sounded strong echoes of the 2020 showdown in the United States between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

jair bolsonaro brazilIt pitted Bolsonaro, 67, right, a staunch Trump ally, against Lula, 77, a stalwart of the traditional left who moved to the center during the campaign. Lula’s strength lay in female and low-income voters — particularly the Northeast, heavily populated by people of color — but also in social progressives and power brokers disturbed by Bolsonaro’s authoritarian bent.

Lula has pledged a unity government to work on mending the breaches in Brazilian society of the kind that, in an era of toxic politics, have taken root in democracies across the globe. The margin — Lula won by less than two percentage points — was the closest in Brazilian history. It was the first time an incumbent ran for a second term and lost.

“We have reached the end of one of the most important elections in our history,” Lula told supporters in São Paulo. “An election that put face to face two opposing projects of the country and that today has only one winner: the Brazilian people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Brazil chooses between Lula and Bolsonaro, Anthony Faiola, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 30, 2022. Bolsonaro enjoys the backing of ally Trump; The campaign deepened division in an already polarized Brazil; Lula and allies have cast the vote as a referendum on democracy.

In a country of 214 million stretching from the Amazon to the megacities of the Southeast, the outcome will affect the health of the world’s largest rainforest and the state of democracy in Latin America’s largest nation.

More than 500,000 police officers are being deployed after an ugly campaign that stoked Brazil’s culture wars and in which Bolsonaro’s backers have already laid the groundwork for thus far unsupported claims of fraud.

Social media responders promptly created the above caricature of Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, portrayed wearing a tinfoil hat after his weekend moves to retweet with no evidence an ultra-right smear lewd smear of the QAnon type suggesting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi had been involved in lewd behavior when he was attacked at night at his home by a Trump supporter fracturing Pelosi's head with a hammer.

Social media responders promptly created the above caricature of Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, portrayed wearing a tinfoil hat after his weekend moves to retweet with no evidence an ultra-right smear lewd smear of the QAnon type suggesting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi had been involved in lewd behavior when he was attacked at night at his home by a Trump supporter fracturing Pelosi's head with a hammer. Shown below is Musk's Tweet spreading the smear. That prompted many Twitter users to suggest he would be using his newfound power over the platform to spread disinformation helping ultra-right interests, with a goal in part on to help Republicans regain power in the mid-term elections occurring now until Nov. 8 in the United States.

 

Elon Musk Pelosi Retweet

 

Musk made news also over the weekend by setting in motion massive firings at Twitter, especially among content moderators, with one reputed goal being to deprive workers of vesting in stock option rights that many were expecting as of Nov. 1. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk, right-wing figures push misinformation about Pelosi attack, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Oct. 30, 2022. Twitter’s new owner sowed doubt about law enforcement’s account as suggestions of a “false flag” flooded the site.

An online forum devoted to former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s right-wing radio show alerted its 78,000 subscribers to “very strange new details on Paul Pelosi attack.”

Roger Stone, a longtime political consigliere to former president Donald Trump, took to the fast-growing messaging app Telegram to call the assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband an “alleged attack,” telling his followers that a “stench” surrounded mainstream reporting about the Friday break-in that left Pelosi, 82, with a skull fracture.

twitter bird CustomThe skepticism didn’t stay in right-wing echo chambers but seeped also into the feeds of popular online personalities, including Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk.

“There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” he wrote Sunday morning, pointing his 112 million followers to a sensationalist account of the episode published by a site known for spreading right-wing misinformation.

The rush to sow doubt about the assault on Pelosi’s husband illustrates how aggressively influential figures on the right are seeking to dissuade the public from believing facts about the violence, seizing on the event to promote conspiracy theories and provoke distrust. The House speaker has long been a bugbear for the right, which has intensified its rhetorical blitz on her in recent years — even as extreme threats against members of Congress have increased.

These merchants of misinformation, said Carl Cameron, a former longtime Fox News political correspondent, deceive their massive audiences using rumors and lies about everything from the integrity of elections to the details of a police report.

“They are creating a dystopia wherein lying and physical violence become part of our politics,” he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter, Once a Threat to Titans, Now Belongs to One, Kevin Roose, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A decade ago, when Twitter — then a scrappy, young microblogging service — burst into the mainstream, it felt like a tool for challenging authority.

twitter bird CustomPro-democracy activists in Libya and Egypt used Twitter to help topple dictatorships. Americans used it to occupy Wall Street. And in 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing an unarmed Black teenager named Trayvon Martin, #BlackLivesMatter took root on Twitter.

These campaigns fueled one of the defining ideas of the 2010s: that social media was an underdog’s dream, a tool for bottom-up organizing that would empower dissidents and marginalized groups, topple corrupt institutions and give ordinary people the ability to communicate on equal footing with tycoons and tyrants. Or, as the Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei put it in 2010, “Twitter is the people’s tool, the tool of elon musk 2015the ordinary people, people who have no other resources.”

That narrative — shaky as it might have been all along — officially ended this week, when Twitter became the property of the richest man in the world.

Elon Musk, left, the billionaire industrialist whose on-again, off-again bid for Twitter this year has been marked by chaos and confusion, has now added the company to a portfolio that includes Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company.

The deal, which cost Mr. Musk and his investment partners $44 billion, made history for several reasons. It was the largest buyout in tech history and the first time in years that a major social media network has been sold to an outsider.

It was also a symbolic bookend to a decade in which social media evolved to be, in many ways, more useful to the powerful than the powerless.

  • The Independent via Twitter, Elon Musk shares lurid conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi, Oct. 30, 2022.
  • Duty To Warn via Twitter, The lunatic is running the asylum. Hate speech up 500%, Kanye is back, and Elon is retweeting misinformation about Paul Pelosi. And that’s just our first day.

Proof via Twitter, Commentary: Is it a dangerous situation when the Twitter CEO is digitally illiterate? @SethAbramson (journalism professor, best-selling author of the "Proof" series and attorney), Oct. 30, 2022.  When he indulges conspiracy theories because—as an egomaniacal billionaire—he wants to think he knows better than everyone else? And because no one can lecture him on anything?

Yes.

I’ve diagnosed the problem. @ElonMusk is what academics call “digitally illiterate.” Clinton posted a Los Angeles Times article, and Musk replied with *a post from a fake-news site* that’s already down. Then he wrote “tiny possibility” as a hedge against spreading disinformation.

Politico, Top Republicans deny any link between GOP rhetoric and Paul Pelosi assault, Olivia Olander, Oct. 30, 2022. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna politico CustomMcDaniel called it “unfair” that Democrats would draw a direct line between her party’s villainizing of Pelosi and the Friday home invasion that left the speaker’s husband hospitalized.

And National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who posted a video last week of himself firing a gun with the hashtag #FirePelosi, deflected a question about whether he should have used a weapon along with the hashtag.

 

David DePape is shown in Berkeley, Calif., in 2013. An intruder attacked and severely beat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer in the couple's San Francisco home early Friday. Police discovered 82-year-old Paul Pelosi and the suspect, DePape, said Police Chief William Scott (Photo by Michael Short of the San Francisco Chronicle via Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Alleged assailant filled blog with delusional thoughts in days before Pelosi attack, Aaron C. Davis and Dalton Bennett, Oct. 30, 2022.  San Francisco Bay area resident David DePape wrote that an invisible fairy had attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird. Other posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, Democrats and the media.

The San Francisco Bay area man arrested in the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband filled a blog a week before the incident with delusional thoughts, including that an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird, according to online writings under his name.

David DePape, 42, also published hundreds of blog posts in recent months sharing memes in support of fringe commentators and far-right personalities. Many of the posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, Democrats, the media and transgender people.

During October, DePape published over 100 posts. While each loads, a reader briefly glimpses an image of a person wearing a giant inflatable unicorn costume, superimposed against a night sky. The photos and videos that followed were often dark and disturbing.

He published a drawing of the Devil kneeling and asking a caricature of a Jewish person to teach him the arts of “lying, deception, cheating and incitement.” Several contain lifelike images of rotting human flesh and blood, including a zombified Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton. Others depict headless bodies against bleak, dystopian landscapes.

Before those writings were removed Saturday, The Washington Post reviewed them, as well as gory photos, illustrations and videos on a website that DePape registered under his name in early August and that his daughter confirmed was his. Notably, the voluminous writings do not mention Pelosi. Police say DePape broke into the home Pelosi shares with her husband early Friday, yelled “Where is Nancy?” and attacked 82-year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer.

Pelosi remained hospitalized Saturday, recovering from surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hand, according to the speaker’s office. San Francisco’s police chief and district attorney provided no update, but on Friday local, state and federal authorities said they were working together to investigate DePape’s motive.

 

CNN, See Obama's response when heckler interrupts his speech, Oct. 29, 2022. (3:56 mins.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama’s new role for Democrats: The closer, Annie Linskey, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The most sought-after surrogate on the campaign trail is Barack Obama, who is launching a series of rallies in the final days of the midterms.

Former president Barack Obama kicked off his return to the campaign trail by taking on Georgia football icon and Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker.

“Herschel Walker was a heck of a football player,” Obama told the crowd at the Gateway Center Arena, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. But that would make him no more qualified to be a U.S. senator than to fly an airplane or perform surgery, the former president cracked, drawing laughter and cheers from the more than 7,000 people who waited hours to see him.

“Georgia deserves better,” Obama said.

With midterm elections just over a week away, Obama, 61, has stepped into the spotlight on the political stage with rallies to gin up interest in marquee midterm races in battleground states.

A day after appearing in Georgia with Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, who is in a tight race with Walker, and Stacey Abrams, who is trailing in her rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp, Obama headlined rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin.

The former president is regarded as the Democratic Party’s top communicator to base voters, more in demand than President Biden, who has not been the sought-after surrogate in the top races amid a dismal approval rating. The president spent one of the busiest campaign weekends of the cycle at his home in Delaware, where he attended his granddaughter’s field hockey game and, separately, cast his ballot.

Democratic strategists say Obama is the sole party leader able to draw major base-motivating crowds without simultaneously angering the other side.

Obama took the stage on Saturday in Detroit, where he continued to use his signature withering humor, comparing Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon to a fictional plumber spewing conspiracy theories about “lizard people.”

washington post logoWashington Post, How one small-town lawyer faced down the plans of election skeptics, Stephanie McCrummen, Oct. 30, 2022. Phil Landrum, who has been the Pickens County, Ga., attorney for 21 years, said he has noticed in the past few years a kind of mob mentality taking hold, heedless of law.

georgia mapAmong the many anonymous jobs at the grass roots of American democracy, the county attorney is one of the most anonymous of all. Phil Landrum’s office is a small brick building with a two-chair waiting room and a framed copy of the Magna Carta. His days are usually spent advising county boards on the minutiae of state law, a job that has lately included defending his corner of the nation’s voting system against a barrage of attempts to upend it.

Thousands of local officials across the country find themselves in a similar position as former president Donald Trump and his allies continue to spread false claims about the security of America’s elections, and urge their followers to take action.

Hand-marked ballots, hand tallies, hand recounts — grass-roots activists around the country are trying to persuade local authorities to rely less on electronic voting results and more on bygone processes that experts say are far more vulnerable to human error and fraud.

The activists are making their case in areas they deem friendly — mostly rural, Trump-supporting counties where disinformation is rampant, opposing views are rare, and local officials are usually people they know. And that is what happened in Pickens County.

 

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, The most diverse Supreme Court ever confronts affirmative action, Robert Barnes, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The most diverse group of Supreme Court justices in history will gather Monday to confront the issue that has vexed and deeply divided past courts: whether affirmative action in college admissions recognizes and nourishes a multicultural nation or impermissibly divides Americans by race.

The authority of college administrators to use race in a limited way to build a diverse student body has barely survived previous challenges. But even a defender of such policies, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, wrote in 2003 that racial preferences were not likely to be needed in 25 years. And a more dominant conservative majority is in place now.

It will be the first review of past decisions by a Supreme Court on which White men do not make up the majority. The body has undergone an almost complete turnover since O’Connor’s prediction, and includes justices who say affirmative action programs directly shaped their lives.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).The court now has two Black members — and they seem to have opposite views of whether race-based policies are authorized by the Constitution. The court’s most senior member, Justice Clarence Thomas, left, is an outspoken opponent of affirmative action: “racial paternalism … as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination,” he has written.

ketanji brown jackson robeKetanji Brown Jackson, right, the court’s newest member and its first Black female justice, staked out her position on just her second day on the bench: there is no reason to believe the Constitution forbids race-conscious policies.

Americans support diversity in college admissions, but not use of race to make decisions, poll shows

Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina justice, is the boldest defender of what she prefers to call “race-sensitive” admission policies; she has offered herself as the “perfect affirmative action child” — one who would not have been transported from Bronx housing projects to the Ivy League without a boost, but excelled as a top student once she got there.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Colleges will racially discriminate no matter how the Supreme Court rules, George F. Will, right, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Two george f willmomentous cases the Supreme Court will hear Monday concern racial preferences in admissions to Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear Monday concern two cases that are momentous, even though the desirable harvard logooutcomes would not prevent the losing parties from continuing reprehensible practices.

By holding that such preferences violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws and the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of racial discrimination by recipients of federal funding, the court can bolster the wholesome belief held by a large, diverse American majority: that the nation’s laws should be colorblind.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Western Weapons, Ukraine Is Turning the Tables in an Artillery War, Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). In the southern Kherson region, Ukraine now has the advantage in range and precision guidance of artillery, rockets and drones, erasing what had been a critical Russian asset.

On the screen of a thermal imaging camera, the Russian armored personnel carrier disappeared in a silent puff of smoke.

“What a beautiful explosion,” said First Lt. Serhiy, a Ukrainian drone pilot who watched as his weapon buzzed into a Russian-controlled village and picked off the armored vehicle, a blast that was audible seconds later at his position about four miles away.

“We used to cheer, we used to shout, ‘Hurray!’ but we’re used to it now,” he said.

The war in Ukraine has been fought primarily through the air, with artillery, rockets, missiles and drones. And for months, Russia had the upper hand, able to lob munitions at Ukrainian cities, towns and military targets from positions well beyond the reach of Ukrainian weapons.

But in recent months, the tide has turned along the front lines in southern Ukraine. With powerful Western weapons and deadly homemade drones, Ukraine now has artillery superiority in the area, commanders and military analysts say.

Ukraine now has an edge in both range and in precision-guided rockets and artillery shells, a class of weapons largely lacking in Russia’s arsenal. Ukrainian soldiers are taking out armored vehicles worth millions of dollars with cheap homemade drones, as well as with more advanced drones and other weapons provided by the United States and allies.

The Russian military remains a formidable force, with cruise missiles, a sizable army and millions of rounds of artillery shells, albeit imprecise ones. It has just completed a mobilization effort that will add 300,000 troops to the battlefield, Russian commanders say, though many of those will be ill trained and ill equipped. And President Vladimir V. Putin has made clear his determination to win the war at almost any cost.

Still, there is no mistaking the shifting fortunes on the southern front.

The new capabilities were on display in the predawn hours Saturday when Ukrainian drones hit a Russian vessel docked in the Black Sea Fleet’s home port of Sevastopol, deep in the occupied territory of Crimea, once thought an impregnable bastion.

 

Top Global, Human Rights News

 

brazil flag wavingwashington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Brazil chooses between Lula and Bolsonaro, Anthony Faiola, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 30, 2022. Bolsonaro enjoys the backing of ally Trump; The campaign deepened division in an already polarized Brazil; Lula and allies have cast the vote as a referendum on democracy.

jair bolsonaro brazilA deeply divided Brazil votes Sunday in an election seen as the most consequential since the country’s dictatorship collapsed in 1985, pitting right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, right, a staunch ally of former U.S. president Donald Trump, against the leftist two-term former Lula headshot 2022president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, left, the Worker’s Party leader backed by a coalition fearful of Bolsonaro’s authoritarian bent.

In a country of 214 million stretching from the Amazon to the megacities of the Southeast, the outcome will affect the health of the world’s largest rainforest and the state of democracy in Latin America’s largest nation.

More than 500,000 police officers are being deployed after an ugly campaign that stoked Brazil’s culture wars and in which Bolsonaro’s backers have already laid the groundwork for thus far unsupported claims of fraud.

Politico, Kremlin accused of ‘weaponizing food’ in halt of Ukraine grain deal, Jones Hayden, Oct. 30, 2022. The U.S. accused Moscow of “weaponizing food” in suspending its participation in a U.N.-brokered deal allowing grain shipments to leave Ukraine’s ports.

politico CustomU.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is engaged in “intense contacts” aimed at bringing Russia back to the deal, the organization said on Sunday, after the Kremlin on Saturday said it was halting the agreement for an “indefinite period,” citing an attack on a base in occupied Crimea that Russia blamed on Ukraine.

The grain export deal, designed to make sure Ukrainian agricultural products can reach international markets, is considered critical to global food security given Ukraine’s role as a major producer of foodstuffs.

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Somalia’s president says at least 100 killed in car bombings, Omar Faruk, Oct. 30, 2022. Somalia’s president says at least 100 people were killed in Saturday’s two car bombings at a busy junction in the capital and the toll could rise in the country’s deadliest attack since a truck bombing at the same spot five years ago killed more than 500.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, at the site of the explosions in Mogadishu, told journalists that nearly 300 other people were wounded. “We ask our international partners and Muslims around the world to send their medical doctors here since we can’t send all the victims outside the country for treatment,” he said.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which often targets the capital and controls large parts of the country, claimed responsibility, saying it targeted the education ministry. It claimed the ministry was an “enemy base” that receives support from non-Muslim countries and “is committed to removing Somali children from the Islamic faith.”

Al-Shabab usually doesn’t make claims of responsibility when large numbers of civilians are killed, as in the 2017 blast, but it has been angered by a high-profile new offensive by the government that also aims to shut down its financial network. The group said it is committed to fighting until the country is ruled by Islamic law, and it asked civilians to stay away from government areas.

Somalia’s president, elected this year, said the country remained at war with al-Shabab “and we are winning.”

The attack in Mogadishu occurred on a day when the president, prime minister and other senior officials were meeting to discuss expanded efforts to combat violent extremism and especially al-Shabab. The extremists, who seek an Islamic state, have responded to the offensive by killing prominent clan leaders in an apparent effort to dissuade grassroots support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran charges female journalists who helped break Amini’s story with being CIA spies, Miriam Berger, Oct. 30, 2022. The two female Iranian journalists who helped break the story of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman whose death in the custody of the so-called morality police last month sparked a nationwide uprising, were formally accused late Friday of being CIA spies and the “primary sources of news for foreign media” — the former a crime punishable by the death penalty in Iran.

Journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi have been held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since late September as Iran’s clerical leaders have struggled to contain an outpouring of public anger and protests calling for their overthrow. Women and young Iranians have been at the forefront of the uprising, the longest running demonstrations in decades.

Iran FlagIn the joint statement sent to Iranian media late Friday local time, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence agency of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the highly-feared guardians of Iran’s security state, accused the CIA of orchestrating Hamedi and Mohammadi’s reporting, and said “allied spy services and fanatic proxies,” planned the nationwide, leaderless unrest.

As protests rock Iran, its most feared security force is lying in wait

The CIA, along with British, Israeli and Saudi spy agencies, “planned extensively to launch a nationwide riot in Iran with the aim of committing crimes against the great nation of Iran and its territorial integrity, as well as laying the groundwork for the intensification of external pressures,” the unsubstantiated statement charged. It also claimed without providing evidence that the two journalists were trained abroad and sent to provoke Amini’s family and spread disinformation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seoul crowd crush kills at least 153; American among 20 foreigners dead, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Rachel Pannett, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Bryan Pietsch, Grace Moon, Julie Yoon and Annabelle Timsit, Updated Oct. 30, 2022.  Officials said they have identified nearly all of the victims of a deadly crowd crush during Halloween celebrations in the South Korean capital on Saturday evening that left at least 153 dead and about 82 injured.

south korea flag SmallTwo U.S. nationals are among the dead, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul said in a statement. Earlier, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters told The Washington Post that 20 foreign nationals from 10 different countries, including one American, had been killed in the crush.

Shocked residents questioned how a night of holiday festivities turned into one of the deadliest incidents in the nation’s recent peacetime history. President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday toured the narrow alleyways of the Itaewon nightlife district, where the crush occurred. Police tape blocked off the scene, littered with debris from the melee the night before, including plastic pumpkin candy buckets and Halloween masks.

  • Washington Post, Here’s what causes crowd surges like the deadly one in Seoul, Praveena Somasundaram and Joyce Sohyun Lee

Freed Guantanomo prisoner Saifullah Paracha on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at a McDonald’s in Karachi, Pakistan (Photo Courtesy of Clive Stafford Smith).

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Releases Guantánamo’s Oldest Prisoner, Carol Rosenberg, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Saifullah Paracha, 75, was accused of being a Qaeda sympathizer and was held for two decades. But he was never charged with a crime. He is shown at right n Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at a McDonald’s in Karachi, Pakistan (Photo Courtesy of Clive Stafford Smith).

The United States has released the U.S. military’s oldest prisoner of the war on terror, a 75-year-old businessman who was held for nearly two decades as a suspected sympathizer of Al Qaeda but was never charged with a crime.

The man, Saifullah Paracha, a former legal resident of New York, was one of Guantánamo’s most unusual and better known “forever prisoners.” Military prosecutors never sought to put him on trial, but review panels considered him too dangerous to release until last year.

His transfer, in a secret military mission announced by the Pakistani government on Saturday, culminated months of negotiations to arrange his return. The Pentagon declined to comment. It was not known if Biden administration officials imposed any security restrictions on Mr. Paracha, but a lawyer swiftly released a photo of the former prisoner sitting in a McDonald’s in Karachi, Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it had “completed an extensive interagency process to facilitate repatriation of Mr. Paracha” and that it was “glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family.”

 

More On Threats To U.S. Democracy, Rights, Security

 

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Assault of Paul Pelosi was attack on democracy. The risks keep growing, Dan Balz, right, Oct. 30, 2022. The vicious attack on Paul dan balzPelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is a reminder of what the 2022 election is about. It is of course about who holds power in Congress and the states. But will it do anything to change the toxic environment in which politics and governing are carried out? Or could it make things worse?

The backdrop of politics today includes a climate of possible violence, with rising numbers of threats aimed at individual lawmakers. It includes threats to local officials and citizen volunteers who administer elections. It includes intimidation of individual voters depositing ballots at drop boxes in Arizona.

All this comes amid declining trust in the integrity of the election process itself, the reluctance of some candidates to expressly say they will accept the outcome of their elections, and the possibility that many 2020 election deniers will be elected to important offices this year, potentially putting at risk future elections.

A majority of Republicans on the ballot for Senate, House and key statewide races have denied or questioned the 2020 presidential election, echoing former president Donald Trump’s unfounded claims. It all adds up to what has been stated repeatedly for the past two years: Democracy itself is at risk in this country.

Politically inspired violence has been aimed at leaders from both parties. This past week, three men were convicted of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Earlier this year, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, a member of the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc, came under threat and a man with a gun was arrested near his home. In 2017, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was badly wounded by a shooter who opened fire at Scalise and his colleagues at a baseball field in Northern Virginia.

In the Scalise attack, it was revealed the shooter had a hatred of Republicans. But the more consistent threats have and are coming from the right, from White supremacists and other groups, those who helped organize the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen have spawned a sea of election deniers, some of whom could become elected officials who will oversee future elections, a noxious mix at a perilous time for the country.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: On hundredth anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome, attacker targets Speaker Pelosi, Webster G. Tarpley (historian, webster tarpley 2007author, right), Oct. 29-30, 2022 (77:41 mins.). Would-be killer severely wounds husband Paul Pelosi, showing fascist threat is real today.

Pelosi demonized in countless GOP cable ads; Corrupt corporate media reach new low with their fatuous narrative of red wave and Democratic defeat; To the contrary: 17 million have voted early so far, with over 1.3 million in Georgia, while Republicans tend to wait for Election Day; Harvard Youth poll shows 40% of those 18-29 intend to vote, with 57% of them leaning Democratic; Polls cannot reflect massive post-Dobbs pro-choice registrations, who will now vote;

Ornstein warns of deliberate falsifications by dishonest pollsters; The role of dark money in punditry;

Jayapal first releases, then repudiates appeasement letter signed by 30 Dems calling for negotiations with Putin just as Kremlin dictator escalates his dirty bomb threats to Ukraine and McCarthy announces GOP will betray Kiev; Ultra-left pasionaria is shown unfit for leadership role in Democratic caucus; As with Hitler in 1938, negotiation with Putin is a fool’s errand;

New UK Premier Sunak expected to impose the most brutal killer austerity seen in Europe in many moons;

Despite media gaslighting, Dem success on scale of New Deal Congress in 1934 remains within reach reach; All Democrats and people of good will must mobilize now!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

politico CustomPolitico, Law enforcement agencies rush to assess new threats to lawmakers, Erin Banco, Sam Stein and Heidi Przybyla, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.).  Local law enforcement officials are trying to understand the scale of potential threats to the physical safety of high-profile politicians and election workers before the midterms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Attack Highlights Rising Fears of Political Violence, Catie Edmondson, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband comes as threats against members of Congress have increased in recent years.

Members of Congress have watched warily in recent years as threats and harassment against them have crescendoed, privately worrying that the brutal language and deranged misinformation creeping into political discourse would lead to actual violence.

djt maga hatThe assault of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, inside their San Francisco home early Friday morning by an intruder who shouted “Where is Nancy?” and bludgeoned him with a hammer before being taken into custody by police seemed to confirm their worst fears, vividly bringing to life the acute danger facing elected officials amid a rise in violent political speech.

And it revealed the vulnerabilities in security around members of Congress and their families — even a lawmaker as powerful and wealthy as Ms. Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency and has her own security detail — as midterm congressional campaigns reach their frenzied final push.

Nearly two years after supporters of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, inspired by his lies of a stolen election, sending members of Congress and the vice president fleeing for their lives, the toxic stew of violent language, conspiracy theory and misinformation that thrives in digital spaces continues to pose a grave threat.

“When we see things like what happened last night at the speaker’s home; when we see things like plots to kidnap governors; when we see overt acts ramping up; we see, frankly, a whole host of indicators suggesting that we’re really at a crisis point,” said Peter Simi, an associate professor at Chapman University who has studied extremist groups and violence for more than 20 years.

Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who is among the most threatened members of the House, said the attack on Friday was a “realization” for her and her husband.

“We used to theoretically talk about what would happen if they found our children when they came to look for us; what would happen if they found our loved ones when they came to look for us,” Ms. Omar said on MSNBC. “Now we know.”

While threats have proliferated from every corner of the political spectrum, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the United States faces growing danger from “violent domestic extremists” emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack, and motivated by anger over “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives” — a reference to Mr. Trump’s claims that have been echoed by Republicans and right-wing activists.

The impact of conspiracy-laden forums that helped fuel the Jan. 6 riot can be seen at congressional town halls across the country, where Republican lawmakers often field questions based on disinformation from angry constituents convinced that they are facing not just political opponents with whom they disagree, but evil actors who must be destroyed.

“As we wait to hear more, every single American needs to be lowering the temperature,” Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said in a statement on Friday. “This is increasingly obvious: Disturbed individuals easily succumb to conspiracy theories and rage — the consequences are bloody and un-American.”

Political violence is hardly a new phenomenon. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, then the third-ranking Republican, was shot and gravely wounded in 2017 at a congressional baseball practice in a suburb of Washington, D.C., by a man with a grudge against Republicans; Mr. Scalise has said the presence of his security detail saved his life.

But since the attack on the Capitol, members of Congress have reported feeling increasingly vulnerable both in Washington and at home in their districts. The number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold in the five years after Mr. Trump was elected in 2016, according to figures from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement department that protects Congress, with more than 9,625 threats reported in 2021.

Many of those threats have come from people with mental illness who are not believed to pose an immediate danger, a spokesman from the Capitol Police said, and even fewer of those threats result in an arrest or indictment.

But lawmakers have reported an increase in jarring confrontations that have sent them dipping into their campaign accounts to bulk up their security and minimizing their public footprint.

A man who had sent an angry email to Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington State, for example, repeatedly showed up outside her house, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and shouting threats and profanities. An unknown visitor came to the house of Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and smashed a storm window.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” Ms. Collins said in an interview earlier this year. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband follows years of GOP demonizing her, Ashley Parker, Hannah Allam and Marianna Sotomayor, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). This year, the House speaker emerged as the top member of Congress maligned in political ads.

In 2010, Republicans launched a “Fire Pelosi” project — complete with a bus tour, a #FIREPELOSI hashtag and images of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) engulfed in Hades-style flames — devoted to retaking the House and demoting Pelosi from her perch as speaker.

Eleven years later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joked that if he becomes the next leader of the House, “it will be hard not to hit” Pelosi with the speaker’s gavel.

And this year, Pelosi — who Republicans have long demonized as the face of progressive policies and who was a target of rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — emerged as the top member of Congress maligned in political ads, with Republicans spending nearly $40 million on ads that mention Pelosi in the final stretch of the campaign, according to AdImpact, which tracks television and digital ad spending.

The years of vilification culminated Friday when Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was attacked with a hammer during an early-morning break-in at the couple’s home in San Francisco by a man searching for the speaker and shouting “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to someone briefed on the assault.

Police arrested the suspect, 42-year-old David DePape, who attacked Paul Pelosi, 82, and authorities plan to charge him with attempted murder and other crimes, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said at a news conference Friday. Paul Pelosi was taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, the speaker’s office said.

  • Washington Post, Assailant shouted ‘Where is Nancy?’; Paul Pelosi undergoes surgery for skull fracture
  • Washington Post, What we know about the attack and the suspect now in custody
  • Washington Post, Youngkin draws ire with Pelosi comment that Democrats call insensitive, Oct. 29, 2022.

politico CustomPolitico, Law enforcement agencies rush to assess new threats to lawmakers, Erin Banco, Sam Stein and Heidi Przybyla, Oct. 30, 2022. Local law enforcement officials are trying to understand the scale of potential threats to the physical safety of high-profile politicians and election workers before the midterms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk’s planned Twitter layoffs appear to be imminent, Faiz Siddiqui, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Gerrit De Vynck, Oct. 30, 2022. Tesla engineers were on-site to evaluate the Twitter staff’s code, workers said, as anxiety built around Musk’s silence.

Elon Musk’s plans to lay off large number of Twitter employees are getting underway, a course of action that could prompt fundamental changes in the way more than 200 million daily users experience the site.

Layoffs are expected to be broad, according to three people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive matters. One of the first organizations to be impacted will likely be legal, trust, and safety, the organization that sets policy and oversees content moderation, one of the people said. Managers in information security and privacy were also among those drawing up lists of layoff targets Saturday, a fourth person who spoke under the same conditions added.

Two of the people said that layoffs were likely to happen before Nov. 1, when employees are set to receive stock grants, cutting them off from compensation they had expected to receive.

The Washington Post previously reported that Musk planned to cut nearly 75 percent of the workforce of 7,500. One of the people familiar with the discussions said this week the cuts would be closer to 50 percent.

Musk’s new ownership is expected to bring sweeping changes to the social media company, which has long been regarded as an underperformer in Silicon Valley. Musk broke with the previous management over the company’s approach to policing speech online. He is expected to ease its content moderation efforts, and indicated Friday in a tweet that he would not reinstate any banned accounts until he convened a new council on content moderation — as well as saying he had not yet made any changes to those policies at Twitter.

But the uncertainty inside the company is most evident around staff cuts and changes, as workers have waited for weeks to learn if they might still have a role at Twitter following the acquisition.

Elon Musk, the Twitter deal and his quest to save ‘all life on Earth’

Musk has a reputation as a fierce manager who demands the most out of his employees, quick to replace those who underperform and even subjecting some to “rage firings.” But he is also revered in his field, with a unique ability to attract talent to his companies as they embark on missions regarded as world-changing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Nets Owner Rebukes Kyrie Irving for Posts About Antisemitic Documentary, Shauntel Lowe, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Nets owner Joe Tsai spoke out against his team’s star guard Kyrie Irving on Friday after Irving tweeted a link to a documentary that promotes antisemitic tropes.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Tsai wrote in a Twitter post late Friday. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.

“This is bigger than basketball.”

nba logoTsai posted on Twitter just before 11:30 p.m. Friday. A representative for Irving did not immediately respond to a text message.

The documentary, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” was written and directed by Ronald Dalton Jr. and released in 2018. Dalton also released a book with the same title. On Thursday, Irving tweeted a link to a site where users can rent or buy the documentary. He also shared a screenshot of the site on Instagram. In response, Rolling Stone magazine reported on the antisemitic messaging of the documentary and the book.

Irving, 30, is a seven-time All-Star in his fourth season with the Nets, but his off-court actions have often overshadowed his basketball career.

He did not play in most of the Nets’ games last season in part because he refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, which New York City required for him to compete in home games. The Nets initially barred him from road games as well but relented about two months into the season as the team struggled.

In September, Irving was widely criticized for sharing a conspiracy-theory video by the Infowars host Alex Jones, who for years falsely said the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 children and adults was a hoax.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the N.B.A. Hall of Famer, chastised Irving for sharing Jones’s video, writing on Substack that “Kyrie Irving would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes.”

In 2018, Irving was mocked for falsely suggesting that the Earth might be flat.

“Can you openly admit that you know the Earth is constitutionally round?” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Like, you know that for sure? Like, I don’t know.”

Irving joined the Nets as a free agent in 2019 after playing for the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with whom he won a championship in 2016 alongside LeBron James. The Nets have made the playoffs in each of Irving’s seasons with the team, but they are struggling this year. Five games into the season, they have won just once. Their next game is Saturday at home against the Indiana Pacers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: American Jews start to think the unthinkable, Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The fear of exile has become common as Jews dana milbank newestsee the unraveling rule of law.

On the holiest night of the Jewish year earlier this month, my rabbi looked up from his Kol Nidre sermon — a homily about protecting America’s liberal democracy — and posed a question that wasn’t in his prepared text: “How many people in the last few years have been at a dining room conversation where the conversation has turned to where might we move? How many of us?”

He was talking about the unthinkable: that Jews might need to flee the United States. In the congregation, many hands — most? — went up.

The fear of exile has become common as Jews see the unraveling rule of law, ascendant Christian nationalists and anti-Israel sentiments turning antisemitic on the far left. Wondering where Jews might move “is among the most frequently asked questions that I get,” Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.

 

Ye, the performer, designer and political provocateur formerly known Kanye West, poses with the logo of Addisdas, his former business partner and a company with roots in the Nazi era of Germany that can no longer afford association with Ye despite the huge profits they have made together.

Ye, the performer, designer and political provocateur formerly known Kanye West, poses with the logo of Addisdas, his former business partner and a company with roots in the Nazi era of Germany that can no longer afford association with Ye despite the huge profits they have made together. The graphic illustrate how a different athletic shoe company later repulshed his overtures.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kanye West Faces Costly Fallout: A Timeline, Remy Tumin, Oct. 28, 2022. The entertainer has been widely condemned for a series of antisemitic comments. The fallout across industries has been swift.

Kanye West has defined most of his career with smash hits and a healthy dose of spectacle and theatrics, helping to redefine the modern concept of celebrity along the way. For a long time, those disruptions were largely welcomed in the music and fashion industries as he cut new creative paths.

But the rapper and designer, who now goes by Ye, has been at the center of several controversies in recent years after increasingly erratic behavior.

In the past 12 months, he’s been burning bridges in the music industry where he made his name. He was disinvited from performing at the Grammy Awards last spring, and abruptly withdrew from headlining this year’s Coachella festival.

In October, his behavior began to have an impact on the more lucrative corner of his empire — fashion — as he came under fire for marking a series of antisemitic remarks, including accusing Jews of a “Holocaust” against Black Americans, and wearing a shirt with a slogan associated with white supremacists.

The fallout across industries has been swift.

At Paris Fashion Week, Ye’s shirt takes center stage.

Sept. 15

In mid-September, Ye notified Gap that he was terminating their much anticipated partnership and said that he would move ahead with plans to open his own stores. Gap said in a statement that their visions were “not aligned.

Oct. 3

A little more than two weeks later, Ye held a surprise, off-schedule show at Paris Fashion Week to present his latest fashion collection under his label YZY, formerly known as Yeezy.

The empire continues to crumble.

Oct. 25-27

Ye’s enterprises beyond fashion also faced pushback. Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics said on Twitter that they were cutting ties with Donda Sports, Ye’s marketing agency, because of the antisemitic remarks.

On Oct. 26, the organizers of two prominent high school boys’ basketball tournaments revoked invitations for Ye’s Donda Academy team to play in national showcases this season. Ye founded Donda Academy last year in Simi Valley, Calif. The private school is named after Ye’s mother, Donda West, who died in 2007. The school is not accredited and was built around online learning.

The same day, the footwear company Skechers said Ye had been escorted from its corporate offices in Los Angeles after an “unannounced and uninvited” visit.

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U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s Agenda Hangs in the Balance if Republicans Take Congress, Jim Tankersley, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). On key Democratic issues, President Biden’s opportunities would invariably shrink. Here are some of the areas where the two sides would clash.

For President Biden, the Dreaming-of-F.D.R. phase of his presidency may end in little more than a week. If Republicans capture one or both houses of Congress in midterm elections, as polling suggests, Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda will suddenly transform from a quest for a New Deal 2.0 to trench warfare defending the accomplishments of his first two years in office.

On a wide array of issues like abortion, taxes, race and judges, Mr. Biden’s opportunities would invariably shrink as he focuses less on advancing the expansive policy goals that have animated his administration and more on preserving the newly constructed economic and social welfare architecture that Republicans have vowed to dismantle.

While the president and Democratic leaders have not publicly given up on the possibility of hanging onto Congress in the balloting that concludes on Nov. 8, privately they are pessimistic and bracing for two years of grinding partisan conflict.

In addition to efforts to block or reverse Mr. Biden’s domestic initiatives, Republican control of either house would result in a flurry of subpoenas and investigations of the administration that would define the relationship between the White House and Congress.

Politico, The ground game that flipped the Senate is kicking back into gear, Elena Schneider, Oct. 30, 2022. In Georgia, Sen. Jon Ossoff is reactivating the door-to-door network that helped elect him and fellow Democrat Raphael Warnock two years ago.

politico CustomSen. Jon Ossoff isn’t on the ballot this year. But he’s leaping into Georgia’s midterm campaigns, restarting the organizing machine that helped turn the state blue as Democrats scramble for every tool to prevent Georgia — and the Senate — from flipping back.

Ossoff, who was elected alongside fellow Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Jan. 2021 runoffs, is revving up a field organization that tested innovative ways to get unlikely-to-vote citizens to turn out two years ago. The methods helped mobilize Democratic voters in enough numbers to flip the Senate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden is making the most of good economic news, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 30, 2022. right, The Biden administration got a rare chance last jennifer rubin new headshotweek to brag about economic growth after two quarters of decline. The economy grew 2.6 percent in the third quarter compared with the year before, a relief from two consecutive quarters of contraction.

While inflation fears persist and many economists predict a recession, the administration seized upon the slightly-better-than-expected growth figures.

Biden, in the days before the midterms, comes back to his question: What are Republicans for? In Syracuse, he listed what they are against and plan to reverse including prescription drug cost containment measures and green energy subsidies. He called Republicans’ plan to give power back to Big Pharma to set drug prices, eliminate the $35 cap on insulin, undo green energy investments and get rid of the newly instituted minimum corporate tax rate “reckless and irresponsible." He argued they would make inflation worse, and he panned Republicans for suggesting they would shut down the government if they don’t get their way on entitlement cuts.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Ohio, G.O.P. Sees a Victory as Democrats Predict an Upset, Trip Gabriel, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Polls show Representative Tim Ryan competing within the margin of error against his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance, in the high-profile Senate race.

When Tim Ryan speaks to Democratic crowds in the closing days of the Ohio Senate race, his biggest applause line is about the other team.

A Republican official in a “deep-red county,” he recounts, his voice dropping to a stage whisper, told him, “You have no idea how many Republicans are going to quietly vote for you.”

The hoots and hollers that break out represent the high hopes of a party that has lost much of its appeal to working-class voters and that sees in Mr. Ryan — a congressman from the Mahoning Valley who has an anti-China, pro-manufacturing message and whose own father is a Republican — a chance to claw back blue-collar credibility.

Polls show Mr. Ryan competing within the margin of error against his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance. Mr. Ryan is polling higher than President Biden’s job approval rating in Ohio surveys, and he is outperforming the Democratic candidate for governor, Nan Whaley. That suggests a potentially sizable pool of voters who intend to split their tickets between a Republican for governor and a Democrat for Senate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Meet the billionaire taking on L.A.’s progressive machine, Jason Willick, Oct. 30, 2022. “I’m curious to find out — first of all, who the hell did it?” mayoral candidate Rick Caruso told me as I hitched a ride with him from a Saturday campaign event in central Los Angeles to one in the southern neighborhood of San Pedro.

He’s referring, of course, to the surreptitious recording of three Latino members of the L.A. City Council and a labor group president that has upended the city’s politics. In a 2021 meeting about the City Council’s redistricting, the leaders complained, often in crude terms, that Latinos had too little political power in the city and that Blacks had too much.

The leak, which included a racist remark about the Black son of another council member, forced the resignation of the council’s president, Nury Martinez, and thrust the city’s ethnic tensions onto the national stage. Those tensions are all the more salient because L.A.’s political leadership tends to be uniformly progressive. But the mayor’s race is offering Angelenos a political alternative.

Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer and self-described centrist, is running against Karen Bass, a progressive congresswoman and former speaker of the California Assembly who was on Joe Biden’s shortlist to be vice president. Though Bass is the betting markets’ favorite, the race has tightened. A recent Southern California News Group poll showed a virtual tie, with Caruso leading 40 percent to 37 percent. He has already spent at least $62 million of his own money on the campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, New boundaries, new dynamics have Democrats hopeful in Michigan swing district, Marianna Sotomayor, Oct. 30, 2022. John Gibbs knocked off the more moderate Republican Rep. Peter Meijer in the GOP primary. Democrats think it gives them an opening.

Even as Republican confidence about winning back control of the House grows in the final stage of the midterms, races such as the one in Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, could complicate their task.

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More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The Trump administration: the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Oct. 28-29, 2022. In an era marked by unprecedented events, it is not hyperbole to state that the Donald Trump administration and the twice-impeached disgraced ex-president's post-presidency represent the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history.

wayne madesen report logoAn examination by WMR of court records, including criminal cases dealing with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Trump's misappropriation of highly-classified documents at his private properties, points to over a dozen foreign intelligence services, most of them hostile to U.S. national interests, having gained access to America's most guarded secrets.

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary QAnon: Russia-style, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 26-27, 2022. Russia's dangerous religious rhetoric is setting the stage for modern-day pogroms in Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top national-security prosecutor joins Trump Mar-a-Lago investigation, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). David Raskin joins the case as outside national-security experts say prosecutors have amassed evidence that meets some key criteria for charging the former president.

One of the Justice Department’s most experienced national security prosecutors has joined the team overseeing the intensifying investigation of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, people familiar with the matter said.

National security law experts interviewed by The Washington Post say prosecutors appear to have amassed evidence in the case that would meet some of the criteria for bringing charges against the former president — an unprecedented action that they said likely would only happen if the Justice Department believes it has an extremely strong case.

David Raskin,who served for many years as a senior federal prosecutor in New York City, and more recently has worked as a prosecutor in Kansas City, Mo., has been quietly assisting in the investigation into Trump and his aides, according to the people familiar with the matter, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation.

Raskin is considered one of the most accomplished terrorism prosecutors of his generation, having worked on the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was tried in Virginia as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Raskin was also part of the team that prosecuted Ahmed Ghailani in federal court in Manhattan in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Ghailani was acquitted of most counts but found guilty of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He is the only Guantánamo Bay detainee to be brought to a U.S. court and tried and convicted. Both Moussaoui and Ghailani received life sentences.

Justice Department officials initially contacted Raskin to consult on the criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. But his role has shifted over time to focus more on the investigation involving the former president’s possession and potential mishandling of classified documents, the people familiar with the matter said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Proud Boys Jan. 6 co-conspirator pleads guilty, Tarrio lawyer says, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). A cooperator plea by John Charles Stewart related to the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case is disclosed as the U.S. turns up pressure on Proud Boys ahead of December trial.

An accused key co-conspirator who longtime former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio allegedly said proposed storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has pleaded guilty in a deal with U.S. prosecutors, Tarrio’s lawyers revealed Friday.

Details of the plea emerged in a pretrial hearing as the government ratchets up pressure against Tarrio and four other defendants who face trial in December on a charge of seditious conspiracy.

During the hearing in federal court in Washington, Tarrio defense attorney Sabino Jauregui said that John Charles Stewart, 44, of Carlisle, Pa., pleaded guilty in June. Prosecutors interjected, and U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly immediately halted the public session to go behind closed doors, which after resuming made no further mention of Stewart.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House rejects promoting general involved in Capitol riot response, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Pentagon backed Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, the director of the Army staff, to become a four-star general. But the Biden administration nixed his promotion.

The White House rejected a recommendation by senior Pentagon officials to promote an Army general who came under intense scrutiny after the Pentagon’s slow response to the riot at the Capitol, defense officials said, pushing the officer to a near-certain retirement.

walter piattLt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, right, the director of the Army staff, was backed to become the four-star general at Army Futures Command by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth — both of whom were appointed by President Biden — and Gen. James McConville, the Army’s top officer, said two defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. The White House declined to send a nomination for Piatt to the Senate for months, the officials said, effectively killing the possibility.

Piatt has agreed to stay in his present position for several more months at the request of McConville and Wormuth, and “has the full trust and confidence of Army senior leaders to execute the immense responsibility this position requires,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “With almost 40 years of active service, Lt. Gen. Piatt is eligible to retire this year but will remain as Director of the Army Staff until next summer.”

Piatt, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. The White House in September nominated another officer, Lt. Gen. James Rainey, to lead Futures Command and quickly gained confirmation for him. Rainey was promoted to four-star general and took over at Futures Command in Austin this month.

Defense News reported in September that Army officials feared Piatt’s candidacy for the position was in trouble, and Rainey took the job the following month after it sat open for nearly a year. But some senior Pentagon officials were sympathetic to Piatt and disappointed he was denied, defense officials said.

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More On Ukraine War

 

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the recently appointed new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine (Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the recently appointed new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine (Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

washington post logoWashington Post, They escaped Russian occupation. Now they want to go back, Michael E. Miller and Anastacia Galouchka, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). When Russian tanks rolled into the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson last spring, the young couple decided it was time to leave.

They fled to Kyiv, where Anton got a job driving a taxi and soon Nastya became pregnant. But she missed her mother, who had been left behind. So, last month, newly married Nastya did the unthinkable: She went back.

ukraine flagAlmost 15 million Ukrainians — a third of the population — have been forced from their homes since Russia invaded in February, according to the United Nations, many leaving loved ones behind. Among the displaced are the Kherson residents now desperate to return home despite the danger and uncertainty of life under Russian occupation and the acute risk of being trapped in heavy fighting.

The seemingly crazy decision to go back, by Anton, Nastya and others like them, highlights the impossible choices that war throws at ordinary people, who are caught in a conflicting swirl of allegiances and emotions. Is it better to be safe while friends and relatives remain in harm’s way? Or should all be together in the line of fire?

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia threatens commercial satellites that Pentagon sees as its future, Christian Davenport, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Ukraine has used images from privately owned satellites and has leveraged Elon Musk’s Starlink system to counter the Russian invasion.

Russian FlagOn Thursday evening, SpaceX launched yet another of its Falcon 9 rockets to space, the 49th in 2022, a record as it continues to launch a rocket about once every six days. This one carried 53 Starlink satellites to orbit, adding to a constellation that now has more than 3,000 in operation — more satellites than the rest of the world combined, according to analysts.

On Tuesday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch a much more powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. This time, the customer is the U.S. Space Force and the payload is strictly classified.

The launches come as tensions between the United States and Russia are high amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and just days after Russia threatened to target the commercial satellites, which have proved a boon to Ukraine and its allies during the war.

The launches are yet another sign of the Pentagon’s increasing reliance on the commercial space sector, which has become more capable at the same time that space has become an increasingly contested domain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Says It’s Suspending Participation in Grain Deal With Ukraine, Neil MacFarquhar, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The move to halt participation in the initiative came within hours of Moscow accusing Ukraine of attacking Russian ships in Crimea. The U.N.-brokered agreement, set to expire in November, was intended to alleviate a global food crisis.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Russian defense ministry said Moscow was halting participation in the United Nations-brokered agreement after what it said was a Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
  • Russia’s decision upends a deal designed to ease the global food crisis.
  • A drone attack damaged a Black Sea Fleet minesweeping vessel, Russia says.
  • Zelensky says that Russia is turning Kherson into a ‘zone without civilization.’
  • Some four million Ukrainians face restrictions on power use.
  • Putin wants to divide Ukrainians. The battered city of Mykolaiv is an unwilling test case.
  • The U.S. announces more military aid for Ukraine, including guided rockets and artillery ammunition.
  • Russia’s decision upends a deal designed to ease the global food crisis.

Russia on Saturday said that it was suspending its participation in an agreement to export grain and other agricultural products from Ukrainian ports, upending a deal that was intended to alleviate a global food crisis.

The announcement from Russia’s defense ministry came within hours after it accused Ukraine of launching an attack on ships from the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea that it said were participating in the grain initiative, which was organized around specific shipping lanes in the Black Sea.

Russia at first said that it had repulsed the attack by Ukrainian drones, but later backtracked and said at least one minesweeper had sustained damage.

Given the attack, the statement from the defense ministry said, “Russian suspends its participation in the implementation of the agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukraine.”

The agreement, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was signed in July and ended a five-month Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports. Brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey, the deal was set to expire on Nov. 19 and in recent weeks, its future had appeared uncertain.

The United Nations said Saturday that it was in touch with the Russian authorities regarding the reports that Russia was suspending participation in the initiative.

“It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people,” Stéphane Dujarric de la Rivière, the spokesman for António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said his government had warned that Russia would try to upend the deal.

“Now Moscow uses a false pretext to block the grain corridor which ensures food security for millions of people,” he wrote on Twitter. “I call on all states to demand Russia to stop its hunger games and recommit to its obligations.”

Although the grain deal’s primary goal was to end Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian exports, which had been contributing to a global food crisis, it also allowed for more shipments of Russian grain and fertilizer. As part of the deal, the United States and the European Union gave assurances that banks and companies involved in trading Russian grain and fertilizer would be exempt from sanctions.

In recent weeks Russia had suggested it might refuse to extend the agreement if Moscow’s demands over its food and fertilizer exports were not met.

volodomyer zelinksky collageEarlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, right, accused Russia of deliberately slowing grain exports to create a food crisis. There was a backlog of 150 ships waiting to transport Ukrainian wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other products, he said in his nightly address on Oct. 21.

“I believe that with these actions, Russia is deliberately inciting the food crisis so that it becomes as acute at it was in the first half of the year,” Mr. Zelensky had said. There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin, but United Nations officials had confirmed the backlog of ships.

Under the pact, Ukrainian pilots guide ships through Ukrainian minefields around the ports, and are then given safe passage by the Russian Navy to Turkey, where teams with representatives from all the parties inspect them before they head to delivery ports. Returning ships are also inspected for arms.

U.N. officials have hailed the deal as a success, with Mr. Guterres crediting the shipments with driving down world food prices and averting a global hunger crisis.

As of Oct. 27, more than 9.2 tons of grain and other foodstuffs had been exported under the agreement, according to data shared by the United Nations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia says Crimea drone attacks damaged warship, blames U.K. for Nord Stream blasts, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Victoria Bisset, Andrea Salcedo and Justine McDaniel, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Russia accused Ukraine of launching several drone attacks in the Crimean city of Sevastopol early on Saturday, adding that one of its warships sustained “minor damage” as a result.

Moscow’s Defense Ministry accused Britain of training and guiding the Ukrainian unit behind the drone attack, and of also being behind explosions that hit the Nord Stream gas pipelines carrying Russian gas to Europe in September.

Britain responded that Russia was making “false claims of an epic scale,” while a Ukrainian official appeared to mock Russia’s claims as ludicrous.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • Saturday’s drone attacks off the Crimean city of Sevastopol lasted several hours, the Russian-installed governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said on Telegram. He urged residents not to write social media posts or share video about what they saw, saying that would provide Ukrainian forces with information about the city’s defenses. Sevastopol is the largest city in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.
  • Russia’s defense ministry accused British specialists of helping to plan the drone attacks, in comments reported by Russia’s RIA news agency. It also blamed the British Navy for recent explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
  • Britain called Russia’s claims an “invented story” designed “to detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” adding that it “says more about the arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the West.” Meanwhile, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, mocked the Russian claims, tweeting that people should listen to further military briefings from Russia “to find out what else [the U.K., U.S.] & combat mosquitoes are guilty of.”
  • Any U.S. plans to send upgraded nuclear weapons to NATO bases in Europe will lower “the nuclear threshold,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Saturday, telling the Ria Novosti news agency that Moscow would account for the development in its military planning. Earlier this week, Politico reported that Washington had brought forward plans to store the more accurate B61-12 air-dropped gravity bomb at NATO bases in Europe — although Pentagon spokesman told the publication that the move was “in no way linked” to events in Ukraine and had not been sped up. Russia has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
  • Zelensky said about 4 million people are under energy-use restrictions as Ukraine attempts to stretch scarce resources after Russian forces destroyed infrastructure around the country. His warning came as Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told British newspaper The Telegraph that the capital was preparing for the “worst-case scenario” as winter approaches and warned that people would freeze to death if Western countries do not send blankets and generators.

2. Battleground updates

  • Some migrants in Russia have been swept into the ranks of the Russian military despite having no obligation to serve. Migrants seeking help from the Russian government have been coerced or tricked into signing papers, advocates say, while others were wrongly issued draft documents and sent to fight.
  • The removal of the remains of a famous 18th century Russian statesman from Kherson could be another sign of “Russian intent to expedite withdrawal” from the occupied southern Ukrainian region, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily update Saturday. Vladimir Saldo, the Kremlin-installed governor of Kherson, claimed earlier this week that the body of Prince Grigory Potemkin had been moved from the cathedral in the regional capital to the east of the Dnieper River. Potemkin, the British ministry said, “is heavily associated with the Russian conquest of Ukrainian lands.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has cast doubt on Russia’s claims to have completed its call-up of 300,000 military reservists, adding that the Kremlin’s forces are “poorly prepared and equipped” and “Russia may soon need a new wave of sending people to war.”
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister urged Tehran to stop sending weapons to the Kremlin. Dmytro Kuleba spoke to his Iranian counterpart Friday and demanded that Tehran “immediately cease the flow of weapons to Russia used to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure in Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter. Russia has been using Iranian-made drones against targets in Ukraine.

3. Global impact

  • A group of House and Senate Republicans opposed Democratic Party-backed plans to fund Ukraine’s war effort with assets seized from Russia. The lawmakers objected to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act conference report that would allow the United States to transfer proceeds of forfeited Russian property to Kyiv, several people involved with the negotiations told The Washington Post.
  • The United States is giving an additional $275 million in defense aid to Ukraine, a smaller sum than was offered in previous packages. The Pentagon on Friday announced the aid, which will include ammunition, vehicles and satellite communications equipment but no counter-drone equipment or air defense systems. Zelensky thanked the United States for the package, which he said was composed of “much needed items for our defenders.”
  • A key Putin ally has told Elon Musk to stop providing satellite internet access to Ukraine. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wished Musk “good luck” on Friday after the billionaire took over the social media platform, adding: “And quit that Starlink in Ukraine business.” Earlier this week, a senior Russian foreign ministry official warned that Russia could target commercial satellites it believed were being used for military purposes.
  • United Nations Secretary General António Guterres urged participating countries to allow a renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire Nov. 19. The agreement facilitates the safe shipment of grains and fertilizer from Ukraine. Many countries, including those in Africa and the Middle East, rely on Ukrainian grain and fertilizer to feed their populations. The initiative can be automatically renewed if no party objects.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mass shooting in Belgorod exposes Russia’s forced mobilization of migrants, Francesca Ebel, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Some migrants in Russia have been swept into the ranks of the Russian military despite having no obligation to serve.

Ehson Aminzoda seemed to be following the path of many Central Asian immigrants in Russia — initially working as a bricklayer after arriving in Moscow earlier this year, then at a local restaurant, saving his modest earnings in hope of returning to his native Tajikistan to marry. On Oct. 10, he headed out to meet friends, and was seen leaving the Lyublino subway station in southeast Moscow. Then, he disappeared.

Five days later, according to Russian authorities, Aminzoda, 24, was in Belgorod, just 24 miles from the Ukrainian border, where he and another man, Mehrob Rakhmonov, 23, allegedly opened fire at a military training base, killing nine and injuring 15 others. The alleged shooters were also killed.

The Russian defense ministry said the shooting took place during a training session for a group of volunteers “who wished to participate in the military operation in Ukraine.” Russian authorities quickly branded the incident a terrorist attack, deliberately highlighting the nationality of the alleged gunmen, who were Tajik.

Officially, little else has been disclosed about the shooting, which has been overshadowed by the ongoing death and destruction of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

But rights activists and relatives of the alleged gunmen believe they were forcibly conscripted. They said the mere presence of the two Tajik men at the base in Belgorod points to pervasive abuses against migrant workers in Russia and to long-simmering ethnic tensions, which have worsened as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chaotic and much-criticized military mobilization.

While many men of fighting age have fled Russia to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine — creating a new, reverse migration of Russians to Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan — some migrants in Russia have been swept into the ranks of the Russian military despite having no obligation to serve.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Bigotry, Regulation

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: On Affirmative Action, What Once Seemed Unthinkable Might Become Real, Linda Greenhouse, right (Yale Law School scholar, former longtime Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times and author of the memoir Just a Journalist), Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). As linda greenhouse thumb Customaffirmative action prepares to meet its fate before a transformed Supreme Court, after having been deemed constitutional in higher education for more than four decades, the cases to be argued on Monday bring into sharp focus a stunning reality.

After all this time, after the civil rights movement and the many anti-discrimination laws it gave birth to, after the election of the first Black president and the profound racial reckoning of the past few years — perhaps because of all those things — the country is still debating the meaning of Brown v. Board of Education.

A dispute over what the court meant when it declared in 1954 that racial segregation in the public schools violates constitutional equality is not what I expected to find when I picked up the daunting pile of briefs filed in two cases challenging racially conscious admissions practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. There are more than 100 briefs, representing the views of hundreds of individual and organizational “friends of the court,” in addition to those filed by the parties themselves.

Both cases were developed by a made-to-order organization called Students for Fair Admissions Inc. The group asks the court in both cases to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, its 2003 decision upholding affirmative action in student admissions to the University of Michigan’s law school.

sandra day oconnor oJustice Sandra Day O’Connor, left, writing for the majority in Grutter, said then that society’s interest in maintaining a diverse educational environment was “compelling” and justified keeping affirmative action going, as needed, for the next 25 years. Since that was 19 years ago, I expected to read an argument for why the timetable should be foreshortened or, more broadly, why diversity should no longer be considered the compelling interest the court said it was in 1978 in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The court concluded in that case that race could be used as one criterion by universities in their admissions decisions.

Instead, I found this bold assertion on page 47 of the plaintiff’s main brief: “Because Brown is our law, Grutter cannot be.”

Relying on a kind of double bank shot, the argument by Students for Fair Admissions goes like this: The Brown decision interpreted the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee to prohibit racial segregation in public schools. In doing so, it overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine established 58 years earlier in Plessy v. Ferguson. Therefore, the court in Brown necessarily bound itself to Justice John Marshall Harlan’s reference in his dissenting opinion in Plessy to a “colorblind” Constitution.

“Just as Brown overruled Plessy’s deviation from our ‘colorblind’ Constitution, this court should overrule Grutter’s,” the group asserts in its brief. “That decision has no more support in constitutional text or precedent than Plessy.”

Briefs on the universities’ side take vigorous issue with what the University of North Carolina’s brief calls “equal protection revisionism.” Noting that Justice Harlan’s objection to enforced separation of the races was that it imposed a “badge of servitude” on Black citizens, the brief observes that “policies that bring students together bear no such badge.”

Moreover, a brief by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., under the auspices of which Thurgood Marshall argued Brown before the Supreme Court, warns that the plaintiff’s position “would transform Brown from an indictment against racial apartheid into a tool that supports racial exclusion.” The “egregious error” in the court’s majority opinion in Plessy, the legal defense fund’s brief explains, was not its failure to embrace a “colorblind” ideal but its “failure to acknowledge the realities and consequences of persistent anti-Black racism in our society.” For that reason, the brief argues, the Grutter decision honored Brown, not Plessy.

“Some level of race-consciousness to ensure equal access to higher education remains critical to realizing the promise of Brown,” the defense fund argues.

Grutter was a 5-to-4 decision. While the court was plainly not at rest on the question of affirmative action, it evidently did not occur to the justices in 2003 to conduct their debate on the ground of which side was most loyal to Brown. Each of the four dissenters — Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — wrote an opinion. None cited Brown; Justice Thomas quoted Justice Harlan’s “our Constitution is colorblind” language from his Plessy dissent in the last paragraph of his 31-page opinion, which was mainly a passionate expression of his view that affirmative action has hurt rather than helped African Americans.

While the contest at the court over Brown’s meaning is new in the context of higher education, it was at the core of the 2007 decision known as Parents Involved, which concerned a limited use of race in K-12 school assignments to prevent integrated schools from becoming segregated again. In his opinion declaring the practice unconstitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts had this to say: “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin. The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again — even for very different reasons.” In his dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer called the chief justice’s appropriation of Brown “a cruel distortion of history.”

The invocation of a supposedly race-neutral 14th Amendment — as the former Reagan administration attorney general Edwin Meese III phrased it in his brief against the universities — goes to the very meaning of equal protection. That was clear earlier this month in the argument in the court’s important Voting Rights Act case in the new term.

Alabama is appealing a decision requiring it to draw a second congressional district with a Black majority. Alabama’s solicitor general, Edmund LaCour, denounced the decision as imposing a racial gerrymander that he said placed the Voting Rights Act “at war with itself and with the Constitution.” “The Fourteenth Amendment is a prohibition on discriminatory state action,” he told the justices. “It is not an obligation to engage in affirmative discrimination in favor of some groups vis-à-vis others.”

The newest member of the court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, pushed back strongly with an opposite account of the 14th Amendment’s origins. “I don’t think that the historical record establishes that the founders believed that race neutrality or race blindness was required,” she said. “The entire point of the amendment was to secure the rights of the freed former slaves.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Twelve more coffins found in search for Tulsa Race Massacre graves, DeNeen L. Brown, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The discovery follows the unearthing of multiple coffins a year ago in an unmarked pit in Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: GOP ad falsely tags Democratic candidate with ‘defund police’ label, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.).

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More World News, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolsonaro vs. Lula: Brazil Faces a Stark Choice With Huge Stakes, Jack Nicas, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Brazilians head to the polls on Sunday in an election between two political heavyweights that could have global repercussions.

Brazil on Sunday faces a crossroads.

After months of pitches to voters, the nation will decide one of Latin America’s most important elections in decades, picking between the two biggest names in modern Brazilian politics and their polar visions for the country.

The choice for Brazilians is whether to give President Jair Bolsonaro a second term, emboldening and empowering him to carry out a far-right mandate for the luiz Inácio lula da silva first term portraitnation, or whether to bring back former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, shown at right during his previous term, and return Brazil to a leftist track.

Yet the stakes are far higher than simply a contest between the left and the right.

The election carries major consequences for the Amazon rainforest, which is crucial to the health of the planet. Mr. Bolsonaro has gutted the agencies tasked with protecting the forest, leading to soaring deforestation, while Mr. da Silva has promised to eradicate illegal logging and mining.

washington post logoWashington Post, Suspension bridge collapses in India, killing at least 60, according to media reports, Sammy Westfall, Oct. 30, 2022. The bridge, in Morbi, Gujarat state in western India, is nearly a century old. 

  • New York Times, Evidence ‘Invalidated’ in Explosive Report on Mexico’s 43 Missing Students, Oct. 29, 2022.

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Abortion Law, Pandemic, Public Health News

ny times logoNew York Times, OB-GYN Residency Programs Face Tough Choice on Abortion Training, Jan Hoffman, Oct. 27, 2022. Many residency programs for obstetricians and gynecologists are in a risky position, caught between state abortion bans and accreditation requirements.

Many medical residency programs that are educating the next generation of obstetricians and gynecologists are facing a treacherous choice.

If they continue to provide abortion training in states where the procedure is now outlawed, they could be prosecuted. If they don’t offer it, they risk losing their accreditation, which in turn would render their residents ineligible to receive specialty board certification and imperil recruitment of faculty and medical students.

The quandary became clear last month, when the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education formally reaffirmed its longstanding requirement that OB-GYN residency programs make abortion training available.

“You have a legal body, the state, saying abortion is a crime and an accrediting body saying it’s a crucial part of training,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in the history of abortion. “I can’t think of anything else like that.”

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Climate, Drought, Hurricanes, Energy

washington post logoWashington Post, Along a withered Mississippi, a mixture of frustration, hope and awe, Brady Dennis, Oct. 30, 2022. A Post reporter drove more than 400 miles along the drought-stricken Mississippi River. Here’s what he found.

Over several days this past week, Washington Post climate reporter Brady Dennis drove more than 400 miles in five states, from Memphis to Cairo, Ill., talking with people whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked to the Mississippi River and with people who had come to marvel at how drastically the ongoing drought has weakened it.

Historically low water levels have caused far-reaching concerns over yet another rupture in the international supply chain and what that could mean overseas and for typical Americans. The Mississippi, after all, is the nation’s aquatic superhighway, carrying roughly 60 percent of the nation’s corn and soybean exports south, and critical supplies such as fertilizer and fuel back north.

What it looks like as drought strangles the mighty Mississippi

But along the Mississippi, the worries these days are more visceral and immediate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Months After the Floods, Eastern Kentucky Families Take Measure of What Was Lost, Oct. 30, 2022 (print ed.). With hundreds of houses damaged or even washed away, a question looms: How many families who persevered there for generations will now leave for good?

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The climate news is bad. The climate reality is worse, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). A devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and a looming famine offer another glimpse of the world’s climate future.

Despite the stated ambitions of the international community to take action, the world’s nations have shaved just 1 percent off their projected greenhouse gas emissions for 2030, according to a new U.N. report.

The meager outcome places the planet on a path to warm by 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century — below some of the greatest fears of climate watchers but still beyond the safe temperature threshold set at 1.5 degrees Celsius. It precipitates a dangerous future of extreme weather, rising sea levels and “endless suffering,” as the United Nations put it itself.

Two other reports this week from U.N. agencies compounded these woes. An analysis by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change found that few countries had adjusted their climate pledges since a major U.N. climate conference last year held in Glasgow, Scotland. This year’s conference is set to be hosted in Egypt next month. Another study by the World Meteorological Organization found that methane emissions are rising faster than ever. The evidence raises “questions about humanity’s ability to limit the greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the near term,” my colleagues reported.

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U.S. Media, Education, Space, Sports

 

elon musk sideviewPolitico, Musk owns Twitter — and Washington awaits Trump's return, Rebecca Kern, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Elon Musk, shown above, will own Twitter, after the two sides finally closed a $44 billion deal Thursday to sell the company to the world’s richest man.

politico CustomMusk’s takeover — reported by multiple news outlets on Thursday night — could have huge implications for the future of Washington’s favorite social media app, especially if former President Donald Trump is allowed back on the platform, and if Musk loosens the rules to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

With just 12 days until the midterm elections, a resurrected Trump Twitter account could have electoral implications, donald trump twittergiving the former president a megaphone to again challenge election results, blast his opponents and spread falsehoods.

What exactly Musk does next is an open question, to say nothing of Trump.

In an effort seemingly aimed at easing concerns from nervous advertisers, Musk, a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” promised on Thursday that the platform would not descend into “a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Moguls Have Been Unleashed, David Streitfeld, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Silicon Valley moguls used to buy yachts and islands. Now they are rich enough, and perhaps arrogant enough, to acquire companies they fancy.

Forget about the endless drama, the bots, the abrupt reversals, the spectacle, the alleged risk to the Republic and all we hold dear. Here is the most important thing about Elon Musk’s buying Twitter: The moguls have been unleashed.

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Oct. 29

Top Headlines

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.

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Economy, Governance

 

Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

 

More On U.S. QAnon Violence / Pelosi Attack

 

More On Ukraine War


U.S. Courts, Immigration, Race, Bigotry, Regulation

 

World News, Human Rights

 

U.S. Democracy, National Security

 

Pandemic, Public Health, Abortion Bans, #MeToo

 

Climate, Hurricanes, Drought, Energy Issues

 

Media, Sports, Culture, Education

 

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, The most diverse Supreme Court ever confronts affirmative action, Robert Barnes, Oct. 29, 2022. The most diverse group of Supreme Court justices in history will gather Monday to confront the issue that has vexed and deeply divided past courts: whether affirmative action in college admissions recognizes and nourishes a multicultural nation or impermissibly divides Americans by race.

The authority of college administrators to use race in a limited way to build a diverse student body has barely survived previous challenges. But even a defender of such policies, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, wrote in 2003 that racial preferences were not likely to be needed in 25 years. And a more dominant conservative majority is in place now.

It will be the first review of past decisions by a Supreme Court on which White men do not make up the majority. The body has undergone an almost complete turnover since O’Connor’s prediction, and includes justices who say affirmative action programs directly shaped their lives.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).The court now has two Black members — and they seem to have opposite views of whether race-based policies are authorized by the Constitution. The court’s most senior member, Justice Clarence Thomas, left, is an outspoken opponent of affirmative action: “racial paternalism … as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination,” he has written.

ketanji brown jackson robeKetanji Brown Jackson, right, the court’s newest member and its first Black female justice, staked out her position on just her second day on the bench: there is no reason to believe the Constitution forbids race-conscious policies.

Americans support diversity in college admissions, but not use of race to make decisions, poll shows

Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina justice, is the boldest defender of what she prefers to call “race-sensitive” admission policies; she has offered herself as the “perfect affirmative action child” — one who would not have been transported from Bronx housing projects to the Ivy League without a boost, but excelled as a top student once she got there.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Colleges will racially discriminate no matter how the Supreme Court rules, George F. Will, right, Oct. 28, 2022. Two george f willmomentous cases the Supreme Court will hear Monday concern racial preferences in admissions to Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear Monday concern two cases that are momentous, even though the desirable harvard logooutcomes would not prevent the losing parties from continuing reprehensible practices.

By holding that such preferences violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws and the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of racial discrimination by recipients of federal funding, the court can bolster the wholesome belief held by a large, diverse American majority: that the nation’s laws should be colorblind.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Western Weapons, Ukraine Is Turning the Tables in an Artillery War, Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 29, 2022. In the southern Kherson region, Ukraine now has the advantage in range and precision guidance of artillery, rockets and drones, erasing what had been a critical Russian asset.

On the screen of a thermal imaging camera, the Russian armored personnel carrier disappeared in a silent puff of smoke.

“What a beautiful explosion,” said First Lt. Serhiy, a Ukrainian drone pilot who watched as his weapon buzzed into a Russian-controlled village and picked off the armored vehicle, a blast that was audible seconds later at his position about four miles away.

“We used to cheer, we used to shout, ‘Hurray!’ but we’re used to it now,” he said.

The war in Ukraine has been fought primarily through the air, with artillery, rockets, missiles and drones. And for months, Russia had the upper hand, able to lob munitions at Ukrainian cities, towns and military targets from positions well beyond the reach of Ukrainian weapons.

But in recent months, the tide has turned along the front lines in southern Ukraine. With powerful Western weapons and deadly homemade drones, Ukraine now has artillery superiority in the area, commanders and military analysts say.

Ukraine now has an edge in both range and in precision-guided rockets and artillery shells, a class of weapons largely lacking in Russia’s arsenal. Ukrainian soldiers are taking out armored vehicles worth millions of dollars with cheap homemade drones, as well as with more advanced drones and other weapons provided by the United States and allies.

The Russian military remains a formidable force, with cruise missiles, a sizable army and millions of rounds of artillery shells, albeit imprecise ones. It has just completed a mobilization effort that will add 300,000 troops to the battlefield, Russian commanders say, though many of those will be ill trained and ill equipped. And President Vladimir V. Putin has made clear his determination to win the war at almost any cost.

Still, there is no mistaking the shifting fortunes on the southern front.

The new capabilities were on display in the predawn hours Saturday when Ukrainian drones hit a Russian vessel docked in the Black Sea Fleet’s home port of Sevastopol, deep in the occupied territory of Crimea, once thought an impregnable bastion.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: On hundredth anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome, attacker targets Speaker Pelosi, Webster G. Tarpley (historian, webster tarpley 2007author, right), Oct. 29, 2022 (77:41 mins.). Would-be killer severely wounds husband Paul Pelosi, showing fascist threat is real today.

Pelosi demonized in countless GOP cable ads; Corrupt corporate media reach new low with their fatuous narrative of red wave and Democratic defeat; To the contrary: 17 million have voted early so far, with over 1.3 million in Georgia, while Republicans tend to wait for Election Day; Harvard Youth poll shows 40% of those 18-29 intend to vote, with 57% of them leaning Democratic; Polls cannot reflect massive post-Dobbs pro-choice registrations, who will now vote;

Ornstein warns of deliberate falsifications by dishonest pollsters; The role of dark money in punditry;

Jayapal first releases, then repudiates appeasement letter signed by 30 Dems calling for negotiations with Putin just as Kremlin dictator escalates his dirty bomb threats to Ukraine and McCarthy announces GOP will betray Kiev; Ultra-left pasionaria is shown unfit for leadership role in Democratic caucus; As with Hitler in 1938, negotiation with Putin is a fool’s errand;

New UK Premier Sunak expected to impose the most brutal killer austerity seen in Europe in many moons;

Despite media gaslighting, Dem success on scale of New Deal Congress in 1934 remains within reach reach; All Democrats and people of good will must mobilize now!

Freed Guantanomo prisoner Saifullah Paracha on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at a McDonald’s in Karachi, Pakistan (Photo Courtesy of Clive Stafford Smith).

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Releases Guantánamo’s Oldest Prisoner, Carol Rosenberg, Oct. 29, 2022. Saifullah Paracha, 75, was accused of being a Qaeda sympathizer and was held for two decades. But he was never charged with a crime. He is shown at right n Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at a McDonald’s in Karachi, Pakistan (Photo Courtesy of Clive Stafford Smith).

The United States has released the U.S. military’s oldest prisoner of the war on terror, a 75-year-old businessman who was held for nearly two decades as a suspected sympathizer of Al Qaeda but was never charged with a crime.

The man, Saifullah Paracha, a former legal resident of New York, was one of Guantánamo’s most unusual and better known “forever prisoners.” Military prosecutors never sought to put him on trial, but review panels considered him too dangerous to release until last year.

His transfer, in a secret military mission announced by the Pakistani government on Saturday, culminated months of negotiations to arrange his return. The Pentagon declined to comment. It was not known if Biden administration officials imposed any security restrictions on Mr. Paracha, but a lawyer swiftly released a photo of the former prisoner sitting in a McDonald’s in Karachi, Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it had “completed an extensive interagency process to facilitate repatriation of Mr. Paracha” and that it was “glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Crowd crush at Seoul Halloween event kills 120, injures at least 100 more, officials say, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Kelly Kasulis Cho and Bryan Pietsch, Updated Oct. 29, 2022. At least 120 people died and at least 100 more were injured after an apparent crowd crush during Halloween celebrations in the Itaewon area of Seoul Saturday night, according to fire department officials.

south korea flag SmallWitnesses reported a chaotic scene of partygoers cramped into narrow streets near the Itaewon station, some trying to leave the area after a night of celebrations. Some people couldn’t even move their limbs because of the elbow-to-elbow crowd. Many couldn’t hear one another over the noise or call for help because of lack of a cell connection.

Bodies covered in blue medical sheets were being carried out from a makeshift emergency site in an empty building early Sunday morning, some with just one shoe on, others barefoot.

 

U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Election deniers hope a hand count in Nevada offers a roadmap for the future, Amy Gardner, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed). The GOP nominee for secretary of state has pushed to jettison voting machines. One county is already experimenting with counting ballots manually.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s Agenda Hangs in the Balance if Republicans Take Congress, Jim Tankersley, Oct. 29, 2022. On key Democratic issues, President Biden’s opportunities would invariably shrink. Here are some of the areas where the two sides would clash.

For President Biden, the Dreaming-of-F.D.R. phase of his presidency may end in little more than a week. If Republicans capture one or both houses of Congress in midterm elections, as polling suggests, Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda will suddenly transform from a quest for a New Deal 2.0 to trench warfare defending the accomplishments of his first two years in office.

On a wide array of issues like abortion, taxes, race and judges, Mr. Biden’s opportunities would invariably shrink as he focuses less on advancing the expansive policy goals that have animated his administration and more on preserving the newly constructed economic and social welfare architecture that Republicans have vowed to dismantle.

While the president and Democratic leaders have not publicly given up on the possibility of hanging onto Congress in the balloting that concludes on Nov. 8, privately they are pessimistic and bracing for two years of grinding partisan conflict.

In addition to efforts to block or reverse Mr. Biden’s domestic initiatives, Republican control of either house would result in a flurry of subpoenas and investigations of the administration that would define the relationship between the White House and Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Ohio, G.O.P. Sees a Victory as Democrats Predict an Upset, Trip Gabriel, Oct. 29, 2022. Polls show Representative Tim Ryan competing within the margin of error against his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance, in the high-profile Senate race.

When Tim Ryan speaks to Democratic crowds in the closing days of the Ohio Senate race, his biggest applause line is about the other team.

A Republican official in a “deep-red county,” he recounts, his voice dropping to a stage whisper, told him, “You have no idea how many Republicans are going to quietly vote for you.”

The hoots and hollers that break out represent the high hopes of a party that has lost much of its appeal to working-class voters and that sees in Mr. Ryan — a congressman from the Mahoning Valley who has an anti-China, pro-manufacturing message and whose own father is a Republican — a chance to claw back blue-collar credibility.

Polls show Mr. Ryan competing within the margin of error against his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance. Mr. Ryan is polling higher than President Biden’s job approval rating in Ohio surveys, and he is outperforming the Democratic candidate for governor, Nan Whaley. That suggests a potentially sizable pool of voters who intend to split their tickets between a Republican for governor and a Democrat for Senate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I’m sorry I said nice things about Glenn Youngkin, Karen Tumulty, right, Oct. 29, 2022. I’d like to take this opportunity to retract the nice things I said about Glenn Youngkin a few karen tumulty resize twittermonths ago.

In July, I wrote a column when reports began to surface that Virginia’s Republican governor, a fresh and sunny political newcomer with proven bipartisan appeal, was already thinking about running for president.

At the time, I expressed hope that Youngkin — or someone like him — would seek the GOP nomination in 2024. His stunning 2021 victory in blue-ish Virginia showed that there might still be room in the Republican Party for a different model of politician, one who could run as a unifying alternative to Donald Trump’s venomous brand.

Optimist that I am, I still hope that a tribune of sanity will emerge in the Republican Party. But the everydad in the fleece vest probably isn’t that guy. When a situation this week called for expressing a modicum of human decency, Youngkin — who frequently talks about his religious values — showed he could rival the former president at diving for the gutter.

As news was breaking Friday about the horrific attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, by an intruder in their San Francisco home, Youngkin happened to be campaigning in Stafford, Va., for Yesli Vega, the Republican running in a very tight race against Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

 “Speaker Pelosi’s husband, they had a break-in last night in their house, and he was assaulted. There’s no room for violence anywhere,” Youngkin said.

Alas, he didn’t stop there.

“But we’re going to send her back to be with him in California,” the governor said. As the crowd cheered, Youngkin doubled down: “That’s what we’re going to go do. That’s what we’re going to go do.”

Set aside the fact that his joke, if that’s what you can call it, showed a lack of understanding of basic civics and geography. Pelosi is in Washington because she has been elected for the past 35 years by the voters of California. This has nothing to do with anybody in Virginia.

What made Youngkin’s riff not only tasteless but also dangerous is that he was not referring to some random act of “violence anywhere.” The attack on Paul Pelosi was a direct product of the toxic political culture — a culture that the governor was helping to cultivate for what he apparently sees as a political opportunity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Arrest made in break-in of Ariz. Democratic governor candidate Hobbs’s campaign office, Amy Wang and Maham Javaid, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Phoenix police said Thursday they have arrested a suspect in a break-in at the campaign office of Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs earlier this week. The incident set off implicit accusations against her Republican rival Kari Lake — a charge the former television news presenter scoffed at as “absurd.”

Authorities identified the suspect as 36-year-old Daniel Mota Dos Reis, who had been arrested earlier in the day and was in jail for an unrelated commercial burglary. According to a police statement, an officer recognized Dos Reis in security footage from the burglary at Hobbs’s office near Virginia Avenue and Central Avenue.

Dos Reis has been rearrested and booked on one count of third-degree burglary. It was not immediately clear whether Dos Reis has a lawyer.

The police report said an Apple computer mouse, Apple keyboard and a black Nikon camera were taken during the burglary.

katie hobbsHobbs, right, Arizona’s secretary of state, and Lake have been engaged in a bitter campaign for governor, and polls have shown the two locked in a tight race. Lake, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, has embraced and spread the former president’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Trump and his allies, including Lake, have especially questioned the results in Arizona, where Joe Biden narrowly defeated him — the first time a Democrat took the state since 1996.

Phoenix police said they responded to a burglary call at Hobbs’s campaign office on Tuesday afternoon. In surveillance images obtained from the Hobbs campaign by The Washington Post, a young man wearing shorts and a green T-shirt can be seen inside the building.

“Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign. Throughout this race, we have been clear that the safety of our staff and of the Secretary is our number one priority,” Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Let’s be clear: for nearly two years Kari Lake and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit,” DeMont added. “The threats against Arizonans attempting to exercise their constitutional rights and their attacks on elected officials are the direct result of a concerted campaign of lies and intimidation.”

  • Politico, Cheney PAC ad hits Republicans Lake, Finchem in key Arizona races, Nicholas Wu, Oct. 28, 2022.

Relevant Headlines

 

More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The Trump administration: the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Oct. 28-29, 2022. In an era marked by unprecedented events, it is not hyperbole to state that the Donald Trump administration and the twice-impeached disgraced ex-president's post-presidency represent the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history.

wayne madesen report logoAn examination by WMR of court records, including criminal cases dealing with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Trump's misappropriation of highly-classified documents at his private properties, points to over a dozen foreign intelligence services, most of them hostile to U.S. national interests, having gained access to America's most guarded secrets.

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary QAnon: Russia-style, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 26-27, 2022. Russia's dangerous religious rhetoric is setting the stage for modern-day pogroms in Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top national-security prosecutor joins Trump Mar-a-Lago investigation, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). David Raskin joins the case as outside national-security experts say prosecutors have amassed evidence that meets some key criteria for charging the former president.

One of the Justice Department’s most experienced national security prosecutors has joined the team overseeing the intensifying investigation of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, people familiar with the matter said.

National security law experts interviewed by The Washington Post say prosecutors appear to have amassed evidence in the case that would meet some of the criteria for bringing charges against the former president — an unprecedented action that they said likely would only happen if the Justice Department believes it has an extremely strong case.

David Raskin,who served for many years as a senior federal prosecutor in New York City, and more recently has worked as a prosecutor in Kansas City, Mo., has been quietly assisting in the investigation into Trump and his aides, according to the people familiar with the matter, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation.

Raskin is considered one of the most accomplished terrorism prosecutors of his generation, having worked on the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was tried in Virginia as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Raskin was also part of the team that prosecuted Ahmed Ghailani in federal court in Manhattan in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Ghailani was acquitted of most counts but found guilty of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He is the only Guantánamo Bay detainee to be brought to a U.S. court and tried and convicted. Both Moussaoui and Ghailani received life sentences.

Justice Department officials initially contacted Raskin to consult on the criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. But his role has shifted over time to focus more on the investigation involving the former president’s possession and potential mishandling of classified documents, the people familiar with the matter said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Proud Boys Jan. 6 co-conspirator pleads guilty, Tarrio lawyer says, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). A cooperator plea by John Charles Stewart related to the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case is disclosed as the U.S. turns up pressure on Proud Boys ahead of December trial.

An accused key co-conspirator who longtime former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio allegedly said proposed storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has pleaded guilty in a deal with U.S. prosecutors, Tarrio’s lawyers revealed Friday.

Details of the plea emerged in a pretrial hearing as the government ratchets up pressure against Tarrio and four other defendants who face trial in December on a charge of seditious conspiracy.

During the hearing in federal court in Washington, Tarrio defense attorney Sabino Jauregui said that John Charles Stewart, 44, of Carlisle, Pa., pleaded guilty in June. Prosecutors interjected, and U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly immediately halted the public session to go behind closed doors, which after resuming made no further mention of Stewart.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House rejects promoting general involved in Capitol riot response, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 29, 2022. The Pentagon backed Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, the director of the Army staff, to become a four-star general. But the Biden administration nixed his promotion.

Related Headlines

 

 U.S. MAGA Violence / Pelosi Attack

washington post logoWashington Post, Attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband follows years of GOP demonizing her, Ashley Parker, Hannah Allam and Marianna Sotomayor, Oct. 29, 2022. This year, the House speaker emerged as the top member of Congress maligned in political ads.

In 2010, Republicans launched a “Fire Pelosi” project — complete with a bus tour, a #FIREPELOSI hashtag and images of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) engulfed in Hades-style flames — devoted to retaking the House and demoting Pelosi from her perch as speaker.

Eleven years later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joked that if he becomes the next leader of the House, “it will be hard not to hit” Pelosi with the speaker’s gavel.

And this year, Pelosi — who Republicans have long demonized as the face of progressive policies and who was a target of rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — emerged as the top member of Congress maligned in political ads, with Republicans spending nearly $40 million on ads that mention Pelosi in the final stretch of the campaign, according to AdImpact, which tracks television and digital ad spending.

The years of vilification culminated Friday when Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was attacked with a hammer during an early-morning break-in at the couple’s home in San Francisco by a man searching for the speaker and shouting “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to someone briefed on the assault.

Police arrested the suspect, 42-year-old David DePape, who attacked Paul Pelosi, 82, and authorities plan to charge him with attempted murder and other crimes, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said at a news conference Friday. Paul Pelosi was taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, the speaker’s office said.

  • Washington Post, Assailant shouted ‘Where is Nancy?’; Paul Pelosi undergoes surgery for skull fracture
  • Washington Post, What we know about the attack and the suspect now in custody
  • Washington Post, Youngkin draws ire with Pelosi comment that Democrats call insensitive, Oct. 29, 2022.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

ny times logoNew York Times, Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Is Seriously Injured in Hammer Attack by Intruder, Kellen Browning, Tim Arango, Luke Broadwater, Holly Secon, Oct. 29, 2022. As leaders from across the political spectrum condemned the attack, Paul Pelosi underwent surgery for a skull fracture. The police had a suspect in custody.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the intruder entered through a back door of the stately home in San Francisco’s upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood, yelling, “Where is Nancy?”

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, was thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., protected by her security detail, but her husband, 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, was home. By the time police officers arrived after being dispatched at 2:27 a.m., they found the assailant and Mr. Pelosi wrestling for control of a hammer. The intruder then pulled the hammer away and “violently attacked” Mr. Pelosi with it in front of the officers, said William Scott, San Francisco’s chief of police.

As leaders from across the political spectrum rushed to condemn the attack, Mr. Pelosi underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and other injuries. He remained in a San Francisco hospital on Friday afternoon and was expected to make a full recovery, according to Speaker Pelosi’s office.

While the police said they were still investigating the motive and were questioning a suspect they had in custody, the incident heightened fears of political violence less than two weeks before the midterm elections. The assault came as threats and violence against political figures have surged in America, especially after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which brought the Democratic speaker, other lawmakers and the Republican vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives.

“This was not a random act,” Chief Scott said. “This was intentional.”

The police identified the attacker as 42-year-old David DePape, and Chief Scott said the man would be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and “several other additional felonies.” The suspect remained in the hospital as of Friday evening with undisclosed injuries.

Brooke Jenkins, the San Francisco district attorney, said the authorities were looking into whether blog posts by someone using the same name as the suspect that contain hateful comments were linked to him and might speak to his motive. In an interview, she said that she was aware of the djt maga hatsocial media and blog posts that were circulating and that the authorities were investigating everything.

Two blogs written by a user who called himself “daviddepape” contain an array of angry and paranoid postings, including antisemitic sentiments and concerns about pedophilia, anti-white racism and “elite” control of the internet. Law enforcement authorities, including Ms. Jenkins, have not said whether the blogs — or a Facebook page bearing the same name — were written by the same Mr. DePape who is accused of assaulting Mr. Pelosi.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Attack Highlights Rising Fears of Political Violence, Catie Edmondson, Oct. 29, 2022. The assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband comes as threats against members of Congress have increased in recent years.

Members of Congress have watched warily in recent years as threats and harassment against them have crescendoed, privately worrying that the brutal language and deranged misinformation creeping into political discourse would lead to actual violence.

The assault of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, inside their San Francisco home early Friday morning by an intruder who shouted “Where is Nancy?” and bludgeoned him with a hammer before being taken into custody by police seemed to confirm their worst fears, vividly bringing to life the acute danger facing elected officials amid a rise in violent political speech.

And it revealed the vulnerabilities in security around members of Congress and their families — even a lawmaker as powerful and wealthy as Ms. Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency and has her own security detail — as midterm congressional campaigns reach their frenzied final push.

Nearly two years after supporters of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, inspired by his lies of a stolen election, sending members of Congress and the vice president fleeing for their lives, the toxic stew of violent language, conspiracy theory and misinformation that thrives in digital spaces continues to pose a grave threat.

“When we see things like what happened last night at the speaker’s home; when we see things like plots to kidnap governors; when we see overt acts ramping up; we see, frankly, a whole host of indicators suggesting that we’re really at a crisis point,” said Peter Simi, an associate professor at Chapman University who has studied extremist groups and violence for more than 20 years.

Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who is among the most threatened members of the House, said the attack on Friday was a “realization” for her and her husband.

“We used to theoretically talk about what would happen if they found our children when they came to look for us; what would happen if they found our loved ones when they came to look for us,” Ms. Omar said on MSNBC. “Now we know.”

While threats have proliferated from every corner of the political spectrum, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the United States faces growing danger from “violent domestic extremists” emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack, and motivated by anger over “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives” — a reference to Mr. Trump’s claims that have been echoed by Republicans and right-wing activists.

The impact of conspiracy-laden forums that helped fuel the Jan. 6 riot can be seen at congressional town halls across the country, where Republican lawmakers often field questions based on disinformation from angry constituents convinced that they are facing not just political opponents with whom they disagree, but evil actors who must be destroyed.

“As we wait to hear more, every single American needs to be lowering the temperature,” Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said in a statement on Friday. “This is increasingly obvious: Disturbed individuals easily succumb to conspiracy theories and rage — the consequences are bloody and un-American.”

Political violence is hardly a new phenomenon. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, then the third-ranking Republican, was shot and gravely wounded in 2017 at a congressional baseball practice in a suburb of Washington, D.C., by a man with a grudge against Republicans; Mr. Scalise has said the presence of his security detail saved his life.

But since the attack on the Capitol, members of Congress have reported feeling increasingly vulnerable both in Washington and at home in their districts. The number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold in the five years after Mr. Trump was elected in 2016, according to figures from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement department that protects Congress, with more than 9,625 threats reported in 2021.

Many of those threats have come from people with mental illness who are not believed to pose an immediate danger, a spokesman from the Capitol Police said, and even fewer of those threats result in an arrest or indictment.

But lawmakers have reported an increase in jarring confrontations that have sent them dipping into their campaign accounts to bulk up their security and minimizing their public footprint.

A man who had sent an angry email to Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington State, for example, repeatedly showed up outside her house, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and shouting threats and profanities. An unknown visitor came to the house of Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and smashed a storm window.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” Ms. Collins said in an interview earlier this year. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s what we know about the attack on Paul Pelosi, Amanda Holpuch, Updated Oct. 29, 2022. Paul Pelosi, 82, underwent surgery for a skull fracture after he was assaulted at the couple’s home in San Francisco, and was expected to recover, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said.

Three San Francisco police officers responding to an emergency call burst into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home just before 2:30 a.m. local time on Friday to find Mr. Pelosi, 82, and an intruder grappling over a hammer, the authorities said

The intruder ripped the hammer out of Mr. Pelosi’s grip and “violently assaulted him with it” in front of the officers, Chief William Scott of the San Francisco police said at a news conference.

The officers tackled the assailant and disarmed him, Chief Scott said, before requesting backup and giving medical aid. Both men were taken to a hospital, he said.

 

More On Ukraine War

 

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the recently appointed new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine (Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the recently appointed new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine (Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

washington post logoWashington Post, They escaped Russian occupation. Now they want to go back, Michael E. Miller and Anastacia Galouchka, Oct. 29, 2022. When Russian tanks rolled into the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson last spring, the young couple decided it was time to leave.

They fled to Kyiv, where Anton got a job driving a taxi and soon Nastya became pregnant. But she missed her mother, who had been left behind. So, last month, newly married Nastya did the unthinkable: She went back.

ukraine flagAlmost 15 million Ukrainians — a third of the population — have been forced from their homes since Russia invaded in February, according to the United Nations, many leaving loved ones behind. Among the displaced are the Kherson residents now desperate to return home despite the danger and uncertainty of life under Russian occupation and the acute risk of being trapped in heavy fighting.

The seemingly crazy decision to go back, by Anton, Nastya and others like them, highlights the impossible choices that war throws at ordinary people, who are caught in a conflicting swirl of allegiances and emotions. Is it better to be safe while friends and relatives remain in harm’s way? Or should all be together in the line of fire?

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia threatens commercial satellites that Pentagon sees as its future, Christian Davenport, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Ukraine has used images from privately owned satellites and has leveraged Elon Musk’s Starlink system to counter the Russian invasion.

Russian FlagOn Thursday evening, SpaceX launched yet another of its Falcon 9 rockets to space, the 49th in 2022, a record as it continues to launch a rocket about once every six days. This one carried 53 Starlink satellites to orbit, adding to a constellation that now has more than 3,000 in operation — more satellites than the rest of the world combined, according to analysts.

On Tuesday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch a much more powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. This time, the customer is the U.S. Space Force and the payload is strictly classified.

The launches come as tensions between the United States and Russia are high amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and just days after Russia threatened to target the commercial satellites, which have proved a boon to Ukraine and its allies during the war.

The launches are yet another sign of the Pentagon’s increasing reliance on the commercial space sector, which has become more capable at the same time that space has become an increasingly contested domain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Says It’s Suspending Participation in Grain Deal With Ukraine, Neil MacFarquhar, Oct. 29, 2022. The move to halt participation in the initiative came within hours of Moscow accusing Ukraine of attacking Russian ships in Crimea. The U.N.-brokered agreement, set to expire in November, was intended to alleviate a global food crisis.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Russian defense ministry said Moscow was halting participation in the United Nations-brokered agreement after what it said was a Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
  • Russia’s decision upends a deal designed to ease the global food crisis.
  • A drone attack damaged a Black Sea Fleet minesweeping vessel, Russia says.
  • Zelensky says that Russia is turning Kherson into a ‘zone without civilization.’
  • Some four million Ukrainians face restrictions on power use.
  • Putin wants to divide Ukrainians. The battered city of Mykolaiv is an unwilling test case.
  • The U.S. announces more military aid for Ukraine, including guided rockets and artillery ammunition.
  • Russia’s decision upends a deal designed to ease the global food crisis.

Russia on Saturday said that it was suspending its participation in an agreement to export grain and other agricultural products from Ukrainian ports, upending a deal that was intended to alleviate a global food crisis.

The announcement from Russia’s defense ministry came within hours after it accused Ukraine of launching an attack on ships from the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea that it said were participating in the grain initiative, which was organized around specific shipping lanes in the Black Sea.

Russia at first said that it had repulsed the attack by Ukrainian drones, but later backtracked and said at least one minesweeper had sustained damage.

Given the attack, the statement from the defense ministry said, “Russian suspends its participation in the implementation of the agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukraine.”

The agreement, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was signed in July and ended a five-month Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports. Brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey, the deal was set to expire on Nov. 19 and in recent weeks, its future had appeared uncertain.

The United Nations said Saturday that it was in touch with the Russian authorities regarding the reports that Russia was suspending participation in the initiative.

“It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people,” Stéphane Dujarric de la Rivière, the spokesman for António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said his government had warned that Russia would try to upend the deal.

“Now Moscow uses a false pretext to block the grain corridor which ensures food security for millions of people,” he wrote on Twitter. “I call on all states to demand Russia to stop its hunger games and recommit to its obligations.”

Although the grain deal’s primary goal was to end Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian exports, which had been contributing to a global food crisis, it also allowed for more shipments of Russian grain and fertilizer. As part of the deal, the United States and the European Union gave assurances that banks and companies involved in trading Russian grain and fertilizer would be exempt from sanctions.

In recent weeks Russia had suggested it might refuse to extend the agreement if Moscow’s demands over its food and fertilizer exports were not met.

volodomyer zelinksky collageEarlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, right, accused Russia of deliberately slowing grain exports to create a food crisis. There was a backlog of 150 ships waiting to transport Ukrainian wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other products, he said in his nightly address on Oct. 21.

“I believe that with these actions, Russia is deliberately inciting the food crisis so that it becomes as acute at it was in the first half of the year,” Mr. Zelensky had said. There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin, but United Nations officials had confirmed the backlog of ships.

Under the pact, Ukrainian pilots guide ships through Ukrainian minefields around the ports, and are then given safe passage by the Russian Navy to Turkey, where teams with representatives from all the parties inspect them before they head to delivery ports. Returning ships are also inspected for arms.

U.N. officials have hailed the deal as a success, with Mr. Guterres crediting the shipments with driving down world food prices and averting a global hunger crisis.

As of Oct. 27, more than 9.2 tons of grain and other foodstuffs had been exported under the agreement, according to data shared by the United Nations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Russia says Crimea drone attacks damaged warship, blames U.K. for Nord Stream blasts, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Victoria Bisset, Andrea Salcedo and Justine McDaniel, Oct. 29, 2022. Russia accused Ukraine of launching several drone attacks in the Crimean city of Sevastopol early on Saturday, adding that one of its warships sustained “minor damage” as a result.

Moscow’s Defense Ministry accused Britain of training and guiding the Ukrainian unit behind the drone attack, and of also being behind explosions that hit the Nord Stream gas pipelines carrying Russian gas to Europe in September.

Britain responded that Russia was making “false claims of an epic scale,” while a Ukrainian official appeared to mock Russia’s claims as ludicrous.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • Saturday’s drone attacks off the Crimean city of Sevastopol lasted several hours, the Russian-installed governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said on Telegram. He urged residents not to write social media posts or share video about what they saw, saying that would provide Ukrainian forces with information about the city’s defenses. Sevastopol is the largest city in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.
  • Russia’s defense ministry accused British specialists of helping to plan the drone attacks, in comments reported by Russia’s RIA news agency. It also blamed the British Navy for recent explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
  • Britain called Russia’s claims an “invented story” designed “to detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” adding that it “says more about the arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the West.” Meanwhile, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, mocked the Russian claims, tweeting that people should listen to further military briefings from Russia “to find out what else [the U.K., U.S.] & combat mosquitoes are guilty of.”
  • Any U.S. plans to send upgraded nuclear weapons to NATO bases in Europe will lower “the nuclear threshold,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Saturday, telling the Ria Novosti news agency that Moscow would account for the development in its military planning. Earlier this week, Politico reported that Washington had brought forward plans to store the more accurate B61-12 air-dropped gravity bomb at NATO bases in Europe — although Pentagon spokesman told the publication that the move was “in no way linked” to events in Ukraine and had not been sped up. Russia has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
  • Zelensky said about 4 million people are under energy-use restrictions as Ukraine attempts to stretch scarce resources after Russian forces destroyed infrastructure around the country. His warning came as Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told British newspaper The Telegraph that the capital was preparing for the “worst-case scenario” as winter approaches and warned that people would freeze to death if Western countries do not send blankets and generators.

2. Battleground updates

  • Some migrants in Russia have been swept into the ranks of the Russian military despite having no obligation to serve. Migrants seeking help from the Russian government have been coerced or tricked into signing papers, advocates say, while others were wrongly issued draft documents and sent to fight.
  • The removal of the remains of a famous 18th century Russian statesman from Kherson could be another sign of “Russian intent to expedite withdrawal” from the occupied southern Ukrainian region, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily update Saturday. Vladimir Saldo, the Kremlin-installed governor of Kherson, claimed earlier this week that the body of Prince Grigory Potemkin had been moved from the cathedral in the regional capital to the east of the Dnieper River. Potemkin, the British ministry said, “is heavily associated with the Russian conquest of Ukrainian lands.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has cast doubt on Russia’s claims to have completed its call-up of 300,000 military reservists, adding that the Kremlin’s forces are “poorly prepared and equipped” and “Russia may soon need a new wave of sending people to war.”
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister urged Tehran to stop sending weapons to the Kremlin. Dmytro Kuleba spoke to his Iranian counterpart Friday and demanded that Tehran “immediately cease the flow of weapons to Russia used to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure in Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter. Russia has been using Iranian-made drones against targets in Ukraine.

3. Global impact

  • A group of House and Senate Republicans opposed Democratic Party-backed plans to fund Ukraine’s war effort with assets seized from Russia. The lawmakers objected to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act conference report that would allow the United States to transfer proceeds of forfeited Russian property to Kyiv, several people involved with the negotiations told The Washington Post.
  • The United States is giving an additional $275 million in defense aid to Ukraine, a smaller sum than was offered in previous packages. The Pentagon on Friday announced the aid, which will include ammunition, vehicles and satellite communications equipment but no counter-drone equipment or air defense systems. Zelensky thanked the United States for the package, which he said was composed of “much needed items for our defenders.”
  • A key Putin ally has told Elon Musk to stop providing satellite internet access to Ukraine. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wished Musk “good luck” on Friday after the billionaire took over the social media platform, adding: “And quit that Starlink in Ukraine business.” Earlier this week, a senior Russian foreign ministry official warned that Russia could target commercial satellites it believed were being used for military purposes.
  • United Nations Secretary General António Guterres urged participating countries to allow a renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire Nov. 19. The agreement facilitates the safe shipment of grains and fertilizer from Ukraine. Many countries, including those in Africa and the Middle East, rely on Ukrainian grain and fertilizer to feed their populations. The initiative can be automatically renewed if no party objects.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mass shooting in Belgorod exposes Russia’s forced mobilization of migrants, Francesca Ebel, Oct. 29, 2022. Some migrants in Russia have been swept into the ranks of the Russian military despite having no obligation to serve.

Ehson Aminzoda seemed to be following the path of many Central Asian immigrants in Russia — initially working as a bricklayer after arriving in Moscow earlier this year, then at a local restaurant, saving his modest earnings in hope of returning to his native Tajikistan to marry. On Oct. 10, he headed out to meet friends, and was seen leaving the Lyublino subway station in southeast Moscow. Then, he disappeared.

Five days later, according to Russian authorities, Aminzoda, 24, was in Belgorod, just 24 miles from the Ukrainian border, where he and another man, Mehrob Rakhmonov, 23, allegedly opened fire at a military training base, killing nine and injuring 15 others. The alleged shooters were also killed.

The Russian defense ministry said the shooting took place during a training session for a group of volunteers “who wished to participate in the military operation in Ukraine.” Russian authorities quickly branded the incident a terrorist attack, deliberately highlighting the nationality of the alleged gunmen, who were Tajik.

Officially, little else has been disclosed about the shooting, which has been overshadowed by the ongoing death and destruction of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

But rights activists and relatives of the alleged gunmen believe they were forcibly conscripted. They said the mere presence of the two Tajik men at the base in Belgorod points to pervasive abuses against migrant workers in Russia and to long-simmering ethnic tensions, which have worsened as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chaotic and much-criticized military mobilization.

While many men of fighting age have fled Russia to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine — creating a new, reverse migration of Russians to Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan — some migrants in Russia have been swept into the ranks of the Russian military despite having no obligation to serve.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Bigotry, Regulation

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: On Affirmative Action, What Once Seemed Unthinkable Might Become Real, Linda Greenhouse, Oct. 28, 2022 (Oct. 30 print ed.). As affirmative action prepares to meet its fate before a transformed Supreme Court, after having been deemed constitutional in higher education for more than four decades, the cases to be argued on Monday bring into sharp focus a stunning reality.

After all this time, after the civil rights movement and the many anti-discrimination laws it gave birth to, after the election of the first Black president and the profound racial reckoning of the past few years — perhaps because of all those things — the country is still debating the meaning of Brown v. Board of Education.

A dispute over what the court meant when it declared in 1954 that racial segregation in the public schools violates constitutional equality is not what I expected to find when I picked up the daunting pile of briefs filed in two cases challenging racially conscious admissions practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. There are more than 100 briefs, representing the views of hundreds of individual and organizational “friends of the court,” in addition to those filed by the parties themselves.

Both cases were developed by a made-to-order organization called Students for Fair Admissions Inc. The group asks the court in both cases to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, its 2003 decision upholding affirmative action in student admissions to the University of Michigan’s law school.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority in Grutter, said then that society’s interest in maintaining a diverse educational environment was “compelling” and justified keeping affirmative action going, as needed, for the next 25 years. Since that was 19 years ago, I expected to read an argument for why the timetable should be foreshortened or, more broadly, why diversity should no longer be considered the compelling interest the court said it was in 1978 in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The court concluded in that case that race could be used as one criterion by universities in their admissions decisions.

Instead, I found this bold assertion on page 47 of the plaintiff’s main brief: “Because Brown is our law, Grutter cannot be.”

Relying on a kind of double bank shot, the argument by Students for Fair Admissions goes like this: The Brown decision interpreted the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee to prohibit racial segregation in public schools. In doing so, it overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine established 58 years earlier in Plessy v. Ferguson. Therefore, the court in Brown necessarily bound itself to Justice John Marshall Harlan’s reference in his dissenting opinion in Plessy to a “colorblind” Constitution.

“Just as Brown overruled Plessy’s deviation from our ‘colorblind’ Constitution, this court should overrule Grutter’s,” the group asserts in its brief. “That decision has no more support in constitutional text or precedent than Plessy.”

Briefs on the universities’ side take vigorous issue with what the University of North Carolina’s brief calls “equal protection revisionism.” Noting that Justice Harlan’s objection to enforced separation of the races was that it imposed a “badge of servitude” on Black citizens, the brief observes that “policies that bring students together bear no such badge.”

Moreover, a brief by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., under the auspices of which Thurgood Marshall argued Brown before the Supreme Court, warns that the plaintiff’s position “would transform Brown from an indictment against racial apartheid into a tool that supports racial exclusion.” The “egregious error” in the court’s majority opinion in Plessy, the legal defense fund’s brief explains, was not its failure to embrace a “colorblind” ideal but its “failure to acknowledge the realities and consequences of persistent anti-Black racism in our society.” For that reason, the brief argues, the Grutter decision honored Brown, not Plessy.

“Some level of race-consciousness to ensure equal access to higher education remains critical to realizing the promise of Brown,” the defense fund argues.

Grutter was a 5-to-4 decision. While the court was plainly not at rest on the question of affirmative action, it evidently did not occur to the justices in 2003 to conduct their debate on the ground of which side was most loyal to Brown. Each of the four dissenters — Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — wrote an opinion. None cited Brown; Justice Thomas quoted Justice Harlan’s “our Constitution is colorblind” language from his Plessy dissent in the last paragraph of his 31-page opinion, which was mainly a passionate expression of his view that affirmative action has hurt rather than helped African Americans.

While the contest at the court over Brown’s meaning is new in the context of higher education, it was at the core of the 2007 decision known as Parents Involved, which concerned a limited use of race in K-12 school assignments to prevent integrated schools from becoming segregated again. In his opinion declaring the practice unconstitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts had this to say: “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin. The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again — even for very different reasons.” In his dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer called the chief justice’s appropriation of Brown “a cruel distortion of history.”

The invocation of a supposedly race-neutral 14th Amendment — as the former Reagan administration attorney general Edwin Meese III phrased it in his brief against the universities — goes to the very meaning of equal protection. That was clear earlier this month in the argument in the court’s important Voting Rights Act case in the new term.

Alabama is appealing a decision requiring it to draw a second congressional district with a Black majority. Alabama’s solicitor general, Edmund LaCour, denounced the decision as imposing a racial gerrymander that he said placed the Voting Rights Act “at war with itself and with the Constitution.” “The Fourteenth Amendment is a prohibition on discriminatory state action,” he told the justices. “It is not an obligation to engage in affirmative discrimination in favor of some groups vis-à-vis others.”

The newest member of the court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, pushed back strongly with an opposite account of the 14th Amendment’s origins. “I don’t think that the historical record establishes that the founders believed that race neutrality or race blindness was required,” she said. “The entire point of the amendment was to secure the rights of the freed former slaves.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Nets Owner Rebukes Kyrie Irving for Posts About Antisemitic Documentary, Shauntel Lowe, Oct. 29, 2022. The Nets owner Joe Tsai spoke out against his team’s star guard Kyrie Irving on Friday after Irving tweeted a link to a documentary that promotes antisemitic tropes.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Tsai wrote in a Twitter post late Friday. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.

“This is bigger than basketball.”

nba logoTsai posted on Twitter just before 11:30 p.m. Friday. A representative for Irving did not immediately respond to a text message.

The documentary, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” was written and directed by Ronald Dalton Jr. and released in 2018. Dalton also released a book with the same title. On Thursday, Irving tweeted a link to a site where users can rent or buy the documentary. He also shared a screenshot of the site on Instagram. In response, Rolling Stone magazine reported on the antisemitic messaging of the documentary and the book.

Irving, 30, is a seven-time All-Star in his fourth season with the Nets, but his off-court actions have often overshadowed his basketball career.

He did not play in most of the Nets’ games last season in part because he refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, which New York City required for him to compete in home games. The Nets initially barred him from road games as well but relented about two months into the season as the team struggled.

In September, Irving was widely criticized for sharing a conspiracy-theory video by the Infowars host Alex Jones, who for years falsely said the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 children and adults was a hoax.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the N.B.A. Hall of Famer, chastised Irving for sharing Jones’s video, writing on Substack that “Kyrie Irving would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes.”

In 2018, Irving was mocked for falsely suggesting that the Earth might be flat.

“Can you openly admit that you know the Earth is constitutionally round?” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Like, you know that for sure? Like, I don’t know.”

Irving joined the Nets as a free agent in 2019 after playing for the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with whom he won a championship in 2016 alongside LeBron James. The Nets have made the playoffs in each of Irving’s seasons with the team, but they are struggling this year. Five games into the season, they have won just once. Their next game is Saturday at home against the Indiana Pacers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: American Jews start to think the unthinkable, Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 28, 2022. The fear of exile has become common as Jews dana milbank newestsee the unraveling rule of law.

On the holiest night of the Jewish year earlier this month, my rabbi looked up from his Kol Nidre sermon — a homily about protecting America’s liberal democracy — and posed a question that wasn’t in his prepared text: “How many people in the last few years have been at a dining room conversation where the conversation has turned to where might we move? How many of us?”

He was talking about the unthinkable: that Jews might need to flee the United States. In the congregation, many hands — most? — went up.

The fear of exile has become common as Jews see the unraveling rule of law, ascendant Christian nationalists and anti-Israel sentiments turning antisemitic on the far left. Wondering where Jews might move “is among the most frequently asked questions that I get,” Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.

ny times logocharles blow beard twitterNew York Times, Opinion: The Self-Destruction of Ye, Charles M. Blow, Oct. 30, 2022. Honestly, I never expected this episode of Kanye West drama to last as long as it has. I certainly didn’t expect myself to care much about it. I figured I’d weigh in once and move on.

“Billionaire Maker of Ugly Shoes and Oversized Jackets Ends Career With Reckless Mouth.”

That, I thought, would be it. But it hasn’t been. His embrace of anti-Black, antisemitic and white supremacist language wasn’t the only thing that interested me. I have also been watching the reactions to his fall, which, in all their strange contradictions, have exposed ugly truths about power in this country — who can and will demand accountability, how corporations exploit culture and character until they imperil profits, how some people absorb and accept insult and give too long a leash to those with the most money and most fame.

Let me first say this: West, who now goes by Ye, should have become a pariah when he was talking about slavery as a choice, making a mockery of Black ancestors whose suffering was anything but a choice. But Ye wasn’t vanquished. He offered a weak-tea apology, and the odiousness of the offense faded. People packed his concerts and bought his clothing. Corporations flocked to be associated with him.

He should have become a pariah when he gushed over Donald Trump in the Oval Office and said of his MAGA hat: “There was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman.”

But nothing. The deals continued. The legend grew.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twelve more coffins found in search for Tulsa Race Massacre graves, DeNeen L. Brown, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The discovery follows the unearthing of multiple coffins a year ago in an unmarked pit in Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: GOP ad falsely tags Democratic candidate with ‘defund police’ label, Oct. 29, 2022.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolsonaro vs. Lula: Brazil Faces a Stark Choice With Huge Stakes, Jack Nicas, Oct. 29, 2022. Brazilians head to the polls on Sunday in an election between two political heavyweights that could have global repercussions.

Brazil on Sunday faces a crossroads.

After months of pitches to voters, the nation will decide one of Latin America’s most important elections in decades, picking between the two biggest names in modern Brazilian politics and their polar visions for the country.

The choice for Brazilians is whether to give President Jair Bolsonaro a second term, emboldening and empowering him to carry out a far-right mandate for the luiz Inácio lula da silva first term portraitnation, or whether to bring back former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, shown at right during his previous term, and return Brazil to a leftist track.

Yet the stakes are far higher than simply a contest between the left and the right.

The election carries major consequences for the Amazon rainforest, which is crucial to the health of the planet. Mr. Bolsonaro has gutted the agencies tasked with protecting the forest, leading to soaring deforestation, while Mr. da Silva has promised to eradicate illegal logging and mining.

  • New York Times, Evidence ‘Invalidated’ in Explosive Report on Mexico’s 43 Missing Students, Oct. 29, 2022.

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Abortion Law, Pandemic, Public Health News

ny times logoNew York Times, OB-GYN Residency Programs Face Tough Choice on Abortion Training, Jan Hoffman, Oct. 27, 2022. Many residency programs for obstetricians and gynecologists are in a risky position, caught between state abortion bans and accreditation requirements.

Many medical residency programs that are educating the next generation of obstetricians and gynecologists are facing a treacherous choice.

If they continue to provide abortion training in states where the procedure is now outlawed, they could be prosecuted. If they don’t offer it, they risk losing their accreditation, which in turn would render their residents ineligible to receive specialty board certification and imperil recruitment of faculty and medical students.

The quandary became clear last month, when the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education formally reaffirmed its longstanding requirement that OB-GYN residency programs make abortion training available.

“You have a legal body, the state, saying abortion is a crime and an accrediting body saying it’s a crucial part of training,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in the history of abortion. “I can’t think of anything else like that.”

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Climate, Drought, Hurricanes, Energy

ny times logoNew York Times, Months After the Floods, Eastern Kentucky Families Take Measure of What Was Lost, Oct. 29, 2022. With hundreds of houses damaged or even washed away, a question looms: How many families who persevered there for generations will now leave for good?

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The climate news is bad. The climate reality is worse, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). A devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and a looming famine offer another glimpse of the world’s climate future.

Despite the stated ambitions of the international community to take action, the world’s nations have shaved just 1 percent off their projected greenhouse gas emissions for 2030, according to a new U.N. report.

The meager outcome places the planet on a path to warm by 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century — below some of the greatest fears of climate watchers but still beyond the safe temperature threshold set at 1.5 degrees Celsius. It precipitates a dangerous future of extreme weather, rising sea levels and “endless suffering,” as the United Nations put it itself.

Two other reports this week from U.N. agencies compounded these woes. An analysis by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change found that few countries had adjusted their climate pledges since a major U.N. climate conference last year held in Glasgow, Scotland. This year’s conference is set to be hosted in Egypt next month. Another study by the World Meteorological Organization found that methane emissions are rising faster than ever. The evidence raises “questions about humanity’s ability to limit the greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the near term,” my colleagues reported.

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U.S. Media, Education, Space, Sports

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter, Once a Threat to Titans, Now Belongs to One, Kevin Roose, Oct. 29, 2022. A decade ago, when Twitter — then a scrappy, young microblogging service — burst into the mainstream, it felt like a tool for challenging authority.

twitter bird CustomPro-democracy activists in Libya and Egypt used Twitter to help topple dictatorships. Americans used it to occupy Wall Street. And in 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing an unarmed Black teenager named Trayvon Martin, #BlackLivesMatter took root on Twitter.

These campaigns fueled one of the defining ideas of the 2010s: that social media was an underdog’s dream, a tool for bottom-up organizing that would empower dissidents and marginalized groups, topple corrupt institutions and give ordinary people the ability to communicate on equal footing with tycoons and tyrants. Or, as the Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei put it in 2010, “Twitter is the people’s tool, the tool of the ordinary people, people who have no other resources.”

That narrative — shaky as it might have been all along — officially ended this week, when Twitter became the property of the richest man in the world.

Elon Musk, the billionaire industrialist whose on-again, off-again bid for Twitter this year has been marked by chaos and confusion, has now added the company to a portfolio that includes Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company.

The deal, which cost Mr. Musk and his investment partners $44 billion, made history for several reasons. It was the largest buyout in tech history and the first time in years that a major social media network has been sold to an outsider.

It was also a symbolic bookend to a decade in which social media evolved to be, in many ways, more useful to the powerful than the powerless.

 

elon musk sideviewPolitico, Musk owns Twitter — and Washington awaits Trump's return, Rebecca Kern, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Elon Musk, shown above, will own Twitter, after the two sides finally closed a $44 billion deal Thursday to sell the company to the world’s richest man.

politico CustomMusk’s takeover — reported by multiple news outlets on Thursday night — could have huge implications for the future of Washington’s favorite social media app, especially if former President Donald Trump is allowed back on the platform, and if Musk loosens the rules to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

With just 12 days until the midterm elections, a resurrected Trump Twitter account could have electoral implications, donald trump twittergiving the former president a megaphone to again challenge election results, blast his opponents and spread falsehoods.

What exactly Musk does next is an open question, to say nothing of Trump.

In an effort seemingly aimed at easing concerns from nervous advertisers, Musk, a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” promised on Thursday that the platform would not descend into “a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Moguls Have Been Unleashed, David Streitfeld, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Silicon Valley moguls used to buy yachts and islands. Now they are rich enough, and perhaps arrogant enough, to acquire companies they fancy.

Forget about the endless drama, the bots, the abrupt reversals, the spectacle, the alleged risk to the Republic and all we hold dear. Here is the most important thing about Elon Musk’s buying Twitter: The moguls have been unleashed.

In the old days, when a tech tycoon wanted to buy something big, he needed a company to do it. Steve Case used AOL to buy Time Warner. Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods for Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook to buy Instagram and WhatsApp and Oculus and on and on. These were corporate deals done for the bottom line, even if they might never have happened without a famous and forceful proprietor.

Mr. Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, which finally became a reality on Thursday, six months after he agreed to the deal, is different. It is an individual buying something for himself that 240 million people around the world use regularly. While he has other investors, Mr. Musk will have absolute control over the fate of the short-message social media platform.

It’s a difficult deal to evaluate even in an industry built on deals, because this one is so unusual. It came about whimsically, impulsively. But, even by the standards of Silicon Valley, where billions are casually offered for fledging operations — and even by the wallet of Mr. Musk, on most days the richest man in the world — $44 billion is quite a chunk of change.

  • New York Times, Elon Musk is taking Twitter private. What does that mean?
  • New York Times, DealBook: Elon Musk has just a few days to determine whether to pay millions to employees, or get rid of them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Racist tweets quickly surfaced after Musk closed Twitter deal, Drew Harwell, Oct. 28, 2022. A wide range of anonymous Twitter accounts celebrated Musk’s takeover and argued it meant the old rules against bigotry no longer applied.

washington post logoWashington Post, Big Tech is failing to fight election lies, civil rights groups charge, Naomi Nix, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). A coalition of 60 civil rights and consumer groups backed a report that offers a dim assessment of tech companies’ plans to protect the 2022 midterms.

Two years ago, Silicon Valley’s biggest technology giants faced criticism from activists and voter suppression experts for not moving sooner to restrict Donald Trump’s accounts after his repeated false claims disputing the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Now, a coalition of 60 consumer and civil rights groups says Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube are just as ill-prepared to fight disinformation from politicians and other public figures whose public pronouncements about the 2022 midterms could undermine Americans’ faith in the electoral process or lead to violence.

The Change the Terms coalition, which includes the civil rights group Color of Change and the good-government group Common Cause, is releasing on Thursday a scathing 19-page analysis of the major tech companies’ election-related policies and whether they are living up to their pledges to fight disinformation ahead of the vote.

The report argues that the tech companies’ plans to fight disinformation and connect users with credible information arrived too late and were not aggressive enough to address proliferating false claims about widespread voter fraud or specific attacks against election officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, How to lock down your Twitter data, or leave, as Musk takes over, Heather Kelly and Pranshu Verma, Updated Oct. 27, 2022. Here’s everything you can do now to secure your personal information

  • Politico, EU Commissioner to Elon Musk: Twitter will play by our rules, Oct. 28, 2022.
  • Politico Magazine, A Former WSJ Reporter Is Suing — Over the Email Hack That Got Him Fired, Michael Schaffer, Oct. 28, 2022. Jay Solomon claims that a major law firm and an array of others targeted him after he angered a Persian Gulf ruler.

washington post logoWashington Post, TikTok’s link to China sparks privacy fears and exposes U.S. inaction, Drew Harwell and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Oct. 28, 2022. The wildly popular app’s link to China has sparked fears over propaganda and privacy. It’s also exposed America’s failure to safeguard the web.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

 ap logoAssociated Press, Intruder beat Pelosi’s husband with hammer in their home, Colleen Long, Olga R. Rodrigues, Lisa Mascaro and Michael Balsamo, Oct. 28, 2022. An intruder attacked and severely beat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer in the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday while searching for the Democratic leader and chillingly shouting: “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”

Police were called to the home to check on Paul Pelosi at about 2:30 a.m. when they discovered the 82-year-old and the suspect, 42-year-old David Depape, both grabbing onto the hammer, said Police Chief William Scott. The intruder yanked it from Pelosi and began beating him before being subdued and arrested by officers.

The speaker was in Washington, where she had been scheduled to appear with Vice President Kamala Harris at a fundraising event Saturday night for the LGBTQ group Human Rights Campaign, 11 days before congressional elections that have been filled with harsh, sometimes violent rhetoric. Pelosi canceled her appearance.

U.S. House logoThe intruder’s shouts in Pelosi’s California home were an unsettling echo of the chants during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, when rioters trying to stop Joe Biden’s election searched menacingly through the halls for the speaker. Police said a motive for Friday’s intrusion was still being determined, but three people with knowledge of the investigation told
The Associated Press that Depape targeted Pelosi’s home. Those people were not authorized to talk publicly about an ongoing probe and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police gave few details on the suspect or his motives. But the attack raised questions about the safety of members of Congress and their families. Threats to lawmakers are at an all-time high almost two years after the Capitol insurrection. In the current midterm election campaigns, crime and public safety have emerged as top concerns among Americans.

Paul Pelosi was severely beaten, suffering blunt force trauma after he was struck several times in the head. He was admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for his injuries, the hospital confirmed. His condition was not immediately available, but Pelosi’s spokesman has said he would recover.

Proof via Twitter, Commentary: The man is being charged with attempted murder, and was screaming “WHERE IS NANCY?” before he tried to take her husband hostage, @SethAbramson, left, Oct. 28, 2022. Is everyone on the same page in seeing this as a would-be *assassination* of the person second in seth abramson graphicline to the presidency? Trumpist domestic terrorism?

There’s almost no difference between what this would-be assassin believes to be true and what the average MAGA believes true. There’s almost no difference between what this man believes true and what GOP leaders and candidates *say* is true.

Does everyone see how scary that is?

NBC News, Suspect in attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was searching for her, sources say, Rebecca Shabad and Haley Talbot, Oct. 28, 2022. Police identified the suspect later Friday as David DePape and said he would be charged with attempted homicide.

NBC News logoThe suspect who violently attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband early Friday was searching for her, two sources briefed on the incident told NBC News.

The sources said that before the assault occurred, the intruder confronted Paul Pelosi, 82, shouting, “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” One of the sources, a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter, added that the investigation is still developing.

San Francisco's chief of police, Bill Scott, said in a statement to the press Friday morning that the suspect, who was taken into custody, is 42-year-old David DePape.

Scott said that police arrived at Pelosis' home just before 2:30 a.m. PT and observed “Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it."

djt maga hat"Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid," Scott added.

According to a family member traveling to San Francisco with the speaker, the suspect brought the hammer and broke the windows of the Pelosi home facing the backyard. The family member said once inside, the suspect was trying to tie up Paul Pelosi and said they would wait "until Nancy got home." When the suspect wasn’t looking, Paul called 911. The family member said Paul was home alone and was hit in the head with the hammer multiple times. When the police arrived, the suspect said, "We are waiting for Nancy."

As of Friday afternoon, Paul Pelosi was still in surgery, the family member said.

Police Chief Scott said it's an active investigation and said "the motive for this attack is still being determined." Paul Pelosi and DePape, were both taken to a local hospital, he said. DePape will be booked at San Francisco County Jail on the charges of attempted homicide assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and several other additional felonies, Scott added.

Pelosi's office broke the news of the attack in a statement earlier Friday.

"Early this morning, an assailant broke into the Pelosi residence in San Francisco and violently assaulted Mr. Pelosi," the California Democrat's spokesman, Drew Hammill, said. "The assailant is in custody and the motivation for the attack is under investigation."

“Mr. Pelosi was taken to the hospital, where he is receiving excellent medical care and is expected to make a full recovery,” Hammill continued.

The House speaker was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack, according to her office. U.S. Capitol Police said in a separate statement that Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., with her protective detail at the time of the break-in.

Paul Pelosi did not have a security detail. Spouses of top lawmakers are not granted one because they are not U.S. Capitol Police protectees.

Hammill said Pelosi "and her family are grateful to the first responders and medical professionals involved, and request privacy at this time." The statement didn't provide any details on how the suspect broke into their home or what injuries Pelosi's husband might have sustained.

Capitol Police said it is assisting the FBI and San Francisco police with a joint investigation into the home invasion and said the "motivation for the attack is still under investigation." The agency also said special agents in its California field office "quickly arrived on the scene while a team of investigators from the department's threat assessment section was simultaneously dispatched from the East Coast." FBI agents were at the Pelosi home Friday morning.

President Joe Biden called the speaker Friday morning to "express his support," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. "He is also very glad that a full recovery is expected. The president continues to condemn all violence, and asks that the family’s desire for privacy be respected."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement that he also spoke with the House speaker, saying he "conveyed my deepest concern and heartfelt wishes to her husband and their family."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a tweet, that he was "horrified and disgusted by the reports that Paul Pelosi was assaulted in his and Speaker Pelosi’s home last night."

 

elon musk sideviewPolitico, Musk owns Twitter — and Washington awaits Trump's return, Rebecca Kern, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Elon Musk, shown above, will own Twitter, after the two sides finally closed a $44 billion deal Thursday to sell the company to the world’s richest man.

twitter bird Custompolitico CustomMusk’s takeover — reported by multiple news outlets on Thursday night — could have huge implications for the future of Washington’s favorite social media app, especially if former President Donald Trump is allowed back on the platform, and if Musk loosens the rules to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

With just 12 days until the midterm elections, a resurrected Trump Twitter account could have electoral implications, donald trump twittergiving the former president a megaphone to again challenge election results, blast his opponents and spread falsehoods.

What exactly Musk does next is an open question, to say nothing of Trump.

In an effort seemingly aimed at easing concerns from nervous advertisers, Musk, a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” promised on Thursday that the platform would not descend into “a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Moguls Have Been Unleashed, David Streitfeld, Oct. 28, 2022. Silicon Valley moguls used to buy yachts and islands. Now they are rich enough, and perhaps arrogant enough, to acquire companies they fancy.

Forget about the endless drama, the bots, the abrupt reversals, the spectacle, the alleged risk to the Republic and all we hold dear. Here is the most important thing about Elon Musk’s buying Twitter: The moguls have been unleashed.

In the old days, when a tech tycoon wanted to buy something big, he needed a company to do it. Steve Case used AOL to buy Time Warner. Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods for Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook to buy Instagram and WhatsApp and Oculus and on and on. These were corporate deals done for the bottom line, even if they might never have happened without a famous and forceful proprietor.

Mr. Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, which finally became a reality on Thursday, six months after he agreed to the deal, is different. It is an individual buying something for himself that 240 million people around the world use regularly. While he has other investors, Mr. Musk will have absolute control over the fate of the short-message social media platform.

It’s a difficult deal to evaluate even in an industry built on deals, because this one is so unusual. It came about whimsically, impulsively. But, even by the standards of Silicon Valley, where billions are casually offered for fledging operations — and even by the wallet of Mr. Musk, on most days the richest man in the world — $44 billion is quite a chunk of change.

  • New York Times, Elon Musk is taking Twitter private. What does that mean?
  • New York Times, DealBook: Elon Musk has just a few days to determine whether to pay millions to employees, or get rid of them.

ny times logoNew York Times, Appeals Court Upholds House’s Effort to See Trump’s Tax Returns, Charlie Savage, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The former president is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court after the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to rehear the matter.

A full federal appeals court denied on Thursday former President Donald J. Trump’s attempt to block Congress from gaining access to his tax returns, leaving in place a three-judge panel’s ruling that a federal law gives a House committee chairman broad authority to request them despite Mr. Trump’s status as a former president.

But the terse unsigned order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejecting Mr. Trump’s request to rehear the case does not necessarily mean that Congress will obtain the records, which it has sought as it investigates his finances under its oversight powers. Mr. Trump’s legal team has vowed to fight the congressional effort “tooth and nail,” and is very likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

If the justices do not resolve the matter before the end of the year, and if Republicans retake control of the House — as polls indicate is likely — the House under G.O.P. control is virtually certain to drop the request. Mr. Trump has generally pursued a strategy of using the slow pace of litigation to run out the clock on various oversight and investigative efforts.

The House Ways and Means Committee, which requested the tax returns, had asked the appeals court to expedite treatment of the matter, but it did not. Nevertheless, in a statement, Representative Richard E. Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, praised the decision.

  • New York Times, With a House majority in sight, Republicans have begun playing down talk of impeaching President Biden.mmill said.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. economy grows 2.6% in third quarter, reversing a six-month slump, Abha Bhattarai, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The last report on gross domestic product before the midterm elections showed solid growth from July to September, according to new data by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the third quarter, marking its first increase in 2022 and a sharp turnaround after six months of contraction — despite lingering fears that the country is at risk of a recession.

The third-quarter gross domestic product figures, released Thursday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, provide an upbeat snapshot less than two weeks before midterm elections, in a year that has seen the economy and high inflation become a persistent challenge for Democrats.

“The irony is, we’re seeing the strongest growth of the year when things are actually slowing,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG. “There are some real cracks in the foundation. Housing is contracting. The consumer is slowing. GDP is growing, but not for all of the right reasons.”

Even though consumers bought fewer goods, they continued to spend on health care, which helped lift the GDP reading. An increase in government spending at the federal, state and local levels also contributed to the gains.

The biggest boost, though, came from a narrowing trade deficit, with American retailers importing fewer items and exporting more goods as well as services, such as travel. That is a stark reversal from earlier in the year, when the gap between incoming goods and outgoing ones was at its widest on record.

Trade-related benefits , though, are likely to be short-lived. Economists widely expect GDP growth to slow in the coming months as consumers and businesses continue pulling back in the face of rising interest rates and increased uncertainty. By next year, many are forecasting a more protracted slump and perhaps even a recession.

ny times logoNew York Times, Exxon and Chevron Rack Up Giant Profits, Clifford Krauss, Oct. 28, 2022. A fourth straight quarter of robust results for the two largest U.S. oil companies came on the back of high oil and natural gas prices.

Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the largest U.S. oil companies, reported on Friday a fourth consecutive quarter of robust profits on the back of high oil and natural gas prices and strong chemical and refining earnings.

But the companies remain cautious as they face uncertain future prices because of a weakening global economy and international conflict.

Exxon’s profit of $19.7 billion from operations topped the previous quarter’s $17.9 billion. The oil giant’s latest quarterly profit was nearly triple what it made in the same period last year. It cited oil and natural gas output as major contributors, along with cost cutting.

The company said its production in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico was its highest ever, as was the volume of its North American refining. “The investments we’ve made, even through the pandemic, enabled us to increase production to address the needs of consumers,” Darren Woods, the chief executive, said in a statement.

 

Investigations 

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The Trump administration: the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Oct. 28 2022. In an era marked by unprecedented events, it is not hyperbole to state that the Donald Trump administration and the twice-impeached disgraced ex-president's post-presidency represent the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history.

wayne madesen report logoAn examination by WMR of court records, including criminal cases dealing with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Trump's misappropriation of highly-classified documents at his private properties, points to over a dozen foreign intelligence services, most of them hostile to U.S. national interests, having gained access to America's most guarded secrets.

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary QAnon: Russia-style, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 26-27, 2022. Russia's dangerous religious rhetoric is setting the stage for modern-day pogroms in Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top national-security prosecutor joins Trump Mar-a-Lago investigation, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 28, 2022. David Raskin joins the case as outside national-security experts say prosecutors have amassed evidence that meets some key criteria for charging the former president.

One of the Justice Department’s most experienced national security prosecutors has joined the team overseeing the intensifying investigation of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, people familiar with the matter said.

National security law experts interviewed by The Washington Post say prosecutors appear to have amassed evidence in the case that would meet some of the criteria for bringing charges against the former president — an unprecedented action that they said likely would only happen if the Justice Department believes it has an extremely strong case.

David Raskin,who served for many years as a senior federal prosecutor in New York City, and more recently has worked as a prosecutor in Kansas City, Mo., has been quietly assisting in the investigation into Trump and his aides, according to the people familiar with the matter, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation.

Raskin is considered one of the most accomplished terrorism prosecutors of his generation, having worked on the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was tried in Virginia as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Raskin was also part of the team that prosecuted Ahmed Ghailani in federal court in Manhattan in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Ghailani was acquitted of most counts but found guilty of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He is the only Guantánamo Bay detainee to be brought to a U.S. court and tried and convicted. Both Moussaoui and Ghailani received life sentences.

Justice Department officials initially contacted Raskin to consult on the criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. But his role has shifted over time to focus more on the investigation involving the former president’s possession and potential mishandling of classified documents, the people familiar with the matter said.

Associated Press via Denver Post, Colorado man found guilty in “We Build the Wall” fraud trial, Larry Neumeister, Oct. 28, 2022. Timothy Shea convicted of two conspiracy counts and an obstruction of justice charge.

A Colorado businessman was convicted Friday of charges that he and others siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from an online fundraiser to build a wall along the U.S. southern border despite a promise to donors that every cent would go toward building the wall.

Timothy Shea stared straight ahead without reaction as he was convicted in Manhattan federal court of two conspiracy counts and an obstruction of justice charge by a jury that deliberated about six hours after a one-week retrial. He said nothing when he was asked to comment as he left the building. Sentencing was set for Jan. 31.

Another jury deadlocked on charges in the spring after 11 jurors wrote a note to the judge to say one juror had accused the others of being politically biased and suggesting the trial should be held in the South.

Shea, of Castle Rock, Colorado, was charged two years ago along with three others, including Steve Bannon, the former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump. Bannon, who is now being prosecuted in state court, was pardoned by Trump just before he left office last year. Two others have pleaded guilty.

With its verdict, the jury rejected arguments by Shea’s lawyer, John Meringolo, that prosecutors had failed to prove there was fraud in the promotion of the “We Build The Wall” fundraiser that attracted $25 million in donations from hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

Meringolo also encouraged jurors during closing arguments Thursday to conclude that New York was an improper venue for the trial.

He also tried to convince them that his client had a right to accept reimbursement of extensive expenses related to the wall because he had done substantial work negotiating with homeowners on whose property the wall would be built and providing security for the construction. Only a few miles of wall were built.

 

Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao from 2003 to 2013 (standing at center) is lead away from China's major political gathering as current leader, Xi Jinping, right, avoids looking on Oct. 22, 2022 (Photo by Mark R. Cristino via EPA, EFE and Shutterstock).

Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao from 2003 to 2013 (standing at center) is lead away from China's major political gathering as current leader, Xi Jinping, right, avoids looking on Oct. 22, 2022 (Photo by Mark R. Cristino via EPA, EFE and Shutterstock).

ny times logoNew York Times, What Happened to Hu Jintao? Agnes Chang, Vivian Wang, Isabelle Qian and Ang Li, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed. and multimedia). We deconstruct footage of the surprising moment when the former Chinese leader was escorted out of the highly choreographed Communist Party Congress.

China FlagIt was the lone disruption in one of the most closely choreographed events in China: The country’s former top leader, Hu Jintao, was suddenly led out of the closing ceremony of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress.

The congress, where China’s next leaders are anointed, is the single most important political event for a ruling party fixated on control. Every detail, whether it is the outcome of its elections or how servers pour tea, is planned. Nothing unscripted happens. Nothing unscripted is allowed to happen.

Except this year, it did.

The roughly 2,000 delegates to the congress had just cast ballots for the party’s prestigious Central Committee. Then, two men led Mr. Hu — who appeared reluctant to go — out of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

The moment, captured on video by journalists who had been allowed into the hall minutes earlier, prompted questions and wild speculation. Was Mr. Hu, 79, suffering from poor health, as Chinese state media would later report? Or was he being purged in a dramatic show by China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, for the world to see?\

 washington post logoWashington Post, Taiwan, missiles and spying set to be China’s priorities under new Xi term, Christian Shepherd and Pei-Lin Wu, Oct. 28, 2022. The backgrounds of the two dozen members of the all important Politburo suggest Xi's priorities for the new term are all about military technology and Taiwan.

China FlagFresh from securing another term — if not life tenure — as China’s paramount leader, Xi Jinping on Thursday led a symbolic field trip of his newly appointed top lieutenants to the historical revolutionary base of Yan’an, the cradle of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party takeover of the nation.

taiwan flagStanding in the cave from which Mao led his Red Army troops, China’s most powerful leader in decades delivered a warning about the need for loyalty, hard work and sacrifice. The party must carry forward the Yan’an spirit, Xi told the assembled leaders, which he described as primarily one of “pioneering self-reliance and arduous struggle.”

According to Xi, that wartime ethos is needed today as much as in the 1940s, when the Communists fought first the Japanese invasion and then a civil war with the ruling Nationalist Party. 

 

ksenia sobchak

washington post logoWashington Post, Ksenia Sobchak, Russian star linked to Putin, fled using Israeli passport, Mary Ilyushina, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Ksenia Sobchak, a Russian socialite and television anchor with a close family connection to President Vladimir Putin, used her dual Israeli citizenship to flee Russia on Tuesday after a police raid of her home that Russian authorities said was tied to a criminal investigation of two of her business associates.

Sobchak, 40, above, who earned fame as a reality TV star and has been known over the years as a Russian “It Girl” and Russia’s Paris Hilton, is the daughter of St. Petersburg’s first post-Soviet mayor, Anatoly Sobchak.

Anatoly Sobchak, who died in 2000, was Putin’s boss and political mentor. In 1990, Sobchak hired then-KGB agent Putin as a deputy mayor, and the two families remained close throughout the decade.

Ksenia Sobchak now runs the “Ostorozhno Novosti” project, which includes a network of Telegram news channels, a podcast studio, a YouTube channel and Sobchak’s own social media page. She has long straddled a fence between Russia’s political elite and its liberal political opposition, creating some distrust of her from both camps. In 2018, she ran for president against Putin, winning about 2 percent of votes.

Sobchak’s current legal troubles seemed to reflect tension within the well-connected elite as well as the climate of heightened anxiety amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. It also highlighted the urgency many well-to-do Russians feel about obtaining dual citizenship and a second passport.

Sobchak fled to Belarus and then Lithuania, which is a member of the European Union and along with the other Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia, is effectively closed to Russian travelers — even those with previously issued visas permitting them to enter the European Union’s Schengen travel zone. Only dual citizens or Russian nationals with humanitarian visas and residency permits can enter.

But Sobchak, who is partly of Jewish heritage, used her Israeli passport to cross the border, Lithuania’s Interior Ministry confirmed Thursday. A video from a surveillance camera emerged on Telegram channels showing Sobchak entering Lithuania on foot and talking to border officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Russia’s security service works to subvert Moldova’s pro-Western government, Catherine Belton, Oct. 28, 2022.  A trove of sensitive materials obtained by Ukrainian intelligence and reviewed by The Washington Post illustrates how Moscow continues to try to manipulate countries in Eastern Europe.

When thousands of protesters gathered last month outside Moldova’s presidential palace calling for the country’s pro-Western leader to step down, the man behind the demonstration — an opposition party leader in exile in Israel — soon received plaudits from Moscow.

One senior Russian politician praised the protest organizer, Ilan Shor, as “a worthy long-term partner” and even offered the Moldovan region led by Shor’s party a cheap Russian gas deal, according to Shor’s press service. Referred to as “the young one” by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the 35-year-old Shor is a leading figure in the Kremlin’s efforts to subvert this former Soviet republic, intelligence documents and interviews with Moldovan, Ukrainian and Western officials show.

The documents — part of a trove of sensitive materials obtained by Ukrainian intelligence and reviewed by The Washington Post — illustrate how Moscow continues to try to manipulate countries in Eastern Europe even as its military campaign in Ukraine falters. The FSB has funneled tens of millions of dollars from some of Russia’s biggest state companies to cultivate a network of Moldovan politicians and reorient the country toward Moscow, the documents and interviews indicate.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Attention, Georgia Voters: Herschel Walker Isn’t Even Georgian, He’s a Texan, Seth Abramson, left, author, attorney and seth abramson graphicjournalism professor, Oct. 26-27, 2022. If you thought New Jersey’s Mehmet Oz—now running for Senate in Pennsylvania, for some reason—was a shameless carpetbagger, wait until you read this. It’s still unclear why this isn’t bigger news.

georgia mapWhere he lived for ten years—in fact up until only a matter of months ago, until a last-minute stunt allowed him to become an “inhabitant” (not even a permanent resident) of the State of Georgia.

For some reason, despite it being covered by local Georgia news, the fact that Walker is a Texan who’s lived in the same seth abramson proof logoDallas-area gated community for a decade has not made national news in the way Mehmet Oz’s equally unabashed carpetbaggery has.

And yet, the truth is undeniable—Herschel Walker is a Texan.

ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Formally Bars Justice Dept. From Seizing Reporters’ Records, Charlie Savage, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The rule codifies and expands a policy he issued in 2021, after it came to light that the Trump administration had secretly gone after records of reporters for The Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department on Wednesday formally banned the use of subpoenas, warrants or court orders to seize reporters’ communications records or demand their notes or testimony in an effort to uncover confidential sources in leak investigations, in what amounts to a major policy shift.

The rules institutionalize — and in places expand — a temporary policy that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland put in place in July 2021, after the revelation that the Justice Department, under Attorney General William P. Barr, had secretly pursued email records of reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

merrick garland“These regulations recognize the crucial role that a free and independent press plays in our democracy,” Mr. Garland, left, said in a statement.

“Because freedom of the press requires that members of the news media have the freedom to investigate and report the news, the new regulations are intended to provide enhanced protection to members of the news media from certain law enforcement tools and actions that might unreasonably impair news gathering.”

The broad prohibitions are a major change in how the Justice Department has come to approach leak investigations in the 21st century, when it began a crackdown that spans administrations of both parties and has put pressure on reporting on matters of national security.

The publisher of The Times, A.G. Sulzberger, who was put under a gag order in 2021 that shielded from his own newsroom’s view a legal fight over the email logs of Times journalists, praised the new policy while calling on Congress to pass a law further strengthening such protections.

“We applaud the Justice Department for taking this important step, which will allow journalists to perform the crucial work of informing the public without fear of legal consequences,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “We encourage Congress to enact a federal shield law to help ensure that these reforms are lasting.”

Exceptions to the policy are narrow. Among others, it does not apply to situations in which a reporter is under investigation for something unconnected to news gathering, situations in which a member of the news media is deemed an agent of a foreign power or a member of a foreign terrorist group, or “when necessary to prevent an imminent or concrete risk of death or serious bodily harm.”

The Justice Department developed the regulation in consultation with press freedom advocates like Bruce D. Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Mr. Garland also met with representatives from The Times, The Post, The Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Dow Jones, NBC and The New Yorker.

Those conversations led to several adjustments about potentially critical issues, like how “news gathering” is defined. According to participants, the Justice Department originally intended to define it in a way that was limited to the passive receipt of government secrets. But the final version now covers the act of pursuing information.

The regulation defines “news gathering” as “the process by which a member of the news media collects, pursues, or obtains information or records for purposes of producing content intended for public dissemination,” including “classified information” from confidential sources.

The Justice Department is also said to have removed espionage from a list of criminal activities that are excluded from protected news gathering.

The final regulation does not cover criminal acts “committed in the course of obtaining information or using information.” Those include breaking and entering; theft; unlawfully gaining access to a computer or computer system; unlawful surveillance or wiretapping; bribery; or aiding or abetting or conspiring to engage in such criminal activities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democracy in America: After Trump called the 2020 election rigged, officials in this Ga. county gave his allies access to voting machines, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine, Oct. 28, 2022. How Coffee County became an early target in the multistate search for purported evidence of election fraud.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Election deniers hope a hand count in Nevada offers a roadmap for the future, Amy Gardner, Oct. 28, 2022. The GOP nominee for secretary of state has pushed to jettison voting machines. One county is already experimenting with counting ballots manually.

washington post logoWashington Post, Protected immigrants at risk of losing U.S. work permits, Maria Sacchetti, Updated Oct. 27, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mainly from Central America, are at risk of losing their work permits after negotiations with the Biden administration to extend them broke down this week, advocates said Wednesday.

More than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal are seeking in federal court to extend their “temporary protected status,” or TPS, which most have held for decades. Immigrants’ lawyers and the Biden administration had been negotiating over the families’ status since June 2021, but talks collapsed Tuesday and lawyers said they are returning to court.

“Mediation efforts have been exhausted,” court mediator Jonathan Westen notified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The move reactivates a years-long court battle for the longtime immigrants to stay in the United States and intensifies pressure on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to decide whether to renew their protections.

Advocates say Mayorkas could solve their problem by issuing a fresh designation that it is too dangerous to return immigrants to those countries.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Luis Miranda said the agency does not comment on ongoing litigation. But he said the immigrants affected by the lawsuit "will continue to be protected over the coming months.”

The Justice Department, which represents the government in court, declined to comment, spokeswoman Dena Iverson said in an email.

Federal law allows the government to grant TPS to immigrants if their countries are engulfed in wars, natural disasters or other dangerous conditions. The Trump administration attempted to terminate the protections for Salvadorans and other immigrant groups, saying the designation had dragged on after the disasters had passed.

A federal judge sided with the immigrants in 2018 and paused the terminations, but was later overruled by 2-1 panel of the 9th Circuit. Advocates for immigrants have asked the full 9th Circuit to review the panel’s decision.

More than 240,000 immigrants from El Salvador, 76,700 from Honduras, 14,500 from Nepal and 4,250 from Nicaragua are at risk of losing their status, according to a 2021 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report filed to Congress.

President Biden had pledged to protect these and other immigrants during his campaign, saying Donald Trump’s “politically motivated decisions" would be disastrous for immigrants who had lived in the United States for years.

The breakdown in negotiations stunned lawyers for the immigrants and their U.S.-born children.

Immigrants typically receive temporary protected status for a year or 18 months and live in periodic fear that the status will not be renewed. But for years officials have renewed those protections. Salvadorans received their current status in 2001 after devastating earthquakes. Hondurans and Nicaraguans were protected because of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Nepalis received protection following an earthquake in 2015.

Anyone from those countries who arrived in the United States after the designation is ineligible to apply.

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama, Biden, Harris all hit campaign trail as Election Day nears, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro, Oct. 28, 2022. Democrats are dispatching a current and a former president to battleground states as Election Day rapidly approaches.

joe biden twitterPresident Biden and Vice President Harris are scheduled to speak at a fundraiser in Pennsylvania to aid Senate hopeful John Fetterman, gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro and other Democrats on the ballot. Former president Barack Obama plans to be in Georgia at a rally aiming to give a boost to Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and other Peach State Democrats.

 washington post logoWashington Post, GOP head mocks speaking abilities of Fetterman, Biden, John Wagner, Oct. 28, 2022. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Thursday mocked the speaking abilities of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate who is recovering from a stroke, and President Biden, who grew up with a stutter.

McDaniel was interviewed by syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt about news that Biden and Vice President Harris plan to appear at a political event in Philadelphia on Friday intended to boost Fetterman and other Pennsylvania Democrats on the ballot.

republican elephant logo“No one wants them except a doomed campaign,” Hewitt said, suggesting that Democrats around the country have asked Biden and Harris to stay away.

“I do not underestimate what the triple toxicity politically of those three can do,” Hewitt, a Washington Post contributing columnist, continued. “I hope there are cameras and microphones, because you put those three together and they could say anything, Ronna.”

“Well, maybe they can get a full sentence out,” McDaniel replied.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The midterms aren’t just a toss-up — they’re a mystery, Eugene Robinson, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). If you think you know what’s going to happen two weeks from now in the midterm elections, think again. Even the leaders of both parties are acting as though a puff of wind could tip the results.

That should be a warning that the stories we’re telling ourselves about momentum, about the demise of Roe v. Wade or even about the looming threat to democracy are just that — narratives we’re using to impose order on a year that feels uncomfortably out of control.

History says this should be a Republican cycle. But look at where the GOP’s unchallenged leader, Donald Trump, plans to hold rallies in the campaign’s final days: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Iowa.

It makes sense that in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Senate seats now held by Republicans are up for grabs, Trump would do all he could to energize the GOP base on behalf of two of the flawed candidates who won their primaries because of his endorsement: Mehmet Oz, who narrowly trails Democrat John Fetterman, and J.D. Vance, who is slightly ahead of Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. In Florida, polling shows incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio with a measurable lead over Democratic Rep. Val Demings; that is, however, Trump’s home state.

But Iowa? This suggests that longtime GOP Sen. Charles E. Grassley, whose reelection is usually a formality, is actually worried about being ousted by Democrat Mike Franken. The latest Des Moines Register poll has Grassley leading by just three percentage points, in what the newspaper called Grassley’s “toughest reelection fight in 40 years.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Arrest made in break-in of Ariz. Democratic governor candidate Hobbs’s campaign office, Amy Wang and Maham Javaid, Oct. 28, 2022. Phoenix police said Thursday they have arrested a suspect in a break-in at the campaign office of Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs earlier this week. The incident set off implicit accusations against her Republican rival Kari Lake — a charge the former television news presenter scoffed at as “absurd.”

Authorities identified the suspect as 36-year-old Daniel Mota Dos Reis, who had been arrested earlier in the day and was in jail for an unrelated commercial burglary. According to a police statement, an officer recognized Dos Reis in security footage from the burglary at Hobbs’s office near Virginia Avenue and Central Avenue.

Dos Reis has been rearrested and booked on one count of third-degree burglary. It was not immediately clear whether Dos Reis has a lawyer.

The police report said an Apple computer mouse, Apple keyboard and a black Nikon camera were taken during the burglary.

Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, and Lake have been engaged in a bitter campaign for governor, and polls have shown the two locked in a tight race. Lake, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, has embraced and spread the former president’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Trump and his allies, including Lake, have especially questioned the results in Arizona, where Joe Biden narrowly defeated him — the first time a Democrat took the state since 1996.

Phoenix police said they responded to a burglary call at Hobbs’s campaign office on Tuesday afternoon. In surveillance images obtained from the Hobbs campaign by The Washington Post, a young man wearing shorts and a green T-shirt can be seen inside the building.

“Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign. Throughout this race, we have been clear that the safety of our staff and of the Secretary is our number one priority,” Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Let’s be clear: for nearly two years Kari Lake and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit,” DeMont added. “The threats against Arizonans attempting to exercise their constitutional rights and their attacks on elected officials are the direct result of a concerted campaign of lies and intimidation.”

  • Politico, Cheney PAC ad hits Republicans Lake, Finchem in key Arizona races, Nicholas Wu, Oct. 28, 2022.

 ny times logoNew York Times, The 2022 Race for the House, in Four Districts, and Four Polls, Shane Goldmacher and Nate Cohn, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Swing-district polls by The New York Times and Siena College show how the midterms are being shaped by forces beyond the red and blue divide.

President Biden is unpopular everywhere. Economic concerns are mounting. Abortion rights are popular but social issues are more often secondary.

A new series of House polls by The New York Times and Siena College across four archetypal swing districts offers fresh evidence that Republicans are poised to retake Congress this fall as the party dominated among voters who care most about the economy.

Democrats continue to show resilience in places where abortion is still high on the minds of voters, and where popular incumbents are on the ballot. Indeed, the Democrats were still tied or ahead in all four districts — three of which were carried by Mr. Biden in 2020. But the party’s slim majority — control could flip if just five seats change hands — demands that it essentially run the table everywhere, at a moment when the economy has emerged as the driving issue in all but the country’s wealthier enclaves.

The poll results in the four districts — an upscale suburb in Kansas, the old industrial heartland of Pennsylvania, a fast-growing part of Las Vegas and a sprawling district along New Mexico’s southern border — offer deeper insights beyond the traditional Republican and Democratic divide in the race for Congress. They show how the midterm races are being shaped by larger and at times surprising forces that reflect the country’s ethnic, economic and educational realignment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mortgage rates hit 7 percent for the first time in two decades, Rachel Siegel and Kathy Orton, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). This week’s data from Freddie Mac shows the average fixed rate for a 30-year loan at 7.08 percent, the highest since early 2002. A year ago, rates were less than half that, but the Federal Reserve’s push to fight inflation has sent mortgage costs soaring.

Mortgage rates topped 7 percent this week, the highest level in 20 years — and the latest sign that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive moves to slow the broader economy are hitting the housing market hard already.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular home-loan product, reached 7.08 percent, according to data released Thursday by Freddie Mac. The last time mortgage rates climbed so high was April 2002, and they are slated to keep climbing as the Fed moves swiftly to tame a red-hot housing market, a key step in lowering rent costs and ultimately quelling inflation in the broader economy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump does not have a magic wand when it comes to this, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 28, 2022. It’s entirely possible that Musk will bill palmergo ahead and reinstate Donald Trump (among other right wing criminals) on Twitter in the coming hours or days, with no one there to stop him.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing: it won’t matter.

For one thing, Donald Trump was on Twitter throughout the entire 2020 election cycle, tweeting up a storm, and he still lost that election by seven million votes. So no, Trump getting back on Twitter will not somehow magically make him a more viable political candidate going forward. Even if Trump were still in the “legitimately a political candidate” stage of his life, being back on Twitter wouldn’t help him.

For that matter, Trump has now moved on to the criminal defendant stage of his life. As we’ve seen in some other high profile DOJ criminal cases, Trump’s tweets will be used against him, both in the indictment and at trial. So if Trump does get back on Twitter, and he begins posting tweets that donald trump twitterare aimed at obstructing justice or count as a confession to crimes, those tweets will only increase the odds that the DOJ gets a conviction once Trump is on trial.

Trump will not help himself in any way by being back on Twitter, and if he gets carried away, he’ll harm himself and cement his own downfall. And while Trump does love trying to incite violence, he can’t just tweet a magic combination of words that causes his supporters to magically take over the government. Nothing works that way. Trump couldn’t even pull that off back when he was still President. For all the fear and loathing over January 6th, everyone forgets that Trump’s attempt at violently keeping himself in office was a complete failure. And now his supporters are more afraid to get violent, because Trump no longer controls federal law enforcement.

twitter bird CustomNor will Trump being back on Twitter somehow magically help the Republicans in the midterms. Trump’s rallies haven’t helped Republican candidates one bit in the general election thus far. His tweets won’t either. Trump has had some fun meddling in Republican primaries over the years, but he never has had the ability to boost Republican candidates in general elections.

So no, there’s no reason to sit around and fret about the possibility of Donald Trump getting back on Twitter. Now more than ever, Trump is a powerless broken man who’s merely playing defense as the Feds close in on him. His future consists of indictments and prison bars. If he wants to humiliate himself with some more stupid tweets along the way, so be it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats scramble into defensive posture in final stage of midterms, Annie Linskey, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Democratic talk of going on offense by running on abortion rights while President Biden’s approval rating ticked up has run into the harsh reality that Republicans are well-positioned to make potentially large gains on Nov. 8, some Democratic strategists said.

U.S. House logoDemocrats on Wednesday pumped at least $6.3 million worth of advertising investments into a trio of congressional districts in New York and New Jersey, where President Biden won by at least eight percentage points.

First lady Jill Biden spent the afternoon in Rhode Island trying to help save a Democrat running in a district her husband carried by nearly 14 points. The president is headed to the deep-blue Empire State on Thursday, where the Democratic governor is scrambling to avoid an upset in a closer-than-expected race that has put Democrats down the ballot in greater danger.

And in Pennsylvania, Democrats were trying to move past a shaky Tuesday debate performance by John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke. One former party official relayed hearing from people who wondered why Fetterman agreed to debate during his recovery. The U.S. Senate nominee’s once comfortable polling lead has shrunk in a race that party leaders have long seen as their best opportunity to flip a red Senate seat and take a step closer to preserving their narrow majority in the chamber.

ny times logoNew York Times, Intruder Attacks Nancy Pelosi’s Husband in Their San Francisco Home, Amanda Holpuch, Oct. 28, 2022. Paul Pelosi was hospitalized after the assault, a spokesman said. The House speaker was not in San Francisco at the time.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was hospitalized after he was assaulted by someone who broke into the couple’s residence in San Francisco early on Friday morning, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said.

“Early this morning, an assailant broke into the Pelosi residence in San Francisco and violently assaulted Mr. Pelosi,” Drew Hammill, the spokesman, said in a statement on Friday. “The assailant is in custody and the motivation for the attack is under investigation.”

Mr. Hammill said Mr. Pelosi was expected to make a full recovery. Ms. Pelosi was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack, he said.

  • Politico, 'Where is Nancy?': Pelosi home invader was searching for speaker, Kelly Hooper, Oct. 28, 2022. A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi said the alleged assailant is in custody.

Relevant Headlines

 

More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

washington post logoWashington Post, A federal court on Thursday cleared the way for Donald Trump’s records to be handed over to Democratic lawmakers, Rachel Weiner, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to reconsider an August ruling from three judges that gave a House committee the right to Trump’s tax returns for 2015 to 2020. The former president can still challenge the decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, but the appeals court declined a request from Trump to automatically hold the release of records pending that challenge.

The House Ways & Means Committee sought the records in 2019, saying they would inform legislation to improve the way presidents are audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Under Trump, the Treasury Department refused to hand over the documents; under President Biden, Trump sued to bar the agency from doing so. He argued the lawmakers’ true purpose was political. But the appeals panel agreed with a lower court that lawmakers had “a legitimate legislative purpose” in examining the records, which was to assess whether the current audit system is sufficient.

“It is not our place to delve deeper than this,” the appeals panel wrote. “The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political motivations as well as legislative ones is of no moment.”

The original order from the court said a mandate to release the returns would be issued a week after all issues were resolved.

Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), said in a statement that “the law has always been on our side.”

“Former President Trump has tried to delay the inevitable, but once again, the Court has affirmed the strength of our position,” the statement said. “We’ve waited long enough—we must begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program as soon as possible.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump chief of staff Meadows ordered to testify before Ga. grand jury, Amy B Wang and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state, a South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday.

Mark MeadowsFulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has said that her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” Because Meadows, right, does not live in Georgia, she could not subpoena him to testify but filed a petition in August for him to do so.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled Wednesday that Meadows must comply with a subpoena as his testimony is “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.”

The ruling was confirmed Wednesday by Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis. DiSantis said Meadows would not be called until after the midterm elections.

 

Nicholas Rodean, right, inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. To his immediate right is Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

Nicholas Rodean, right, inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. To his immediate right is Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Rioter Gets 5 Years’ Probation as Judge Cites Autism Diagnosis, April Rubin, Updated Oct. 27, 2022. Nicholas Rodean broke two window panes with a flagpole and was one of the first to enter the Capitol, federal prosecutors said. He was ordered to spend 240 days in home detention and pay $2,048.

A 29-year-old Maryland man who federal prosecutors said was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation by a federal judge who cited the man’s autism as an extenuating circumstance.

During his statement to the court, the man, Nicholas Rodean, struggled to explain his conduct on Jan. 6. Judge Trevor McFadden of U.S. District Court in Washington asked if he would ever do “something like this” again, according to Politico. “No,” Mr. Rodean replied.

Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 57 months in prison. During the attack, they said, Mr. Rodean used a flagpole and a small round object to break two panes of glass in a window, which became the entry point for many rioters.

Mr. Rodean also had a hatchet, which he put away after being asked to by a police officer. Federal prosecutors said that he was the 15th rioter to enter the Capitol and was one of the last rioters to leave.

In handing down a sentence that was lower than the minimum under sentencing guidelines, Judge McFadden attributed Mr. Rodean’s actions to autism spectrum disorder, according to Politico. Mr. Rodean, from Frederick, Md., was ordered to pay $2,048 and spend 240 days of his five years of probation in home detention.

Mr. Rodean had pleaded not guilty on all counts. In July, Judge McFadden found him guilty of the felony offense of destruction of government property and six misdemeanor offenses, including engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.

Mr. Rodean’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, declined to comment on Wednesday, but in a sentencing memorandum, he wrote, “We submit that Nicholas’ ‘history and personal characteristics’ make this a unique case among the hundreds of prosecutions to come out of that day.”

Mr. Rodean was one of hundreds of people who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election. Much of the planning occurred on social media sites used by the far right.

On Monday, Judge McFadden sentenced another Jan. 6 rioter, Hunter Seefried, to two years in prison with one year of supervised release and $2,000 restitution.

In August, a retired New York City police officer, Thomas Webster, an ex-Marine who once served on the protective detail of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, received the longest sentence — 10 years — for the attack. Last month, a Nazi sympathizer was sentenced to four years.

Politico, ‘He was your prey’: Jan. 6 rioter who assaulted officer gets 90 months, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Albuquerque Cosper Head is the latest Jan. 6 defendant to face a lengthy jail sentence for physically assaulting police.

A Jan. 6 rioter who committed one of the day’s most brutal assaults against a police officer has been sentenced to 90 months in prison, the second-longest sentence yet for a member of the mob that stormed the Capitol.

politico CustomAlbuquerque Cosper Head of Tennessee pleaded guilty to yanking Washington Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone away from police lines — shouting “I got one!” before other violent actors in the crowd dragged him away, tased him and robbed him of his badge and radio. Head engaged in a prolonged confrontation with police in the Capitol’s lower west terrace tunnel, the site of the day’s worst violence.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson described Head’s attack on Fanone as among the most chilling moments of violence on a dark day for the country.

“He was your prey,” Jackson said. “He was your trophy.”

Head is the latest Jan. 6 defendant to face a lengthy jail sentence for physically assaulting police. Jackson recently sentenced Kyle Young — who also pleaded guilty to his role in the assault on Fanone — to 86 months. And in her sentencing, she made waves by calling out congressional Republicans for being “afraid” to challenge Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election even amid rising threats to democracy.

Jackson delivered a similarly stark warning at Head’s sentencing.

“The dark shadow of tyranny unfortunately has not gone away,” she said. “Some people are directing their vitriol at Officer Fanone and not at the people who summoned the mob in the first place.”

Only Thomas Webster, a former NYPD officer who was convicted at trial of brutally assaulting a Metropolitan Police officer attempting to hold the line outside the Capitol, has faced a longer sentence so far. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta sentenced him to 10 years in prison last month.

Nearly 900 people have been charged for their actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and more than 400 have pleaded or been found guilty, primarily to misdemeanor offenses. But the number of defendants facing sentences for more serious crimes, like assaulting police officers or seeking to disrupt Congress’ session to count electoral votes and affirm Joe Biden’s presidency, has begun to climb as those slower and more complicated cases near their conclusions.

In delivering her sentence, Jackson noted that Head — unlike Webster — pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for his crime. She also acknowledged his fiancee, who was in the courtroom, and the hardship his lengthy incarceration would cause for her and their three daughters. Head battled addiction for much of his life and appeared to overcome it seven years ago, in part after meeting his now-fiancee, she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Kagan Temporarily Blocks Subpoena From Jan. 6 Committee, Adam Liptak, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The justice’s “administrative stay” of a subpoena for an Arizona Republican’s phone records was not an indication of how the Supreme Court would rule.

Justice Elena Kagan on Wednesday temporarily blocked a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol for phone records of Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Justice Kagan, who oversees the appeals court that refused to block the subpoena, issued an “administrative stay” meant to preserve the status quo while the Supreme Court considers the matter. As is the court’s practice, she gave no reasons.

Justice Kagan ordered the committee to respond to Ms. Ward’s emergency application by Friday. That was an indication that the full court would rule on the matter.

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More On Ukraine War

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin demands U.S. respect ‘multipolar’ world and tell Ukraine to seek peace, Mary Ilyushina, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Russian President Vladimir Putin recited familiar grievances and criticisms of the hegemonic “Western elite” while offering an ideological pitch to Asian leaders and to conservative groups in the United States and Europe during a keynote foreign policy speech on Thursday.

Putin also blamed the West for the war in Ukraine that he started with a full-scale invasion in February and he insisted that Washington could end the conflict by directing the Ukrainian government to seek peace.

In the speech, delivered to the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow, Putin portrayed Russia as a champion of rising nations in a new multipolar world, which he demanded that the United States and other Western powers begin to respect as equals. And seeking common ground with the right-wing in the West, he described Russia as a defender of traditional Christian values as society has lost its way.

“I am convinced that sooner or later both the new centers of a multipolar world order and the West will have to start an equal conversation about a common future for us, and the sooner the better, of course,” Putin said. He added that he believed the West was losing its dominance and “quickly becoming a minority on the world stage.”

In reality, it is Russia that has grown deeply isolated as a result of Putin’s brutal invasion, and his attempt to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine in violation of international law. Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly not to recognize Putin’s annexations and calling on him to reverse course. The results were 143 to 5 with 35 abstentions. The four countries to side with Russia were Belarus, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Russian forces in ‘defensive posture’; Ukraine decries ‘metal monsters’ from Iran, Andrew Jeong and Victoria Bisset, Oct. 28, 2022. Moscow has moved toward “a long-term, defensive posture” on the front lines in Ukraine over the past six weeks, the British Defense Ministry said Friday in its daily intelligence update, adding that this was likely a sign that Russian forces in Ukraine were “currently only capable of defensive operations.”

Ukraine said Russia had launched several Iranian-made Shahed drones in recent days. President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed the air force would “clip the wings of all metal monsters” as he gave a nightly address standing beside what appeared to be a downed drone. The drones, which Iran has repeatedly denied supplying to Moscow, have been used by Russian forces in Ukraine, most recently in a wave of attacks against Ukraine’s energy facilities.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • A change of Russian strategy in Ukraine to defensive tactics is “likely due to a more realistic assessment that the severely undermanned, poorly trained force in Ukraine is currently only capable of defensive operations,” the British ministry said in its daily intelligence update Friday. “Even if Russia succeeds in consolidating long-term defensive lines in Ukraine, its operational design will remain vulnerable,” it added.
  • Ukrainian forces have shot down more than 300 Iranian-made drones in the conflict so far, air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told a briefing Friday. Meanwhile, President Zelensky said Thursday night that Russia had launched more than 30 drones against Ukraine in the past two days, with 23 Shaheds shot down by Ukrainian forces. The Washington Post could not independently verify the Ukrainian claims.
  • Russia’s security services are working to undermine Moldova’s pro-Western government, according to sensitive materials obtained by Ukrainian intelligence and reviewed by The Washington Post. The documents illustrate how Moscow continues to try to manipulate countries in Eastern Europe even as its military campaign in Ukraine falters.
  • President Biden accused Vladimir Putin of nuclear brinkmanship Thursday, hours after the Russian leader downplayed the chance that the Kremlin would use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. “If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why does he talk about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?” Biden said during a cable news interview. “He’s been very dangerous on how he’s approached this,” Biden said. “And … he can end this all. Get out of Ukraine.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Putin demands we listen to him. The U.S. should take him up on it, David Ignatius, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The need for more diplomacy between Russia and the United States is screamingly obvious. But it should focus on preventing a catastrophic conflict between the two countries, rather than a fruitless effort to halt the Ukraine war.

The Ukraine conflict, for all its horror, simply isn’t ripe for a diplomatic settlement. Ukraine is advancing on the battlefield, and Russia, for all its nuclear saber-rattling, is in disarray. A defiant Ukraine wants to regain all its territory, while Russia refuses to withdraw. So, there’s no middle ground, for now.

When you have an insoluble problem, enlarge it. That’s a familiar management formula, and it has some validity here. The United States shouldn’t (and couldn’t) dictate a settlement to Kyiv; instead, it must maintain the flow of weapons, reliably and patiently. But it should find new channels to convey that the United States doesn’t seek Russia’s destruction and wants to avoid direct military conflict.

ny times logoNew York Times, Vladimir Putin Wants to Divide Ukrainians. Mykolaiv Is a Test Case, Andrew E. Kramer, Photographs by Finbarr O’Reilly, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). In a battered Ukrainian city on Ukraine’s southern coast, salt water runs from the taps and electricity is sporadic. Residents curse Russia, but are also frustrated with their own leaders.

Residents of Mykolaiv, where orange-colored salt water now sputters from taps, and electricity blinks on and off, are grumbling about the lack of progress with repairs — even as they recognize that the Russians are to blame, and that the near-daily shelling of the city makes restoring services difficult.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Regulation

Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo by Eric Crossan via New York Times).by Eric Crossan via New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Seems to Answer to No One. Except for a Judge in Delaware, Lauren Hirsch, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The chief judge of Delaware’s Chancery Court gave Mr. Musk until Friday to acquire Twitter. She is also the judge in at least one other case involving him.

Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick has become a very important person in the rambunctious life of Elon Musk.

The Delaware Chancery Court judge has given Mr. Musk until Friday to close his long-promised, $44 billion deal to twitter bird Customacquire Twitter. If he doesn’t, Judge McCormick will preside over a trial in November that could end with Mr. Musk being forced to make good on the deal he made with Twitter in April.

The 43-year-old judge is also expected to preside over another case involving Mr. Musk in November. A Tesla shareholder accused him in a lawsuit of unjustly enriching himself with his compensation package while running the electric vehicle company, which is Mr. Musk’s main source of wealth. The package, which consisted entirely of a stock grant, is now worth around $50 billion based on Tesla’s share price.

Judge McCormick is also overseeing three other shareholder lawsuits against Mr. Musk, though it is not yet clear whether those will go to trial, too.

elon musk 2015The woman who suddenly has a great deal of influence over Mr. Musk, right, comes from a much different world than the jet-setting, South African-born billionaire. The daughter of a high school football coach and an English teacher, Judge McCormick was raised in Smyrna, Del., a town with roughly 13,000 people about 14 miles away from Dover, the state capital.

Judge McCormick now oversees the 230-year-old court that is considered the foremost destination for adjudicating disputes over mergers and acquisitions and other corporate disagreements. She has been both quick-witted and blunt in months of hearings for Twitter’s lawsuit. And her decision to grant Mr. Musk a delay to a trial that was expected to begin earlier in October also displayed unusual flexibility — and pragmatism — to legal experts.

 

 Paul Bellar (from left), Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico, who were accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, were convicted of all charges Wednesday (Mug shots via Associated Press).

Paul Bellar (from left), Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico, who were accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, were convicted of all charges Wednesday (Mug shots via Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Three men convicted of aiding plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer, Joanna Slater, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). A jury on Wednesday convicted three men of aiding a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in a case that deepened fears about the spread of right-wing extremism and potential violence directed at politicians.

The three men — Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar and Pete Musico — were found guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court of providing material support for terrorist acts, possessing a firearm while committing a felony, and being members of a gang. They face up to 20 years in prison.

gretchen whitmer o smile Custom

Whitmer, right, who is running for reelection in November, has said that she considers the plot an attempt to kidnap and kill her.

“These verdicts are further proof that violence and threats have no place in our politics,” Whitmer said Wednesday on Twitter.

More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the plot to kidnap Whitmer, which prosecutors said was fueled by anti-government extremism and anger at steps that the governor took to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, two other men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted on federal charges of plotting to kidnap Whitmer. Prosecutors said they planned to capture Whitmer at her vacation home, detonate a bridge and ignite an armed rebellion ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

In that trial, jurors heard recordings of Fox and Croft discussing their plans to abduct the governor and hang her for “treason.” Croft believed he had God’s permission to kill, an FBI agent testified.

Fox, Croft and the three men convicted Wednesday were members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a far-right paramilitary group that recruited members on Facebook and periodically met for firearm training in preparation for what they called the “boogaloo” — a violent uprising against the government.

Morrison was considered the group’s “commander,” while Bellar had the role of “sergeant,” prosecutors said. Musico is Morrison’s father-in-law, and the group’s “field training” exercises took place at their home in Jackson County.

The three men convicted Wednesday did not face federal charges and did not participate in physical surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home, unlike others charged.Washington Post, As the war drags on and the ripple effects are felt throughout the continent, the transition from temporary relief to longer-term support is putting the bloc’s commitments to the test, Rick Noack, Meg Kelly, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Ladka Bauerova, Oct. 26, 2022.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Goes Permitless on Guns, and Police Face an Armed Public, David Goodman, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). A new law allowing people to carry handguns without a license has led to more spontaneous shootings, many in law enforcement say.

Big city police departments and major law enforcement groups opposed the new handgun law when it came before the State Legislature last spring, worried in part about the loss of training requirements necessary for a permit and more dangers for officers.Credit...Matthew Busch for The

Tony Earls hung his head before a row of television cameras, staring down, his life upended. Days before, Mr. Earls had pulled out his handgun and nra logo Customopened fire, hoping to strike a man who had just robbed him and his wife at an A.T.M. in Houston.

Instead, he struck Arlene Alvarez, a 9-year-old girl seated in a passing pickup, killing her.

“Is Mr. Earls licensed to carry?” a reporter asked during the February news conference, in which his lawyer spoke for him.

texas mapHe didn’t need one, the lawyer replied. “Everything about that situation, we believe and contend, was justified under Texas law.” A grand jury later agreed, declining to indict Mr. Earls for any crime.

The shooting was part of what many sheriffs, police leaders and district attorneys in urban areas of Texas say has been an increase in people carrying weapons and in spur-of-the-moment gunfire in the year since the state began allowing most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license.

At the same time, mainly in rural counties, other sheriffs said they had seen little change, and proponents of gun rights said more people lawfully carrying guns could be part of why shootings have declined in some parts of the state.

Far from an outlier, Texas, with its new law, joined what has been an expanding effort to remove nearly all restrictions on carrying handguns. When Alabama’s “permitless carry” law goes into effect in January, half of the states in the nation, from Maine to Arizona, will not require a license to carry a handgun.

The state-by-state legislative push has coincided with a federal judiciary that has increasingly ruled in favor of carrying guns and against state efforts to regulate them.

But Texas is the most populous state to do away with handgun permit requirements. Five of the nation’s 15 biggest cities are in Texas, making the permitless approach to handguns a new fact of life in urban areas to an extent not seen in other states.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Iranian forces open fire on protesters as government buildings burn, Babak Dehghanpisheh, Stefanie Le and Atthar Mirza, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Violence erupted Thursday in the city of Mahabad in the Kurdish region of western Iran, where protesters attacked government buildings, including the offices of the governor and the mayor. Security forces responded by opening fire on demonstrators, according to videos posted on social media and verified by The Washington Post.

At least two people were killed and dozens were wounded, activists said, though The Post could not independently verify their claims.

The clashes came after security forces killed a young man named Ismail Mowludi in Mahabad the day before during a ceremony commemorating the 40th day since the death of Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish woman who has become the symbol of a nationwide uprising. Thousands took to the streets Wednesday in Amini’s hometown of Saqez and across the region.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Rising Dollar Is Hurting Other Currencies. Central Banks Are Stepping In, Joe Rennison and Jeanna Smialek, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are unsettling global markets and prompting other central banks to prop up their domestic currencies.

Governments around the world have sought to stabilize their currencies and defend their economies against the Federal Reserve’s rapid interest rate increases, which have tilted the field in favor of the dollar. Their efforts highlight both the interconnected nature of the global financial system and its vulnerabilities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top U.K. diplomat tells LGBT World Cup fans to ‘be respectful’ in Qatar, Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 27, 2022. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was criticized for essentially suggesting that gay soccer fans hide their identities while attending the World Cup.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Wednesday that LGBT fans should “be respectful” and show “flex and compromise” in Qatar for the upcoming men’s soccer World Cup, prompting sharp criticism from U.K. media, lawmakers and the prime minister’s office.

Cleverly, speaking on the talk radio station LBC, said Qatar was making “some compromises in terms of what is, you know, an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own.” In turn, he said, fans should “be respectful of the host nation — they will, they are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football.”

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Pandemic, Public Health News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What Dr. Oz really said about abortion, Monica Hesse, right, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). He wasn’t saying a politician should monica hessejoin you on your doctor’s visit. He was saying politicians should be able to limit your care without meeting you at all.

During Tuesday evening’s senatorial debate between Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, the latter candidate allegedly said something shocking and enraging about abortion access, which was then allegedly captured in a tweet that got a lot of attention:

“Oz says his abortion position: should be between ‘a woman, her doctor, and local political leaders,’ ” wrote a Democratic opposition researcher.

John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke, had been the candidate for whom viewers were on gaffe alert. But to read this tweet — which has been reposted thousands of times — it seemed that Oz, a smooth television personality, had instead won the headline for most alarming statement.

republican elephant logoOnly, he didn’t say it — not quite, not exactly. I went back and re-watched the clip. After being asked whether he would support a nationwide abortion ban, here’s what Oz said (emphasis mine): “There should not be involvement from the federal government in how states decide their abortion decisions. As a physician, I’ve been in the room when there’s some difficult conversations happening. I don’t want the federal government involved with that at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders, letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.”

Note the differences between that and the version that got passed around online: “women” not “a woman,” “doctors” not “her doctor.”

These differences are subtle, for sure — but they change the tenor of the statement, don’t they? “A woman, her doctor, and local political leaders” makes the scenario specific and personal, as though Oz was suggesting that a woman should be accompanied to Planned Parenthood by the town comptroller and the alderman from Ward 5.

But the plural “women,” plus the context of “putting the best ideas forward,” make it clear what I think Oz was actually trying to communicate: He feels that women, physicians and local politicians should all have a voice in informing state legislation related to abortion. In short, in his mind this isn’t about a state representative consulting on individual abortions, it’s about them listening to women and physicians as those representatives determine what should be legal within the borders of their state. It’s a states’ rights issue for Oz. It’s basically the standard GOP talking point.

I’m bothering to nitpick this because I think in matters of important issues like abortion, you shouldn’t have to massage other people’s words to win your point. We might all interpret someone words differently, but we should at least know what they actually said.

And what Oz actually said? It’s still bad.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Hospitalizations Rise as Wave of Viruses Hits New York, Sharon Otterman, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). New Yorkers are falling ill with new variants of Covid and old illnesses like flu and RSV that masking and other precautions once held at bay.

washington post logoWashington Post, For those still trying to duck covid, the isolation is worse than ever, Ellen McCarthy, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Rather than go back to normal, some members of the masked minority have reorganized their lives indefinitely around continuing to avoid the virus.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Emily Landon, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine, understands the concerns. Though acute covid is “largely survivable” because of advances in therapeutics and vaccines, she says, there are still very real risks related to long covid, including prolonged illness, cardiac conditions and neurological symptoms.

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Climate, Drought, Hurricanes, Energy

washington post logoWashington Post, What it looks like as drought strangles the mighty Mississippi, Brady Dennis, Laris Karklis, Scott Dance and Tim Meko, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Sandra Nelson crouched at a spot of riverbed that would normally be deep underwater, gathering rocks and jars of soil as souvenirs. Nearby, a man with a metal detector roamed the barren ground for treasures at twilight. A father carried his daughter on his shoulders to witness a sight not seen for generations.

“I had to see it in person,” Nelson, who lives 40 miles away in Sikeston, Mo., said Monday evening as she roamed the landscape that looked almost like desert. “You wouldn’t believe this is the Mississippi River.”

The nation’s mightiest, most mythic waterway has been strangled by months of dry conditions, which have sent water levels plummeting to historic lows. For weeks now, that slow-moving crisis has made it difficult, if not impossible, to move barges down a river that serves as a highway for about 60 percent of the nation’s foreign-bound corn and soybeans.

The result is a season of uncertainty for many up and down the river who depend on it for their livelihoods, from farmers growing crops to the tugboat pilots who steer barges toward the Gulf of Mexico and back. The deep worries over the crippled supply chain have mingled with the sheer curiosity of people who have flocked to the banks of the Mississippi to marvel at a sight few can ever recall.

Aerial images and meteorological data help to illustrate how dire the situation has become: Sandbars line a narrowing river channel, the result of scant precipitation and parched soils across the Missouri River Valley to the west and the Ohio River Basin to the east.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The climate news is bad. The climate reality is worse, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 28, 2022. A devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and a looming famine offer another glimpse of the world’s climate future.

Despite the stated ambitions of the international community to take action, the world’s nations have shaved just 1 percent off their projected greenhouse gas emissions for 2030, according to a new U.N. report.

The meager outcome places the planet on a path to warm by 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century — below some of the greatest fears of climate watchers but still beyond the safe temperature threshold set at 1.5 degrees Celsius. It precipitates a dangerous future of extreme weather, rising sea levels and “endless suffering,” as the United Nations put it itself.

Two other reports this week from U.N. agencies compounded these woes. An analysis by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change found that few countries had adjusted their climate pledges since a major U.N. climate conference last year held in Glasgow, Scotland. This year’s conference is set to be hosted in Egypt next month. Another study by the World Meteorological Organization found that methane emissions are rising faster than ever. The evidence raises “questions about humanity’s ability to limit the greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the near term,” my colleagues reported.

 ny times logoNew York Times, As Climate Pledges Fall Short, a Chaotic Future Looks More Like Reality, Max Bearak, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Without drastic action, a United Nations report said, temperatures are set to rise far more than the goal set by the 2015 Paris agreement.

With an annual summit next month, the United Nations assessed progress on countries’ past emissions commitments. Severe disruption would be hard to avoid on the current trajectory.

National Public Radio, Saltwater is moving up the Mississippi River. Here's what's being done to stop it, Debbie Elliott, Oct. 27, 2022. Ducks have taken roost on a sandy strip along the Mississippi River – a bank that's typically underwater.

npr logo"We have this nice little beach here that Black-bellied whistling ducks are enjoying," says Heath Jones, chief of emergency management at the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Drought has sent water levels plunging to near record lows on the Mississippi River. A river gauge near Corps headquarters registers just 3 feet above sea level.

"It's approaching some historical lows that we've had here," Jones said on Oct. 19 as he looked out from the river levee.

"As this flow in the Mississippi River drops, it loses its ability to keep saltwater at bay," says Heath Jones, emergency management director at the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More than a third of the rain in the United States ends up in the Mississippi River system. Jones says with little or no rainfall coming from the Midwest, the drought is causing problems along the river. Ships and barges are running aground, and navigation is slowed up and down the busy shipping corridor.

Here in south Louisiana it's causing a unique phenomenon, changing the point at which the freshwater river and salty sea meet.

"As the flows in the Mississippi River drop, the Gulf of Mexico essentially comes upstream," Jones explains.

A saltwater wedge has crept along the river bottom nearly 64 miles upriver from the mouth of the Mississippi.

The saltwater intrusion is threatening both municipal drinking water supplies in the New Orleans metro area and commercial water users like oil refineries that depend on fresh water from the Mississippi.

"The Gulf is winning."

ny times logoNew York Times, War in Ukraine Likely to Speed Shift to Clean Energy, I.E.A. Says, Brad Plumer, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Some countries are burning more coal due to natural gas shortages caused by the Ukraine war, but the International Energy Agency predicts that won’t last. Meanwhile, many countries have responded to soaring prices for fossil fuels by embracing wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen and electric sources of power.

ny times logoNew York Times, Europe is turning to Africa for alternatives to Russian natural gas — which could tilt the scales in a long-unequal relationship, Max Bearak, Melissa Eddy and Dionne Searcey, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.).  Officials from Algeria to Mozambique say they hope to take advantage of an abrupt change in a long-unequal relationship.

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U.S. Media, Education, Space, Sports

 

 

  Fired Twitter executives Ned Segal, left, Parag Agrawal, center, and Vijaya Gadde, right, leave the company with $187 million of Elon Musk's money.

Fired Twitter executives Ned Segal, left, Parag Agrawal, center, and Vijaya Gadde, right, leave the company with $187 million of Elon Musk's money.

CNN, Elon Musk will have to pay three fired Twitter executives nearly $200 million, Chris Isidore, Oct. 28, 2022. The three top Twitter executives whom Elon Musk fired Thursday will walk out the door with about $187 million of Musk's money.

twitter bird CustomFormer CEO Parag Agrawal, former CFO Ned Segal and former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde were ousted after Musk took control of the company late Thursday, according to a source familiar with the situation.

They would have received a large chunk of that money even if they had stayed on board under the new ownership -- they and other shareholders will receive payouts from Musk after he bought their shares for $54.20 each.

Agrawal, who only assumed the CEO title a little less than a year ago, had the smallest stock holdings of the three: 155,000 shares worth $8.4 million at the price Musk paid. Segal will get $22 million for the 406,000 shares he owns while Gadde will walk away with $34.8 million for her 642,000 shares.

But they also receive "Golden Parachute Compensation" in the merger agreement approved by shareholders. That includes a year's base pay -- $1 million for Agrawal and $600,000 each for Segal and Gadde. They also will get a year of health insurance, worth about $73,000 among the three.
Elon Musk's bumpy road to owning Twitter: A timeline
Elon Musk's bumpy road to owning Twitter: A timeline

The most lucrative part by far is the accelerated vesting of stock they stood to receive in the future but had not yet qualified for. That will end up being worth $56.4 million for Agrawal, $43.8 million for Segal and $19.4 million for Gadde. Agrawal and Segal get the accelerated vesting of all of their shares while Gadde gets accelerated vesting of only half of her shares.

Added up, the parachute payments come to $121.8 million. Add on the $65.2 million for the purchase of the shares they already own and you get $187 million.

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk appeasement of Putin and China stokes fears of new Twitter policies, Joseph Menn and Cat Zakrzewski, Oct. 14, 2022. 
In the past 10 days, he’s suggested that Ukraine give up Crimea and that Taiwan be ruled like Hong Kong. Now he’s threatening Ukraine’s access to his Starlink satellite system, critical to Ukraine’s war effort.

Elon Musk’s recent pronouncements on major foreign policy issues are ratcheting up national security concerns about his takeover of Twitter, a global speech platform used by hundreds of millions, 75 percent of them outside the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, TikTok’s link to China sparks privacy fears and exposes U.S. inaction, Drew Harwell and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Oct. 28, 2022. The wildly popular app’s link to China has sparked fears over propaganda and privacy. It’s also exposed America’s failure to safeguard the web.

washington post logoWashington Post, Racist tweets quickly surfaced after Musk closed Twitter deal, Drew Harwell, Oct. 28, 2022. A wide range of anonymous Twitter accounts celebrated Musk’s takeover and argued it meant the old rules against bigotry no longer applied.

 

Ye, the performer, designer and political provocateur formerly known Kanye West, poses with the logo of Addisdas, his former business partner and a company with roots in the Nazi era of Germany that can no longer afford association with Ye despite the huge profits they have made together.

Ye, the performer, designer and political provocateur formerly known Kanye West, poses with the logo of Addisdas, his former business partner and a company with roots in the Nazi era of Germany that can no longer afford association with Ye despite the huge profits they have made together. The graphic illustrate how a different athletic shoe company later repulshed his overtures.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kanye West Faces Costly Fallout: A Timeline, Remy Tumin, Oct. 28, 2022. The entertainer has been widely condemned for a series of antisemitic comments. The fallout across industries has been swift.

Kanye West has defined most of his career with smash hits and a healthy dose of spectacle and theatrics, helping to redefine the modern concept of celebrity along the way. For a long time, those disruptions were largely welcomed in the music and fashion industries as he cut new creative paths.

But the rapper and designer, who now goes by Ye, has been at the center of several controversies in recent years after increasingly erratic behavior.

In the past 12 months, he’s been burning bridges in the music industry where he made his name. He was disinvited from performing at the Grammy Awards last spring, and abruptly withdrew from headlining this year’s Coachella festival.

In October, his behavior began to have an impact on the more lucrative corner of his empire — fashion — as he came under fire for marking a series of antisemitic remarks, including accusing Jews of a “Holocaust” against Black Americans, and wearing a shirt with a slogan associated with white supremacists.

The fallout across industries has been swift.

At Paris Fashion Week, Ye’s shirt takes center stage.

Sept. 15

In mid-September, Ye notified Gap that he was terminating their much anticipated partnership and said that he would move ahead with plans to open his own stores. Gap said in a statement that their visions were “not aligned.

Oct. 3

A little more than two weeks later, Ye held a surprise, off-schedule show at Paris Fashion Week to present his latest fashion collection under his label YZY, formerly known as Yeezy.

The empire continues to crumble.

Oct. 25-27

Ye’s enterprises beyond fashion also faced pushback. Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics said on Twitter that they were cutting ties with Donda Sports, Ye’s marketing agency, because of the antisemitic remarks.

On Oct. 26, the organizers of two prominent high school boys’ basketball tournaments revoked invitations for Ye’s Donda Academy team to play in national showcases this season. Ye founded Donda Academy last year in Simi Valley, Calif. The private school is named after Ye’s mother, Donda West, who died in 2007. The school is not accredited and was built around online learning.

The same day, the footwear company Skechers said Ye had been escorted from its corporate offices in Los Angeles after an “unannounced and uninvited” visit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Big Tech is failing to fight election lies, civil rights groups charge, Naomi Nix, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). A coalition of 60 civil rights and consumer groups backed a report that offers a dim assessment of tech companies’ plans to protect the 2022 midterms.

Two years ago, Silicon Valley’s biggest technology giants faced criticism from activists and voter suppression experts for not moving sooner to restrict Donald Trump’s accounts after his repeated false claims disputing the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Now, a coalition of 60 consumer and civil rights groups says Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube are just as ill-prepared to fight disinformation from politicians and other public figures whose public pronouncements about the 2022 midterms could undermine Americans’ faith in the electoral process or lead to violence.

The Change the Terms coalition, which includes the civil rights group Color of Change and the good-government group Common Cause, is releasing on Thursday a scathing 19-page analysis of the major tech companies’ election-related policies and whether they are living up to their pledges to fight disinformation ahead of the vote.

The report argues that the tech companies’ plans to fight disinformation and connect users with credible information arrived too late and were not aggressive enough to address proliferating false claims about widespread voter fraud or specific attacks against election officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, How to lock down your Twitter data, or leave, as Musk takes over, Heather Kelly and Pranshu Verma, Updated Oct. 27, 2022. Here’s everything you can do now to secure your personal information

  •  Politico, EU Commissioner to Elon Musk: Twitter will play by our rules, Oct. 28, 2022.
  • Politico Magazine, A Former WSJ Reporter Is Suing — Over the Email Hack That Got Him Fired, Michael Schaffer, Oct. 28, 2022. Jay Solomon claims that a major law firm and an array of others targeted him after he angered a Persian Gulf ruler.

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Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: These are the mega-donors pumping millions into the 2022 midterms, Luis Melgar, Chris Alcantara, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Anu Narayanswamy and Chris Zubak-Skee, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The 50 biggest donors this cycle have collectively pumped $1.1 billion into political committees and other groups competing in the 2022 elections.

The 50 biggest donors this cycle have collectively pumped $1.1 billion into political committees and other groups competing in the midterms, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission data. From billionaire investors to shipping magnates to casino moguls, george soros uncreditedthese megadonors skew Republican, though they affiliate with both parties.

Topping the list are George Soros, left, the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and philanthropist to liberal causes globally, and Elizabeth and Richard Uihlein, founders of a shipping company and key benefactors behind the GOP’s move to the hard right in recent years.

Many of the figures on the list are familiar faces, but some are new on the scene, in particular a handful of millennials such as 30-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried who have enjoyed a recent financial windfall from cryptocurrency investments.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. economy grows 2.6% in third quarter, reversing a six-month slump, Abha Bhattarai, Oct. 27, 2022. The last report on gross domestic product before the midterm elections showed solid growth from July to September, according to new data by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the third quarter, marking its first increase in 2022 and a sharp turnaround after six months of contraction — despite lingering fears that the country is at risk of a recession.

The third-quarter gross domestic product figures, released Thursday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, provide an upbeat snapshot less than two weeks before midterm elections, in a year that has seen the economy and high inflation become a persistent challenge for Democrats.

“The irony is, we’re seeing the strongest growth of the year when things are actually slowing,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG. “There are some real cracks in the foundation. Housing is contracting. The consumer is slowing. GDP is growing, but not for all of the right reasons.”

Even though consumers bought fewer goods, they continued to spend on health care, which helped lift the GDP reading. An increase in government spending at the federal, state and local levels also contributed to the gains.

The biggest boost, though, came from a narrowing trade deficit, with American retailers importing fewer items and exporting more goods as well as services, such as travel. That is a stark reversal from earlier in the year, when the gap between incoming goods and outgoing ones was at its widest on record.

Trade-related benefits , though, are likely to be short-lived. Economists widely expect GDP growth to slow in the coming months as consumers and businesses continue pulling back in the face of rising interest rates and increased uncertainty. By next year, many are forecasting a more protracted slump and perhaps even a recession.

 joe biden tik tokers  President Biden greets digital content creators at the White House on Oct. 25. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

President Biden greets digital content creators at the White House on Oct. 25. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Dems’ elaborate attempt to woo TikTok influencers, Taylor Lorenz, Oct. 27, 2022. A free trip to D.C., a private chat with Obama and an hour in the Oval Office with Biden: The Democrats are rolling out the red carpet for social media influencers

President Biden spent more than an hour this week at the White House with eight TikTok stars with a combined following of more than 67 million who were brought to Washington in hopes that their posts will turn out votes for Democrats in the Nov. 8 midterms.

In addition to the Oval Office meeting, the TikTok creators held a session with former president Barack Obama, toured the Supreme Court and the Capitol, and met with leaders of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the principal tiktok logo square Customcampaign arm for House Democrats.

The trip, which was organized by the DNC, was the most visible effort to date of Democrats attempting to leverage TikTok’s vast audience to influence the midterms and is likely to prove controversial with Republicans, many of whom have been harshly critical of TikTok’s Chinese ownership. Former president Donald Trump at one point ordered TikTok to be shut down in the United States, then tried to force the sale of its U.S. operations. Those efforts failed, however, though Republicans have continued to accuse the app of being a threat.

Since then, TikTok has been downloaded more than 100 million times by users in the United States, and it has surpassed Meta’s Facebook and Instagram to become the nation’s fastest-growing social media app.

“House Democrats are committed to reaching voters where they’re at and reminding them what’s at stake on November 8th,” said Cara Koontz, the DCCC’s digital communications director. “We’re thrilled to have their partnership in this first-of-its-kind effort for the DCCC.”

It remains to be seen how the creators will make use of the visit. Many had previously been largely apolitical, encouraging their fans to vote but not explicitly backing parties or candidates. For several, it was their first time in the nation’s capital and their first interaction with government.

 

elon musk sideviewPolitico, Musk owns Twitter — and Washington awaits Trump's return, Rebecca Kern, Oct. 27, 2022. Elon Musk, shown above, will own Twitter, after the two sides finally closed a $44 billion deal Thursday to sell the company to the world’s richest man.

twitter bird Custompolitico CustomMusk’s takeover — reported by multiple news outlets on Thursday night — could have huge implications for the future of Washington’s favorite social media app, especially if former President Donald Trump is allowed back on the platform, and if Musk loosens the rules to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

With just 12 days until the midterm elections, a resurrected Trump Twitter account could have electoral implications, donald trump twittergiving the former president a megaphone to again challenge election results, blast his opponents and spread falsehoods.

What exactly Musk does next is an open question, to say nothing of Trump.

In an effort seemingly aimed at easing concerns from nervous advertisers, Musk, a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” promised on Thursday that the platform would not descend into “a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

 

 Paul Bellar (from left), Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico, who were accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, were convicted of all charges Wednesday (Mug shots via Associated Press).

Paul Bellar (from left), Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico, who were accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, were convicted of all charges Wednesday (Mug shots via Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Three men convicted of aiding plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer, Joanna Slater, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). A jury on Wednesday convicted three men of aiding a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in a case that deepened fears about the spread of right-wing extremism and potential violence directed at politicians.

The three men — Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar and Pete Musico — were found guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court of providing material support for terrorist acts, possessing a firearm while committing a felony, and being members of a gang. They face up to 20 years in prison.

gretchen whitmer o smile Custom

Whitmer, right, who is running for reelection in November, has said that she considers the plot an attempt to kidnap and kill her.

“These verdicts are further proof that violence and threats have no place in our politics,” Whitmer said Wednesday on Twitter.

More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the plot to kidnap Whitmer, which prosecutors said was fueled by anti-government extremism and anger at steps that the governor took to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, two other men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted on federal charges of plotting to kidnap Whitmer. Prosecutors said they planned to capture Whitmer at her vacation home, detonate a bridge and ignite an armed rebellion ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

In that trial, jurors heard recordings of Fox and Croft discussing their plans to abduct the governor and hang her for “treason.” Croft believed he had God’s permission to kill, an FBI agent testified.

Fox, Croft and the three men convicted Wednesday were members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a far-right paramilitary group that recruited members on Facebook and periodically met for firearm training in preparation for what they called the “boogaloo” — a violent uprising against the government.

Morrison was considered the group’s “commander,” while Bellar had the role of “sergeant,” prosecutors said. Musico is Morrison’s father-in-law, and the group’s “field training” exercises took place at their home in Jackson County.

The three men convicted Wednesday did not face federal charges and did not participate in physical surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home, unlike others charged.Washington Post, As the war drags on and the ripple effects are felt throughout the continent, the transition from temporary relief to longer-term support is putting the bloc’s commitments to the test, Rick Noack, Meg Kelly, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Ladka Bauerova, Oct. 26, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What Dr. Oz really said about abortion, Monica Hesse, right, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). He wasn’t saying a politician should monica hessejoin you on your doctor’s visit. He was saying politicians should be able to limit your care without meeting you at all.

During Tuesday evening’s senatorial debate between Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, the latter candidate allegedly said something shocking and enraging about abortion access, which was then allegedly captured in a tweet that got a lot of attention:

“Oz says his abortion position: should be between ‘a woman, her doctor, and local political leaders,’ ” wrote a Democratic opposition researcher.

John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke, had been the candidate for whom viewers were on gaffe alert. But to read this tweet — which has been reposted thousands of times — it seemed that Oz, a smooth television personality, had instead won the headline for most alarming statement.

republican elephant logoOnly, he didn’t say it — not quite, not exactly. I went back and re-watched the clip. After being asked whether he would support a nationwide abortion ban, here’s what Oz said (emphasis mine): “There should not be involvement from the federal government in how states decide their abortion decisions. As a physician, I’ve been in the room when there’s some difficult conversations happening. I don’t want the federal government involved with that at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders, letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.”

Note the differences between that and the version that got passed around online: “women” not “a woman,” “doctors” not “her doctor.”

These differences are subtle, for sure — but they change the tenor of the statement, don’t they? “A woman, her doctor, and local political leaders” makes the scenario specific and personal, as though Oz was suggesting that a woman should be accompanied to Planned Parenthood by the town comptroller and the alderman from Ward 5.

But the plural “women,” plus the context of “putting the best ideas forward,” make it clear what I think Oz was actually trying to communicate: He feels that women, physicians and local politicians should all have a voice in informing state legislation related to abortion. In short, in his mind this isn’t about a state representative consulting on individual abortions, it’s about them listening to women and physicians as those representatives determine what should be legal within the borders of their state. It’s a states’ rights issue for Oz. It’s basically the standard GOP talking point.

I’m bothering to nitpick this because I think in matters of important issues like abortion, you shouldn’t have to massage other people’s words to win your point. We might all interpret someone words differently, but we should at least know what they actually said.

And what Oz actually said? It’s still bad.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Goes Permitless on Guns, and Police Face an Armed Public, David Goodman, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). A new law allowing people to carry handguns without a license has led to more spontaneous shootings, many in law enforcement say.

Big city police departments and major law enforcement groups opposed the new handgun law when it came before the State Legislature last spring, worried in part about the loss of training requirements necessary for a permit and more dangers for officers.Credit...Matthew Busch for The

Tony Earls hung his head before a row of television cameras, staring down, his life upended. Days before, Mr. Earls had pulled out his handgun and nra logo Customopened fire, hoping to strike a man who had just robbed him and his wife at an A.T.M. in Houston.

Instead, he struck Arlene Alvarez, a 9-year-old girl seated in a passing pickup, killing her.

“Is Mr. Earls licensed to carry?” a reporter asked during the February news conference, in which his lawyer spoke for him.

texas mapHe didn’t need one, the lawyer replied. “Everything about that situation, we believe and contend, was justified under Texas law.” A grand jury later agreed, declining to indict Mr. Earls for any crime.

The shooting was part of what many sheriffs, police leaders and district attorneys in urban areas of Texas say has been an increase in people carrying weapons and in spur-of-the-moment gunfire in the year since the state began allowing most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license.

At the same time, mainly in rural counties, other sheriffs said they had seen little change, and proponents of gun rights said more people lawfully carrying guns could be part of why shootings have declined in some parts of the state.

Far from an outlier, Texas, with its new law, joined what has been an expanding effort to remove nearly all restrictions on carrying handguns. When Alabama’s “permitless carry” law goes into effect in January, half of the states in the nation, from Maine to Arizona, will not require a license to carry a handgun.

The state-by-state legislative push has coincided with a federal judiciary that has increasingly ruled in favor of carrying guns and against state efforts to regulate them.

But Texas is the most populous state to do away with handgun permit requirements. Five of the nation’s 15 biggest cities are in Texas, making the permitless approach to handguns a new fact of life in urban areas to an extent not seen in other states.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Denounce Inflation, but Few Economists Expect Their Plans to Help, Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Proposed tax and spending cuts by the G.O.P. are unlikely to tame prices anytime soon.

Republicans are riding a wave of anger over inflation as they seek to recapture the House and the Senate this fall, hammering Democrats on President Biden’s economic policies, which they say have fueled the fastest price gains in 40 years.

Republican candidates have centered their economic agenda on promises to help Americans cope with everyday price increases and to increase growth. They have pledged to reduce government spending and to make permanent parts of the 2017 Republican tax cuts that are set to expire over the next three years — including incentives for corporate investment and tax reductions for individuals.

And they have vowed to repeal the corporate tax increases that Mr. Biden signed into law in August while gutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service, which was given more money to help the United States go after high-earning and corporate tax cheats.

“The very fact that Republicans are poised to take back majorities in both chambers is an indictment of the policies of this administration,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, noting that “if you look at the spending that they did on a partisan basis, we certainly would be able to stop that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, As Climate Pledges Fall Short, a Chaotic Future Looks More Like Reality, Max Bearak, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Without drastic action, a United Nations report said, temperatures are set to rise far more than the goal set by the 2015 Paris agreement.

With an annual summit next month, the United Nations assessed progress on countries’ past emissions commitments. Severe disruption would be hard to avoid on the current trajectory.

National Public Radio, Saltwater is moving up the Mississippi River. Here's what's being done to stop it, Debbie Elliott, Oct. 27, 2022. Ducks have taken roost on a sandy strip along the Mississippi River – a bank that's typically underwater.

npr logo"We have this nice little beach here that Black-bellied whistling ducks are enjoying," says Heath Jones, chief of emergency management at the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Drought has sent water levels plunging to near record lows on the Mississippi River. A river gauge near Corps headquarters registers just 3 feet above sea level.

"It's approaching some historical lows that we've had here," Jones said on Oct. 19 as he looked out from the river levee.

"As this flow in the Mississippi River drops, it loses its ability to keep saltwater at bay," says Heath Jones, emergency management director at the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More than a third of the rain in the United States ends up in the Mississippi River system. Jones says with little or no rainfall coming from the Midwest, the drought is causing problems along the river. Ships and barges are running aground, and navigation is slowed up and down the busy shipping corridor.

Here in south Louisiana it's causing a unique phenomenon, changing the point at which the freshwater river and salty sea meet.

"As the flows in the Mississippi River drop, the Gulf of Mexico essentially comes upstream," Jones explains.

A saltwater wedge has crept along the river bottom nearly 64 miles upriver from the mouth of the Mississippi.

The saltwater intrusion is threatening both municipal drinking water supplies in the New Orleans metro area and commercial water users like oil refineries that depend on fresh water from the Mississippi.

"The Gulf is winning."

washington post logoWashington Post, Ksenia Sobchak, Russian star linked to Putin, fled using Israeli passport, Mary Ilyushina, Oct. 27, 2022. Ksenia Sobchak, a Russian socialite and television anchor with a close family connection to President Vladimir Putin, used her dual Israeli citizenship to flee Russia on Tuesday after a police raid of her home that Russian authorities said was tied to a criminal investigation of two of her business associates.

Sobchak, 40, who earned fame as a reality TV star and has been known over the years as a Russian “It Girl” and Russia’s Paris Hilton, is the daughter of St. Petersburg’s first post-Soviet mayor, Anatoly Sobchak.

Anatoly Sobchak, who died in 2000, was Putin’s boss and political mentor. In 1990, Sobchak hired then-KGB agent Putin as a deputy mayor, and the two families remained close throughout the decade.

Ksenia Sobchak now runs the “Ostorozhno Novosti” project, which includes a network of Telegram news channels, a podcast studio, a YouTube channel and Sobchak’s own social media page. She has long straddled a fence between Russia’s political elite and its liberal political opposition, creating some distrust of her from both camps. In 2018, she ran for president against Putin, winning about 2 percent of votes.

Sobchak’s current legal troubles seemed to reflect tension within the well-connected elite as well as the climate of heightened anxiety amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. It also highlighted the urgency many well-to-do Russians feel about obtaining dual citizenship and a second passport.

Sobchak fled to Belarus and then Lithuania, which is a member of the European Union and along with the other Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia, is effectively closed to Russian travelers — even those with previously issued visas permitting them to enter the European Union’s Schengen travel zone. Only dual citizens or Russian nationals with humanitarian visas and residency permits can enter.

But Sobchak, who is partly of Jewish heritage, used her Israeli passport to cross the border, Lithuania’s Interior Ministry confirmed Thursday. A video from a surveillance camera emerged on Telegram channels showing Sobchak entering Lithuania on foot and talking to border officials.

ny times logoNew York Times, Reports of Looting in Kherson as Ukrainians Battle to Retake the City, Marc Santora and Eric Nagourney, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). As Russia pressures local residents to leave, a hydroelectric dam outside the city may prove to be a major point of contention.

With the city of Kherson shaping up to be the site of the next major battle in Ukraine, occupying forces there raised the pressure on residents Wednesday to abandon their homes and leave for Russia, warning that if they stayed they would be considered hostile and treated accordingly.

“We live, like, in a dystopian movie here,” one resident of Kherson, Katerina, 38, said by telephone, asking that her full name not be used for her safety.

As windows rattled from nearby explosions, pharmacy shelves emptied and prices skyrocketed for what few provisions were to be had, Katerina described widespread looting and an increasingly threatening atmosphere.

“People are trying to get rid of Russian money as soon as possible,” she said.

To make the warning to those who refuse to leave unmistakable, a top Russian proxy official in Kherson released a harrowing video purporting to show a 17-year-old boy being interrogated after he was accused of providing information to the Ukrainian military.

Kherson was the first city to fall after Russia invaded in February, and it is now caught between Russian forces and the Ukrainian soldiers intent on retaking it. A hydroelectric dam outside the city may prove to be a major point of contention since it is the last major crossing over the Dnipro River available to Russian forces.

If Ukraine retakes the dam, thousands of soldiers may be left with no way to retreat.

 

Nicholas Rodean, right, inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. To his immediate right is Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

Nicholas Rodean, right, inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. To his immediate right is Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Rioter Gets 5 Years’ Probation as Judge Cites Autism Diagnosis, April Rubin, Updated Oct. 27, 2022. Nicholas Rodean broke two window panes with a flagpole and was one of the first to enter the Capitol, federal prosecutors said. He was ordered to spend 240 days in home detention and pay $2,048.

A 29-year-old Maryland man who federal prosecutors said was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation by a federal judge who cited the man’s autism as an extenuating circumstance.

During his statement to the court, the man, Nicholas Rodean, struggled to explain his conduct on Jan. 6. Judge Trevor McFadden of U.S. District Court in Washington asked if he would ever do “something like this” again, according to Politico. “No,” Mr. Rodean replied.

Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 57 months in prison. During the attack, they said, Mr. Rodean used a flagpole and a small round object to break two panes of glass in a window, which became the entry point for many rioters.

Mr. Rodean also had a hatchet, which he put away after being asked to by a police officer. Federal prosecutors said that he was the 15th rioter to enter the Capitol and was one of the last rioters to leave.

In handing down a sentence that was lower than the minimum under sentencing guidelines, Judge McFadden attributed Mr. Rodean’s actions to autism spectrum disorder, according to Politico. Mr. Rodean, from Frederick, Md., was ordered to pay $2,048 and spend 240 days of his five years of probation in home detention.

Mr. Rodean had pleaded not guilty on all counts. In July, Judge McFadden found him guilty of the felony offense of destruction of government property and six misdemeanor offenses, including engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.

Mr. Rodean’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, declined to comment on Wednesday, but in a sentencing memorandum, he wrote, “We submit that Nicholas’ ‘history and personal characteristics’ make this a unique case among the hundreds of prosecutions to come out of that day.”

Mr. Rodean was one of hundreds of people who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election. Much of the planning occurred on social media sites used by the far right.

On Monday, Judge McFadden sentenced another Jan. 6 rioter, Hunter Seefried, to two years in prison with one year of supervised release and $2,000 restitution.

In August, a retired New York City police officer, Thomas Webster, an ex-Marine who once served on the protective detail of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, received the longest sentence — 10 years — for the attack. Last month, a Nazi sympathizer was sentenced to four years.

 

Investigations

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary QAnon: Russia-style, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 26-27, 2022. Russia's dangerous religious rhetoric is wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsetting the stage for modern-day pogroms in Ukraine.

There is no letter "Q" in the Russian alphabet but the craziest of the crazy conspiracy nuttery espoused by the American-based QAnon group is alive and thriving inside Russia. Much of the QAnon-inspired drivel is directed by Kremlin propagandists against Ukraine, but some Russian users of such social media platforms as Telegram and VKontakte have spread QAnon conspiracies dealing with Covid, wayne madesen report logovaccines, and Western elections.

However, the latest manifestation of QAnon-like propaganda has taken on a much darker side, with influential Russians, including Chechen government leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the Russian Security Council, and Russian Orthodox Church leaders increasingly labeling the religions practiced by Ukrainians as "Satanism." Accusations that Democrats and liberals are secret Satan-worshipers are at the core of QAnon dogma.

 Trump supporter and former White House advisor Steve Bannon, left, with his financial supporter Guo Wengui, a former Chinese intelligence asset granted U.S. asylum during the Trump Administration.

Trump supporter and former White House advisor Steve Bannon, left, with his financial supporter Guo Wengui, a former Chinese intelligence asset granted U.S. asylum during the Trump Administration.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, Xi relying on rump political party to expand foreign influence, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 25, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallChinese strongman Xi Jinping is heavily relying on his loyalists within a rump political party, the Zhi Gong Party, to aggressively expand his influence within Chinese communities abroad.

wayne madesen report logoThe increased importance of what has been a rather obscure political party reflects Xi's aggressive foreign intelligence posture. This has been brought to light by revelations that among the highly-classified U.S. intelligence Special Access Program (SAP) documents Donald Trump had removed to his Mar-a-Lago beach club in Florida were those dealing with China. They possibly included the names of well-placed Chinese sources for the Central Intelligence Agency.

One suspected Chinese intelligence agent-of-influence, known as a "cut-out," in the United States is expat billionaire Guo Wengui. Guo had maintained a longstanding relationship with Chinese intelligence prior to his being granted political asylum in the United States in 2017 by the Trump administration. It did not hurt Guo's asylum cause that he had become a member of Mar-a-Lago.

The question remains as to whether he remains a Chinese government Trojan horse who has become the major financial sugar daddy for former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

 

herschel walker informal

ny times logoNew York Times, Unnamed Woman Says Walker Pressured and Paid for Her to Have Abortion in ’93, Jonathan Weisman and Maya King, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The woman delivered her story anonymously in a news conference with Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer. The New York Times could not confirm the account.

A woman who did not identify herself said on Wednesday that Herschel Walker pressured her to have an abortion and paid for the procedure nearly three decades ago after a yearslong extramarital relationship. A former football star, Mr. Walker (shown above in a file photo) is running for the Senate in Georgia as an abortion opponent.

The New York Times could not confirm the account, interview the woman or inspect the evidence that Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer, asserted was proof that the woman had a relationship with Mr. Walker.

republican elephant logoThe woman told her story at a news conference with Ms. Allred, but did not appear on camera. Neither she nor Ms. Allred offered any evidence to back up the woman’s accusation that Mr. Walker, a Republican, had urged her to end her pregnancy even after she initially left an abortion clinic without going through with the procedure.

The evidence provided included a taped message from a man Ms. Allred said was Mr. Walker calling from the Winter Olympics of 1992, where Mr. Walker competed in bobsled; a number of greeting cards signed “H”; and a blurry photo of a man who Ms. Allred said was Mr. Walker in a hotel room in Mankato, Minn. She also showed what she said was a receipt for that hotel, a Holiday Inn in the city where the Minnesota Vikings, Mr. Walker’s professional football team at the time, practiced.

The woman, speaking remotely into the news conference, said she was so traumatized in 1993 after she had the abortion that she left her home in the Dallas area and did not return for 15 years.

The woman said she was a registered independent who voted for Donald J. Trump, a Republican, in 2016 and 2020. She told her story, she said, to expose hypocrisy in Mr. Walker’s campaign message and because, she said, he lied in denying another woman’s account of his urging her to have an abortion by saying that he never signed cards with just his first initial, “H.”

Shortly before the news conference, Mr. Walker broadly denied the claim at a campaign event in Dillard, Ga., about 100 miles north of Atlanta.

“I’m done with this foolishness. I’ve already told people this is a lie and I’m not going to entertain it,” he said, suggesting that this was a reflection of Democratic jitters following his performance during the Senate debate against the Democratic incumbent, Senator Raphael Warnock, this month. “The Democrats will do and say whatever they can to win this seat.”

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Attention, Georgia Voters: Herschel Walker Isn’t Even Georgian, He’s a Texan, Seth Abramson, left, author, attorney and seth abramson graphicjournalism professor, Oct. 26-27, 2022. If you thought New Jersey’s Mehmet Oz—now running for Senate in Pennsylvania, for some reason—was a shameless carpetbagger, wait until you read this. It’s still unclear why this isn’t bigger news.

georgia mapWhere he lived for ten years—in fact up until only a matter of months ago, until a last-minute stunt allowed him to become an “inhabitant” (not even a permanent resident) of the State of Georgia.

For some reason, despite it being covered by local Georgia news, the fact that Walker is a Texan who’s lived in the same seth abramson proof logoDallas-area gated community for a decade has not made national news in the way Mehmet Oz’s equally unabashed carpetbaggery has.

And yet, the truth is undeniable—Herschel Walker is a Texan.

ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Formally Bars Justice Dept. From Seizing Reporters’ Records, Charlie Savage, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The rule codifies and expands a policy he issued in 2021, after it came to light that the Trump administration had secretly gone after records of reporters for The Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department on Wednesday formally banned the use of subpoenas, warrants or court orders to seize reporters’ communications records or demand their notes or testimony in an effort to uncover confidential sources in leak investigations, in what amounts to a major policy shift.

The rules institutionalize — and in places expand — a temporary policy that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland put in place in July 2021, after the revelation that the Justice Department, under Attorney General William P. Barr, had secretly pursued email records of reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

merrick garland“These regulations recognize the crucial role that a free and independent press plays in our democracy,” Mr. Garland, left, said in a statement.

“Because freedom of the press requires that members of the news media have the freedom to investigate and report the news, the new regulations are intended to provide enhanced protection to members of the news media from certain law enforcement tools and actions that might unreasonably impair news gathering.”

The broad prohibitions are a major change in how the Justice Department has come to approach leak investigations in the 21st century, when it began a crackdown that spans administrations of both parties and has put pressure on reporting on matters of national security.

The publisher of The Times, A.G. Sulzberger, who was put under a gag order in 2021 that shielded from his own newsroom’s view a legal fight over the email logs of Times journalists, praised the new policy while calling on Congress to pass a law further strengthening such protections.

“We applaud the Justice Department for taking this important step, which will allow journalists to perform the crucial work of informing the public without fear of legal consequences,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “We encourage Congress to enact a federal shield law to help ensure that these reforms are lasting.”

Exceptions to the policy are narrow. Among others, it does not apply to situations in which a reporter is under investigation for something unconnected to news gathering, situations in which a member of the news media is deemed an agent of a foreign power or a member of a foreign terrorist group, or “when necessary to prevent an imminent or concrete risk of death or serious bodily harm.”

The Justice Department developed the regulation in consultation with press freedom advocates like Bruce D. Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Mr. Garland also met with representatives from The Times, The Post, The Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Dow Jones, NBC and The New Yorker.

Those conversations led to several adjustments about potentially critical issues, like how “news gathering” is defined. According to participants, the Justice Department originally intended to define it in a way that was limited to the passive receipt of government secrets. But the final version now covers the act of pursuing information.

The regulation defines “news gathering” as “the process by which a member of the news media collects, pursues, or obtains information or records for purposes of producing content intended for public dissemination,” including “classified information” from confidential sources.

The Justice Department is also said to have removed espionage from a list of criminal activities that are excluded from protected news gathering.

The final regulation does not cover criminal acts “committed in the course of obtaining information or using information.” Those include breaking and entering; theft; unlawfully gaining access to a computer or computer system; unlawful surveillance or wiretapping; bribery; or aiding or abetting or conspiring to engage in such criminal activities.

Emptywheel, Analysis: DOJ Rethinks — But In A Few Areas, Expands — Access To Media Content, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right),  marcy wheelerEmptywheel, Oct. 27, 2022. In a story on the new media guidelines DOJ rolled out yesterday, Charlie Savage reveals what representatives of the press think they got in the new guidelines, in addition to a formal codification of broader restrictions on the use of legal process to find real journalists’ sources:

Those conversations led to several adjustments about potentially critical issues, like how “news gathering” is defined. According to participants, the Justice Department originally intended to define it in a way that was limited to the passive receipt of government secrets. But the final version now covers the act of pursuing information.

The language in question appears to cover things like encrypted dropboxes, something that journalists liked to compare (inaptly) to the charge against Julian Assange of attempting to hack a password for Chelsea Manning. Thus far, multiple criminal prosecutions show that dropboxes have not thwarted DOJ from prosecuting those who submitted documents into them.

 

U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 1 million vote early in Georgia, a dramatic increase from 2018, Matthew Brown and Lenny Bronner, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). For weeks, Georgia’s Democratic and Republican parties had urged voters to cast their ballots as soon as possible instead of waiting until Election Day. Voters apparently listened.

georgia mapMore than 1 million Georgians have voted early, a dramatic increase from the last midterm election in 2018 and nearly on pace with the 2020 presidential election, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

Early-voting centers opened across Georgia last week, and the vast majority of voters cast their ballots in person. Mail-in-ballot requests have fallen significantly from past election cycles.

While every demographic and region of the state has seen elevated turnout relative to 2018, there has been a surge of participation from women, Black voters and voters over age 50, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The increases have been largest in the Atlanta region, while many counties in the state’s southwest and along the southeast coast are far outpacing their early vote counts from 2018. Cobb County, a fast-growing suburb of Atlanta, crosses both trends, having counted more than three times the number of ballots collected at the same point in 2018.

Early voting is underway in several other states, although most of them don’t release as much data as Georgia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mortgage rates hit 7 percent for the first time in two decades, Rachel Siegel and Kathy Orton, Oct. 27, 2022. This week’s data from Freddie Mac shows the average fixed rate for a 30-year loan at 7.08 percent, the highest since early 2002. A year ago, rates were less than half that, but the Federal Reserve’s push to fight inflation has sent mortgage costs soaring.

Mortgage rates topped 7 percent this week, the highest level in 20 years — and the latest sign that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive moves to slow the broader economy are hitting the housing market hard already.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular home-loan product, reached 7.08 percent, according to data released Thursday by Freddie Mac. The last time mortgage rates climbed so high was April 2002, and they are slated to keep climbing as the Fed moves swiftly to tame a red-hot housing market, a key step in lowering rent costs and ultimately quelling inflation in the broader economy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats scramble into defensive posture in final stage of midterms, Annie Linskey, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Democratic talk of going on offense by running on abortion rights while President Biden’s approval rating ticked up has run into the harsh reality that Republicans are well-positioned to make potentially large gains on Nov. 8, some Democratic strategists said.

U.S. House logoDemocrats on Wednesday pumped at least $6.3 million worth of advertising investments into a trio of congressional districts in New York and New Jersey, where President Biden won by at least eight percentage points.

First lady Jill Biden spent the afternoon in Rhode Island trying to help save a Democrat running in a district her husband carried by nearly 14 points. The president is headed to the deep-blue Empire State on Thursday, where the Democratic governor is scrambling to avoid an upset in a closer-than-expected race that has put Democrats down the ballot in greater danger.

And in Pennsylvania, Democrats were trying to move past a shaky Tuesday debate performance by John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke. One former party official relayed hearing from people who wondered why Fetterman agreed to debate during his recovery. The U.S. Senate nominee’s once comfortable polling lead has shrunk in a race that party leaders have long seen as their best opportunity to flip a red Senate seat and take a step closer to preserving their narrow majority in the chamber.

ny times logoNew York Times, Campaign Office of Arizona Governor Candidate Katie Hobbs Is Burglarized, April Rubin, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Phoenix police said items had been taken, but would not identify what they were, citing an active investigation.

As a combative Arizona governor’s race ticked down toward Election Day, the Phoenix police said Wednesday that they were investigating a burglary at the campaign headquarters of the Democratic candidate, Katie Hobbs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, Latinos aren’t abandoning the Democratic Party, Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Is the Latino voter abandoning dana milbank newestDemocrats, as this year’s incessant media narrative would have it?

At the East Las Vegas Community Center, the Nevada Democrat, the first Hispanic woman elected to the Senate, has assembled 500 Latinos for “La Gran Celebración Latina.” They line up for tacos and pupusas, peruse the wares representing each South and Central American country — Venezuelan arepas, Costa Rican coffee, Paraguayan baskets — and watch the dancers in their ponchos and feathered hats. A DJ plays a merengue tune “Latinos” and chants: “Latinos! Latinos!”

On a temporary stage, speakers in Spanish and English take turns hailing Cortez Masto, “la primera y la única” — the “first and only” senatorial Latina. A man hangs a medal around her neck and presents a plaque. “¡Fuerte aplauso!” cries the emcee. “¡Viva la senadora!” On the wall, posters underscore the not-subtle point: Cortez Masto is “¡UNA DE LAS NUESTRAS!”— one of ours.

The senator tells the crowd about her grandfather: “The difference between a baker from Chihuahua, Mexico, and the first Latina ever elected to the United States Senate is two generations!”

Cortez Masto, probably the most endangered Democratic Senate incumbent this year, might or might not win reelection. Margins, or more likely turnout, among Hispanic voters could slip, and in this tight race, small variations could be decisive. “I know I can’t take this community for granted,” Cortez Masto tells me — a mantra she repeats four times in a few minutes.

And the community appears to be reciprocating. A Univision poll released Tuesday showed Cortez Masto leading Adam Laxalt by 33 points among Latinos (and a statistically insignificant two points overall).

But if there is slippage among Latinos, it will be because they, like voters of all races, are disenchanted with the majority party and feeling economic anxiety. (In Nevada, gas prices are among the highest.)

It won’t be because they have embraced Laxalt, a MAGA Republican who has boasted about fighting against protecting “dreamers” (typically immigrants who were brought to the United States as children) from deportation. He has also voiced the white-nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy idea that the left uses illegal immigration to “destroy the values that made this country a great nation,” as he put it. (His campaign didn’t respond to my requests for comment.) In a broader sense, there is no sign Hispanic voters are abandoning Cortez Masto in droves. She will undoubtedly win Latinos (30 percent of the state’s population and nearly 20 percent of the electorate) by a wide margin, as she did in 2016.

The aggregate story is much the same nationally. It might be small comfort to Democrats if an erosion of the Latino vote costs them key races next month. But some correction is needed to the prevailing narrative that Hispanic voters are fleeing the Democratic Party en masse.

The source of the narrative is exit polling showing that Donald Trump gained among Latinos from 2016 to 2020, going from about 1 in 3 to roughly 2 in 5. Polling suggests this hasn’t rebounded, and has indeed worsened in places such as South Texas and South Florida. This has shaken the premise that demographics, in particular the fast-growing Hispanic population, inevitably favor Democrats in the long run.

But the long-term fear is overstated.

Relevant Headlines

 

More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump chief of staff Meadows ordered to testify before Ga. grand jury, Amy B Wang and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state, a South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday.

Mark MeadowsFulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has said that her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” Because Meadows, right, does not live in Georgia, she could not subpoena him to testify but filed a petition in August for him to do so.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled Wednesday that Meadows must comply with a subpoena as his testimony is “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.”

The ruling was confirmed Wednesday by Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis. DiSantis said Meadows would not be called until after the midterm elections.

Politico, ‘He was your prey’: Jan. 6 rioter who assaulted officer gets 90 months, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 27, 2022. Albuquerque Cosper Head is the latest Jan. 6 defendant to face a lengthy jail sentence for physically assaulting police.

A Jan. 6 rioter who committed one of the day’s most brutal assaults against a police officer has been sentenced to 90 months in prison, the second-longest sentence yet for a member of the mob that stormed the Capitol.

politico CustomAlbuquerque Cosper Head of Tennessee pleaded guilty to yanking Washington Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone away from police lines — shouting “I got one!” before other violent actors in the crowd dragged him away, tased him and robbed him of his badge and radio. Head engaged in a prolonged confrontation with police in the Capitol’s lower west terrace tunnel, the site of the day’s worst violence.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson described Head’s attack on Fanone as among the most chilling moments of violence on a dark day for the country.

“He was your prey,” Jackson said. “He was your trophy.”

Head is the latest Jan. 6 defendant to face a lengthy jail sentence for physically assaulting police. Jackson recently sentenced Kyle Young — who also pleaded guilty to his role in the assault on Fanone — to 86 months. And in her sentencing, she made waves by calling out congressional Republicans for being “afraid” to challenge Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election even amid rising threats to democracy.

Jackson delivered a similarly stark warning at Head’s sentencing.

“The dark shadow of tyranny unfortunately has not gone away,” she said. “Some people are directing their vitriol at Officer Fanone and not at the people who summoned the mob in the first place.”

Only Thomas Webster, a former NYPD officer who was convicted at trial of brutally assaulting a Metropolitan Police officer attempting to hold the line outside the Capitol, has faced a longer sentence so far. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta sentenced him to 10 years in prison last month.

Nearly 900 people have been charged for their actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and more than 400 have pleaded or been found guilty, primarily to misdemeanor offenses. But the number of defendants facing sentences for more serious crimes, like assaulting police officers or seeking to disrupt Congress’ session to count electoral votes and affirm Joe Biden’s presidency, has begun to climb as those slower and more complicated cases near their conclusions.

In delivering her sentence, Jackson noted that Head — unlike Webster — pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for his crime. She also acknowledged his fiancee, who was in the courtroom, and the hardship his lengthy incarceration would cause for her and their three daughters. Head battled addiction for much of his life and appeared to overcome it seven years ago, in part after meeting his now-fiancee, she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Kagan Temporarily Blocks Subpoena From Jan. 6 Committee, Adam Liptak, Oct. 27, 2022. The justice’s “administrative stay” of a subpoena for an Arizona Republican’s phone records was not an indication of how the Supreme Court would rule.

Justice Elena Kagan on Wednesday temporarily blocked a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol for phone records of Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Justice Kagan, who oversees the appeals court that refused to block the subpoena, issued an “administrative stay” meant to preserve the status quo while the Supreme Court considers the matter. As is the court’s practice, she gave no reasons.

Justice Kagan ordered the committee to respond to Ms. Ward’s emergency application by Friday. That was an indication that the full court would rule on the matter.

Related Headlines

 

More On Ukraine War

 ny times logoNew York Times, Vladimir Putin Wants to Divide Ukrainians. Mykolaiv Is a Test Case, Andrew E. Kramer, Photographs by Finbarr O’Reilly, Oct. 27, 2022. In a battered Ukrainian city on Ukraine’s southern coast, salt water runs from the taps and electricity is sporadic. Residents curse Russia, but are also frustrated with their own leaders.

Residents of Mykolaiv, where orange-colored salt water now sputters from taps, and electricity blinks on and off, are grumbling about the lack of progress with repairs — even as they recognize that the Russians are to blame, and that the near-daily shelling of the city makes restoring services difficult.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukrainian forces advance against Russian fighters in Kherson and Bakhmut, Mary Ilyushina and Emily Rauhala, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Ukrainian forces continued their advance against the Russian military in the southern Kherson region Tuesday, pushed back Russian mercenaries from Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk, and gained new momentum in Luhansk, where they seized a key highway between the towns of Kreminna and Svatove.

On a day of heavy fighting and fast-moving developments across multiple combat zones, the Ukrainians appeared to extend their recent success in recapturing occupied territories and in pushing Moscow’s troops into retreat in areas that President Vladimir Putin has claimed now belong to Russia.

Away from the battlefield, the Kremlin continued to push a claim, asserted repeatedly without evidence, that Kyiv was preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that combines conventional explosives with radioactive material — an accusation that was dismissed by the United States and other Western nations.

U.S. officials said that Moscow’s allegations raised a risk that Russia itself was planning to carry out a radiation attack, potentially as a pretext to justify further escalation of the war amid its continuing territorial setbacks.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, Energoatom, issued a similar warning, citing the Russian military’s control over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar. “Energoatom assumes that such actions of the occupiers may indicate that they are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at the ZNPP site,” the statement said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Europe worries what GOP wins could mean for Ukraine, Liz Sly, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). ‘If America starts to blink, other nations might as well,’ said one British member of Parliament.

U.S. allies in Europe are growing increasingly concerned that the united front presented by the West in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could quickly unravel if Republicans are victorious in next week’s midterm elections, ceding an advantage to President Vladimir Putin just when Ukraine is making progress on the battlefield.

In the eight months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a rare level of transatlantic consensus has taken hold over the need to support Ukraine. Collectively, Ukraine’s allies have pledged over $93 billion in military, financial and humanitarian assistance, with the lion’s share of that promised by the United States.

Since comments by the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that a Republican-controlled House wouldn’t continue to issue “blank check” funding for Ukraine, officials in both Kyiv and Western Europe have begun to wonder if Ukraine can continue to count on the United States.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Regulation

Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo by Eric Crossan via New York Times).by Eric Crossan via New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Seems to Answer to No One. Except for a Judge in Delaware, Lauren Hirsch, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The chief judge of Delaware’s Chancery Court gave Mr. Musk until Friday to acquire Twitter. She is also the judge in at least one other case involving him.

Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick has become a very important person in the rambunctious life of Elon Musk.

The Delaware Chancery Court judge has given Mr. Musk until Friday to close his long-promised, $44 billion deal to twitter bird Customacquire Twitter. If he doesn’t, Judge McCormick will preside over a trial in November that could end with Mr. Musk being forced to make good on the deal he made with Twitter in April.

The 43-year-old judge is also expected to preside over another case involving Mr. Musk in November. A Tesla shareholder accused him in a lawsuit of unjustly enriching himself with his compensation package while running the electric vehicle company, which is Mr. Musk’s main source of wealth. The package, which consisted entirely of a stock grant, is now worth around $50 billion based on Tesla’s share price.

Judge McCormick is also overseeing three other shareholder lawsuits against Mr. Musk, though it is not yet clear whether those will go to trial, too.

elon musk 2015The woman who suddenly has a great deal of influence over Mr. Musk, right, comes from a much different world than the jet-setting, South African-born billionaire. The daughter of a high school football coach and an English teacher, Judge McCormick was raised in Smyrna, Del., a town with roughly 13,000 people about 14 miles away from Dover, the state capital.

Judge McCormick now oversees the 230-year-old court that is considered the foremost destination for adjudicating disputes over mergers and acquisitions and other corporate disagreements. She has been both quick-witted and blunt in months of hearings for Twitter’s lawsuit. And her decision to grant Mr. Musk a delay to a trial that was expected to begin earlier in October also displayed unusual flexibility — and pragmatism — to legal experts.

washington post logoWashington Post, St. Louis school shooter carried AR-15-style weapon and 600 rounds, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The shooter who killed two and injured seven others at a St. Louis high school this week used an AR-15-style rifle and carried more than 600 rounds of ammunition, a police official said Tuesday.

Orlando Harris, a 19-year-old former student of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, had ammunition on a chest rig and in a bag, and dumped other magazines in a stairwell and corridors, interim St. Louis police commissioner Michael Sack said at a news conference.

“It doesn’t take long to burn through a magazine, as you’re looking down a long corridor or up or down a stairwell or into a classroom,” Sack said. “This could have been a horrific scene. It was not, by the grace of God and that the officers were as close as they were,” he said.

Police received the initial call about an active shooter at 9:11 a.m., Sack told reporters Monday. Officers entered the school at 9:15 a.m. and engaged Harris in a gunfight at 9:23 a.m. He was shot about two minutes later, Sack said.

Sack also read from a handwritten document left by Harris: “I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family. I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life,” Harris wrote, adding that it was a “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

Sack declined to comment on how and where Harris obtained the weapon. He has previously said that the school’s doors were locked before the shooting and that the school has metal detectors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Driver in Wis. Christmas parade massacre that killed 6 found guilty of homicide, Ben Brasch and Kim Bellware, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Darrell E. Brooks Jr. slammed an SUV into a crowd at the November 2021 parade in Waukesha, Wis. At least 48 other people were injured.

A Wisconsin jury found Darrell E. Brooks Jr. guilty of first-degree intentional homicide during a Christmas parade in November 2021 that killed six people.

Brooks slammed an SUV into a crowd at a Christmas parade near Milwaukee. He injured at least 48 others.

Brooks’ decision to represent himself led to tension between him and Judge Jennifer Dorow.

The 40-year-old is facing 76 criminal counts.

When the foreperson read the verdict of the homicide counts aloud, someone in the courtroom vulgarly heckled Brooks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Alito says leak of abortion opinion made majority ‘targets for assassination,’ Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said Tuesday that the leak of his draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade made his colleagues in the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court “targets for assassination.”

The leak last spring before the court eliminated the nationwide right to abortion was a “grave betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock,” he said. The threat to the justices, he added, was not theoretical because it “gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us.”

He noted that a man has been charged in an alleged attempt to kill Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was in the majority to overturn Roe. The California man, arrested near the justice’s home before the final opinion was released, was upset by the leaked draft, authorities said.

Interpretations of the 14th Amendment have been key in extending a slew of legal protections including civil rights, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Alito’s remarks during an event at the Heritage Foundation touched on criticism of the court, relations between the justices and proposals to expand the size of the Supreme Court. His comments come as polls show public approval of the court has dropped to record lows after the conservative majority allowed greater restrictions on abortion, expanded gun rights and limited the government’s power to address climate change.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inspector general probes $268,000 state contract with Youngkin’s ad-maker, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The Richmond-based Republican media firm was the only vendor to bid on the contract with the Virginia Tourism Corporation, a taxpayer-funded public authority.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, A Rising Dollar Is Hurting Other Currencies. Central Banks Are Stepping In, Joe Rennison and Jeanna Smialek, Oct. 27, 2022. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are unsettling global markets and prompting other central banks to prop up their domestic currencies.

Governments around the world have sought to stabilize their currencies and defend their economies against the Federal Reserve’s rapid interest rate increases, which have tilted the field in favor of the dollar. Their efforts highlight both the interconnected nature of the global financial system and its vulnerabilities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top U.K. diplomat tells LGBT World Cup fans to ‘be respectful’ in Qatar, Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 27, 2022. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was criticized for essentially suggesting that gay soccer fans hide their identities while attending the World Cup.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Wednesday that LGBT fans should “be respectful” and show “flex and compromise” in Qatar for the upcoming men’s soccer World Cup, prompting sharp criticism from U.K. media, lawmakers and the prime minister’s office.

Cleverly, speaking on the talk radio station LBC, said Qatar was making “some compromises in terms of what is, you know, an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own.” In turn, he said, fans should “be respectful of the host nation — they will, they are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Labour Party Comes Out Swinging at Britain’s New Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, Mark Landler, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The opposition’s lines of attack, starting with Mr. Sunak’s choice of home secretary and his wife’s wealth, gave a glimpse of where it sees vulnerabilities in the governing Conservatives.

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Pandemic, Public Health News

ny times logoNew York Times, Hospitalizations Rise as Wave of Viruses Hits New York, Sharon Otterman, Oct. 27, 2022. New Yorkers are falling ill with new variants of Covid and old illnesses like flu and RSV that masking and other precautions once held at bay.

washington post logoWashington Post, For those still trying to duck covid, the isolation is worse than ever, Ellen McCarthy, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Rather than go back to normal, some members of the masked minority have reorganized their lives indefinitely around continuing to avoid the virus.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Emily Landon, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine, understands the concerns. Though acute covid is “largely survivable” because of advances in therapeutics and vaccines, she says, there are still very real risks related to long covid, including prolonged illness, cardiac conditions and neurological symptoms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge tells NYC to rehire workers fired for refusing vaccination, Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Sanitation workers who were fired for refusing to comply with New York City’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for government employees should be given back their jobs, as well as retroactive pay, a New York state judge ruled.

The city’s requirement for government workers to be vaccinated was “arbitrary and capricious,” state Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio, a Republican whose jurisdiction includes the conservative stronghold of Staten Island, wrote in an order filed Tuesday. The city has appealed the decision; New York’s Supreme Court is a trial-level court and its decisions are subject to review by higher appellate courts.

City employees were required to show proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine before November 2021, amid worries that winter would hasten the spread of the virus. The sanitation workers were terminated in February this year. A mandate for public-facing employees of private companies also went into effect in December 2021, but was amended to include exemptions for performers and athletes after sharp criticism.

New York City alters vaccine mandate, clearing way for Kyrie Irving to play at home

Porzio highlighted the exceptions, writing that if the mandates were “about safety and public health, no one would be exempt.” He said that while the health commissioner had the authority to issue public health mandates, the commissioner “cannot create a new condition of employment for City employees,” nor can the public health authority “prohibit an employee from reporting to work” or terminate an employee.

Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced last month that the city was dropping the mandate for private employees as of Nov. 1. He said at the time that ending the mandate for government workers was “not on the radar for us.” (Porzio wrote in his ruling that the mayor “cannot exempt certain employees from these orders.”)

A spokesman for the New York City Law Department said in a statement that the city “strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”

He added that the mandate, which was put in place by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), would stay in place “as this ruling pertains solely to the individual petitioners in this case.” In announcing the mandate, de Blasio said that the “privilege” of serving New Yorkers as a public employee “comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe.”

Adams’s office told the local news publication City & State New York last month that 1,761 city employees had been fired because of noncompliance with the mandate. More than 1,400 of those were terminated in February, when Adams said that the workers were “quitting” and not being terminated, because it was a “decision” not to get vaccinated.

Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor of New York, said at a debate on Tuesday evening that anyone terminated because of a state requirement for health-care workers to be vaccinated should be “offered their jobs back, with back pay.” He also criticized “special celebrity exemptions,” in a reference to the athlete exceptions, although those were from the city’s mandate.

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Climate, Drought, Hurricanes, Energy

ny times logoNew York Times, War in Ukraine Likely to Speed Shift to Clean Energy, I.E.A. Says, Brad Plumer, Oct. 27, 2022. Some countries are burning more coal due to natural gas shortages caused by the Ukraine war, but the International Energy Agency predicts that won’t last. Meanwhile, many countries have responded to soaring prices for fossil fuels by embracing wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen and electric sources of power.

ny times logoNew York Times, Europe is turning to Africa for alternatives to Russian natural gas — which could tilt the scales in a long-unequal relationship, Max Bearak, Melissa Eddy and Dionne Searcey, Oct. 27, 2022.  Officials from Algeria to Mozambique say they hope to take advantage of an abrupt change in a long-unequal relationship.

washington post logoWashington Post, After Ian, retirees drawn by the Florida dream wrestle with reality, Brittany Shammas, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). For more than a century, millions have flocked to Florida to retire. Hurricane Ian upended the idyllic lives so many had planned for themselves.

For more than a century, millions have flocked to Florida with similar visions to live out their golden years on the beach. The Florida dream exerts a powerful pull: The state consistently ranks among the fastest-growing in the nation. It is forever under construction, with new houses and condos and apartment buildings rising in already-crowded cities. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of paradise.

But Ian, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States, upended the idyllic lives so many had planned for themselves in this stretch of the Sunshine State, often pouring in their life’s savings. As Floridians surveyed the damage from the near-Category 5 storm, which killed at least 114 people, some wrestled with painful questions: Should they stay and rebuild? Could they?

washington post logoWashington Post, Climate-warming methane emissions rising faster than ever, study says, Steven Mufson, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The amount of methane in the atmosphere is racing ahead at an accelerating pace, according to a study by the World Meteorological Organization, threatening to undermine efforts to slow climate change.

The WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin said that “global emissions have rebounded since the COVID-related lockdowns” and that the increases in methane levels in 2020 and 2021 were the largest since systematic record keeping began in 1983.

“Methane concentrations are not just rising, they’re rising faster than ever,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University.

The study comes on the same day as a new U.N. report which says that the world’s governments haven’t committed to cut enough climate emissions, putting the world on track for a 2.5 degree Celsius (4.5 degree Fahrenheit) increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

The analysis said that the level of emissions set out in countries’ commitments was lower than a year ago, but would still lead to a full degree of temperature increase beyond the target level set at the most recent climate summits. Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said that “we are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world.”

The quickest way to affect the pace of global warming would be cutting emissions of methane, the second largest contributor to climate change. It has a warming impact 80 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. The WMO said the amount of methane in the atmosphere jumped by 15 parts per billion in 2020 and 18 parts per billion in 2021.

Scientists are studying whether the unusually large increases in atmospheric methane levels in 2020 and 2021 are the result of a “climate feedback” from nature-based sources such as tropical wetlands and rice paddies or whether they are the result of human-made natural gas and industrial leakage. Or both.

Methane emitted by fossil sources has more of the carbon-13 isotope than that produced from wetlands or cattle.

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U.S. Media, Education, Space, Sports

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk dubs himself ‘Chief Twit,’ visits Twitter HQ with deal set to close, Faiz Siddiqui, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Musk changed his Twitter profile and visited the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

Elon Musk is on track to buy Twitter. For real this time.

The world’s richest person showed up at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters Wednesday for meetings with executives and changed his bio on Twitter to “Chief Twit.”

The moves signal the $44 billion deal is on track to close this week, something echoed by people close with Musk who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Financing is lining up to finalize the deal.

Twitter’s stock closed at $53.35 — just under Musk’s offer of $54.20, signaling the market believes it will go through, too.

It’s a far cry from just a few weeks ago, when Twitter and Musk were locked in litigation after the Tesla chief executive attempted to back out of his deal to acquire the social media company, citing problems with spam and bots.

Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for original price, weeks before trial

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Musk praised the company’s capacity for enabling “citizen journalism,” and said entities such as local news organizations “should get way more prominence” on the site.

Twitter’s chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland, sent an email to staff Wednesday morning saying Musk would be in the San Francisco offices and encouraged employees to “say hi,” according to a copy viewed by The Washington Post.

Musk later tweeted a video of him walking into the company’s reception area, carrying a sink to indicate that the reality of his ownership should “sink in.”

washington post logoWashington Post, At a small-town radio station, the right-wing misinformation effort goes local, Jaclyn Peiser, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The Normal, Ill., radio station has merged activism and coverage, organizing protests and pushing back against criticism of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

When Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s campaign bus came to town recently, the local conservative talk radio station covered the event, dutifully informing its audience on social media that “counter protesters were in attendance.”

The “counter protesters” were the radio station’s employees. They mugged for photos in front of the governor’s bus, held up signs that said, “Fire Pritzker” — then turned around and covered the Democrat’s event.

Since President Biden’s election, the talk radio station Cities 92.9 has upended the traditional media ecosystem in this part of Central Illinois with an unusual mix of hyperlocal news coverage — crime, weather and the like — and election misinformation. Replying on Facebook to a social media post about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, the station turned its focus to the 2020 election results: “What about the insurrection on Nov. 3?”

Cities 92.9 organized a sold-out bus trip to the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, supported a man accused of making a Nazi salute at a school board meeting and co-hosted a fall “freedom” festival during which a former Marine and Jan. 6 attendee called for revolution, saying, “Violence is always the answer.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Dumped by Adidas, Kanye showed up at Skechers HQ. They kicked him out, Annie Gowen, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The footwear company said the artist formerly known as Kanye West was ‘engaged in unauthorized filming.’

Ye, the musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, showed up unannounced at the Skechers corporate office in Los Angeles on Wednesday, prompting executives at the footwear company to escort him out of the building.

“Skechers is not considering and has no intention of working with West,” the company said in a news release. “We condemn his recent divisive remarks and do not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech.”

The incident comes one day after Adidas announced it ended its multibillion-dollar partnership with Ye following his continual, brazen antisemitic comments. For weeks, the artist has unleashed diatribes on social media and in podcasts and TV interviews.

According to Skechers, Ye and others arrived “unannounced and without invitation” and had a “brief conversation” with executives before they were ushered out of the building because they was “engaged in unauthorized filming.”

The Republican National Committee and its allies say they have staged thousands of training sessions around the country on how to monitor voting and lodge complaints about next month’s midterm elections. In Pennsylvania, party officials have boasted about swelling the ranks of poll watchers to six times the total from 2020. In Michigan, a right-wing group announced it had launched “Operation Overwatch” to hunt down election-related malfeasance, issuing a press release that repeated the warning “We are watching” 10 times.

Supporters of former president Donald Trump who falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen have summoned a swarm of poll watchers and workers in battleground states to spot potential fraud this year. It is a call to action that could subject voting results around the country to an unprecedented level of suspicion and unfounded doubt.

“We’re going to be there and enforce those rules, and we’ll challenge any vote, any ballot, and you’re going to have to live with it, OK?” one-time Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon said on a recent episode of his podcast. “We don’t care if you don’t like it. We don’t care if you’re going to run around and light your hair on fire. That’s the way this is going to roll.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: How NFL teams use Black coaches to clean up their messes, Emily Giambalvo, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). When things fall apart, NFL owners often turn to Black coaches to serve as interim leaders. But they face a tougher road to capitalize on those auditions than their White peers.

  • Washington Post, Investigation: How NFL hiring and firing practices disadvantage Black coaches at every turn
  • Washington Post, Investigation: A lost generation of Black coaching talent

ny times logoNew York Times, More Than 104,000 New York City Students Were Homeless Last Year, Troy Closson, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The number of students in temporary housing rose by about 3 percent, not including the thousands of migrant children who have recently arrived.

More than 104,000 public school students in New York City were homeless during the last school year, according to new data released Wednesday, a number that grew even as overall enrollment in the city’s public schools declined.

Nearly one in 10 students in New York City lived in shelters, doubled up with other families, or in cars, abandoned buildings or outside as the city grapples with a housing shortage and affordability crisis. The data did not include the influx of recently arrived homeless migrant children.

The number of students in temporary housing grew by 3 percent over the prior year and has surpassed six figures for seven consecutive school years, posing steep challenges for the administration of Mayor Eric Adams. The city is grappling with how to help its most vulnerable children recover from pandemic learning losses while also integrating the more than 6,000 additional homeless students who have enrolled in city schools over the past four months.

The vast majority of the newest group of students are immigrants from Central and South America who were bused to New York City from Texas after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. They have strained a system where immigrant students have often struggled.

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Oct. 26

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Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Russia's recently appoint military commander for the Ukraine war, Gen. Sergei Surovikin in a pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin.


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Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: These are the mega-donors pumping millions into the 2022 midterms, Luis Melgar, Chris Alcantara, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Anu Narayanswamy and Chris Zubak-Skee, Oct. 26, 2022. The 50 biggest donors this cycle have collectively pumped $1.1 billion into political committees and other groups competing in the 2022 elections.

The 50 biggest donors this cycle have collectively pumped $1.1 billion into political committees and other groups competing in the midterms, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission data. From billionaire investors to shipping magnates to casino moguls, these megadonors skew Republican, though they affiliate with both parties.

Topping the list are George Soros, the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and philanthropist to liberal causes globally, and Elizabeth and Richard Uihlein, founders of a shipping company and key benefactors behind the GOP’s move to the hard right in recent years.

Many of the figures on the list are familiar faces, but some are new on the scene, in particular a handful of millennials such as 30-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried who have enjoyed a recent financial windfall from cryptocurrency investments.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Three men convicted of aiding plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer, Joanna Slater, Oct. 26, 2022.  A jury on Wednesday convicted three men of aiding a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in a case that deepened fears about the spread of right-wing extremism and potential violence directed at politicians.

The three men — Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar and Pete Musico — were found guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court of providing material support for terrorist acts, possessing a firearm while committing a felony, and being members of a gang. They face up to 20 years in prison.

gretchen whitmer o smile CustomA jury on Oct. 26 convicted Joseph Morrison, Paul Bellar and Pete Musico for aiding a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

Whitmer, right, who is running for reelection in November, has said that she considers the plot an attempt to kidnap and kill her.

“These verdicts are further proof that violence and threats have no place in our politics,” Whitmer said Wednesday on Twitter.

More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the plot to kidnap Whitmer, which prosecutors said was fueled by anti-government extremism and anger at steps that the governor took to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, two other men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted on federal charges of plotting to kidnap Whitmer. Prosecutors said they planned to capture Whitmer at her vacation home, detonate a bridge and ignite an armed rebellion ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

In that trial, jurors heard recordings of Fox and Croft discussing their plans to abduct the governor and hang her for “treason.” Croft believed he had God’s permission to kill, an FBI agent testified.

Fox, Croft and the three men convicted Wednesday were members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a far-right paramilitary group that recruited members on Facebook and periodically met for firearm training in preparation for what they called the “boogaloo” — a violent uprising against the government.

Morrison was considered the group’s “commander,” while Bellar had the role of “sergeant,” prosecutors said. Musico is Morrison’s father-in-law, and the group’s “field training” exercises took place at their home in Jackson County.

The three men convicted Wednesday did not face federal charges and did not participate in physical surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home, unlike others charged.Washington Post, As the war drags on and the ripple effects are felt throughout the continent, the transition from temporary relief to longer-term support is putting the bloc’s commitments to the test, Rick Noack, Meg Kelly, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Ladka Bauerova, Oct. 26, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pro-Trump Republicans court election volunteers to ‘challenge any vote,’ Patrick Marley, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). It is unclear whether the flood of poll watchers and workers that the former president’s allies have sought will materialize.

The Republican National Committee and its allies say they have staged thousands of training sessions around the country on how to monitor voting and lodge complaints about next month’s midterm elections. In Pennsylvania, party officials have boasted about swelling the ranks of poll watchers to six times the total from 2020. In Michigan, a right-wing group announced it had launched “Operation Overwatch” to hunt down election-related malfeasance, issuing a press release that repeated the warning “We are watching” 10 times.

Supporters of former president Donald Trump who falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen have summoned a swarm of poll watchers and workers in battleground states to spot potential fraud this year. It is a call to action that could subject voting results around the country to an unprecedented level of suspicion and unfounded doubt.

“We’re going to be there and enforce those rules, and we’ll challenge any vote, any ballot, and you’re going to have to live with it, OK?” one-time Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon said on a recent episode of his podcast. “We don’t care if you don’t like it. We don’t care if you’re going to run around and light your hair on fire. That’s the way this is going to roll.”

ny times logoNew York Times, With Ads, Imagery and Words, Republicans Inject Race Into Campaigns, Jonathan Weisman, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Republicans are openly appealing to white fears and resentments with ads portraying Black candidates as soft on crime, or as “different” or “dangerous.”

As Republicans seize on crime as one of their leading issues in the final weeks of the midterm elections, they have deployed a series of attack lines, terms and imagery that have injected race into contests across the country.

In states as disparate as Wisconsin and New Mexico, ads have labeled a Black candidate as “different” and “dangerous” and darkened a white man’s hands as they portrayed him as a criminal.

Nowhere have these tactics risen to overtake the debate in a major campaign, but a survey of competitive contests, particularly those involving Black candidates, shows they are so widespread as to have become an important weapon in the 2022 Republican arsenal.

In Wisconsin, where Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, is the Democratic nominee for Senate, a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad targeting him ends by juxtaposing his face with those of three Democratic House members, all of them women of color, and the words “different” and “dangerous.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Denounce Inflation, but Few Economists Expect Their Plans to Help, Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane, Oct. 26, 2022. Proposed tax and spending cuts by the G.O.P. are unlikely to tame prices anytime soon.

Republicans are riding a wave of anger over inflation as they seek to recapture the House and the Senate this fall, hammering Democrats on President Biden’s economic policies, which they say have fueled the fastest price gains in 40 years.

Republican candidates have centered their economic agenda on promises to help Americans cope with everyday price increases and to increase growth. They have pledged to reduce government spending and to make permanent parts of the 2017 Republican tax cuts that are set to expire over the next three years — including incentives for corporate investment and tax reductions for individuals.

And they have vowed to repeal the corporate tax increases that Mr. Biden signed into law in August while gutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service, which was given more money to help the United States go after high-earning and corporate tax cheats.

“The very fact that Republicans are poised to take back majorities in both chambers is an indictment of the policies of this administration,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, noting that “if you look at the spending that they did on a partisan basis, we certainly would be able to stop that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, As Climate Pledges Fall Short, a Chaotic Future Looks More Like Reality, Max Bearak, Oct. 26, 2022. Without drastic action, a United Nations report said, temperatures are set to rise far more than the goal set by the 2015 Paris agreement.

With an annual summit next month, the United Nations assessed progress on countries’ past emissions commitments. Severe disruption would be hard to avoid on the current trajectory.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Officials Had a Secret Saudi Oil Deal. Or So They Thought, Mark Mazzetti, Edward Wong and Adam Entous, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Ahead of President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia this summer, his aides thought he had struck a deal to boost oil production through the end of the year.

Instead, Saudi Arabia steered a group of nations in voting to slash production, angering U.S. officials and producing accusations between the two countries.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats grew furious at the Saudis’ move to cut oil production, seeing it as an attempt to meddle in a U.S. election, Blake Hounshell, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Democrats and administration officials are furious at the Saudis’ move to cut oil production, seeing it as an attempt to meddle in a U.S. election.

National security officials insist they weren’t blindsided. But other officials, including John Podesta, the climate czar, were furious. Many saw the move as a Saudi attempt to meddle in a U.S. election, and they viewed the Saudis as reneging on a mutual understanding the two countries had reached after the war in Ukraine took Russian oil off the market. The president said there would be “consequences,” and John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said the U.S. would be “re-evaluating our relationship with Saudi Arabia in light of these actions.”

Jared Kushner’s front-row seat at an investor meeting in Riyadh this week will probably only heighten Democrats’ suspicions, as will the kingdom’s recent agreement to strengthen energy ties with Beijing. Notably, no U.S. officials were invited to the Riyadh meeting.

“The White House has taken this very personally, and for understandable reasons,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He speculated that OPEC might not ultimately cut production by the full two million barrels a day that it said it would; member countries often fail to meet their production quotas anyway.

“More important,” Riedel added, “is the symbolism of the president trying to reset U.S.-Saudi relations and the Saudis essentially repudiating him and humiliating him.”

Riedel urged the White House to take action before the midterms, possibly by revoking maintenance contracts for Saudi warplanes or by withdrawing the U.S. troops stationed in the kingdom.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukrainian forces advance against Russian fighters in Kherson and Bakhmut, Mary Ilyushina and Emily Rauhala, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Ukrainian forces continued their advance against the Russian military in the southern Kherson region Tuesday, pushed back Russian mercenaries from Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk, and gained new momentum in Luhansk, where they seized a key highway between the towns of Kreminna and Svatove.

On a day of heavy fighting and fast-moving developments across multiple combat zones, the Ukrainians appeared to extend their recent success in recapturing occupied territories and in pushing Moscow’s troops into retreat in areas that President Vladimir Putin has claimed now belong to Russia.

Away from the battlefield, the Kremlin continued to push a claim, asserted repeatedly without evidence, that Kyiv was preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that combines conventional explosives with radioactive material — an accusation that was dismissed by the United States and other Western nations.

U.S. officials said that Moscow’s allegations raised a risk that Russia itself was planning to carry out a radiation attack, potentially as a pretext to justify further escalation of the war amid its continuing territorial setbacks.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, Energoatom, issued a similar warning, citing the Russian military’s control over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar. “Energoatom assumes that such actions of the occupiers may indicate that they are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at the ZNPP site,” the statement said.

The renewed fears of some kind of radiation attack added to the ominous sense that Putin’s war in Ukraine is growing even more deadly and dangerous as each side seeks to redraw facts on the ground before winter.

Ukraine has been pushing hard for further territorial gains, while Russia this month began a relentless bombing campaign against Ukraine’s energy system, using missiles and attack drones in an apparent bid to plunge the country into cold and darkness, and potentially compensate for battlefield losses.

As Ukraine continued to make gains, pro-Kremlin military bloggers and analysts confirmed new setbacks for Russia’s forces Tuesday, including in Luhansk, the easternmost occupied region of Ukraine, where Russia has had its firmest grip.

“The Ukrainian army has resumed its counteroffensive in the Luhansk direction,” the pro-Russian WarGonzo project said in its daily military update, adding that Ukrainian forces took control of a key highway between the Luhansk towns of Svatove and Kreminna.

Russia’s methodical attacks exploit frailty of Ukrainian power system

“The Russian artillery is actively working on the left bank of Zherebets river and is trying to stop the transfer of reinforcements to the enemy but the situation is very difficult,” WarGonzo added.

In the Donetsk region, the Wagner paramilitary force, controlled by St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, appeared to be getting pushed back from Bakhmut, where the mercenaries had spent weeks pummeling the city but making small gains. Military experts said there was little strategic value in seizing Bakhmut, but Prigozhin seems to see a chance to claim a political prize, while regular Russian military units lose ground in other combat zones.

washington post logoWashington Post, Adidas cuts ties with Ye, also known as Kanye West, saying it ‘does not tolerate antisemitism,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.).Yeezy accounts for an estimated 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue.

Adidas has cut ties with Ye, the musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, marking the end of a partnership that made the company billions but was soured by the artist’s repeated brazen antisemitic and offensive remarks.

After avoiding commenting for weeks on the status of the partnership, the German-based maker of athletic gear broke its silence on Tuesday, saying in a statement: “After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. adidas will stop the adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.”

The statement added that Adidas “does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

Kim Kardashian condemns hate speech after Kanye West’s antisemitism

Adidas joins other companies, including JPMorgan Chase and Balenciaga, in ending its relationship with Ye.

 

U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 

mehmet oz john fetterman

ny times logoNew York Times, Fetterman, Showing Stroke Effects, Battles Oz in Senate Debate, Shane Goldmacher, Updated Oct. 26, 2022. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, tried to assure voters of his fitness. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican, sought to portray himself as a problem solver.

Five months after a stroke nearly took his life, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, clashed with Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday in their one and only debate, disagreeing sharply over abortion, the economy and other partisan issues as Mr. Fetterman tried to assure voters of his fitness to serve.

pennsylvania map major citiesStanding at red and blue lecterns in a television studio in Harrisburg, Pa., the two men could scarcely conceal their disdain for each other, or the scope of their disagreements. Dr. Oz returned repeatedly to the issue of crime while trying to position himself as a centrist candidate. Mr. Fetterman slashed Dr. Oz as a wealthy outsider unfamiliar with the economic struggles of Pennsylvanians.

The spectacle of the debate itself took on uncommon significance because of Mr. Fetterman’s stroke and the pace of his recovery. Mr. Fetterman sought to address the issue at the very start. “Let’s also talk about the elephant in the room: I had a stroke,” he said in his opening remarks, adding of his opponent, “He’ll never let me forget that.”

The debate was held under unusual conditions. Situated above the moderators were two 70-inch monitors to show the text of what was being said in close to real time — for both questions and answers. Professional typists were on hand to try to transcribe the debate as part of an agreed-upon accommodation for Mr. Fetterman, who has publicly discussed his lingering auditory processing issues after the stroke.

Mr. Fetterman’s words were frequently halting, and it was apparent when he was delayed in either reading or reaching for a phrase or word. But he was also fluent enough over the course of the hour to present his Democratic vision for a state that could determine control of the Senate.

  john fetterman

Palmer Report, Opinion: Good news for John Fetterman, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 26, 2022. John Fetterman, above, had a stroke all the way back in early 2022 and bill palmerhas since mounted a significant recovery. But the mainstream media callously waited until just a few weeks ago to suddenly start playing up Fetterman’s stroke in hyperbolic and dishonest fashion, in the name of trying to milk his Senate race for ratings down the stretch.

bill palmer report logo headerIn fact the media has been overplaying Fetterman’s stroke so cartoonishly, it convinced a lot of folks that Fetterman was some kind of invalid. Accordingly, Fetterman’s once-larger lead in the polling averages has suddenly shrunk to just two and a half points.

But during Tuesday night’s debate, Fetterman came across as a guy who has largely (not fully) recovered and is pretty close to being normal. The media had set expectations so low, Fetterman’s debate performance almost surely helped him in the eyes of persuadable voters.

Moreover, most members of the public don’t actually watch Senate debates. Instead they end up seeing or hearing just a few soundbites from the debate. The debate can last two hours, but most people will only ever hear thirty seconds of it. Fetterman, in spite of a few minor stumbles, didn’t produce any embarrassing soundbites. Oz, on the other hand, created arguably the soundbite of the entire 2022 election cycle when he said that abortion should be decided by a woman, her doctor, and local politicians. Yes, he really said this.

So the story coming out of the Pennsylvania Senate debate is that Fetterman is in far better condition than the media was claiming, and that Oz is a deranged extremist who wants to take away women’s most basic rights. This is good news for Fetterman. He survived the debate and came off better than most were expecting, even as Oz stepped in it with a terrible soundbite that’s already going viral. Fetterman’s people also announced that he received more than a million dollars in campaign donations in the hours after the debate – a sign that voters approved of his performance.

ny times logoNew York Times, Oz and Fetterman Tangle in Debate, With Senate Control on the Line, Blake Hounshell, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The crucial Pennsylvania race between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz was a clash of two large personalities. See a recap of our live analysis.

 

herschel walker informal

ny times logoNew York Times, Unnamed Woman Says Walker Pressured and Paid for Her to Have Abortion in ’93, Jonathan Weisman and Maya King, Oct. 26, 2022. The woman delivered her story anonymously in a news conference with Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer. The New York Times could not confirm the account.

A woman who did not identify herself said on Wednesday that Herschel Walker pressured her to have an abortion and paid for the procedure nearly three decades ago after a yearslong extramarital relationship. A former football star, Mr. Walker (shown above in a file photo) is running for the Senate in Georgia as an abortion opponent.

The New York Times could not confirm the account, interview the woman or inspect the evidence that Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer, asserted was proof that the woman had a relationship with Mr. Walker.

republican elephant logoThe woman told her story at a news conference with Ms. Allred, but did not appear on camera. Neither she nor Ms. Allred offered any evidence to back up the woman’s accusation that Mr. Walker, a Republican, had urged her to end her pregnancy even after she initially left an abortion clinic without going through with the procedure.

The evidence provided included a taped message from a man Ms. Allred said was Mr. Walker calling from the Winter Olympics of 1992, where Mr. Walker competed in bobsled; a number of greeting cards signed “H”; and a blurry photo of a man who Ms. Allred said was Mr. Walker in a hotel room in Mankato, Minn. She also showed what she said was a receipt for that hotel, a Holiday Inn in the city where the Minnesota Vikings, Mr. Walker’s professional football team at the time, practiced.

The woman, speaking remotely into the news conference, said she was so traumatized in 1993 after she had the abortion that she left her home in the Dallas area and did not return for 15 years.

The woman said she was a registered independent who voted for Donald J. Trump, a Republican, in 2016 and 2020. She told her story, she said, to expose hypocrisy in Mr. Walker’s campaign message and because, she said, he lied in denying another woman’s account of his urging her to have an abortion by saying that he never signed cards with just his first initial, “H.”

Shortly before the news conference, Mr. Walker broadly denied the claim at a campaign event in Dillard, Ga., about 100 miles north of Atlanta.

“I’m done with this foolishness. I’ve already told people this is a lie and I’m not going to entertain it,” he said, suggesting that this was a reflection of Democratic jitters following his performance during the Senate debate against the Democratic incumbent, Senator Raphael Warnock, this month. “The Democrats will do and say whatever they can to win this seat.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Rep. Lee Zeldin and Gov. Kathy Hochul sparred over abortion and crime in the New York governor debate. Here are 5 takeaways, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Michael Gold, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Representative Lee Zeldin conveyed a sense of outrage over crime and the economy, as Gov. Kathy Hochul emphasized his views on abortion and his ties to Donald Trump.

gretchen whitmer o horizontal CustomIn their only scheduled debate, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, right, and her challenger, Representative Lee Zeldin, quarreled intensely on Tuesday over divisive issues such as rising crime and abortion access, while accusing each other of corruption and dangerous extremism.

Mr. Zeldin, who has spent his campaign trying to appeal to voters’ dissatisfaction with the status quo, went on the attack from the get-go, frequently raising his voice as he channeled a sense of outrage, especially around crime. Ms. Hochul, a Buffalo-area Democrat vying for her first full term, took a more measured approach that fit her insistence that the state needs a steady hand to lead it.

Beyond trading barbs, neither candidate appeared to have a major breakout moment or gaffe that could reshape the race, which, according to recent polls, may be tightening just two weeks before Election Day. But both staked out starkly different positions on substantive matters from crime to vaccine mandates and the migrant crisis ahead of the general election on Nov. 8.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 1 million vote early in Georgia, a dramatic increase from 2018, Matthew Brown and Lenny Bronner, Oct. 26, 2022. For weeks, Georgia’s Democratic and Republican parties had urged voters to cast their ballots as soon as possible instead of waiting until Election Day. Voters apparently listened.

georgia mapMore than 1 million Georgians have voted early, a dramatic increase from the last midterm election in 2018 and nearly on pace with the 2020 presidential election, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

Early-voting centers opened across Georgia last week, and the vast majority of voters cast their ballots in person. Mail-in-ballot requests have fallen significantly from past election cycles.

While every demographic and region of the state has seen elevated turnout relative to 2018, there has been a surge of participation from women, Black voters and voters over age 50, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The increases have been largest in the Atlanta region, while many counties in the state’s southwest and along the southeast coast are far outpacing their early vote counts from 2018. Cobb County, a fast-growing suburb of Atlanta, crosses both trends, having counted more than three times the number of ballots collected at the same point in 2018.

Early voting is underway in several other states, although most of them don’t release as much data as Georgia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, Latinos aren’t abandoning the Democratic Party, Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 26, 2022. Is the Latino voter abandoning dana milbank newestDemocrats, as this year’s incessant media narrative would have it?

At the East Las Vegas Community Center, the Nevada Democrat, the first Hispanic woman elected to the Senate, has assembled 500 Latinos for “La Gran Celebración Latina.” They line up for tacos and pupusas, peruse the wares representing each South and Central American country — Venezuelan arepas, Costa Rican coffee, Paraguayan baskets — and watch the dancers in their ponchos and feathered hats. A DJ plays a merengue tune “Latinos” and chants: “Latinos! Latinos!”

On a temporary stage, speakers in Spanish and English take turns hailing Cortez Masto, “la primera y la única” — the “first and only” senatorial Latina. A man hangs a medal around her neck and presents a plaque. “¡Fuerte aplauso!” cries the emcee. “¡Viva la senadora!” On the wall, posters underscore the not-subtle point: Cortez Masto is “¡UNA DE LAS NUESTRAS!”— one of ours.

The senator tells the crowd about her grandfather: “The difference between a baker from Chihuahua, Mexico, and the first Latina ever elected to the United States Senate is two generations!”

Cortez Masto, probably the most endangered Democratic Senate incumbent this year, might or might not win reelection. Margins, or more likely turnout, among Hispanic voters could slip, and in this tight race, small variations could be decisive. “I know I can’t take this community for granted,” Cortez Masto tells me — a mantra she repeats four times in a few minutes.

And the community appears to be reciprocating. A Univision poll released Tuesday showed Cortez Masto leading Adam Laxalt by 33 points among Latinos (and a statistically insignificant two points overall).

But if there is slippage among Latinos, it will be because they, like voters of all races, are disenchanted with the majority party and feeling economic anxiety. (In Nevada, gas prices are among the highest.)

It won’t be because they have embraced Laxalt, a MAGA Republican who has boasted about fighting against protecting “dreamers” (typically immigrants who were brought to the United States as children) from deportation. He has also voiced the white-nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy idea that the left uses illegal immigration to “destroy the values that made this country a great nation,” as he put it. (His campaign didn’t respond to my requests for comment.) In a broader sense, there is no sign Hispanic voters are abandoning Cortez Masto in droves. She will undoubtedly win Latinos (30 percent of the state’s population and nearly 20 percent of the electorate) by a wide margin, as she did in 2016.

The aggregate story is much the same nationally. It might be small comfort to Democrats if an erosion of the Latino vote costs them key races next month. But some correction is needed to the prevailing narrative that Hispanic voters are fleeing the Democratic Party en masse.

The source of the narrative is exit polling showing that Donald Trump gained among Latinos from 2016 to 2020, going from about 1 in 3 to roughly 2 in 5. Polling suggests this hasn’t rebounded, and has indeed worsened in places such as South Texas and South Florida. This has shaken the premise that demographics, in particular the fast-growing Hispanic population, inevitably favor Democrats in the long run.

But the long-term fear is overstated.

 Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats, on Defense in Blue States, Brace for a Red Wave in the House, Shane Goldmacher, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). With two weeks until the midterms, Republicans are pushing to compete in Democratic bastions like New York, California, Oregon and Rhode Island. The Republicans’ strategy comes amid growing signs that voters are poised to punish President Biden’s party — even in the bluest parts of the country.

Republicans are pressing their advantage deep into Democratic territory in the closing stretch of the 2022 campaign, competing for an abundance of House seats amid growing signs that voters are poised to punish President Biden’s party even in the bluest parts of America.

Republicans need to win only a handful of seats to take over the House of Representatives, which Democrats now control by a narrow margin of 220-212. But with two weeks until the election, Republicans are looking to run up the score and win a more expansive — and governable —majority by vying for districts in Democratic bastions, including in Rhode Island, which has not sent a Republican to Congress for nearly three decades.

“We thought for a little bit that we could defy gravity, but the reality is setting in,” said Sean McElwee, executive director of Data for Progress, a progressive research and polling firm. With Democrats on the defensive in so many places, Mr. McElwee said the goal should now be to limit the party’s losses so it could conceivably try to take back the House in 2024.

Simply making incursions so deep into Democratic terrain is a victory for Republicans. Win or lose, they have diverted limited Democratic resources. But Republicans need just five seats net to flip the chamber, and with the current daunting map, some Democratic strategists worry the party could lose far more: 20 or even 30 seats.

ny times logoNew York Times, Right-Wing Operatives Plead Guilty in Voter-Suppression Scheme, Christine Hauser, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman arranged thousands of robocalls that prosecutors said were intended to discourage residents of minority neighborhoods from voting by mail in 2020.

Two right-wing political operatives have pleaded guilty in Ohio to a telecommunications fraud charge for arranging thousands of robocalls that falsely claimed that the information voters included with mail ballots could be used by law enforcement and debt collectors, prosecutors said.

The operatives, Jacob Wohl, 24, of Los Angeles, and Jack Burkman, 56, of Arlington, Va., entered their pleas on Monday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland, prosecutors said.

The men were indicted in 2020 after they were accused of using the robocalls to intimidate residents in minority neighborhoods to refrain from voting by mail at a time when many voters were reluctant to cast ballots in person because of the coronavirus pandemic. The calls also claimed that the government could use mail-in voting information to track people for mandatory vaccination programs, prosecutors said.

“These individuals infringed upon the right to vote, which is one of the most fundamental components of our democracy,” the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Michael C. O’Malley, said in a statement announcing the guilty pleas on Monday.

According to the indictment, Mr. Wohl and Mr. Burkman were each charged with multiple counts of bribery and telecommunications fraud. Those charges were merged into one count each of telecommunications fraud under the plea deal in Ohio, James Gutierrez, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said in an interview on Tuesday.

Mr. Gutierrez said that the count that the two men pleaded guilty to covered the calls that were made to voters in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland. They face up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,500 when they are sentenced on Nov. 29, he said.

When announcing the indictments in 2020, prosecutors in Ohio said Mr. Burkman and Mr. Wohl used a voice broadcasting service provider to place more than 67,000 calls across several Midwestern states. More than 8,100 of them went to telephone numbers in Cleveland and East Cleveland, and about 3,400 were answered by a person or went to voice mail.

The recorded messages “falsely warned people that if they voted by mail that their information could be used by law enforcement, collection agencies” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “for the purposes of pursuing old warrants, collecting outstanding debts, and tracking people for mandatory vaccines,” Mr. O’Malley’s office said.

The Ohio attorney general, Dave Yost, whose office investigated the calls, said in a statement on Monday that Mr. Wohl and Mr. Burkman had been trying to suppress voting in minority neighborhoods.

“Voter intimidation won’t be tolerated in Ohio,” Mr. Yost said.

Politico, House progressives retract Russia-diplomacy letter amid Dem firestorm, Alexander Ward, Andrew Desiderio, Nicholas Wu and Jordain Carney, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Party lawmakers were blindsided by Monday's release of a letter calling for direct negotiations in Ukraine, according to several people familiar with the situation.

politico CustomHouse progressives on Tuesday retracted a letter calling on President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomacy with Russia, less than 24 hours after it sparked intense backlash from other Democrats.

The about-face comes as some Democratic lawmakers vent their fury that the letter backing talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin — originally drafted and signed in June — wasn’t recirculated before its public release on Monday. That release made it appear that the 30 House Democrats who signed on, all lawmakers in the roughly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, were urging the Biden administration to push for diplomacy immediately despite Russia’s engagement in war crimes and indications of a military escalation against Ukraine.

Making the timing of the letter even more politically perilous: Ukraine is not ready for negotiations at this point, especially because its months-long counteroffensive has been successful to date, and there’s no indication Putin is ready to deal either.

pramila jayapal resized o“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine,” the caucus’ chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said in a statement after POLITICO first reported that the retraction was imminent. “The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting.”

Jayapal said she accepts “responsibility” for the embarrassing flub, adding that the timing of the letter caused a “distraction” and was “conflated” with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent suggestion that Republicans might pull back on Ukraine funding if they win control of the House.

“The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian forces,” Jayapal added.

The letter to Biden was released without the knowledge of many Democratic lawmakers who put their name on it, several people told POLITICO, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity. While it was partially updated with new information about Russia’s war on Ukraine and sent to other lawmakers to reach a threshold of 30 signees, POLITICO has learned, the letter got released mostly in its original form.

The original release date for the letter was August 1, a congressional aide said, adding that it was never made clear why there was a delay. Its text was circulating on the Hill during August’s weeks-long legislative recess.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ashton Carter, Obama-Era Defense Secretary, Dies at 68, Clay Risen, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Trained as a physicist, he opened the military to transgender service members and removed barriers to women in combat roles.

ashton carter dodAshton B. Carter, right, a theoretical physicist who later climbed the leadership ranks at the Pentagon, culminating in two years as secretary of defense under President Barack Obama, a position he used to further open the military to women and transgender service members, died on Monday at his home in Boston. He was 68.

The cause was a heart attack, his family said in a statement.

Dr. Carter was widely regarded for his prowess in military technology and policy. After teaching at Harvard and directing the Center for Science and International Affairs at its John F. Kennedy School of Government, he joined the Clinton administration in 1993 as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. In that position, he directed efforts to assist post-Soviet states in securing their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Later, in the first Obama administration, he first served as the under secretary responsible for acquisition and logistics, and then deputy secretary of defense under Chuck Hagel. In the first position, he streamlined the purchase of thousands of mine-resistant vehicles; in the second, he helped carry out the president’s shift to Asia, reshuffling defense resources and priorities to the Pacific Rim in an effort to counter China.

washington post logoWashington Post, Right-wingers’ shamelessness is nothing to envy, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 26, 2022. During the Trump administration, it was jennifer rubin new headshotfashionable among progressive cynics to declare that “nothing matters”: No misdeed, lie or blunder on President Donald Trump’s part would ever entail any consequences. But in the wake of his 2020 loss and the multipronged criminal investigations into him, we can see that that adage isn’t accurate.

What is true, however, is that “nothing matters” to fellow Republicans; they’ve become fortified by utter shamelessness, a quality Democrats, thankfully, do not yet possess.

Take Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s repeated refusal to recuse himself from considering matters directly related to the 2020 coup attempt, which we know his wife, Ginni Thomas, participated in (e.g., by egging on the White House chief of staff and soliciting state officials to reverse the will of the voters). He did it again Monday, refusing to sit out Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) appeal to be rescued from testifying to a grand jury about Trump’s efforts to “find” votes and reverse Georgia’s election results.

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tweeted that Thomas violated part of the U.S. Code “requiring any ‘justice’ to recuse when his or her ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned’ or his or her ‘spouse is known by the justice to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome.’ ”

Thomas’s utter contempt for the court’s already diminished reputation is bolstered by the knowledge that he has lifetime tenure and therefore faces no consequences for his injudicious conduct. Moreover, among those whose favorable opinion he covets — MAGA politicians, right-wing think tanks and publications with pretensions of intellectual seriousness — no one will object to actions that further their “cause” even at the expense of the court’s integrity. You’ll hear not a whisper of criticism, for example, from the thoroughly partisan Federalist Society, nor any GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Refusals to act on principle, to call out one’s own side and to enforce a code of behavior for all public servants are now matters of tribal identity for Republicans. Defending Trump’s behavior — be it absconding with sensitive documents or instigating a would-be coup — is the only true requirement to succeed in today’s GOP. One has to be willing to subordinate conscience, truth and fidelity to the Constitution to earn the MAGA stamp of approval.

We’ve seen this play out with other right-wing figures. Look how the party rallies around its Senate candidate in Georgia, Herschel Walker, as unfit a nominee as either party has advanced in my lifetime. See the GOP’s deafening silence on Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) racist comments, or antisemitic gibes from Kayne West and Trump.

Aided by a right-wing media cocoon that insulates them from critical coverage and supported by an ends-justify-the-means MAGA movement, Republicans remain defiant. To quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, they’ve been not just “defining deviancy down” but celebrating the decline.

There simply is no equivalent on the Democratic side. When a tape of shamefully racist comments among members of the Los Angeles City Council came to light, President Biden demanded that the miscreants resign. One member did. California Gov. Gavin Newsom now calls for two others to do the same.

washington post logoWashington Post, Alaska GOP votes to censure McConnell over his support for Murkowski, Eugene Scott and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The Alaska Republican Party voted Monday to censure Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a gesture with no practical consequence but one that is intended to send a strong signal to conservative voters in the state to vote for Donald Trump-backed candidate Kelly Tshibaka over Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

The McConnell-aligned super PAC Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than $5 million in ads attacking Tshibaka in a bid to help Murkowski win reelection.

Elected in 2002, Murkowski is one of the more moderate Republican senators and a frequent target of Trump for her votes to preserve the Affordable Care Act, against Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and to convict the former president for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Tshibaka, who has also been backed by the Alaska GOP, accused McConnell of lying about her to get more Republicans to vote for Murkowski.

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More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

 

djt bob woodward

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump Tapes: 20 interviews that show why he is an unparalleled danger, Bob Woodward, above right, Oct. 24-26, 2022 (multimedia). In more than 50 years of reporting, I have never disclosed the raw interviews or full transcripts of my work.

But after listening again to the 20 interviews I conducted with President Donald Trump during his last year as chief executive, I have decided to take the unusual step of releasing them. I was struck by how Trump pounded in my ears in a way the printed page cannot capture.

In their totality, these interviews offer an unvarnished portrait of Trump. You hear Trump in his own words, in his own voice, during one of the most consequential years in American history: amid Trump’s first impeachment, the coronavirus pandemic and large racial justice protests.

This essay was adapted from “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward's Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump,” by Bob Woodward. It will be published Oct. 25 by Simon & Schuster Audio. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Audio. All rights reserved.

Much has been written about that period, including by me. But “The Trump Tapes,” my forthcoming audiobook of our interviews, is central to understanding Trump as he is poised to seek the presidency again. We spoke in person in the Oval Office and at Mar-a-Lago, as well as on the phone at varying hours of the day. You cannot separate Trump from his voice.

In the summer of 2020, for example, when the pandemic had killed 140,000 people in the United States, Trump told me: “The virus came along. That’s not my fault. That’s China’s fault.” I asked him:

Woodward: Was there a moment in all of this, last two months, where you said to yourself, “Ah, this is the leadership test of a lifetime”?

Trump: No.

On the printed page his “no” reads flat, a simple declaration. Now listen to the audio of that exchange. This “no” is confident, dismissive, full of self-assurance. It leaves no doubt about the finality of his judgment. This “no” distances him from bearing responsibility.

Sound has an extraordinary emotional power, an immediacy and authenticity. A listener is brought into the room. It is a completely different experience from reading Trump’s words or listening to snatches of his interviews on television or the internet.

Trump’s voice magnifies his presence.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump chief of staff Meadows ordered to testify before Ga. grand jury, Amy B Wang and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 26, 2022. Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state, a South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday.

Mark MeadowsFulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has said that her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” Because Meadows, right, does not live in Georgia, she could not subpoena him to testify but filed a petition in August for him to do so.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled Wednesday that Meadows must comply with a subpoena as his testimony is “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.”

The ruling was confirmed Wednesday by Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis. DiSantis said Meadows would not be called until after the midterm elections.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acquisition Company Tied to Trump Media Says Early Talks Were Not ‘Substantive,’ Matthew Goldstein, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Lawyers for Digital World recently told regulators that the SPAC had not violated any rules by talking to Trump Media before going public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Pressure Trump Aides to Testify in Documents Case, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The move is part of an effort by prosecutors to punch through the claims of privilege the former president is using to hamper the investigation of his push to overturn the election.

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to force the two top lawyers in Donald J. Trump’s White House to provide additional grand jury testimony as prosecutors seek to break through the former president’s attempts to shield his efforts to overturn the 2020 election from investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors filed a motion to compel testimony from the two lawyers, Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, last week. They told Beryl A. Howell, a judge in Federal District Court in Washington who oversees grand jury matters, that their need for the evidence the men could provide should overcome Mr. Trump’s claims that the information is protected by attorney-client and executive privilege, the people said.

The filing was the latest skirmish in a behind-the-scenes legal struggle between the government and Mr. Trump’s lawyers to determine how much testimony witnesses close to the former president can provide to the grand jury, which is examining Mr. Trump’s role in numerous schemes to reverse his election defeat, culminating in the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Cipollone, Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, and Mr. Philbin, who served as his deputy, initially appeared before the grand jury last month after receiving subpoenas, but declined to answer some of the questions prosecutors had about advice they gave to Mr. Trump or interactions they had with him in the chaotic post-election period, one of the people familiar with the matter said.

The government’s filing, which was reported earlier by CNN, asked Judge Howell to force the men to return to the grand jury and respond to at least some of the questions they had declined to answer.

If compelled to testify fully, Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Philbin could provide the grand jury with firsthand accounts of the advice they gave Mr. Trump about his efforts to derail the results of the election with a variety of schemes, including one to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. They could also tell the grand jury about Mr. Trump’s activities and mind-set on Jan. 6 and the tumultuous weeks leading up to it.

Judge Howell has already ruled in favor of the government in a similar privilege dispute concerning testimony from two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short and Greg Jacob, according to several people familiar with the matter. Both Mr. Short and Mr. Jacob returned to the grand jury this month and answered questions that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had sought to block as being privileged during their original appearances.

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More On Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Putin Repeats Unsubstantiated ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claim, Stoking Escalation Fears, Neil MacFarquhar, Oct. 26, 2022. President Vladimir Putin echoed claims that Ukraine would use a “dirty bomb,” which the U.S. has dismissed as a possible pretext for Moscow’s own attack.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Nova Kakhovka dam looms large in the possible battle for Kherson.
  • Displaced Ukrainians are urged not to return this winter.
  • Kherson residents face a ‘dystopian’ situation as officials push them to leave for areas under tighter Russian control.
  • Natural gas prices are falling in Europe despite the war and dwindling supply.
  • Ukrainians find devastation where Russians retreat.

 

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Russia's recently appoint military commander for the Ukraine war, Gen. Sergei Surovikin in a pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin.

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin is shown in a 2017 photo with Russia's recently appoint military commander for the Ukraine war, Gen. Sergei Surovikin in a pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia’s methodical attacks exploit frailty of Ukrainian power system, Lauren Lumpkin and Sahana Jayaraman, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have been so methodical and destructive that Ukrainian and Western officials say they are being directed by electricity specialists who know exactly which targets will inflict maximum pain on Ukraine’s grid.

The two-week-old bombing campaign, an effort to plunge Ukrainians into darkness ahead of their country’s bitter winter, has focused less on well-protected power generation plants and more on the network nodes that are key to keeping Ukraine’s electricity grid functioning and providing critical services.

Already, more than a third of Ukraine’s hard-to-replace transmission hubs have been damaged or destroyed, officials said.

 

WNBA star Brittney Griner imprisoned in Russia (Pool photo by Evgenia Novozhenina via the New York Times).

WNBA star Brittney Griner imprisoned in Russia (Pool photo by Evgenia Novozhenina via the New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Court Upholds Brittney Griner’s 9-Year Sentence, Ivan Nechepurenko and Neil MacFarquhar, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.).  Griner, an American basketball star convicted in Russia on drug charges, is expected to be sent to a penal colony after her appeal was rejected.

With the decision on Tuesday by a Russian appeals court to uphold Brittney Griner’s sentence on drug smuggling charges, the American basketball star’s best hope for freedom now likely depends on the outcome of delicate talks between the United States and Russia, two governments whose relations are at their lowest point in decades.

The Biden administration and President Vladimir V. Putin’s government have engaged in secretive negotiations about a possible exchange of prisoners, and back in June the Biden administration offered a swap involving Ms. Griner. But Kremlin officials have said repeatedly that it was premature to discuss a deal until the judicial process has run its course.

The ruling on Tuesday by a three-judge panel of an appeals court near Moscow means that Ms. Griner will soon begin serving a nine-year sentence at a prison colony. President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, denounced the ruling as “another sham judicial proceeding” and said that U.S. officials have “continued to engage with Russia through every available channel” to secure the freedom of Ms. Griner and other Americans they believe are wrongfully detained in Russia.

“The president has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home,” Mr. Sullivan said.

One person briefed on the talks between Moscow and Washington this summer said that the United States had proposed exchanging Ms. Griner — along with Paul Whelan, a former Marine held since December 2018 — for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year federal prison sentence for charges including conspiring to kill Americans.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin are both expected to attend a summit of Group of 20 leaders next month in Indonesia, and Mr. Biden has said he would only speak with the Russian leader there if it was to discuss Ms. Griner’s case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mercenary chief vented to Putin over Ukraine war bungling, Ellen Nakashima, John Hudson and Paul Sonne, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Russian tycoon behind mercenary group Wagner, personally told Vladimir Putin that military chiefs are mismanaging the war, U.S. officials said.

The confidant who vented to Russian President Vladimir Putin recently about his military’s handling of the war in Ukraine was Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the founder of a Russian mercenary group that is playing a critical role for Moscow on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Prigozhin’s criticisms echoed what he has been saying publicly for weeks, the officials said, speaking anonymously to discuss sensitive intelligence. But the revelation that he felt comfortable sharing such a harsh rebuke of the Russian military effort with Putin in a private setting shows how his influence is rising as Moscow’s war falters. It also highlights the shaky standing of the Russian defense establishment’s formal leadership, which has come under fire from Prigozhin and others after months of battlefield errors and losses.

The Washington Post previously reported that a Russian insider confronted Putin personally to spotlight mismanagement of the war effort but did not name that individual. The Post reported that the exchange was considered significant enough to include in the daily intelligence briefing provided to President Biden.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Regulation

Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo by Eric Crossan via New York Times).by Eric Crossan via New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Seems to Answer to No One. Except for a Judge in Delaware, Lauren Hirsch, Oct. 26, 2022. The chief judge of Delaware’s Chancery Court gave Mr. Musk until Friday to acquire Twitter. She is also the judge in at least one other case involving him.

Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick has become a very important person in the rambunctious life of Elon Musk.

The Delaware Chancery Court judge has given Mr. Musk until Friday to close his long-promised, $44 billion deal to twitter bird Customacquire Twitter. If he doesn’t, Judge McCormick will preside over a trial in November that could end with Mr. Musk being forced to make good on the deal he made with Twitter in April.

The 43-year-old judge is also expected to preside over another case involving Mr. Musk in November. A Tesla shareholder accused him in a lawsuit of unjustly enriching himself with his compensation package while running the electric vehicle company, which is Mr. Musk’s main source of wealth. The package, which consisted entirely of a stock grant, is now worth around $50 billion based on Tesla’s share price.

Judge McCormick is also overseeing three other shareholder lawsuits against Mr. Musk, though it is not yet clear whether those will go to trial, too.

elon musk 2015The woman who suddenly has a great deal of influence over Mr. Musk, right, comes from a much different world than the jet-setting, South African-born billionaire. The daughter of a high school football coach and an English teacher, Judge McCormick was raised in Smyrna, Del., a town with roughly 13,000 people about 14 miles away from Dover, the state capital.

Judge McCormick now oversees the 230-year-old court that is considered the foremost destination for adjudicating disputes over mergers and acquisitions and other corporate disagreements. She has been both quick-witted and blunt in months of hearings for Twitter’s lawsuit. And her decision to grant Mr. Musk a delay to a trial that was expected to begin earlier in October also displayed unusual flexibility — and pragmatism — to legal experts.

washington post logoWashington Post, St. Louis school shooter carried AR-15-style weapon and 600 rounds, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 26, 2022. The shooter who killed two and injured seven others at a St. Louis high school this week used an AR-15-style rifle and carried more than 600 rounds of ammunition, a police official said Tuesday.

Orlando Harris, a 19-year-old former student of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, had ammunition on a chest rig and in a bag, and dumped other magazines in a stairwell and corridors, interim St. Louis police commissioner Michael Sack said at a news conference.

“It doesn’t take long to burn through a magazine, as you’re looking down a long corridor or up or down a stairwell or into a classroom,” Sack said. “This could have been a horrific scene. It was not, by the grace of God and that the officers were as close as they were,” he said.

Police received the initial call about an active shooter at 9:11 a.m., Sack told reporters Monday. Officers entered the school at 9:15 a.m. and engaged Harris in a gunfight at 9:23 a.m. He was shot about two minutes later, Sack said.

Sack also read from a handwritten document left by Harris: “I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family. I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life,” Harris wrote, adding that it was a “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

Sack declined to comment on how and where Harris obtained the weapon. He has previously said that the school’s doors were locked before the shooting and that the school has metal detectors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Driver in Wis. Christmas parade massacre that killed 6 found guilty of homicide, Ben Brasch and Kim Bellware, Oct. 26, 2022. Darrell E. Brooks Jr. slammed an SUV into a crowd at the November 2021 parade in Waukesha, Wis. At least 48 other people were injured.

A Wisconsin jury found Darrell E. Brooks Jr. guilty of first-degree intentional homicide during a Christmas parade in November 2021 that killed six people.

Brooks slammed an SUV into a crowd at a Christmas parade near Milwaukee. He injured at least 48 others.

Brooks’ decision to represent himself led to tension between him and Judge Jennifer Dorow.

The 40-year-old is facing 76 criminal counts.

When the foreperson read the verdict of the homicide counts aloud, someone in the courtroom vulgarly heckled Brooks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Alito says leak of abortion opinion made majority ‘targets for assassination,’ Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 26, 2022. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said Tuesday that the leak of his draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade made his colleagues in the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court “targets for assassination.”

The leak last spring before the court eliminated the nationwide right to abortion was a “grave betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock,” he said. The threat to the justices, he added, was not theoretical because it “gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us.”

He noted that a man has been charged in an alleged attempt to kill Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was in the majority to overturn Roe. The California man, arrested near the justice’s home before the final opinion was released, was upset by the leaked draft, authorities said.

Interpretations of the 14th Amendment have been key in extending a slew of legal protections including civil rights, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Alito’s remarks during an event at the Heritage Foundation touched on criticism of the court, relations between the justices and proposals to expand the size of the Supreme Court. His comments come as polls show public approval of the court has dropped to record lows after the conservative majority allowed greater restrictions on abortion, expanded gun rights and limited the government’s power to address climate change.

 harvey weinstein 10 4 2022 pool etienne laurent

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on October 4, 2022 in Los Angeles, California (Pool photo by Etienne Laurent).

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know About Harvey Weinstein’s Los Angeles Trial, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Lauren Herstik, Oct. 24, 2022. The former producer was convicted in New York in 2020 of rape and criminal sexual assault. He faces 11 charges in a Los Angeles trial opening on Monday.

More than two years since his conviction for rape and criminal sexual assault in New York, Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood producer whose downfall marked a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, faces a second sex crimes trial in Los Angeles.

Opening statements are expected on Monday in the trial, which was once seen as largely symbolic because Mr. Weinstein, 70, still has 21 years left to serve in prison following his 2020 conviction. But the stakes of the Los Angeles trial are higher following a recent decision by New York’s highest court to allow Mr. Weinstein to appeal that conviction.

If Mr. Weinstein wins in New York, the Los Angeles trial will determine whether or not he walks free. Mr. Weinstein faces a life sentence in California if convicted.

He has pleaded not guilty.

What are the charges?

Mr. Weinstein, who has been accused by more than 90 women of sexual misconduct, faces 11 charges in his Los Angeles trial, which began with jury selection two weeks ago and which is expected to last six to eight weeks total.

washington post logoWashington Post, St. Louis school shooter carried AR-15-style weapon and 600 rounds, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 26, 2022. The shooter who killed two and injured seven others at a St. Louis high school this week used an AR-15-style rifle and carried more than 600 rounds of ammunition, a police official said Tuesday.

Orlando Harris, a 19-year-old former student of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, had ammunition on a chest rig and in a bag, and dumped other magazines in a stairwell and corridors, interim St. Louis police commissioner Michael Sack said at a news conference.

“It doesn’t take long to burn through a magazine, as you’re looking down a long corridor or up or down a stairwell or into a classroom,” Sack said. “This could have been a horrific scene. It was not, by the grace of God and that the officers were as close as they were,” he said.

Police received the initial call about an active shooter at 9:11 a.m., Sack told reporters Monday. Officers entered the school at 9:15 a.m. and engaged Harris in a gunfight at 9:23 a.m. He was shot about two minutes later, Sack said.

Sack also read from a handwritten document left by Harris: “I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family. I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life,” Harris wrote, adding that it was a “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

Sack declined to comment on how and where Harris obtained the weapon. He has previously said that the school’s doors were locked before the shooting and that the school has metal detectors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Driver in Wis. Christmas parade massacre that killed 6 found guilty of homicide, Ben Brasch and Kim Bellware, Oct. 26, 2022. Darrell E. Brooks Jr. slammed an SUV into a crowd at the November 2021 parade in Waukesha, Wis. At least 48 other people were injured.

A Wisconsin jury found Darrell E. Brooks Jr. guilty of first-degree intentional homicide during a Christmas parade in November 2021 that killed six people.

Brooks slammed an SUV into a crowd at a Christmas parade near Milwaukee. He injured at least 48 others.

Brooks’ decision to represent himself led to tension between him and Judge Jennifer Dorow.

The 40-year-old is facing 76 criminal counts.

When the foreperson read the verdict of the homicide counts aloud, someone in the courtroom vulgarly heckled Brooks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Alito says leak of abortion opinion made majority ‘targets for assassination,’ Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 26, 2022. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said Tuesday that the leak of his draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade made his colleagues in the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court “targets for assassination.”

The leak last spring before the court eliminated the nationwide right to abortion was a “grave betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock,” he said. The threat to the justices, he added, was not theoretical because it “gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us.”

He noted that a man has been charged in an alleged attempt to kill Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was in the majority to overturn Roe. The California man, arrested near the justice’s home before the final opinion was released, was upset by the leaked draft, authorities said.

Interpretations of the 14th Amendment have been key in extending a slew of legal protections including civil rights, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Alito’s remarks during an event at the Heritage Foundation touched on criticism of the court, relations between the justices and proposals to expand the size of the Supreme Court. His comments come as polls show public approval of the court has dropped to record lows after the conservative majority allowed greater restrictions on abortion, expanded gun rights and limited the government’s power to address climate change.

washington post logoWashington Post, Europe worries what GOP wins could mean for Ukraine, Liz Sly, Oct. 26, 2022. ‘If America starts to blink, other nations might as well,’ said one British member of Parliament.

U.S. allies in Europe are growing increasingly concerned that the united front presented by the West in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could quickly unravel if Republicans are victorious in next week’s midterm elections, ceding an advantage to President Vladimir Putin just when Ukraine is making progress on the battlefield.

In the eight months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a rare level of transatlantic consensus has taken hold over the need to support Ukraine. Collectively, Ukraine’s allies have pledged over $93 billion in military, financial and humanitarian assistance, with the lion’s share of that promised by the United States.

Since comments by the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that a Republican-controlled House wouldn’t continue to issue “blank check” funding for Ukraine, officials in both Kyiv and Western Europe have begun to wonder if Ukraine can continue to count on the United States.

Live briefing: Russia begins nuclear drills; West dismisses Moscow’s dirty bomb claim, McCarthy, Oct. 26, 2022. How the E.U. has fallen short on promises to Ukrainian refugees

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U.S. Democracy, National Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Fears Over Fate of Democracy Leave Many Voters Resigned, Jonathan Weisman, Oct. 24, 2022 (print ed.). As democracy frays around them, Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin see different culprits and different risks.

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Labour Party Comes Out Swinging at Britain’s New Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, Mark Landler, Oct. 26, 2022. The opposition’s lines of attack, starting with Mr. Sunak’s choice of home secretary and his wife’s wealth, gave a glimpse of where it sees vulnerabilities in the governing Conservatives.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israeli raid on Nablus kills 5, destroys bomb lab in escalating violence, Steve Hendrix, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Israeli security forces blew up a weapons workshop and killed the leader of an alleged terrorist cell during a deadly raid in Nablus early Tuesday, military officials said.

At least five Palestinians were killed and more than 20 injured in the fighting, according to Palestinian health officials, the latest in the near-nightly clashes between Israel and militants in West Bank cities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Woman goes to work, gets swallowed whole by 22-foot python, Leo Sands, Oct. 26, 2022. When Jahrah, 54, left her home for work as a tree tapper on an Indonesian rubber plantation on Sunday morning, it was the last time her family would see her alive. When Jahrah failed to return home that afternoon, her husband sounded the alarm and went out to find her.

The first sign that something was wrong was his discovery of his missing wife’s sandals, jacket, headscarf and knife on the forest floor.

The second sign was a heavily bloated snake, encountered by a search party looking for Jahrah the following morning.

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Pandemic, Public Health News

washington post logoWashington Post, For those still trying to duck covid, the isolation is worse than ever, Ellen McCarthy, Oct. 26, 2022. Rather than go back to normal, some members of the masked minority have reorganized their lives indefinitely around continuing to avoid the virus.

Emily Landon, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine, understands the concerns. Though acute covid is “largely survivable” because of advances in therapeutics and vaccines, she says, there are still very real risks related to long covid, including prolonged illness, cardiac conditions and neurological symptoms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge tells NYC to rehire workers fired for refusing vaccination, Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 26, 2022. Sanitation workers who were fired for refusing to comply with New York City’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for government employees should be given back their jobs, as well as retroactive pay, a New York state judge ruled.

The city’s requirement for government workers to be vaccinated was “arbitrary and capricious,” state Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio, a Republican whose jurisdiction includes the conservative stronghold of Staten Island, wrote in an order filed Tuesday. The city has appealed the decision; New York’s Supreme Court is a trial-level court and its decisions are subject to review by higher appellate courts.

City employees were required to show proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine before November 2021, amid worries that winter would hasten the spread of the virus. The sanitation workers were terminated in February this year. A mandate for public-facing employees of private companies also went into effect in December 2021, but was amended to include exemptions for performers and athletes after sharp criticism.

New York City alters vaccine mandate, clearing way for Kyrie Irving to play at home

Porzio highlighted the exceptions, writing that if the mandates were “about safety and public health, no one would be exempt.” He said that while the health commissioner had the authority to issue public health mandates, the commissioner “cannot create a new condition of employment for City employees,” nor can the public health authority “prohibit an employee from reporting to work” or terminate an employee.

Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced last month that the city was dropping the mandate for private employees as of Nov. 1. He said at the time that ending the mandate for government workers was “not on the radar for us.” (Porzio wrote in his ruling that the mayor “cannot exempt certain employees from these orders.”)

A spokesman for the New York City Law Department said in a statement that the city “strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”

He added that the mandate, which was put in place by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), would stay in place “as this ruling pertains solely to the individual petitioners in this case.” In announcing the mandate, de Blasio said that the “privilege” of serving New Yorkers as a public employee “comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe.”

Adams’s office told the local news publication City & State New York last month that 1,761 city employees had been fired because of noncompliance with the mandate. More than 1,400 of those were terminated in February, when Adams said that the workers were “quitting” and not being terminated, because it was a “decision” not to get vaccinated.

Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor of New York, said at a debate on Tuesday evening that anyone terminated because of a state requirement for health-care workers to be vaccinated should be “offered their jobs back, with back pay.” He also criticized “special celebrity exemptions,” in a reference to the athlete exceptions, although those were from the city’s mandate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Concussions are a bigger problem for kids’ football than the NFL, Dr. Leana S. Wen, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The furor around whether Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should have been cleared to play following a head injury prompted the National Football League to strengthen its concussion protocol. That’s a good step, but it can’t be expected to meaningfully reduce the lifelong consequences of head trauma in football. To do that requires protecting athletes long before any of them reach the NFL — while they’re still playing youth and high school football.

Concussion is a serious injury that can lead to memory loss, inability to concentrate and depression. Repeated head injuries can cause a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive decline in cognitive function resulting in dementia and early death. CTE is also associated with poor impulse control, aggression, suicidal thoughts and other debilitating symptoms.

The evidence is strong. In a 2017 study, all but one of 111 deceased former NFL players who donated their brains for research had evidence of CTE. Among former college players, 48 out of 53 showed the signs, as did three of 14 who played only in high school.

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Climate, Drought, Hurricanes, Energy

washington post logoWashington Post, After Ian, retirees drawn by the Florida dream wrestle with reality, Brittany Shammas, Oct. 26, 2022. For more than a century, millions have flocked to Florida to retire. Hurricane Ian upended the idyllic lives so many had planned for themselves.

For more than a century, millions have flocked to Florida with similar visions to live out their golden years on the beach. The Florida dream exerts a powerful pull: The state consistently ranks among the fastest-growing in the nation. It is forever under construction, with new houses and condos and apartment buildings rising in already-crowded cities. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of paradise.

But Ian, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States, upended the idyllic lives so many had planned for themselves in this stretch of the Sunshine State, often pouring in their life’s savings. As Floridians surveyed the damage from the near-Category 5 storm, which killed at least 114 people, some wrestled with painful questions: Should they stay and rebuild? Could they?

washington post logoWashington Post, Climate-warming methane emissions rising faster than ever, study says, Steven Mufson, Oct. 26, 2022. The amount of methane in the atmosphere is racing ahead at an accelerating pace, according to a study by the World Meteorological Organization, threatening to undermine efforts to slow climate change.

The WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin said that “global emissions have rebounded since the COVID-related lockdowns” and that the increases in methane levels in 2020 and 2021 were the largest since systematic record keeping began in 1983.

“Methane concentrations are not just rising, they’re rising faster than ever,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University.

The study comes on the same day as a new U.N. report which says that the world’s governments haven’t committed to cut enough climate emissions, putting the world on track for a 2.5 degree Celsius (4.5 degree Fahrenheit) increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

The analysis said that the level of emissions set out in countries’ commitments was lower than a year ago, but would still lead to a full degree of temperature increase beyond the target level set at the most recent climate summits. Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said that “we are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world.”

The quickest way to affect the pace of global warming would be cutting emissions of methane, the second largest contributor to climate change. It has a warming impact 80 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. The WMO said the amount of methane in the atmosphere jumped by 15 parts per billion in 2020 and 18 parts per billion in 2021.

Scientists are studying whether the unusually large increases in atmospheric methane levels in 2020 and 2021 are the result of a “climate feedback” from nature-based sources such as tropical wetlands and rice paddies or whether they are the result of human-made natural gas and industrial leakage. Or both.

Methane emitted by fossil sources has more of the carbon-13 isotope than that produced from wetlands or cattle.

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U.S. Media, Education, Space, Sports

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk dubs himself ‘Chief Twit,’ visits Twitter HQ with deal set to close, Faiz Siddiqui, Oct. 26, 2022. Musk changed his Twitter profile and visited the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

Elon Musk is on track to buy Twitter. For real this time.

The world’s richest person showed up at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters Wednesday for meetings with executives and changed his bio on Twitter to “Chief Twit.”

The moves signal the $44 billion deal is on track to close this week, something echoed by people close with Musk who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Financing is lining up to finalize the deal.

Twitter’s stock closed at $53.35 — just under Musk’s offer of $54.20, signaling the market believes it will go through, too.

It’s a far cry from just a few weeks ago, when Twitter and Musk were locked in litigation after the Tesla chief executive attempted to back out of his deal to acquire the social media company, citing problems with spam and bots.

Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for original price, weeks before trial

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Musk praised the company’s capacity for enabling “citizen journalism,” and said entities such as local news organizations “should get way more prominence” on the site.

Twitter’s chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland, sent an email to staff Wednesday morning saying Musk would be in the San Francisco offices and encouraged employees to “say hi,” according to a copy viewed by The Washington Post.

Musk later tweeted a video of him walking into the company’s reception area, carrying a sink to indicate that the reality of his ownership should “sink in.”

washington post logoWashington Post, At a small-town radio station, the right-wing misinformation effort goes local, Jaclyn Peiser, Oct. 26, 2022. The Normal, Ill., radio station has merged activism and coverage, organizing protests and pushing back against criticism of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

When Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s campaign bus came to town recently, the local conservative talk radio station covered the event, dutifully informing its audience on social media that “counter protesters were in attendance.”

The “counter protesters” were the radio station’s employees. They mugged for photos in front of the governor’s bus, held up signs that said, “Fire Pritzker” — then turned around and covered the Democrat’s event.

Since President Biden’s election, the talk radio station Cities 92.9 has upended the traditional media ecosystem in this part of Central Illinois with an unusual mix of hyperlocal news coverage — crime, weather and the like — and election misinformation. Replying on Facebook to a social media post about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, the station turned its focus to the 2020 election results: “What about the insurrection on Nov. 3?”

Cities 92.9 organized a sold-out bus trip to the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, supported a man accused of making a Nazi salute at a school board meeting and co-hosted a fall “freedom” festival during which a former Marine and Jan. 6 attendee called for revolution, saying, “Violence is always the answer.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Dumped by Adidas, Kanye showed up at Skechers HQ. They kicked him out, Annie Gowen, Oct. 26, 2022. The footwear company said the artist formerly known as Kanye West was ‘engaged in unauthorized filming.’

Ye, the musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, showed up unannounced at the Skechers corporate office in Los Angeles on Wednesday, prompting executives at the footwear company to escort him out of the building.

“Skechers is not considering and has no intention of working with West,” the company said in a news release. “We condemn his recent divisive remarks and do not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech.”

The incident comes one day after Adidas announced it ended its multibillion-dollar partnership with Ye following his continual, brazen antisemitic comments. For weeks, the artist has unleashed diatribes on social media and in podcasts and TV interviews.

According to Skechers, Ye and others arrived “unannounced and without invitation” and had a “brief conversation” with executives before they were ushered out of the building because they was “engaged in unauthorized filming.”

The Republican National Committee and its allies say they have staged thousands of training sessions around the country on how to monitor voting and lodge complaints about next month’s midterm elections. In Pennsylvania, party officials have boasted about swelling the ranks of poll watchers to six times the total from 2020. In Michigan, a right-wing group announced it had launched “Operation Overwatch” to hunt down election-related malfeasance, issuing a press release that repeated the warning “We are watching” 10 times.

Supporters of former president Donald Trump who falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen have summoned a swarm of poll watchers and workers in battleground states to spot potential fraud this year. It is a call to action that could subject voting results around the country to an unprecedented level of suspicion and unfounded doubt.

“We’re going to be there and enforce those rules, and we’ll challenge any vote, any ballot, and you’re going to have to live with it, OK?” one-time Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon said on a recent episode of his podcast. “We don’t care if you don’t like it. We don’t care if you’re going to run around and light your hair on fire. That’s the way this is going to roll.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Female bodybuilders describe widespread sexual exploitation, Desmond Butler, Amy Brittain and Alice Li, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Leaders of U.S. bodybuilding’s two premier federations oversaw decades of sexual exploitation of female athletes, The Post found.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: How NFL teams use Black coaches to clean up their messes, Emily Giambalvo, Oct. 26, 2022. When things fall apart, NFL owners often turn to Black coaches to serve as interim leaders. But they face a tougher road to capitalize on those auditions than their White peers.

  • Washington Post, Investigation: How NFL hiring and firing practices disadvantage Black coaches at every turn
  • Washington Post, Investigation: A lost generation of Black coaching talent

ny times logoNew York Times, More Than 104,000 New York City Students Were Homeless Last Year, Troy Closson, Oct. 26, 2022. The number of students in temporary housing rose by about 3 percent, not including the thousands of migrant children who have recently arrived.

More than 104,000 public school students in New York City were homeless during the last school year, according to new data released Wednesday, a number that grew even as overall enrollment in the city’s public schools declined.

Nearly one in 10 students in New York City lived in shelters, doubled up with other families, or in cars, abandoned buildings or outside as the city grapples with a housing shortage and affordability crisis. The data did not include the influx of recently arrived homeless migrant children.

The number of students in temporary housing grew by 3 percent over the prior year and has surpassed six figures for seven consecutive school years, posing steep challenges for the administration of Mayor Eric Adams. The city is grappling with how to help its most vulnerable children recover from pandemic learning losses while also integrating the more than 6,000 additional homeless students who have enrolled in city schools over the past four months.

The vast majority of the newest group of students are immigrants from Central and South America who were bused to New York City from Texas after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. They have strained a system where immigrant students have often struggled.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kanye West may have finally reached the point of no return, Travis M. Andrews, Oct. 26, 2022. As a dominant cultural figure of the 21st century, West has been through cycle after cycle of controversy and redemption. His repeated antisemitic statements might prove too much to overcome.

“Soon as they like you, make ’em unlike you.”

Ye, the musician and mogul formerly known as Kanye West, rapped those words on 2013’s “I Am a God,” but in some ways they’ve served as a maxim for his entire career. Musically, the rapper and producer became famous for constantly evolving his style, beholden not to current trends but his own muse, even if he risked shedding fans along the way.

That philosophy always extended to his public persona — and has largely come to define it. He morphed from a hip-hop super-producer to world-conquering rapper, from tabloid staple to fashion world insurgent, from Grammy-nominated gospel artist to MAGA-touting presidential candidate, with the one constant that he was always brash, self-aggrandizing and always, most importantly, the center of attention. Despite countless controversies, Ye has also always been able to maintain his stature as a revered musician and cutting-edge tastemaker. But his standing as a figure in the greater culture has never felt more tenuous than the past two weeks, which have featured multiple instances of antisemitic statements.

washington post logoWashington Post, Which brands are dropping Kanye West (and his antisemitic remarks), Ben Brasch, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Learn about 7 companies that have ended relationships with the artist and fashion designer now called Ye.

Companies are cutting ties with Ye, the influential musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, following his spate of antisemitic remarks.

The 45-year-old Grammy winner has publicly used tropes that degrade and diminish Jewish people, some of which have earned him suspensions from Twitter and Instagram.

The most notable partnership to dissolve was Adidas and Ye. His lucrative Yeezy line, which produced sneakers and slides along with jackets and shirts, brought Adidas billions of dollars annually.

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Washington Post, Rishi Sunak, the next U.K. prime minister, says nation faces ‘profound economic challenge’ in first public remarks, William Booth, Karla Adam, Jennifer Hassan and Leo Sands, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Cameron congratulates Sunak, above, for history-making moment. King Charles to meet his second PM just 6 weeks into his reign.

United Kingdom flagRishi Sunak will be Britain’s next prime minister, the first person of color in the job, after winning the Conservative Party’s leadership contest on Monday. Sunak, a 42-year-old former finance minister who led the revolt against Boris Johnson and was runner-up to Liz Truss in September, will succeed them both, becoming Britain’s third leader in less than two months, with the challenges of improving the country’s economic trajectory and public trust in the Conservative Party.

Johnson had entertained a bid to return to power but dropped out on Sunday. Dark-horse challenger Penny Mordaunt withdrew Monday just ahead of a deadline to secure endorsements from Conservative lawmakers. “It is clear that colleagues feel we needed certainty today,” Mordaunt said in a message posted to Twitter. “This decision is a historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party. Rishi has my full support.”

Here’s what to know:

The ascent of Sunak, whose parents are of Indian origin, was cheered in India and among the South Asian diaspora in Britain. Sunak, born in England, has talked about how his family gave him “opportunities they could only dream of” and how Britain “gave them and millions like them a chance of a better future.”

Sunak is one of the wealthiest people in Britain. He and his wife, Indian tech heiress Akshata Murty, have an estimated fortune of about 730 million pounds ($827 million) — and his premiership may mark the first time the residents at Downing Street are richer than those at Buckingham Palace.

Prime Minister Liz Truss may step down as soon as tonight, officially becoming the shortest-serving prime minister in British history, after she was unable to overcome her economic missteps and deep divisions within her party.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukrainian forces advance against Russian fighters in Kherson and Bakhmut, Mary Ilyushina and Emily Rauhala, Oct. 25, 2022. Ukrainian forces continued their advance against the Russian military in the southern Kherson region Tuesday, pushed back Russian mercenaries from Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk, and gained new momentum in Luhansk, where they seized a key highway between the towns of Kreminna and Svatove.

On a day of heavy fighting and fast-moving developments across multiple combat zones, the Ukrainians appeared to extend their recent success in recapturing occupied territories and in pushing Moscow’s troops into retreat in areas that President Vladimir Putin has claimed now belong to Russia.

Away from the battlefield, the Kremlin continued to push a claim, asserted repeatedly without evidence, that Kyiv was preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that combines conventional explosives with radioactive material — an accusation that was dismissed by the United States and other Western nations.

U.S. officials said that Moscow’s allegations raised a risk that Russia itself was planning to carry out a radiation attack, potentially as a pretext to justify further escalation of the war amid its continuing territorial setbacks.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, Energoatom, issued a similar warning, citing the Russian military’s control over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar. “Energoatom assumes that such actions of the occupiers may indicate that they are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at the ZNPP site,” the statement said.

The renewed fears of some kind of radiation attack added to the ominous sense that Putin’s war in Ukraine is growing even more deadly and dangerous as each side seeks to redraw facts on the ground before winter.

Ukraine has been pushing hard for further territorial gains, while Russia this month began a relentless bombing campaign against Ukraine’s energy system, using missiles and attack drones in an apparent bid to plunge the country into cold and darkness, and potentially compensate for battlefield losses.

Setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine have led to increased nuclear threats by Russia, echoing Cold War events like the little-known 1983 nuclear crisis. (Video: Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

As Ukraine continued to make gains, pro-Kremlin military bloggers and analysts confirmed new setbacks for Russia’s forces Tuesday, including in Luhansk, the easternmost occupied region of Ukraine, where Russia has had its firmest grip.

“The Ukrainian army has resumed its counteroffensive in the Luhansk direction,” the pro-Russian WarGonzo project said in its daily military update, adding that Ukrainian forces took control of a key highway between the Luhansk towns of Svatove and Kreminna.

Russia’s methodical attacks exploit frailty of Ukrainian power system

“The Russian artillery is actively working on the left bank of Zherebets river and is trying to stop the transfer of reinforcements to the enemy but the situation is very difficult,” WarGonzo added.

In the Donetsk region, the Wagner paramilitary force, controlled by St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, appeared to be getting pushed back from Bakhmut, where the mercenaries had spent weeks pummeling the city but making small gains. Military experts said there was little strategic value in seizing Bakhmut, but Prigozhin seems to see a chance to claim a political prize, while regular Russian military units lose ground in other combat zones.

Politico, House progressives retract Russia-diplomacy letter amid Dem firestorm, Alexander Ward, Andrew Desiderio, Nicholas Wu and Jordain Carney, Oct. 25, 2022. Party lawmakers were blindsided by Monday's release of a letter calling for direct negotiations in Ukraine, according to several people familiar with the situation.

politico CustomHouse progressives on Tuesday retracted a letter calling on President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomacy with Russia, less than 24 hours after it sparked intense backlash from other Democrats.

The about-face comes as some Democratic lawmakers vent their fury that the letter backing talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin — originally drafted and signed in June — wasn’t recirculated before its public release on Monday. That release made it appear that the 30 House Democrats who signed on, all lawmakers in the roughly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, were urging the Biden administration to push for diplomacy immediately despite Russia’s engagement in war crimes and indications of a military escalation against Ukraine.

Making the timing of the letter even more politically perilous: Ukraine is not ready for negotiations at this point, especially because its months-long counteroffensive has been successful to date, and there’s no indication Putin is ready to deal either.

pramila jayapal resized o“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine,” the caucus’ chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said in a statement after POLITICO first reported that the retraction was imminent. “The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting.”

Jayapal said she accepts “responsibility” for the embarrassing flub, adding that the timing of the letter caused a “distraction” and was “conflated” with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent suggestion that Republicans might pull back on Ukraine funding if they win control of the House.

“The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian forces,” Jayapal added.

The letter to Biden was released without the knowledge of many Democratic lawmakers who put their name on it, several people told POLITICO, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity. While it was partially updated with new information about Russia’s war on Ukraine and sent to other lawmakers to reach a threshold of 30 signees, POLITICO has learned, the letter got released mostly in its original form.

The original release date for the letter was August 1, a congressional aide said, adding that it was never made clear why there was a delay. Its text was circulating on the Hill during August’s weeks-long legislative recess.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Appalling’ Scores on National Exam Show Extent of Covid’s Toll on Students, Sarah Mervosh and Ashley Wu, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The results, from what is known as the nation’s report card, offer the most definitive picture yet of the pandemic’s devastating effects on students.

U.S. students in most states and across almost all demographic groups have experienced troubling setbacks in both math and reading, according to an authoritative national exam released on Monday, offering the most definitive indictment yet of the pandemic’s impact on millions of schoolchildren.

In math, the results were especially devastating, representing the steepest declines ever recorded on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card, which tests a broad sampling of fourth and eighth graders and dates to the early 1990s.

In the test’s first results since the pandemic began, math scores for eighth graders fell in nearly every state. A meager 26 percent of eighth graders were proficient, down from 34 percent in 2019.

Fourth graders fared only slightly better, with declines in 41 states. Just 36 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math, down from 41 percent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schools got $122 billion to reopen last year. Most has not been used, Michael Birnbaum, David L. Stern and Emily Rauhala, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.).  School systems throughout the country reported using less than 15 percent of the latest round of federal education funding allotted to them during the last school year. Meanwhile, education advocates worry students continue to fall behind academically.

In March 2021, the Biden administration released the federal government’s largest pool of pandemic relief for public schools. The American Rescue Plan infused campuses with $122 billion to reopen buildings, address mental health needs and help students who had fallen behind academically.

The need was so urgent that two-thirds of the money — $81 billion — was released less than two weeks after the plan was signed into law and before the Education Department could approve each state’s spending plan.

But despite having access to the dollars, school systems throughout the country reported spending less than 15 percent of the federal funding, known as ESSER III, the most recent installment of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, during the 2021-2022 school year, according to a Washington Post analysis of data collected by Edunomics, an education finance group at Georgetown University.

The spending rates varied considerably between states, and even among school districts within a state. But the trend of a slow rollout was especially apparent in some of the school districts that have incurred the steepest learning losses in English and math, according to the data. About half of the 211 districts The Post examined, where Edunomics estimates students are the furthest behind, spent 5 percent or less of their ESSER III money last school year, the data shows.

washington post logoWashington Post, Adidas cuts ties with Ye, also known as Kanye West, saying it ‘does not tolerate antisemitism,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Oct. 25, 2022. Yeezy accounts for an estimated 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue.

Adidas has cut ties with Ye, the musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, marking the end of a partnership that made the company billions but was soured by the artist’s repeated brazen antisemitic and offensive remarks.

After avoiding commenting for weeks on the status of the partnership, the German-based maker of athletic gear broke its silence on Tuesday, saying in a statement: “After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. adidas will stop the adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.”

The statement added that Adidas “does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

Kim Kardashian condemns hate speech after Kanye West’s antisemitism

Adidas joins other companies, including JPMorgan Chase and Balenciaga, in ending its relationship with Ye.

Politico, U.S. charges more than a dozen people in China espionage cases, Josh Gerstein and Kelly Hooper, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration is intensifying its efforts to put the spotlight on alleged covert operations by the Chinese government in the United States, unveiling a trio of criminal cases on Monday that included one in which Chinese operatives were accused of attempting to pay bribes for inside information about the high-profile prosecution of Chinese telecommunications politico Customgiant Huawei.

Two Chinese citizens, Guochun He and Zheng Wang, were charged in a criminal complaint in federal court in New York with obstruction of justice after allegedly offering bribes to an unidentified U.S. government employee for details about an ongoing criminal investigation.

The complaint says the U.S. employee worked with the FBI to arrange a sting operation aimed at the two defendants, who the FBI alleges are Chinese intelligence officers, offering them fake information about the case marked “Secret.” Court filings in the new case don’t directly name Huawei, but details in the complaint indicate the unnamed company is the Chinese tech firm repeatedly accused by U.S. policymakers of ties to Chinese intelligence.

Global Strat View, Analysis: Pro-Trump US Prosecutor loses ‘Russiagate’ Jury Verdicts but PR Battles Loom, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 24-25, 2022. A Virginia jury verdict in October probably thwarted the last hope of Trump supporters to use a special counsel’s investigation of “Russiagate” to prove criminally in court that rogue members of the FBI conspired with Democrats to make false allegations of Russian help for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Trump supporters in Congress and the media are predicting, however, that they can use Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham’s final report to keep conspiracy allegations alive despite his losses in court. Trump Attorney General William Barr named Durham in 2019 to investigate Trump’s allegations that Democrats working with FBI personnel smeared his campaign and several advisors with false theories of “collusion” with Russians.

“The special counsel’s looming report is the only chance the American people will ever get to hold the Clinton campaign and the FBI accountable for Russiagate,” according to a National Review article on Oct. 22, four days after the jury verdict, by Andrew McCarthy, a frequent pundit on Fox News and conservative media.

Meanwhile, Newsweek published “Durham Blasted by Experts After New Acquittal: ‘Laughed Out of Court Twice'” by Aila Slisco, who reported mockery of Durham elsewhere in the legal community for not fulfilling Trump’s prediction that the prosecutor would prove “the crime of the century” in a massive conspiracy. Samples:

Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, told Newsweek that the acquittal was evidence Durham’s “groundless mission has now failed yet again, putting yet another dismal marker on William Barr’s shameful record as Trump’s henchman and the worst Attorney General in our nation’s history.”

“John Durham racks up another acquittal, this time on a case he tried personally,” legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig tweeted. “His investigation will go down as a shameful abuse of prosecutorial power in service of political vengeance. Juries — our most basic civilian bulwark — have firmly rebuked this abuse of power.”

 

Ukraine War

 

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin, right, is shown in a 2017 photo with Russia's recently appoint military commander for the Ukraine war, Gen. Sergei Surovikin in a pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin.

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin is shown in a 2017 photo with Russia's recently appoint military commander for the Ukraine war, Gen. Sergei Surovikin in a pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin.

ny times logoNew York Times, Amid backlash, Liberal House Democrats retract their call for Biden to seek cease-fire in Ukraine, Catie Edmondson, Oct. 25, 2022. Progressive House Democrats on Tuesday retracted their call for President Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia to seek a cease-fire in Ukraine, a remarkable retreat that came less than 24 hours after they issued it.

In a letter on Monday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus called on the Biden administration to “seek a realistic framework for a cease-fire,” and to “pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.”

The missive, which came two weeks before midterm congressional elections, quickly sparked a backlash among other Democrats, who accused the 30 lawmakers who signed it of undermining support for Kyiv at a critical time in its war against Russian aggression.

“This letter is an olive branch to a war criminal who’s losing his war,” Representative Jake Auchincloss, Democrat of Massachusetts and a former Marine, wrote on Twitter. “Ukraine is on the march. Congress should be standing firmly behind @JoeBidens effective strategy, including tighter — not weaker! — sanctions.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, who led the letter, blamed unnamed aides for releasing it, saying that it had been drafted several months ago, “but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting.”

“Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over,” she said.

In a recent interview, Mr. McCarthy, who is in line to be speaker should his party win control of the House in next month’s elections, said Republicans would be unwilling to “write a blank check” to Ukraine, suggesting they would raise questions about future funding requests for the war.

“The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces,” Ms. Jayapal said on Tuesday.

The retraction — a highly unusual move for members of Congress — came after the progressive lawmakers faced an intense wave of criticism from Democratic colleagues who accused them of coddling President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and projecting a fractured American front to the rest of the world.

In the last year, as Congress moved to approve more than $60 billion to Ukraine, there has been little in the way of dissent or criticism from lawmakers in either party. The backlash on Monday night — from streams of biting messages on Twitter to upset calls from donors — suggests that support may hold, but it also pointed to growing uneasiness among some lawmakers about the scope, cost and consequences of American involvement in the war.

Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, who signed the letter, said in an interview on Tuesday that he had voted to arm Ukraine in the face of Mr. Putin’s brutal war and would continue to do so. But he added: “History shows that silencing debate in Congress about matters of war and peace never ends well.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Court Upholds Brittney Griner’s 9-Year Sentence, Ivan Nechepurenko and Neil MacFarquhar, Oct. 25, 2022. Griner, an American basketball star convicted in Russia on drug charges, is expected to be sent to a penal colony after her appeal was rejected.

With the decision on Tuesday by a Russian appeals court to uphold Brittney Griner’s sentence on drug smuggling charges, the American basketball star’s best hope for freedom now likely depends on the outcome of delicate talks between the United States and Russia, two governments whose relations are at their lowest point in decades.

The Biden administration and President Vladimir V. Putin’s government have engaged in secretive negotiations about a possible exchange of prisoners, and back in June the Biden administration offered a swap involving Ms. Griner. But Kremlin officials have said repeatedly that it was premature to discuss a deal until the judicial process has run its course.

The ruling on Tuesday by a three-judge panel of an appeals court near Moscow means that Ms. Griner will soon begin serving a nine-year sentence at a prison colony. President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, denounced the ruling as “another sham judicial proceeding” and said that U.S. officials have “continued to engage with Russia through every available channel” to secure the freedom of Ms. Griner and other Americans they believe are wrongfully detained in Russia.

“The president has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home,” Mr. Sullivan said.

One person briefed on the talks between Moscow and Washington this summer said that the United States had proposed exchanging Ms. Griner — along with Paul Whelan, a former Marine held since December 2018 — for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year federal prison sentence for charges including conspiring to kill Americans.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin are both expected to attend a summit of Group of 20 leaders next month in Indonesia, and Mr. Biden has said he would only speak with the Russian leader there if it was to discuss Ms. Griner’s case.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Russian Proxies Leave Southern City, Ukraine Warns Moscow’s Troops Will Stay and Fight, Matt Stevens and Helene Cooper, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). In a rare joint statement, the U.S., Britain and France said they had urged Russian officials not to risk escalating the war with talk of nuclear weapons.

Here’s what we know:

  • There were growing signs that Russia’s occupation government in Kherson was proceeding with plans to prepare the city for fighting ahead of a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • A senior Ukrainian official said Russia’s occupation administration in Kherson was crumbling.
  • Top allies warn Russia against using ‘dirty bomb’ accusations to escalate the war.
  • More Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of intentionally slowing grain shipments.
  • Italy’s new right-wing government seeks to reaffirm support for Ukraine.
  • For Ukrainian runners, a brutal race made sense when little else did.
  • In a call, U.S. and Russian officials discuss Russia’s escalating threats against Ukraine.

Less than three weeks after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced the illegal annexation of Kherson and three other Ukrainian territories, there were growing signs on Monday that Russia’s civilian administration in the strategic southern territory was crumbling, even as Ukrainian officials said Moscow’s troops were preparing to stay and fight.

Merchants in the regional capital of Kherson are refusing to be paid in Russian currency, government offices have been emptied of essential equipment and civilians have been told by proxy officials loyal to the Kremlin to take “documents, money, valuables and clothes” and flee, according to Ukrainian officials, videos on social media and accounts from Ukrainian activists who have spoken to residents.

The reports were difficult to verify independently because internet and other communication services in Kherson have been almost completely severed, in what Ukrainian activists said was a deliberate effort by Russian officials to thwart Kyiv’s military. But such moves would add to the evidence that Russia’s civilian administration is proceeding with plans to abandon the city ahead of a possible counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.

There was, however, no evidence that Russian soldiers were preparing for a mass withdrawal, said Gen. Kyrylo O. Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service.

He added that the Kremlin proxy officials could be readying the city for urban combat. “They are not preparing to exit now,” General Budanov said in an interview with a Ukrainian news outlet, Ukrainska Pravda, published on Monday. “They are preparing to defend.”

The accounts suggested chaotic conditions in Kherson, with the occupation administration in disarray and the humanitarian situation growing dire.

General Budanov said the largest Russian bank operating in the city, Promsvyazbank, was withdrawing and clearing out the cash from its vaults. He also claimed that occupation officials were emptying hospitals of patients as part “a crazy information campaign” designed to show audiences in Russia that Moscow cares about civilians.

“In other words, they are creating the illusion that everything has gone,” he said. “At the same time, on the contrary, they are bringing in new military units there and preparing the streets of the city for defense.”

Located on the west bank of the Dnipro River, Kherson is the gateway to both Russian-held Crimea in the south and Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to the west, including Odesa. Its loss would be a severe military and symbolic blow for Mr. Putin, who has rejected requests from his commanders on the ground that they be allowed to retreat from the city.

While the billboards declaring “Kherson is forever with Russia” are still standing, local leaders loyal to the Kremlin said this weekend that “all departments and ministries of civil administration” must be moved across the Dnipro River to territory seen as safer from advancing Ukrainian forces. Occupation officials also said they would relocate as many as 60,000 civilians.

Moscow claims that as many as 20,000 people have fled, but Ukrainian officials put the figure at closer to 1,000 and say that most are pro-Kremlin collaborators.

Serhii Khlan, the exiled deputy governor of the Kherson region, said Moscow’s forces and local proxies are engaged in “intense pillaging,” stealing “everything with archaeological and historical significance.”

While his claims could not be independently verified, looting by Russian forces in other parts of the country has been widely documented.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia’s methodical attacks exploit frailty of Ukrainian power system, Lauren Lumpkin and Sahana Jayaraman, Oct. 25, 2022. Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have been so methodical and destructive that Ukrainian and Western officials say they are being directed by electricity specialists who know exactly which targets will inflict maximum pain on Ukraine’s grid.

The two-week-old bombing campaign, an effort to plunge Ukrainians into darkness ahead of their country’s bitter winter, has focused less on well-protected power generation plants and more on the network nodes that are key to keeping Ukraine’s electricity grid functioning and providing critical services.

Already, more than a third of Ukraine’s hard-to-replace transmission hubs have been damaged or destroyed, officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Liberals urge Biden to rethink Ukraine strategy, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Democratic lawmakers’ letter calls for direct U.S. talks with Russia.

A group of 30 House liberals is urging President Biden to dramatically shift his strategy on the Ukraine war and pursue direct negotiations with Russia, the first time prominent members of his own party have pushed him to change his approach to Ukraine.

A letter sent by the group to the White House on Monday, first reported by The Washington Post, could create more pressure on Biden as he tries to sustain domestic support for the war effort, at a time when the region is heading into a potentially difficult winter and Republicans are threatening to cut aid to Ukraine if they retake Congress.

In the letter, the 30 Democrats led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, call on Biden to pair the unprecedented economic and military support the United States is providing Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a cease fire.”

The Democrats are specifically concerned that the United States is not engaging in regular dialogue with Russia as part of its effort to end a protracted war that has caused thousands of deaths and displaced 13 million people. The Biden administration has been adamant that it is up to Kyiv whether and when to negotiate with Russia, arguing that Ukrainians as a free people should decide their fate.

Many Democrats fiercely pushed back on the letter, prompting Jayapal to put out a statement later on Monday “clarifying” the position the progressives outlined in the letter, stressing that they still supported Ukraine and Biden’s commitment to ensure Ukraine is represented in any discussions about its future.

“Let me be clear: we are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion,” Jayapal said. “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool.”

Some Russia experts say Moscow will only negotiate with the United States, a fellow superpower. The lawmakers say that opening must be seized given the war’s spreading devastation, adding, “The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks.”

The lawmakers also noted that Biden himself has said there will eventually have to be a negotiated settlement, though he has never said when.

“Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. It’s their territory. I’m not going to tell them what they should and shouldn’t do,” Biden said in June. “But it appears to me that, at some point along the line, there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here. And what that entails, I don’t know.”

The liberal Democrats note that the war’s disastrous consequences are increasingly felt far beyond Ukraine, including elevated food and gas prices in the United States and spikes in the price of wheat, fertilizer and fuel that have created global food shortages, not to mention the danger of a nuclear attack by Moscow.

White House spokesman John Kirby, responding to the lawmakers’ letter, said the administration “appreciates their very thoughtful concerns” but reiterated that the Ukrainians must be central to any diplomatic overtures.

“We’re not going to have conversations with the Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented,” Kirby said during a briefing with reporters. “Mr. Zelensky gets to determine — because it’s his country — what success looks like and when to negotiate.”

He added, “We’d all like to see this war end today, and quite frankly it could end today if Mr. Putin did the right thing and pulled his troops out.”

The liberals’ appeal for a shift in strategy comes amid some of the most significant U.S.-Russian diplomatic engagement in some time, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently talked with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, for the first time in months. The two spoke by phone Friday and again on Sunday at Shoigu’s request, Austin wrote on Twitter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Mercenary chief vented to Putin over Ukraine war bungling, Ellen Nakashima, John Hudson and Paul Sonne, Oct. 25, 2022. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Russian tycoon behind mercenary group Wagner, personally told Vladimir Putin that military chiefs are mismanaging the war, U.S. officials said.

The confidant who vented to Russian President Vladimir Putin recently about his military’s handling of the war in Ukraine was Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the founder of a Russian mercenary group that is playing a critical role for Moscow on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Prigozhin’s criticisms echoed what he has been saying publicly for weeks, the officials said, speaking anonymously to discuss sensitive intelligence. But the revelation that he felt comfortable sharing such a harsh rebuke of the Russian military effort with Putin in a private setting shows how his influence is rising as Moscow’s war falters. It also highlights the shaky standing of the Russian defense establishment’s formal leadership, which has come under fire from Prigozhin and others after months of battlefield errors and losses.

The Washington Post previously reported that a Russian insider confronted Putin personally to spotlight mismanagement of the war effort but did not name that individual. The Post reported that the exchange was considered significant enough to include in the daily intelligence briefing provided to President Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This election could determine the future of democracy in America — and Ukraine, Max Boot, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Polls suggest that the economy and crime are among the most important issues for voters in the midterms — and that, as a result, Republicans are surging in the home stretch. I think a lot of voters are missing the point. These elections are actually a referendum on whether you favor the continuation of democracy in America — and Ukraine.

Those issues are more closely linked than most people realize, because most of the same MAGA candidates who support Donald Trump’s strongman rule at home are either indifferent or hostile to the fate of democracy abroad. J.D. Vance, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Ohio, exemplifies the trend: He has said the 2020 election was “stolen” and “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Barrage’ of Russian missiles target Ukrainian cities; Zelensky urges West to prevent Moscow blowing up dam, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Adela Suliman and David L. Stern, Oct. 23, 2022 (print ed.). Russian cruise missiles target several Ukrainian cities, wiping out electricity for millions. Fears grow of a possible attack on the Nova Kakhovka hydro dam.

Ukraine said it defended itself against a “barrage” of Russian rocket attacks on areas such as Kyiv, Volyn, Kirovograd and Odessa on Saturday, wiping out power for almost 1.5 million people. Its Air Force said it had shot down at least 18 Russian cruise missiles. Odessa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said two rockets hit energy infrastructure, wiping out power in some areas, while Ukraine’s electricity company Ukrenergo said repair crews were working to restore power to networks in the west of the country. In Kyiv, air raid sirens sounded in the capital as Mayor Vitali Klitschko urged civilians to stay indoors and seek shelter. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba decried the “barrage of Russian missiles aimed at critical civilian infrastructure.”

ukraine flagMeanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of seeking to blow up a major hydroelectric dam in Nova Kakhovka near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, potentially flooding southern areas. “Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he warned in a television address, urging the West to act “powerfully and quickly” to prevent such an outcome. Russia has denied the accusations.
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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a rare call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday for the first time since May. Officials from both sides have offered few details about the call but Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said Austin “emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing conflict.”

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More On Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Business, Already Shrinking, Faces a Tough Test in Court, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 24, 2022 (print ed.). The Trump Organization’s trial on tax fraud and other charges begins Monday in Manhattan, raising questions about the future of the business.

At the dawn of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, his family business appeared poised for a windfall: It unveiled new hotel lines, held ribbon-cuttings around the world and attracted major tournaments to its golf clubs, enough for Eric Trump, who ran the company while his father was in the White House, to remark, “The stars have all aligned.”

Five years later, those stars have faded. The former president’s company, grappling with legal and political scrutiny, has halted its expansion to concentrate on its existing properties. It even sold the Trump hotel in Washington, once the center of the MAGA universe.

This week will drive home that stark reversal of fortune as the company faces a highly public reckoning: a criminal trial in Manhattan, where the district attorney’s office will accuse it of tax fraud and other crimes.

Although Mr. Trump himself was not indicted, he is synonymous with the company he ran for decades, a business that bears his name and served as a launching pad for his presidency.

The trial in State Supreme Court will present an embarrassing scene for the former president, pushing to the forefront one of several criminal investigations swirling around him.

This case centers on special perks doled out by the former president’s business, the Trump Organization, which comprises a universe of more than 500 corporate entities. Last year, the district attorney’s office accused two of those entities — The Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. — of awarding off-the-books benefits like rent-free apartments and leased luxury vehicles to a few top executives who failed to pay taxes on the perks.

As jury selection begins on Monday, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, appears to have the upper hand. The Trump Organization’s 75-year-old chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, recently pleaded guilty to conspiring with the two corporations to carry out the scheme — and agreed to testify at their trial, tipping the case in favor of Mr. Bragg, a Democrat.

 

djt bob woodward

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump Tapes: 20 interviews that show why he is an unparalleled danger, Bob Woodward, above right, Oct. 25, 2022 (multimedia). In more than 50 years of reporting, I have never disclosed the raw interviews or full transcripts of my work.

But after listening again to the 20 interviews I conducted with President Donald Trump during his last year as chief executive, I have decided to take the unusual step of releasing them. I was struck by how Trump pounded in my ears in a way the printed page cannot capture.

In their totality, these interviews offer an unvarnished portrait of Trump. You hear Trump in his own words, in his own voice, during one of the most consequential years in American history: amid Trump’s first impeachment, the coronavirus pandemic and large racial justice protests.

This essay was adapted from “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward's Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump,” by Bob Woodward. It will be published Oct. 25 by Simon & Schuster Audio. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Audio. All rights reserved.

Much has been written about that period, including by me. But “The Trump Tapes,” my forthcoming audiobook of our interviews, is central to understanding Trump as he is poised to seek the presidency again. We spoke in person in the Oval Office and at Mar-a-Lago, as well as on the phone at varying hours of the day. You cannot separate Trump from his voice.

In the summer of 2020, for example, when the pandemic had killed 140,000 people in the United States, Trump told me: “The virus came along. That’s not my fault. That’s China’s fault.” I asked him:

Woodward: Was there a moment in all of this, last two months, where you said to yourself, “Ah, this is the leadership test of a lifetime”?

Trump: No.

On the printed page his “no” reads flat, a simple declaration. Now listen to the audio of that exchange. This “no” is confident, dismissive, full of self-assurance. It leaves no doubt about the finality of his judgment. This “no” distances him from bearing responsibility.

Sound has an extraordinary emotional power, an immediacy and authenticity. A listener is brought into the room. It is a completely different experience from reading Trump’s words or listening to snatches of his interviews on television or the internet.

Trump’s voice magnifies his presence.

washington post logoWashington Post, Son of Confederate flag-toting man in Capitol on Jan. 6 sentenced, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Hunter Seefried, 22, was sentenced to two years in prison after leading charge through broken window, chasing police officer.

A Delaware man who helped lead the initial break-in and mob pursuit of a police officer in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol was sentenced to 24 months in prison Monday after delivering what a federal judge called “probably the most sincere and most effective” statement of apology by anyone he has sentenced in the attack.

Hunter Seefried said he was deeply sorry for and ashamed of his actions, asking himself every day how he came to participate “in a day that will forever represent a stain on the character of our country.”

“I offer my sincerest apology to the country, its schoolchildren, and everyone who saw the worst of me and everyone on January 6,” Seefried said. He also apologized to the courts, government and his parents, “who my criminal behavior has placed in the spotlight.”

Seefried was found guilty with his father, Kevin Seefried, 53 — who paraded with a Confederate flag in the building — at a bench trial in July of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress as lawmakers met to confirm President Biden’s 2020 election victory. The obstruction charge is a felony and both were also convicted of trespassing and related misdemeanor offenses. The elder Seefried faces sentencing in January. Both men are from Laurel, Del.

trevor mcFadden CustomAssistant U.S. Attorney Benet Kearney requested a 64-month prison term for the younger Seefried, saying he was one of the first handful of rioters who broke into the building after clearing glass shards from a shattered window at the Senate wing door.

Seefried confronted an officer inside, and then with his father joined a group of rioters who pursued U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman toward the main entrance to the Senate chamber.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden (a Trump nominee, right), asked why Seefried did not stay back in the crowd with his mother and his girlfriend rather than help lead the mob break-in.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s delusional endgame meltdown is about to create a huge midterm headache for the Republicans, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 24, 2022. Deep bill palmerdown, Donald Trump has to know as well as anyone that he’s going to end up criminally indicted on serious federal charges not too long after the midterms. Trump is cornered and defeated and has no hope of survival, so now he’s resorting to comforting himself with delusional fantasies about how he’s more powerful than ever and is somehow magically going to just take over.

Of course even someone as delusional as Donald Trump has to go through the motions in order to help keep his fantasy intact, and we’ve been seeing evidence of that over the past week. First Trump leaked that he was trying to decide whether to “allow” the DOJ to search his home again, as if Trump has bill palmer report logo headerany say in the matter. Then Trump finally got his long-broken plane fixed, so he can fly around and hold rallies that are supposed to be for midterm candidates but are really just him giving speeches aimed at convincing himself of how powerful he supposedly is.

Now we’re seeing Trump’s most aggressively delusional move to date. He’s reportedly decided to “challenge” the midterm results in Pennsylvania and other places. If you find yourself laughing out loud at the absurdity of that last sentence, it’s for good reason.

First, Trump appears to be presuming the Republican candidates in Pennsylvania will lose. That’s remarkable, given that these are close races. Democratic activists will surely be working to get out the vote in Pennsylvania right through the last day. Yet Trump is essentially telling Republican activists in Pennsylvania not to bother, because the Republicans are supposedly going to lose anyway.

So this is yet another instance of Trump sabotaging the Republicans in the midterms, in order to carry out his own idiotic agenda. By all means, Democratic activists (that means you) should take this as a sign to ramp up your last minute efforts in Pennsylvania, because Trump may have just handed us the advantage there that we need – if we’re willing to put in the work these final two weeks.

But the real kicker here is that Trump isn’t a midterm candidate. He’s planning to mount legal challenges to… other people’s election results? This is nothing short of comical. Trump appears to be rooting for the Republicans to lose midterm races in swing states, so he can then put on a big show about how those races were supposedly “rigged” and “stolen.”

The mainstream media and pundit class will no doubt react to this news by yelling the word “damage” over and over again, while trying to convince us that we’re only being “vigilant” if we sit around and cower over Trump’s every dumbass move. But in reality, Trump is making a huge mess for the Republicans, both in 2022 and 2024.

Not only is Trump currently signaling to Republicans that they shouldn’t bother voting in the 2022 midterms because they’re going to be “stolen” anyway, his post-midterms antics will just signal to Republicans that they shouldn’t bother voting in 2024 either. It’s a pretty basic tenet that people don’t bother to vote if their own side has convinced them that it’s “rigged” and their vote won’t count anyway.

So why is Trump doing this? Because as what’s left of his broken life continues to collapse, he’s more desperate than ever to pretend that he secretly won the 2020 election. Given how pathetic his life has become since he was forced to leave office, and how close he is to being indicted and rotting in prison, the narcissistic fantasy that he secretly won in 2020 is probably the only thing keeping him going.

Moreover, it’s becoming more clear by the day that whether Trump ever does announce a “2024 campaign” or not, he’s not taking a serious approach to winning. If his strategy is to start off by insisting the 2022 midterms were rigged against the Republicans, that’s the end of him right then and there. He’d be turning himself into a complete punchline right out of the gate in the eyes of voters in the middle, and he’d be telling his base that voting in 2024 won’t matter.

That’s not an attempt at winning; it’s the precise opposite. But Donald Trump knows his time is very short. He’s become politically irrelevant, his favorability numbers with independent voters are at a five year low, and now he’s about to be criminally indicted for espionage.

He’s not trying to get himself elected in 2024. He doesn’t have that kind of time left. He’s just doing what desperate people do when it’s all over for them and they can’t accept that reality: he’s frantically kicking up a dust storm so he can comfort himself by pretending that his self-defeating panic moves are somehow going to magically save him. In the process, his behavior is creating an opening for the Democrats in the midterms – if Democratic activists like you are willing to spend these final two weeks phone banking, donating, knocking on doors, and putting in the work that always decides the outcome of close elections.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Could Harness Unresolved Legal Issues to Resist Jan. 6 Panel’s Subpoena, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Oct. 23, 2022 (print ed.). If former President Donald J. Trump decides to fight the subpoena issued to him on Friday by the House committee investigating his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, his lawyers are likely to muster a battery of constitutional and procedural arguments for why a court should allow him not to testify.

In the most basic sense, any legal arguments seeking to get Mr. Trump off the hook would merely need to be weighty enough to produce two and a half months of litigation. If Republicans pick up enough seats in the midterm elections to take over the House in January, as polls suggest is likely, they are virtually certain to shut down the Jan. 6 committee, a move that would invalidate the subpoena.

The issues raised by the extraordinary subpoena, which the panel announced at a hearing last week, are too complex to be definitively resolved before a potential change of power in the House, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor and author of “Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability.”

“We are in a constitutional gray area here where there is no clear guidance as to exactly what should happen,” Mr. Rozell said. “That gives the former president some leeway to put forward various creative legal arguments and ultimately delay the process until it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Emptywheel, Trump Subpoena: The Revolution Will Not Be Signaled, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. 22-23, 2022. The January 6 Committee has marcy wheelerreleased the subpoena it sent to the former President.

It requires document production by November 4 and a deposition starting on November 14. Notably, the first deadline is before the election.

It focuses not just on Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, summon mobsters, and raise money off of it. There are several questions focused on obstruction: both document destruction and witness tampering.

The witness tampering one reads:

The subpoena mentions Signal at least 13 times. Which strongly suggests the President was in direct communication with some of the coup plotters via the mobile app.

The subpoena also asks the former President for all communications devices he used between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021. In the Stone trial, there were about nine devices identified on which he may have received a call during the 2016 election, and there are several others — such as that of his then bodyguard Keith Schiller — who weren’t discussed in the trial. Tony Ornato also receives a close focus in this subpoena; I wonder if he was receiving calls for the then-President on the Secret Service phone that has since been wiped.

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U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Murkowski, Peltola cross party lines to endorse each other in tight Alaska races, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Both candidates are focusing on the Alaska Native population, which could be key to determining whether they return to Washington next year.

lisa murkowski 2 blue dressd o“Mary is a woman whose heart is as grounded in Alaska as anybody you’re going to find,” Murkowski, right, told reporters after the event, wearing a gold-colored, paisley-patterned kuspuk, common Alaska Indigenous clothing Peltola gave her last year.

Asked if she would rank Peltola first on her ballot next month in Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system, Murkowski paused. After a full 18 seconds, she said, “Yeah, I am.” She then mumbled, “I’m going to get in so much trouble.”

Asked to respond to Murkowski’s de facto endorsement, Peltola said, “I’m voting for her, so we’re even-steven.”

Murkowski and Peltola represent different parties and different chambers of Congress, but both are embarking on the same difficult journey to win reelection in a red state. Both are running against more conservative candidates who have the backing of former president Donald Trump in a state he won by 10 points in 2020.

Despite being from different parties, Murkowski and Peltola are finding more things draw them together than drive them apart. They are running as abortion rights moderates who are independent-minded consensus-builders focused on Alaska’s needs, including juggling the impact of climate change and the state’s economic reliance on oil, not the partisan and culture wars playing out in the Lower 48.

They also share an intense focus on the Alaska Native population and a belief that those voters will be key to determining whether they return to Washington next year.

In an election in a state of about 600,000 registered voters where every vote and every ranking matters, Alaska Native communities are a critical voting bloc for both Murkowski and Peltola. Alaska Natives make up 15 percent of the state’s population — 22 percent including mixed-race natives — and have flexed their political muscle in the past.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Ads, Imagery and Words, Republicans Inject Race Into Campaigns, Jonathan Weisman, Oct. 25, 2022. Republicans are openly appealing to white fears and resentments with ads portraying Black candidates as soft on crime, or as “different” or “dangerous.”

As Republicans seize on crime as one of their leading issues in the final weeks of the midterm elections, they have deployed a series of attack lines, terms and imagery that have injected race into contests across the country.

In states as disparate as Wisconsin and New Mexico, ads have labeled a Black candidate as “different” and “dangerous” and darkened a white man’s hands as they portrayed him as a criminal.

Nowhere have these tactics risen to overtake the debate in a major campaign, but a survey of competitive contests, particularly those involving Black candidates, shows they are so widespread as to have become an important weapon in the 2022 Republican arsenal.

In Wisconsin, where Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, is the Democratic nominee for Senate, a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad targeting him ends by juxtaposing his face with those of three Democratic House members, all of them women of color, and the words “different” and “dangerous.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats, on Defense in Blue States, Brace for a Red Wave in the House, Shane Goldmacher, Oct. 25, 2022. With two weeks until the midterms, Republicans are pushing to compete in Democratic bastions like New York, California, Oregon and Rhode Island. The Republicans’ strategy comes amid growing signs that voters are poised to punish President Biden’s party — even in the bluest parts of the country.

Republicans are pressing their advantage deep into Democratic territory in the closing stretch of the 2022 campaign, competing for an abundance of House seats amid growing signs that voters are poised to punish President Biden’s party even in the bluest parts of America.

Republicans need to win only a handful of seats to take over the House of Representatives, which Democrats now control by a narrow margin of 220-212. But with two weeks until the election, Republicans are looking to run up the score and win a more expansive — and governable —majority by vying for districts in Democratic bastions, including in Rhode Island, which has not sent a Republican to Congress for nearly three decades.

“We thought for a little bit that we could defy gravity, but the reality is setting in,” said Sean McElwee, executive director of Data for Progress, a progressive research and polling firm. With Democrats on the defensive in so many places, Mr. McElwee said the goal should now be to limit the party’s losses so it could conceivably try to take back the House in 2024.

Simply making incursions so deep into Democratic terrain is a victory for Republicans. Win or lose, they have diverted limited Democratic resources. But Republicans need just five seats net to flip the chamber, and with the current daunting map, some Democratic strategists worry the party could lose far more: 20 or even 30 seats.

ny times logoNew York Times, Right-Wing Operatives Plead Guilty in Voter-Suppression Scheme, Christine Hauser, Oct. 25, 2022. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman arranged thousands of robocalls that prosecutors said were intended to discourage residents of minority neighborhoods from voting by mail in 2020.

Two right-wing political operatives have pleaded guilty in Ohio to a telecommunications fraud charge for arranging thousands of robocalls that falsely claimed that the information voters included with mail ballots could be used by law enforcement and debt collectors, prosecutors said.

The operatives, Jacob Wohl, 24, of Los Angeles, and Jack Burkman, 56, of Arlington, Va., entered their pleas on Monday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland, prosecutors said.

The men were indicted in 2020 after they were accused of using the robocalls to intimidate residents in minority neighborhoods to refrain from voting by mail at a time when many voters were reluctant to cast ballots in person because of the coronavirus pandemic. The calls also claimed that the government could use mail-in voting information to track people for mandatory vaccination programs, prosecutors said.

“These individuals infringed upon the right to vote, which is one of the most fundamental components of our democracy,” the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Michael C. O’Malley, said in a statement announcing the guilty pleas on Monday.

According to the indictment, Mr. Wohl and Mr. Burkman were each charged with multiple counts of bribery and telecommunications fraud. Those charges were merged into one count each of telecommunications fraud under the plea deal in Ohio, James Gutierrez, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr. Gutierrez said that the count that the two men pleaded guilty to covered the calls that were made to voters in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland. They face up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,500 when they are sentenced on Nov. 29, he said.

When announcing the indictments in 2020, prosecutors in Ohio said Mr. Burkman and Mr. Wohl used a voice broadcasting service provider to place more than 67,000 calls across several Midwestern states. More than 8,100 of them went to telephone numbers in Cleveland and East Cleveland, and about 3,400 were answered by a person or went to voice mail.

The recorded messages “falsely warned people that if they voted by mail that their information could be used by law enforcement, collection agencies” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “for the purposes of pursuing old warrants, collecting outstanding debts, and tracking people for mandatory vaccines,” Mr. O’Malley’s office said.

The Ohio attorney general, Dave Yost, whose office investigated the calls, said in a statement on Monday that Mr. Wohl and Mr. Burkman had been trying to suppress voting in minority neighborhoods.

“Voter intimidation won’t be tolerated in Ohio,” Mr. Yost said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ashton Carter, Obama-Era Defense Secretary, Dies at 68, Clay Risen, Oct. 25, 2022. Trained as a physicist, he opened the military to transgender service members and removed barriers to women in combat roles.

Ashton B. Carter, a theoretical physicist who later climbed the leadership ranks at the Pentagon, culminating in two years as secretary of defense under President Barack Obama, a position he used to further open the military to women and transgender service members, died on Monday at his home in Boston. He was 68.

The cause was a heart attack, his family said in a statement.

Dr. Carter was widely regarded for his prowess in military technology and policy. After teaching at Harvard and directing the Center for Science and International Affairs at its John F. Kennedy School of Government, he joined the Clinton administration in 1993 as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. In that position, he directed efforts to assist post-Soviet states in securing their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Later, in the first Obama administration, he first served as the under secretary responsible for acquisition and logistics, and then deputy secretary of defense under Chuck Hagel. In the first position, he streamlined the purchase of thousands of mine-resistant vehicles; in the second, he helped carry out the president’s shift to Asia, reshuffling defense resources and priorities to the Pacific Rim in an effort to counter China.

stacey abrams campaign

Politico, Special Report: Abrams’ campaign chair collected millions in legal fees from voting rights organization, Brittany Gibson, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Fair Fight Action, the nonprofit founded by Abrams, paid her close friend and ally’s law firm $9.4 million in 2019 and 2020, with two more years of billing yet to be disclosed.

politico CustomThe voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams spent more than $25 million over two years on legal fees, mostly on a single case, with the largest amount going to the self-described boutique law firm of the candidate’s campaign chairwoman.

Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams’ close friend who chaired her gubernatorial campaign both in 2018 and her current bid to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, is one of two named partners in Lawrence & Bundy, a small firm of fewer than two dozen attorneys.

The firm received $9.4 million from Abrams’ group, Fair Fight Action, in 2019 and 2020, the last years for which federal tax filings are available. Lawrence-Hardy declined to comment on how much her firm has collected from Fair Fight Action in 2021 and 2022 — years in which Fair Fight Action v. Raffensperger, for which Lawrence-Hardy was lead counsel, had most of its courtroom activity.

Fair Fight Action has maintained that the suit — which ended last month when a federal judge ruled against the group on all three remaining claims — served an important role in drawing attention to voting inequities. But some outside the group questioned both the level of expenditures devoted to a single, largely unsuccessful legal action and the fact that such a large payout went to the firm of Abrams’ close friend and campaign chair. Those concerns were heightened by the fact that Abrams’ national campaign against voter suppression galvanized the Democratic Party, many of whose top donors helped fill its coffers.

Fair Fight Action v. Raffensperger began as a sweeping legal attack on voting issues ranging from long lines at polling places to problems with voter registration to poor training of poll workers. The scope of the case was subsequently narrowed significantly by Federal District Court Judge Steve C. Jones. On Sept. 30, after a bench trial, Jones issued his final order and judgment, ruling against Fair Fight Action.

“Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect,” Jones wrote, “the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the [Voting Rights Act].”

The case, and the organization that spawned it, was at the cutting edge of Abrams’ nationwide drive to expand voter access, a cause that made her a rising star among liberals and an alleged victim of GOP efforts to limit participation, especially among minorities. Abrams, a Democrat, created Fair Fight Action shortly after her loss to Kemp, a Republican, in the 2018 gubernatorial race, by a narrow margin of 50.2 to 48.8 percent. Afterward, she claimed that thousands of voters, a disproportionate number of whom were people of color, were effectively disenfranchised by overly restrictive voting rules. Within days of her loss, she committed herself to a massive effort to expose voter suppression, galvanizing many Democratic donors and activists.

“This year, more than 200 years into Georgia’s democratic experiment, the state failed its voters,” Abrams told supporters 10 days after the 2018 election. “You see, despite a record-high population in Georgia, more than a million citizens found their names stripped from the rolls by the secretary of state, including a 92-year-old civil rights activist who had cast her ballot in the same neighborhood since 1968. Tens of thousands hung in limbo, rejected due to human error and a system of suppression that had already proven its bias.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi, Democrats’ Billion-Dollar Woman, Fights On With Majority Teetering, Carl Hulse, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The speaker, busy raising millions, is in no mood to contemplate a Democratic defeat in November, much less discuss her legacy.

It has long been known that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to hold the post second in line to the presidency, does not sleep much. These days, as she races in and out of cities across the nation in a grueling, nonstop push for campaign money to hang on to her embattled House majority, even her bedtime hours are consumed with thoughts of how to win.

“I don’t count sheep at night; I count districts,” Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat and longtime party leader, said during a closing blitz across the Midwest on behalf of battleground House candidates crucial to any remaining hope that Democrats have of surviving a Republican onslaught. “I go one by one by one.”

The big question is whether she can count to 218, the number required to maintain control of the House — and one that a growing number of independent handicappers believe is out of reach for Democrats.

Even as she follows every twist and turn on the House map, the reality is that this could well be Ms. Pelosi’s final trip around the track as party leader. The majority she has built and carefully nurtured — not once, but twice — is in jeopardy of falling under the weight of public fears about crime and inflation along with heavy Republican campaign spending and the traditional midterm drag on a president’s party in Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Detroit, Why There’s No Black Democrat on the Ballot for Congress, Clyde McGrady, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Shri Thanedar’s primary victory means that, for the first time in 70 years, America’s largest majority Black city may not send a Black representative to Washington.

State Representative Shri Thanedar, had beaten eight Black candidates in a primary to become the Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District — meaning that for the first time in almost 70 years, the nation’s largest majority Black city is unlikely to have a Black representative in Congress.

His victory set off waves of anxiety among Detroit’s Black political leaders, who tried desperately to prevent Mr. Thanedar from winning. (A primary win in such a heavily Democratic district is tantamount to being elected.) Black leaders describe it as “embarrassing” and “disappointing,” and argue that Detroit should have representation that reflects its population, which is 77 percent Black. Three quarters of Detroit voters supported a Black candidate.

Detroit began sending two Black delegates to Congress in the 1960s, and elected its first Black mayor in 1973. By the 1980s, Black membership and status in the state legislature was rising, and half the City Council was Black.

Now, the challenge to Black political power in Detroit comes from divisions within its own leadership and from constituents. Reapportionment cost Michigan a House seat last year, and the newly redrawn district maps reduced the number of Black voters in the 13th District. After years of severe economic insecurity and a string of political scandals, some residents are showing a willingness to try something new.

In 2013, Detroit elected Mike Duggan, its first white mayor since the 1970s — the same year that a former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, was convicted of charges including racketeering and extortion. Five years later, Rashida Tlaib became the first woman of Palestinian descent to be elected to Congress, when she won the seat once occupied by John Conyers Jr. — a towering figure in Detroit politics who resigned over sexual harassment allegations.

Those victories and Mr. Thanedar’s point to an emerging sense among some Black constituents that the psychic, emotional and symbolic benefits of racial representation may not have materially improved their lives.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Tim Ryan’s Ohio Senate Race, the D Is Often Silent, Matt Flegenheimer, Oct. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Ryan, the Ohio Democrat who is challenging J.D. Vance, has turned the state into perhaps the country’s unlikeliest Senate battleground.

Tim Ryan is the kind of candidate who appears to put some thought into appearing to put no thought into appearances.

His daily uniform exudes well-practiced campaign casual: an Ohio State hoodie on game day; a T-shirt from Dropkick Murphys, the union-minde