Jan. 2024 News

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and January 2024 news and views

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

 

Jan. 31

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More On U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

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U.S. Immigration / Illegal Alien Crisis

 

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More On U.S. Courts, Crime, Guns, Civil Rights, Immigration

 

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More On Ukraine-Russian War, Russian Leadership

 

More On Trump Battles, Crimes, Claims, Allies

 

Conflict Claim Against Georgia Trump Prosecutors

 

Fulton County Prosecutors Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (Reuters file photo by Elijah Nouvelage).

 

U.S. Election Deniers, Insurrectionists


U.S. Military, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy

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U.S. Supreme Court

 

GOP Attacks, Impeachment Inquiry Against Bidens

 Hunter Biden, a businessman, artist and son of President Biden, left, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell in the audience of a House Government Oversight Committee hearing on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC (AP photo by Luis Magana).


Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Disasters, Transportation

 

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Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy

 

U.S. Abortion, Family Planning, #MeToo

 

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Poverty, High Tech

 

U.S. Education, Sports, Religion, Media, High Tech, Free Speech, Culture

 

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, The Iraqi militia blamed for a lethal drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan said it would stop targeting U.S. forces, Alissa J. Rubin, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). In a surprise move, an Iran-linked militia in Iraq that the Pentagon said was likely responsible for a lethal drone attack on an U.S. base in Jordan over the weekend announced on Tuesday that it was suspending military operations in Iraq under pressure from the Iraqi government and from Iran.

The announcement came shortly after President Biden said that he had decided how to respond to the attack in Jordan on Sunday that left three U.S. soldiers dead, though he did not say what that response would be. His comment raised fears in Iraq about a possibly retaliatory U.S. attack on its territory.

The militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah, or Brigades of the Party of God, is the largest and most established of the Iran-linked groups operating in Iraq. It has spearheaded a majority of the some 160 attacks on U.S. military installations in Iraq and Syria that have occurred since Israel began its ground operations in Gaza, acting in response to the Oct. 7 attack Hamas led from the enclave.

The U.S. military has about 2,500 troops in Iraq advising and training the Iraqi Army and about 900 in Syria, supporting the Kurdish Syrian Defense forces in their fight against the Islamic State.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is part of what is known as the Axis of Resistance, a network of Iran-backed groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and occasionally farther afield. (Kata’ib Hezbollah is separate from the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.)

The other two Iraqi groups that are believed to have been involved in strikes U.S. targets — Harakat al Nujaba and Sayyid Shuhada — have not announced they will halt attacks.

The leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, said in a statement: “We announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces — in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” It was the first time that the militia had publicly declared a suspension of operations.

The statement made clear that Iran had pressured the group to stop the attacks on U.S. troops and that Kata’ib Hezbollah was not happy about it. The group made a point of suggesting that it chooses its own targets and timing, rather than follows Iran’s orders.

“Our brothers in the Axis, especially in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they do not know how we conduct our Jihad, and they often object to the pressure and escalation against the American occupation forces in Iraq and Syria,” the statement said.

Asked about Kata’ib Hezbollah’s announcement, a Defense Department spokesman, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, said at a Pentagon briefing: “I don’t have a specific comment to provide other than actions speak louder than words.”

He added: “I’m going to refrain from editorializing on those kinds of comments after 160-plus attacks against U.S. forces.”

Interviews with Iraqi and Iranian officials close to both governments suggest that there were intensive negotiations in recent days aimed at pushing Kata’ib Hezbollah to stop its attacks.

Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, started pushing for a halt several weeks ago, according to senior government advisers. He was endeavoring to start negotiations on an eventual withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military presence in Iraq, but the American side had not wanted to negotiate while under fire, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.

The United States eventually did agree to start talks without a guarantee the attacks would stop, but with a clear push in that direction.

Kata’ib Hezbollah and other groups had ignored the Iraqi government’s request to stand down, but once the attack in Jordan on Sunday took American lives, Mr. Sudani demanded a complete halt from Kata’ib Hezbollah. Mr. Sudani reached out directly to Iran, according to a military strategist for the Revolutionary Guards who works closely with the Axis groups in Iraq.

Mr. Sudani made the argument that he was trying to negotiate what Iran most wanted — to end the U.S. troop presence in Iraq — and that Kata’ib Hezbollah’s attacks were undermining his government’s ability to do so, according to the Iranian military strategist and a senior Iraqi official, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations.

An Iraqi government spokesman, Hisham al-Rikabi, painted much the same picture. “Kata’ib Hezbollah’s decision came as a result of the action taken by the prime minister internally and externally, to prevent escalation, and to ensure the smooth completion of negotiations on completing the process of the international coalition’s withdrawal from Iraq,” he said.

Mr. al-Rikabi added: “We hope that all parties will listen to the government’s call in order to reduce tension and ensure that there are no hot spots of tension in the region, and in Iraq in particular.”

Involved in the negotiations were senior officials in Mr. Sudani’s government who are close to Iran, according to Iraqi and Iranian officials close to their respective government leaders. Among those involved in the negotiations were former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and the leaders of two armed groups that have not targeted U.S. forces: Qais al-Khazali and Hadi al-Ameri. Participating in the talks on the Iranian side was Gen. Esmail Qaani, the leader of the Quds Force, a division of the Revolutionary Guards that works with Axis groups outside Iran.

Reporting was contributed by Falih Hassan from Baghdad, Farnaz Fassihi from New York and Eric Schmitt from Washington, D.C.

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ny times logoNew York Times, How the Border Crisis Shattered Biden’s Immigration Hopes, Michael D. Shear, Hamed Aleaziz and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). An examination of President Biden’s record reveals how he failed to overcome a surge in new arrivals and political obstacles in both parties.

On President Biden’s first day in office, he paused nearly all deportations. He vowed to end the harsh practices of the Trump administration, show compassion toward those wishing to come to the United States and secure the southern border.

For Mr. Biden, it was a matter of principle. He wanted to show the world that the United States was a humane nation, while also demonstrating to his fellow citizens that government could work again.

But those early promises have largely been set aside as chaos engulfs the border and imperils Mr. Biden’s re-election hopes. The number of people crossing into the United States has reached record levels, more than double than in the Trump years. The asylum system is still all but broken.

On Friday, in a dramatic turnaround from those early days, the president implored Congress to grant him the power to shut down the border so he could contain one of the largest surges of uncontrolled immigration in American history.

“If given that authority,” Mr. Biden said in a statement, “I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Some of the circumstances that have created the crisis are out of Mr. Biden’s control, such as the collapse of Venezuela, a surge in migration around the world and the obstinance of Republicans who have tried to thwart his efforts to address the problems. They refused to provide resources, blocked efforts to update laws and openly defied federal officials charged with maintaining security and order along the 2,000-mile border.

But an examination of Mr. Biden’s record over the last three years by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 35 current and former officials and others, shows that the president has failed to overcome those obstacles. The result is a growing humanitarian crisis at the border and in major cities around the country. Many voters now say immigration is their top concern, and they do not have confidence that Mr. Biden is addressing it.

us senate logoA veteran of the decades-long search for a bipartisan immigration compromise by the late Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, the president sought balance. He created legal pathways for migrants and began rebuilding the refugee system even as he embraced some of former President Donald J. Trump’s more restrictive tactics. But those efforts were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people arriving at the border, and at times Mr. Biden failed to appreciate the growing anger in both parties.

During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden said he would be an antidote to his predecessor’s anti-immigrant approach. But he has presided over a fierce struggle inside the White House between advisers who favored more enforcement and those who pushed to be more welcoming. That debate played out as the country also shifted. After years of inflation, economic suffering and political polarization, the public is divided about whether the United States — which is home to more immigrants than any other nation — should absorb more.

Mr. Biden went from a 2020 candidate who vowed to “end Trump’s assault on the dignity of immigrant communities” to a 2024 president who is “willing to make significant compromises on the border.” That shift can be seen through the prism of five key moments that document the administration’s shifting approach on a defining issue of his presidency and of the next election.

ap logoAssociated Press, House GOP takes party-line vote toward Mayorkas impeachment as border becomes 2024 campaign issue, Lisa Mascaro and Rebecca Santana, Jan. 31, 2024. House Republicans voted along party lines early Wednesday to move toward impeaching Homeland Alejandro MayorkasSecurity Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, right, for a “willful and systematic” refusal to enforce immigration laws as border security becomes a top 2024 election issue.

U.S. House logoThe Homeland Security Committee debated all day Tuesday and well into the night before recommending two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the full House, a rare charge against a Cabinet official unseen in nearly 150 years, as Republicans make GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s hard-line deportation approach to immigration their own.

The committee Republicans voted in favor, while the Democrats unified against, 18-15.

“We cannot allow this man to remain in office any longer,” said Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn.

The impeachment articles charge that Mayorkas “refused to comply with Federal immigration laws” amid a record surge of migrants and that he has “breached the public trust” in his claims to Congress that the U.S.-Mexico border is secure.

The full House could vote on Mayorkas’ impeachment as soon as next week. If approved, the charges would go to the Senate for a trial, though senators may first convene a special committee for consideration.

us dhs big eagle logo4With an unusual personal appeal, Mayorkas — who is deep in Senate talks on a border security package — wrote in a letter to the committee that it should be working with the Biden administration to update the nation’s “broken and outdated” immigration laws for the 21st century, an era of record global migration.

“We need a legislative solution and only Congress can provide it,” Mayorkas wrote in the pointed letter to the panel’s chairman.

Rarely has a Cabinet member faced impeachment’s bar of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and Democrats on the panel dismissed the proceedings as a stunt and a sham that could set a chilling precedent for other civil servants snared in policy disputes by lawmakers who disagree with the president’s approach.

“This is a terrible day for the committee, the United States, the Constitution and our great country,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, Thompson said the “MAGA-led impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas is a baseless sham.”

us senate logoThe House’s proceedings against Mayorkas have created an oddly split-screen Capitol Hill, as the Senate works deliberately with the secretary on a bipartisan border security package that is now on life support.

The package being negotiated by the senators with Mayorkas could emerge as the most consequential bipartisan immigration proposal in a decade. Or it could collapse in political failure as Republicans, and some Democrats, run from the effort.

Trump, on the campaign trail and in private talks, has tried to squelch the deal. “I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill,” Trump said over the weekend in Las Vegas.

President Joe Biden, in his own campaign remarks in South Carolina, said if Congress sends him a bill with emergency authority he’ll “shut down the border right now” to get migration under control.

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Case Against Mayorkas Ignores Government’s Immigration Powers, Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 31, 2024. House Republicans have charged President Biden’s homeland security secretary with breaking the law by failing to enforce border mandates, but statute gives him wide authority to address immigration.

House Republicans’ impeachment case against Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, boils down to a simple allegation: that he has broken the law by refusing to enforce immigration statutes that aim to prevent migrants from entering the United States without authorization.

The Homeland Security Committee approved articles of impeachment against Mr. Mayorkas on a party-line vote early Wednesday morning, setting the stage for a vote of the full House next week. If impeached, he would be only the second cabinet secretary to receive that punishment in American history, the first in 148 years and the only one to be indicted by Congress for nothing more than carrying out the policies of the president he serves.

Republicans have moved forward with the process even though constitutional scholars, past secretaries of homeland security and even some former legal advisers to former President Donald J. Trump have noted that nothing Mr. Mayorkas is accused of rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, the standard for impeachment laid out in the Constitution.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Your Product Is Killing People’: Tech Leaders Denounced Over Child Safety, Cecilia Kang and David McCabe, Jan. 31, 2024. Senators criticized the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, Snap, X and Discord for not doing enough to prevent child sexual abuse online.

Lawmakers on Wednesday denounced the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord, accusing them of creating “a crisis in America” by willfully ignoring the harmful content against children on their platforms, as concerns over the effect of technology on youths have mushroomed.

In a highly charged 3.5-hour hearing, members of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee raised their voices and repeatedly castigated the five tech leaders — who run online services that are very popular with teenagers and younger children — for prioritizing profits over the well-being of youths. Some said the companies had “blood on their hands” and that users “would die waiting” for them to make changes to protect children. At one point, lawmakers compared the tech companies to cigarette makers.

“Every parent in America is terrified about the garbage that is directed at our kids,” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said.

The tech chiefs, some of whom showed up after being forced by subpoena, said they had invested billions to strengthen safety measures on their platforms. Some said they supported a bill that bolsters privacy and parental controls for children, while others pointed to the faults of rivals. All of the executives emphasized that they themselves were parents.

In one blistering exchange with Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s chief executive, stood up and turned to address dozens of parents of online child sexual exploitation victims.

“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered.” He did not address whether Meta’s platforms had played a role in that suffering and said the company was investing in efforts to prevent such experiences.

The bipartisan hearing encapsulated the increasing alarm over tech’s impact on children and teenagers. Last year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, identified social media as a cause of a youth mental health crisis. More than 105 million online images, videos and materials related to child sexual abuse were flagged in 2023 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the federally designated clearinghouse for the imagery. Parents have blamed the platforms for fueling cyberbullying and children’s suicides.

The issue has united Republicans and Democrats, with lawmakers pushing for a crackdown on how Silicon Valley companies treat their youngest and most vulnerable users. Some lawmakers, seizing on a matter that has incensed parents, have called for measures and introduced bills to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and to hold the platforms responsible for protecting young people.

Tech giants face mounting domestic and global scrutiny for their effect on children. Some states have enacted legislation requiring social media services to verify their users’ ages or take other steps to protect young people, though those rules have confronted legal challenges. Online safety laws have also been approved in the European Union and in Britain.

New York Times, Here are six takeaways from the contentious hearing, Jan. 31, 2024.

ap logoAssociated Press, Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny and others may vanish from TikTok as licensing dispute boils over, Michelle Chapman, Jan. 31, 2024. Universal Music Group, which represents artists including Taylor Swift, right, Drake, Adele, Bad Bunny and Billie Eilish, says that it will no longer allow its music on TikTok now that a licensing deal between the two parties has expired.

taylor swift uncreditedUMG said that it had not agreed to terms of a new deal with TikTok, and plans to stop licensing content from the artists it represents on the social media platform that is owned by ByteDance, as well as TikTok Music services.

The licensing agreement between UMG and TikTok is expired as of Wednesday.

In a Tuesday letter addressed to artists and songwriters, UMG said that it had been pressing TikTok on three issues: “appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Zelensky to oust Ukraine’s top general amid tension over new mobilization, Isabelle Khurshudyan and John Hudson, Jan. 31, 2024. Gen. Valery Zaluzhny remains in his post for now, but a formal presidential decree is expected to confirm his ousting nearly two years into Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told his top commander, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, that he was firing him in a meeting on Monday, according to a senior official familiar with the conversation — a disruptive military shake-up amid Ukraine’s struggles on the battlefield and after months of friction between the president and the popular general.

Zaluzhny remains in his post for now, but a formal presidential decree is expected to confirm his ousting nearly two years into Russia’s invasion and as Moscow’s forces appear to be gaining the strategic initiative on some parts of the front.

On Monday, Zelensky’s spokesman, Serhiy Nykyforov, denied that Zaluzhny had been fired. “There is no subject of conversation,” Nykyforov told reporters. “There is no order. The president did not dismiss the commander in chief.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Hundreds of NFL players denied payouts under concussion settlement, including many with CTE, Will Hobson, Jan. 31, 2024. A “landmark” settlement promised payouts for suffering players. But loopholes, aggressive reviews and a failed doctors network led to denials for hundreds of players, a Post investigation found. This story is based on hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of medical and legal records.

When Irv Cross applied for money from the NFL concussion settlement in 2018, his dementia was obvious to anyone who spent more than a few minutes with him.

At 78, the former NFL player and trailblazing sports broadcaster struggled to speak coherently, forgot to change his clothes and suffered from urinary incontinence, his wife told doctors. Cross had been diagnosed with dementia by another doctor months before he was evaluated by two NFL settlement doctors, his medical records show.

But the settlement doctors concluded they couldn’t diagnose Cross with anything, their reports state. While Cross’s symptoms met the standard definition for dementia in American medicine, they agreed, his test scores didn’t meet the NFL settlement’s definition.
irv cross card

“He does not appear to qualify for any diagnosable conditions through the NFL program,” a settlement neurologist wrote. Cross died three years later, of what his doctors thought was just Alzheimer’s disease. An autopsy found he also had suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease linked to football.

When Al Bemiller filed his settlement claim in 2019, his children hoped for a quick approval and money to help with his care. He had been diagnosed with dementia four years earlier and needed around-the-clock assistance preparing meals, showering and getting dressed.

But a doctor on the NFL settlement’s review panel responded to Bemiller’s records with skepticism. Perhaps depression was actually causing his dementia symptoms, the review doctor suggested. Claim denied. Bemiller died two years later of dementia.
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And when Don Maynard applied in 2019, his doctor was so alarmed he said he would file the diagnostic paperwork right away, Maynard’s son recalled. But that paperwork went into a bureaucratic black hole for more than two years. The letter informing Maynard that settlement doctors diagnosed him with dementia arrived in January 2022 — three days after he died of dementia.

Finalized in 2015, the NFL concussion settlement resolved the most serious threat America’s most popular and lucrative sports league has faced. While the NFL admitted no wrongdoing, it promised to pay every former player who developed dementia or several brain diseases linked to concussions. Players suffering from CTE, the league pledged, also would get paid once they developed symptoms of dementia. The league even agreed to fund a nationwide network of doctors to evaluate players and provide those showing early signs of dementia with medical care.

In seven years since the settlement opened, the NFL has paid out nearly $1.2 billion to more than 1,600 former players and their families — far more than experts predicted during settlement negotiations. The league points to these figures as evidence of the settlement’s fairness.

But behind the scenes, the settlement routinely fails to deliver money and medical care to former players suffering from dementia and CTE, a Washington Post investigation found, saving the NFL hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more.

The Post reviewed more than 15,000 pages of documents relating to efforts by more than 100 former players to qualify for settlement benefits, including thousands of pages of confidential medical and legal records. The Post also interviewed more than 100 people involved with the settlement — including players, widows, lawyers and doctors — as well as 10 board-certified neurologists and neuropsychologists for their expertise on how dementia is typically diagnosed.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Biden’s Anti-Trump Battle Plan (and Where Taylor Swift Fits In), Reid J. Epstein, Lisa Lerer, Katie Glueck and Katie Rogers, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s campaign is aiming to make the general election all about Donald Trump. It’s also hoping for some big endorsements.

biden harris 2024 logoAs former President Donald J. Trump speeds toward the Republican nomination, President Biden is moving quickly to pump energy into his re-election bid, kicking off what is likely to be an ugly, dispiriting and historically long slog to November between two unpopular nominees.

After months of languid buildup in which he held only a single public campaign event, Mr. Biden has thrown a series of rallies across battleground states, warning that democracy itself is at stake in 2024.

He sent two of his most trusted White House operatives to take the helm of his re-election campaign in Wilmington, Del., after Mr. Trump seized control of the Republican primary race more rapidly than Mr. Biden’s advisers had initially expected.

And other Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift.

“It’s game on, the beginning of the general election,” said Representative Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 97 centrist House Democrats. “We’ve got to win this.”

In a race without historical parallel — a contest between two presidents, one of them facing 91 criminal charges — Mr. Biden is making an extraordinary gamble, betting that Mr. Trump remains such an animating force in American life that the nation’s current leader can turn the 2024 election into a referendum not on himself but on his predecessor.

Resurrecting a version of the argument that worked for them in 2020, Mr. Biden’s team and his top allies plan to paint Mr. Trump as a mortal threat to American government and civil society, and are banking that fears of another turbulent Trump administration will outweigh worries about Mr. Biden’s age and vitality. Polls have shown Mr. Biden trailing Mr. Trump in a head-to-head contest, with many Democratic voters reluctant to back him again.

 

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ap logoAssociated Press, What to expect in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, Robert Yoon, Jan. 31, 2024. For the first time ever, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination officially kicks off this Saturday in South Carolina.

For the first time ever, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination officially kicks off this Saturday in South Carolina, the state that resurrected then-candidate Joe Biden’s foundering presidential campaign in 2020 and put him on a footing to win his party’s nod and, eventually, the White House.

biden harris 2024 logoUnlike four years ago, President Biden now looks to South Carolina voters to cement his campaign as the overwhelming favorite, as opposed to rescuing it from near-oblivion.

At Biden’s urging, the Democratic National Committee rearranged the 2024 primary calendar and slotted South Carolina as the first contest of the campaign season, citing in part the state’s far more racially diverse electorate than the traditional first-in-the-nation states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which are overwhelmingly white. New Hampshire held a leadoff primary anyway in defiance of the DNC, but without the president’s or the national party’s backing and no delegates at stake, the contest amounted to little more than a non-binding beauty contest. Biden won New Hampshire by a sizable margin nonetheless after supporters mounted a write-in campaign on his behalf.

Challenging Biden on the South Carolina ballot are U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and author Marianne Williamson. Phillips received about 20% of the vote in New Hampshire, while Williamson received about 4%. Williamson was part of the crowded 2020 field that included Biden, but she dropped out before the first contests.

The South Carolina primary will be the first opportunity this year for Democratic candidates to begin accumulating the nearly 2,000 delegates needed to clinch the party’s nomination.

South Carolina has an open primary system, which means any registered voter may participate in any party’s primary. Voters may only participate in one party’s presidential primary, so those who vote on Saturday may not vote in the Republican contest on Feb. 24.

In 2020, then-candidate Biden carried all 46 counties in the state. His strongest geographic regions were in the Pee Dee and Waccamaw River valley areas in the state’s eastern region and in central South Carolina, including the state capital of Columbia. He received about 54% of the vote in both areas. He was also the top choice among Democratic primary voters in the state’s Democratic and Republican strongholds, as well as in the more moderate areas in between.

Here’s a look at what to expect on Saturday.

ny times logoNew York Times, In South Carolina, President Biden tried to persuade Black voters to reject Donald Trump, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden sought to energize his base in the state that propelled him to the White House, but some local leaders said he needed to do more to highlight his achievements.

Hoping to revitalize the momentum that propelled him to the White House, President Biden told a largely Black audience on Saturday night that “you’re the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president,” in what was effectively his first appearance related to the Democratic primaries.

Mr. Biden made clear in his remarks at a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner in Columbia, S.C., that he viewed the forthcoming week as not just a contest but a pivotal moment to energize a frustrated base of Black voters across the nation. And in the run-up to the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary, which the party’s national committee selected last year to be the first in the nation, Democrats believe they have entered an opportune time.

With former President Donald J. Trump having won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary for the Republican nomination, Mr. Biden’s allies plan to emphasize not just the president’s record but also the urgency of the moment: The general election effectively starts now, they say.

James Clyburn“He has made it known what he’s going to do if he gets back into office,” Representative James E. Clyburn, right, Democrat of South Carolina, said of Mr. Trump in an interview. “And to see that blooming as a possibility and see him running as well as he is in the polls, I’m concerned about it.”

“Do what you did before,” Mr. Clyburn said in an appeal to the Black electorate. “Turn that election around and save this democracy.”

Politico, ‘Unless You’re a Purist, We Don’t Want You Voting’:  The Nevada GOP wanted to ensure a Trump win, David Siders, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). They wound up making the state irrelevant.

politico CustomDownstairs in a roped-off corner of the lobby at the Ahern Hotel, off the Las Vegas Strip, the chair of the Nevada Republican Party was trying to convince a club of fellow Republicans to go along with a perplexing plan: To hold a party-run caucus two days after the state’s presidential primary in February.

Upstairs, overlooking the lobby, Chuck Muth told me the whole thing wasn’t just counterintuitive or confusing for Republican voters. It smacked of insider “bullshit.” The state party, he said, just “wanted the caucus rigged for Trump.”

And then Muth, a former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, tried to explain to me how Nevada’s Republicans got into this mess — and helped make their state irrelevant in the process.

djt maga hatOn Feb. 6, the state will hold a primary in which GOP voters will go to their usual precincts but there will be only one serious contender, Nikki Haley, on the ballot. Then, two days later, the Republican Party will host a caucus in which GOP voters will go to school gyms and church basements where they can express their support for only one credible candidate, Donald Trump.

On Feb. 6, the state will hold a primary in which GOP voters will go to their usual precincts but there will be only one serious contender, Nikki Haley, on the ballot. Then, two days later, the Republican Party will host a caucus in which GOP voters will go to school gyms and church basements where they can express their support for only one credible candidate, Donald Trump.

Both parties used to hold caucuses here, but in 2021, the Nevada legislature passed a law requiring the state to hold primaries. State GOP officials wanted to stick with the caucus because they’ve done it that way before, and because the state’s new presidential primary requirements failed to include voter ID. It’s the kind of gathering that tends to draw the most fervent, activist members of a party — no coincidence, the same as Trump’s base. GOP officials decided that the caucus would be the only contest that will award delegates to the national convention.

But there have been plenty of reasons to think that decision might turn out to be a mistake.
Chuck Muth in Las Vegas.

Chuck Muth, a former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, in Las Vegas. Both parties used to hold caucuses here, but in 2021, the Nevada legislature passed a law requiring the state to hold primaries.

Last fall, leaders of the group meeting at the Ahern, the Nevada Republican Club — a separate entity from the Nevada Republican Party — urged party officials not to hold a caucus competing with the state-run primary, arguing “ negative publicity from this will make the Republican Party look bad and likely diminish participation in the Primary election.”

The effect, they wrote, would be to “frustrate, anger and confuse Nevada’s Republican voters,” giving “average voters the impression they don’t care about them or their votes.”

Looking back, it seems they were right. Recent headlines about the election here have ranged from “ EXPERTS: Why Trump, DeSantis are not on Nevada Primary Election ballot” to “ Dual elections causing confusion among Nevada Republican voters” to “ Nevada Republicans can’t decide between a primary or a caucus — so they’re doing both.”
Locator map of Las Vegas, Nev.

Republicans across Nevada have been confused by the state running both a primary and a caucus.

Earlier this month, a Reno TV station ran a fact check on a social media post from a rural Nevada voter questioning why her primary ballot was “missing a certain DONALD J TRUMP.”

“It’s crazy, it’s nuts,” said Ron Knecht, a former Republican state controller. “It’s the ultimate degeneration of Republican politics.”

It’s also a big comedown for Nevada, which had hoped to parlay its No. 3 spot on the Republican presidential nominating calendar into a measure of relevance in the campaign. There was a time, after all, that Nevada really did feel like the “ We Matter,” first-in-the-West caucus state.

For Republicans, that was 2016, when Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were out campaigning on arena stages and casino floors — and where, in one palm tree-lined parking lot not far from the Chicken Ranch Brothel, in Pahrump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz rallied a crowd from the bed of a pickup truck. Reporters flew in from Washington to set up live shots and to pore over candidates’ “ ground games.”

Today, it’s sometimes easy to forget Nevada even exists on the primary calendar. Haley seems to want to will it away; when she appeared the other day on Fox & Friends, she described the nominating process as going from Iowa, which was “good to us,” to New Hampshire, which would “set the tone as it goes to my sweet home state of South Carolina.” It was South Carolina — not Nevada — that she identified as “ the next one” when she addressed supporters after the primary in New Hampshire.

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump stays on Illinois’ ballot as election board declines to ban him over insurrection amendment, Sophia Tareen and Nicholas Riccardi, Jan. 30, 2024. Illinois’ election board on Tuesday kept former President Donald Trump on the state’s primary ballot, a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether the Republican’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualifies him from the presidency.

illinois mapThe eight-member board’s unanimous ruling comes after its hearing officer, a retired judge and Republican, found that a “preponderance of the evidence” shows Trump is ineligible to run for president because he violated a constitutional ban on those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. But the hearing officer recommended the board let the courts make the ultimate decision.

The board, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, agreed with a recommendation from its lawyer to let Trump remain on the ballot by determining it didn’t have the authority to determine whether he violated the constitution.

“This Republican believes there was an insurrection on Jan. 6,” said board member Catherine McCrory before her vote, adding that she didn’t believe the agency had the legal authority to enforce that conclusion.

Trump’s attorney urged the board not to get involved, contending the former president never engaged in insurrection but that wasn’t something it could determine. “We would recommend and urge the board to not wade into this,” attorney Adam Merrill said.

An attorney for the voters who objected to Trump’s presence on the ballot said they’d appeal to state court. “What’s happened here is an avoidance of a hot potato issue,” attorney Matthew Piers told reporters after the hearing. “I get the desire to do it, but the law doesn’t allow you to duck.”

The issue will likely be decided at a higher court, with the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled next week to hear arguments in Trump’s appeal of a Colorado ruling declaring him ineligible for the presidency in that state.

The nation’s highest court has never ruled on a case involving Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868 to prevent former confederates from returning to office after the Civil War but has rarely been used since then. Some legal scholars say the post-Civil War clause applies to Trump for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and encouraging his backers to storm the U.S. Capitol after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

ap logoAssociated Press, Biden will visit Ohio community that was devastated by a fiery train derailment nearly a year ago, Darlene Superville, Jan. 31, 2024. The White House says President Joe Biden will visit the eastern Ohio community devastated by a fiery train derailment in February 2023.

President Joe Biden will visit the eastern Ohio community that was devastated by a fiery train derailment in February 2023 that displaced thousands of residents and left many fearing potential health effects from the toxic chemicals that spilled when a Norfolk Southern train went off the tracks.

biden harris 2024 logoA White House official said Wednesday that Biden will visit East Palestine in February, a year after the derailment. A date for the Democratic president’s trip was not given. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Biden’s plans had yet to be formally announced.

The Feb. 3, 2023, derailment forced thousands of people from their homes near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Area residents still have lingering fears about potential health effects from the toxic chemicals that spilled and from the vinyl chloride that was released a few days after the crash to keep five tank cars from exploding.

The absence of a visit by Biden had become a subject of persistent questioning at the White House, as well as among residents in East Palestine. Some residents have said they felt forgotten as time marched on without a presidential visit and as they watched Biden fly to the scenes of other disasters, such as the wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui and hurricanes in Florida.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Kamala Harris, Sharper and Lively, Begins to Make Her Case, Mara Gay, Jan. 30, 2024 (print ed.). In Las Vegas this weekend, a group of cheery Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters gathered at a union hall to hear Vice President Kamala Harris make the case for re-electing her and President Biden. The crowd started quietly, but as I watched, Harris brought them to life, warning Nevada voters in explicit terms about the threat posed by Donald Trump.

joe biden kamala harris white house uncredited“Understand what dictators do,” Harris told the crowd on Saturday. “Dictators jail journalists. Dictators suspend elections. Dictators take your rights!”

Four years after Harris’s own failed White House bid and a rocky early tenure as vice president, her campaigning skills have grown vastly sharper. She is sounding increasingly confident, laying out the stakes of the November election with an ease more evocative of Barack Obama than the prosecutor Harris used to be.

At age 59, which is 22 years younger than Biden, who is facing concerns about his age, her role in the 2024 election could prove significant.

“Do we believe in democracy?” she asked them.

“Yes!” the crowd shouted, growing louder.

“Are we ready to fight for it?”

“Yes!”

The vice president has visited the state twice this month, looking to shore up support in a state crucial to a Biden victory in November but where attachment to party can be fickle and interest in politics in general even weaker.

At the event this weekend, Curtis Williams, 64, said he planned to vote for Biden, even though, like a plurality of voters in Nevada, he is unaffiliated with a party. “I’m kind of commitment-phobic,” Williams joked.

Other voters were still undecided. “I’m coming to learn more,” Yamilah Nguyen, 27, told me. Nguyen, an entrepreneur, didn’t vote in the 2020 presidential election, but plans to this year, largely over concerns about access to abortion. “I believe it should be an option,” she said.

At the Democratic event, Nevadans of different backgrounds mingled politely: union members and conservationists, retirees and students, Hispanic Americans and Black Americans, Asian Americans and white Americans.

As those in attendance swayed to the live music, Trump held a rally across town repeating a campaign promise to prosecute Biden, the man who is again his biggest political enemy.

Whether Trump succeeds may depend on Democrats awakening from their weary slumber.

ny times logoNew York Times, Haley’s Dilemma: How to Diminish Trump Without Alienating Republican Voters, Jonathan Weisman and Jazmine Ulloa, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). On “Meet the Press,” Nikki Haley said she trusted the jury in Donald Trump’s sex-assault defamation case, while she tried to peel away his supporters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Rages at U.A.W. President After Biden Endorsement, Maggie Astor, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). The provocation for the former president’s comments appeared to be remarks that Shawn Fain, the union’s leader, made on Sunday.

ICE logoA few days after the United Auto Workers endorsed President Biden for re-election, former President Donald J. Trump raged at the union’s leader, Shawn Fain, on Sunday night.

djt maga hatMr. Trump wrote on his social media platform that Mr. Fain “is selling the Automobile Industry right into the big, powerful, hands of China.”

He claimed that Mr. Biden’s support for electric vehicles would destroy the American auto industry and send jobs overseas. “Shawn Fain doesn’t understand this or have a clue,” he wrote. “Get rid of this dope & vote for DJT. I will bring the Automobile Industry back to our Country.”

The provocation for Mr. Trump’s comments appeared to be a CBS News interview on Sunday in which Mr. Fain said that Mr. Biden had “a history of serving others and serving the working class,” while Mr. Trump had “a history of serving himself and standing for the billionaire class.”

Mr. Fain also emphasized Mr. Biden’s decision to meet with striking U.A.W. workers in September, which made him the first sitting president to join a picket line. Mr. Trump has sought to position himself as a champion of the workers’ interests, and he tried to court blue-collar workers with a speech the same week — but at a nonunion factory.

Michael Tyler, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign, said in a statement, “Apparently losing the U.A.W. endorsement to Joe Biden has left Donald Trump’s wounded ego with quite the SCAB.” He argued that the corporate tax changes Mr. Trump signed as president had themselves encouraged companies to move jobs overseas.

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump and President Biden Get Ready for the Very Long Haul, Adam Nagourney, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The 2024 general election campaign is set to be one of the longest in modern history. There will be no spring break.

With Donald J. Trump rapidly closing in on the Republican presidential nomination, the 2024 general election campaign is set to be one of the longest in modern history, pushing President Biden and Mr. Trump into unfamiliar territory as they struggle to engage an electorate that seems numbed by the prospect of a 2020 rematch.

For all their experience in presidential politics, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump face extraordinarily complicated challenges as they and their aides grapple with how to run a presidential campaign that will last almost nine months, significantly longer than most general election contests.

This is a race that has been run before, a rematch between two older and by now well-known candidates: Mr. Trump is 77, and Mr. Biden is 81. Mr. Trump has essentially been a candidate for re-election since his defeat four years ago and may spend much of the spring fighting felony charges in court. Both men are unpopular with large numbers of voters.

“What can they possibly say about their opponent that voters don’t already know?” said Mark McKinnon, who was the chief media adviser to George W. Bush for his 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

The time between the end of the primaries and the party conventions usually brings a lull in the campaign, when presumptive nominees test attacks on opponents, shore up their shortcomings and build the policy, political and financing foundation for the fall campaign. That period usually begins in late spring, but if Mr. Trump maintains his commanding lead over Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, it could start before winter is through.

As a result, the Biden and Trump campaigns face a series of unusual strategic decisions in the weeks ahead: How much of the next nine months do they devote to sending Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden across the country for rallies? Is it better to deploy attacks on opponents now, or wait until the conventions, when more voters will presumably be paying attention?

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Habba COMPLETELY FOLDS after THREATENED with SANCTIONS, t Ben Meiselas, Jan. 30, 2024. Meidas Touch host Ben Meiselas reports on Donald Trumps lawyer Alina Habba’s response to the federal court in the defamation case backing down after making serious accusations against the federal judge.

ny times logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans need a Plan B if Trump is convicted, Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 30, 2024. Two juries unanimously found four-times-indicted former president Donald Trump liable for nearly $90 million in total for defaming E. Jean Carroll. He seems not to make a good impression with jurors. He certainly demonstrated his lack of self-control in court, even with a jury present. Given all that, it might be time for Republicans to start considering the very real possibility that his criminal cases could go just as poorly as his civil trials have gone.

Even Republicans determined to ignore reality — including the mountain of evidence against him in the Jan. 6, 2021, case and the relative ease with which Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg racks up convictions for falsifying business records — might want to think through the consequences of possible convictions. It is long past time for Republicans to face an uncomfortable truth: Trump could very well wind up convicted of one or more felonies after receiving the nomination. What then?

The Constitution does not bar a convicted criminal — even one already sentenced — from holding office. (It is hard enough to bar him when the language of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment expressly prohibits insurrectionists and their helpmates from holding federal office.)

However, polls consistently show that Trump’s standing even among Republicans would plummet if he were convicted. A recent Gallup poll shows that “less than half of Republicans (46%) are willing to vote for someone charged with a felony, and even fewer (35%) are willing to vote for someone convicted of one.” (One wonders if Republicans understand he already has been charged.) Only 21 percent of independents are willing to vote for a convicted candidate.

Even if MAGA cultists stick with him after a conviction, some Republicans and the lion’s share of independents would not. Surely, someone in the Republican Party should consider the ramifications of a possible conviction and what, if anything, the party can do instead of running a felon for president.

Trump, in all likelihood, would insist any conviction was rigged; he would vow to win on appeal. Alternatively, he might argue it would be more important than ever to elect him so he could pardon himself. (Whether there would be any viable appeal and/or a “self-pardon” would withstand constitutional scrutiny would not faze him or MAGA loyalists.) Down-ticket Republicans, sober insiders and donors could freak out, fearing an election debacle. But without a Plan B, Republicans would be stuck with Trump. (It’s not as if they weren’t warned of the possibility that they would be dragged under by a convicted nominee.)

What could be an escape hatch for the party in case of conviction? Republicans might consider clarifying party rules to provide latitude to shove Trump aside if he is convicted. Elaine Kamarck wrote last year for the Brookings Institution that if a candidate dies or is “incapacitated” after the primaries but before the convention, the convention would choose the candidate, turning into “what conventions used to be before primaries became dominant.”

But would conviction amount to incapacity? The party, heavily dominated by Trump loyalists, would have to decide. That is good reason for Republicans with any sense to start thinking now about clarifying what amounts to “incapacity.”

If a candidate dies or is incapacitated after the convention, as Kamarck explained, the Republican National Committee would pick the nominee. To save the party, would the RNC have the nerve to knock out a convicted Trump on the grounds that he was “incapacitated”? That would be a political brawl to end all brawls. Again, a rule clarification now might prevent much angst down the road. In short, unless Republicans come up with a definition of “incapacity” that would jettison Trump in case of conviction, they face the real prospect of political disaster.
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Republican voters have been living in denial for years now. They ignored evidence of Trump’s alleged criminality arising from Jan. 6. They dismissed the New York state charges as much ado about nothing. Now that Trump has been indicted, and they have seen the judges and prosecutors Trump will face and have learned juries cannot be spun, it might be time to start planning for the very realistic eventuality that he will be convicted. Even if they are convinced he is innocent, surely they understand there is some risk that jurors will not agree.

In the month before the South Carolina primary, Nikki Haley, now Trump’s sole challenger for the party nomination, should make sure Republicans do not ignore that risk. If she cannot dissuade them from nominating an indicted man with a losing streak in court, perhaps she can at least persuade the RNC to take prophylactic measures to avoid an election debacle. If not, the GOP might face an election wipeout.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Phillips appeal to S.C. voters, but crowd has clear favorite, Toluse Olorunnipa, Jan. 28, 2024. In what was supposed to be a strictly celebratory event launching President Biden’s glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination here, long-shot primary challenger Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) sought to appeal to the crowd with a somber warning.

Speaking minutes before Biden was set to take the stage here at the First-in-the-Nation Dinner on Saturday, Phillips warned the gathered Democrats that Biden’s low poll numbers and weak political standing threatened to let former president Donald Trump back into the White House.

biden harris 2024 logo“I’m here to tell you the numbers do not say things are looking good,” Phillips said from the stage, as Democratic officials milled about the hall. Phillips received some light applause after his remarks, which he had to stop at one point to try to get the attention of people who were not listening.

“So my invitation to President Biden — a man I love, a man I respect, a man who saved this country, a man who did a lot of good in the last four years — my invitation to President Biden is to pass the torch to a new generation ready to take the stage.”

The comments from Phillips stood as a brief aberration from what was largely — outside of a few outbursts from pro-Palestinian protesters during Biden’s speech — a show of unified support for the president in a state that helped launch him into the presidency in 2020.

Biden, at Black church, says Republicans are ‘trying to steal history’

Biden was showered with praise by every other speaker on the program, including during a lengthy introduction from Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who touted his record and called him “a great president” and “a president with compassion.” Biden campaign officials said the president was visiting the state to demonstrate his commitment to Black voters, who make up a majority of Democrats in the state.

During his remarks, Biden boasted of strong economic growth under his watch, focusing specifically on progress for Black voters.

“All the progress we’ve made comes down to a simple proposition: promises made, and promises kept,” Biden said. He repeated the phrase multiple times as he outlined various parts of his record in what amounted to a rebuttal to critics who question whether Biden’s presidency has delivered for Black Americans.

He also used his remarks to ramp up his attacks on Trump, repeatedly calling the former president a “loser.” Biden grew visibly angry as he referred to alleged remarks Trump made disparaging U.S. troops after he abandoned a plan to visit an American cemetery in Paris in 2018, for reasons that Trump said involved poor weather.

Trump has denied the allegation that he referred to troops as “suckers and losers.”

“How dare he say that?” Biden said. “I call them patriots and heroes. The only loser I see is Donald Trump. It makes me angry.”

Biden, who began his speech with shout-outs to local officials and members of Congress in attendance, did not acknowledge Phillips during his remarks.

Still, the presence of Phillips at the dinner — and in the Democratic primary race — highlighted the at-times awkward dynamics of Biden’s reelection bid. In polls, most Democrats say the 81-year-old president is too old to run for a second term and that they would rather have a different standard-bearer. But Phillips is the only major elected Democrat who has challenged Biden, and his campaign has struggled to garner much support.

Phillips, a third-term congressman and heir to a family liquor business, acknowledged early in his remarks that he faced long odds in the state’s primary, which is scheduled for next Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sure, Trump and Biden are old. The similarities end there, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Jan. 28, 2024. The most convenient ej dionne w open neckpolitical habit of the moment is to natter on about how both President Biden and Donald Trump are unpopular and old and how Americans long for some new and energetic candidate (identity to be disclosed later).

This above-the-battle, “woe is us” posture makes those who adopt it look tough-minded, independent and clear-eyed. It puts Biden and Trump on the same level and then compares both with someone who doesn’t yet exist. Never mind that it’s far easier to imagine the perfect candidate than to find one.

This might be harmless if Biden and Trump really were equivalent, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Another document, written by a close ally of Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev and circulated in the Kremlin this summer, advocated greater cooperation between China and Russia on artificial intelligence, cyber systems and the “internet of things.” As part of that, the document envisioned Beijing and Moscow creating a new financial system and a Eurasian digital currency based on alternative payment systems, such as blockchain, to bypass the Western dominance of global financial transactions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Gen Z might be the MAGA movement’s undoing, Jennifer Rubin, right,  Jan. 28, 2024. Four-times-indicted former jennifer rubin new headshotpresident Donald Trump has been successfully selling white Christian nostalgia, racism and xenophobia to his base. However, the Public Religion Research Institute’s massive poll of 6,616 participants suggests that what works with his base might pose an insurmountable problem with Gen Z teens and Gen Z adults (who are younger than 25).

Demographically, this cohort of voters bears little resemblance to Trump’s older, whiter, more religious followers. “In addition to being the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in our nation’s history, Gen Z adults also identify as LGBTQ at much higher rates than older Americans,” the PRRI poll found. “Like millennials, Gen Zers are also less likely than older generations to affiliate with an established religion.”

Those characteristics suggest Gen Z will favor a progressive message that incorporates diversity and opposes government imposition of religious views. Indeed, “Gen Z adults (21%) are less likely than all generational groups except millennials (21%) to identify as Republican.” Though 36 percent of Gen Z adults identify as Democrats, their teenage counterparts are more likely to be independents (51 percent) than older generations.

Ideologically, “Gen Z adults are the most likely of any generation to identify as liberal, at 43%, compared with one in four members of the Silent Generation (24%), baby boomers (25%), and Gen Xers (25%), and 39% of millennials.” However, Gen Z women are much more liberal than Gen Z men: “There is also a pronounced gender gap among Gen Z adults, with 47% of Gen Z women and 38% of Gen Z men identifying as liberal.” A racial divide exists, but it’s not as great as one might imagine: “White Gen Z adults are more likely than their non-white counterparts to identify as conservative (32% vs. 23%), but there is no significant difference in the proportion who identify as liberal.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Key Network of G.O.P. Megadonors to Meet With Trump and Haley Camps, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). A network of Republican megadonors has invited aides to both Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley to make presentations at the group’s winter meeting next week, as the wealthy contributors assess the presidential race with just nine months until Election Day.

The network, known as the American Opportunity Alliance, is expected to hear from Ms. Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, and Mr. Trump’s top adviser, Susie Wiles, at the gathering in Palm Beach, Fla., according to two people familiar with the event.

The group’s meeting was reported earlier by Puck.

The network was founded a decade ago by a group of wealthy donors, including members of the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, and the investors Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin.

But the donors in the American Opportunity Alliance do not move in unison, and people supporting Ms. Haley — and who had supported Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who dropped out of the race last Sunday — are part of the network. Some members of the group have been open about wanting a candidate other than Mr. Trump.

But even when officials representing Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis presented at the group’s meeting in Dallas in early October — when their campaigns were the only two whose advisers had been invited — some people working with A.O.A. were clear that the focus was more on the general election than on the primary cycle. A Republican strategist working with the group called Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination “straightforward” at the time.

Assessing the presidential race, the American Opportunity Alliance has invited representatives from both the Trump and Haley campaigns to make their pitches at a meeting next week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza, Maya King, Jan. 28, 2024. Black congregants’ dismay at President Biden’s posture on the war could imperil his re-election bid.

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it.

More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.

“Black faith leaders are extremely disappointed in the Biden administration on this issue,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald, the senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which boasts more than 1,500 members. He was one of the first pastors of more than 200 Black clergy members in Georgia, a key swing state, to sign an open letter calling for a cease-fire. “We are afraid,” Mr. McDonald said. “And we’ve talked about it — it’s going to be very hard to persuade our people to go back to the polls and vote for Biden.”

Any cracks in the ordinarily rock-solid foundation of Black support for Mr. Biden, and for Democrats nationally, could be of enormous significance in November.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Must Campaign Against a Man Who Already Thinks He’s President, Katie Rogers, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). How will President Biden, who is actually in the White House, run against Donald Trump, who never conceded his election loss?

He promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He demanded states deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. He warned congressional Republicans to hold out for a perfect deal on immigration — or else.

djt biden smilesFormer President Donald J. Trump has not even clinched the Republican presidential nomination, but he has wasted no time issuing directives as if he were making them from the Oval Office instead of between appearances in a New York courtroom.

And now, President Biden has been forced to ponder a campaign question that no president has ever had to consider: How do you run against a man who has already had the job, never conceded his election loss and is already acting like he has the job again?

Mr. Trump’s power over his party, the loyalty of his base and his swift re-emergence as the likely Republican nominee allows him to spar with Mr. Biden in ways that other candidates could not.

The president’s frustrations boiled over on Friday night as he fought to save an immigration deal from collapse in Congress. Mr. Trump has spent weeks pressuring lawmakers to oppose the deal, and Republicans appear unlikely to defy him.

In an unusual statement from a president who often keeps the most sensitive negotiations private, Mr. Biden said Friday he would shut down the U.S.-Mexico border under the emergency authority in the deal if Republicans returned to the table and agreed to it.

Politico, The 2024 door is closing faster than Haley thinks. Here's what the math shows, Steven Shepard, Jan. 27, 2024. The delegate count is about to accelerate, and the kind of campaign Haley’s riding to South Carolina won’t get her to victory on Super Tuesday and the rest of the March states.

politico CustomNikki Haley isn’t wrong when she says it’s early in the GOP primary — less than 3 percent of delegates have been awarded so far.

But the rest of the states are coming fast, and the relative lull over the next four weeks before the South Carolina primary is followed by a sprint: Within four weeks after Haley faces former President Donald Trump in her home state, more than 70 percent of the delegates to the Republican convention in July will have been awarded.

That sudden acceleration could be whiplash-inducing for Haley, who already faces an unfriendly electorate in the upcoming states. The former South Carolina governor has been able to mount a challenge to Trump by investing significant time and money into individual states. And now she faces a primary calendar that requires a totally different approach.

It’s a structural problem, in addition to Haley’s political one: trying to turn out the moderates and independents who boosted her in New Hampshire in states where they are in shorter supply. The door is still technically open for her to dethrone the former president despite his victories in the first two states, but it’s going to close very quickly.

Politico, Haley targeted in December swatting incident, Olivia Alafriz, Jan. 27, 2024. Swatting incidents have accompanied a recent rise in threats against political candidates and state officials.

politico CustomGOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was targeted in a swatting incident last month, according to media reports Saturday.

Authorities responded to a false emergency call on Dec. 30 after a man claimed to have shot a woman and threatened to harm himself at Haley’s home in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, records obtained by Reuters showed.

Haley and her son were not in town at the time of the incident, according to the reports. Her husband is currently deployed overseas.

Swatting incidents have accompanied a recent rise in threats against political candidates, state officials, and members of the judiciary and legislature.

Politico, The Pollster Getting Under Democrats’ Skin, Ryan Lizza,  Jan. 27, 2024. One of the biggest threats to Joe Biden’s reelection is a third politico Customparty candidate — viable or not. It wouldn’t take much for a third party or independent contender to tip the election in Donald Trump’s favor. In 2020, the presidency was decided by less than 40,000 votes in three swing states. And in 2024, third party fever seems to be on the rise. Already, Cornel West, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Jill Stein are running.

Then there’s the quixotic movement known as No Labels, which has cited a stream of polling data arguing that a large majority of Americans are crying out for an alternative to Trump and Biden.

The man producing those polls is Mark Penn, best known for two things: his devotion to centrist politics and his longtime role as the top pollster and strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Penn’s wife Nancy Jacobson runs No Labels and frequently uses Penn’s data to support her project, though he says he has no role in the organization. Penn reports that 64 percent of voters say “the country needs another choice” if it’s a Biden-Trump rematch and that most voters would consider a moderate, independent candidate as an alternative to the current president and former president.

Not surprisingly, the couple’s work has infuriated Democrats — who are spending money to discredit them, sue No Labels, thwart the group’s voter registration efforts and pressure its affiliates.

So what does Mark Penn think about all of this? We decided to ask him.

I caught up with Penn on this week’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast. We talked about his controversial polls, his real relationship with No Labels and why he thinks that Nikki Haley may still have a big role to play in this year’s election.

Politico, Cheney accuses Stefanik of deleting 2021 statement condemning Jan. 6 protesters, Olivia Alafriz, Jan. 27, 2024. Former GOP House chair Liz Cheney on Saturday accused her successor Elise Stefanik of deleting a press release from 2021 condemning protesters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

politico CustomOn Tuesday, Cheney tweeted at Stefanik, an ally of former President Donald Trump, saying: “This is what ⁦⁦@EliseStefanik said, in a rare moment of honesty, about the January 6 attack on our Capitol. One day she will have to explain how and why she morphed into a total crackpot. History, and our children, deserve to know.”

In Stefanik’s 2021 press release, she condemned the “violence and destruction” of Jan. 6 and called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted.

Stefanik has since downplayed the significance of the attack on the Capitol and cast doubt on the legitimacy of legal action against the attack’s participants. She is reportedly under consideration to be Trump’s VP pick should he win his bid for the presidency.

Cheney formerly was vice chair of the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack — which Stefanik has described as ”illegitimate and unconstitutional.” Cheney became the focus of Trump’s ire and lost in the primary for her Wyoming House seat in 2022.

On Saturday, Cheney posted again to point out that the statement in question was no longer available on Stefanik’s official House website.

As of Saturday morning, the website showed no press releases prior to 2023.

On Jan. 7 of this year, Stefanik referred to those imprisoned for offenses related to Jan. 6 as “hostages” in an appearance on “Meet The Press.”

“I have concerns about the treatment of the January 6 hostages,“ she added.

Cheney called her out for it later that morning on “Face the Nation.”

In a statement to POLITICO Saturday, a spokesperson for Stefanik accused Cheney of “lashing out” over personal animus, noting that Stefanik’s previous statements could still be found on several social media channels.

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know About Nevada’s Primary and Caucus, Kellen Browning, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). The candidates have turned their attention to South Carolina, but the next contests are in the Silver State. The process there is complex and confusing.

As the calendar gets ready to flip to February and the remaining Republican presidential candidates move on from the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s Nevada — not South Carolina — that’s next on the schedule.

Former President Donald J. Trump will campaign in Las Vegas on Saturday, while Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has so far ignored the state. In a confusing and complicated process, the two candidates will not appear on the same ballot in Nevada.

Here’s what you need to know about Nevada’s upcoming nominating contests.
When are the Nevada primary and caucus? How can I vote?

The Nevada primary, which the state is running, will be on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Early in-person voting begins on Saturday, Jan. 27, and runs through Friday, Feb. 2, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. In-person polling places will be open the day of the primary as well, though voters can choose to vote by mail. All registered voters received a ballot in the mail.

Meantime, the Nevada Republican Party has chosen to hold a party-run caucus on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Republicans can look up their precinct locations online, but the caucus itself is entirely in-person. A valid government I.D. is required to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Looming Contest Between Two Presidents and Two Americas, Peter Baker, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). The general election matchup that seems likely between President Biden and former President Trump is about fundamentally disparate visions of the nation.

Each of them has sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, signed bills into law, appointed judges, bartered with foreign leaders and ordered the armed forces into combat. They both know what it is like to be the most powerful person on the planet.

Yet the general election matchup that seems likely after this week’s New Hampshire primary represents more than the first-in-a-century contest between two men who have both lived in the White House. It represents the clash of two presidents of profoundly different countries, the president of Blue America versus the president of Red America.

The looming showdown between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump, assuming Nikki Haley cannot pull off a hail-mary surprise, goes beyond the binary liberal-conservative split of two political parties familiar to generations of Americans. It is at least partly about ideology, yes, but also fundamentally about race and religion and culture and economics and democracy and retribution and most of all, perhaps, about identity.

It is about two vastly disparate visions of America led by two presidents who, other than their age and the most recent entry on their résumés, could hardly be more dissimilar. Mr. Biden leads an America that, as he sees it, embraces diversity, democratic institutions and traditional norms, that considers government at its best to be a force for good in society. Mr. Trump leads an America where, in his view, the system has been corrupted by dark conspiracies and the undeserving are favored over hard-working everyday people.

Deep divisions in the United States are not new; indeed, they can be traced back to the Constitutional Convention and the days of John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson. But according to some scholars, they have rarely reached the levels seen today, when Red and Blue Americas are moving farther and farther apart geographically, philosophically, financially, educationally and informationally.

 

nikki haley nh uncredited

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley presses on against Trump on the trail. Her fight is a lonely one, Dylan Wells, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Beyond the walls of the ballroom where Nikki Haley, above, won cheers, a very different attitude was evident in the GOP, as many have rallied around Donald Trump.

Nikki Haley returned to the campaign trail in her home state and swiftly unfurled an arsenal of attacks against Donald Trump. She accused him of throwing a “temper tantrum” in his victory speech, attacked his acuity and reprised her challenge to debate him. “Bring it, Donald, show me what you got,” Haley said. The crowd cheered.

But beyond the walls of the convention center ballroom where she spoke, a very different attitude was evident.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said she didn’t see “the math and the path going forward” for Haley after former president Trump scored a second straight early-state win this week in New Hampshire. Trump scooped up new support from congressional Republicans, including some former skeptics who saw the GOP race as all but over. And the Trump campaign released a list of his 158 endorsements in South Carolina — which Haley calls her “sweet home state,” despite polls showing her trailing by a wide margin against

The events and developments on Wednesday brought into focus Haley’s new reality as she continues on in a Republican presidential contest most of her party believes isn’t much of one at all. Outside of Haley’s most loyal supporters, Republicans are coalescing around Trump and have rejected attacks against him. Some have come to view her candidacy as merely a speed bump on Trump’s path to the nomination.

After losing by about 11 points in New Hampshire — which had been seen as her most promising early state — Haley returned home to South Carolina, where she previously defied expectations to win a seat in the legislature and then the governorship. Haley released two ads in South Carolina on Thursday and announced a schedule of weekend rallies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Haley Escalates Attacks on Trump, Calling Him ‘Totally Unhinged,’ Neil Vigdor, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Nikki Haley’s comments came after an ally of Donald Trump tried to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee.

Nikki Haley on Friday called Donald J. Trump “totally unhinged” after a failed attempt by one of his allies to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee, escalating her attacks on his mental acuity.

Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, cast her onetime boss as increasingly antagonistic during an appearance on Fox News.

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U.S. Immigration / Illegal Alien Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Lankford defends bipartisan border security bill after attacks by Trump, GOP, Amy B Wang, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is facing blowback from within his party for working on a bipartisan border security package, defended the bill on Sunday, saying his Republican colleagues who have criticized the measure are misunderstanding it.

james lankfordLankford, right, has been the GOP’s lead negotiator on the bipartisan deal, which would tie funding for Ukraine to border policy changes pushed by Republicans. Though senators have not yet released the text of the bill, President Biden has praised the general framework of the deal. But former president Donald Trump has opposed the package, which has prompted several Senate Republicans to say they would not support the measure.

On Sunday, Lankford said his colleagues had not had a chance yet to read the full text of the bill and said there were “internet rumors” floating around about the measure that were false.

“This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day. There’s no amnesty. It increases the number of Border Patrol agents, increases asylum officers, it increases detention beds so we can quickly detain and then deport individuals,” Lankford said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It focuses on additional deportation flights out. It changes our asylum process so that people get a fast asylum screening at a higher standard and then get returned back to their home country,” Lankford added.

Lankford called out his colleagues for bowing to political pressure, noting that four months ago Republicans refused to grant funding for Ukraine, Israel and the southern border until there were policy changes.

“So we actually locked arms together and said we’re not going to give you money for this. We want a change in law,” Lankford said. “When we’re finally going to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding. I actually don’t want a change in law because it’s a presidential election year.’ We all have an oath to the Constitution and we have a commitment to say we’re going to do whatever we can to be able to secure the border.”
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Lankford, however, is facing intense criticism from within his own party over his efforts to get the bipartisan bill done. On Saturday, the Oklahoma GOP committee passed a resolution condemning Lankford for his work with Democrats on the border security bill and called on the senator “to cease and desist jeopardizing the security and liberty of the people of Oklahoma and of these United States.”

The resolution accused Lankford of “playing fast and loose with Democrats on our border policy” and of “authorizing several thousand people to invade our borders before any action can be taken.”

Trump, who is running for reelection and who decisively won the GOP’s first two nominating contests this month, blasted the would-be bipartisan deal as a potential political “gift” to Democrats during an election year. On Saturday, Trump bragged about inserting himself into the debate and stymieing efforts to get the bill passed, even though he is not in office.

Democrats, including Biden’s reelection campaign officials and top lawmakers, have accused Trump of acting against national security interests for political gain. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), another key negotiator on the border bill, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the bill could be ready to be on the Senate floor this week.

“I am hopeful that we will still have enough Republicans in the Senate who want to fix the problem at the border, rather than just do Donald Trump’s bidding, but we will see over the next 24 to 48 hours whether that’s true,” Murphy said.

Biden on Friday said that the bill would grant him new emergency authority to “shut down” the border, referring to a provision that would kick in when unauthorized crossings surpass 5,000 over a five-day average. He vowed to use that new authority on the day he signed the bill into law.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Republicans now say it might be okay to ignore the Supreme Court, Aaron Blake, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). A consequential development of the Trump era is what increasingly looks like the Republicans’ acrimonious divorce from the rule of law.

The party that once prided itself as the law-and-order side has leaped headlong into highly speculative theories about the “weaponization” of the justice system, spurred by former president Donald Trump. Both Trump and his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently flouted civil defamation verdicts against them by continuing to defame their victims — cheered on by many on the right. Republican voters increasingly want a president who is willing to break both rules and laws to get things done.

But some members of the party have in recent days crossed a new threshold: by suggesting that it’s okay to disregard the Supreme Court.

After the Supreme Court ruled last week that federal authorities can remove razor wire that Texas put on the U.S.-Mexico border, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) posted on X, formerly Twitter, that “Texas should ignore it.”
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“It’s like, if someone’s breaking into your house, and the court says, ‘Oh, sorry. You can’t defend yourself.’ What do you tell the court?” Roy separately told Fox News. “You tell the court to go to hell, you defend yourself and then figure it out later.”

By Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) had gone on CNN and indicated that it would be okay to disregard the Supreme Court in certain circumstances.

“We all agree that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land,” Stitt said. “And if the Supreme Court gets something wrong — for example, if they tried to ban and say that we didn’t have a Second Amendment right to bear arms — I think the Constitution supersedes somebody in Washington, D.C., telling us, you know.”

Stitt didn’t seem to finish the thought (and his office hasn’t responded to a request for comment), but the thrust of what he was saying is pretty clear. Host Jake Tapper’s question was about “whether elected officials should just ignore rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court with which they disagree,” and Stitt’s response was decidedly not “no.”
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Stitt’s comments also came after he had spent a day repeatedly floating a scenario in which members of the National Guard might disobey orders from their commander in chief, the president of the United States. Stitt repeatedly cited the difficult decisions those Guard members would face if President Biden tried to federalize them. (Biden has the authority to do so, though such authority has rarely been invoked, and the White House has not signaled it’s in the works.) Stitt suggested they might be standing on principle by refusing Biden’s orders.

It’s important to note that, despite the claims of some on the left, what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is doing right now doesn’t violate what the Supreme Court ruled.

The court overturned a ruling that said the federal government couldn’t remove the razor wire, effectively allowing it to do so; Abbott has signaled he’ll continue to have the National Guard lay the wire, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has rejected the Biden administration’s request for full access to the area.
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Provocative? Yes. Interfering with federal authority? Quite possibly. But directly violating the Supreme Court’s decision? No.

Roy’s and Stitt’s comments, then, take this debate quite a bit further.

In some ways, it’s a logical extension of the emerging Republican argument about state sovereignty. Anticipating a federal-vs.-state clash, Republicans have taken to arguing that Texas has the authority to defend itself from those crossing the border illegally.

But you can also see how we’re getting into dicey territory here. The Supreme Court is the institution we charge with interpreting our Constitution; we now have a sitting U.S. governor and a congressman suggesting it’s okay to ignore what the court says if you have a different interpretation. (Tapper noted to Stitt that Democratic governors could seemingly do the same in restricting gun rights beyond what the court says is constitutional — by arguing that it’s just that important to protect their citizens.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden vows to ‘shut down’ an overwhelmed border if Senate deal passes, Toluse Olorunnipa and Liz Goodwin, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Senators hope to release the legislative text of the bill next week, but it faces stiff odds in the Republican-led House.

President Biden said Friday that he would use new emergency authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” if Congress passes a bipartisan immigration plan that the Senate has been negotiating.

The comments signified a remarkable shift in tone for a Democratic president and underscored the urgency of the issue for his reelection campaign as immigration remains one of his most vexing political and policy challenges.

In a lengthy statement Friday, Biden praised the bipartisan border deal senators have been negotiating, calling it “the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”

U.S. House logo“It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed,” he said. “And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Biden is referencing a new expulsion authority senators have negotiated that would kick in on days unauthorized border crossings reach 5,000 over a five-day average, according to two people familiar with the outlines of the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. That authority would shut down most asylum screenings for migrants crossing illegally. Migrants could still apply at ports of entry, where a set number of asylum claims would need to be granted, they said. Migrants would be expelled indefinitely until crossings dipped below 3,750 per day, which would end the expulsion authority period.

The deal also changes the U.S. asylum process with the goal of reducing the average time for an asylum claim to be resolved from several years to 6 months, the people said. It also raises the standard for migrants to be able to make an asylum claim in the first place. Some Republicans’ goal to dramatically curtail Biden’s use of his humanitarian parole powers for certain categories of migrants is not in the final deal, they said.

Senators said they hope to release the legislative text of the deal next week.

With crossings passing 10,000 per day during much of last month, both Democrats and Republicans have described that level of migration as unsustainable. Crossings have declined so far in January as Mexico has stepped up its enforcement, but Biden’s pledge to invoke a new “shut down” authority immediately upon signing a bill suggested that the border remained “overwhelmed.”

“For too long, we all know the border’s been broken,” Biden said in his statement. “It’s long past time to fix it.”

In a political atmosphere in which former president Donald Trump and top Republicans have hammered Biden over the influx of millions of migrants into the country, the president’s willingness — and apparent eagerness — to pursue a “shut down” at the border marked a major departure from traditional Democratic rhetoric on migration. It was also a reversal for Biden, who came into office determined to undo much of Trump’s immigration policies and implement what he called “humane and orderly” systems for processing desperate people fleeing troubled homelands.

Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has publicly opposed the bipartisan Senate deal, dismissing it as “meaningless.” He has repeatedly claimed that he would close down the border with Mexico on the first day of his presidency. He has also pledged to launch a massive deportation operation.

Biden has faced accusations from parts of his political base that his approach to the migrant crisis has become too reminiscent of Trump’s restrictive policies. His decision to back a Senate deal that includes a new provision to close down the border threatens to heighten those claims just as he is aiming to rally his party behind his reelection bid.

Nearly 250,000 illegal border crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border in December, the highest monthly total ever.

 

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Biden pledge to shut down border points to policy shortfalls, Nick Miroff and Toluse Olorunnipa, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s surprise declaration Friday that he would “shut down” the southern border when illegal crossings surge to overwhelming levels illustrates how his many other efforts to address immigration have fallen short of their goals.

Department of Defense SealBiden signed more executive orders related to immigration than any other topic on his first day in office. He’s taken more than 500 executive actions since then, already surpassing former president Donald Trump’s four-year total, according to a recent tally by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

But one of Biden’s most active areas of policymaking has become one of his biggest vulnerabilities to reelection. The president’s management of the southern border and immigration is his worst-rated issue in polls, and record numbers of illegal crossings have galvanized Republicans, undermined the president’s push for Ukraine aid and played to the perceived strengths of Trump, the GOP front-runner.

Several of the Biden administration’s signature initiatives intended to make the immigration system fairer and more orderly have stalled out or remained too limited to significantly curb illegal entries and reduce chaos at the border, according to analysts, and current and former administration officials.

“This is the area where the gap between the president and Trump is the widest, and where the country seems to have least confidence in the president,” said Muzaffar Chishti, an MPI senior fellow and one of the report’s authors.

Last month 249,785 illegal crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest monthly total ever, and Biden officials acknowledge the majority of the migrants were released into the United States with pending claims for protection. The latest influx has worsened strains on New York, Chicago, Denver and other cities whose Democratic mayors are pleading for more federal aid to shelter and assist the newcomers, including the thousands of migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
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The political pressure on Biden has been growing, with Trump saying the issue won’t be fixed until he reclaims the White House and Abbott testing the president — and federal law — by seizing a public park along the border and denying access to U.S. agents.

Frustrated and anxious about legislative negotiations that would deliver aid to Ukraine and Israel in exchange for new border restrictions, Biden stated Friday that he was willing to accept restrictions to the asylum system and other enforcement measures that were almost unthinkable for Democrats at the beginning of the president’s term. Trump and top Republicans have cast doubt in recent days on a potential deal — which include several measures sought by GOP leaders — with some lawmakers suggesting the changes could help drive down illegal crossings and benefit Biden.

Biden said the bipartisan Senate bill “would be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”
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senate democrats logoMeasures under discussion include an expansion of the government’s deportation powers and an ability to expel border-crossers — denying them access to the asylum system — when daily crossings surpass 5,000. Republicans have also pushed for new limits on the president’s ability to use executive parole authority to waive in migrants without visas.

Biden said the changes would give him an emergency authority to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” and said he would “use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Such statements risk further alienating some Democrats who see efforts to stiffen enforcement as too similar to the Trump-era approach Biden campaigned against, leaving the president in a political squeeze.

Why immigration parole is sticking point in Ukraine-border deal

Biden’s desire to secure funding for Ukraine and Israel is a key reason he is entertaining the idea of major policy changes on the border backed by Republicans, but the political and logistical challenges he faces have forced him to consider new options, said Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former federal immigration official who is now a senior policy adviser on the issue at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Politico, Senators could vote on bipartisan border deal next week, top negotiator says, Kelly Garrity, Jan. 28, 2024. Whether Republicans will support the long-debated border deal amid pressure from Donald Trump to reject it remains to be seen.

politico CustomSenators could vote on a bipartisan immigration deal as soon as next week, one of the top negotiators said Sunday.

“Well, we do have a bipartisan deal. We’re finishing the text right now,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But whether Republicans in both chambers will support the long-awaited legislation amid pressure from former President Donald Trump to deny Democrats a win is unclear.

republican elephant logo“The question is whether Republicans are going to listen to Donald Trump,” Murphy said, “who wants to preserve chaos at the border, because he thinks it’s a winning political issue for him, or whether we are going to pass legislation which would be the biggest bipartisan reform of our border immigration laws in 40 years and would give the president of the United States, whether that president is a Republican or a Democrat, new, important power to be able to better manage the flow of people across the border.”

Murphy said he’s “hopeful” enough Republican senators will be willing to sign on.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP unveils articles of impeachment against Mayorkas despite lack of evidence, Jacqueline Alemany, Jan. 28, 2024. The charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas come as Republicans swiftly concluded two impeachment hearings this month without Mayorkas’s in-person testimony or testimony from any fact witnesses.

Alejandro MayorkasHouse Republicans announced two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday, accusing him of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and breach of the public trust.

The charges come as Republicans swiftly concluded two public impeachment hearings this month without Mayorkas’s in-person testimony or testimony from any fact witnesses, and they have struggled to detail clear evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.

us dhs big eagle logo4Republicans argue in the first article that Mayorkas has failed to enforce U.S. immigration policies at the nation’s border, has disregarded laws passed by Congress and has ignored court orders, allowing for a surge of migration at the southern border that has resulted in record highs of illegal crossings in recent months.

“Congress has a duty to see that the executive branch implements and enforces the laws we have passed,” Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. “Yet Secretary Mayorkas has repeatedly refused to do so.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Election 2024: Trump brags about efforts to stymie border talks: ‘Please blame it on me,’ Isaac Arnsdorf, Jan. 28, 2024. The Republican front-runner slams bipartisan talks in the Senate for a deal as Biden calls for emergency authority to address surging crossings.

ICE logoRepublican front-runner Donald Trump said he wants to be held responsible for blocking a bipartisan border security bill in the works in the Senate as President Biden seeks emergency authority to rein in a record surge of unauthorized border crossings.

“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,” Trump told a rowdy crowd of supporters at a rally in Las Vegas on Saturday, ahead of the state’s presidential caucus on Feb. 8. “I’ll fight it all the way. A lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me. I say, that’s okay. Please blame it on me. Please.”

Trump’s opposition follows Biden’s statement on Friday praising the deal and pledging to use its new authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” — a striking shift as he signaled openness to asylum restrictions and other enforcement measures that were previously unacceptable to Democrats.

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ap logoAssociated Press, Supreme Court allows federal agents to cut razor wire Texas installed on US-Mexico border, Staff Report, Jan. 22-23, 2024. A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire that Texas installed on the U.S.-Mexico border, while a lawsuit over the wire continues.

The justices, by a 5-4 vote, granted an emergency appeal from the Biden administration, which has been in an escalating standoff at the border with Texas and had objected to an appellate ruling in favor of the state.

The concertina wire along roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Rio Grande near the border city of Eagle Pass is part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s broader fight with the administration over immigration enforcement.

Abbott also has authorized installing floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass and allowed troopers to arrest and jail thousands of migrants on trespassing charges. The administration also is challenging those actions in federal court.

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More On Israel's War With Hamas

ap logoAssociated Press, Live updates: 150 people are killed in Gaza in 24 hours, Health Ministry says, Staff Report, Jan. 31, 2024. Gaza’s Health Ministry says 150 people have been killed in the territory in the last 24 hours and another 313 were wounded as Israeli forces continue to battle militants, even in the northern part of the territory.

palestinian flagThe north, where entire neighborhoods have been flattened, was the initial target of Israel’s ground offensive in late October.

Israel’s military said Wednesday that its forces killed more than 15 Hamas militants in northern Gaza over the past day and targeted militant infrastructure in a school.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected two key demands made by Hamas in indirect cease-fire talks, saying that Israel will not withdraw from the Gaza Strip or release thousands of jailed militants.

 

 

 

israeli forces gaza apIsraeli forces disguised as civilian women and medics stormed a hospital Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing three Palestinian militants in a dramatic raid that underscored how deadly violence has spilled into the territory from the war in Gaza.

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel Raids West Bank Hospital as Clashes Erupt With Hamas in Northern Gaza, Aaron Boxerman, Ronen Bergman, Adam Rasgon and Thomas Fuller, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). The raid came as Israel confirmed it was trying to flush militants out of tunnels with seawater and amid renewed fighting in northern Gaza.

Israel FlagOne of the Israeli soldiers wore medical scrubs, another a white coat and surgical mask. Their team swept into the West Bank hospital brandishing rifles, took up positions by the waiting-room chairs, then entered a patient’s room and killed a Hamas commander.

Fifteen minutes later they were gone.

The raid on Tuesday took place as the Israeli military battled Hamas on multiple fronts: with the dramatic operation in the West Bank, renewed clashes in northern Gaza, and beneath the territory’s surface. The Israeli military confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that its engineers had begun pumping seawater into the vast Hamas tunnel network beneath Gaza.

Israel’s latest efforts in the nearly four-month war came amid a renewed push by multiple peace brokers, including the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt, for an agreement to pause the fighting. The political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Tuesday that he was studying a proposal for a temporary cease-fire that had come out of talks between officials from those nations in Paris.

But even as those talks continued behind closed doors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted anew that Israel would continue fighting until it achieved “complete victory.” And the raid at the Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital in the northern West Bank city of Jenin suggested that Israel would continue chasing down Hamas leaders across the region.

Israeli forces have tried to strike Hamas leaders and their allies both inside Gaza and outside the territory. Earlier this month, Hamas blamed Israel for an explosion in Lebanon that killed its deputy political chief, and Iran accused Israel of an airstrike that killed senior Iranian military figures in Syria.

Israeli forces have escalated efforts against Palestinian militant activity in the West Bank, arresting more than 2,980 Palestinians since the war began in near-daily raids, over 1,350 of them affiliated with Hamas, according to the Israeli military. The raid at the hospital on Tuesday took less than 15 minutes, according to its director, Niji Nazzal.

Surveillance video released by the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry showed several gunmen in civilian garb — including one dressed in a white medical coat and another in blue scrubs — walking through the hospital halls, brandishing weapons.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry released surveillance video that shows armed members of Israeli forces dressed in civilian clothes inside Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital in Jenin.

They went to a room where the Hamas commander, Mohammad Jalamneh, 27, was visiting a friend and shot him and two other men dead, said the city’s top Palestinian health official, Wisam Sbeihat.

“They assassinated these three people, including a patient,” Dr. Sbeihat said in a phone interview.

In a statement, Hamas mourned Mr. Jalamneh, describing him as a leader in the Al-Qassam Brigades, the faction’s armed wing. A local militia affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed that his companions — the patient, Basil Ghazawi, and his brother Mohammad — had been members.

ap logoAssociated Press, Heavy rains bring more hardship for displaced people in Gaza, Staff Report, Jan. 31, 2024. Several days of heavy rain have made conditions for displaced people sheltering in makeshift camps in Gaza City even more desperate.

 

international court of justice icc

Among other major global courts is the International Court of Justice (ICJ), shown above, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. As described by its website, the ICJ is a civil tribunal that hears disputes between countries. It has no prosecutor or jurisdiction to try individuals, joan donoghue robe oincluding those accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Its current president, Joan Donoghue, right, is a United States citizen who became a justice on the court in 2010 following election by United Nations members. She then won election from other justices in 2021 to become the ICJ president for a three-year term. The court's vice president is Kiill Gevorgian of the Russian Federation. Other current members are shown here.

 United Nations

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. court orders Israel to do more to prevent killing, harm in Gaza, Emily Rauhala and Steve Hendrix, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). The order is not a decision on whether Israel has committed genocide but a provisional measure aimed to prevent the situation from getting worse while the case proceeds.

The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to do more to prevent the killing and harm of civilians in Gaza but did not call for a cease-fire, disappointing Palestinians who had hoped the court would endorse their pleas for immediate relief from the killing

At a closely watched hearing at The Hague’s Peace Palace, the court’s president read out its order and reasoning, confirming that the ICJ has jurisdiction in the landmark case and arguing that there is an urgent need for measures because of the plausibility of genocide. It called on Israel to prevent the possibility of genocide, including by allowing more aid and punishing incitement.

The court also said Israel must submit a report in one month outlining how it is implementing the court’s orders.

What to know about the genocide case against Israel ahead of ICJ decision

“We find ourselves in a perplexing situation as a court decision acknowledging the possibility of genocide falls short of demanding a complete cease-fire,” said Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, a father of five who has fled Gaza City for Rafah during the conflict. “Waiting longer in such circumstances only prolongs death and enduring pain.”

riday’s decision is not a verdict on whether Israel has committed genocide — that could take years. Rather, the provisional measures aim to prevent the situation from getting worse while the case proceeds.

joan donoghue“The court considers that the civilian population in the Gaza Strip remains extremely vulnerable,” said Judge Joan Donoghue, right, the ICJ’s president and former State Department employee (shown in a file photo). “The court considers that the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at serious risk of deteriorating further before the court renders its final judgment.”

 

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel and Hamas Reiterate Their Demands as a Truce Proposal Circulates, Staff Reports, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). A framework agreed upon by the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Egypt proposes a six-week cease-fire for Hamas to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Israel FlagThe political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, announced on Tuesday that the militant group had received a proposal to pause the fighting in Gaza, after representatives from four nations agreed to present the group with a framework that would begin with a six-week cease-fire to allow for the release of more hostages.

Mr. Haniyeh said in a statement that Hamas was studying the proposal that had emerged from talks over the weekend in Paris, which included officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. Mr. Haniyeh added that Hamas had received an invitation to Cairo to discuss “the framework agreement from the Paris meeting.”

While Mr. Haniyeh’s statement indicated that Hamas was considering the proposal, and thanked Qatar and Egypt for their efforts, he emphasized the group’s longstanding demand for a permanent cease-fire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Here’s what we know:

  • A framework agreed upon by the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt proposes a six-week cease-fire for Hamas to exchange some hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
  • Hamas’s political chief says the group is studying a new truce proposal.
  • Israeli forces assassinate a Hamas commander inside a West Bank hospital.
  • Britain’s foreign secretary signals willingness to recognize a Palestinian state sooner.
  • Aid groups call halts in funding for UNRWA ‘reckless.’
  • The Pentagon names the three soldiers killed in Jordan.
  • Israel recruits Indian workers to fill its labor needs amid the war.

ny times logoNew York Times, Details Emerge on U.N. Workers Accused of Aiding Hamas Raid, Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 30, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli officials have presented evidence they say ties workers at a Palestinian aid agency in Gaza to violence during the Hamas-led attack on Israel.

One is accused of kidnapping a woman. Another is said to have handed out ammunition. A third was described as taking part in the massacre at a kibbutz where 97 people died. And all were said to be employees of the United Nations aid agency that schools, shelters and feeds hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel FlagThe accusations are contained in a dossier provided to the United States government that details Israel’s claims against a dozen employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency who, it says, played a role in the Hamas attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 or in their aftermath.

The U.N. said on Friday that it had fired several employees after being briefed on the allegations. But little was known about the accusations until the dossier was reviewed on Sunday by The New York Times.

The accusations are what prompted eight countries, including the United States, to suspend some aid payment to UNRWA, as the agency is known, even as war plunges Palestinians in Gaza into desperate straits. More than 26,000 people have been killed there and nearly two million displaced, according to Gazan and U.N. officials.

The UNRWA workers have been accused of helping Hamas stage the attack that set off the war in Gaza, or of aiding it in the days after. Some 1,200 people in Israel were killed that day, Israeli officials say, and about 240 were abducted and taken to Gaza.

On Sunday, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, described himself as “horrified by these accusations” and noted that nine of the 12 accused employees had been fired. But Mr. Guterres implored those nations that had suspended their aid payments to reconsider. UNRWA is one of the largest employers in Gaza, with 13,000 people, mostly Palestinians, on staff.

Asked about Israel’s allegations on Sunday, UNRWA said that two of the 12 employees were dead but that it could not provide more information while the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services was still investigating.

Two Western officials confirmed on the condition of anonymity that they had been briefed on the contents of the dossier in recent days, but said they had not been able to verify the details. Although the United States has yet to corroborate the Israeli claims itself, American officials say they found them credible enough to warrant suspending aid.

The Times verified the identity of one of the 12 employees, a storeroom manager, whose social media profile lists him as an UNRWA employee and shows him wearing U.N.-branded clothes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden Must Weigh Risk of Wider War After U.S. Soldier Deaths, Peter Baker, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has carefully calibrated his responses to attacks by Iran-backed militias since Oct. 7. Now he must decide how far he is willing to go.

This was the day that President Biden and his team had feared for more than three months, the day that relatively low-level attacks by Iranian proxy groups on American troops in the Middle East turned deadly and intensified the pressure on the president to respond in kind.

With three American service members killed and two dozen more injured by a drone in Jordan, Mr. Biden must decide how far he is willing to go in terms of retaliation at the risk of a wider war that he has sought to avoid ever since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas touched off the current Middle East crisis.

Until now, the president had carefully calibrated his responses to the more than 150 attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American forces in the region since Oct. 7. He essentially ignored the majority that were successfully intercepted or did little to no damage while authorizing limited U.S. strikes focused mainly on buildings, weapons and infrastructure after attacks that were more brazen, most notably against the Houthis in Yemen who have targeted shipping in the Red Sea.

The first deaths of American troops under fire, however, will require a different level of response, American officials said, and the president’s advisers were in consensus about that as they consulted with him by secure videoconference on Sunday. What remained unclear was whether Mr. Biden would strike targets inside Iran itself, as his Republican critics urged him to do, saying he would be a “coward” if he did not, as one put it.

“The question Biden faces is whether he just wants to react to events in the region or whether he wants to send a bigger message that attempts to restore a sense of deterrence that just hasn’t existed in the region for months now,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who worked in national security positions under President Bill Clinton.

“I’m sure they’re looking for some kind of Goldilocks response here,” he added, meaning “not too hard” that it provokes a full-fledged war, “not too soft” that it just prolongs the conflict “but something that seems just right.”

Mr. Biden gave no indication about his thinking but vowed to respond in some fashion.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: The embattled U.N. agency for Gaza said its funding would run out within weeks, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). The main United Nations relief agency in Gaza warned on Monday that its funding could dry up by the end of February if more than a dozen countries do not reverse their decisions to suspend their support following Israeli accusations against some of the agency’s workers.

The decisions by several donor countries to withhold funding for the agency known as UNRWA threaten the organization’s relief efforts in Gaza at a time when they are needed most. With more than 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.2 million people displaced by Israel’s military campaign, the agency says it is providing shelter to most of the people in the territory.

Israel FlagMore than a dozen countries have suspended support for UNRWA since Israel accused some of the agency’s workers of participating in the Oct. 7 terror attacks or in their aftermath.

On Friday, Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of participating in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel or in its aftermath. Those claims prompted several countries — including the United States, UNRWA’s largest donor — to freeze funding pending investigations.

Donor countries release funding in tranches throughout the year. While the United States’ next payment is not due until June, some of the other countries that have suspended funding were scheduled to issue their next tranche of donations in February, Juliette Touma, UNRWA’s director of communications, said in a phone interview.

Because UNRWA used up most of its financial reserves during a previous funding freeze ordered by President Donald J. Trump, the agency depends on a stable flow of donations to stay afloat, Ms. Touma said. If even a few donors fail to restore their funding by the end of February, Ms. Touma said, UNRWA will stop being able to pay the salaries of its 30,000 employees across the Middle East.

There are roughly 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza, but the agency also works in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Donors pledged more than $1.1 billion to the agency in 2022, according to its own figures, with nearly half of that coming from the United States and Germany, which has also said it will pause funding while the investigation goes on.

If UNRWA’s funding dries up, it was not clear whether any other agency could immediately fill the gap.

Here’s what we know:

  • The U.N.’s lead agency in Gaza fears its funding will soon collapse.
  • More countries say they will pause funding to UNRWA. Here’s a list.
  • Iran denies ordering the drone strike that killed U.S. troops, as Biden weighs a response.
  • Talks on pausing fighting and releasing hostages were ‘constructive,’ Israel says.
  • Far-right Israelis gather to advance the idea of resettling Gaza.
  • Israel moves to block protesters from disrupting the flow of aid into Gaza.

 

Israeli soldiers explore a tunnel network in Gaza whose estimated length of 450 miles in a myriad network Israel said it discovered only after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis (Photo via the Associated Press).

Israeli soldiers explore a tunnel network in Gaza whose estimated length of 450 miles in a myriad network Israel said it discovered only after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis (Photo via the Associated Press). 

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Is Hamas Getting Its Weapons? Increasingly, From Israel, Maria Abi-Habib and Sheera Frenkel, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza are now being used against them.

Israeli military and intelligence officials have concluded that a significant number of weapons used by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks and in the war in Gaza came from an unlikely source: the Israeli military itself.

Israel FlagFor years, analysts have pointed to underground smuggling routes to explain how Hamas stayed so heavily armed despite an Israeli military blockade of the Gaza Strip. But recent intelligence has shown the extent to which Hamas has been able to build many of its rockets and anti-tank weaponry out of the thousands of munitions that failed to detonate when Israel lobbed them into Gaza, according to weapons experts and Israeli and Western intelligence officials. Hamas is also arming its fighters with weapons stolen from Israeli military bases.

Intelligence gathered during months of fighting revealed that, just as the Israeli authorities misjudged Hamas’s intentions before Oct. 7, they also underestimated its ability to obtain arms.

What is clear now is that the very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza over the past 17 years are now being used against them. Israeli and American military explosives have enabled Hamas to shower Israel with rockets and, for the first time, penetrate Israeli towns from Gaza.

“Unexploded ordnance is a main source of explosives for Hamas,” said Michael Cardash, the former deputy head of the Israeli National Police Bomb Disposal Division and an Israeli police consultant. “They are cutting open bombs from Israel, artillery bombs from Israel, and a lot of them are being used, of course, and repurposed for their explosives and rockets.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Negotiators Close In on Hostage Deal That Would Halt War in Gaza for Weeks, Peter Baker, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). A written draft agreement calls for the release of captives held by Hamas in exchange for a cessation of Israel’s military offensive for two months.

American-led negotiators are edging closer to an agreement in which Israel would suspend its war in Gaza for about two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas, a deal that could be sealed in the next two weeks and would transform the conflict consuming the region.

Israel FlagNegotiators have developed a written draft agreement merging proposals offered by Israel and Hamas in the last 10 days into a basic framework that will be the subject of talks in Paris on Sunday. While there are still important disagreements to be worked out, negotiators are cautiously optimistic that a final accord is within reach, according to U.S. officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive talks.

President Biden spoke by phone separately Friday with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, who have served as intermediaries with Hamas, to narrow the remaining differences. He is also sending his C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, to Paris for Sunday’s talks with Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials. If Mr. Burns makes enough progress, Mr. Biden may then send his Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, who just returned to Washington, back to the region to help finalize the agreement.

“Both leaders affirmed that a hostage deal is central to establishing a prolonged humanitarian pause in the fighting and ensure additional lifesaving humanitarian assistance reaches civilians in need throughout Gaza,” the White House said in a statement Friday night summarizing the president’s conversation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister. “They underscored the urgency of the situation and welcomed the close cooperation among their teams to advance recent discussions.”

In a statement in Israel on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to securing the release of those hostages who were not freed as part of a more limited agreement in November. “As of today, we have returned 110 of our hostages and we are committed to returning all of them home,” he said. “We are dealing with this and we are doing so around the clock, including now.”

The hostages have been in captivity since Oct. 7, when Hamas gunmen stormed into Israel and killed an estimated 1,200 people and seized about 240 more in the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history. Israel’s military retaliation since then has killed more than 25,000 people, most of them women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry. It is not clear how many of those killed in Gaza were Hamas combatants.

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.N. chief urged the U.S. and other donors not to suspend aid for Palestinians, Vivek Shankar, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The secretary general, Antonío Guterres, said money to aid Palestinians would run out next month, leaving hundreds of thousands without clean water, food and other necessities.

Israel FlagThe head of the United Nations on Sunday implored the United States and other major donors to continue funding the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, saying that without their support the agency would run out of money next month to help the two million Gazans who depend on it for food, water and essential services.

palestinian flagAt least eight countries including the United States have said they would suspend some funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, after a dozen of its employees were accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks. Neither Israel nor the United Nations has made public the details of the accusations against the employees of UNRWA, which has said it was investigating.

The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said on Sunday that nine of the 12 accused employees had been fired, one had been confirmed dead and that the identities of the remaining two were being “clarified.”

“Any U.N. employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Guterres said he was “horrified” by the accusations and understood the “concerns” of donor countries, but noted that “UNRWA’s current funding will not allow it to meet all requirements” to support Gazans in February.

Here’s what we’re covering:

  • The U.N. says its agency to aid Palestinians will run out of money.
  • Talks in Paris will focus on a hostage deal that could pause the fighting in Gaza.
  • Hospitals in Khan Younis struggle amid intense fighting.
  • Allegations against the U.N. aid agency follow decades of friction with Israel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Widening Mideast Crisis: Four Countries Join U.S. in Pausing Funding for U.N. Aid Agency in Gaza, Victoria Kim and Aaron Boxerman, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Britain, Finland and Australia became the latest countries to freeze additional funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees on Saturday after it fired a dozen of its employees accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks.

The three joined the United States and Canada, which said late Friday that they would temporarily pause additional funding to the body, known by the acronym UNRWA (often pronounced Un-ruh-WUH or simply Un-RUH). Other major donors, including Germany and the European Union, expressed concern but did not immediately suspend funding.

The United States has been the biggest donor by a large margin, providing the agency with several hundred million dollars in 2023 and $340 million in 2022. Australia, Britain, Canada and Finland together contributed about $66 million that year, according to the agency.

It was not immediately clear how the decisions would affect the agencies operations. They come as the United Nations’ highest court said on Friday that Israel must take action to prevent acts of genocide by its forces.

The agency has long been a vital lifeline in Gaza, which has grown increasingly desperate as Israel pursues a military campaign there in an attempt to eradicate Hamas.

None of the donor countries specified for how long they would pause the funding. A Security Council diplomat, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the news, said UNRWA appeared to have funding in the near-term but that the frozen funds could paralyze the agency some time in the future.

On Saturday, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, welcomed the decisions by the United States and Canada, and called for UNRWA to stop its work in Gaza after Israel’s military campaign there was over.

Israel aims to ensure that “UNRWA will not be a part of the day after,” Mr. Katz said on social media, referring to the end of the war. He added that he would seek support for the goal from European Union, the United States and other countries.

Earlier in the week, Israel made accusations to the United Nations that the employees had helped plan and had participated in the cross-border assault that the country says left 1,200 people dead and more than 240 taken hostage. A senior U.N. official briefed on the accusations against the employees said they were “extremely serious and horrific.”

Neither Israel nor the United Nations released more details on Saturday.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said in a statement Friday that any employee involved in acts of terrorism would be “held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

Hamas slammed UNRWA for firing the employees before completing their internal investigation and said it was overstepping its mandate to provide services to Palestinians.

“UNRWA has been subjected to blackmail by countries that support Zionist terrorism under the pretext of continued financial support,” the Palestinian armed group said.

Canada’s minister of international development, Ahmed Hussen, said in a statement that the country was conferring with other donors on the issue and had “temporarily paused any additional funding” to UNRWA while the agency investigates the allegations.

In a notable show of support for UNRWA, Ireland said it had no plans to suspend the agency’s “vital Gaza work.” Micheál Martin, the country’s foreign minister, wrote on social media that the agency’s staff members had worked to “provide life saving assistance” in Gaza “at incredible personal cost,” with over 150 killed since the start of the war.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden vows to respond after 3 U.S. troops killed in attack blamed on Iranian proxies, Alex Horton, Toluse Olorunnipa, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Three U.S. troops were killed and at least 34 injured in a militant drone attack Sunday in Jordan, officials said, marking the first deadly military action against American service members since the war in Gaza triggered a steep rise in violence throughout the Middle East.

President Biden blamed the attack on groups supported by Iran, and the incident raised immediate questions about when, where and how forcefully the United States might respond. In a statement, he said the United States will “hold those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

As the number of attacks on deployed American personnel has surged to more than 160 since October, the Pentagon has carried out selective retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. But to the frustration of many in Washington, those actions have failed to deter the groups perpetrating the violence, and the president’s critics seized on this development to intensify their demands for more aggressive countermeasures.

Sunday’s attack targeted a facility known as Tower 22. The base, which houses about 350 U.S. troops, is located in northeast Jordan along the country’s shared borders with Syria and Iraq. A U.S. defense official said the one-way drone struck the base’s living quarters, causing injuries that ranged from cuts and bruises to brain trauma.

It was not immediately clear from which country the attack was launched, said the official, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the incident. Military commanders are working to determine that information and, crucially, why U.S. air defenses failed to intercept the drone.

Some of the wounded personnel required medical evacuation, the official said. The identities of those slain were not disclosed, pending family notifications. Biden, in his statement, called them “patriots in the highest sense.”

Sunday’s bloodshed spotlighted Jordan’s attempt to walk a tenuous line as many in the Arab world, outraged by Israel’s punishing assault on Gaza, have faulted the United States for its unconditional backing of the Jewish state despite the war’s enormous civilian toll. The kingdom has continued to partner with the United States on counterterrorism while looking to avoid the wrath of Iran and other regional neighbors. On Sunday, despite the U.S. government’s disclosure about where the attack occurred, Jordanian officials claimed it was another U.S. base in the region — one located on the Syrian side of the border — that was targeted.

The defense official characterized operations at Tower 22 vaguely, saying the Americans deployed there are on an advise-and-assist mission.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group that includes Kataib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and other Iranian-backed militants, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a senior official with the organization who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity in accordance with its rules.

“As we said before, if the U.S. keeps supporting Israel, there will be escalations. All the U.S. interests in the region are legitimate targets and we don’t care about U.S. threats to respond, we know the direction we are taking and martyrdom is our prize,” the Islamic Resistance in Iraq official said.

The group is a front for Iranian-backed militias there. Its forces began targeting U.S. interests in 2018, after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

There are about 2,500 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and another 900 in Syria. They have been focused on preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State, the terrorist network that took over large swaths of both countries until a U.S.-led military campaign left the group decimated. Last week, amid deepening strain between the U.S. and Iraqi governments, the Pentagon signaled its openness to reducing the American military presence there.

Friction between the two countries has worsened in recent weeks, as U.S. forces have fought back against the rise in Iranian proxy attacks. On Jan. 4, the Biden administration launched a rare retaliatory strike on a base belonging to a militia in central Baghdad, killing the group’s commander. American officials said at the time that it was hoped the strike would serve as a deterrent against further hostility toward U.S. troops. Instead, the attacks have grown more ambitious.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia projects confidence as it pursues alliances to undermine the West, Catherine Belton, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Russia is increasingly confident that deepening economic and diplomatic ties with China and the Global South will allow it to challenge the international financial system dominated by the United States and undermine the West, according to Kremlin documents and interviews with Russian officials and business executives.

Russia has been buoyed by its success in holding off a Western-backed Ukrainian counteroffensive followed by political stalemates in Washington and Brussels over continued funding for Kyiv. In Moscow’s view, the U.S. backing of Israel’s invasion of Gaza has damaged Washington’s standing in many parts of the world. The confluence of events has led to a surge of optimism about Russia’s global position.

Officials in Moscow point to growing trade with China, military cooperation with Iran, diplomatic outreach in the Arab world and the expansion of the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Ethiopia.

The BRICS expansion demonstrated the group’s “growing authority and role in world affairs,” and its work will focus on “sovereign equality,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a Jan. 1 statement as Russia assumed the chairmanship of the group. The Kremlin has begun to refer to itself as part of the “Global Majority.”

 United Nations

ny times logoNew York Times, U.N. Fires 12 Aid Workers and Looks Into Their Possible Involvement on Oct. 7, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Israel accused the UNRWA workers in Gaza of helping to plan and participating in the attack on Oct. 7 that left 1,400 Israelis dead or captured.

The United States temporarily cut off aid to UNRWA, the agency that aids Palestinians, citing allegations that 12 of its workers were involved in the Hamas-led assault.

The United Nations on Friday fired 12 of its employees in Gaza and began an investigation of them after charges by Israel that they had helped plan and participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist assault that left 1,400 Israelis dead or captured.

The workers, all men and all employed by the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians and known by the acronym UNRWA, are subject to a criminal investigation, two U.N. officials said.

A U.N. official, briefed on the accusations, called the allegations “extremely serious and horrific.”

Israel, which presented the allegations to the U.N. earlier this week, has previously accused UNRWA, which provides social and education programs in the Gaza Strip, of fueling anti-Israeli incitement. The stunning accusation and the U.N.’s swift reaction, however, contrast with previous U.N. denials of Israeli allegations.

“UNRWA reiterates its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the abhorrent attacks,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

The accusations led to swift action by the United States, one of the agency’s largest donors, which temporarily halted funding to the organization. UNWRA has been the principal agency overseeing the distribution of aid to Gazans amid a growing humanitarian crisis resulting from the war launched in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack.

Mr. Lazzarini said the allegations came a time when more than two million Gazans are depending on the U.N. agency for food, medicine and other critical aid. “Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world,” he said.

Israel and the U.N. have each accused each other of acting in bad faith since Israel launched its war in Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas-led assault, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people. The U.N. has accused Israel of slowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to the embattled enclave, and Israel has said the world body has promoted Hamas’s propaganda.

Those allegations, however, are less politically sensitive than the accusation that humanitarian workers could have engaged in an act of terror, an allegation being taken seriously by the U.N. secretariat, the United States and the European Union, UNRWA’s largest donors.

The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, spoke on Thursday with the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, and called for “a thorough and swift investigation,” the State Department said. Mr. Blinken also told the U.N.’s leader that the United States was asking Israel, which initially made the allegation, for more information.

UNRWA, or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is one of Gaza’s largest employers, with 13,000 workers, and drives much of the enclave’s education, health and food assistance operations. During the war, it has played a critical role in overseeing the distribution of food and medical aid in Gaza.

United Nations officials have repeatedly said ordinary residents of Gaza are at risk of starvation and are experiencing a spike in infectious diseases as the weather gets colder.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the E.U.’s top diplomat and vice president of the European Commission, said he was “extremely concerned” about the allegation that U.N. employees had been involved in the terrorist attacks. He said that the Commission was in contact with UNRWA and expected it to take immediate measures against the staff involved.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The International Court of Justice’s genocide ruling has heavy symbolic meaning, but little practical impact, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). The decision by the World Court did not order Israel to cease its war against Hamas in Gaza. But the court made a move imbued with historical meaning.

A ruling on Friday by the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide against Israel had deep historical resonance for both Israelis and Palestinians. But it lacked immediate practical consequences.

The World Court did not order a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip and made no attempt to rule on the merits of the case brought by South Africa, a process that will take months — if not years — to complete.

But the court did order Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention, to send more aid to Gaza and to inform the court of its efforts to do so — interim measures that felt like a rebuke to many Israelis and a moral victory to many Palestinians.

For many Israelis, the fact that a state founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust had been accused of genocide was “one hell of a symbol,” Alon Pinkas, an Israeli political commentator and former ambassador, said after the ruling by the court in The Hague.

“That we’re even mentioned in the same sentence as the concept of genocide — not even atrocity, not disproportionate force, not war crime, but genocide — that is extremely uncomfortable,” he added.

For many Palestinians, the court’s intervention offered a brief sense of validation for their cause. Israel is rarely held to account for its actions, Palestinians and their supporters say, and the ruling felt like a welcome exception amid one of the deadliest wars this century.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Wants F.B.I. to Investigate Pro-Palestinian Protesters, Kayla Guo, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The former House speaker suggested without offering evidence that some protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza had financial ties to Russia and Vladimir V. Putin.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California and the former House speaker, on Sunday called for the F.B.I. to investigate protesters demanding a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, suggesting without evidence that some activists may have ties to Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin.

“For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message,” Ms. Pelosi said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. It’s about Putin’s message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.”

When pressed on whether she believed some of the demonstrators were “Russian plants,” Ms. Pelosi said: “Seeds or plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the F.B.I. to investigate that.”

Ms. Pelosi, who was first elected speaker in 2007 and again in 2019, led House Democrats for 20 years before stepping aside for Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader. Still, she remains influential among congressional Democrats. Her remarks appear to be the first time a prominent U.S. politician has publicly suggested Russia may be backing cease-fire protests to help foment division among Democrats.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Ms. Pelosi’s comments as “an unsubstantiated smear” and “downright authoritarian.”

“Her comments once again show the negative impact of decades of dehumanization of the Palestinian people by those supporting Israeli apartheid,” Nihad Awad, the group’s national executive director, said in a statement. “Instead of baselessly smearing those Americans as Russian collaborators, former House Speaker Pelosi and other political leaders should respect the will of the American people by calling for an end to the Netanyahu government’s genocidal war on the people of Gaza.”

Progressive activists and voters who support a cease-fire in Gaza have warned President Biden that his approach to the conflict would threaten his re-election and cost Democrats support at the ballot box in November. A variety of groups, including Jewish, human rights and antiwar organizations, have led protests around the country demanding an end to Israel’s military campaign, which began after Hamas’s deadly attack on Oct. 7. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators, citing the soaring death toll and deep humanitarian crisis in Gaza, have disrupted Democratic campaign events in recent weeks, including Mr. Biden’s public appearances and a speech Ms. Pelosi gave in Seattle last week.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ms. Pelosi pointed to a social media post by Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and professor at Columbia University, who wrote that “putin benefits from continued war in gaza and expanded chaos in the middle east.”

The spokesperson said Ms. Pelosi would continue to focus on “stopping the suffering in Gaza” and demanding that all hostages be released.

“Speaker Pelosi has always supported and defended the right of all Americans to make their views known through peaceful protest,” the statement said. “Speaker Pelosi is acutely aware of how foreign adversaries meddle in American politics to sow division and impact our elections, and she wants to see further investigation ahead of the 2024 election.”

Russia has expressed support for a cease-fire in Gaza, and Mr. Putin has used the conflict to criticize the United States’ role in the Middle East. Russia has also meddled in the United States’ past two presidential elections.

Democrats have been deeply divided over policy toward Israel since Hamas killed about 1,200 people and abducted another 240 during its Oct. 7 attack. Israel’s military response has killed more than 26,000 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel Tries to Rebut Genocide Charge by Declassifying Cabinet Decisions, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Israel has challenged South Africa’s charge of genocide by providing the court with secret orders made by Israel’s civilian and military leaders.

Israel has declassified more than 30 secret orders made by government and military leaders, which it says rebut the charge that it committed genocide in Gaza, and instead show Israeli efforts to diminish deaths among Palestinian civilians.

The release of the documents, copies of which were reviewed by The New York Times, follows a petition to the International Court of Justice by South Africa, which has accused Israel of genocide. Much of South Africa’s case hinges on inflammatory public statements made by Israeli leaders that it says are proof of intent to commit genocide.

Part of Israel’s defense is to prove that whatever politicians may have said in public was overruled by executive decisions and official orders from Israel’s war cabinet and its military’s high command.

The court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body, began hearing arguments in the case this month, and is expected to provide an initial response to South Africa’s petition — in which it could call for a provisional cease-fire — as soon as Friday.

 

 

 gaza detentions palestine yossi zeliger reuters

Palestinian men and at least one woman detained in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 8. The Israeli military reviewed this image as part of the conditions of the photographer’s embed (Reuters photo by Yossi Zeliger).

ny times logoNew York Times, Stripped, Beaten or Vanished: Israel’s Treatment of Gaza Detainees Raises Alarm, Raja Abdulrahim, Jan. 24, 2024 (print ed.). A U.N. office said Israel’s detention and treatment of detainees might amount to torture. It estimated thousands had been held in “horrific” conditions.

Cold, almost naked and surrounded by Israeli soldiers with M16 assault rifles, Ayman Lubbad knelt among dozens of Palestinian men and boys who had just been forced from their homes in northern Gaza.

Israel FlagIt was early December and photographs and videos taken at the time showed him and other detainees in the street, wearing only underwear and lined up in rows, surrounded by Israeli forces. In one video, a soldier yelled at them over a megaphone: “We’re occupying all of Gaza. Is that what you wanted? You want Hamas with you? Don’t tell me you’re not Hamas.”

The detainees, some barefoot with their hands on their heads, shouted objections. “I’m a day laborer,” one man shouted.

“Shut up,” the soldier yelled back.

Palestinian detainees from Gaza have been stripped, beaten, interrogated and held incommunicado over the past three months, according to accounts by nearly a dozen of the detainees or their relatives interviewed by The New York Times. Organizations representing Palestinian prisoners and detainees gave similar accounts in a report, accusing Israel of both indiscriminate detention of civilians and demeaning treatment of detainees.

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ny times logoNew York Times, ‘A Long Time Coming’: Northern Ireland Deal Receives Broad Welcome, Stephen Castle, Jan. 30, 2024. An agreement by the Democratic Unionist Party to return to power-sharing with Sinn Fein after a two year boycott was greeted by widespread relief.

Britain, Ireland and the United States on Tuesday welcomed a deal to end almost two years of political deadlock in Northern Ireland that will, for the first time, hand the territory’s top leadership role to Sinn Fein, a party that mainly represents Roman Catholic voters committed to a united Ireland.

The breakthrough came in the early hours of Tuesday morning when the Democratic Unionist Party, whose largely Protestant supporters want to remain in the United Kingdom, said it was ready to end a lengthy and crippling boycott of Northern Ireland’s political assembly.

“I believe that all the conditions are now in place for the assembly to return,” said Chris Heaton-Harris, Britain’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Claire Cronin, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, said she welcomed the news. “The people of Northern Ireland are best served by a power-sharing government in Stormont as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement,” she wrote on social media, adding that President Biden “has long made clear his support for a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland.”

Ireland’s foreign minister, Micheal Martin, said the imminent restoration of power-sharing was “good news” and that he looked forward to working with the assembly in the future.

The deal between the Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., and the British government opens the door to a seismic change in the politics of modern day Northern Ireland, where the first minister has, up to now, always been drawn from the ranks of the D.U.P.

The unionist party walked out of the Northern Ireland Assembly in February 2022 in protest of post-Brexit trade arrangements laid out in a deal called the Northern Ireland protocol, which imposed checks on goods arriving from mainland Britain.

The restrictions were introduced because Ireland remained in the European Union when the British quit. The system avoided checks at the politically sensitive land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland — a frontier where violence flared during the decades of sectarian strife, known as the Troubles, which largely ended after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

But many unionists saw those controls as an affront and worried that they would drive a wedge between the territory and the rest of the United Kingdom.

rishi sunakIn 2023, Rishi Sunak, above, Britain’s prime minister, struck a new deal with the European Union, known as the Windsor Framework Agreement, which won some concessions from Brussels.

But they were insufficient for the D.U.P., whose continued boycott of Stormont paralyzed decision making even as civil servants maintained the basic functions of government.

Pressure has been steadily rising on the D.U.P. to cut a deal. Northern Ireland’s health service has been in crisis and its dysfunctional politics prevented public sector workers from receiving pay increases offered throughout the rest of the U.K. Earlier this month, tens of thousands took part in the largest strike in Northern Ireland in living memory.

The D.U.P.’s decision to return to government was announced after a fractious internal meeting — part of which was leaked on social media — that lasted more than five hours and dragged into Tuesday morning.

At around 1 a.m., Jeffrey Donaldson, the D.U.P. leader, told a news conference that his party was ready to return to the assembly, promising to “work alongside others to build a thriving Northern Ireland.”

In exchange London has pledged new measures to reduce checks on goods traveling between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, though the detail is not scheduled to be made public until Wednesday. In addition, Mr. Heaton-Harris said that Northern Ireland would gain more than £3 billion in funding.

Mr. Donaldson’s pledge to restore power sharing is conditional on the British government fulfilling its side of the agreement and pushing through legislation swiftly, something Mr. Heaton-Harris promised to do in his statement on Tuesday, saying: “I can confirm that we will stick to this agreement.” The detail of the deal will be watched closely, however.

On Tuesday Mr. Donaldson said that the outcome of negotiations with London was that there would be “zero checks, zero customs paperwork” on goods moving to Northern Ireland from mainland Britain. “That takes away the border within the U.K. between Northern Ireland and Great Britain,” he said.

Those words may have been carefully chosen as, even if there is “zero customs paperwork” required, form filling unrelated to customs may be necessary.

For Mr. Donaldson, cutting a deal is a political risk, and Monday night’s internal meeting exposed divisions within the D.U.P., with some prominent party figures opposed to the agreement.

Some critics fear the party will be outflanked by a more hard-line party called the Traditional Unionist Voice, which is opposed to compromise.

Its leader, Jim Allister, said on Tuesday in a social media post that “in betrayal of their own solemn pledges, the D.U.P. has caved in” over trade rules for the Irish Sea. It seemed that “not one word of the union-dismantling protocol has been removed,” he added.

By contrast there was a mood of optimism from Sinn Fein, whose president, Mary Lou McDonald, said the breakthrough had been “a long time coming, but we’re very pleased that we’re at this juncture.”
She added that she looked forward to her colleague Michelle O’Neill becoming first minister of Northern Ireland.

“That will be a moment of very great significance,” said Ms. McDonald as she stood alongside Ms. O’Neill in the Great Hall of Stormont on Tuesday, “not simply because we haven’t had government for so long but because it will be the first time that we will have a Sinn Fein first minister, a nationalist first minister.”

More on Ireland

  • Housing Crisis: Soaring rents have left many in Dublin struggling to afford homes, with two-thirds of younger adults in the city living with their parents.
  • A Fiscal Headache: The government in Dublin has a big budget surplus, thanks to a boom in tax revenue from multinational companies. What to do with it? Whatever the answer, someone will be unhappy.
  • Free Cash: Thanks to a technical glitch, some customers at one of Ireland’s largest banks, for one feverish summer evening, happened upon what seemed to be a magical loophole: They could spend their cash and apparently save it, too.
  • A ‘Forgotten County’: Breac House is among several establishments in County Donegal to rely on regional talent and resources to create a contemporary take on accommodation, food and design.
  • Barring last minute complications, Sinn Fein, which emerged as the largest party in Northern Ireland’s last elections, will now nominate the first minister. The D.U.P. will have to settle for the deputy first minister post, a big symbolic change even if the powers of the holders of those posts are similar.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Europe and NATO, a Russian Invasion Is No Longer Unthinkable, Lara Jakes and Christina Anderson, Jan. 29, 2024. As U.S. support for Ukraine crumbles and Donald Trump’s candidacy rises, European nations and NATO are making plans to take on Russia by themselves.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia once proclaimed the dissolution of the Soviet empire “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” At the time, back in 2005, few expected him to do anything about it.

Russian FlagBut then came Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008, its backing for Ukrainian separatists and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and, most resoundingly, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Now, with the rise of former President Donald J. Trump, who in the past has vowed to leave NATO and recently threatened never to come to the aid of his alliance allies, concerns are rising among European nations that Mr. Putin could invade a NATO nation over the coming decade and that they might have to face his forces without U.S. support.

That could happen in as few as five years after a conclusion of the war in Ukraine, according to some officials and experts who believe that would be enough time for Moscow to rebuild and rearm its military.

“We have always kind of suspected that this is the only existential threat that we have,” Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, the commander of the Estonian Army’s main land combat division, said of a possible Russian invasion.

“The past few years have also made it very, very clear that NATO as a military alliance, a lot of countries, are not ready to conduct large-scale operations — meaning, in simple human language, a lot of NATO militaries are not ready to fight Russia,” General Palm said during an interview in December. “So it’s not very comforting.”
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Anxiety over what experts describe as Mr. Putin’s imperial ambitions has long been a part of the psyche of states that border Russia or are uncomfortably close. “I think for Estonia, it was 1991” when his country’s alarm bells started ringing, General Palm said wryly, referring to the year that Estonia declared independence from the crumbling Soviet Union.

Just as Mr. Putin played down the Biden administration’s warnings that he was planning to invade Ukraine, Moscow has dismissed concerns that Russia is planning to attack NATO. The head of Russian’s foreign intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, said in an interview last week with the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti that they are part of a Western disinformation campaign to stir up discontent against Moscow.

Europe’s worry has been further fueled in recent months by Mr. Putin’s militarization of the Russian economy and huge spending increases for its army and weapons industry while, at the same time, some Republicans in Congress look to limit American aid to Ukraine.

“If anyone thinks this is only about Ukraine, they’re fundamentally mistaken,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine warned at the World Economic Forum this month. “Possible directions and even a timeline of a new Russian aggression beyond Ukraine become more and more obvious.”

NATO maintains that it is prepared to defend the borders of all 31 member states which, collectively, have increased national defense spending by an estimated $190 billion since 2014, when Russia first invaded Ukraine. But that was the start of building back what had become a hollowed-out military network across Europe in the decades following the end of the Cold War, a process that still could take years, analysts say.

ap logoAssociated Press, Imprisoned ex-Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan convicted again, another blow days ahead of vote, Munir Ahmed, Jan. 31, 2024. Minister Imran Khan convicted again, another blow days ahead of vote.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was found guilty of corruption on Wednesday and sentenced to 14 years, yet another blow to the imprisoned populist leader days before his political movement attempts a return to power in parliamentary elections.

It was his second conviction in as many days and the harshest yet, and was the latest episode in the long-running battle between the powerful military and civilian leaders in the troubled Western ally.

Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi — who was also convicted Wednesday — were accused of retaining and selling state gifts in violation of government rules when he was in power. In addition to his prison term, Khan was disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years.

His lawyer, Babar Awan, dismissed the conviction as a violation of Khan’s basics rights said the former premier was convicted and sentenced in such a hurry that the judge did not wait for the arrival of his legal team.

ny times logoNew York Times, Evergrande Will Be Dismantled, a ‘Big Bang’ End to Years of Stumbles, Alexandra Stevenson. Jan. 29, 2024. After multiple delays and a few faint glimmers of hope, a Hong Kong court has sounded the death knell for what was once China’s biggest real estate firm.

China FlagMonths after China Evergrande ran out of cash and defaulted in 2021, investors around the world scooped up the property developer’s discounted I.O.U.’s, betting that the Chinese government would eventually step in to bail it out.

On Monday it became clear just how misguided that bet was. After two years in limbo, and with over $300 billion in debt, Evergrande was ordered by a judge in Hong Kong to liquidate, a move that will set off a race by lawyers to try to find and grab anything belonging to Evergrande that can be sold.

In a small courtroom on the 12th floor of Hong Kong’s High Court building, Evergrande’s lawyers pushed for a last-minute deal. They argued that a liquidation would hurt Evergrande’s business and not help creditors get their money back. They wanted more time to try to make a deal with Evergrande’s creditors.

But after 40 minutes of debate, Linda Chan, the bankruptcy judge presiding over the case, made her decision to issue an order telling Evergrande to wind up its operations, citing the company’s inability to bring a concrete proposal to the court for one and a half years.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Help From Kenyan Police Is Blocked, Haitians Ask: What Now? Frances Robles, Jan. 28, 2024. As Haiti sank into gang-dominated chaos, Kenya promised to send police officers. But a court rejected the plan, and there isn’t another one.

haiti flagGangs have taken over entire neighborhoods in Haiti’s capital, and killings have more than doubled in the past year, but for the organizers of the Port-au-Prince Jazz Festival, the show simply had to go on.

So while judges an ocean away deliberated whether to send a contingent of officers to pacify Haiti’s violence-riddled streets, festival organizers made do by shortening the length of the event to four days from eight, moving the acts from a public stage to a restricted hotel venue and replacing the handful of artists who canceled.

As 11.5 million Haitians struggle to feed their families and ride the bus or go to work because they fear becoming the victims of gunmen or kidnappers, they also are pushing forward, struggling to reclaim a safe sense of routine — whether or not that comes with the assistance of international soldiers.

“We need something normal,” said Miléna Sandler, the executive director of the Haiti Jazz Foundation, whose festival is taking place this weekend in Port-au-Prince, the capital. “We need elections.”

A Kenyan court on Friday blocked a plan to deploy 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti, the key element of a multinational force meant to help stabilize a nation besieged by murders, kidnappings and gang violence.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has sunk deeper into turmoil in the nearly three years since the president was assassinated. The terms of all mayors in the country ended almost four years ago, and the prime minister is deeply unpopular largely because he was appointed, not elected, and has been unable to restore order.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Finland Votes for a New President in Its First Election Since Joining NATO, Johanna Lemola, Jan. 28, 2024. The election comes as the alliance’s newest member is grappling with concerns about potential aggression from its neighbor, Russia.

finland flagVoters in Finland are casting ballots on Sunday in a presidential election that comes as NATO’s newest member faces the threat of an antagonistic Russia.

The election, which is expected to require a second round of voting, is for Finland’s first new head of state in 12 years. The country’s wildly popular president, Sauli Niinistö, has served two terms and is ineligible to run again.

Seen as a steadying force, Mr. Niinistö is considered the person most responsible for getting Finland into the NATO alliance, leaving whomever assumes the presidency with big shoes to fill.

From a field of nine candidates, the latest polls show two front-runners: Alexander Stubb and Pekka Haavisto. Both are familiar faces with strong foreign policy credentials.

Results in Sunday’s election are expected later Sunday. If no candidate receives more than half of the vote, a runoff election will be held on Feb. 11 between the top two first-round finishers.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Collective ‘No’: Anti-Putin Russians Embrace an Unlikely Challenger, Paul Sonne, Alina Lobzina and Ivan Nechepurenko, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Lines have popped up in Russia and around the world to get Boris Nadezhdin, an antiwar candidate, onto the ballot for Russia’s presidential election in March.

His surname comes from the Russian word for hope — and for hundreds of thousands of antiwar Russians, that is, improbably enough, what he has become.

Boris B. Nadezhdin is the only candidate running on an antiwar platform with a chance of getting on the ballot to oppose President Vladimir V. Putin in Russia’s presidential election in March. Russians who are against the war have rushed to sign his official petition inside and outside the country, hoping to supply enough signatures by a Jan. 31 deadline for him to succeed in joining the race.

They have braved subzero temperatures in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. They have snaked down the block in Yekaterinburg. They have jumped in place to stay warm in St. Petersburg and flocked to outposts in Berlin, Istanbul and Tbilisi, Georgia.

They know that election officials might bar Mr. Nadezhdin from the ballot, and if he is allowed to run, they know he will never win. They don’t care.

“Boris Nadezhdin is our collective ‘No,’” said Lyosha Popov, a 25-year-old who has been collecting signatures for Mr. Nadezhdin in Yakutsk, south of the Arctic Circle. “This is simply our protest, our form of protest, so we can somehow show we are against all this.”

The grass-roots mobilization in an authoritarian country, where national elections have long been a Potemkin affair, has injected energy into a Russian opposition movement that has been all but obliterated: Its most promising leaders have been exiled, jailed or killed in a sweeping crackdown on dissent that has escalated with the war.

ny times logoNew York Times, FIFA Corruption Convictions Are Imperiled by Questions of U.S. Overreach, Rebecca R. Ruiz and Tariq Panja, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Two Supreme Court decisions and a lower court’s ruling have cast doubt on the basis for a host of prosecutions. Several defendants want their records cleared.

Nearly a decade after police officers marched world soccer officials out of a luxury hotel in Zurich at dawn, revealing a corruption scandal that shook the world’s most popular sport, the case is at risk of falling apart.

The dramatic turnabout comes over questions of whether American prosecutors overreached by applying U.S. law to a group of people, many of them foreign nationals, who defrauded foreign organizations as they carried out bribery schemes across the world.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year limited a law that was key to the case. Then in September, a federal judge, citing that, threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to soccer corruption. Now, several former soccer officials, including some who paid millions of dollars in penalties and served time in prison, are arguing that the bribery schemes for which they were convicted are no longer considered a crime in the United States.

Emboldened by the vacated convictions, they are asking that their records be wiped clean and their money returned.

Their hopes are linked to the September cases, in which the two defendants benefited from two recent Supreme Court rulings that had rejected federal prosecutors’ application of the law at play in the soccer cases and offered rare guidance on what is known as honest services fraud. The defendants in the soccer trial had been found to have engaged in bribery that deprived organizations outside the U.S. of their employees’ honest services, which constituted fraud at the time. But the judge ruled that the court’s new guidance meant that those actions were no longer prohibited under American law.

That blow to the case, which federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are contesting, could turn the story of world soccer’s deep-seated corruption — detailed in a 236-page indictment, and proved through 31 guilty pleas and four trial convictions — into one equally about the long arm of American justice reaching too far.

“It’s quite significant,” said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor and professor of law at Columbia University, “since the judge rejected the government’s basic theory.” He called the opinion “surprising but well reasoned.”

ny times logoNew York Times, What China’s E.V. City Says About the State of the Economy, Keith Bradsher and Joy Dong, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Hefei has led the country in making electric vehicles and other tech products, but it still has not escaped a nationwide housing crisis.

Ultramodern factories churn out electric cars and solar panels in Hefei, an industrial center in the heart of central China. Broad avenues link office towers and landscaped parks. Subway lines open at a brisk pace.

Yet at Hefei’s market for construction materials, which fills 10 city blocks, local merchants are gloomy. Wu Junlin, a vendor of doors, has closed two of his three stores and laid off all but one of his dozen employees.

“I have been doing this for 20 years — after all these years, this year is the worst,” he said, sitting in his last store with no customers in sight.

Nowhere better showcases the opportunities and vulnerabilities of China’s economy than Hefei.

Government-directed growth in industries like electric vehicles and solar panels has turned China into the world’s export superpower, making Hefei a model for other Chinese cities. But a nationwide decline in real estate has devastated the finances of millions of families and small businesses — including in Hefei.

Hefei and nearby towns have become an E.V. manufacturing hub, with overall car production nearly tripling since 2019 and now exceeding Michigan’s. Hefei’s industrial policies have been so successful in nurturing technology manufacturers that the country’s central government has embraced tenets of what is known as the Hefei model.

ny times logoNew York Times, As China’s stocks stumble, Japan’s are making a furious comeback, Joe Rennison and Alexandra Stevenson, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). There’s a shift underway in Asia that’s reverberating through global financial markets.

JapanJapan’s stock market, overlooked by investors for decades, is making a furious comeback. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is edging closer to the record it set on Dec. 29, 1989, which effectively marked the peak of Japan’s economic ascendancy before a collapse that led to decades of low growth.

China FlagChina, long an impossible-to-ignore market, has been spiraling downward. Stocks in China recently touched lows not seen since a rout in 2015, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was the worst-performing major market in the world last year. Stocks stemmed their slide only when Beijing recently signaled its intention to intervene but remain far below previous highs.

This year was set to be a tumultuous one for global markets, with unpredictable swings as economic fortunes diverge and voters in more than 50 countries go to the polls. But there’s one unforeseen reversal already underway: a change in perception among investors about China and Japan.

Seizing on this shift, Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, addressed more than 3,000 global financiers gathered in Hong Kong this week for a conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs. It was the first time a Japanese prime minister had given a keynote address at the event.

“Now Japan has a golden opportunity to completely overcome low economic growth and a deflationary environment that have persisted for a quarter of a century,” Mr. Kishida said in a video recording. His government, he said, would “demonstrate to all of you Japan’s transition to a new economic stage by mobilizing all the policy tools.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia sentences woman to 27 years in bomb assassination of blogger, Mary Ilyushina, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Russian courts on Thursday imposed prison sentences in two telling cases connected to the war in Ukraine, with one serving as a threat to pro-war Russians who criticize the military’s performance on the battlefield and another, much harsher sentence, as warning that Russians aiding Kyiv in this war will see no mercy.

In St. Petersburg, a military court sentenced Daria Trepova, a young antiwar activist, to 27 years in prison on terrorism charges connected to the killing of a prominent pro-war blogger in a cafe, the harshest known sentence for a woman in modern Russian history.

Trepova, 26, was arrested last spring and accused of giving a statuette with a bomb inside to Maxim Fomin, a pro-war commentator and Telegram blogger with over half a million followers, better known by his pen name Vladlen Tatarsky. Fomin died in the blast.

Russian investigators said Trepova collaborated with a Ukrainian “sabotage and terrorism group” who gave her various tasks and requested that she track Tatarsky, his fans, and Cyber Front Z, a pro-invasion online troll group that described itself as the “digital troops of Russia.”

In videos released by authorities and published on local media, Trepova was shown handing Tatarsky the golden statuette, which promptly exploded. Other video showed her leaving the cafe in St. Petersburg where the incident occurred.

In court, Trepova maintained that she did not know the figurine contained explosives and believed it contained a listening device. She said she believed her mission was to establish audio surveillance on Tatarsky.

“I didn’t know who Vladlen Tatarsky was,” said in her final statement to the court this week. “When we met him in person, he seemed good-natured to me, a man with a sense of humor. I didn’t hate him. I definitely didn’t want him to die.” She added, “I am very hurt and very ashamed. My gullibility and naiveté led to such disastrous consequences. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”

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 Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, right, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on prior to a meeting ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, July 10, 2023. The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee was poised on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023, to resume deliberations on Sweden’s bid to join NATO, days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked the Nordic country’s admission on U.S. approval of Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets.(Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP, File)

 Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, right, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on prior to a meeting ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, July 10, 2023. Turkey approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked the Nordic country’s admission on U.S. approval of Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets.(Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP, File)

 

More On U.S. National Politics, Government

ny times logoNew York Times, In the Race to Replace George Santos, National Issues Reverberate, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 29, 2024. In the special House election on Feb. 13, Republicans and Democrats are taking voters’ temperatures on issues that could tip the general election.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe war in Israel. Abortion rights. Immigration policy.

National issues have dominated a special House election to replace George Santos in New York, as Republicans and Democrats take voters’ temperatures on issues that could tip November’s general election.

tom suozziThe race pits Tom Suozzi, a former Democratic congressman who represented the Queens and Long Island swing district for three terms, against Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian-born local legislator. The open seat was created after the House voted to expel Mr. Santos, a Republican facing federal criminal charges.

The Feb. 13 contest carries unusual weight: A Democratic victory would narrow Republicans’ barely governable House majority to just two votes.

Here’s what you need to know about the race.

After decades in office, Mr. Suozzi is one of the most recognizable and well-liked figures on Long Island, but his party is deeply unpopular.

Ms. Pilip has a powerful local Republican machine behind her, but voters know very little about her.

Those inverse challenges are shaping the way both candidates are campaigning.

Mr. Suozzi has spent precious time and advertising money trying to separate himself from the Democratic brand. He has opposed his party’s position on local criminal laws and taxes, called for hardening border security and his television ads (which are running on Fox News) never mention his party affiliation — a gamble in a race where he needs base Democrats to turn out.

Ms. Pilip is running just as hard toward her party. She has not appeared in public without better-known local Republicans, and has been willing to tolerate the criticism that has come from ducking televised debates and other unscripted moments that could trip her up as a first-time candidate.

That strategy could backfire, particularly with voters wary of electing another Santos-like candidate. But unlike Mr. Suozzi, Ms. Pilip has a powerful and effective party apparatus to lean on. Republicans have swept nearly every major election on Long Island since 2021 and their turnout operation could be critical in a midwinter election.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Biden Judicial Confirmations Slow, Senate Gains Ground on Red-State Judges, Carl Hulse, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The Democrats’ push to remake the federal courts is lagging, but they are making headway in advancing President Biden’s nominees in Republican-led states.

President Biden and Senate Democrats have fallen behind the rapid pace set by Republicans in shaping the federal courts during the Trump era, but they have made fresh headway in advancing judicial nominees in states represented by Republicans.

By negotiating with Republicans over judicial picks, Mr. Biden and majority Democrats have been able to exert some influence over the makeup of trial courts in red states and install people of color on the bench for the first time in some regions.

“It has worked because I think I have convinced the White House that it is better to get a moderate Republican today than a MAGA Republican tomorrow,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee.

senate democrats logoStill, the Senate would need to confirm at least 63 more judges this year to match or better the record of the Trump years, when Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who was then the majority leader, pushed through 234 conservative-leaning jurists, including three to the Supreme Court.

After a fast start that initially surpassed the pace set under former President Donald J. Trump, the rate of Biden confirmations tapered off last year, leaving the current total for the administration at 171. That likely put the Trump administration threshold out of reach for Mr. Biden and Democrats in an election year when the Senate will be gone from the Capitol for long stretches. Mr. Durbin has said his goal is to confirm at least 200.

republican elephant logoOne development working in Democrats’ favor is that the Senate has begun adding to the bench in red states after earlier Republican resistance. In the past week, the Senate confirmed two district court judges for Indiana and one in South Carolina, while the Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings for nominees for seats in Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming, and two seats in Texas.

All the nominees had the backing of home-state Republican senators. Four Florida nominees are awaiting Senate votes. The Senate also confirmed G.O.P.-backed judges from Oklahoma and Louisiana late last year, and one from Texas earlier this month.

The confirmations and pending nominations represent a thaw in the stalemate over judicial openings in red states that had stymied Democratic efforts to fill seats there and forced them to focus only on judicial slots in states represented by two members of their own party.

Republicans say the spate of nominees from their states shows they are willing to bless the judicial picks of a Democratic president as long as they don’t find them too extreme.

ny times logoNew York Times, Arizona G.O.P. Picks New Leader After Scandal Creates a Vacancy, Michael Wines, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Gina Swoboda, a hard-right Trump supporter, was picked to replace Jeff DeWit, who resigned after the release of a recording that appeared to suggest a bribe to Kari Lake.

arizona mapArizona Republicans chose a new party chair on Saturday, a move that tightened the grip on the state party hierarchy by far-right supporters of former President Donald J. Trump and that came days after a scandal that forced the last chairman to resign.

djt maga hatGina Swoboda, who directed election-day integrity operations in Arizona for Mr. Trump in 2020 and runs a nonprofit group that has falsely claimed to have found huge discrepancies in voting records in a number of states, was picked to replace Jeff DeWit, who stepped down as chairman on Wednesday.

Ms. Swoboda, whom Mr. Trump endorsed on Friday, won an overwhelming majority of votes in an election of state party officials held at the party’s required annual meeting in Phoenix. The vote was delayed by a lengthy debate over a motion to ban the use of electronic tabulators — mistrusted by many election deniers in the party — to count the ballots.

Kari Lake, a far-right candidate for U.S. Senate and close ally of Mr. Trump who had a central role in Mr. DeWit’s fall, took to the stage on Saturday to nominate Ms. Swoboda. But she was met with a din of boos and heckling from the crowd, an apparent rebuff to her involvement in the scandal.

Mr. DeWit resigned after a leaked voice recording surfaced on Tuesday in which he told Ms. Lake that “very powerful people” would give her money or a comfortable job if she would sit out the Senate contest. In the recording, Ms. Lake, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2022 and embraced Mr. Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, was heard telling Mr. DeWit, “That’s immoral — I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.”

Mr. DeWit claimed on Wednesday that Ms. Lake had released the recording of the conversation, which he said occurred at Ms. Lake’s house more than 10 months ago, and that it had been selectively edited. He added that he was resigning because Ms. Lake had threatened to release a second damaging recording if he did not resign.

In response, Garrett Ventry and Caroline Wren, senior advisers to Ms. Lake, said in a statement that no one from Ms. Lake’s campaign had threatened or blackmailed Mr. DeWit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trump’s White House clinic improperly handed out narcotics, report finds, Joe Davidson, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). It’s hard to imagine the president’s in-house health clinic as a rogue operation, but that’s the picture a Pentagon probe paints about the facility during the Trump administration.

ICE logoThe findings are clear and damaging.

“We found that the White House Medical Unit provided a wide range of health care and pharmaceutical services to ineligible White House staff in violation of Federal law and regulation and DoD policy,” says a new report from the Defense Department’s inspector general. “Additionally, the White House Medical Unit dispensed prescription medications, including controlled substances, to ineligible White House staff.”

Many of those served by the unit should not have been.

The report paints a scathing picture of the military-run facility with 60 medical personnel, who are tasked with treating the president, the vice president and the White House staff.

ronnie jacksonIt also provides new context to systemic problems in a clinic that made headlines when Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Tex.), right, who was Donald Trump’s personal doctor until 2018, was accused by almost two dozen colleagues of improper activities, including providing prescription drugs without proper paperwork — a habit that allegedly earned him the nickname “Candyman.” A 2021 Defense Department inspector general report later corroborated some of those claims, which Jackson denied and described as politically motivated.

Jackson’s office said he “had no association or involvement with the White House Medical Unit’s clinical delivery of care” during the period covered by the new Pentagon report, which does not mention him.

The new report includes pharmaceutical procedures from 2017 to 2019 and patient eligibility practices from 2018 to 2020. Neither the pharmacy nor the clinical operations were credentialed by an outside agency. During those periods, the unit served between nine and 30 patients each week. “However,” the inspectors wrote, “we discovered that an average of 6 to 20 of these patients per week” were not eligible for the care.

Politico, McConnell dispels doubts about his commitment to a border-Ukraine deal, Lisa Kashinsky, Jan. 25, 2024. The Senate GOP leader made clear that Donald Trump's opposition to an agreement was not souring him on the negotiations.

politico CustomSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a private meeting Thursday that he still supports a border security deal linked to Ukraine aid, according to GOP senators who attended — delivering a crucial boost to talks that are getting more complicated by the minute.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More On Trump Battles, Crimes, Claims, Allies

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Awaits Fraud Penalty, a Monitor’s Report Could Raise His Risk, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Jan. 29, 2024. A monitor drew attention to “deficiencies” in the Trump Organization’s financial reporting ahead of a verdict in a case brought by New York State that seeks $370 million.

As a New York judge weighs Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud case, new accusations of deficiencies in his company’s financial reporting could provide the judge with ammunition for a forceful ruling against the former president and his family business.

The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, will soon decide on any consequences Mr. Trump might face as a result of the New York attorney general’s accusation that he fraudulently exaggerated his net worth to obtain favorable loans. After a monthslong trial, the attorney general, Letitia James, asked for a penalty of roughly $370 million, which would come on the heels of a separate jury verdict in a defamation case requiring Mr. Trump to pay $83.3 million.

tThe new accusations against Mr. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, came late last week in a report from an outside monitor whom Justice Engoron assigned in late 2022 to keep an eye on the company. The monitor, Barbara Jones, a former federal judge, has overseen how the company represents its finances to lenders.

Her report highlighted several paperwork issues at a family company trying to shake a legacy of sloppiness: missing disclosures, typos, math errors and questions about a $48 million loan between Mr. Trump and one of his companies. Ms. Jones, now a law firm partner, told the judge that collectively, the issues “may reflect a lack of adequate internal controls.”

ICE logoOn Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers fired back, questioning Ms. Jones’s ability as a monitor and accusing her of acting in bad faith so that the Trump Organization would have to continue to pay her. They said she had not identified any fraud, and that the company had addressed most of her concerns.

“The monitor now twists immaterial accounting items into a narrative favoring her continued appointment, and thereby the continued receipt of millions of dollars in excessive fees,” one of the lawyers, Clifford S. Robert, wrote in a letter to Justice Engoron, noting tha the company had already paid Ms. Jones more than $2.6 million. 

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Trump Lawyer STEPS INTO IT with Federal Judge WHO DESPISES HER, Michael Popok, Jan. 30, 2024. mtn meidas touch networkAlina Habba is on the verge of having the federal judge in the E. Jean Carroll case against Trump refer her for disciplinary action for alina habbaadmitting that she is accusing the judge of misconduct without a shred of evidence. Michael Popok of Legal AF breaks down why Habba—like a long line of Trump attorneys— has likely crossed the line and put her bar license in jeopardy by basing her ethical attacks on the judge on an unsubstantiated tabloid article.

 

 

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

ny times logoNew York Times, Carroll Promises to Do ‘Something Good’ With a Fortune Won From Trump, Benjamin Weiser, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The writer E. Jean Carroll was awarded $83.3 million for Donald Trump’s defamation. Now, she will have to figure out how to use it.

As soon as E. Jean Carroll heard the verdict on Friday — $83.3 million in defamation damages against Donald J. Trump — a world of possibility opened before her: How to use the money?

The amount vastly eclipsed the $5 million awarded to her by a jury last spring in a different trial against Mr. Trump. It could take years before she sees the money, as Mr. Trump has said he will appeal, but she is already considering how she might use the money once she obtains it.

“I’m not going to waste a cent of this,” she said. “We’re going to do something good with it.”

Figuring that out will take some time, she added. But she will splurge on one luxury, she said — for her Great Pyrenees and her pit bull. “I’m going to be able to buy some premium dog food now,” she said.

Ms. Carroll, appearing relaxed and happy in her lawyers’ offices on Saturday, spoke in her first interview since the Manhattan jury’s award in her favor a day earlier.

Ms. Carroll, 80, sued Mr. Trump, 77, for defamation after he called her a liar in June 2019, when she first publicly accused him, in a magazine article, of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades earlier. Mr. Trump continued to attack Ms. Carroll, in posts on his Truth Social website that lasted right into the trial, as well as in news conferences and on the campaign trial.

After the verdict on Friday, Mr. Trump, issued a new attack on social media: “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.” But he avoided criticizing Ms. Carroll, a silence that spoke volumes. Ms. Carroll said she was not ready to assume that the former president was finished with her.

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a jury verdict that he sexually attacked her three decades ago.

donald trump ny daily pussy

The disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape verdict echoed Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case. 

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump to pay additional $83.3 million, Larry Neumeister, Jake Offenhartz and Jennifer Peltz, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Jury says Donald Trump must pay an additional $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll in defamation case. Former President Donald Trump was on and off the witness stand at a jury trial Thursday in less than 3 minutes but not before breaking a judge’s rules on what he could say by claiming that a writer’s sexual assault allegations were a “false accusation.” 

A jury has awarded a huge $83.3 million in additional damages to advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says former President Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.

lewis kaplanThe judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, left, has ruled that the sole focus for the jury is the matter of damages.

The verdict was delivered Friday by a seven-man, two-woman jury in a trial regularly attended by Trump, who abruptly left the courtroom during closing arguments by Carroll’s lawyer, only to later return.

Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building in his motorcade.

“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a statement shortly after the verdict was announced. He vowed an appeal. “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.”

It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, chance encounter with Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights and forced himself on her.

 

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, center, Sydney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis falsely claim at a 2020 news conference that election fraud deprived President Trump of reelection (Nov. 19, 2020 photo).

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, center, Sydney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis falsely claim at a 2020 news conference that election fraud deprived President Trump of reelection (Nov. 19, 2020 photo).  Powell has since pleaded guilty in a Georgia racketeering case arising out of the false claims.

Defamed Georgia election workers Shae Moss, center, and Ruby Freeman speak after a federal jury awarded them $148 million in damages for defamation by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 15, 2024 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig).

Defamed Georgia election workers Shae Moss, center, and Ruby Freeman speak after a federal jury awarded them $148 million in damages for defamation by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 15, 2024 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig).

Law&Crime, Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing claims ‘net income’ is $2,308 per month – after over $43,000 in monthly expenses, Colin Kalmbacher, Jan. 27, 2024. Rudy Giuliani has a “net income” of $2,308 per month, according to a series of filings in a federal bankruptcy court on Friday afternoon.

lawcrime logoThe former New York City mayor identified substantial sources of income and hefty financial obligations in various schedules and additional context about his finances in a statement of financial affairs submitted with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and obtained by Law&Crime.

The concept of “net income,” however, is a feature of U.S. Bankruptcy rules that does not accurately reflect income as generally understood.
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Giuliani filed for bankruptcy in December 2023 after a federal court ordered him to “immediately” pay former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss $148 million after they won a defamation case against him. The onetime Donald Trump attorney found himself the subject of that pricey defamation lawsuit — and eventual verdict in the plaintiffs’ favor — after he falsely claimed the two women committed electoral fraud during the 2020 election.

The bankruptcy filing effectively paused collection efforts on that judgment against him. He is now seeking to use the proceedings to request a modification of his liability to Freeman and Moss — and potentially a do-over trial on the amount of damages he owes them.

More Law&Crime coverage: Rudy Giuliani ordered to testify under oath in bankruptcy proceedings

According to the filings, Giuliani has a “combined monthly income” of just over $46,000 from various sources, including Social Security payments and income from a rental property or business, and requires minimum distributions from three separate retirement accounts.

At the same time, Giuliani claims monthly expenses of $43,797 — including court-ordered payments to his mother-in-law ($13,500) and alimony ($5,000). His personal expenses run somewhat high for a New Yorker and include itemized entries on transportation ($1,600), food and household items ($1,050), laundry and dry cleaning ($500), and personal care products or services ($425). The total also includes $10,934 per month for homeowner’s association or condominium dues on his New York City apartment, $5,166 per month for such fees on his Florida residence, and a $3,000 per month mortgage in Florida. He does not list any money being spent whatsoever on entertainment.

All told, subtracting his monthly expenses from his monthly income nets Giuliani $2,308, the filings claim. And, he’s apparently not much of a saver: the filings claim Giuliani has $14,000 in his checking account and just $351 in his savings account — as well as $50 in cash.

But, far from pleading anything akin to poverty, his assets are assessed to be in the range of several million dollars. At least.

Giuliani has estimated that his Upper East Side apartment is worth $5.6 million; he claims his Palm Beach home is worth $3.5 million. There are various entries for personal property including a $25,000 Mercedes, a $2,500 “Television,” and nearly $60,000 worth of personal effects, jewelry (including three Yankees World Series rings), clothing, furniture, and other household goods.

Then there are the unknowns. Giuliani owns a certain number of Uber shares — which would seemingly be easy enough to estimate. But the space for the value of those shares reads: “Unknown.”

Another “Unknown” entry is the value of a signed picture of Reggie Jackson, a signed picture of Yankee Stadium, and the crowned jewel of his Bronx Bombers collection: a signed “Joe DiMaggio” shirt.

There are also three incorporated companies owned entirely by Giuliani. The value of those companies is listed as “Unknown.”

The filings also assert two possible forthcoming credits to his overall financial health under a section for “contingent and unliquidated claims.” There, Giuliani asserts he has a “Possible claim for legal fees against Donald J. Trump” and a “Joseph Biden defamation action.” Those values are listed as “Undetermined.”

 

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York (Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll leaves federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan on April 27 in New York (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York City (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Investigations: Roberta Kaplan, a Legal Force, Was Carroll’s Lawyer and Trump’s Nemesis, Maria Cramer and Kate Christobek, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). She won a Supreme Court case that won gay couples federal recognition. During her closing argument on behalf of E. Jean Caroll, Donald Trump walked out.

The meeting turned ugly fast.

In October 2022, Roberta Kaplan flew to Donald Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, to question him under oath in the defamation lawsuit that her client, the writer E. Jean Carroll, had filed against him after she accused him of sexually assaulting her.

“She’s not my type,” Mr. Trump said when he was asked if he raped Ms. Carroll in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York.

Then he shrugged, looked at Ms. Kaplan and pointed at her.

“You wouldn’t be a choice of mine either, to be honest with you,” he said, according to transcripts of the deposition. “I would not, under any circumstances, have any interest in you. I’m honest when I say it.”

She began another question, then paused and reminded him, “I’m an attorney.”

Ms. Kaplan, an openly gay lawyer who married her wife, Rachel Lavine, in Toronto in 2005, faced more invective from Mr. Trump during the five-hour deposition. He called her “a political operative,” “a disgrace.” When she asked him if he had been referring to Ms. Carroll when he said in June 2019 that people who make false accusations of rape should “pay dearly,” he said yes.

“And I think their attorneys, too,” Mr. Trump responded, smiling slightly. “I think the attorneys like you are a big part of it, because you know it’s a phony case.”

Ms. Kaplan did not respond.

It was a clash of two New Yorkers, both of them formidable combatants and talkers but in different ways. While Mr. Trump, 77, has a salesman’s flair for bombast and an instinct for insult, Ms. Kaplan, 57, is methodical and disciplined. An experienced litigator, she has represented major corporations and won a 2013 Supreme Court case that granted same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time. She has said that, as a lawyer, “I really am like a dog with a bone” — never letting go once her teeth are engaged.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump Trials: After Trump’s $88 million judgments, new penalty could come soon, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.).  Another jury has spoken, and it will cost Donald Trump $83.3 million on top of the $5 million he was already ordered to pay writer E. Jean Carroll. This edition of our Trump Trials newsletter is focused largely on the civil courts, where we expect Trump will get more bad news in coming weeks.

Judge Arthur Engoron is expected to soon issue his decision on financial penalties in the civil fraud case brought by the New York attorney general, who has asked that Trump and his companies be ordered to pay $370 million for allegedly misstating the values of his business assets.

At the same time, we’re waiting for a ruling from the federal appeals court in D.C. on whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for actions he took during his presidency.

In Atlanta, where District Attorney Fani Willis has filed charges against Trump and more than a dozen others, there is a Friday deadline for the prosecutor to respond to allegations she misused her position by having a romantic relationship with a subordinate she hired to work on the case, Nathan Wade.

On Wednesday, a hearing is scheduled in Wade’s divorce case, which was the genesis of the controversy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump will be able to wait to pay the full $83.3 million until all his appeals are exhausted, Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump — the rare defendant who can afford a judgment of this size — could secure a bond to cover it while his appeals play out.

Donald J. Trump might one day have to pay E. Jean Carroll the $83.3 million she was awarded, but that day is not today.

Mr. Trump called the jury’s decision “Absolutely ridiculous!” and vowed to appeal the verdict, a process that could take months or more.

And while he is waiting for an appellate court to rule, Mr. Trump need not cut Ms. Carroll a check.

Yet the former president is still on the hook to pay something — possibly a sizable sum — while he waits.

Mr. Trump can pay the $83.3 million to the court, which will hold the money while the appeal is pending. This is what he did last year when a jury ordered him to pay Ms. Carroll $5.5 million in a related case.

Or, Mr. Trump can try to secure a bond, which will save him from having to pay the full amount up front.

A bond might require him to pay a deposit and offer collateral, and would come with interest and fees. It would also require Mr. Trump to find a financial institution willing to lend him a large sum of money at a time when he is in significant legal jeopardy.

Although Mr. Trump likes to boast of his billions, much of his wealth is linked to the value of his properties, and he is loath to part with vast sums of cash at once.

And when it comes to his varied legal expenses — of which there are many — he tries to avoid spending his own money at all. Mr. Trump has tapped his political action committee’s coffers to pay for his own legal fees and other expenses stemming from his criminal indictments and civil trials.

Yet $83.3 million eclipses the amount in his political accounts. The verdict on Friday will require Mr. Trump to reach into his own pocket.

Still, if the verdict survives Mr. Trump’s appeals, Ms. Carroll should eventually be paid, according to Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University.

“He’s the rare defendant with an $83 million verdict against him who actually has the money,” Mr. Green said. “Wherever this lands, she should be able to collect.”

He has enough cash to cover the verdict in various accounts, a person close to him said. In recent years, Mr. Trump has unloaded several assets, including his Washington hotel, which sold for $375 million.

Yet the verdict on Friday is not the only payout upcoming for Mr. Trump. The New York attorney general is seeking a $370 million penalty from the former president and his family business as part of a civil fraud trial that wrapped up this month.

The judge in that case is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks. If Mr. Trump is ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, it is unclear whether he would have to sell another asset to make a payment like that.

 

 Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Imagesand TNS).

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Images and TNS).

 

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair.

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair from election finance officials and the public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Manhattan’s district attorney is quietly preparing for a Trump trial, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum
Jan. 25, 2024. As prosecutors navigate calendars and appeals, Alvin L. Bragg may take the former president’s first criminal case to trial. He has said that covering up a hush-money payment was a fraud on voters.

Federal prosecutors have accused Donald J. Trump of plotting to subvert American democracy and mishandling nuclear secrets. But with those cases in limbo, state prosecutors in Manhattan are gearing up as though they will be the first to try the former president on criminal charges — for covering up a potential sex scandal.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has begun to approach witnesses to prepare them for trial, including Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, according to people with knowledge of the matter. He and at least two others involved in buying a porn star’s silence about her story of a tryst with Mr. Trump are expected to meet with prosecutors in the coming weeks.

With the potential trial drawing near, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has also added one of his most experienced trial lawyers to the team assigned to prosecute Mr. Trump.

And in recent public appearances, Mr. Bragg has presented the loftiest possible conception of the case, casting it as a clear-cut instance of election interference, in which a candidate defrauded the American people to win the White House in 2016. Mr. Trump did so, the district attorney argues, by concealing an illegal payoff to the porn star, thus hiding damaging information from voters just days before they headed to the polls.

“The case — the core of it — is not money for sex,” Mr. Bragg said in a radio interview last month, objecting to news outlets’ longstanding characterization of it as a hush-money case. “We would say it’s about conspiring to corrupt a presidential election and then lying in New York business records to cover it up. That’s the heart of the case.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Conflict Claim Against Georgia Trump Prosecutors

 

Fulton County Prosecutors Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (Reuters file photo by Elijah Nouvelage).

Fulton County Prosecutors Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (Reuters file photo by Elijah Nouvelage

washington post logoWashington Post, Fani Willis subpoenaed for hearing on misconduct allegations in Trump Georgia case, Holly Bailey, Jan. 31, 2024. An anticipated hearing over allegations that Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) engaged in an improper personal relationship with the lead prosecutor in the election-interference case against former president Donald Trump is beginning to take shape, with subpoenas issued seeking the sworn testimony of Willis and others in a proceeding that is likely to determine whether the case proceeds.

michael romanAn attorney for Mike Roman, right, the Trump co-defendant who first leveled misconduct allegations against Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade more than three weeks ago, has subpoenaed both to testify under oath at a Feb. 15 evidentiary hearing on his motion to disqualify them from the case and have charges against Roman dismissed.

But a notice shared Wednesday with Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the case, shows that Ashleigh Merchant, Roman’s attorney, is seeking to call at least 10 other witnesses, including senior members of Willis’s staff and associates of Wade, to prove her client’s allegations of prosecutorial wrongdoing. She has subpoenaed financial records tied to Wade and his law firm as she seeks to back up her claims, including that Wade used his income as a special prosecutor to pay for vacations for him and Willis.

In addition to Willis and Wade, Merchant has issued subpoenas to several employees of the district attorney’s office — including Daysha Young, an executive district attorney who is also assigned to the Trump case; Tia Green, an executive assistant to Willis; Sonya Allen, an assistant district attorney who previously worked with Wade in Cobb County; Mike Hill, an investigator assigned to the Trump case; Dexter Bond, the office’s chief operating officer; Capers Green, the office’s chief of investigations; and Thomas Ricks, an investigator assigned to Willis’s security team.

It is unclear whether Willis will seek to challenge her subpoena or those issued to her staff members. A spokesman for Willis declined to comment.

Other subpoenas were issued to Wade’s current and former law partners, Christopher Campbell and Terrence Bradley, and to Robin Bryant-Yeartie, a longtime Willis associate who previously worked at the district attorney’s office.

Last week, an attorney for Joycelyn Mayfield Wade, Wade’s estranged wife, filed notice in their divorce case that she had issued a subpoena seeking information on an Atlanta home. The address was previously linked to Bryant-Yeartie, according to public records.

Reached by phone before Merchant gave notice that she planned to call her as a witness, Bryant-Yeartie declined to comment. “If I get subpoenaed, that’s when I’ll talk,” Bryant-Yeartie said before hanging up.

Merchant also subpoenaed two Atlanta-area travel agencies — Vacation Express and H2O, Limited — seeking information on airline tickets, hotels and other travel expenses possibly tied to Wade and Willis dating back to 2020. She also issued summonses to American Express, Capital One and Synovus Bank seeking financial records for Wade and his law firm.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump prosecutor settles divorce before hearing where he may have been asked about alleged misconduct, Amy Gardner and Holly Bailey, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). The lead prosecutor in the election interference case against the former president and his allies will avoid a hearing that could have included testimony about allegations of an improper relationship between him and Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis.

Nathan Wade was expected to be questioned under oath about his finances — including his income as a special prosecutor in the Trump case and his spending, such as his purchase of airline tickets for himself and Willis in October 2022 and April 2023.

michael romanThe divorce garnered national attention after one of Trump’s co-defendants, former campaign aide Mike Roman, right, accused Willis and Wade of having an “improper, clandestine personal relationship” that has financially benefited them both, prompting calls for their removal from the criminal case in Fulton County, home to Atlanta. Both Trump and a third defendant adopted Roman’s motion to remove Willis and Wade from the case and dismiss the charges.

County records show Wade’s firm has been paid more than $653,000 for his work on the election case over the past two years.

The last-minute agreement, albeit “temporary” for now, allows Wade and Willis to avoid testimony that could have been embarrassing or given Trump and his co-defendants new evidence or ammunition to undermine the criminal case. Attorneys for the defendants had planned to closely follow Wednesday’s hearing as they prepare for a separate Feb. 15 hearing in Fulton County on whether the allegations warrant disqualification or dismissal.

But the settlement does not eliminate scrutiny of alleged actions by the two prosecutors. Nor does it assure that the criminal case against Trump and his allies will continue. Last week, Republicans in the Georgia Senate established an investigatory committee with subpoena power to probe whether Willis (D) was in a romantic relationship with Wade when she appointed him as a special prosecutor. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission seeking an investigation.

Attorneys for Joycelyn Mayfield Wade, Wade’s estranged wife, had also sought to question Willis in the case, arguing she has “unique knowledge” about Wade’s finances and his marriage. But Cobb County Superior Court Judge Henry Thompson, who oversaw the divorce case, stayed that subpoena during a hearing last week, saying he first wanted to hear testimony from Wade.

Thompson issued a temporary consent order shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, explaining that the hearing has been removed from the calendar with the consent of both parties, because they have agreed “to all issues presently before the court.”

Their agreement will not be filed in court, Thompson noted — meaning it may not ever be public. Last week, Wade’s divorce lawyer asked the judge to reconsider a motion to seal the divorce case, which would have required a public hearing. It was not immediately clear whether the divorce agreement would stop the disclosure of any other information potentially damaging to Willis or Wade, including discovery material.

Meidas Touch Network, Trump ATTACK on Georgia Prosecutor NOW A MASSIVE FLOP, Michael Popok, Jan. 30, 2024. Champagne corks are popping across America: the nightmare that is the Fulton County special Trump prosecutor Nathan Wade’s divorce is finally over! Michael Popok of Legal AF reports on a settlement reached between Mr Wade which will prevent MAGA from getting to depose his boss Fulton County DA Fani Willis, and will likely lead to the criminal judge quickly denying the efforts by Trump and his co co conspirators to dismiss the Georgia indictment.

 

Fani Willis, left, is the district attorney for Atlanta-based Fulton County in Georgia. Her office has been probing since 2021 then-President Trump's claiming beginning in 2020 of election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere. Trump and his allies have failed to win support for their claims from Georgia's statewide election officials, who are Republican, or from courts. absence of support from Georgia's Republican election officials supporting his claims. Fani Willis, left, is the district attorney for Atlanta-based Fulton County in Georgia. Her office has been probing since 2021 then-President Trump's claiming beginning in 2020 of election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere. Trump and his allies have failed to win support for their claims from Georgia's statewide election officials, who are Republican, or from courts.

Politico, Georgia Prosecutor is Faced With CRITICAL DECISION in Prosecution of Trump, Burgess Everett, Ursula Perano and Jordain Carney,  politico CustomJan. 25, 2024. Should Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade resign to permit Fulton County DA Fani Willis to prosecute the case against Trump and 14 others without unnecessary distraction? Michael Popok of Legal AF reporting from Georgia answers the question and explains what it means for the case if the issue of their relationship goes all the way to the criminal court judge.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More On U.S. Election Deniers, Insurrectionists

washington post logoWashington Post, Peter Navarro sentenced to 4 months for contempt of Congress in Jan. 6 probe, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 25, 2024. Navarro, 74(shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo outside the federal  courthouse in Washington, DC), became the second senior former Trump adviser to face time behind bars for stonewalling Congress, joining Stephen K. Bannon.

peter navarro 6 3 2022 jip IMG 8311Peter Navarro, a White House aide to President Donald Trump who claimed credit for devising a plan to overturn the 2020 election, was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday morning for ignoring a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

Justice Department log circular“Dr. Navarro, you are not a victim. You are not the object of a political prosecution,” U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta said. While Navarro received all due process that he and all Americans are entitled to, Mehta continued, “Regrettably, when you were called up to go to testify, you didn’t show a coequal branch of government [Congress] the same degree of respect.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

GOP Attacks, Impeachment Inquiry Against Bidens

 

 Hunter Biden, a businessman, artist and son of President Biden, left, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell in the audience of a House Government Oversight Committee hearing on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC (AP photo by Luis Magana).

 Hunter Biden, a businessman, artist and son of President Biden, left, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell in the audience of a House Government Oversight Committee hearing on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC (AP photo by Luis Magana).

ny times logoNew York Times, Hunter Biden Agrees to Deposition in Impeachment Inquiry, Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 18, 2024. The chairmen of the Oversight and Judiciary committees set a Feb. 28 deposition date for President Biden’s son, who resisted a previous subpoena for a closed-door interview and asked to testify in public.

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More On Ukraine-Russian War, Russian Leadership

ap logoAssociated Press, Russia says it has swapped 195 POWs with Ukraine, Staff Report, Jan. 31, 2024. Defense Ministry says Russia and Ukraine have exchanged 195 prisoners of war each.

Russian FlagThe Russian Defense Ministry said the swap was conducted on Wednesday. The announcement came a week after Russia alleged that Ukrainian forces shot down a military transport plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war who were to be swapped for Russian POWs.

ukraine flagThe Defense Ministry said that missiles fired from across the border brought down the transport plane in Russia’s Belgorod region on Jan. 24. Local authorities in Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, said the crash killed all 74 people onboard, including six crew members and three Russian servicemen.

Ukrainian officials confirmed last week that a prisoner swap was due to happen that day but said it had been called off.

ap logoAssociated Press, The UN’s top court is set to rule on Ukraine’s allegation that Russia bankrolled separatist rebels, Mike Corder, Jan. 31, 2024.  The United Nations’ top court plans to rule Wednesday on Ukraine’s allegations that Russia bankrolled separatist rebels in the country’s east a decade ago and has discriminated against Crimea’s multiethnic community since its annexation of the peninsula.

Russian FlagThe legally binding final ruling is the first of two expected decisions from the International Court of Justice linked to the decadelong conflict between Russia and Ukraine that exploded into a full-blown war almost two years ago.

The case, filed in 2017, accuses Russia of breaching conventions against discrimination and the financing of terrorism. Ukraine wants the court to order Moscow to pay reparations for attacks and crimes in the country’s east, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Russia-backed rebels shot down the plane on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Russia denies involvement. A Dutch domestic court convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian in November 2022 for their roles in the attack and sentenced them in their absence to life imprisonment. The Netherlands and Ukraine also have sued Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over MH17.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Two Years of Bloody Fighting, Ukraine Wrestles With Conscription, Constant Méheut and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Jan. 28, 2024. A proposed bill on mobilization has become the focus of a debate as more men dodge the draft and calls rise to demobilize exhausted soldiers.

ukraine flagWhen Russian troops and tanks invaded Ukraine in February 2022, tens of thousands of Ukrainians rushed to serve in the army in a surge of patriotic fervor. The influx of fighters who dutifully answered their draft notices or enlisted as volunteers helped to repel Russia’s initial assault and thwart the Kremlin’s plans to decapitate the Ukrainian government.

Russian FlagBut after nearly two years of bloody fighting, and with Ukraine once again in need of fresh troops to fend off a new Russian push, military leaders can no longer rely solely on enthusiasm. More men are avoiding military service, while calls to demobilize exhausted frontline soldiers have grown.

The change in mood has been particularly evident in the heated debates over a new mobilization bill that could lead to drafting up to 500,000 troops. The bill was introduced in Parliament last month — only to be quickly withdrawn for revision.

Washington Post, U.S. war plans for Ukraine don’t foresee retaking lost territory, Karen DeYoung, Michael Birnbaum, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Emily Rauhala, Jan. 28, 2024.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine says Russia has not given evidence of POWs on downed military plane, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Russia has not provided evidence that Ukrainian prisoners of war were aboard a military plane that was downed on Wednesday, officials in Kyiv said Friday, as the warring countries continued to trade blame over the murky incident.

ukraine flagAn emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, called at Moscow’s request, yielded no new information about the plane’s destruction or who was on board. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov complained Friday that the global reaction was inadequate.

“There is no strong condemnation here from the West, of this horrific terrorist act, the destruction of the airplane that was carrying, first of all our pilots, escorts, but also killed a very large number of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” Peskov said. “What happened requires proper assessment by the international community.”

Russian FlagBut more than 48 hours after the plane fell from the sky and left a large swath of charred earth, Russia has provided scant evidence of its claims. Ukrainian officials said that despite the Kremlin’s rhetoric, Moscow is blocking an international investigation.

Russia has said that the Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane, which crashed Wednesday in the western Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, was carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs who were set to be exchanged that day.

This man wants to run against Putin. Thousands of Russians are helping him.

Ukraine has not directly confirmed that it shot down the plane, but it has not denied involvement and has hinted that it was responsible, calling the aircraft a military target that was regularly used to ferry missiles to be launched at Ukrainian cities.

Officials in Kyiv have insisted they do not know whether POWs were on the plane. Instead, they have called for Russia to provide more information to Kyiv and to international organizations and investigators.

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U.S. Supreme Court

 

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

The official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, Maine court puts hold on one of Trump’s primary ballot cases, Patrick Marley, Jan. 18, 2024 (print ed.). A judge delayed the decision Wednesday, saying the Supreme Court must rule on a similar Colorado case first. Maine’s secretary of state had ruled last month that Donald Trump was an insurrectionist who is not eligible to hold office again.

A Maine judge on Wednesday put off deciding whether Donald Trump’s name can appear on that state’s primary ballot, saying the Supreme Court needs to rule on the issue first in a similar case out of Colorado.

The ruling sent the case back to Maine’s secretary of state and put the case on hold. It came amid a nationwide push from Trump’s critics to prevent the former president from running for office again.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution bars from office those who engaged in insurrection after swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution. The amendment was ratified in 1868, and the clause was used initially to keep former Confederates from returning to power after the Civil War.

Trump’s critics have cited the measure in lawsuits arguing Trump is banned from office because of his behavior before and during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Colorado’s top court last month ruled Trump should be taken off the primary ballot there, and a week later Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) reached the same conclusion.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Colorado case and will hear arguments in it on Feb. 8. Its ruling on the issue is likely to apply to all states.

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Then-President Trump speaking to supporters on Jan. 6, 2021 outside the White House in advance of a mob moving east to overrun the U.S. Capitol, thereby threatening the election certification djt jan 6 speech

 

U.S. Military, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy

 yemen map middle east

Politico, Houthi rebels fire missile at US warship, escalating Mideast crisis, Mark Scott, Jan. 27, 2024. Incident in Gulf of Aden is the first time the Iranian-backed group has directly targeted an American military vessel.

politico CustomIn a further escalation of the Middle East crisis, the Houthi rebels early Saturday fired on a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Aden — the first time the Iranian-backed group has directly targeted an American military vessel since it began its assaults on shipping in October.

The group, which has been attacking commercial shipping off the coast of Yemen in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, fired an anti-ship missile toward the U.S. destroyer USS Carney, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

"The missile was successfully shot down," the U.S. military said. "There were no injuries or damage reported."

Though unsuccessful, the attack marks an intensification in the battle between the Houthis, which control large parts of Yemen, and a U.S.-led naval operation aimed at protecting commercial shipping in one of the most important global trade routes.

Politico, Lawmakers greenlight F-16s for Turkey after Erdoğan approved Sweden’s NATO bid, Joe Gould, Connor O’Brien and Nahal Toosi, Jan. politico Custom27, 2024. The action advances the sale of the Lockheed Martin-made jets after leaders of House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees gave informal approval.

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More On U.S. Courts, Crime, Guns, Civil Rights, Immigration

 

rick scott blue shirt file

Roll Call, Lawmakers back maximum prison sentence in tax record leak case, Michael Macagnone, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Sen. Rick Scott (above) says he intends to read a victim impact statement during a sentencing hearing Monday.

Members of Congress have backed a tough prison sentence for a man who pleaded guilty to leaking to the media tax records of Donald Trump, Sen. Rick Scott and billionaires Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos.

irs logoA sentencing hearing is set for Monday morning in Washington for Charles Littlejohn, a former contractor for the Internal Revenue Service, on one charge of disclosing tax return information without authorization.

Prosecutors have recommended that Judge Ana C. Reyes of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sentence Littlejohn to five years in prison, arguing that he leaked the returns of over a thousand people, damaging the tax system and the public trust.

Prosecutors said the “unparalleled” disclosure warranted the maximum statutory sentence.

“There simply is no precedent for a case involving the disclosure of tax return and return information associated with ‘over a thousand’ individuals and entities,” prosecutors wrote.

Justice Department log circularScott, R-Fla., announced Thursday that he was one of the people whose tax information was leaked by Littlejohn and said he intended to read a victim impact statement during Monday’s hearing.

Scott also published a letter that asked Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to attend and criticized prosecutors for allowing Littlejohn to plead guilty to a single criminal charge. Scott wrote that Littlejohn’s crimes were “entirely aligned with the agenda of the Biden administration” and that Garland had politicized the Justice Department.

“Since you have steered the Justice Department down this partisan political path, you should be on hand personally to in some way be accountable,” Scott wrote.

Garland issued a statement on the case alongside the announcement of Littlejohn’s guilty plea last year, praising the DOJ’s effort and decrying Littlejohn’s conduct.

“By using his role as a government contractor to gain access to private tax information, steal that information, and disclose it publicly, Charles Littlejohn broke federal law and betrayed the public’s trust,” Garland said at the time.

Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee, in a letter to the judge, criticized the DOJ’s handling of the case, particularly the fact that Littlejohn pleaded guilty to only one criminal count.

The letter, led by committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., argued Littlejohn took great steps to damage the tax system and evade justice and should receive the maximum five-year prison sentence.

“Mr. Littlejohn’s actions showed disdain for the rule of law and American confidence in our voluntary tax system. He acted with an apparent political motivation and perhaps with an intent to impact a Presidential election,” the letter states.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., had a single word of response to Smith’s letter on X, the site formerly known as Twitter: “Absolutely.”

According to court papers, Littlejohn stole information about “Public Official A” over several months in 2019 and provided them to a news organization which later published them. In September 2020, The New York Times published a lengthy investigation about former President Trump’s finances, which showed he routinely lost money and paid little in taxes.

Littlejohn later stole information on thousands of wealthy taxpayers in 2020, according to court documents. He later provided that information to another news organization, according to court documents, which published them in 2021.

In 2021, ProPublica published a story showing that wealthy individuals, including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos regularly paid little in taxes relative to the average American.

In a filing last year in court, the government and Littlejohn stipulated to a sentencing guidelines recommendation for between eight and 14 months in prison, but both sides reserved the right to push for departures from those guidelines.

Littlejohn’s attorneys have argued for leniency, saying that Littlejohn believed he was acting in the public interest after becoming concerned about income inequality and tax dodging.

“He did not disclose the information for personal gain; nor did he intend to harm the taxpayers,” the sentencing memorandum said.

 

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National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre is shown at a CPAC convention on Feb. 22, 2018 in a photo via CBS News.

National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre is shown at a CPAC convention on Feb. 22, 2018 in a photo via CBS News.

 

More On Disasters, Climate Change, Environment, Transportation

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Since Ohio Train Derailment, Accidents Have Gone Up, Peter Eavis, Jan. 28, 2024. A year after a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Congress still hasn’t passed legislation to prevent such disasters.

After a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed a year ago in East Palestine, Ohio, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents and upending life in the town for months, the rail industry pledged to work to become safer, and members of Congress vowed to pass legislation to prevent similar disasters.

No bill was passed. And accidents went up.

Derailments rose at the top five freight railroads in 2023, according to regulatory reports for the first 10 months of the year, the most recent period for which data exists for all five companies.

And there was a steep increase in the mechanical problem — an overheated wheel bearing — that regulators think caused the derailment of the 1.75-mile-long train in East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern, the operator of the train and the owner of the track that runs through the town, was the only railroad among the five to report a decline in accidents in the period.

In response to the accident, members of Congress in March introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at making railroads safer. But crucial parts of the legislation — including a requirement that railroads use more detectors to identify overheated wheel bearings — have faced resistance from rail lobbyists, who contend that they would inhibit the ability of railroads to introduce new practices and technologies to reduce accidents. The bill has yet to be put up for a full vote in the Senate.

“These figures show the railroad industry’s safety standards are getting worse,” said Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio and a co-sponsor of the bill. “We can reverse the trend by passing the Railway Safety Act immediately.”

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Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Austin’s prostate cancer case spotlights broader silence around disease, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 28, 2024. The moment was a ‘missed opportunity’ for the Pentagon chief to lead and spread awareness, fellow survivors say.

Daniel R. Eagle, a retired Air Force general, is open about his prostate cancer. At least, he is now. Had he been in the military still, he said, he may have handled it differently.

“I certainly would have been a lot more circumspect,” said Eagle, who spent nearly 40 years in uniform, retiring in 2010. “I think I would have had more embarrassment about it, and been more hesitant to share with other folks. Because there is absolutely a stigma.”

The military’s uneasy culture around cancer — and prostate cancer, in particular — spilled into public view earlier this month when the Pentagon disclosed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired Army general known to be intensely private, had secretly undergone surgery to treat the disease at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 22. Austin, 70, withheld the information from virtually everyone, including President Biden, and the diagnosis came to light only after he was hospitalized again Jan. 1 with serious complications from the procedure.

The ensuing firestorm — in which the White House, Pentagon and Congress all have promised to scrutinize how the commander in chief and Austin’s own No. 2, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, were left in the dark for so long — has clouded Austin’s tenure and raised questions about his judgment. He has acknowledged that he “could have done a better job” communicating, but in the weeks since has taken no questions about his decision-making, and declined even to recite prepared remarks — intended to glancingly address his condition — at the outset of a Jan. 23 virtual meeting of international leaders involved in Ukraine’s war effort.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Prices must not limit people’s access to Paxlovid, Leana S. Wen, right, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). In response to last week’s column on how the leana wenantiviral pill Paxlovid is dramatically underutilized in treating covid-19, readers shared their challenges with accessing the medication. One of the most frustrating: unexpected financial barriers.

Karen from Virginia, for example, contracted covid last week and was prescribed Paxlovid. But her pharmacy told her she had to pay the list price of $1,400.

Fortunately, she had just read an article from AARP explaining that patients on Medicare should be able to get Paxlovid for free. “You have to fill out information through the Pfizer Patient Support Program,” she told me. “I didn’t know this, and I think many of your readers may not either.”

Indeed, I was not aware of this program, so I spoke with a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services for clarification. Last November, Paxlovid transitioned to the commercial market. Previously, the federal government purchased the medication and provided it free of charge. Now, it is dispensed like other drugs and billed through insurance.

The Biden administration has been working closely with the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, to ensure that patients aren’t being priced out from accessing this lifesaving treatment. The senior official was clear with me that “everyone on Medicare, Medicaid or without insurance should be able to get Paxlovid for free.”

People should go to paxlovid.iassist.com and enroll in the patient assistance program. They can also call 877-219-7225 to sign up. Those on Medicare, Medicaid or who are uninsured should then be able to get Paxlovid free either from pharmacies or through the mail. Those with private insurance might be charged a co-pay, but the patient access program can also help to reduce that amount.

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U.S. Abortion, Family Planning, #MeToo

ny times logoNew York Times, Can San Francisco Solve Its Drug Crisis? Here Are 5 Things to Consider, German Lopez, Graphics by Josh Katz and Alicia Parlapiano, Jan. 31, 2024. A comparison with Portugal’s approach to decriminalization shows why many liberal cities have struggled to match its success.

San Francisco is in the middle of a drug crisis. Overdose deaths reached a record high last year, topping 800. Public drug use is widespread in some neighborhoods.

How did San Francisco get to this point? In part, it follows the national story: The rise of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, and a destabilizing pandemic caused a spike in addiction and overdose deaths.

But San Francisco’s drug crisis has outpaced the country’s. In 2014, the city’s overdose death rate was roughly in line with the national average. As of last year, its rate was more than double the national average, and San Francisco was No. 4 for overdose deaths among U.S. counties with more than 500,000 people. The country’s overdose crisis worsened over the past decade as fentanyl spread, but San Francisco’s worsened much more quickly.

Local policy changes are partly to blame, some experts say. In 2014, California voters passed Prop 47, reducing drug possession to a misdemeanor from a felony. Different parts of the state have interpreted the change differently. In San Francisco, law enforcement has responded by scaling back efforts against drugs, de-emphasizing incarceration and effectively allowing public drug use.

Those who support at least partial decriminalization often cite the experience of Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs more than two decades ago and then saw a decline in drug-related problems. In 2019, the San Francisco district attorney at the time, George Gascón, even visited Portugal to learn more. But while San Francisco and other liberal cities have embraced some aspects of Portugal’s decriminalization laws, they have struggled to replicate Portugal’s success.

The comparison with Portugal is not perfect. For one, fentanyl has not taken over Portuguese drug markets, and has a relatively small presence in Europe as a whole. Still, the comparison gives a way to think about the challenges that San Francisco and other cities have faced. Those challenges can be broken down into five parts, each touching on a different aspect of drug policy.

ny times logoNew York Times, San Francisco’s addiction crisis has worsened quickly — and culture is a big factor, German Lopez writes. For some San Franciscans, a drug crisis is just part of city living. They see people shooting up in front of their homes and businesses. They often find someone dozing on a sidewalk, high. Sometimes, they check for a pulse. “That’s how I found my first dead body,” said Adam Mesnick, owner of a local deli.

But the city’s drug crisis is relatively new. In 2018, San Francisco’s overdose death rate roughly matched the national average. Last year, its death rate was more than double the national level.

In San Francisco and other liberal cities, the opposite shift has happened with hard drug use. The culture has become more tolerant of people using drugs. When I asked people living on the streets why they are in San Francisco, the most common response was that they knew they could avoid the legal and social penalties that often follow addiction. Some came from as close as Oakland, believing that San Francisco was more permissive. As Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, told me, San Francisco “is on the extreme of a pro-drug culture.”

San Francisco’s change is rooted in a broader effort to destigmatize addiction. Some experts and activists have argued that a less punitive and judgmental approach to drug use would help users get treatment — a “love the sinner, hate the sin” attitude.

Over time, though, these efforts in liberal cities have expanded from users to drug use itself. Activists in San Francisco now refer to “body autonomy” — arguing that people have the right to put whatever they choose into their veins and lungs. They no longer want to hate the sin. They say it’s no one’s business but the drug user’s.

One example of this shift: In early 2020, an advocacy group put up a billboard downtown to promote the use of naloxone, an overdose antidote. It showed happy young people seeming to enjoy a high together. “Know overdose,” the billboard said. “Use with people and take turns.” Here, drug use wasn’t dangerous as long as users had someone to check on them while high.New York Times,

Associated Press, 4 NHL players have been charged with sexual assault in a 2018 case in Canada, their lawyers say, Stephen Whyno, Jan. 30, 2024. NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils and Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames have been charged with sexual assault in connection with an alleged assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.

Attorneys representing Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube said Tuesday that each player has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ontario. They denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.

Hart’s lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said their client is facing one count of sexual assault, adding, “He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law.”

Legal teams representing McLeod and Dube said the players would be pleading not guilty.

“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod’s attorneys, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. “We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”

NBC News, Suspect in deadly Minnesota shooting allegedly dressed as a UPS worker, Staff Report, Jan. 30, 2024. Authorities arrested Alonzo Mingo in connection to the shooting deaths of three people at a home in Coon Rapids, Minn. According to a criminal report, Mingo dressed as a UPS delivery worker and allegedly demanded money at gunpoint.


Politico, The anti-abortion plan ready for Trump on Day One, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The stakes of the election go far beyond whether a GOP president signs a bill banning the procedure.

politico CustomAnti-abortion groups have not yet persuaded Donald Trump to commit to signing a national ban if he returns to the White House.

But, far from being deterred, those groups are designing a far-reaching anti-abortion agenda for the former president to implement as soon as he is in office.

In emerging plans that involve everything from the EPA to the Federal Trade Commission to the Postal Service, nearly 100 anti-abortion and conservative groups are mapping out ways the next president can use the sprawling federal bureaucracy to curb abortion access.

djt maga hatMany of the policies they advocate are ones Trump implemented in his first term and President Joe Biden rescinded — rules that would have a far greater impact in a post-Roe landscape. Other items on the wish list are new, ranging from efforts to undo state and federal programs promoting access to abortion to a de facto national ban. But all have one thing in common: They don’t require congressional approval.

“The conversations we’re having with the presidential candidates and their campaigns have been very clear: We expect them to act swiftly,” Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, told POLITICO. “Due to not having 60 votes in the Senate and not having a firm pro-life majority in the House, I think administrative action is where we’re going to see the most action after 2024 if President Trump or another pro-life president is elected.”

The groups have had, at times, a fraught relationship with Trump, who appointed the Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade but who has blamed the anti-abortion movement for electoral losses, criticized Florida’s six-week ban and favors exemptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Yet the sweeping plans indicate how much conservative activists see a potential Trump administration as an opportunity to restrict abortion nationwide — including in states that have voted to protect access over the last two years.

The Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project — a coalition that includes Students for Life, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and other anti-abortion organizations — is drafting executive orders to roll back Biden-era policies that have expanded abortion access, such as making abortions available in some circumstances at VA hospitals. They are also collecting resumes from conservative activists interested in becoming political appointees or career civil servants and training them to use overlooked levers of agency power to curb abortion access.

 

southern baptist convention logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: When the Right Ignores Its Sex Scandals, David French, right, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Let me share with you one of the worst and david french croppedmost important recent news stories that you’ve probably never heard about.

Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought against a man named Paul Pressler for an undisclosed sum. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and alleged that Pressler had raped a man named Duane Rollins for decades, with the rapes beginning when Rollins was only 14 years old.

The story would be terrible enough if Pressler were simply an ordinary predator. But while relatively unknown outside of evangelical circles, Pressler is one of the most important American religious figures of the 20th century. He and his friend Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, are two of the key architects of the so-called conservative resurgence within the S.B.C.

southern baptist convention logo 2The conservative resurgence was a movement conceived in the 1960s and launched in the 1970s that sought to wrest control of the S.B.C. from more theologically liberal and moderate voices. It was a remarkable success. While many established denominations were liberalizing, the S.B.C. lurched to the right and exploded in growth, ultimately becoming the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Pressler and Patterson were heroes within the movement. Patterson led Baptist seminaries and became president of the convention. Pressler was a Texas state judge and a former president of the Council for National Policy, a powerful conservative Christian activist organization.

Both men are now disgraced. In 2018, the board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fired Patterson after it found that he’d grossly mishandled rape allegations — including writing in an email that he wanted to meet alone with a woman who had reported being raped to “break her down” — at both Southwestern and another Baptist seminary.

Pressler’s story is even worse. The evidence that people were aware of allegations against him stretches back decades. To take just two examples, in 1989, Pressler failed an F.B.I. background check after President George H.W. Bush tapped him to lead the Office of Government Ethics. And in 2004, First Baptist Church of Houston investigated accusations that Pressler had groped and undressed a college student, deemed his behavior “morally and spiritually inappropriate” and warned him, but took no other action.

Pressler’s story is in some ways eerily similar to that of Harvey Weinstein. Both were powerful men so brazen about their misconduct that it was an “open secret” in their respective worlds. Yet they were also so powerful that an army of enablers coalesced around them, protecting them from the consequences of their actions. A single individual can be a predator, but it takes a village to protect him from exposure and punishment.

All of these facts are terrible enough, and it’s important to write about them even if we can only bear witness to the injustice. But the coverage, or lack thereof, of Pressler’s fall also helps explain why we’re so very polarized as a nation.

The American right exists in a news environment that reports misconduct on the left or in left-wing institutions loudly and with granular detail. When Weinstein fell and that fall prompted the cascade of revelations that created the #MeToo moment, the right was overrun with commentary on the larger lessons of the episode, including scathing indictments of a Hollywood culture that permitted so much abuse for so very long.

Much of this commentary was good and necessary. Hollywood deserved the indictment. But the coverage on the right also fit a cherished conservative narrative: that liberal sexual values such as those in Hollywood invariably lead to abuse. In Christian America, it was more ammunition for the sense that a righteous “us” was taking on a villainous “them.”

But stories such as Pressler’s complicate this narrative immensely. If both the advocates and enemies of the sexual revolution have their Harvey Weinsteins — that is, if both progressive and conservative institutions can enable abuse — then all that partisan moral clarity starts to disappear. We’re all left with the disturbing and humbling reality that whatever our ideology or theology, it doesn’t make us good people. The allegedly virtuous “us” commits the same sins as the presumptively villainous “them.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden expands abortion, contraception protections on Roe anniversary, Dan Diamond, Jan. 23, 2024 (print ed.). Nikki Haley said she would sign a national abortion ban if elected president.

joe biden black background resized serious fileThe White House on Monday is announcing new steps intended to ensure access to contraception, abortion medication and emergency abortions at hospitals. It represents President Biden’s latest bid to contrast himself with Republican challengers who support strict abortion limits and arrives on the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed abortion rights for nearly 50 years.

The effort to expand access to contraception involves several measures. Federal agencies are issuing guidance that would make no-cost contraceptives more available under the Affordable Care Act and take similar actions to expand contraception access for federal employees. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also plans to send a letter to health insurers instructing them of their obligation to provide no-cost contraceptives, according to a memo the White House sent to reporters Sunday.

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A grand jury declined to indict Brittany Watts, above, who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home, ending a case that drew international scrutiny (Photo via WKBN-TV).

A grand jury declined to indict Brittany Watts, above, who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home, ending a case that drew international scrutiny (Photo via WKBN-TV).

 

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Consumers, High Tech

 

elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Tesla to undo pay package that helped make Musk world’s richest person, Faiz Siddiqui, Rachel Lerman and Will Oremus, Jan. 30, 2024. The ruling by a Delaware court stems from a Tesla shareholder lawsuit over the tech billionaire’s 2018 compensation package

tesla logoA Delaware judge on Tuesday ruled that Elon Musk’s generous 2018 compensation package, which helped make the tech entrepreneur the world’s richest person, was unfair and should be undone.

The $56 billion package, advanced by shareholders and Tesla’s board, entitled Musk to stock options in the company as it hit specific performance targets. Shareholders sued Musk, alleging the process that led to the package was improper.

The decision was earlier reported by Chancery Daily, which tracks Delaware Chancery Court matters, on Threads.

Musk issued a stern reaction on X, the social media site he bought in 2022, when it was known as Twitter.

“Never incorporate your company in the state of Delaware,” he said.

The ruling comes at a particularly tense juncture for the Tesla CEO. He has asked for 25 percent control over the company — which went on to become the world’s most valuable automaker after the pay package was implemented — after he sold off billions worth of stock to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. Investors, including some who were enthusiastic about the 2018 package, are skeptical of Musk’s request for additional control.

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk’s uphill battle to win greater control of Tesla, Faiz Siddiqui, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Once, Musk could do no wrong among Tesla investors. But after a couple of rocky years, reaction to his pitch for greater ownership has been cold.

tesla logoSix years ago, Tesla outlined an ambitious compensation package for its chief executive that made Elon Musk one of the wealthiest men alive, and investors were all for it. Now, the world’s richest person’s desire for more control over the company is facing skepticism from those same quarters.

“Him asking for stock, the whole thing’s absurd,” Ross Gerber, a longtime investor and Musk ally, said in an interview, after issuing a stark conclusion: “I’m very grateful for the Tesla investment I made 10 years ago. We’ve reached a point as a firm, and me personally, where I feel the story is played out.”

While Gerber hasn’t pulled out of Tesla, he has tempered expectations about the company’s future — and become a vocal critic of Musk, one of the most vivid examples of mounting frustration with the entrepreneur regarded as brilliant but erratic. Since Musk this month requested a 25 percent stake in Tesla to avoid “a takeover by dubious interests,” investor patience has shown signs of wearing thin with the risks Musk has taken with his own fortune — and theirs. Gerber’s turning point was when he received outreach from hordes of Tesla investors seeking to pull out of the company after Musk fired off an antisemitic tweet in November.

A little more than a year ago, Musk sold billions in Tesla stock as he scrambled to finance his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, where he promptly gutted the social media company’s workforce, ditched the ubiquitous bird logo and rebranded it as X. Two months ago, advertisers began boycotting the platform after Musk put up the antisemitic post.

 

President Biden shown at the launch of his re-election campaign on Jan. 5, 2024 (New York Times photo by Pete Marovich).

President Biden shown at the launch of his re-election campaign on Jan. 5, 2024 (New York Times photo by Pete Marovich).

washington post logo Washington Post, Falling inflation, rising growth give U.S. the world’s best recovery, David J. Lynch, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). After posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

The European economy, hobbled by unfamiliar weakness in Germany, is barely growing. China is struggling to recapture its sizzle. And Japan continues to disappoint.

But in the United States, it’s a different story. Here, despite lingering consumer angst over inflation, the surprisingly strong economy is outperforming all of its major trading partners.

Since 2020, the United States has powered through a once-in-a-century pandemic, the highest inflation in 40 years and fallout from two foreign wars. Now, after posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

“The U.S. has really come out of this into a place of strength and is moving forward like covid never happened,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who now runs an eponymous consulting firm. “We earned this; it wasn’t just a fluke.”

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ny times logoNew York Times, Tech Companies Have ‘Blood’ on Their Hands, Senator Graham Says at Hearing, David McCabe, Jan. 31, 2024. Five of the most prominent chief executives in tech are facing questions on Wednesday from a powerful Senate committee about an issue that has drawn rare bipartisan scrutiny: the dangers that children encounter online.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are grilling the leaders of Meta, TikTok, Snap, Discord and X on topics including the online spread of child sexual abuse material and efforts to police it. They were also examining the social media companies’ broader impact on children’s safety and mental health as calls increase for platforms to be held responsible for protecting young people.

Executives from Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord are testifying in a hearing focused on protecting children online. They face lawmakers’ questions about their companies’ efforts to protect users amid a rise in material depicting child sexual abuse.Tech Chiefs From Meta, TikTok and Others to Testify on Child Safety Online, Jan. 31, 2024.  Executives from X, Snap and Discord will also answer questions from senators. Among the lawmakers’ chief concerns: the spread of child sexual abuse material.

ap logoAssociated Press, 4 NHL players have been charged with sexual assault in a 2018 case in Canada, their lawyers say, Stephen Whyno, Jan. 30, 2024. NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils and Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames have been charged with sexual assault in connection with an alleged assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.

Attorneys representing Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube said Tuesday that each player has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ontario. They denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.

Hart’s lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said their client is facing one count of sexual assault, adding, “He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law.”

Legal teams representing McLeod and Dube said the players would be pleading not guilty.

“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod’s attorneys, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. “We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”

joel embiid facebook

ny times logoNew York Times, Joel Embiid Wants the African Diaspora to Flourish Onscreen, Emmanuel Morgan, Jan. 30, 2024. “I’ve always been passionate about storytelling,” said the N.B.A. star, whose production studio will create a documentary about Memphis Depay’s success on the Dutch soccer team.

Joel Embiid knew as early as his rookie season in the National Basketball Association that he eventually wanted to enter the media industry.

nba logoSeven years later, he is now at the pinnacle of the sport — the league’s reigning most valuable player, Embiid set a Philadelphia 76ers record last week by scoring 70 points in a game — and is ready to take on that new challenge.

Embiid, 29, who moved from Cameroon to the United States as a teenager, has created a production studio, Miniature Géant, that he hopes will amplify the culture of his home continent. The studio intends to profile athletes and entertainment figures of African descent, with an initial goal of selling content to streaming services.

“We’re dabbling in a lot of different spaces, but the common denominator is Africa and the joys and the quest of African people and the African diaspora,” said Sarah Kazadi-Ndoye, who is the studio’s lead creative executive and was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Miniature Géant’s first documentary will explore themes of race and identity as it follows Memphis Depay, a Dutch soccer player who was born to a white mother from the Netherlands and a Ghanaian father. The studio is also having exploratory conversations with the Cameroonian mixed martial arts fighter Francis Ngannou, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion. In addition to coverage of athletes, the studio hopes to also explore the entertainment world.

Embiid is one of several athletes to enter the world of content creation. The basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo recently announced the start of a production company with the ESPN analyst Jay Williams. The retired National Football League quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning created similar organizations and have released projects with ESPN and Netflix.

chita rivera memoir

ny times logoNew York Times, Chita Rivera, Electrifying Star of Broadway and Beyond, Is Dead at 91, Robert D. McFadden Jan. 30, 2024. Appearing in scores of stage productions, she dazzled audiences for nearly six decades, most memorably starring as Anita in “West Side Story.” Chita Rivera’s dancing sometimes overshadowed her thrillingly dramatic way with a song, our theater critic writes.

Chita Rivera (shown above on the cover of her memoir), the fire-and-ice dancer, singer and actress who leapt to stardom in the original Broadway production of “West Side Story” and dazzled audiences for nearly seven decades as a Puerto Rican lodestar of the American musical theater, died on Tuesday in New York. She was 91.

To generations of musical aficionados, Ms. Rivera was a whirling, bounding, high-kicking elemental force of the dance; a seductive singer of smoky ballads and sizzling jazz; and a propulsive actress of vaudevillian energy. She appeared in scores of stage productions in New York and London, logged 100,000 miles on cabaret tours and performed in dozens of films and television programs.

On Broadway, she created a string of memorably hard-edged women — Anita in “West Side Story” (1957), Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie” (1960), the murderous floozy Velma Kelly in “Chicago” (1975) and the title role in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993). She sang enduring numbers in those roles: “America” in “West Side Story,” “One Boy” and “Spanish Rose” in “Bye Bye Birdie,” and “All That Jazz” in “Chicago.”

ny times logoNew York Times, At Penn, Tensions May Only Be Growing After Magill’s Resignation, Stephanie Saul, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). Professors at the University of Pennsylvania have begun to organize, fearing what they view as a plan by the billionaire Marc Rowan to upend academic freedom.

Campus protests are not usually aimed at a single person. But last week at the University of Pennsylvania, professors staged a rally targeting Marc Rowan, the New York private-equity billionaire.

A Penn alumnus and a major benefactor of the university, Mr. Rowan deployed his formidable resources in a relentless campaign against Penn’s president, M. Elizabeth Magill, leading to her resignation in December.

But it was what happened next that spurred the protest. Mr. Rowan sent a four-page email to university trustees titled “Moving Forward,” which many professors interpreted as a blueprint for a more conservative campus.

Amy C. Offner, a history professor who led the protest, called the document a proposed “hostile takeover of the core academic functions of the university.”

The protest of about 100 people was a sign that the discord on campus would probably continue despite Ms. Magill’s resignation, which many members of Penn’s community hoped would quell the outrage over testimony she gave at a congressional hearing that seemed to equivocate over whether students would be disciplined if they called for the genocide of the Jews.

Instead, Penn, now operating under an interim president, Dr. J. Larry Jameson, is facing a lineup of alumni, donors and students who argue that universities have been taken over by a liberal orthodoxy that tolerates or even promotes antisemitism.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Israel Raids West Bank Hospital as Clashes Erupt With Hamas in Northern Gaza, Aaron Boxerman, Ronen Bergman, Adam Rasgon and Thomas Fuller, Jan. 30, 2024. The raid came as Israel confirmed it was trying to flush militants out of tunnels with seawater and amid renewed fighting in northern Gaza.

Israel FlagOne of the Israeli soldiers wore medical scrubs, another a white coat and surgical mask. Their team swept into the West Bank hospital brandishing rifles, took up positions by the waiting-room chairs, then entered a patient’s room and killed a Hamas commander.

Fifteen minutes later they were gone.

The raid on Tuesday took place as the Israeli military battled Hamas on multiple fronts: with the dramatic operation in the West Bank, renewed clashes in northern Gaza, and beneath the territory’s surface. The Israeli military confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that its engineers had begun pumping seawater into the vast Hamas tunnel network beneath Gaza.

Israel’s latest efforts in the nearly four-month war came amid a renewed push by multiple peace brokers, including the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt, for an agreement to pause the fighting. The political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Tuesday that he was studying a proposal for a temporary cease-fire that had come out of talks between officials from those nations in Paris.

But even as those talks continued behind closed doors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted anew that Israel would continue fighting until it achieved “complete victory.” And the raid at the Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital in the northern West Bank city of Jenin suggested that Israel would continue chasing down Hamas leaders across the region.

Israeli forces have tried to strike Hamas leaders and their allies both inside Gaza and outside the territory. Earlier this month, Hamas blamed Israel for an explosion in Lebanon that killed its deputy political chief, and Iran accused Israel of an airstrike that killed senior Iranian military figures in Syria.

Israeli forces have escalated efforts against Palestinian militant activity in the West Bank, arresting more than 2,980 Palestinians since the war began in near-daily raids, over 1,350 of them affiliated with Hamas, according to the Israeli military. The raid at the hospital on Tuesday took less than 15 minutes, according to its director, Niji Nazzal.

Surveillance video released by the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry showed several gunmen in civilian garb — including one dressed in a white medical coat and another in blue scrubs — walking through the hospital halls, brandishing weapons.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry released surveillance video that shows armed members of Israeli forces dressed in civilian clothes inside Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital in Jenin.

They went to a room where the Hamas commander, Mohammad Jalamneh, 27, was visiting a friend and shot him and two other men dead, said the city’s top Palestinian health official, Wisam Sbeihat.

“They assassinated these three people, including a patient,” Dr. Sbeihat said in a phone interview.

In a statement, Hamas mourned Mr. Jalamneh, describing him as a leader in the Al-Qassam Brigades, the faction’s armed wing. A local militia affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed that his companions — the patient, Basil Ghazawi, and his brother Mohammad — had been members.

Dr. Nazzal said that Basil Ghazawi had been receiving treatment in the hospital’s rehabilitation ward since late October, when he was paralyzed by shrapnel from an Israeli drone strike that hit his spinal column. That could not be independently confirmed, but the Israeli military said at the time that a drone had fired on Palestinian gunmen who had hurled explosive devices and fired on Israeli soldiers in Jenin.

The raid at the hospital raises questions under international law, experts said. Hospitals require special protection and respect under the laws of war, although that protection ceases if the compounds are used for military purposes, according to Eliav Lieblich, an expert on international law at Tel Aviv University.

If Mr. Ghazawi was paralyzed and incapable of defending himself, he should not have been subject to attack under international law, Professor Lieblich said. “Whether this was the case here is a question of fact,” he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Iraqi militia blamed for a lethal drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan said it would stop targeting U.S. forces, Alissa J. Rubin, Jan. 30, 2024. In a surprise move, an Iran-linked militia in Iraq that the Pentagon said was likely responsible for a lethal drone attack on an U.S. base in Jordan over the weekend announced on Tuesday that it was suspending military operations in Iraq under pressure from the Iraqi government and from Iran.

The announcement came shortly after President Biden said that he had decided how to respond to the attack in Jordan on Sunday that left three U.S. soldiers dead, though he did not say what that response would be. His comment raised fears in Iraq about a possibly retaliatory U.S. attack on its territory.

The militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah, or Brigades of the Party of God, is the largest and most established of the Iran-linked groups operating in Iraq. It has spearheaded a majority of the some 160 attacks on U.S. military installations in Iraq and Syria that have occurred since Israel began its ground operations in Gaza, acting in response to the Oct. 7 attack Hamas led from the enclave.

The U.S. military has about 2,500 troops in Iraq advising and training the Iraqi Army and about 900 in Syria, supporting the Kurdish Syrian Defense forces in their fight against the Islamic State.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is part of what is known as the Axis of Resistance, a network of Iran-backed groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and occasionally farther afield. (Kata’ib Hezbollah is separate from the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.)

The other two Iraqi groups that are believed to have been involved in strikes U.S. targets — Harakat al Nujaba and Sayyid Shuhada — have not announced they will halt attacks.

The leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, said in a statement: “We announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces — in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” It was the first time that the militia had publicly declared a suspension of operations.

The statement made clear that Iran had pressured the group to stop the attacks on U.S. troops and that Kata’ib Hezbollah was not happy about it. The group made a point of suggesting that it chooses its own targets and timing, rather than follows Iran’s orders.

“Our brothers in the Axis, especially in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they do not know how we conduct our Jihad, and they often object to the pressure and escalation against the American occupation forces in Iraq and Syria,” the statement said.

Asked about Kata’ib Hezbollah’s announcement, a Defense Department spokesman, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, said at a Pentagon briefing: “I don’t have a specific comment to provide other than actions speak louder than words.”

He added: “I’m going to refrain from editorializing on those kinds of comments after 160-plus attacks against U.S. forces.”

Interviews with Iraqi and Iranian officials close to both governments suggest that there were intensive negotiations in recent days aimed at pushing Kata’ib Hezbollah to stop its attacks.

Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, started pushing for a halt several weeks ago, according to senior government advisers. He was endeavoring to start negotiations on an eventual withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military presence in Iraq, but the American side had not wanted to negotiate while under fire, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.

The United States eventually did agree to start talks without a guarantee the attacks would stop, but with a clear push in that direction.

Kata’ib Hezbollah and other groups had ignored the Iraqi government’s request to stand down, but once the attack in Jordan on Sunday took American lives, Mr. Sudani demanded a complete halt from Kata’ib Hezbollah. Mr. Sudani reached out directly to Iran, according to a military strategist for the Revolutionary Guards who works closely with the Axis groups in Iraq.

Mr. Sudani made the argument that he was trying to negotiate what Iran most wanted — to end the U.S. troop presence in Iraq — and that Kata’ib Hezbollah’s attacks were undermining his government’s ability to do so, according to the Iranian military strategist and a senior Iraqi official, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations.

An Iraqi government spokesman, Hisham al-Rikabi, painted much the same picture. “Kata’ib Hezbollah’s decision came as a result of the action taken by the prime minister internally and externally, to prevent escalation, and to ensure the smooth completion of negotiations on completing the process of the international coalition’s withdrawal from Iraq,” he said.

Mr. al-Rikabi added: “We hope that all parties will listen to the government’s call in order to reduce tension and ensure that there are no hot spots of tension in the region, and in Iraq in particular.”

Involved in the negotiations were senior officials in Mr. Sudani’s government who are close to Iran, according to Iraqi and Iranian officials close to their respective government leaders. Among those involved in the negotiations were former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and the leaders of two armed groups that have not targeted U.S. forces: Qais al-Khazali and Hadi al-Ameri. Participating in the talks on the Iranian side was Gen. Esmail Qaani, the leader of the Quds Force, a division of the Revolutionary Guards that works with Axis groups outside Iran.

Reporting was contributed by Falih Hassan from Baghdad, Farnaz Fassihi from New York and Eric Schmitt from Washington, D.C.

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ny times logoNew York Times, How the Border Crisis Shattered Biden’s Immigration Hopes, Michael D. Shear, Hamed Aleaziz and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Jan. 30, 2024. An examination of President Biden’s record reveals how he failed to overcome a surge in new arrivals and political obstacles in both parties.

On President Biden’s first day in office, he paused nearly all deportations. He vowed to end the harsh practices of the Trump administration, show compassion toward those wishing to come to the United States and secure the southern border.

For Mr. Biden, it was a matter of principle. He wanted to show the world that the United States was a humane nation, while also demonstrating to his fellow citizens that government could work again.

But those early promises have largely been set aside as chaos engulfs the border and imperils Mr. Biden’s re-election hopes. The number of people crossing into the United States has reached record levels, more than double than in the Trump years. The asylum system is still all but broken.

On Friday, in a dramatic turnaround from those early days, the president implored Congress to grant him the power to shut down the border so he could contain one of the largest surges of uncontrolled immigration in American history.

“If given that authority,” Mr. Biden said in a statement, “I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Some of the circumstances that have created the crisis are out of Mr. Biden’s control, such as the collapse of Venezuela, a surge in migration around the world and the obstinance of Republicans who have tried to thwart his efforts to address the problems. They refused to provide resources, blocked efforts to update laws and openly defied federal officials charged with maintaining security and order along the 2,000-mile border.

But an examination of Mr. Biden’s record over the last three years by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 35 current and former officials and others, shows that the president has failed to overcome those obstacles. The result is a growing humanitarian crisis at the border and in major cities around the country. Many voters now say immigration is their top concern, and they do not have confidence that Mr. Biden is addressing it.

A veteran of the decades-long search for a bipartisan immigration compromise by the late Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, the president sought balance. He created legal pathways for migrants and began rebuilding the refugee system even as he embraced some of former President Donald J. Trump’s more restrictive tactics. But those efforts were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people arriving at the border, and at times Mr. Biden failed to appreciate the growing anger in both parties.

During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden said he would be an antidote to his predecessor’s anti-immigrant approach. But he has presided over a fierce struggle inside the White House between advisers who favored more enforcement and those who pushed to be more welcoming. That debate played out as the country also shifted. After years of inflation, economic suffering and political polarization, the public is divided about whether the United States — which is home to more immigrants than any other nation — should absorb more.

Mr. Biden went from a 2020 candidate who vowed to “end Trump’s assault on the dignity of immigrant communities” to a 2024 president who is “willing to make significant compromises on the border.” That shift can be seen through the prism of five key moments that document the administration’s shifting approach on a defining issue of his presidency and of the next election.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Panel Poised to Approve Impeachment Charges Against Mayorkas, Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 30, 2024. Republicans are expected to push through articles of impeachment charging Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, with refusing to uphold the law.

U.S. House logoRepublicans on the House Homeland Security Committee pressed ahead Tuesday on impeaching Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, for his handling of the southwestern border, racing forward with a partisan indictment of President Biden’s immigration policies.

In what were expected to be party-line votes, the panel was poised to charge Mr. Mayorkas with refusing to uphold the law and breaching the public trust in his handling of a surge of migrants across the United States border with Mexico, paving the way for a vote of the full House as early as next week.

“Secretary Mayorkas has put his political preferences above following the law,” Representative Mark E. Green, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the panel, said at the start of Tuesday’s session. He added that the results of Mr. Mayorkas’s border policies “have been catastrophic and have endangered the lives and livelihoods of all Americans.”

Republicans were set to approve the charges in the face of solid opposition from Democrats and an emerging consensus among legal scholars that they have produced no evidence that the secretary has committed impeachable offenses.

G.O.P. leaders, whose House majority has shrunk to only the barest of margins, will need near-unanimous support to impeach Mr. Mayorkas in the full chamber. They believe they can reach that level despite some lingering skepticism in their ranks about whether impeachment is warranted.

“Neither of the impeachment charges the committee will consider today are a high crime or misdemeanor,” Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the panel’s most senior Democrat, said Tuesday. He added that House Republicans “don’t want progress. They don’t want solutions. They want a political issue.”

Though House Democrats raised a series of procedural objections to the impeachment proceedings, their efforts to derail the process fell flat on Tuesday in a series of party-line votes.

The charges, should they pass the House, would be all but certain to collapse in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required to convict and remove Mr. Mayorkas. But they would force an election-year trial in which Republicans will have the chance to air their indictment of Mr. Biden’s immigration policies.

Republicans have accused Mr. Mayorkas of violating provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that mandate that migrants not otherwise admissible to the United States “shall be detained” pending their removal, or a decision about their claims to asylum.

“Instead of complying with this requirement, Alejandro N. Mayorkas has implemented a catch-and-release scheme, whereby such aliens are unlawfully released,” the first impeachment article reads.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Israel and Hamas Reiterate Their Demands as a Truce Proposal Circulates, Staff Reports, Jan. 30, 2024. A framework agreed upon by the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Egypt proposes a six-week cease-fire for Hamas to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Israel FlagThe political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, announced on Tuesday that the militant group had received a proposal to pause the fighting in Gaza, after representatives from four nations agreed to present the group with a framework that would begin with a six-week cease-fire to allow for the release of more hostages.

Mr. Haniyeh said in a statement that Hamas was studying the proposal that had emerged from talks over the weekend in Paris, which included officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. Mr. Haniyeh added that Hamas had received an invitation to Cairo to discuss “the framework agreement from the Paris meeting.”

While Mr. Haniyeh’s statement indicated that Hamas was considering the proposal, and thanked Qatar and Egypt for their efforts, he emphasized the group’s longstanding demand for a permanent cease-fire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Here’s what we know:

  • A framework agreed upon by the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt proposes a six-week cease-fire for Hamas to exchange some hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
  • Hamas’s political chief says the group is studying a new truce proposal.
  • Israeli forces assassinate a Hamas commander inside a West Bank hospital.
  • Britain’s foreign secretary signals willingness to recognize a Palestinian state sooner.
  • Aid groups call halts in funding for UNRWA ‘reckless.’
  • The Pentagon names the three soldiers killed in Jordan.
  • Israel recruits Indian workers to fill its labor needs amid the war.

Politico, ‘Unless You’re a Purist, We Don’t Want You Voting’:  The Nevada GOP wanted to ensure a Trump win, David Siders, Jan. 30, 2024. They wound up making the state irrelevant.

politico CustomDownstairs in a roped-off corner of the lobby at the Ahern Hotel, off the Las Vegas Strip, the chair of the Nevada Republican Party was trying to convince a club of fellow Republicans to go along with a perplexing plan: To hold a party-run caucus two days after the state’s presidential primary in February.

Upstairs, overlooking the lobby, Chuck Muth told me the whole thing wasn’t just counterintuitive or confusing for Republican voters. It smacked of insider “bullshit.” The state party, he said, just “wanted the caucus rigged for Trump.”

And then Muth, a former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, tried to explain to me how Nevada’s Republicans got into this mess — and helped make their state irrelevant in the process.

djt maga hatOn Feb. 6, the state will hold a primary in which GOP voters will go to their usual precincts but there will be only one serious contender, Nikki Haley, on the ballot. Then, two days later, the Republican Party will host a caucus in which GOP voters will go to school gyms and church basements where they can express their support for only one credible candidate, Donald Trump.

On Feb. 6, the state will hold a primary in which GOP voters will go to their usual precincts but there will be only one serious contender, Nikki Haley, on the ballot. Then, two days later, the Republican Party will host a caucus in which GOP voters will go to school gyms and church basements where they can express their support for only one credible candidate, Donald Trump.

Both parties used to hold caucuses here, but in 2021, the Nevada legislature passed a law requiring the state to hold primaries. State GOP officials wanted to stick with the caucus because they’ve done it that way before, and because the state’s new presidential primary requirements failed to include voter ID. It’s the kind of gathering that tends to draw the most fervent, activist members of a party — no coincidence, the same as Trump’s base. GOP officials decided that the caucus would be the only contest that will award delegates to the national convention.

But there have been plenty of reasons to think that decision might turn out to be a mistake.
Chuck Muth in Las Vegas.

Chuck Muth, a former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, in Las Vegas. Both parties used to hold caucuses here, but in 2021, the Nevada legislature passed a law requiring the state to hold primaries.

Last fall, leaders of the group meeting at the Ahern, the Nevada Republican Club — a separate entity from the Nevada Republican Party — urged party officials not to hold a caucus competing with the state-run primary, arguing “ negative publicity from this will make the Republican Party look bad and likely diminish participation in the Primary election.”

The effect, they wrote, would be to “frustrate, anger and confuse Nevada’s Republican voters,” giving “average voters the impression they don’t care about them or their votes.”

Looking back, it seems they were right. Recent headlines about the election here have ranged from “ EXPERTS: Why Trump, DeSantis are not on Nevada Primary Election ballot” to “ Dual elections causing confusion among Nevada Republican voters” to “ Nevada Republicans can’t decide between a primary or a caucus — so they’re doing both.”
Locator map of Las Vegas, Nev.

Republicans across Nevada have been confused by the state running both a primary and a caucus.

Earlier this month, a Reno TV station ran a fact check on a social media post from a rural Nevada voter questioning why her primary ballot was “missing a certain DONALD J TRUMP.”

“It’s crazy, it’s nuts,” said Ron Knecht, a former Republican state controller. “It’s the ultimate degeneration of Republican politics.”

It’s also a big comedown for Nevada, which had hoped to parlay its No. 3 spot on the Republican presidential nominating calendar into a measure of relevance in the campaign. There was a time, after all, that Nevada really did feel like the “ We Matter,” first-in-the-West caucus state.

For Republicans, that was 2016, when Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were out campaigning on arena stages and casino floors — and where, in one palm tree-lined parking lot not far from the Chicken Ranch Brothel, in Pahrump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz rallied a crowd from the bed of a pickup truck. Reporters flew in from Washington to set up live shots and to pore over candidates’ “ ground games.”

Today, it’s sometimes easy to forget Nevada even exists on the primary calendar. Haley seems to want to will it away; when she appeared the other day on Fox & Friends, she described the nominating process as going from Iowa, which was “good to us,” to New Hampshire, which would “set the tone as it goes to my sweet home state of South Carolina.” It was South Carolina — not Nevada — that she identified as “ the next one” when she addressed supporters after the primary in New Hampshire.

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump stays on Illinois’ ballot as election board declines to ban him over insurrection amendment, Sophia Tareen and Nicholas Riccardi, Jan. 30, 2024. Illinois’ election board on Tuesday kept former President Donald Trump on the state’s primary ballot, a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether the Republican’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualifies him from the presidency.

illinois mapThe eight-member board’s unanimous ruling comes after its hearing officer, a retired judge and Republican, found that a “preponderance of the evidence” shows Trump is ineligible to run for president because he violated a constitutional ban on those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. But the hearing officer recommended the board let the courts make the ultimate decision.

The board, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, agreed with a recommendation from its lawyer to let Trump remain on the ballot by determining it didn’t have the authority to determine whether he violated the constitution.

“This Republican believes there was an insurrection on Jan. 6,” said board member Catherine McCrory before her vote, adding that she didn’t believe the agency had the legal authority to enforce that conclusion.

Trump’s attorney urged the board not to get involved, contending the former president never engaged in insurrection but that wasn’t something it could determine. “We would recommend and urge the board to not wade into this,” attorney Adam Merrill said.

An attorney for the voters who objected to Trump’s presence on the ballot said they’d appeal to state court. “What’s happened here is an avoidance of a hot potato issue,” attorney Matthew Piers told reporters after the hearing. “I get the desire to do it, but the law doesn’t allow you to duck.”

The issue will likely be decided at a higher court, with the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled next week to hear arguments in Trump’s appeal of a Colorado ruling declaring him ineligible for the presidency in that state.

The nation’s highest court has never ruled on a case involving Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868 to prevent former confederates from returning to office after the Civil War but has rarely been used since then. Some legal scholars say the post-Civil War clause applies to Trump for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and encouraging his backers to storm the U.S. Capitol after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

ny times logoNew York Times, Details Emerge on U.N. Workers Accused of Aiding Hamas Raid, Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). Israeli officials have presented evidence they say ties workers at a Palestinian aid agency in Gaza to violence during the Hamas-led attack on Israel.

One is accused of kidnapping a woman. Another is said to have handed out ammunition. A third was described as taking part in the massacre at a kibbutz where 97 people died. And all were said to be employees of the United Nations aid agency that schools, shelters and feeds hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel FlagThe accusations are contained in a dossier provided to the United States government that details Israel’s claims against a dozen employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency who, it says, played a role in the Hamas attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 or in their aftermath.

The U.N. said on Friday that it had fired several employees after being briefed on the allegations. But little was known about the accusations until the dossier was reviewed on Sunday by The New York Times.

The accusations are what prompted eight countries, including the United States, to suspend some aid payment to UNRWA, as the agency is known, even as war plunges Palestinians in Gaza into desperate straits. More than 26,000 people have been killed there and nearly two million displaced, according to Gazan and U.N. officials.

The UNRWA workers have been accused of helping Hamas stage the attack that set off the war in Gaza, or of aiding it in the days after. Some 1,200 people in Israel were killed that day, Israeli officials say, and about 240 were abducted and taken to Gaza.

On Sunday, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, described himself as “horrified by these accusations” and noted that nine of the 12 accused employees had been fired. But Mr. Guterres implored those nations that had suspended their aid payments to reconsider. UNRWA is one of the largest employers in Gaza, with 13,000 people, mostly Palestinians, on staff.

Asked about Israel’s allegations on Sunday, UNRWA said that two of the 12 employees were dead but that it could not provide more information while the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services was still investigating.

Two Western officials confirmed on the condition of anonymity that they had been briefed on the contents of the dossier in recent days, but said they had not been able to verify the details. Although the United States has yet to corroborate the Israeli claims itself, American officials say they found them credible enough to warrant suspending aid.

The Times verified the identity of one of the 12 employees, a storeroom manager, whose social media profile lists him as an UNRWA employee and shows him wearing U.N.-branded clothes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden Must Weigh Risk of Wider War After U.S. Soldier Deaths, Peter Baker, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has carefully calibrated his responses to attacks by Iran-backed militias since Oct. 7. Now he must decide how far he is willing to go.

This was the day that President Biden and his team had feared for more than three months, the day that relatively low-level attacks by Iranian proxy groups on American troops in the Middle East turned deadly and intensified the pressure on the president to respond in kind.

With three American service members killed and two dozen more injured by a drone in Jordan, Mr. Biden must decide how far he is willing to go in terms of retaliation at the risk of a wider war that he has sought to avoid ever since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas touched off the current Middle East crisis.

Until now, the president had carefully calibrated his responses to the more than 150 attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American forces in the region since Oct. 7. He essentially ignored the majority that were successfully intercepted or did little to no damage while authorizing limited U.S. strikes focused mainly on buildings, weapons and infrastructure after attacks that were more brazen, most notably against the Houthis in Yemen who have targeted shipping in the Red Sea.

The first deaths of American troops under fire, however, will require a different level of response, American officials said, and the president’s advisers were in consensus about that as they consulted with him by secure videoconference on Sunday. What remained unclear was whether Mr. Biden would strike targets inside Iran itself, as his Republican critics urged him to do, saying he would be a “coward” if he did not, as one put it.

“The question Biden faces is whether he just wants to react to events in the region or whether he wants to send a bigger message that attempts to restore a sense of deterrence that just hasn’t existed in the region for months now,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who worked in national security positions under President Bill Clinton.

“I’m sure they’re looking for some kind of Goldilocks response here,” he added, meaning “not too hard” that it provokes a full-fledged war, “not too soft” that it just prolongs the conflict “but something that seems just right.”

Mr. Biden gave no indication about his thinking but vowed to respond in some fashion.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: The embattled U.N. agency for Gaza said its funding would run out within weeks, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). The main United Nations relief agency in Gaza warned on Monday that its funding could dry up by the end of February if more than a dozen countries do not reverse their decisions to suspend their support following Israeli accusations against some of the agency’s workers.

The decisions by several donor countries to withhold funding for the agency known as UNRWA threaten the organization’s relief efforts in Gaza at a time when they are needed most. With more than 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.2 million people displaced by Israel’s military campaign, the agency says it is providing shelter to most of the people in the territory.

Israel FlagMore than a dozen countries have suspended support for UNRWA since Israel accused some of the agency’s workers of participating in the Oct. 7 terror attacks or in their aftermath.

On Friday, Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of participating in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel or in its aftermath. Those claims prompted several countries — including the United States, UNRWA’s largest donor — to freeze funding pending investigations.

Donor countries release funding in tranches throughout the year. While the United States’ next payment is not due until June, some of the other countries that have suspended funding were scheduled to issue their next tranche of donations in February, Juliette Touma, UNRWA’s director of communications, said in a phone interview.

Because UNRWA used up most of its financial reserves during a previous funding freeze ordered by President Donald J. Trump, the agency depends on a stable flow of donations to stay afloat, Ms. Touma said. If even a few donors fail to restore their funding by the end of February, Ms. Touma said, UNRWA will stop being able to pay the salaries of its 30,000 employees across the Middle East.

There are roughly 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza, but the agency also works in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Donors pledged more than $1.1 billion to the agency in 2022, according to its own figures, with nearly half of that coming from the United States and Germany, which has also said it will pause funding while the investigation goes on.

If UNRWA’s funding dries up, it was not clear whether any other agency could immediately fill the gap.

Here’s what we know:

  • The U.N.’s lead agency in Gaza fears its funding will soon collapse.
  • More countries say they will pause funding to UNRWA. Here’s a list.
  • Iran denies ordering the drone strike that killed U.S. troops, as Biden weighs a response.
  • Talks on pausing fighting and releasing hostages were ‘constructive,’ Israel says.
  • Far-right Israelis gather to advance the idea of resettling Gaza.
  • Israel moves to block protesters from disrupting the flow of aid into Gaza.

 

Israeli soldiers explore a tunnel network in Gaza whose estimated length of 450 miles in a myriad network Israel said it discovered only after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis (Photo via the Associated Press).

Israeli soldiers explore a tunnel network in Gaza whose estimated length of 450 miles in a myriad network Israel said it discovered only after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis (Photo via the Associated Press). 

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Is Hamas Getting Its Weapons? Increasingly, From Israel, Maria Abi-Habib and Sheera Frenkel, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza are now being used against them.

Israeli military and intelligence officials have concluded that a significant number of weapons used by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks and in the war in Gaza came from an unlikely source: the Israeli military itself.

Israel FlagFor years, analysts have pointed to underground smuggling routes to explain how Hamas stayed so heavily armed despite an Israeli military blockade of the Gaza Strip. But recent intelligence has shown the extent to which Hamas has been able to build many of its rockets and anti-tank weaponry out of the thousands of munitions that failed to detonate when Israel lobbed them into Gaza, according to weapons experts and Israeli and Western intelligence officials. Hamas is also arming its fighters with weapons stolen from Israeli military bases.

Intelligence gathered during months of fighting revealed that, just as the Israeli authorities misjudged Hamas’s intentions before Oct. 7, they also underestimated its ability to obtain arms.

What is clear now is that the very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza over the past 17 years are now being used against them. Israeli and American military explosives have enabled Hamas to shower Israel with rockets and, for the first time, penetrate Israeli towns from Gaza.

“Unexploded ordnance is a main source of explosives for Hamas,” said Michael Cardash, the former deputy head of the Israeli National Police Bomb Disposal Division and an Israeli police consultant. “They are cutting open bombs from Israel, artillery bombs from Israel, and a lot of them are being used, of course, and repurposed for their explosives and rockets.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Negotiators Close In on Hostage Deal That Would Halt War in Gaza for Weeks, Peter Baker, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). A written draft agreement calls for the release of captives held by Hamas in exchange for a cessation of Israel’s military offensive for two months.

American-led negotiators are edging closer to an agreement in which Israel would suspend its war in Gaza for about two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas, a deal that could be sealed in the next two weeks and would transform the conflict consuming the region.

Israel FlagNegotiators have developed a written draft agreement merging proposals offered by Israel and Hamas in the last 10 days into a basic framework that will be the subject of talks in Paris on Sunday. While there are still important disagreements to be worked out, negotiators are cautiously optimistic that a final accord is within reach, according to U.S. officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive talks.

President Biden spoke by phone separately Friday with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, who have served as intermediaries with Hamas, to narrow the remaining differences. He is also sending his C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, to Paris for Sunday’s talks with Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials. If Mr. Burns makes enough progress, Mr. Biden may then send his Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, who just returned to Washington, back to the region to help finalize the agreement.

“Both leaders affirmed that a hostage deal is central to establishing a prolonged humanitarian pause in the fighting and ensure additional lifesaving humanitarian assistance reaches civilians in need throughout Gaza,” the White House said in a statement Friday night summarizing the president’s conversation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister. “They underscored the urgency of the situation and welcomed the close cooperation among their teams to advance recent discussions.”

In a statement in Israel on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to securing the release of those hostages who were not freed as part of a more limited agreement in November. “As of today, we have returned 110 of our hostages and we are committed to returning all of them home,” he said. “We are dealing with this and we are doing so around the clock, including now.”

The hostages have been in captivity since Oct. 7, when Hamas gunmen stormed into Israel and killed an estimated 1,200 people and seized about 240 more in the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history. Israel’s military retaliation since then has killed more than 25,000 people, most of them women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry. It is not clear how many of those killed in Gaza were Hamas combatants.

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.N. chief urged the U.S. and other donors not to suspend aid for Palestinians, Vivek Shankar, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The secretary general, Antonío Guterres, said money to aid Palestinians would run out next month, leaving hundreds of thousands without clean water, food and other necessities.

Israel FlagThe head of the United Nations on Sunday implored the United States and other major donors to continue funding the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, saying that without their support the agency would run out of money next month to help the two million Gazans who depend on it for food, water and essential services.

palestinian flagAt least eight countries including the United States have said they would suspend some funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, after a dozen of its employees were accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks. Neither Israel nor the United Nations has made public the details of the accusations against the employees of UNRWA, which has said it was investigating.

The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said on Sunday that nine of the 12 accused employees had been fired, one had been confirmed dead and that the identities of the remaining two were being “clarified.”

“Any U.N. employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Guterres said he was “horrified” by the accusations and understood the “concerns” of donor countries, but noted that “UNRWA’s current funding will not allow it to meet all requirements” to support Gazans in February.

Here’s what we’re covering:

  • The U.N. says its agency to aid Palestinians will run out of money.
  • Talks in Paris will focus on a hostage deal that could pause the fighting in Gaza.
  • Hospitals in Khan Younis struggle amid intense fighting.
  • Allegations against the U.N. aid agency follow decades of friction with Israel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Widening Mideast Crisis: Four Countries Join U.S. in Pausing Funding for U.N. Aid Agency in Gaza, Victoria Kim and Aaron Boxerman, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Britain, Finland and Australia became the latest countries to freeze additional funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees on Saturday after it fired a dozen of its employees accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks.

The three joined the United States and Canada, which said late Friday that they would temporarily pause additional funding to the body, known by the acronym UNRWA (often pronounced Un-ruh-WUH or simply Un-RUH). Other major donors, including Germany and the European Union, expressed concern but did not immediately suspend funding.

The United States has been the biggest donor by a large margin, providing the agency with several hundred million dollars in 2023 and $340 million in 2022. Australia, Britain, Canada and Finland together contributed about $66 million that year, according to the agency.

It was not immediately clear how the decisions would affect the agencies operations. They come as the United Nations’ highest court said on Friday that Israel must take action to prevent acts of genocide by its forces.

The agency has long been a vital lifeline in Gaza, which has grown increasingly desperate as Israel pursues a military campaign there in an attempt to eradicate Hamas.

None of the donor countries specified for how long they would pause the funding. A Security Council diplomat, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the news, said UNRWA appeared to have funding in the near-term but that the frozen funds could paralyze the agency some time in the future.

On Saturday, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, welcomed the decisions by the United States and Canada, and called for UNRWA to stop its work in Gaza after Israel’s military campaign there was over.

Israel aims to ensure that “UNRWA will not be a part of the day after,” Mr. Katz said on social media, referring to the end of the war. He added that he would seek support for the goal from European Union, the United States and other countries.

Earlier in the week, Israel made accusations to the United Nations that the employees had helped plan and had participated in the cross-border assault that the country says left 1,200 people dead and more than 240 taken hostage. A senior U.N. official briefed on the accusations against the employees said they were “extremely serious and horrific.”

Neither Israel nor the United Nations released more details on Saturday.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said in a statement Friday that any employee involved in acts of terrorism would be “held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

Hamas slammed UNRWA for firing the employees before completing their internal investigation and said it was overstepping its mandate to provide services to Palestinians.

“UNRWA has been subjected to blackmail by countries that support Zionist terrorism under the pretext of continued financial support,” the Palestinian armed group said.

Canada’s minister of international development, Ahmed Hussen, said in a statement that the country was conferring with other donors on the issue and had “temporarily paused any additional funding” to UNRWA while the agency investigates the allegations.

In a notable show of support for UNRWA, Ireland said it had no plans to suspend the agency’s “vital Gaza work.” Micheál Martin, the country’s foreign minister, wrote on social media that the agency’s staff members had worked to “provide life saving assistance” in Gaza “at incredible personal cost,” with over 150 killed since the start of the war.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden vows to respond after 3 U.S. troops killed in attack blamed on Iranian proxies, Alex Horton, Toluse Olorunnipa, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Three U.S. troops were killed and at least 34 injured in a militant drone attack Sunday in Jordan, officials said, marking the first deadly military action against American service members since the war in Gaza triggered a steep rise in violence throughout the Middle East.

President Biden blamed the attack on groups supported by Iran, and the incident raised immediate questions about when, where and how forcefully the United States might respond. In a statement, he said the United States will “hold those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

As the number of attacks on deployed American personnel has surged to more than 160 since October, the Pentagon has carried out selective retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. But to the frustration of many in Washington, those actions have failed to deter the groups perpetrating the violence, and the president’s critics seized on this development to intensify their demands for more aggressive countermeasures.

Sunday’s attack targeted a facility known as Tower 22. The base, which houses about 350 U.S. troops, is located in northeast Jordan along the country’s shared borders with Syria and Iraq. A U.S. defense official said the one-way drone struck the base’s living quarters, causing injuries that ranged from cuts and bruises to brain trauma.

It was not immediately clear from which country the attack was launched, said the official, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the incident. Military commanders are working to determine that information and, crucially, why U.S. air defenses failed to intercept the drone.

Some of the wounded personnel required medical evacuation, the official said. The identities of those slain were not disclosed, pending family notifications. Biden, in his statement, called them “patriots in the highest sense.”

Sunday’s bloodshed spotlighted Jordan’s attempt to walk a tenuous line as many in the Arab world, outraged by Israel’s punishing assault on Gaza, have faulted the United States for its unconditional backing of the Jewish state despite the war’s enormous civilian toll. The kingdom has continued to partner with the United States on counterterrorism while looking to avoid the wrath of Iran and other regional neighbors. On Sunday, despite the U.S. government’s disclosure about where the attack occurred, Jordanian officials claimed it was another U.S. base in the region — one located on the Syrian side of the border — that was targeted.

The defense official characterized operations at Tower 22 vaguely, saying the Americans deployed there are on an advise-and-assist mission.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group that includes Kataib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and other Iranian-backed militants, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a senior official with the organization who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity in accordance with its rules.

“As we said before, if the U.S. keeps supporting Israel, there will be escalations. All the U.S. interests in the region are legitimate targets and we don’t care about U.S. threats to respond, we know the direction we are taking and martyrdom is our prize,” the Islamic Resistance in Iraq official said.

The group is a front for Iranian-backed militias there. Its forces began targeting U.S. interests in 2018, after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

There are about 2,500 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and another 900 in Syria. They have been focused on preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State, the terrorist network that took over large swaths of both countries until a U.S.-led military campaign left the group decimated. Last week, amid deepening strain between the U.S. and Iraqi governments, the Pentagon signaled its openness to reducing the American military presence there.

Friction between the two countries has worsened in recent weeks, as U.S. forces have fought back against the rise in Iranian proxy attacks. On Jan. 4, the Biden administration launched a rare retaliatory strike on a base belonging to a militia in central Baghdad, killing the group’s commander. American officials said at the time that it was hoped the strike would serve as a deterrent against further hostility toward U.S. troops. Instead, the attacks have grown more ambitious.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia projects confidence as it pursues alliances to undermine the West, Catherine Belton, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Russia is increasingly confident that deepening economic and diplomatic ties with China and the Global South will allow it to challenge the international financial system dominated by the United States and undermine the West, according to Kremlin documents and interviews with Russian officials and business executives.

Russia has been buoyed by its success in holding off a Western-backed Ukrainian counteroffensive followed by political stalemates in Washington and Brussels over continued funding for Kyiv. In Moscow’s view, the U.S. backing of Israel’s invasion of Gaza has damaged Washington’s standing in many parts of the world. The confluence of events has led to a surge of optimism about Russia’s global position.

Officials in Moscow point to growing trade with China, military cooperation with Iran, diplomatic outreach in the Arab world and the expansion of the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Ethiopia.

The BRICS expansion demonstrated the group’s “growing authority and role in world affairs,” and its work will focus on “sovereign equality,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a Jan. 1 statement as Russia assumed the chairmanship of the group. The Kremlin has begun to refer to itself as part of the “Global Majority.”

 

More On  U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Biden’s Anti-Trump Battle Plan (and Where Taylor Swift Fits In), Reid J. Epstein, Lisa Lerer, Katie Glueck and Katie Rogers, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s campaign is aiming to make the general election all about Donald Trump. It’s also hoping for some big endorsements.

biden harris 2024 logoAs former President Donald J. Trump speeds toward the Republican nomination, President Biden is moving quickly to pump energy into his re-election bid, kicking off what is likely to be an ugly, dispiriting and historically long slog to November between two unpopular nominees.

After months of languid buildup in which he held only a single public campaign event, Mr. Biden has thrown a series of rallies across battleground states, warning that democracy itself is at stake in 2024.

He sent two of his most trusted White House operatives to take the helm of his re-election campaign in Wilmington, Del., after Mr. Trump seized control of the Republican primary race more rapidly than Mr. Biden’s advisers had initially expected.

And other Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift.

“It’s game on, the beginning of the general election,” said Representative Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 97 centrist House Democrats. “We’ve got to win this.”

In a race without historical parallel — a contest between two presidents, one of them facing 91 criminal charges — Mr. Biden is making an extraordinary gamble, betting that Mr. Trump remains such an animating force in American life that the nation’s current leader can turn the 2024 election into a referendum not on himself but on his predecessor.

Resurrecting a version of the argument that worked for them in 2020, Mr. Biden’s team and his top allies plan to paint Mr. Trump as a mortal threat to American government and civil society, and are banking that fears of another turbulent Trump administration will outweigh worries about Mr. Biden’s age and vitality. Polls have shown Mr. Biden trailing Mr. Trump in a head-to-head contest, with many Democratic voters reluctant to back him again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Kamala Harris, Sharper and Lively, Begins to Make Her Case, Mara Gay, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). In Las Vegas this weekend, a group of cheery Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters gathered at a union hall to hear Vice President Kamala Harris make the case for re-electing her and President Biden. The crowd started quietly, but as I watched, Harris brought them to life, warning Nevada voters in explicit terms about the threat posed by Donald Trump.

“Understand what dictators do,” Harris told the crowd on Saturday. “Dictators jail journalists. Dictators suspend elections. Dictators take your rights!”

Four years after Harris’s own failed White House bid and a rocky early tenure as vice president, her campaigning skills have grown vastly sharper. She is sounding increasingly confident, laying out the stakes of the November election with an ease more evocative of Barack Obama than the prosecutor Harris used to be.

At age 59, which is 22 years younger than Biden, who is facing concerns about his age, her role in the 2024 election could prove significant.

“Do we believe in democracy?” she asked them.

“Yes!” the crowd shouted, growing louder.

“Are we ready to fight for it?”

“Yes!”

The vice president has visited the state twice this month, looking to shore up support in a state crucial to a Biden victory in November but where attachment to party can be fickle and interest in politics in general even weaker.

At the event this weekend, Curtis Williams, 64, said he planned to vote for Biden, even though, like a plurality of voters in Nevada, he is unaffiliated with a party. “I’m kind of commitment-phobic,” Williams joked.

Other voters were still undecided. “I’m coming to learn more,” Yamilah Nguyen, 27, told me. Nguyen, an entrepreneur, didn’t vote in the 2020 presidential election, but plans to this year, largely over concerns about access to abortion. “I believe it should be an option,” she said.

At the Democratic event, Nevadans of different backgrounds mingled politely: union members and conservationists, retirees and students, Hispanic Americans and Black Americans, Asian Americans and white Americans.

As those in attendance swayed to the live music, Trump held a rally across town repeating a campaign promise to prosecute Biden, the man who is again his biggest political enemy.

Whether Trump succeeds may depend on Democrats awakening from their weary slumber.

ny times logoNew York Times, Haley’s Dilemma: How to Diminish Trump Without Alienating Republican Voters, Jonathan Weisman and Jazmine Ulloa, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). On “Meet the Press,” Nikki Haley said she trusted the jury in Donald Trump’s sex-assault defamation case, while she tried to peel away his supporters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Rages at U.A.W. President After Biden Endorsement, Maggie Astor, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). The provocation for the former president’s comments appeared to be remarks that Shawn Fain, the union’s leader, made on Sunday.

ICE logoA few days after the United Auto Workers endorsed President Biden for re-election, former President Donald J. Trump raged at the union’s leader, Shawn Fain, on Sunday night.

djt maga hatMr. Trump wrote on his social media platform that Mr. Fain “is selling the Automobile Industry right into the big, powerful, hands of China.”

He claimed that Mr. Biden’s support for electric vehicles would destroy the American auto industry and send jobs overseas. “Shawn Fain doesn’t understand this or have a clue,” he wrote. “Get rid of this dope & vote for DJT. I will bring the Automobile Industry back to our Country.”

The provocation for Mr. Trump’s comments appeared to be a CBS News interview on Sunday in which Mr. Fain said that Mr. Biden had “a history of serving others and serving the working class,” while Mr. Trump had “a history of serving himself and standing for the billionaire class.”

Mr. Fain also emphasized Mr. Biden’s decision to meet with striking U.A.W. workers in September, which made him the first sitting president to join a picket line. Mr. Trump has sought to position himself as a champion of the workers’ interests, and he tried to court blue-collar workers with a speech the same week — but at a nonunion factory.

Michael Tyler, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign, said in a statement, “Apparently losing the U.A.W. endorsement to Joe Biden has left Donald Trump’s wounded ego with quite the SCAB.” He argued that the corporate tax changes Mr. Trump signed as president had themselves encouraged companies to move jobs overseas.

 

 djt biden smiles

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump and President Biden Get Ready for the Very Long Haul, Adam Nagourney, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The 2024 general election campaign is set to be one of the longest in modern history. There will be no spring break.

With Donald J. Trump rapidly closing in on the Republican presidential nomination, the 2024 general election campaign is set to be one of the longest in modern history, pushing President Biden and Mr. Trump into unfamiliar territory as they struggle to engage an electorate that seems numbed by the prospect of a 2020 rematch.

For all their experience in presidential politics, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump face extraordinarily complicated challenges as they and their aides grapple with how to run a presidential campaign that will last almost nine months, significantly longer than most general election contests.

This is a race that has been run before, a rematch between two older and by now well-known candidates: Mr. Trump is 77, and Mr. Biden is 81. Mr. Trump has essentially been a candidate for re-election since his defeat four years ago and may spend much of the spring fighting felony charges in court. Both men are unpopular with large numbers of voters.

“What can they possibly say about their opponent that voters don’t already know?” said Mark McKinnon, who was the chief media adviser to George W. Bush for his 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

The time between the end of the primaries and the party conventions usually brings a lull in the campaign, when presumptive nominees test attacks on opponents, shore up their shortcomings and build the policy, political and financing foundation for the fall campaign. That period usually begins in late spring, but if Mr. Trump maintains his commanding lead over Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, it could start before winter is through.

As a result, the Biden and Trump campaigns face a series of unusual strategic decisions in the weeks ahead: How much of the next nine months do they devote to sending Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden across the country for rallies? Is it better to deploy attacks on opponents now, or wait until the conventions, when more voters will presumably be paying attention?

ny times logoNew York Times, House Republicans Press Ahead on Impeaching Homeland Security Secretary, Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 30, 2024. Republicans began pushing through articles of impeachment charging Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, with refusing to uphold the law.

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee pressed ahead Tuesday on impeaching Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, for his handling of the southwestern border, racing forward with a partisan indictment of President Biden’s immigration policies.

In what were expected to be party-line votes, the panel was poised to charge Mr. Mayorkas with refusing to uphold the law and breaching the public trust in his handling of a surge of migrants across the United States border with Mexico, paving the way for a vote of the full House as early as next week.

“Secretary Mayorkas has put his political preferences above following the law,” Representative Mark E. Green, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the panel, said at the start of Tuesday’s session. He added that the results of Mr. Mayorkas’s border policies “have been catastrophic and have endangered the lives and livelihoods of all Americans.”

Republicans were set to approve the charges in the face of solid opposition from Democrats and an emerging consensus among legal scholars that they have produced no evidence that the secretary has committed impeachable offenses.

G.O.P. leaders, whose House majority has shrunk to only the barest of margins, will need near-unanimous support to impeach Mr. Mayorkas in the full chamber. They believe they can reach that level despite some lingering skepticism in their ranks about whether impeachment is warranted.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Habba COMPLETELY FOLDS after THREATENED with SANCTIONS, t Ben Meiselas, Jan. 30, 2024. Meidas Touch host Ben Meiselas reports on Donald Trumps lawyer Alina Habba’s response to the federal court in the defamation case backing down after making serious accusations against the federal judge.

ny times logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans need a Plan B if Trump is convicted, Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 30, 2024. Two juries unanimously found four-times-indicted former president Donald Trump liable for nearly $90 million in total for defaming E. Jean Carroll. He seems not to make a good impression with jurors. He certainly demonstrated his lack of self-control in court, even with a jury present. Given all that, it might be time for Republicans to start considering the very real possibility that his criminal cases could go just as poorly as his civil trials have gone.

Even Republicans determined to ignore reality — including the mountain of evidence against him in the Jan. 6, 2021, case and the relative ease with which Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg racks up convictions for falsifying business records — might want to think through the consequences of possible convictions. It is long past time for Republicans to face an uncomfortable truth: Trump could very well wind up convicted of one or more felonies after receiving the nomination. What then?

The Constitution does not bar a convicted criminal — even one already sentenced — from holding office. (It is hard enough to bar him when the language of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment expressly prohibits insurrectionists and their helpmates from holding federal office.)

However, polls consistently show that Trump’s standing even among Republicans would plummet if he were convicted. A recent Gallup poll shows that “less than half of Republicans (46%) are willing to vote for someone charged with a felony, and even fewer (35%) are willing to vote for someone convicted of one.” (One wonders if Republicans understand he already has been charged.) Only 21 percent of independents are willing to vote for a convicted candidate.

Even if MAGA cultists stick with him after a conviction, some Republicans and the lion’s share of independents would not. Surely, someone in the Republican Party should consider the ramifications of a possible conviction and what, if anything, the party can do instead of running a felon for president.

Trump, in all likelihood, would insist any conviction was rigged; he would vow to win on appeal. Alternatively, he might argue it would be more important than ever to elect him so he could pardon himself. (Whether there would be any viable appeal and/or a “self-pardon” would withstand constitutional scrutiny would not faze him or MAGA loyalists.) Down-ticket Republicans, sober insiders and donors could freak out, fearing an election debacle. But without a Plan B, Republicans would be stuck with Trump. (It’s not as if they weren’t warned of the possibility that they would be dragged under by a convicted nominee.)

What could be an escape hatch for the party in case of conviction? Republicans might consider clarifying party rules to provide latitude to shove Trump aside if he is convicted. Elaine Kamarck wrote last year for the Brookings Institution that if a candidate dies or is “incapacitated” after the primaries but before the convention, the convention would choose the candidate, turning into “what conventions used to be before primaries became dominant.”

But would conviction amount to incapacity? The party, heavily dominated by Trump loyalists, would have to decide. That is good reason for Republicans with any sense to start thinking now about clarifying what amounts to “incapacity.”

If a candidate dies or is incapacitated after the convention, as Kamarck explained, the Republican National Committee would pick the nominee. To save the party, would the RNC have the nerve to knock out a convicted Trump on the grounds that he was “incapacitated”? That would be a political brawl to end all brawls. Again, a rule clarification now might prevent much angst down the road. In short, unless Republicans come up with a definition of “incapacity” that would jettison Trump in case of conviction, they face the real prospect of political disaster.
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Republican voters have been living in denial for years now. They ignored evidence of Trump’s alleged criminality arising from Jan. 6. They dismissed the New York state charges as much ado about nothing. Now that Trump has been indicted, and they have seen the judges and prosecutors Trump will face and have learned juries cannot be spun, it might be time to start planning for the very realistic eventuality that he will be convicted. Even if they are convinced he is innocent, surely they understand there is some risk that jurors will not agree.

In the month before the South Carolina primary, Nikki Haley, now Trump’s sole challenger for the party nomination, should make sure Republicans do not ignore that risk. If she cannot dissuade them from nominating an indicted man with a losing streak in court, perhaps she can at least persuade the RNC to take prophylactic measures to avoid an election debacle. If not, the GOP might face an election wipeout.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, In South Carolina, President Biden tried to persuade Black voters to reject Donald Trump, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden sought to energize his base in the state that propelled him to the White House, but some local leaders said he needed to do more to highlight his achievements.

Hoping to revitalize the momentum that propelled him to the White House, President Biden told a largely Black audience on Saturday night that “you’re the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president,” in what was effectively his first appearance related to the Democratic primaries.

Mr. Biden made clear in his remarks at a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner in Columbia, S.C., that he viewed the forthcoming week as not just a contest but a pivotal moment to energize a frustrated base of Black voters across the nation. And in the run-up to the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary, which the party’s national committee selected last year to be the first in the nation, Democrats believe they have entered an opportune time.

With former President Donald J. Trump having won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary for the Republican nomination, Mr. Biden’s allies plan to emphasize not just the president’s record but also the urgency of the moment: The general election effectively starts now, they say.

“He has made it known what he’s going to do if he gets back into office,” Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, said of Mr. Trump in an interview. “And to see that blooming as a possibility and see him running as well as he is in the polls, I’m concerned about it.”

“Do what you did before,” Mr. Clyburn said in an appeal to the Black electorate. “Turn that election around and save this democracy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Phillips appeal to S.C. voters, but crowd has clear favorite, Toluse Olorunnipa, Jan. 28, 2024. In what was supposed to be a strictly celebratory event launching President Biden’s glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination here, long-shot primary challenger Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) sought to appeal to the crowd with a somber warning.

Speaking minutes before Biden was set to take the stage here at the First-in-the-Nation Dinner on Saturday, Phillips warned the gathered Democrats that Biden’s low poll numbers and weak political standing threatened to let former president Donald Trump back into the White House.

biden harris 2024 logo“I’m here to tell you the numbers do not say things are looking good,” Phillips said from the stage, as Democratic officials milled about the hall. Phillips received some light applause after his remarks, which he had to stop at one point to try to get the attention of people who were not listening.

“So my invitation to President Biden — a man I love, a man I respect, a man who saved this country, a man who did a lot of good in the last four years — my invitation to President Biden is to pass the torch to a new generation ready to take the stage.”

The comments from Phillips stood as a brief aberration from what was largely — outside of a few outbursts from pro-Palestinian protesters during Biden’s speech — a show of unified support for the president in a state that helped launch him into the presidency in 2020.

Biden, at Black church, says Republicans are ‘trying to steal history’

Biden was showered with praise by every other speaker on the program, including during a lengthy introduction from Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who touted his record and called him “a great president” and “a president with compassion.” Biden campaign officials said the president was visiting the state to demonstrate his commitment to Black voters, who make up a majority of Democrats in the state.

During his remarks, Biden boasted of strong economic growth under his watch, focusing specifically on progress for Black voters.

“All the progress we’ve made comes down to a simple proposition: promises made, and promises kept,” Biden said. He repeated the phrase multiple times as he outlined various parts of his record in what amounted to a rebuttal to critics who question whether Biden’s presidency has delivered for Black Americans.

He also used his remarks to ramp up his attacks on Trump, repeatedly calling the former president a “loser.” Biden grew visibly angry as he referred to alleged remarks Trump made disparaging U.S. troops after he abandoned a plan to visit an American cemetery in Paris in 2018, for reasons that Trump said involved poor weather.

Trump has denied the allegation that he referred to troops as “suckers and losers.”

“How dare he say that?” Biden said. “I call them patriots and heroes. The only loser I see is Donald Trump. It makes me angry.”

Biden, who began his speech with shout-outs to local officials and members of Congress in attendance, did not acknowledge Phillips during his remarks.

Still, the presence of Phillips at the dinner — and in the Democratic primary race — highlighted the at-times awkward dynamics of Biden’s reelection bid. In polls, most Democrats say the 81-year-old president is too old to run for a second term and that they would rather have a different standard-bearer. But Phillips is the only major elected Democrat who has challenged Biden, and his campaign has struggled to garner much support.

Phillips, a third-term congressman and heir to a family liquor business, acknowledged early in his remarks that he faced long odds in the state’s primary, which is scheduled for next Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sure, Trump and Biden are old. The similarities end there, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Jan. 28, 2024. The most convenient ej dionne w open neckpolitical habit of the moment is to natter on about how both President Biden and Donald Trump are unpopular and old and how Americans long for some new and energetic candidate (identity to be disclosed later).

This above-the-battle, “woe is us” posture makes those who adopt it look tough-minded, independent and clear-eyed. It puts Biden and Trump on the same level and then compares both with someone who doesn’t yet exist. Never mind that it’s far easier to imagine the perfect candidate than to find one.

This might be harmless if Biden and Trump really were equivalent, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Another document, written by a close ally of Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev and circulated in the Kremlin this summer, advocated greater cooperation between China and Russia on artificial intelligence, cyber systems and the “internet of things.” As part of that, the document envisioned Beijing and Moscow creating a new financial system and a Eurasian digital currency based on alternative payment systems, such as blockchain, to bypass the Western dominance of global financial transactions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Gen Z might be the MAGA movement’s undoing, Jennifer Rubin, right,  Jan. 28, 2024. Four-times-indicted former jennifer rubin new headshotpresident Donald Trump has been successfully selling white Christian nostalgia, racism and xenophobia to his base. However, the Public Religion Research Institute’s massive poll of 6,616 participants suggests that what works with his base might pose an insurmountable problem with Gen Z teens and Gen Z adults (who are younger than 25).

Demographically, this cohort of voters bears little resemblance to Trump’s older, whiter, more religious followers. “In addition to being the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in our nation’s history, Gen Z adults also identify as LGBTQ at much higher rates than older Americans,” the PRRI poll found. “Like millennials, Gen Zers are also less likely than older generations to affiliate with an established religion.”

Those characteristics suggest Gen Z will favor a progressive message that incorporates diversity and opposes government imposition of religious views. Indeed, “Gen Z adults (21%) are less likely than all generational groups except millennials (21%) to identify as Republican.” Though 36 percent of Gen Z adults identify as Democrats, their teenage counterparts are more likely to be independents (51 percent) than older generations.

Ideologically, “Gen Z adults are the most likely of any generation to identify as liberal, at 43%, compared with one in four members of the Silent Generation (24%), baby boomers (25%), and Gen Xers (25%), and 39% of millennials.” However, Gen Z women are much more liberal than Gen Z men: “There is also a pronounced gender gap among Gen Z adults, with 47% of Gen Z women and 38% of Gen Z men identifying as liberal.” A racial divide exists, but it’s not as great as one might imagine: “White Gen Z adults are more likely than their non-white counterparts to identify as conservative (32% vs. 23%), but there is no significant difference in the proportion who identify as liberal.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Key Network of G.O.P. Megadonors to Meet With Trump and Haley Camps, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). A network of Republican megadonors has invited aides to both Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley to make presentations at the group’s winter meeting next week, as the wealthy contributors assess the presidential race with just nine months until Election Day.

The network, known as the American Opportunity Alliance, is expected to hear from Ms. Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, and Mr. Trump’s top adviser, Susie Wiles, at the gathering in Palm Beach, Fla., according to two people familiar with the event.

The group’s meeting was reported earlier by Puck.

The network was founded a decade ago by a group of wealthy donors, including members of the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, and the investors Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin.

But the donors in the American Opportunity Alliance do not move in unison, and people supporting Ms. Haley — and who had supported Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who dropped out of the race last Sunday — are part of the network. Some members of the group have been open about wanting a candidate other than Mr. Trump.

But even when officials representing Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis presented at the group’s meeting in Dallas in early October — when their campaigns were the only two whose advisers had been invited — some people working with A.O.A. were clear that the focus was more on the general election than on the primary cycle. A Republican strategist working with the group called Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination “straightforward” at the time.

Assessing the presidential race, the American Opportunity Alliance has invited representatives from both the Trump and Haley campaigns to make their pitches at a meeting next week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza, Maya King, Jan. 28, 2024. Black congregants’ dismay at President Biden’s posture on the war could imperil his re-election bid.

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it.

More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.

“Black faith leaders are extremely disappointed in the Biden administration on this issue,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald, the senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which boasts more than 1,500 members. He was one of the first pastors of more than 200 Black clergy members in Georgia, a key swing state, to sign an open letter calling for a cease-fire. “We are afraid,” Mr. McDonald said. “And we’ve talked about it — it’s going to be very hard to persuade our people to go back to the polls and vote for Biden.”

Any cracks in the ordinarily rock-solid foundation of Black support for Mr. Biden, and for Democrats nationally, could be of enormous significance in November.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Must Campaign Against a Man Who Already Thinks He’s President, Katie Rogers, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). How will President Biden, who is actually in the White House, run against Donald Trump, who never conceded his election loss?

He promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He demanded states deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. He warned congressional Republicans to hold out for a perfect deal on immigration — or else.

djt biden smilesFormer President Donald J. Trump has not even clinched the Republican presidential nomination, but he has wasted no time issuing directives as if he were making them from the Oval Office instead of between appearances in a New York courtroom.

And now, President Biden has been forced to ponder a campaign question that no president has ever had to consider: How do you run against a man who has already had the job, never conceded his election loss and is already acting like he has the job again?

Mr. Trump’s power over his party, the loyalty of his base and his swift re-emergence as the likely Republican nominee allows him to spar with Mr. Biden in ways that other candidates could not.

The president’s frustrations boiled over on Friday night as he fought to save an immigration deal from collapse in Congress. Mr. Trump has spent weeks pressuring lawmakers to oppose the deal, and Republicans appear unlikely to defy him.

In an unusual statement from a president who often keeps the most sensitive negotiations private, Mr. Biden said Friday he would shut down the U.S.-Mexico border under the emergency authority in the deal if Republicans returned to the table and agreed to it.

Politico, The 2024 door is closing faster than Haley thinks. Here's what the math shows, Steven Shepard, Jan. 27, 2024. The delegate count is about to accelerate, and the kind of campaign Haley’s riding to South Carolina won’t get her to victory on Super Tuesday and the rest of the March states.

politico CustomNikki Haley isn’t wrong when she says it’s early in the GOP primary — less than 3 percent of delegates have been awarded so far.

But the rest of the states are coming fast, and the relative lull over the next four weeks before the South Carolina primary is followed by a sprint: Within four weeks after Haley faces former President Donald Trump in her home state, more than 70 percent of the delegates to the Republican convention in July will have been awarded.

That sudden acceleration could be whiplash-inducing for Haley, who already faces an unfriendly electorate in the upcoming states. The former South Carolina governor has been able to mount a challenge to Trump by investing significant time and money into individual states. And now she faces a primary calendar that requires a totally different approach.

It’s a structural problem, in addition to Haley’s political one: trying to turn out the moderates and independents who boosted her in New Hampshire in states where they are in shorter supply. The door is still technically open for her to dethrone the former president despite his victories in the first two states, but it’s going to close very quickly.

Politico, Haley targeted in December swatting incident, Olivia Alafriz, Jan. 27, 2024. Swatting incidents have accompanied a recent rise in threats against political candidates and state officials.

politico CustomGOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was targeted in a swatting incident last month, according to media reports Saturday.

Authorities responded to a false emergency call on Dec. 30 after a man claimed to have shot a woman and threatened to harm himself at Haley’s home in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, records obtained by Reuters showed.

Haley and her son were not in town at the time of the incident, according to the reports. Her husband is currently deployed overseas.

Swatting incidents have accompanied a recent rise in threats against political candidates, state officials, and members of the judiciary and legislature.

Politico, The Pollster Getting Under Democrats’ Skin, Ryan Lizza,  Jan. 27, 2024. One of the biggest threats to Joe Biden’s reelection is a third politico Customparty candidate — viable or not. It wouldn’t take much for a third party or independent contender to tip the election in Donald Trump’s favor. In 2020, the presidency was decided by less than 40,000 votes in three swing states. And in 2024, third party fever seems to be on the rise. Already, Cornel West, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Jill Stein are running.

Then there’s the quixotic movement known as No Labels, which has cited a stream of polling data arguing that a large majority of Americans are crying out for an alternative to Trump and Biden.

The man producing those polls is Mark Penn, best known for two things: his devotion to centrist politics and his longtime role as the top pollster and strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Penn’s wife Nancy Jacobson runs No Labels and frequently uses Penn’s data to support her project, though he says he has no role in the organization. Penn reports that 64 percent of voters say “the country needs another choice” if it’s a Biden-Trump rematch and that most voters would consider a moderate, independent candidate as an alternative to the current president and former president.

Not surprisingly, the couple’s work has infuriated Democrats — who are spending money to discredit them, sue No Labels, thwart the group’s voter registration efforts and pressure its affiliates.

So what does Mark Penn think about all of this? We decided to ask him.

I caught up with Penn on this week’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast. We talked about his controversial polls, his real relationship with No Labels and why he thinks that Nikki Haley may still have a big role to play in this year’s election.

Politico, Cheney accuses Stefanik of deleting 2021 statement condemning Jan. 6 protesters, Olivia Alafriz, Jan. 27, 2024. Former GOP House chair Liz Cheney on Saturday accused her successor Elise Stefanik of deleting a press release from 2021 condemning protesters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

politico CustomOn Tuesday, Cheney tweeted at Stefanik, an ally of former President Donald Trump, saying: “This is what ⁦⁦@EliseStefanik said, in a rare moment of honesty, about the January 6 attack on our Capitol. One day she will have to explain how and why she morphed into a total crackpot. History, and our children, deserve to know.”

In Stefanik’s 2021 press release, she condemned the “violence and destruction” of Jan. 6 and called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted.

Stefanik has since downplayed the significance of the attack on the Capitol and cast doubt on the legitimacy of legal action against the attack’s participants. She is reportedly under consideration to be Trump’s VP pick should he win his bid for the presidency.

Cheney formerly was vice chair of the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack — which Stefanik has described as ”illegitimate and unconstitutional.” Cheney became the focus of Trump’s ire and lost in the primary for her Wyoming House seat in 2022.

On Saturday, Cheney posted again to point out that the statement in question was no longer available on Stefanik’s official House website.

As of Saturday morning, the website showed no press releases prior to 2023.

On Jan. 7 of this year, Stefanik referred to those imprisoned for offenses related to Jan. 6 as “hostages” in an appearance on “Meet The Press.”

“I have concerns about the treatment of the January 6 hostages,“ she added.

Cheney called her out for it later that morning on “Face the Nation.”

In a statement to POLITICO Saturday, a spokesperson for Stefanik accused Cheney of “lashing out” over personal animus, noting that Stefanik’s previous statements could still be found on several social media channels.

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know About Nevada’s Primary and Caucus, Kellen Browning, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). The candidates have turned their attention to South Carolina, but the next contests are in the Silver State. The process there is complex and confusing.

As the calendar gets ready to flip to February and the remaining Republican presidential candidates move on from the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s Nevada — not South Carolina — that’s next on the schedule.

Former President Donald J. Trump will campaign in Las Vegas on Saturday, while Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has so far ignored the state. In a confusing and complicated process, the two candidates will not appear on the same ballot in Nevada.

Here’s what you need to know about Nevada’s upcoming nominating contests.
When are the Nevada primary and caucus? How can I vote?

The Nevada primary, which the state is running, will be on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Early in-person voting begins on Saturday, Jan. 27, and runs through Friday, Feb. 2, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. In-person polling places will be open the day of the primary as well, though voters can choose to vote by mail. All registered voters received a ballot in the mail.

Meantime, the Nevada Republican Party has chosen to hold a party-run caucus on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Republicans can look up their precinct locations online, but the caucus itself is entirely in-person. A valid government I.D. is required to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Looming Contest Between Two Presidents and Two Americas, Peter Baker, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). The general election matchup that seems likely between President Biden and former President Trump is about fundamentally disparate visions of the nation.

Each of them has sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, signed bills into law, appointed judges, bartered with foreign leaders and ordered the armed forces into combat. They both know what it is like to be the most powerful person on the planet.

Yet the general election matchup that seems likely after this week’s New Hampshire primary represents more than the first-in-a-century contest between two men who have both lived in the White House. It represents the clash of two presidents of profoundly different countries, the president of Blue America versus the president of Red America.

The looming showdown between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump, assuming Nikki Haley cannot pull off a hail-mary surprise, goes beyond the binary liberal-conservative split of two political parties familiar to generations of Americans. It is at least partly about ideology, yes, but also fundamentally about race and religion and culture and economics and democracy and retribution and most of all, perhaps, about identity.

It is about two vastly disparate visions of America led by two presidents who, other than their age and the most recent entry on their résumés, could hardly be more dissimilar. Mr. Biden leads an America that, as he sees it, embraces diversity, democratic institutions and traditional norms, that considers government at its best to be a force for good in society. Mr. Trump leads an America where, in his view, the system has been corrupted by dark conspiracies and the undeserving are favored over hard-working everyday people.

Deep divisions in the United States are not new; indeed, they can be traced back to the Constitutional Convention and the days of John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson. But according to some scholars, they have rarely reached the levels seen today, when Red and Blue Americas are moving farther and farther apart geographically, philosophically, financially, educationally and informationally.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Haley presses on against Trump on the trail. Her fight is a lonely one, Dylan Wells, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Beyond the walls of the ballroom where Nikki Haley, above, won cheers, a very different attitude was evident in the GOP, as many have rallied around Donald Trump.

Nikki Haley returned to the campaign trail in her home state and swiftly unfurled an arsenal of attacks against Donald Trump. She accused him of throwing a “temper tantrum” in his victory speech, attacked his acuity and reprised her challenge to debate him. “Bring it, Donald, show me what you got,” Haley said. The crowd cheered.

But beyond the walls of the convention center ballroom where she spoke, a very different attitude was evident.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said she didn’t see “the math and the path going forward” for Haley after former president Trump scored a second straight early-state win this week in New Hampshire. Trump scooped up new support from congressional Republicans, including some former skeptics who saw the GOP race as all but over. And the Trump campaign released a list of his 158 endorsements in South Carolina — which Haley calls her “sweet home state,” despite polls showing her trailing by a wide margin against

The events and developments on Wednesday brought into focus Haley’s new reality as she continues on in a Republican presidential contest most of her party believes isn’t much of one at all. Outside of Haley’s most loyal supporters, Republicans are coalescing around Trump and have rejected attacks against him. Some have come to view her candidacy as merely a speed bump on Trump’s path to the nomination.

After losing by about 11 points in New Hampshire — which had been seen as her most promising early state — Haley returned home to South Carolina, where she previously defied expectations to win a seat in the legislature and then the governorship. Haley released two ads in South Carolina on Thursday and announced a schedule of weekend rallies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Haley Escalates Attacks on Trump, Calling Him ‘Totally Unhinged,’ Neil Vigdor, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Nikki Haley’s comments came after an ally of Donald Trump tried to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee.

Nikki Haley on Friday called Donald J. Trump “totally unhinged” after a failed attempt by one of his allies to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee, escalating her attacks on his mental acuity.

Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, cast her onetime boss as increasingly antagonistic during an appearance on Fox News.

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U.S. Immigration / Illegal Alien Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Lankford defends bipartisan border security bill after attacks by Trump, GOP, Amy B Wang, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is facing blowback from within his party for working on a bipartisan border security package, defended the bill on Sunday, saying his Republican colleagues who have criticized the measure are misunderstanding it.

james lankfordLankford, right, has been the GOP’s lead negotiator on the bipartisan deal, which would tie funding for Ukraine to border policy changes pushed by Republicans. Though senators have not yet released the text of the bill, President Biden has praised the general framework of the deal. But former president Donald Trump has opposed the package, which has prompted several Senate Republicans to say they would not support the measure.

On Sunday, Lankford said his colleagues had not had a chance yet to read the full text of the bill and said there were “internet rumors” floating around about the measure that were false.

“This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day. There’s no amnesty. It increases the number of Border Patrol agents, increases asylum officers, it increases detention beds so we can quickly detain and then deport individuals,” Lankford said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It focuses on additional deportation flights out. It changes our asylum process so that people get a fast asylum screening at a higher standard and then get returned back to their home country,” Lankford added.

Lankford called out his colleagues for bowing to political pressure, noting that four months ago Republicans refused to grant funding for Ukraine, Israel and the southern border until there were policy changes.

“So we actually locked arms together and said we’re not going to give you money for this. We want a change in law,” Lankford said. “When we’re finally going to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding. I actually don’t want a change in law because it’s a presidential election year.’ We all have an oath to the Constitution and we have a commitment to say we’re going to do whatever we can to be able to secure the border.”
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Lankford, however, is facing intense criticism from within his own party over his efforts to get the bipartisan bill done. On Saturday, the Oklahoma GOP committee passed a resolution condemning Lankford for his work with Democrats on the border security bill and called on the senator “to cease and desist jeopardizing the security and liberty of the people of Oklahoma and of these United States.”

The resolution accused Lankford of “playing fast and loose with Democrats on our border policy” and of “authorizing several thousand people to invade our borders before any action can be taken.”

Trump, who is running for reelection and who decisively won the GOP’s first two nominating contests this month, blasted the would-be bipartisan deal as a potential political “gift” to Democrats during an election year. On Saturday, Trump bragged about inserting himself into the debate and stymieing efforts to get the bill passed, even though he is not in office.

Democrats, including Biden’s reelection campaign officials and top lawmakers, have accused Trump of acting against national security interests for political gain. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), another key negotiator on the border bill, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the bill could be ready to be on the Senate floor this week.

“I am hopeful that we will still have enough Republicans in the Senate who want to fix the problem at the border, rather than just do Donald Trump’s bidding, but we will see over the next 24 to 48 hours whether that’s true,” Murphy said.

Biden on Friday said that the bill would grant him new emergency authority to “shut down” the border, referring to a provision that would kick in when unauthorized crossings surpass 5,000 over a five-day average. He vowed to use that new authority on the day he signed the bill into law.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Republicans now say it might be okay to ignore the Supreme Court, Aaron Blake, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). A consequential development of the Trump era is what increasingly looks like the Republicans’ acrimonious divorce from the rule of law.

The party that once prided itself as the law-and-order side has leaped headlong into highly speculative theories about the “weaponization” of the justice system, spurred by former president Donald Trump. Both Trump and his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently flouted civil defamation verdicts against them by continuing to defame their victims — cheered on by many on the right. Republican voters increasingly want a president who is willing to break both rules and laws to get things done.

But some members of the party have in recent days crossed a new threshold: by suggesting that it’s okay to disregard the Supreme Court.

After the Supreme Court ruled last week that federal authorities can remove razor wire that Texas put on the U.S.-Mexico border, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) posted on X, formerly Twitter, that “Texas should ignore it.”
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“It’s like, if someone’s breaking into your house, and the court says, ‘Oh, sorry. You can’t defend yourself.’ What do you tell the court?” Roy separately told Fox News. “You tell the court to go to hell, you defend yourself and then figure it out later.”

By Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) had gone on CNN and indicated that it would be okay to disregard the Supreme Court in certain circumstances.

“We all agree that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land,” Stitt said. “And if the Supreme Court gets something wrong — for example, if they tried to ban and say that we didn’t have a Second Amendment right to bear arms — I think the Constitution supersedes somebody in Washington, D.C., telling us, you know.”

Stitt didn’t seem to finish the thought (and his office hasn’t responded to a request for comment), but the thrust of what he was saying is pretty clear. Host Jake Tapper’s question was about “whether elected officials should just ignore rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court with which they disagree,” and Stitt’s response was decidedly not “no.”
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Stitt’s comments also came after he had spent a day repeatedly floating a scenario in which members of the National Guard might disobey orders from their commander in chief, the president of the United States. Stitt repeatedly cited the difficult decisions those Guard members would face if President Biden tried to federalize them. (Biden has the authority to do so, though such authority has rarely been invoked, and the White House has not signaled it’s in the works.) Stitt suggested they might be standing on principle by refusing Biden’s orders.

It’s important to note that, despite the claims of some on the left, what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is doing right now doesn’t violate what the Supreme Court ruled.

The court overturned a ruling that said the federal government couldn’t remove the razor wire, effectively allowing it to do so; Abbott has signaled he’ll continue to have the National Guard lay the wire, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has rejected the Biden administration’s request for full access to the area.
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Provocative? Yes. Interfering with federal authority? Quite possibly. But directly violating the Supreme Court’s decision? No.

Roy’s and Stitt’s comments, then, take this debate quite a bit further.

In some ways, it’s a logical extension of the emerging Republican argument about state sovereignty. Anticipating a federal-vs.-state clash, Republicans have taken to arguing that Texas has the authority to defend itself from those crossing the border illegally.

But you can also see how we’re getting into dicey territory here. The Supreme Court is the institution we charge with interpreting our Constitution; we now have a sitting U.S. governor and a congressman suggesting it’s okay to ignore what the court says if you have a different interpretation. (Tapper noted to Stitt that Democratic governors could seemingly do the same in restricting gun rights beyond what the court says is constitutional — by arguing that it’s just that important to protect their citizens.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden vows to ‘shut down’ an overwhelmed border if Senate deal passes, Toluse Olorunnipa and Liz Goodwin, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Senators hope to release the legislative text of the bill next week, but it faces stiff odds in the Republican-led House.

President Biden said Friday that he would use new emergency authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” if Congress passes a bipartisan immigration plan that the Senate has been negotiating.

The comments signified a remarkable shift in tone for a Democratic president and underscored the urgency of the issue for his reelection campaign as immigration remains one of his most vexing political and policy challenges.

In a lengthy statement Friday, Biden praised the bipartisan border deal senators have been negotiating, calling it “the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”

U.S. House logo“It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed,” he said. “And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Biden is referencing a new expulsion authority senators have negotiated that would kick in on days unauthorized border crossings reach 5,000 over a five-day average, according to two people familiar with the outlines of the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. That authority would shut down most asylum screenings for migrants crossing illegally. Migrants could still apply at ports of entry, where a set number of asylum claims would need to be granted, they said. Migrants would be expelled indefinitely until crossings dipped below 3,750 per day, which would end the expulsion authority period.

The deal also changes the U.S. asylum process with the goal of reducing the average time for an asylum claim to be resolved from several years to 6 months, the people said. It also raises the standard for migrants to be able to make an asylum claim in the first place. Some Republicans’ goal to dramatically curtail Biden’s use of his humanitarian parole powers for certain categories of migrants is not in the final deal, they said.

Senators said they hope to release the legislative text of the deal next week.

With crossings passing 10,000 per day during much of last month, both Democrats and Republicans have described that level of migration as unsustainable. Crossings have declined so far in January as Mexico has stepped up its enforcement, but Biden’s pledge to invoke a new “shut down” authority immediately upon signing a bill suggested that the border remained “overwhelmed.”

“For too long, we all know the border’s been broken,” Biden said in his statement. “It’s long past time to fix it.”

In a political atmosphere in which former president Donald Trump and top Republicans have hammered Biden over the influx of millions of migrants into the country, the president’s willingness — and apparent eagerness — to pursue a “shut down” at the border marked a major departure from traditional Democratic rhetoric on migration. It was also a reversal for Biden, who came into office determined to undo much of Trump’s immigration policies and implement what he called “humane and orderly” systems for processing desperate people fleeing troubled homelands.

Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has publicly opposed the bipartisan Senate deal, dismissing it as “meaningless.” He has repeatedly claimed that he would close down the border with Mexico on the first day of his presidency. He has also pledged to launch a massive deportation operation.

Biden has faced accusations from parts of his political base that his approach to the migrant crisis has become too reminiscent of Trump’s restrictive policies. His decision to back a Senate deal that includes a new provision to close down the border threatens to heighten those claims just as he is aiming to rally his party behind his reelection bid.

Nearly 250,000 illegal border crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border in December, the highest monthly total ever.

 

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Biden pledge to shut down border points to policy shortfalls, Nick Miroff and Toluse Olorunnipa, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s surprise declaration Friday that he would “shut down” the southern border when illegal crossings surge to overwhelming levels illustrates how his many other efforts to address immigration have fallen short of their goals.

Department of Defense SealBiden signed more executive orders related to immigration than any other topic on his first day in office. He’s taken more than 500 executive actions since then, already surpassing former president Donald Trump’s four-year total, according to a recent tally by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

But one of Biden’s most active areas of policymaking has become one of his biggest vulnerabilities to reelection. The president’s management of the southern border and immigration is his worst-rated issue in polls, and record numbers of illegal crossings have galvanized Republicans, undermined the president’s push for Ukraine aid and played to the perceived strengths of Trump, the GOP front-runner.

Several of the Biden administration’s signature initiatives intended to make the immigration system fairer and more orderly have stalled out or remained too limited to significantly curb illegal entries and reduce chaos at the border, according to analysts, and current and former administration officials.

“This is the area where the gap between the president and Trump is the widest, and where the country seems to have least confidence in the president,” said Muzaffar Chishti, an MPI senior fellow and one of the report’s authors.

Last month 249,785 illegal crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest monthly total ever, and Biden officials acknowledge the majority of the migrants were released into the United States with pending claims for protection. The latest influx has worsened strains on New York, Chicago, Denver and other cities whose Democratic mayors are pleading for more federal aid to shelter and assist the newcomers, including the thousands of migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
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The political pressure on Biden has been growing, with Trump saying the issue won’t be fixed until he reclaims the White House and Abbott testing the president — and federal law — by seizing a public park along the border and denying access to U.S. agents.

Frustrated and anxious about legislative negotiations that would deliver aid to Ukraine and Israel in exchange for new border restrictions, Biden stated Friday that he was willing to accept restrictions to the asylum system and other enforcement measures that were almost unthinkable for Democrats at the beginning of the president’s term. Trump and top Republicans have cast doubt in recent days on a potential deal — which include several measures sought by GOP leaders — with some lawmakers suggesting the changes could help drive down illegal crossings and benefit Biden.

Biden said the bipartisan Senate bill “would be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”
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senate democrats logoMeasures under discussion include an expansion of the government’s deportation powers and an ability to expel border-crossers — denying them access to the asylum system — when daily crossings surpass 5,000. Republicans have also pushed for new limits on the president’s ability to use executive parole authority to waive in migrants without visas.

Biden said the changes would give him an emergency authority to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” and said he would “use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Such statements risk further alienating some Democrats who see efforts to stiffen enforcement as too similar to the Trump-era approach Biden campaigned against, leaving the president in a political squeeze.

Why immigration parole is sticking point in Ukraine-border deal

Biden’s desire to secure funding for Ukraine and Israel is a key reason he is entertaining the idea of major policy changes on the border backed by Republicans, but the political and logistical challenges he faces have forced him to consider new options, said Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former federal immigration official who is now a senior policy adviser on the issue at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Politico, Senators could vote on bipartisan border deal next week, top negotiator says, Kelly Garrity, Jan. 28, 2024. Whether Republicans will support the long-debated border deal amid pressure from Donald Trump to reject it remains to be seen.

politico CustomSenators could vote on a bipartisan immigration deal as soon as next week, one of the top negotiators said Sunday.

“Well, we do have a bipartisan deal. We’re finishing the text right now,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But whether Republicans in both chambers will support the long-awaited legislation amid pressure from former President Donald Trump to deny Democrats a win is unclear.

republican elephant logo“The question is whether Republicans are going to listen to Donald Trump,” Murphy said, “who wants to preserve chaos at the border, because he thinks it’s a winning political issue for him, or whether we are going to pass legislation which would be the biggest bipartisan reform of our border immigration laws in 40 years and would give the president of the United States, whether that president is a Republican or a Democrat, new, important power to be able to better manage the flow of people across the border.”

Murphy said he’s “hopeful” enough Republican senators will be willing to sign on.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP unveils articles of impeachment against Mayorkas despite lack of evidence, Jacqueline Alemany, Jan. 28, 2024. The charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas come as Republicans swiftly concluded two impeachment hearings this month without Mayorkas’s in-person testimony or testimony from any fact witnesses.

Alejandro MayorkasHouse Republicans announced two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday, accusing him of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and breach of the public trust.

The charges come as Republicans swiftly concluded two public impeachment hearings this month without Mayorkas’s in-person testimony or testimony from any fact witnesses, and they have struggled to detail clear evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.

us dhs big eagle logo4Republicans argue in the first article that Mayorkas has failed to enforce U.S. immigration policies at the nation’s border, has disregarded laws passed by Congress and has ignored court orders, allowing for a surge of migration at the southern border that has resulted in record highs of illegal crossings in recent months.

“Congress has a duty to see that the executive branch implements and enforces the laws we have passed,” Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. “Yet Secretary Mayorkas has repeatedly refused to do so.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Election 2024: Trump brags about efforts to stymie border talks: ‘Please blame it on me,’ Isaac Arnsdorf, Jan. 28, 2024. The Republican front-runner slams bipartisan talks in the Senate for a deal as Biden calls for emergency authority to address surging crossings.

ICE logoRepublican front-runner Donald Trump said he wants to be held responsible for blocking a bipartisan border security bill in the works in the Senate as President Biden seeks emergency authority to rein in a record surge of unauthorized border crossings.

“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,” Trump told a rowdy crowd of supporters at a rally in Las Vegas on Saturday, ahead of the state’s presidential caucus on Feb. 8. “I’ll fight it all the way. A lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me. I say, that’s okay. Please blame it on me. Please.”

Trump’s opposition follows Biden’s statement on Friday praising the deal and pledging to use its new authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” — a striking shift as he signaled openness to asylum restrictions and other enforcement measures that were previously unacceptable to Democrats.

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ap logoAssociated Press, Supreme Court allows federal agents to cut razor wire Texas installed on US-Mexico border, Staff Report, Jan. 22-23, 2024. A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire that Texas installed on the U.S.-Mexico border, while a lawsuit over the wire continues.

The justices, by a 5-4 vote, granted an emergency appeal from the Biden administration, which has been in an escalating standoff at the border with Texas and had objected to an appellate ruling in favor of the state.

The concertina wire along roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Rio Grande near the border city of Eagle Pass is part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s broader fight with the administration over immigration enforcement.

Abbott also has authorized installing floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass and allowed troopers to arrest and jail thousands of migrants on trespassing charges. The administration also is challenging those actions in federal court.

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international court of justice icc

Among other major global courts is the International Court of Justice (ICJ), shown above, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. As described by its website, the ICJ is a civil tribunal that hears disputes between countries. It has no prosecutor or jurisdiction to try individuals, joan donoghue robe oincluding those accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Its current president, Joan Donoghue, right, is a United States citizen who became a justice on the court in 2010 following election by United Nations members. She then won election from other justices in 2021 to become the ICJ president for a three-year term. The court's vice president is Kiill Gevorgian of the Russian Federation. Other current members are shown here.

 United Nations

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. court orders Israel to do more to prevent killing, harm in Gaza, Emily Rauhala and Steve Hendrix, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). The order is not a decision on whether Israel has committed genocide but a provisional measure aimed to prevent the situation from getting worse while the case proceeds.

The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to do more to prevent the killing and harm of civilians in Gaza but did not call for a cease-fire, disappointing Palestinians who had hoped the court would endorse their pleas for immediate relief from the killing

At a closely watched hearing at The Hague’s Peace Palace, the court’s president read out its order and reasoning, confirming that the ICJ has jurisdiction in the landmark case and arguing that there is an urgent need for measures because of the plausibility of genocide. It called on Israel to prevent the possibility of genocide, including by allowing more aid and punishing incitement.

The court also said Israel must submit a report in one month outlining how it is implementing the court’s orders.

What to know about the genocide case against Israel ahead of ICJ decision

“We find ourselves in a perplexing situation as a court decision acknowledging the possibility of genocide falls short of demanding a complete cease-fire,” said Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, a father of five who has fled Gaza City for Rafah during the conflict. “Waiting longer in such circumstances only prolongs death and enduring pain.”

riday’s decision is not a verdict on whether Israel has committed genocide — that could take years. Rather, the provisional measures aim to prevent the situation from getting worse while the case proceeds.

joan donoghue“The court considers that the civilian population in the Gaza Strip remains extremely vulnerable,” said Judge Joan Donoghue, right, the ICJ’s president and former State Department employee (shown in a file photo). “The court considers that the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at serious risk of deteriorating further before the court renders its final judgment.”

 United Nations

ny times logoNew York Times, U.N. Fires 12 Aid Workers and Looks Into Their Possible Involvement on Oct. 7, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Israel accused the UNRWA workers in Gaza of helping to plan and participating in the attack on Oct. 7 that left 1,400 Israelis dead or captured.

The United States temporarily cut off aid to UNRWA, the agency that aids Palestinians, citing allegations that 12 of its workers were involved in the Hamas-led assault.

The United Nations on Friday fired 12 of its employees in Gaza and began an investigation of them after charges by Israel that they had helped plan and participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist assault that left 1,400 Israelis dead or captured.

The workers, all men and all employed by the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians and known by the acronym UNRWA, are subject to a criminal investigation, two U.N. officials said.

A U.N. official, briefed on the accusations, called the allegations “extremely serious and horrific.”

Israel, which presented the allegations to the U.N. earlier this week, has previously accused UNRWA, which provides social and education programs in the Gaza Strip, of fueling anti-Israeli incitement. The stunning accusation and the U.N.’s swift reaction, however, contrast with previous U.N. denials of Israeli allegations.

“UNRWA reiterates its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the abhorrent attacks,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

The accusations led to swift action by the United States, one of the agency’s largest donors, which temporarily halted funding to the organization. UNWRA has been the principal agency overseeing the distribution of aid to Gazans amid a growing humanitarian crisis resulting from the war launched in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack.

Mr. Lazzarini said the allegations came a time when more than two million Gazans are depending on the U.N. agency for food, medicine and other critical aid. “Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world,” he said.

Israel and the U.N. have each accused each other of acting in bad faith since Israel launched its war in Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas-led assault, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people. The U.N. has accused Israel of slowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to the embattled enclave, and Israel has said the world body has promoted Hamas’s propaganda.

Those allegations, however, are less politically sensitive than the accusation that humanitarian workers could have engaged in an act of terror, an allegation being taken seriously by the U.N. secretariat, the United States and the European Union, UNRWA’s largest donors.

The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, spoke on Thursday with the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, and called for “a thorough and swift investigation,” the State Department said. Mr. Blinken also told the U.N.’s leader that the United States was asking Israel, which initially made the allegation, for more information.

UNRWA, or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is one of Gaza’s largest employers, with 13,000 workers, and drives much of the enclave’s education, health and food assistance operations. During the war, it has played a critical role in overseeing the distribution of food and medical aid in Gaza.

United Nations officials have repeatedly said ordinary residents of Gaza are at risk of starvation and are experiencing a spike in infectious diseases as the weather gets colder.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the E.U.’s top diplomat and vice president of the European Commission, said he was “extremely concerned” about the allegation that U.N. employees had been involved in the terrorist attacks. He said that the Commission was in contact with UNRWA and expected it to take immediate measures against the staff involved.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The International Court of Justice’s genocide ruling has heavy symbolic meaning, but little practical impact, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). The decision by the World Court did not order Israel to cease its war against Hamas in Gaza. But the court made a move imbued with historical meaning.

A ruling on Friday by the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide against Israel had deep historical resonance for both Israelis and Palestinians. But it lacked immediate practical consequences.

The World Court did not order a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip and made no attempt to rule on the merits of the case brought by South Africa, a process that will take months — if not years — to complete.

But the court did order Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention, to send more aid to Gaza and to inform the court of its efforts to do so — interim measures that felt like a rebuke to many Israelis and a moral victory to many Palestinians.

For many Israelis, the fact that a state founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust had been accused of genocide was “one hell of a symbol,” Alon Pinkas, an Israeli political commentator and former ambassador, said after the ruling by the court in The Hague.

“That we’re even mentioned in the same sentence as the concept of genocide — not even atrocity, not disproportionate force, not war crime, but genocide — that is extremely uncomfortable,” he added.

For many Palestinians, the court’s intervention offered a brief sense of validation for their cause. Israel is rarely held to account for its actions, Palestinians and their supporters say, and the ruling felt like a welcome exception amid one of the deadliest wars this century.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Wants F.B.I. to Investigate Pro-Palestinian Protesters, Kayla Guo, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The former House speaker suggested without offering evidence that some protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza had financial ties to Russia and Vladimir V. Putin.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California and the former House speaker, on Sunday called for the F.B.I. to investigate protesters demanding a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, suggesting without evidence that some activists may have ties to Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin.

“For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message,” Ms. Pelosi said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. It’s about Putin’s message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.”

When pressed on whether she believed some of the demonstrators were “Russian plants,” Ms. Pelosi said: “Seeds or plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the F.B.I. to investigate that.”

Ms. Pelosi, who was first elected speaker in 2007 and again in 2019, led House Democrats for 20 years before stepping aside for Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader. Still, she remains influential among congressional Democrats. Her remarks appear to be the first time a prominent U.S. politician has publicly suggested Russia may be backing cease-fire protests to help foment division among Democrats.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Ms. Pelosi’s comments as “an unsubstantiated smear” and “downright authoritarian.”

“Her comments once again show the negative impact of decades of dehumanization of the Palestinian people by those supporting Israeli apartheid,” Nihad Awad, the group’s national executive director, said in a statement. “Instead of baselessly smearing those Americans as Russian collaborators, former House Speaker Pelosi and other political leaders should respect the will of the American people by calling for an end to the Netanyahu government’s genocidal war on the people of Gaza.”

Progressive activists and voters who support a cease-fire in Gaza have warned President Biden that his approach to the conflict would threaten his re-election and cost Democrats support at the ballot box in November. A variety of groups, including Jewish, human rights and antiwar organizations, have led protests around the country demanding an end to Israel’s military campaign, which began after Hamas’s deadly attack on Oct. 7. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators, citing the soaring death toll and deep humanitarian crisis in Gaza, have disrupted Democratic campaign events in recent weeks, including Mr. Biden’s public appearances and a speech Ms. Pelosi gave in Seattle last week.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ms. Pelosi pointed to a social media post by Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and professor at Columbia University, who wrote that “putin benefits from continued war in gaza and expanded chaos in the middle east.”

The spokesperson said Ms. Pelosi would continue to focus on “stopping the suffering in Gaza” and demanding that all hostages be released.

“Speaker Pelosi has always supported and defended the right of all Americans to make their views known through peaceful protest,” the statement said. “Speaker Pelosi is acutely aware of how foreign adversaries meddle in American politics to sow division and impact our elections, and she wants to see further investigation ahead of the 2024 election.”

Russia has expressed support for a cease-fire in Gaza, and Mr. Putin has used the conflict to criticize the United States’ role in the Middle East. Russia has also meddled in the United States’ past two presidential elections.

Democrats have been deeply divided over policy toward Israel since Hamas killed about 1,200 people and abducted another 240 during its Oct. 7 attack. Israel’s military response has killed more than 26,000 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel Tries to Rebut Genocide Charge by Declassifying Cabinet Decisions, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Israel has challenged South Africa’s charge of genocide by providing the court with secret orders made by Israel’s civilian and military leaders.

Israel has declassified more than 30 secret orders made by government and military leaders, which it says rebut the charge that it committed genocide in Gaza, and instead show Israeli efforts to diminish deaths among Palestinian civilians.

The release of the documents, copies of which were reviewed by The New York Times, follows a petition to the International Court of Justice by South Africa, which has accused Israel of genocide. Much of South Africa’s case hinges on inflammatory public statements made by Israeli leaders that it says are proof of intent to commit genocide.

Part of Israel’s defense is to prove that whatever politicians may have said in public was overruled by executive decisions and official orders from Israel’s war cabinet and its military’s high command.

The court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body, began hearing arguments in the case this month, and is expected to provide an initial response to South Africa’s petition — in which it could call for a provisional cease-fire — as soon as Friday.

 

 

 gaza detentions palestine yossi zeliger reuters

Palestinian men and at least one woman detained in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 8. The Israeli military reviewed this image as part of the conditions of the photographer’s embed (Reuters photo by Yossi Zeliger).

ny times logoNew York Times, Stripped, Beaten or Vanished: Israel’s Treatment of Gaza Detainees Raises Alarm, Raja Abdulrahim, Jan. 24, 2024 (print ed.). A U.N. office said Israel’s detention and treatment of detainees might amount to torture. It estimated thousands had been held in “horrific” conditions.

Cold, almost naked and surrounded by Israeli soldiers with M16 assault rifles, Ayman Lubbad knelt among dozens of Palestinian men and boys who had just been forced from their homes in northern Gaza.

Israel FlagIt was early December and photographs and videos taken at the time showed him and other detainees in the street, wearing only underwear and lined up in rows, surrounded by Israeli forces. In one video, a soldier yelled at them over a megaphone: “We’re occupying all of Gaza. Is that what you wanted? You want Hamas with you? Don’t tell me you’re not Hamas.”

The detainees, some barefoot with their hands on their heads, shouted objections. “I’m a day laborer,” one man shouted.

“Shut up,” the soldier yelled back.

Palestinian detainees from Gaza have been stripped, beaten, interrogated and held incommunicado over the past three months, according to accounts by nearly a dozen of the detainees or their relatives interviewed by The New York Times. Organizations representing Palestinian prisoners and detainees gave similar accounts in a report, accusing Israel of both indiscriminate detention of civilians and demeaning treatment of detainees.

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ny times logoNew York Times, ‘A Long Time Coming’: Northern Ireland Deal Receives Broad Welcome, Stephen Castle, Jan. 30, 2024. An agreement by the Democratic Unionist Party to return to power-sharing with Sinn Fein after a two year boycott was greeted by widespread relief.

Britain, Ireland and the United States on Tuesday welcomed a deal to end almost two years of political deadlock in Northern Ireland that will, for the first time, hand the territory’s top leadership role to Sinn Fein, a party that mainly represents Roman Catholic voters committed to a united Ireland.

The breakthrough came in the early hours of Tuesday morning when the Democratic Unionist Party, whose largely Protestant supporters want to remain in the United Kingdom, said it was ready to end a lengthy and crippling boycott of Northern Ireland’s political assembly.

“I believe that all the conditions are now in place for the assembly to return,” said Chris Heaton-Harris, Britain’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Claire Cronin, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, said she welcomed the news. “The people of Northern Ireland are best served by a power-sharing government in Stormont as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement,” she wrote on social media, adding that President Biden “has long made clear his support for a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland.”

Ireland’s foreign minister, Micheal Martin, said the imminent restoration of power-sharing was “good news” and that he looked forward to working with the assembly in the future.

The deal between the Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., and the British government opens the door to a seismic change in the politics of modern day Northern Ireland, where the first minister has, up to now, always been drawn from the ranks of the D.U.P.

The unionist party walked out of the Northern Ireland Assembly in February 2022 in protest of post-Brexit trade arrangements laid out in a deal called the Northern Ireland protocol, which imposed checks on goods arriving from mainland Britain.

The restrictions were introduced because Ireland remained in the European Union when the British quit. The system avoided checks at the politically sensitive land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland — a frontier where violence flared during the decades of sectarian strife, known as the Troubles, which largely ended after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

But many unionists saw those controls as an affront and worried that they would drive a wedge between the territory and the rest of the United Kingdom.

rishi sunakIn 2023, Rishi Sunak, above, Britain’s prime minister, struck a new deal with the European Union, known as the Windsor Framework Agreement, which won some concessions from Brussels.

But they were insufficient for the D.U.P., whose continued boycott of Stormont paralyzed decision making even as civil servants maintained the basic functions of government.

Pressure has been steadily rising on the D.U.P. to cut a deal. Northern Ireland’s health service has been in crisis and its dysfunctional politics prevented public sector workers from receiving pay increases offered throughout the rest of the U.K. Earlier this month, tens of thousands took part in the largest strike in Northern Ireland in living memory.

The D.U.P.’s decision to return to government was announced after a fractious internal meeting — part of which was leaked on social media — that lasted more than five hours and dragged into Tuesday morning.

At around 1 a.m., Jeffrey Donaldson, the D.U.P. leader, told a news conference that his party was ready to return to the assembly, promising to “work alongside others to build a thriving Northern Ireland.”

In exchange London has pledged new measures to reduce checks on goods traveling between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, though the detail is not scheduled to be made public until Wednesday. In addition, Mr. Heaton-Harris said that Northern Ireland would gain more than £3 billion in funding.

Mr. Donaldson’s pledge to restore power sharing is conditional on the British government fulfilling its side of the agreement and pushing through legislation swiftly, something Mr. Heaton-Harris promised to do in his statement on Tuesday, saying: “I can confirm that we will stick to this agreement.” The detail of the deal will be watched closely, however.

On Tuesday Mr. Donaldson said that the outcome of negotiations with London was that there would be “zero checks, zero customs paperwork” on goods moving to Northern Ireland from mainland Britain. “That takes away the border within the U.K. between Northern Ireland and Great Britain,” he said.

Those words may have been carefully chosen as, even if there is “zero customs paperwork” required, form filling unrelated to customs may be necessary.

For Mr. Donaldson, cutting a deal is a political risk, and Monday night’s internal meeting exposed divisions within the D.U.P., with some prominent party figures opposed to the agreement.

Some critics fear the party will be outflanked by a more hard-line party called the Traditional Unionist Voice, which is opposed to compromise.

Its leader, Jim Allister, said on Tuesday in a social media post that “in betrayal of their own solemn pledges, the D.U.P. has caved in” over trade rules for the Irish Sea. It seemed that “not one word of the union-dismantling protocol has been removed,” he added.

By contrast there was a mood of optimism from Sinn Fein, whose president, Mary Lou McDonald, said the breakthrough had been “a long time coming, but we’re very pleased that we’re at this juncture.”
She added that she looked forward to her colleague Michelle O’Neill becoming first minister of Northern Ireland.

“That will be a moment of very great significance,” said Ms. McDonald as she stood alongside Ms. O’Neill in the Great Hall of Stormont on Tuesday, “not simply because we haven’t had government for so long but because it will be the first time that we will have a Sinn Fein first minister, a nationalist first minister.”

More on Ireland

  • Housing Crisis: Soaring rents have left many in Dublin struggling to afford homes, with two-thirds of younger adults in the city living with their parents.
  • A Fiscal Headache: The government in Dublin has a big budget surplus, thanks to a boom in tax revenue from multinational companies. What to do with it? Whatever the answer, someone will be unhappy.
  • Free Cash: Thanks to a technical glitch, some customers at one of Ireland’s largest banks, for one feverish summer evening, happened upon what seemed to be a magical loophole: They could spend their cash and apparently save it, too.
  • A ‘Forgotten County’: Breac House is among several establishments in County Donegal to rely on regional talent and resources to create a contemporary take on accommodation, food and design.
  • Barring last minute complications, Sinn Fein, which emerged as the largest party in Northern Ireland’s last elections, will now nominate the first minister. The D.U.P. will have to settle for the deputy first minister post, a big symbolic change even if the powers of the holders of those posts are similar.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Europe and NATO, a Russian Invasion Is No Longer Unthinkable, Lara Jakes and Christina Anderson, Jan. 29, 2024.  As U.S. support for Ukraine crumbles and Donald Trump’s candidacy rises, European nations and NATO are making plans to take on Russia by themselves.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia once proclaimed the dissolution of the Soviet empire “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” At the time, back in 2005, few expected him to do anything about it.

Russian FlagBut then came Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008, its backing for Ukrainian separatists and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and, most resoundingly, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Now, with the rise of former President Donald J. Trump, who in the past has vowed to leave NATO and recently threatened never to come to the aid of his alliance allies, concerns are rising among European nations that Mr. Putin could invade a NATO nation over the coming decade and that they might have to face his forces without U.S. support.

That could happen in as few as five years after a conclusion of the war in Ukraine, according to some officials and experts who believe that would be enough time for Moscow to rebuild and rearm its military.

“We have always kind of suspected that this is the only existential threat that we have,” Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, the commander of the Estonian Army’s main land combat division, said of a possible Russian invasion.

“The past few years have also made it very, very clear that NATO as a military alliance, a lot of countries, are not ready to conduct large-scale operations — meaning, in simple human language, a lot of NATO militaries are not ready to fight Russia,” General Palm said during an interview in December. “So it’s not very comforting.”
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Anxiety over what experts describe as Mr. Putin’s imperial ambitions has long been a part of the psyche of states that border Russia or are uncomfortably close. “I think for Estonia, it was 1991” when his country’s alarm bells started ringing, General Palm said wryly, referring to the year that Estonia declared independence from the crumbling Soviet Union.

Just as Mr. Putin played down the Biden administration’s warnings that he was planning to invade Ukraine, Moscow has dismissed concerns that Russia is planning to attack NATO. The head of Russian’s foreign intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, said in an interview last week with the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti that they are part of a Western disinformation campaign to stir up discontent against Moscow.

Europe’s worry has been further fueled in recent months by Mr. Putin’s militarization of the Russian economy and huge spending increases for its army and weapons industry while, at the same time, some Republicans in Congress look to limit American aid to Ukraine.

“If anyone thinks this is only about Ukraine, they’re fundamentally mistaken,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine warned at the World Economic Forum this month. “Possible directions and even a timeline of a new Russian aggression beyond Ukraine become more and more obvious.”

NATO maintains that it is prepared to defend the borders of all 31 member states which, collectively, have increased national defense spending by an estimated $190 billion since 2014, when Russia first invaded Ukraine. But that was the start of building back what had become a hollowed-out military network across Europe in the decades following the end of the Cold War, a process that still could take years, analysts say.

ny times logoNew York Times, Evergrande Will Be Dismantled, a ‘Big Bang’ End to Years of Stumbles, Alexandra Stevenson. Jan. 29, 2024. After multiple delays and a few faint glimmers of hope, a Hong Kong court has sounded the death knell for what was once China’s biggest real estate firm.

China FlagMonths after China Evergrande ran out of cash and defaulted in 2021, investors around the world scooped up the property developer’s discounted I.O.U.’s, betting that the Chinese government would eventually step in to bail it out.

On Monday it became clear just how misguided that bet was. After two years in limbo, and with over $300 billion in debt, Evergrande was ordered by a judge in Hong Kong to liquidate, a move that will set off a race by lawyers to try to find and grab anything belonging to Evergrande that can be sold.

In a small courtroom on the 12th floor of Hong Kong’s High Court building, Evergrande’s lawyers pushed for a last-minute deal. They argued that a liquidation would hurt Evergrande’s business and not help creditors get their money back. They wanted more time to try to make a deal with Evergrande’s creditors.

But after 40 minutes of debate, Linda Chan, the bankruptcy judge presiding over the case, made her decision to issue an order telling Evergrande to wind up its operations, citing the company’s inability to bring a concrete proposal to the court for one and a half years.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Help From Kenyan Police Is Blocked, Haitians Ask: What Now? Frances Robles, Jan. 28, 2024. As Haiti sank into gang-dominated chaos, Kenya promised to send police officers. But a court rejected the plan, and there isn’t another one.

haiti flagGangs have taken over entire neighborhoods in Haiti’s capital, and killings have more than doubled in the past year, but for the organizers of the Port-au-Prince Jazz Festival, the show simply had to go on.

So while judges an ocean away deliberated whether to send a contingent of officers to pacify Haiti’s violence-riddled streets, festival organizers made do by shortening the length of the event to four days from eight, moving the acts from a public stage to a restricted hotel venue and replacing the handful of artists who canceled.

As 11.5 million Haitians struggle to feed their families and ride the bus or go to work because they fear becoming the victims of gunmen or kidnappers, they also are pushing forward, struggling to reclaim a safe sense of routine — whether or not that comes with the assistance of international soldiers.

“We need something normal,” said Miléna Sandler, the executive director of the Haiti Jazz Foundation, whose festival is taking place this weekend in Port-au-Prince, the capital. “We need elections.”

A Kenyan court on Friday blocked a plan to deploy 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti, the key element of a multinational force meant to help stabilize a nation besieged by murders, kidnappings and gang violence.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has sunk deeper into turmoil in the nearly three years since the president was assassinated. The terms of all mayors in the country ended almost four years ago, and the prime minister is deeply unpopular largely because he was appointed, not elected, and has been unable to restore order.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Finland Votes for a New President in Its First Election Since Joining NATO, Johanna Lemola, Jan. 28, 2024. The election comes as the alliance’s newest member is grappling with concerns about potential aggression from its neighbor, Russia.

finland flagVoters in Finland are casting ballots on Sunday in a presidential election that comes as NATO’s newest member faces the threat of an antagonistic Russia.

The election, which is expected to require a second round of voting, is for Finland’s first new head of state in 12 years. The country’s wildly popular president, Sauli Niinistö, has served two terms and is ineligible to run again.

Seen as a steadying force, Mr. Niinistö is considered the person most responsible for getting Finland into the NATO alliance, leaving whomever assumes the presidency with big shoes to fill.

From a field of nine candidates, the latest polls show two front-runners: Alexander Stubb and Pekka Haavisto. Both are familiar faces with strong foreign policy credentials.

Results in Sunday’s election are expected later Sunday. If no candidate receives more than half of the vote, a runoff election will be held on Feb. 11 between the top two first-round finishers.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Collective ‘No’: Anti-Putin Russians Embrace an Unlikely Challenger, Paul Sonne, Alina Lobzina and Ivan Nechepurenko, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Lines have popped up in Russia and around the world to get Boris Nadezhdin, an antiwar candidate, onto the ballot for Russia’s presidential election in March.

His surname comes from the Russian word for hope — and for hundreds of thousands of antiwar Russians, that is, improbably enough, what he has become.

Boris B. Nadezhdin is the only candidate running on an antiwar platform with a chance of getting on the ballot to oppose President Vladimir V. Putin in Russia’s presidential election in March. Russians who are against the war have rushed to sign his official petition inside and outside the country, hoping to supply enough signatures by a Jan. 31 deadline for him to succeed in joining the race.

They have braved subzero temperatures in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. They have snaked down the block in Yekaterinburg. They have jumped in place to stay warm in St. Petersburg and flocked to outposts in Berlin, Istanbul and Tbilisi, Georgia.

They know that election officials might bar Mr. Nadezhdin from the ballot, and if he is allowed to run, they know he will never win. They don’t care.

“Boris Nadezhdin is our collective ‘No,’” said Lyosha Popov, a 25-year-old who has been collecting signatures for Mr. Nadezhdin in Yakutsk, south of the Arctic Circle. “This is simply our protest, our form of protest, so we can somehow show we are against all this.”

The grass-roots mobilization in an authoritarian country, where national elections have long been a Potemkin affair, has injected energy into a Russian opposition movement that has been all but obliterated: Its most promising leaders have been exiled, jailed or killed in a sweeping crackdown on dissent that has escalated with the war.

ny times logoNew York Times, FIFA Corruption Convictions Are Imperiled by Questions of U.S. Overreach, Rebecca R. Ruiz and Tariq Panja, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Two Supreme Court decisions and a lower court’s ruling have cast doubt on the basis for a host of prosecutions. Several defendants want their records cleared.

Nearly a decade after police officers marched world soccer officials out of a luxury hotel in Zurich at dawn, revealing a corruption scandal that shook the world’s most popular sport, the case is at risk of falling apart.

The dramatic turnabout comes over questions of whether American prosecutors overreached by applying U.S. law to a group of people, many of them foreign nationals, who defrauded foreign organizations as they carried out bribery schemes across the world.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year limited a law that was key to the case. Then in September, a federal judge, citing that, threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to soccer corruption. Now, several former soccer officials, including some who paid millions of dollars in penalties and served time in prison, are arguing that the bribery schemes for which they were convicted are no longer considered a crime in the United States.

Emboldened by the vacated convictions, they are asking that their records be wiped clean and their money returned.

Their hopes are linked to the September cases, in which the two defendants benefited from two recent Supreme Court rulings that had rejected federal prosecutors’ application of the law at play in the soccer cases and offered rare guidance on what is known as honest services fraud. The defendants in the soccer trial had been found to have engaged in bribery that deprived organizations outside the U.S. of their employees’ honest services, which constituted fraud at the time. But the judge ruled that the court’s new guidance meant that those actions were no longer prohibited under American law.

That blow to the case, which federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are contesting, could turn the story of world soccer’s deep-seated corruption — detailed in a 236-page indictment, and proved through 31 guilty pleas and four trial convictions — into one equally about the long arm of American justice reaching too far.

“It’s quite significant,” said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor and professor of law at Columbia University, “since the judge rejected the government’s basic theory.” He called the opinion “surprising but well reasoned.”

ny times logoNew York Times, What China’s E.V. City Says About the State of the Economy, Keith Bradsher and Joy Dong, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Hefei has led the country in making electric vehicles and other tech products, but it still has not escaped a nationwide housing crisis.

Ultramodern factories churn out electric cars and solar panels in Hefei, an industrial center in the heart of central China. Broad avenues link office towers and landscaped parks. Subway lines open at a brisk pace.

Yet at Hefei’s market for construction materials, which fills 10 city blocks, local merchants are gloomy. Wu Junlin, a vendor of doors, has closed two of his three stores and laid off all but one of his dozen employees.

“I have been doing this for 20 years — after all these years, this year is the worst,” he said, sitting in his last store with no customers in sight.

Nowhere better showcases the opportunities and vulnerabilities of China’s economy than Hefei.

Government-directed growth in industries like electric vehicles and solar panels has turned China into the world’s export superpower, making Hefei a model for other Chinese cities. But a nationwide decline in real estate has devastated the finances of millions of families and small businesses — including in Hefei.

Hefei and nearby towns have become an E.V. manufacturing hub, with overall car production nearly tripling since 2019 and now exceeding Michigan’s. Hefei’s industrial policies have been so successful in nurturing technology manufacturers that the country’s central government has embraced tenets of what is known as the Hefei model.

ny times logoNew York Times, As China’s stocks stumble, Japan’s are making a furious comeback, Joe Rennison and Alexandra Stevenson, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). There’s a shift underway in Asia that’s reverberating through global financial markets.

JapanJapan’s stock market, overlooked by investors for decades, is making a furious comeback. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is edging closer to the record it set on Dec. 29, 1989, which effectively marked the peak of Japan’s economic ascendancy before a collapse that led to decades of low growth.

China FlagChina, long an impossible-to-ignore market, has been spiraling downward. Stocks in China recently touched lows not seen since a rout in 2015, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was the worst-performing major market in the world last year. Stocks stemmed their slide only when Beijing recently signaled its intention to intervene but remain far below previous highs.

This year was set to be a tumultuous one for global markets, with unpredictable swings as economic fortunes diverge and voters in more than 50 countries go to the polls. But there’s one unforeseen reversal already underway: a change in perception among investors about China and Japan.

Seizing on this shift, Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, addressed more than 3,000 global financiers gathered in Hong Kong this week for a conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs. It was the first time a Japanese prime minister had given a keynote address at the event.

“Now Japan has a golden opportunity to completely overcome low economic growth and a deflationary environment that have persisted for a quarter of a century,” Mr. Kishida said in a video recording. His government, he said, would “demonstrate to all of you Japan’s transition to a new economic stage by mobilizing all the policy tools.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia sentences woman to 27 years in bomb assassination of blogger, Mary Ilyushina, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Russian courts on Thursday imposed prison sentences in two telling cases connected to the war in Ukraine, with one serving as a threat to pro-war Russians who criticize the military’s performance on the battlefield and another, much harsher sentence, as warning that Russians aiding Kyiv in this war will see no mercy.

In St. Petersburg, a military court sentenced Daria Trepova, a young antiwar activist, to 27 years in prison on terrorism charges connected to the killing of a prominent pro-war blogger in a cafe, the harshest known sentence for a woman in modern Russian history.

Trepova, 26, was arrested last spring and accused of giving a statuette with a bomb inside to Maxim Fomin, a pro-war commentator and Telegram blogger with over half a million followers, better known by his pen name Vladlen Tatarsky. Fomin died in the blast.

Russian investigators said Trepova collaborated with a Ukrainian “sabotage and terrorism group” who gave her various tasks and requested that she track Tatarsky, his fans, and Cyber Front Z, a pro-invasion online troll group that described itself as the “digital troops of Russia.”

In videos released by authorities and published on local media, Trepova was shown handing Tatarsky the golden statuette, which promptly exploded. Other video showed her leaving the cafe in St. Petersburg where the incident occurred.

In court, Trepova maintained that she did not know the figurine contained explosives and believed it contained a listening device. She said she believed her mission was to establish audio surveillance on Tatarsky.

“I didn’t know who Vladlen Tatarsky was,” said in her final statement to the court this week. “When we met him in person, he seemed good-natured to me, a man with a sense of humor. I didn’t hate him. I definitely didn’t want him to die.” She added, “I am very hurt and very ashamed. My gullibility and naiveté led to such disastrous consequences. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”

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 Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, right, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on prior to a meeting ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, July 10, 2023. The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee was poised on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023, to resume deliberations on Sweden’s bid to join NATO, days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked the Nordic country’s admission on U.S. approval of Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets.(Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP, File)

 Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, right, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on prior to a meeting ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, July 10, 2023. Turkey approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked the Nordic country’s admission on U.S. approval of Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets.(Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP, File)

 

More On U.S. National Politics, Government

ny times logoNew York Times, In the Race to Replace George Santos, National Issues Reverberate, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 29, 2024. In the special House election on Feb. 13, Republicans and Democrats are taking voters’ temperatures on issues that could tip the general election.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe war in Israel. Abortion rights. Immigration policy.

National issues have dominated a special House election to replace George Santos in New York, as Republicans and Democrats take voters’ temperatures on issues that could tip November’s general election.

tom suozziThe race pits Tom Suozzi, a former Democratic congressman who represented the Queens and Long Island swing district for three terms, against Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian-born local legislator. The open seat was created after the House voted to expel Mr. Santos, a Republican facing federal criminal charges.

The Feb. 13 contest carries unusual weight: A Democratic victory would narrow Republicans’ barely governable House majority to just two votes.

Here’s what you need to know about the race.

After decades in office, Mr. Suozzi is one of the most recognizable and well-liked figures on Long Island, but his party is deeply unpopular.

Ms. Pilip has a powerful local Republican machine behind her, but voters know very little about her.

Those inverse challenges are shaping the way both candidates are campaigning.

Mr. Suozzi has spent precious time and advertising money trying to separate himself from the Democratic brand. He has opposed his party’s position on local criminal laws and taxes, called for hardening border security and his television ads (which are running on Fox News) never mention his party affiliation — a gamble in a race where he needs base Democrats to turn out.

Ms. Pilip is running just as hard toward her party. She has not appeared in public without better-known local Republicans, and has been willing to tolerate the criticism that has come from ducking televised debates and other unscripted moments that could trip her up as a first-time candidate.

That strategy could backfire, particularly with voters wary of electing another Santos-like candidate. But unlike Mr. Suozzi, Ms. Pilip has a powerful and effective party apparatus to lean on. Republicans have swept nearly every major election on Long Island since 2021 and their turnout operation could be critical in a midwinter election.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Biden Judicial Confirmations Slow, Senate Gains Ground on Red-State Judges, Carl Hulse, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The Democrats’ push to remake the federal courts is lagging, but they are making headway in advancing President Biden’s nominees in Republican-led states.

President Biden and Senate Democrats have fallen behind the rapid pace set by Republicans in shaping the federal courts during the Trump era, but they have made fresh headway in advancing judicial nominees in states represented by Republicans.

By negotiating with Republicans over judicial picks, Mr. Biden and majority Democrats have been able to exert some influence over the makeup of trial courts in red states and install people of color on the bench for the first time in some regions.

“It has worked because I think I have convinced the White House that it is better to get a moderate Republican today than a MAGA Republican tomorrow,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee.

senate democrats logoStill, the Senate would need to confirm at least 63 more judges this year to match or better the record of the Trump years, when Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who was then the majority leader, pushed through 234 conservative-leaning jurists, including three to the Supreme Court.

After a fast start that initially surpassed the pace set under former President Donald J. Trump, the rate of Biden confirmations tapered off last year, leaving the current total for the administration at 171. That likely put the Trump administration threshold out of reach for Mr. Biden and Democrats in an election year when the Senate will be gone from the Capitol for long stretches. Mr. Durbin has said his goal is to confirm at least 200.

republican elephant logoOne development working in Democrats’ favor is that the Senate has begun adding to the bench in red states after earlier Republican resistance. In the past week, the Senate confirmed two district court judges for Indiana and one in South Carolina, while the Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings for nominees for seats in Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming, and two seats in Texas.

All the nominees had the backing of home-state Republican senators. Four Florida nominees are awaiting Senate votes. The Senate also confirmed G.O.P.-backed judges from Oklahoma and Louisiana late last year, and one from Texas earlier this month.

The confirmations and pending nominations represent a thaw in the stalemate over judicial openings in red states that had stymied Democratic efforts to fill seats there and forced them to focus only on judicial slots in states represented by two members of their own party.

Republicans say the spate of nominees from their states shows they are willing to bless the judicial picks of a Democratic president as long as they don’t find them too extreme.

ny times logoNew York Times, Arizona G.O.P. Picks New Leader After Scandal Creates a Vacancy, Michael Wines, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Gina Swoboda, a hard-right Trump supporter, was picked to replace Jeff DeWit, who resigned after the release of a recording that appeared to suggest a bribe to Kari Lake.

arizona mapArizona Republicans chose a new party chair on Saturday, a move that tightened the grip on the state party hierarchy by far-right supporters of former President Donald J. Trump and that came days after a scandal that forced the last chairman to resign.

djt maga hatGina Swoboda, who directed election-day integrity operations in Arizona for Mr. Trump in 2020 and runs a nonprofit group that has falsely claimed to have found huge discrepancies in voting records in a number of states, was picked to replace Jeff DeWit, who stepped down as chairman on Wednesday.

Ms. Swoboda, whom Mr. Trump endorsed on Friday, won an overwhelming majority of votes in an election of state party officials held at the party’s required annual meeting in Phoenix. The vote was delayed by a lengthy debate over a motion to ban the use of electronic tabulators — mistrusted by many election deniers in the party — to count the ballots.

Kari Lake, a far-right candidate for U.S. Senate and close ally of Mr. Trump who had a central role in Mr. DeWit’s fall, took to the stage on Saturday to nominate Ms. Swoboda. But she was met with a din of boos and heckling from the crowd, an apparent rebuff to her involvement in the scandal.

Mr. DeWit resigned after a leaked voice recording surfaced on Tuesday in which he told Ms. Lake that “very powerful people” would give her money or a comfortable job if she would sit out the Senate contest. In the recording, Ms. Lake, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2022 and embraced Mr. Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, was heard telling Mr. DeWit, “That’s immoral — I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.”

Mr. DeWit claimed on Wednesday that Ms. Lake had released the recording of the conversation, which he said occurred at Ms. Lake’s house more than 10 months ago, and that it had been selectively edited. He added that he was resigning because Ms. Lake had threatened to release a second damaging recording if he did not resign.

In response, Garrett Ventry and Caroline Wren, senior advisers to Ms. Lake, said in a statement that no one from Ms. Lake’s campaign had threatened or blackmailed Mr. DeWit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trump’s White House clinic improperly handed out narcotics, report finds, Joe Davidson, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). It’s hard to imagine the president’s in-house health clinic as a rogue operation, but that’s the picture a Pentagon probe paints about the facility during the Trump administration.

ICE logoThe findings are clear and damaging.

“We found that the White House Medical Unit provided a wide range of health care and pharmaceutical services to ineligible White House staff in violation of Federal law and regulation and DoD policy,” says a new report from the Defense Department’s inspector general. “Additionally, the White House Medical Unit dispensed prescription medications, including controlled substances, to ineligible White House staff.”

Many of those served by the unit should not have been.

The report paints a scathing picture of the military-run facility with 60 medical personnel, who are tasked with treating the president, the vice president and the White House staff.

ronnie jacksonIt also provides new context to systemic problems in a clinic that made headlines when Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Tex.), right, who was Donald Trump’s personal doctor until 2018, was accused by almost two dozen colleagues of improper activities, including providing prescription drugs without proper paperwork — a habit that allegedly earned him the nickname “Candyman.” A 2021 Defense Department inspector general report later corroborated some of those claims, which Jackson denied and described as politically motivated.

Jackson’s office said he “had no association or involvement with the White House Medical Unit’s clinical delivery of care” during the period covered by the new Pentagon report, which does not mention him.

The new report includes pharmaceutical procedures from 2017 to 2019 and patient eligibility practices from 2018 to 2020. Neither the pharmacy nor the clinical operations were credentialed by an outside agency. During those periods, the unit served between nine and 30 patients each week. “However,” the inspectors wrote, “we discovered that an average of 6 to 20 of these patients per week” were not eligible for the care.

Politico, McConnell dispels doubts about his commitment to a border-Ukraine deal, Lisa Kashinsky, Jan. 25, 2024. The Senate GOP leader made clear that Donald Trump's opposition to an agreement was not souring him on the negotiations.

politico CustomSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a private meeting Thursday that he still supports a border security deal linked to Ukraine aid, according to GOP senators who attended — delivering a crucial boost to talks that are getting more complicated by the minute.

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More On Trump Battles, Crimes, Claims, Allies

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Awaits Fraud Penalty, a Monitor’s Report Could Raise His Risk, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Jan. 29, 2024. A monitor drew attention to “deficiencies” in the Trump Organization’s financial reporting ahead of a verdict in a case brought by New York State that seeks $370 million.

As a New York judge weighs Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud case, new accusations of deficiencies in his company’s financial reporting could provide the judge with ammunition for a forceful ruling against the former president and his family business.

The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, will soon decide on any consequences Mr. Trump might face as a result of the New York attorney general’s accusation that he fraudulently exaggerated his net worth to obtain favorable loans. After a monthslong trial, the attorney general, Letitia James, asked for a penalty of roughly $370 million, which would come on the heels of a separate jury verdict in a defamation case requiring Mr. Trump to pay $83.3 million.

tThe new accusations against Mr. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, came late last week in a report from an outside monitor whom Justice Engoron assigned in late 2022 to keep an eye on the company. The monitor, Barbara Jones, a former federal judge, has overseen how the company represents its finances to lenders.

Her report highlighted several paperwork issues at a family company trying to shake a legacy of sloppiness: missing disclosures, typos, math errors and questions about a $48 million loan between Mr. Trump and one of his companies. Ms. Jones, now a law firm partner, told the judge that collectively, the issues “may reflect a lack of adequate internal controls.”

ICE logoOn Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers fired back, questioning Ms. Jones’s ability as a monitor and accusing her of acting in bad faith so that the Trump Organization would have to continue to pay her. They said she had not identified any fraud, and that the company had addressed most of her concerns.

“The monitor now twists immaterial accounting items into a narrative favoring her continued appointment, and thereby the continued receipt of millions of dollars in excessive fees,” one of the lawyers, Clifford S. Robert, wrote in a letter to Justice Engoron, noting tha the company had already paid Ms. Jones more than $2.6 million. 

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Trump Lawyer STEPS INTO IT with Federal Judge WHO DESPISES HER, Michael Popok, Jan. 30, 2024. mtn meidas touch networkAlina Habba is on the verge of having the federal judge in the E. Jean Carroll case against Trump refer her for disciplinary action for alina habbaadmitting that she is accusing the judge of misconduct without a shred of evidence. Michael Popok of Legal AF breaks down why Habba—like a long line of Trump attorneys— has likely crossed the line and put her bar license in jeopardy by basing her ethical attacks on the judge on an unsubstantiated tabloid article.

 

 

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

ny times logoNew York Times, Carroll Promises to Do ‘Something Good’ With a Fortune Won From Trump, Benjamin Weiser, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The writer E. Jean Carroll was awarded $83.3 million for Donald Trump’s defamation. Now, she will have to figure out how to use it.

As soon as E. Jean Carroll heard the verdict on Friday — $83.3 million in defamation damages against Donald J. Trump — a world of possibility opened before her: How to use the money?

The amount vastly eclipsed the $5 million awarded to her by a jury last spring in a different trial against Mr. Trump. It could take years before she sees the money, as Mr. Trump has said he will appeal, but she is already considering how she might use the money once she obtains it.

“I’m not going to waste a cent of this,” she said. “We’re going to do something good with it.”

Figuring that out will take some time, she added. But she will splurge on one luxury, she said — for her Great Pyrenees and her pit bull. “I’m going to be able to buy some premium dog food now,” she said.

Ms. Carroll, appearing relaxed and happy in her lawyers’ offices on Saturday, spoke in her first interview since the Manhattan jury’s award in her favor a day earlier.

Ms. Carroll, 80, sued Mr. Trump, 77, for defamation after he called her a liar in June 2019, when she first publicly accused him, in a magazine article, of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades earlier. Mr. Trump continued to attack Ms. Carroll, in posts on his Truth Social website that lasted right into the trial, as well as in news conferences and on the campaign trial.

After the verdict on Friday, Mr. Trump, issued a new attack on social media: “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.” But he avoided criticizing Ms. Carroll, a silence that spoke volumes. Ms. Carroll said she was not ready to assume that the former president was finished with her.

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a jury verdict that he sexually attacked her three decades ago.

donald trump ny daily pussy

The disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape verdict echoed Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case. 

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump to pay additional $83.3 million, Larry Neumeister, Jake Offenhartz and Jennifer Peltz, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Jury says Donald Trump must pay an additional $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll in defamation case. Former President Donald Trump was on and off the witness stand at a jury trial Thursday in less than 3 minutes but not before breaking a judge’s rules on what he could say by claiming that a writer’s sexual assault allegations were a “false accusation.” 

A jury has awarded a huge $83.3 million in additional damages to advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says former President Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.

lewis kaplanThe judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, left, has ruled that the sole focus for the jury is the matter of damages.

The verdict was delivered Friday by a seven-man, two-woman jury in a trial regularly attended by Trump, who abruptly left the courtroom during closing arguments by Carroll’s lawyer, only to later return.

Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building in his motorcade.

“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a statement shortly after the verdict was announced. He vowed an appeal. “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.”

It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, chance encounter with Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights and forced himself on her.

 

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, center, Sydney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis falsely claim at a 2020 news conference that election fraud deprived President Trump of reelection (Nov. 19, 2020 photo).

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, center, Sydney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis falsely claim at a 2020 news conference that election fraud deprived President Trump of reelection (Nov. 19, 2020 photo).  Powell has since pleaded guilty in a Georgia racketeering case arising out of the false claims.

Defamed Georgia election workers Shae Moss, center, and Ruby Freeman speak after a federal jury awarded them $148 million in damages for defamation by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 15, 2024 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig).

Defamed Georgia election workers Shae Moss, center, and Ruby Freeman speak after a federal jury awarded them $148 million in damages for defamation by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 15, 2024 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig).

Law&Crime, Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing claims ‘net income’ is $2,308 per month – after over $43,000 in monthly expenses, Colin Kalmbacher, Jan. 27, 2024. Rudy Giuliani has a “net income” of $2,308 per month, according to a series of filings in a federal bankruptcy court on Friday afternoon.

lawcrime logoThe former New York City mayor identified substantial sources of income and hefty financial obligations in various schedules and additional context about his finances in a statement of financial affairs submitted with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and obtained by Law&Crime.

The concept of “net income,” however, is a feature of U.S. Bankruptcy rules that does not accurately reflect income as generally understood.
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Giuliani filed for bankruptcy in December 2023 after a federal court ordered him to “immediately” pay former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss $148 million after they won a defamation case against him. The onetime Donald Trump attorney found himself the subject of that pricey defamation lawsuit — and eventual verdict in the plaintiffs’ favor — after he falsely claimed the two women committed electoral fraud during the 2020 election.

The bankruptcy filing effectively paused collection efforts on that judgment against him. He is now seeking to use the proceedings to request a modification of his liability to Freeman and Moss — and potentially a do-over trial on the amount of damages he owes them.

More Law&Crime coverage: Rudy Giuliani ordered to testify under oath in bankruptcy proceedings

According to the filings, Giuliani has a “combined monthly income” of just over $46,000 from various sources, including Social Security payments and income from a rental property or business, and requires minimum distributions from three separate retirement accounts.

At the same time, Giuliani claims monthly expenses of $43,797 — including court-ordered payments to his mother-in-law ($13,500) and alimony ($5,000). His personal expenses run somewhat high for a New Yorker and include itemized entries on transportation ($1,600), food and household items ($1,050), laundry and dry cleaning ($500), and personal care products or services ($425). The total also includes $10,934 per month for homeowner’s association or condominium dues on his New York City apartment, $5,166 per month for such fees on his Florida residence, and a $3,000 per month mortgage in Florida. He does not list any money being spent whatsoever on entertainment.

All told, subtracting his monthly expenses from his monthly income nets Giuliani $2,308, the filings claim. And, he’s apparently not much of a saver: the filings claim Giuliani has $14,000 in his checking account and just $351 in his savings account — as well as $50 in cash.

But, far from pleading anything akin to poverty, his assets are assessed to be in the range of several million dollars. At least.

Giuliani has estimated that his Upper East Side apartment is worth $5.6 million; he claims his Palm Beach home is worth $3.5 million. There are various entries for personal property including a $25,000 Mercedes, a $2,500 “Television,” and nearly $60,000 worth of personal effects, jewelry (including three Yankees World Series rings), clothing, furniture, and other household goods.

Then there are the unknowns. Giuliani owns a certain number of Uber shares — which would seemingly be easy enough to estimate. But the space for the value of those shares reads: “Unknown.”

Another “Unknown” entry is the value of a signed picture of Reggie Jackson, a signed picture of Yankee Stadium, and the crowned jewel of his Bronx Bombers collection: a signed “Joe DiMaggio” shirt.

There are also three incorporated companies owned entirely by Giuliani. The value of those companies is listed as “Unknown.”

The filings also assert two possible forthcoming credits to his overall financial health under a section for “contingent and unliquidated claims.” There, Giuliani asserts he has a “Possible claim for legal fees against Donald J. Trump” and a “Joseph Biden defamation action.” Those values are listed as “Undetermined.”

 

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York (Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll leaves federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan on April 27 in New York (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York City (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Investigations: Roberta Kaplan, a Legal Force, Was Carroll’s Lawyer and Trump’s Nemesis, Maria Cramer and Kate Christobek, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). She won a Supreme Court case that won gay couples federal recognition. During her closing argument on behalf of E. Jean Caroll, Donald Trump walked out.

The meeting turned ugly fast.

In October 2022, Roberta Kaplan flew to Donald Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, to question him under oath in the defamation lawsuit that her client, the writer E. Jean Carroll, had filed against him after she accused him of sexually assaulting her.

“She’s not my type,” Mr. Trump said when he was asked if he raped Ms. Carroll in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York.

Then he shrugged, looked at Ms. Kaplan and pointed at her.

“You wouldn’t be a choice of mine either, to be honest with you,” he said, according to transcripts of the deposition. “I would not, under any circumstances, have any interest in you. I’m honest when I say it.”

She began another question, then paused and reminded him, “I’m an attorney.”

Ms. Kaplan, an openly gay lawyer who married her wife, Rachel Lavine, in Toronto in 2005, faced more invective from Mr. Trump during the five-hour deposition. He called her “a political operative,” “a disgrace.” When she asked him if he had been referring to Ms. Carroll when he said in June 2019 that people who make false accusations of rape should “pay dearly,” he said yes.

“And I think their attorneys, too,” Mr. Trump responded, smiling slightly. “I think the attorneys like you are a big part of it, because you know it’s a phony case.”

Ms. Kaplan did not respond.

It was a clash of two New Yorkers, both of them formidable combatants and talkers but in different ways. While Mr. Trump, 77, has a salesman’s flair for bombast and an instinct for insult, Ms. Kaplan, 57, is methodical and disciplined. An experienced litigator, she has represented major corporations and won a 2013 Supreme Court case that granted same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time. She has said that, as a lawyer, “I really am like a dog with a bone” — never letting go once her teeth are engaged.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump Trials: After Trump’s $88 million judgments, new penalty could come soon, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.).  Another jury has spoken, and it will cost Donald Trump $83.3 million on top of the $5 million he was already ordered to pay writer E. Jean Carroll. This edition of our Trump Trials newsletter is focused largely on the civil courts, where we expect Trump will get more bad news in coming weeks.

Judge Arthur Engoron is expected to soon issue his decision on financial penalties in the civil fraud case brought by the New York attorney general, who has asked that Trump and his companies be ordered to pay $370 million for allegedly misstating the values of his business assets.

At the same time, we’re waiting for a ruling from the federal appeals court in D.C. on whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for actions he took during his presidency.

In Atlanta, where District Attorney Fani Willis has filed charges against Trump and more than a dozen others, there is a Friday deadline for the prosecutor to respond to allegations she misused her position by having a romantic relationship with a subordinate she hired to work on the case, Nathan Wade.

On Wednesday, a hearing is scheduled in Wade’s divorce case, which was the genesis of the controversy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump will be able to wait to pay the full $83.3 million until all his appeals are exhausted, Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump — the rare defendant who can afford a judgment of this size — could secure a bond to cover it while his appeals play out.

Donald J. Trump might one day have to pay E. Jean Carroll the $83.3 million she was awarded, but that day is not today.

Mr. Trump called the jury’s decision “Absolutely ridiculous!” and vowed to appeal the verdict, a process that could take months or more.

And while he is waiting for an appellate court to rule, Mr. Trump need not cut Ms. Carroll a check.

Yet the former president is still on the hook to pay something — possibly a sizable sum — while he waits.

Mr. Trump can pay the $83.3 million to the court, which will hold the money while the appeal is pending. This is what he did last year when a jury ordered him to pay Ms. Carroll $5.5 million in a related case.

Or, Mr. Trump can try to secure a bond, which will save him from having to pay the full amount up front.

A bond might require him to pay a deposit and offer collateral, and would come with interest and fees. It would also require Mr. Trump to find a financial institution willing to lend him a large sum of money at a time when he is in significant legal jeopardy.

Although Mr. Trump likes to boast of his billions, much of his wealth is linked to the value of his properties, and he is loath to part with vast sums of cash at once.

And when it comes to his varied legal expenses — of which there are many — he tries to avoid spending his own money at all. Mr. Trump has tapped his political action committee’s coffers to pay for his own legal fees and other expenses stemming from his criminal indictments and civil trials.

Yet $83.3 million eclipses the amount in his political accounts. The verdict on Friday will require Mr. Trump to reach into his own pocket.

Still, if the verdict survives Mr. Trump’s appeals, Ms. Carroll should eventually be paid, according to Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University.

“He’s the rare defendant with an $83 million verdict against him who actually has the money,” Mr. Green said. “Wherever this lands, she should be able to collect.”

He has enough cash to cover the verdict in various accounts, a person close to him said. In recent years, Mr. Trump has unloaded several assets, including his Washington hotel, which sold for $375 million.

Yet the verdict on Friday is not the only payout upcoming for Mr. Trump. The New York attorney general is seeking a $370 million penalty from the former president and his family business as part of a civil fraud trial that wrapped up this month.

The judge in that case is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks. If Mr. Trump is ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, it is unclear whether he would have to sell another asset to make a payment like that.

 

 Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Imagesand TNS).

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Images and TNS).

 

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair.

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair from election finance officials and the public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Manhattan’s district attorney is quietly preparing for a Trump trial, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum
Jan. 25, 2024. As prosecutors navigate calendars and appeals, Alvin L. Bragg may take the former president’s first criminal case to trial. He has said that covering up a hush-money payment was a fraud on voters.

Federal prosecutors have accused Donald J. Trump of plotting to subvert American democracy and mishandling nuclear secrets. But with those cases in limbo, state prosecutors in Manhattan are gearing up as though they will be the first to try the former president on criminal charges — for covering up a potential sex scandal.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has begun to approach witnesses to prepare them for trial, including Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, according to people with knowledge of the matter. He and at least two others involved in buying a porn star’s silence about her story of a tryst with Mr. Trump are expected to meet with prosecutors in the coming weeks.

With the potential trial drawing near, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has also added one of his most experienced trial lawyers to the team assigned to prosecute Mr. Trump.

And in recent public appearances, Mr. Bragg has presented the loftiest possible conception of the case, casting it as a clear-cut instance of election interference, in which a candidate defrauded the American people to win the White House in 2016. Mr. Trump did so, the district attorney argues, by concealing an illegal payoff to the porn star, thus hiding damaging information from voters just days before they headed to the polls.

“The case — the core of it — is not money for sex,” Mr. Bragg said in a radio interview last month, objecting to news outlets’ longstanding characterization of it as a hush-money case. “We would say it’s about conspiring to corrupt a presidential election and then lying in New York business records to cover it up. That’s the heart of the case.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Conflict Claim Against Georgia Trump Prosecutors

 

Fulton County Prosecutors Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (Reuters file photo by Elijah Nouvelage).

Fulton County Prosecutors Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (Reuters file photo by Elijah Nouvelage

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump prosecutor settles divorce before hearing where he may have been asked about alleged misconduct, Amy Gardner and Holly Bailey, Jan. 30, 2024. The lead prosecutor in the election interference case against the former president and his allies will avoid a hearing that could have included testimony about allegations of an improper relationship between him and Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis.

Nathan Wade was expected to be questioned under oath about his finances — including his income as a special prosecutor in the Trump case and his spending, such as his purchase of airline tickets for himself and Willis in October 2022 and April 2023.

michael romanThe divorce garnered national attention after one of Trump’s co-defendants, former campaign aide Mike Roman, right, accused Willis and Wade of having an “improper, clandestine personal relationship” that has financially benefited them both, prompting calls for their removal from the criminal case in Fulton County, home to Atlanta. Both Trump and a third defendant adopted Roman’s motion to remove Willis and Wade from the case and dismiss the charges.

County records show Wade’s firm has been paid more than $653,000 for his work on the election case over the past two years.

The last-minute agreement, albeit “temporary” for now, allows Wade and Willis to avoid testimony that could have been embarrassing or given Trump and his co-defendants new evidence or ammunition to undermine the criminal case. Attorneys for the defendants had planned to closely follow Wednesday’s hearing as they prepare for a separate Feb. 15 hearing in Fulton County on whether the allegations warrant disqualification or dismissal.

But the settlement does not eliminate scrutiny of alleged actions by the two prosecutors. Nor does it assure that the criminal case against Trump and his allies will continue. Last week, Republicans in the Georgia Senate established an investigatory committee with subpoena power to probe whether Willis (D) was in a romantic relationship with Wade when she appointed him as a special prosecutor. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission seeking an investigation.

Attorneys for Joycelyn Mayfield Wade, Wade’s estranged wife, had also sought to question Willis in the case, arguing she has “unique knowledge” about Wade’s finances and his marriage. But Cobb County Superior Court Judge Henry Thompson, who oversaw the divorce case, stayed that subpoena during a hearing last week, saying he first wanted to hear testimony from Wade.

Thompson issued a temporary consent order shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, explaining that the hearing has been removed from the calendar with the consent of both parties, because they have agreed “to all issues presently before the court.”

Their agreement will not be filed in court, Thompson noted — meaning it may not ever be public. Last week, Wade’s divorce lawyer asked the judge to reconsider a motion to seal the divorce case, which would have required a public hearing. It was not immediately clear whether the divorce agreement would stop the disclosure of any other information potentially damaging to Willis or Wade, including discovery material.

Meidas Touch Network, Trump ATTACK on Georgia Prosecutor NOW A MASSIVE FLOP, Michael Popok, Jan. 30, 2024. Champagne corks are popping across America: the nightmare that is the Fulton County special Trump prosecutor Nathan Wade’s divorce is finally over! Michael Popok of Legal AF reports on a settlement reached between Mr Wade which will prevent MAGA from getting to depose his boss Fulton County DA Fani Willis, and will likely lead to the criminal judge quickly denying the efforts by Trump and his co co conspirators to dismiss the Georgia indictment.

 

Fani Willis, left, is the district attorney for Atlanta-based Fulton County in Georgia. Her office has been probing since 2021 then-President Trump's claiming beginning in 2020 of election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere. Trump and his allies have failed to win support for their claims from Georgia's statewide election officials, who are Republican, or from courts. absence of support from Georgia's Republican election officials supporting his claims. Fani Willis, left, is the district attorney for Atlanta-based Fulton County in Georgia. Her office has been probing since 2021 then-President Trump's claiming beginning in 2020 of election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere. Trump and his allies have failed to win support for their claims from Georgia's statewide election officials, who are Republican, or from courts.

Politico, Georgia Prosecutor is Faced With CRITICAL DECISION in Prosecution of Trump, Burgess Everett, Ursula Perano and Jordain Carney,  politico CustomJan. 25, 2024. Should Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade resign to permit Fulton County DA Fani Willis to prosecute the case against Trump and 14 others without unnecessary distraction? Michael Popok of Legal AF reporting from Georgia answers the question and explains what it means for the case if the issue of their relationship goes all the way to the criminal court judge.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge unseals divorce file of lead Trump prosecutor in Georgia case, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Jan. 23, 2024 (print  ed.). An Atlanta-area judge ordered the unsealing of the divorce file of Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor in the election interference case against former president Donald Trump. Wade has been accused of having a romantic relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D), prompting calls for both lawyers to be removed from the case.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Henry Thompson granted a motion from Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for one of Trump’s co-michael romandefendants, Mike Roman, right, to unseal records in the divorce case. Merchant claims the records will back up her client’s allegations about Willis and Wade. A coalition of media organizations, including The Washington Post, also filed a motion to unseal the records.

In an emergency hearing Monday, Thompson also stayed a subpoena for Willis to be deposed in the divorce case until after Nathan Wade is deposed Jan. 31. Joycelyn Mayfield Wade, Wade’s estranged wife, is seeking to depose Willis in the divorce case, describing her as Nathan Wade’s “paramour” who can provide insight about his finances.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More On U.S. Election Deniers, Insurrectionists

washington post logoWashington Post, Peter Navarro sentenced to 4 months for contempt of Congress in Jan. 6 probe, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 25, 2024. Navarro, 74(shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo outside the federal  courthouse in Washington, DC), became the second senior former Trump adviser to face time behind bars for stonewalling Congress, joining Stephen K. Bannon.

peter navarro 6 3 2022 jip IMG 8311Peter Navarro, a White House aide to President Donald Trump who claimed credit for devising a plan to overturn the 2020 election, was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday morning for ignoring a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

Justice Department log circular“Dr. Navarro, you are not a victim. You are not the object of a political prosecution,” U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta said. While Navarro received all due process that he and all Americans are entitled to, Mehta continued, “Regrettably, when you were called up to go to testify, you didn’t show a coequal branch of government [Congress] the same degree of respect.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

GOP Attacks, Impeachment Inquiry Against Bidens

 

 Hunter Biden, a businessman, artist and son of President Biden, left, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell in the audience of a House Government Oversight Committee hearing on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC (AP photo by Luis Magana).

 Hunter Biden, a businessman, artist and son of President Biden, left, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell in the audience of a House Government Oversight Committee hearing on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC (AP photo by Luis Magana).

ny times logoNew York Times, Hunter Biden Agrees to Deposition in Impeachment Inquiry, Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 18, 2024. The chairmen of the Oversight and Judiciary committees set a Feb. 28 deposition date for President Biden’s son, who resisted a previous subpoena for a closed-door interview and asked to testify in public.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine-Russian War, Russian Leadership

ny times logoNew York Times, After Two Years of Bloody Fighting, Ukraine Wrestles With Conscription, Constant Méheut and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Jan. 28, 2024. A proposed bill on mobilization has become the focus of a debate as more men dodge the draft and calls rise to demobilize exhausted soldiers.

ukraine flagWhen Russian troops and tanks invaded Ukraine in February 2022, tens of thousands of Ukrainians rushed to serve in the army in a surge of patriotic fervor. The influx of fighters who dutifully answered their draft notices or enlisted as volunteers helped to repel Russia’s initial assault and thwart the Kremlin’s plans to decapitate the Ukrainian government.

Russian FlagBut after nearly two years of bloody fighting, and with Ukraine once again in need of fresh troops to fend off a new Russian push, military leaders can no longer rely solely on enthusiasm. More men are avoiding military service, while calls to demobilize exhausted frontline soldiers have grown.

The change in mood has been particularly evident in the heated debates over a new mobilization bill that could lead to drafting up to 500,000 troops. The bill was introduced in Parliament last month — only to be quickly withdrawn for revision.

Washington Post, U.S. war plans for Ukraine don’t foresee retaking lost territory, Karen DeYoung, Michael Birnbaum, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Emily Rauhala, Jan. 28, 2024.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine says Russia has not given evidence of POWs on downed military plane, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Russia has not provided evidence that Ukrainian prisoners of war were aboard a military plane that was downed on Wednesday, officials in Kyiv said Friday, as the warring countries continued to trade blame over the murky incident.

ukraine flagAn emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, called at Moscow’s request, yielded no new information about the plane’s destruction or who was on board. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov complained Friday that the global reaction was inadequate.

“There is no strong condemnation here from the West, of this horrific terrorist act, the destruction of the airplane that was carrying, first of all our pilots, escorts, but also killed a very large number of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” Peskov said. “What happened requires proper assessment by the international community.”

Russian FlagBut more than 48 hours after the plane fell from the sky and left a large swath of charred earth, Russia has provided scant evidence of its claims. Ukrainian officials said that despite the Kremlin’s rhetoric, Moscow is blocking an international investigation.

Russia has said that the Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane, which crashed Wednesday in the western Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, was carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs who were set to be exchanged that day.

This man wants to run against Putin. Thousands of Russians are helping him.

Ukraine has not directly confirmed that it shot down the plane, but it has not denied involvement and has hinted that it was responsible, calling the aircraft a military target that was regularly used to ferry missiles to be launched at Ukrainian cities.

Officials in Kyiv have insisted they do not know whether POWs were on the plane. Instead, they have called for Russia to provide more information to Kyiv and to international organizations and investigators.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Supreme Court

 

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

The official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, Maine court puts hold on one of Trump’s primary ballot cases, Patrick Marley, Jan. 18, 2024 (print ed.). A judge delayed the decision Wednesday, saying the Supreme Court must rule on a similar Colorado case first. Maine’s secretary of state had ruled last month that Donald Trump was an insurrectionist who is not eligible to hold office again.

A Maine judge on Wednesday put off deciding whether Donald Trump’s name can appear on that state’s primary ballot, saying the Supreme Court needs to rule on the issue first in a similar case out of Colorado.

The ruling sent the case back to Maine’s secretary of state and put the case on hold. It came amid a nationwide push from Trump’s critics to prevent the former president from running for office again.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution bars from office those who engaged in insurrection after swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution. The amendment was ratified in 1868, and the clause was used initially to keep former Confederates from returning to power after the Civil War.

Trump’s critics have cited the measure in lawsuits arguing Trump is banned from office because of his behavior before and during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Colorado’s top court last month ruled Trump should be taken off the primary ballot there, and a week later Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) reached the same conclusion.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Colorado case and will hear arguments in it on Feb. 8. Its ruling on the issue is likely to apply to all states.

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Then-President Trump speaking to supporters on Jan. 6, 2021 outside the White House in advance of a mob moving east to overrun the U.S. Capitol, thereby threatening the election certification djt jan 6 speech

 

U.S. Military, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy

 yemen map middle east

Politico, Houthi rebels fire missile at US warship, escalating Mideast crisis, Mark Scott, Jan. 27, 2024. Incident in Gulf of Aden is the first time the Iranian-backed group has directly targeted an American military vessel.

politico CustomIn a further escalation of the Middle East crisis, the Houthi rebels early Saturday fired on a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Aden — the first time the Iranian-backed group has directly targeted an American military vessel since it began its assaults on shipping in October.

The group, which has been attacking commercial shipping off the coast of Yemen in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, fired an anti-ship missile toward the U.S. destroyer USS Carney, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

"The missile was successfully shot down," the U.S. military said. "There were no injuries or damage reported."

Though unsuccessful, the attack marks an intensification in the battle between the Houthis, which control large parts of Yemen, and a U.S.-led naval operation aimed at protecting commercial shipping in one of the most important global trade routes.

Politico, Lawmakers greenlight F-16s for Turkey after Erdoğan approved Sweden’s NATO bid, Joe Gould, Connor O’Brien and Nahal Toosi, Jan. politico Custom27, 2024. The action advances the sale of the Lockheed Martin-made jets after leaders of House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees gave informal approval.

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More On U.S. Courts, Crime, Guns, Civil Rights, Immigration

 

rick scott blue shirt file

Roll Call, Lawmakers back maximum prison sentence in tax record leak case, Michael Macagnone, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Sen. Rick Scott (above) says he intends to read a victim impact statement during a sentencing hearing Monday.

Members of Congress have backed a tough prison sentence for a man who pleaded guilty to leaking to the media tax records of Donald Trump, Sen. Rick Scott and billionaires Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos.

irs logoA sentencing hearing is set for Monday morning in Washington for Charles Littlejohn, a former contractor for the Internal Revenue Service, on one charge of disclosing tax return information without authorization.

Prosecutors have recommended that Judge Ana C. Reyes of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sentence Littlejohn to five years in prison, arguing that he leaked the returns of over a thousand people, damaging the tax system and the public trust.

Prosecutors said the “unparalleled” disclosure warranted the maximum statutory sentence.

“There simply is no precedent for a case involving the disclosure of tax return and return information associated with ‘over a thousand’ individuals and entities,” prosecutors wrote.

Justice Department log circularScott, R-Fla., announced Thursday that he was one of the people whose tax information was leaked by Littlejohn and said he intended to read a victim impact statement during Monday’s hearing.

Scott also published a letter that asked Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to attend and criticized prosecutors for allowing Littlejohn to plead guilty to a single criminal charge. Scott wrote that Littlejohn’s crimes were “entirely aligned with the agenda of the Biden administration” and that Garland had politicized the Justice Department.

“Since you have steered the Justice Department down this partisan political path, you should be on hand personally to in some way be accountable,” Scott wrote.

Garland issued a statement on the case alongside the announcement of Littlejohn’s guilty plea last year, praising the DOJ’s effort and decrying Littlejohn’s conduct.

“By using his role as a government contractor to gain access to private tax information, steal that information, and disclose it publicly, Charles Littlejohn broke federal law and betrayed the public’s trust,” Garland said at the time.

Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee, in a letter to the judge, criticized the DOJ’s handling of the case, particularly the fact that Littlejohn pleaded guilty to only one criminal count.

The letter, led by committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., argued Littlejohn took great steps to damage the tax system and evade justice and should receive the maximum five-year prison sentence.

“Mr. Littlejohn’s actions showed disdain for the rule of law and American confidence in our voluntary tax system. He acted with an apparent political motivation and perhaps with an intent to impact a Presidential election,” the letter states.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., had a single word of response to Smith’s letter on X, the site formerly known as Twitter: “Absolutely.”

According to court papers, Littlejohn stole information about “Public Official A” over several months in 2019 and provided them to a news organization which later published them. In September 2020, The New York Times published a lengthy investigation about former President Trump’s finances, which showed he routinely lost money and paid little in taxes.

Littlejohn later stole information on thousands of wealthy taxpayers in 2020, according to court documents. He later provided that information to another news organization, according to court documents, which published them in 2021.

In 2021, ProPublica published a story showing that wealthy individuals, including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos regularly paid little in taxes relative to the average American.

In a filing last year in court, the government and Littlejohn stipulated to a sentencing guidelines recommendation for between eight and 14 months in prison, but both sides reserved the right to push for departures from those guidelines.

Littlejohn’s attorneys have argued for leniency, saying that Littlejohn believed he was acting in the public interest after becoming concerned about income inequality and tax dodging.

“He did not disclose the information for personal gain; nor did he intend to harm the taxpayers,” the sentencing memorandum said.

 

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National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre is shown at a CPAC convention on Feb. 22, 2018 in a photo via CBS News.

National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre is shown at a CPAC convention on Feb. 22, 2018 in a photo via CBS News.

 

More On Disasters, Climate Change, Environment, Transportation

ny times logoNew York Times, Since Ohio Train Derailment, Accidents Have Gone Up, Peter Eavis, Jan. 28, 2024. A year after a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Congress still hasn’t passed legislation to prevent such disasters.

After a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed a year ago in East Palestine, Ohio, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents and upending life in the town for months, the rail industry pledged to work to become safer, and members of Congress vowed to pass legislation to prevent similar disasters.

No bill was passed. And accidents went up.

Derailments rose at the top five freight railroads in 2023, according to regulatory reports for the first 10 months of the year, the most recent period for which data exists for all five companies.

And there was a steep increase in the mechanical problem — an overheated wheel bearing — that regulators think caused the derailment of the 1.75-mile-long train in East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern, the operator of the train and the owner of the track that runs through the town, was the only railroad among the five to report a decline in accidents in the period.

In response to the accident, members of Congress in March introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at making railroads safer. But crucial parts of the legislation — including a requirement that railroads use more detectors to identify overheated wheel bearings — have faced resistance from rail lobbyists, who contend that they would inhibit the ability of railroads to introduce new practices and technologies to reduce accidents. The bill has yet to be put up for a full vote in the Senate.

“These figures show the railroad industry’s safety standards are getting worse,” said Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio and a co-sponsor of the bill. “We can reverse the trend by passing the Railway Safety Act immediately.”

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Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Austin’s prostate cancer case spotlights broader silence around disease, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 28, 2024. The moment was a ‘missed opportunity’ for the Pentagon chief to lead and spread awareness, fellow survivors say.

Daniel R. Eagle, a retired Air Force general, is open about his prostate cancer. At least, he is now. Had he been in the military still, he said, he may have handled it differently.

“I certainly would have been a lot more circumspect,” said Eagle, who spent nearly 40 years in uniform, retiring in 2010. “I think I would have had more embarrassment about it, and been more hesitant to share with other folks. Because there is absolutely a stigma.”

The military’s uneasy culture around cancer — and prostate cancer, in particular — spilled into public view earlier this month when the Pentagon disclosed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired Army general known to be intensely private, had secretly undergone surgery to treat the disease at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 22. Austin, 70, withheld the information from virtually everyone, including President Biden, and the diagnosis came to light only after he was hospitalized again Jan. 1 with serious complications from the procedure.

The ensuing firestorm — in which the White House, Pentagon and Congress all have promised to scrutinize how the commander in chief and Austin’s own No. 2, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, were left in the dark for so long — has clouded Austin’s tenure and raised questions about his judgment. He has acknowledged that he “could have done a better job” communicating, but in the weeks since has taken no questions about his decision-making, and declined even to recite prepared remarks — intended to glancingly address his condition — at the outset of a Jan. 23 virtual meeting of international leaders involved in Ukraine’s war effort.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Prices must not limit people’s access to Paxlovid, Leana S. Wen, right, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). In response to last week’s column on how the leana wenantiviral pill Paxlovid is dramatically underutilized in treating covid-19, readers shared their challenges with accessing the medication. One of the most frustrating: unexpected financial barriers.

Karen from Virginia, for example, contracted covid last week and was prescribed Paxlovid. But her pharmacy told her she had to pay the list price of $1,400.

Fortunately, she had just read an article from AARP explaining that patients on Medicare should be able to get Paxlovid for free. “You have to fill out information through the Pfizer Patient Support Program,” she told me. “I didn’t know this, and I think many of your readers may not either.”

Indeed, I was not aware of this program, so I spoke with a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services for clarification. Last November, Paxlovid transitioned to the commercial market. Previously, the federal government purchased the medication and provided it free of charge. Now, it is dispensed like other drugs and billed through insurance.

The Biden administration has been working closely with the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, to ensure that patients aren’t being priced out from accessing this lifesaving treatment. The senior official was clear with me that “everyone on Medicare, Medicaid or without insurance should be able to get Paxlovid for free.”

People should go to paxlovid.iassist.com and enroll in the patient assistance program. They can also call 877-219-7225 to sign up. Those on Medicare, Medicaid or who are uninsured should then be able to get Paxlovid free either from pharmacies or through the mail. Those with private insurance might be charged a co-pay, but the patient access program can also help to reduce that amount.

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U.S. Abortion, Family Planning, #MeToo

ap logoAssociated Press, 4 NHL players have been charged with sexual assault in a 2018 case in Canada, their lawyers say, Stephen Whyno, Jan. 30, 2024. NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils and Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames have been charged with sexual assault in connection with an alleged assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.

Attorneys representing Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube said Tuesday that each player has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ontario. They denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.

Hart’s lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said their client is facing one count of sexual assault, adding, “He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law.”

Legal teams representing McLeod and Dube said the players would be pleading not guilty.

“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod’s attorneys, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. “We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”

NBC News, Suspect in deadly Minnesota shooting allegedly dressed as a UPS worker, Staff Report, Jan. 30, 2024. Authorities arrested Alonzo Mingo in connection to the shooting deaths of three people at a home in Coon Rapids, Minn. According to a criminal report, Mingo dressed as a UPS delivery worker and allegedly demanded money at gunpoint.

Politico, The anti-abortion plan ready for Trump on Day One, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The stakes of the election go far beyond whether a GOP president signs a bill banning the procedure.

politico CustomAnti-abortion groups have not yet persuaded Donald Trump to commit to signing a national ban if he returns to the White House.

But, far from being deterred, those groups are designing a far-reaching anti-abortion agenda for the former president to implement as soon as he is in office.

In emerging plans that involve everything from the EPA to the Federal Trade Commission to the Postal Service, nearly 100 anti-abortion and conservative groups are mapping out ways the next president can use the sprawling federal bureaucracy to curb abortion access.

djt maga hatMany of the policies they advocate are ones Trump implemented in his first term and President Joe Biden rescinded — rules that would have a far greater impact in a post-Roe landscape. Other items on the wish list are new, ranging from efforts to undo state and federal programs promoting access to abortion to a de facto national ban. But all have one thing in common: They don’t require congressional approval.

“The conversations we’re having with the presidential candidates and their campaigns have been very clear: We expect them to act swiftly,” Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, told POLITICO. “Due to not having 60 votes in the Senate and not having a firm pro-life majority in the House, I think administrative action is where we’re going to see the most action after 2024 if President Trump or another pro-life president is elected.”

The groups have had, at times, a fraught relationship with Trump, who appointed the Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade but who has blamed the anti-abortion movement for electoral losses, criticized Florida’s six-week ban and favors exemptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Yet the sweeping plans indicate how much conservative activists see a potential Trump administration as an opportunity to restrict abortion nationwide — including in states that have voted to protect access over the last two years.

The Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project — a coalition that includes Students for Life, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and other anti-abortion organizations — is drafting executive orders to roll back Biden-era policies that have expanded abortion access, such as making abortions available in some circumstances at VA hospitals. They are also collecting resumes from conservative activists interested in becoming political appointees or career civil servants and training them to use overlooked levers of agency power to curb abortion access.

 

southern baptist convention logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: When the Right Ignores Its Sex Scandals, David French, right, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Let me share with you one of the worst and david french croppedmost important recent news stories that you’ve probably never heard about.

Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought against a man named Paul Pressler for an undisclosed sum. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and alleged that Pressler had raped a man named Duane Rollins for decades, with the rapes beginning when Rollins was only 14 years old.

The story would be terrible enough if Pressler were simply an ordinary predator. But while relatively unknown outside of evangelical circles, Pressler is one of the most important American religious figures of the 20th century. He and his friend Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, are two of the key architects of the so-called conservative resurgence within the S.B.C.

southern baptist convention logo 2The conservative resurgence was a movement conceived in the 1960s and launched in the 1970s that sought to wrest control of the S.B.C. from more theologically liberal and moderate voices. It was a remarkable success. While many established denominations were liberalizing, the S.B.C. lurched to the right and exploded in growth, ultimately becoming the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Pressler and Patterson were heroes within the movement. Patterson led Baptist seminaries and became president of the convention. Pressler was a Texas state judge and a former president of the Council for National Policy, a powerful conservative Christian activist organization.

Both men are now disgraced. In 2018, the board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fired Patterson after it found that he’d grossly mishandled rape allegations — including writing in an email that he wanted to meet alone with a woman who had reported being raped to “break her down” — at both Southwestern and another Baptist seminary.

Pressler’s story is even worse. The evidence that people were aware of allegations against him stretches back decades. To take just two examples, in 1989, Pressler failed an F.B.I. background check after President George H.W. Bush tapped him to lead the Office of Government Ethics. And in 2004, First Baptist Church of Houston investigated accusations that Pressler had groped and undressed a college student, deemed his behavior “morally and spiritually inappropriate” and warned him, but took no other action.

Pressler’s story is in some ways eerily similar to that of Harvey Weinstein. Both were powerful men so brazen about their misconduct that it was an “open secret” in their respective worlds. Yet they were also so powerful that an army of enablers coalesced around them, protecting them from the consequences of their actions. A single individual can be a predator, but it takes a village to protect him from exposure and punishment.

All of these facts are terrible enough, and it’s important to write about them even if we can only bear witness to the injustice. But the coverage, or lack thereof, of Pressler’s fall also helps explain why we’re so very polarized as a nation.

The American right exists in a news environment that reports misconduct on the left or in left-wing institutions loudly and with granular detail. When Weinstein fell and that fall prompted the cascade of revelations that created the #MeToo moment, the right was overrun with commentary on the larger lessons of the episode, including scathing indictments of a Hollywood culture that permitted so much abuse for so very long.

Much of this commentary was good and necessary. Hollywood deserved the indictment. But the coverage on the right also fit a cherished conservative narrative: that liberal sexual values such as those in Hollywood invariably lead to abuse. In Christian America, it was more ammunition for the sense that a righteous “us” was taking on a villainous “them.”

But stories such as Pressler’s complicate this narrative immensely. If both the advocates and enemies of the sexual revolution have their Harvey Weinsteins — that is, if both progressive and conservative institutions can enable abuse — then all that partisan moral clarity starts to disappear. We’re all left with the disturbing and humbling reality that whatever our ideology or theology, it doesn’t make us good people. The allegedly virtuous “us” commits the same sins as the presumptively villainous “them.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden expands abortion, contraception protections on Roe anniversary, Dan Diamond, Jan. 23, 2024 (print ed.). Nikki Haley said she would sign a national abortion ban if elected president.

joe biden black background resized serious fileThe White House on Monday is announcing new steps intended to ensure access to contraception, abortion medication and emergency abortions at hospitals. It represents President Biden’s latest bid to contrast himself with Republican challengers who support strict abortion limits and arrives on the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed abortion rights for nearly 50 years.

The effort to expand access to contraception involves several measures. Federal agencies are issuing guidance that would make no-cost contraceptives more available under the Affordable Care Act and take similar actions to expand contraception access for federal employees. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also plans to send a letter to health insurers instructing them of their obligation to provide no-cost contraceptives, according to a memo the White House sent to reporters Sunday.

The federal health department also announced a new team dedicated to enforcing its interpretation of a law, known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, which the Biden administration has said requires hospitals to provide emergency abortions nationwide, including in the 21 states where the procedure is limited or banned.

joe biden kamala harris white house uncreditedMeanwhile, Biden on Monday is expected to convene two dozen senior officials in the White House for a meeting of his reproductive health task force, where he will be joined by several physicians who have practiced in states with abortion bans. Vice President Harris (shown with Biden in a White House file photo) is slated to kick off a multistate reproductive rights tour with a visit to Wisconsin, where she is expected to criticize a proposal by state Republicans to ban abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy. Wisconsin’s Democratic governor has already said he will veto the bill.

“On this day and every day, Vice President Harris and I are fighting to protect women’s reproductive freedom against Republicans’ dangerous, extreme, and out-of-touch agenda,” Biden said in a statement.

The Biden administration’s actions — coming on what would have been the 51st anniversary of the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, before the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in 2022 — reflect Democrats’ ongoing effort to highlight an issue that gives them a strong political advantage. Fifty-eight percent of all voters, including about 1 in 5 Republicans, said they trust Democrats more than Republicans on abortion, according to a November poll conducted by KFF, a health policy organization.

ny times logoNew York Times, Abortion-Rights Backers in Missouri Start Ballot Initiative to Undo BanKate Zernike, Jan. 18, 2024. Advocates present a united front after disagreements over how far they could go in asking voters to legalize abortion in the state.

A coalition of reproductive-rights groups in Missouri kicked off a campaign on Thursday to establish a right to abortion in the state constitution, setting up the nation’s next big test of public support for legalized abortion.

Missouri was the first state to officially outlaw abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade 18 months ago. A successful ballot measure there could make it the first state where a citizen-led initiative reverses a near-total ban.

More on Abortion Issues in America

  • In Ohio: A grand jury in Ohio declined to indict a woman who had miscarried a nonviable fetus at home on a felony charge of abuse of corpse, ending a case that had drawn international scrutiny from lawyers and reproductive health advocates.
  • Idaho’s Abortion Law: The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the state’s near-total ban on abortions, which the Biden administration said conflicted with a federal statute that allowed for some exceptions.
  • Abortion Pills: Tens of thousands of women who are not pregnant are ordering abortion pills just in case they might need them someday, especially in states where access is threatened, according to a new study.
    In Texas: A federal appeals court ruled emergency room doctors in the state are not required to perform emergency abortions despite federal guidance that requires hospitals to offer stabilizing care.

Leaders of Planned Parenthood and some other groups said they would not support anything short of allowing women total autonomy to make decisions about abortion, with no gestational limits.

Advocacy groups had put forward multiple proposals, trying to bet on what voters would support — the coalition itself put forward nearly a dozen versions. Those proposals differed mainly in what gestational limit, if any, they would include in the proposed amendment. Other groups argued for waiting until the next electoral cycle to put forth an initiative, saying they needed time to raise money and win over public opinion.

On Thursday, though, the coalition presented a unified front, and declared that it did not have time to wait, saying the state’s ban was endangering women with pregnancy complications and forcing obstetrics and maternity practices to leave Missouri.

The ballot measure proposed Thursday resembles those passed in Ohio and Michigan. It would amend the state Constitution to establish a “right to make and carry out” decisions on reproductive health care, including abortion. But it would allow the state to restrict abortion after a fetus becomes viable, or roughly 24 weeks, unless the treating medical professional makes a “good faith” judgment that the procedure is necessary to protect the pregnant woman’s life or mental or physical health.

Supporters must collect roughly 172,000 signatures by early May to qualify the proposal for the ballot. It would then be up to Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who opposes abortion rights, to decide when the measure would be put to voters — in the primary this summer, or in the general election in November.

“We wouldn’t be moving forward if we didn’t think we could be successful on either ballot,” said Tori Schafer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups in the coalition.

 

A grand jury declined to indict Brittany Watts, above, who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home, ending a case that drew international scrutiny (Photo via WKBN-TV).

A grand jury declined to indict Brittany Watts, above, who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home, ending a case that drew international scrutiny (Photo via WKBN-TV).

ny times logoNew York Times, Grand Jury Declines to Indict Ohio Woman Who Miscarried at Home, Remy Tumin, Jan. 12, 2024 (print ed.). In a case that had drawn international attention, Brittany Watts had been charged with abuse of a corpse after miscarrying and disposing of the nonviable fetus.

A grand jury in Ohio on Thursday declined to indict a woman who had miscarried a nonviable fetus at home on a felony charge of abuse of a corpse, ending a case that had drawn international scrutiny from lawyers and reproductive health advocates who had argued the charge was baseless and could endanger other patients.

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U.S. Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Consumers, High Tech

 

elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Tesla to undo pay package that helped make Musk world’s richest person, Faiz Siddiqui, Rachel Lerman and Will Oremus, Jan. 30, 2024. The ruling by a Delaware court stems from a Tesla shareholder lawsuit over the tech billionaire’s 2018 compensation package

tesla logoA Delaware judge on Tuesday ruled that Elon Musk’s generous 2018 compensation package, which helped make the tech entrepreneur the world’s richest person, was unfair and should be undone.

The $56 billion package, advanced by shareholders and Tesla’s board, entitled Musk to stock options in the company as it hit specific performance targets. Shareholders sued Musk, alleging the process that led to the package was improper.

The decision was earlier reported by Chancery Daily, which tracks Delaware Chancery Court matters, on Threads.

Musk issued a stern reaction on X, the social media site he bought in 2022, when it was known as Twitter.

“Never incorporate your company in the state of Delaware,” he said.

The ruling comes at a particularly tense juncture for the Tesla CEO. He has asked for 25 percent control over the company — which went on to become the world’s most valuable automaker after the pay package was implemented — after he sold off billions worth of stock to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. Investors, including some who were enthusiastic about the 2018 package, are skeptical of Musk’s request for additional control.

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk’s uphill battle to win greater control of Tesla, Faiz Siddiqui, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Once, Musk could do no wrong among Tesla investors. But after a couple of rocky years, reaction to his pitch for greater ownership has been cold.

tesla logoSix years ago, Tesla outlined an ambitious compensation package for its chief executive that made Elon Musk one of the wealthiest men alive, and investors were all for it. Now, the world’s richest person’s desire for more control over the company is facing skepticism from those same quarters.

“Him asking for stock, the whole thing’s absurd,” Ross Gerber, a longtime investor and Musk ally, said in an interview, after issuing a stark conclusion: “I’m very grateful for the Tesla investment I made 10 years ago. We’ve reached a point as a firm, and me personally, where I feel the story is played out.”

While Gerber hasn’t pulled out of Tesla, he has tempered expectations about the company’s future — and become a vocal critic of Musk, one of the most vivid examples of mounting frustration with the entrepreneur regarded as brilliant but erratic. Since Musk this month requested a 25 percent stake in Tesla to avoid “a takeover by dubious interests,” investor patience has shown signs of wearing thin with the risks Musk has taken with his own fortune — and theirs. Gerber’s turning point was when he received outreach from hordes of Tesla investors seeking to pull out of the company after Musk fired off an antisemitic tweet in November.

A little more than a year ago, Musk sold billions in Tesla stock as he scrambled to finance his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, where he promptly gutted the social media company’s workforce, ditched the ubiquitous bird logo and rebranded it as X. Two months ago, advertisers began boycotting the platform after Musk put up the antisemitic post.

 

President Biden shown at the launch of his re-election campaign on Jan. 5, 2024 (New York Times photo by Pete Marovich).

President Biden shown at the launch of his re-election campaign on Jan. 5, 2024 (New York Times photo by Pete Marovich).

washington post logo Washington Post, Falling inflation, rising growth give U.S. the world’s best recovery, David J. Lynch, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). After posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

The European economy, hobbled by unfamiliar weakness in Germany, is barely growing. China is struggling to recapture its sizzle. And Japan continues to disappoint.

But in the United States, it’s a different story. Here, despite lingering consumer angst over inflation, the surprisingly strong economy is outperforming all of its major trading partners.

Since 2020, the United States has powered through a once-in-a-century pandemic, the highest inflation in 40 years and fallout from two foreign wars. Now, after posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

“The U.S. has really come out of this into a place of strength and is moving forward like covid never happened,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who now runs an eponymous consulting firm. “We earned this; it wasn’t just a fluke.”

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Media, Religion, High Tech, Sports, Education, Free Speech, Culture

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Students Rebound From the Pandemic, but Some May Never Catch Up, Claire Cain Miller, Sarah Mervosh and Francesca Paris, Jan. 31, 2024. The first detailed nationwide data on schools’ recovery shows that achievement gaps have widened, with the poorest students the furthest behind.

Elementary and middle-school students have made up significant ground since pandemic school closings in 2020 — but they are nowhere close to being fully caught up, according to the first detailed national study of how much U.S. students are recovering.

Overall in math, a subject where learning loss has been greatest, students have made up about a third of what they lost. In reading, they have made up a quarter, according to the new analysis of standardized test score data led by researchers at Stanford and Harvard.

The findings suggest that the United States has averted a dire outcome — stagnating at pandemic lows — but that many students are not on pace to catch up before the expiration of a $122 billion federal aid package in September. That money — the single largest federal investment in public education in the country’s history — has paid for extra help, like tutoring and summer school, at schools nationwide.

Even with the federal funds, the gains were larger than researchers expected, based on prior research on extra money for schools. Recovery was not a given, judging from past unexpected school closures, like for natural disasters or teachers’ strikes.

Still, the gap between students from rich and poor communities — already huge before the pandemic — has widened.

“One of the big and surprising findings is there actually has been a substantial recovery,” said Sean F. Reardon, a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford, who conducted the new analysis with Thomas J. Kane, an economist at Harvard; Erin Fahle, executive director of the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford; and Douglas O. Staiger, an economist at Dartmouth.

“But it’s an unevenly felt recovery,” Professor Reardon said, “so the worry there is that means inequality is getting baked in.”

Some children may never catch up and could enter adulthood without the full set of skills they need to succeed in the work force and life.

The students most at risk are those in poor districts, whose test scores fell further during the pandemic. Though the new data shows that they have begun to catch up, they had much more to make up than their peers from higher-income families, who are already closer to a recovery.

ap logoAssociated Press, 4 NHL players have been charged with sexual assault in a 2018 case in Canada, their lawyers say, Stephen Whyno, Jan. 31, 2024 (print ed.). NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils and Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames have been charged with sexual assault in connection with an alleged assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.

Attorneys representing Hart, McLeod, Foote and Dube said Tuesday that each player has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ontario. They denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.

Hart’s lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said their client is facing one count of sexual assault, adding, “He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law.”

Legal teams representing McLeod and Dube said the players would be pleading not guilty.

“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod’s attorneys, David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. “We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”

joel embiid facebook

ny times logoNew York Times, Joel Embiid Wants the African Diaspora to Flourish Onscreen, Emmanuel Morgan, Jan. 30, 2024. “I’ve always been passionate about storytelling,” said the N.B.A. star, whose production studio will create a documentary about Memphis Depay’s success on the Dutch soccer team.

Joel Embiid knew as early as his rookie season in the National Basketball Association that he eventually wanted to enter the media industry.

nba logoSeven years later, he is now at the pinnacle of the sport — the league’s reigning most valuable player, Embiid set a Philadelphia 76ers record last week by scoring 70 points in a game — and is ready to take on that new challenge.

Embiid, 29, who moved from Cameroon to the United States as a teenager, has created a production studio, Miniature Géant, that he hopes will amplify the culture of his home continent. The studio intends to profile athletes and entertainment figures of African descent, with an initial goal of selling content to streaming services.

“We’re dabbling in a lot of different spaces, but the common denominator is Africa and the joys and the quest of African people and the African diaspora,” said Sarah Kazadi-Ndoye, who is the studio’s lead creative executive and was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Miniature Géant’s first documentary will explore themes of race and identity as it follows Memphis Depay, a Dutch soccer player who was born to a white mother from the Netherlands and a Ghanaian father. The studio is also having exploratory conversations with the Cameroonian mixed martial arts fighter Francis Ngannou, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion. In addition to coverage of athletes, the studio hopes to also explore the entertainment world.

Embiid is one of several athletes to enter the world of content creation. The basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo recently announced the start of a production company with the ESPN analyst Jay Williams. The retired National Football League quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning created similar organizations and have released projects with ESPN and Netflix.

chita rivera memoir

ny times logoNew York Times, Chita Rivera, Electrifying Star of Broadway and Beyond, Is Dead at 91, Robert D. McFadden Jan. 30, 2024. Appearing in scores of stage productions, she dazzled audiences for nearly six decades, most memorably starring as Anita in “West Side Story.” Chita Rivera’s dancing sometimes overshadowed her thrillingly dramatic way with a song, our theater critic writes.

Chita Rivera (shown above on the cover of her memoir), the fire-and-ice dancer, singer and actress who leapt to stardom in the original Broadway production of “West Side Story” and dazzled audiences for nearly seven decades as a Puerto Rican lodestar of the American musical theater, died on Tuesday in New York. She was 91.

To generations of musical aficionados, Ms. Rivera was a whirling, bounding, high-kicking elemental force of the dance; a seductive singer of smoky ballads and sizzling jazz; and a propulsive actress of vaudevillian energy. She appeared in scores of stage productions in New York and London, logged 100,000 miles on cabaret tours and performed in dozens of films and television programs.

On Broadway, she created a string of memorably hard-edged women — Anita in “West Side Story” (1957), Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie” (1960), the murderous floozy Velma Kelly in “Chicago” (1975) and the title role in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993). She sang enduring numbers in those roles: “America” in “West Side Story,” “One Boy” and “Spanish Rose” in “Bye Bye Birdie,” and “All That Jazz” in “Chicago.”

ny times logoNew York Times, At Penn, Tensions May Only Be Growing After Magill’s Resignation, Stephanie Saul, Jan. 30 2024 (print ed.). Professors at the University of Pennsylvania have begun to organize, fearing what they view as a plan by the billionaire Marc Rowan to upend academic freedom.

Campus protests are not usually aimed at a single person. But last week at the University of Pennsylvania, professors staged a rally targeting Marc Rowan, the New York private-equity billionaire.

A Penn alumnus and a major benefactor of the university, Mr. Rowan deployed his formidable resources in a relentless campaign against Penn’s president, M. Elizabeth Magill, leading to her resignation in December.

But it was what happened next that spurred the protest. Mr. Rowan sent a four-page email to university trustees titled “Moving Forward,” which many professors interpreted as a blueprint for a more conservative campus.

Amy C. Offner, a history professor who led the protest, called the document a proposed “hostile takeover of the core academic functions of the university.”

The protest of about 100 people was a sign that the discord on campus would probably continue despite Ms. Magill’s resignation, which many members of Penn’s community hoped would quell the outrage over testimony she gave at a congressional hearing that seemed to equivocate over whether students would be disciplined if they called for the genocide of the Jews.

Instead, Penn, now operating under an interim president, Dr. J. Larry Jameson, is facing a lineup of alumni, donors and students who argue that universities have been taken over by a liberal orthodoxy that tolerates or even promotes antisemitism.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Details Emerge on U.N. Workers Accused of Aiding Hamas Raid, Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 29, 2024. Israeli officials have presented evidence they say ties workers at a Palestinian aid agency in Gaza to violence during the Hamas-led attack on Israel.

One is accused of kidnapping a woman. Another is said to have handed out ammunition. A third was described as taking part in the massacre at a kibbutz where 97 people died. And all were said to be employees of the United Nations aid agency that schools, shelters and feeds hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel FlagThe accusations are contained in a dossier provided to the United States government that details Israel’s claims against a dozen employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency who, it says, played a role in the Hamas attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 or in their aftermath.

The U.N. said on Friday that it had fired several employees after being briefed on the allegations. But little was known about the accusations until the dossier was reviewed on Sunday by The New York Times.

The accusations are what prompted eight countries, including the United States, to suspend some aid payment to UNRWA, as the agency is known, even as war plunges Palestinians in Gaza into desperate straits. More than 26,000 people have been killed there and nearly two million displaced, according to Gazan and U.N. officials.

The UNRWA workers have been accused of helping Hamas stage the attack that set off the war in Gaza, or of aiding it in the days after. Some 1,200 people in Israel were killed that day, Israeli officials say, and about 240 were abducted and taken to Gaza.

On Sunday, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, described himself as “horrified by these accusations” and noted that nine of the 12 accused employees had been fired. But Mr. Guterres implored those nations that had suspended their aid payments to reconsider. UNRWA is one of the largest employers in Gaza, with 13,000 people, mostly Palestinians, on staff.

Asked about Israel’s allegations on Sunday, UNRWA said that two of the 12 employees were dead but that it could not provide more information while the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services was still investigating.

Two Western officials confirmed on the condition of anonymity that they had been briefed on the contents of the dossier in recent days, but said they had not been able to verify the details. Although the United States has yet to corroborate the Israeli claims itself, American officials say they found them credible enough to warrant suspending aid.

The Times verified the identity of one of the 12 employees, a storeroom manager, whose social media profile lists him as an UNRWA employee and shows him wearing U.N.-branded clothes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden Must Weigh Risk of Wider War After U.S. Soldier Deaths, Peter Baker, Jan. 29, 2024. President Biden has carefully calibrated his responses to attacks by Iran-backed militias since Oct. 7. Now he must decide how far he is willing to go.

This was the day that President Biden and his team had feared for more than three months, the day that relatively low-level attacks by Iranian proxy groups on American troops in the Middle East turned deadly and intensified the pressure on the president to respond in kind.

With three American service members killed and two dozen more injured by a drone in Jordan, Mr. Biden must decide how far he is willing to go in terms of retaliation at the risk of a wider war that he has sought to avoid ever since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas touched off the current Middle East crisis.

Until now, the president had carefully calibrated his responses to the more than 150 attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American forces in the region since Oct. 7. He essentially ignored the majority that were successfully intercepted or did little to no damage while authorizing limited U.S. strikes focused mainly on buildings, weapons and infrastructure after attacks that were more brazen, most notably against the Houthis in Yemen who have targeted shipping in the Red Sea.

The first deaths of American troops under fire, however, will require a different level of response, American officials said, and the president’s advisers were in consensus about that as they consulted with him by secure videoconference on Sunday. What remained unclear was whether Mr. Biden would strike targets inside Iran itself, as his Republican critics urged him to do, saying he would be a “coward” if he did not, as one put it.

“The question Biden faces is whether he just wants to react to events in the region or whether he wants to send a bigger message that attempts to restore a sense of deterrence that just hasn’t existed in the region for months now,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who worked in national security positions under President Bill Clinton.

“I’m sure they’re looking for some kind of Goldilocks response here,” he added, meaning “not too hard” that it provokes a full-fledged war, “not too soft” that it just prolongs the conflict “but something that seems just right.”

Mr. Biden gave no indication about his thinking but vowed to respond in some fashion.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: The embattled U.N. agency for Gaza said its funding would run out within weeks, Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 29, 2024.  The main United Nations relief agency in Gaza warned on Monday that its funding could dry up by the end of February if more than a dozen countries do not reverse their decisions to suspend their support following Israeli accusations against some of the agency’s workers.

The decisions by several donor countries to withhold funding for the agency known as UNRWA threaten the organization’s relief efforts in Gaza at a time when they are needed most. With more than 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.2 million people displaced by Israel’s military campaign, the agency says it is providing shelter to most of the people in the territory.

Israel FlagMore than a dozen countries have suspended support for UNRWA since Israel accused some of the agency’s workers of participating in the Oct. 7 terror attacks or in their aftermath.

On Friday, Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of participating in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel or in its aftermath. Those claims prompted several countries — including the United States, UNRWA’s largest donor — to freeze funding pending investigations.

Donor countries release funding in tranches throughout the year. While the United States’ next payment is not due until June, some of the other countries that have suspended funding were scheduled to issue their next tranche of donations in February, Juliette Touma, UNRWA’s director of communications, said in a phone interview.

Because UNRWA used up most of its financial reserves during a previous funding freeze ordered by President Donald J. Trump, the agency depends on a stable flow of donations to stay afloat, Ms. Touma said. If even a few donors fail to restore their funding by the end of February, Ms. Touma said, UNRWA will stop being able to pay the salaries of its 30,000 employees across the Middle East.

There are roughly 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza, but the agency also works in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Donors pledged more than $1.1 billion to the agency in 2022, according to its own figures, with nearly half of that coming from the United States and Germany, which has also said it will pause funding while the investigation goes on.

If UNRWA’s funding dries up, it was not clear whether any other agency could immediately fill the gap.

UNRWA, which stands for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, says it is hosting roughly 1.2 million people in its 150 schools and centers in Gaza. It is the main agency that coordinates the distribution of the relatively little aid that is entering the enclave through the borders with Egypt and Israel.

Israel’s invasion has prompted a deep humanitarian crisis in Gaza: the health system has collapsed, aid groups are warning of a looming famine and most people have been forced from their homes.

In a ruling last week, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and to let in more humanitarian aid.

Here’s what we know:

  • The U.N.’s lead agency in Gaza fears its funding will soon collapse.
  • More countries say they will pause funding to UNRWA. Here’s a list.
  • Iran denies ordering the drone strike that killed U.S. troops, as Biden weighs a response.
  • Talks on pausing fighting and releasing hostages were ‘constructive,’ Israel says.
  • Far-right Israelis gather to advance the idea of resettling Gaza.
  • Israel moves to block protesters from disrupting the flow of aid into Gaza.

New York Times, The prospect of famine is a central humanitarian concern in Gaza, experts say, Jan. 29, 2024.

Israeli soldiers explore a tunnel network in Gaza whose estimated length of 450 miles in a myriad network Israel said it discovered only after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis (Photo via the Associated Press).

Israeli soldiers explore a tunnel network in Gaza whose estimated length of 450 miles in a myriad network Israel said it discovered only after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis (Photo via the Associated Press). 

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Is Hamas Getting Its Weapons? Increasingly, From Israel, Maria Abi-Habib and Sheera Frenkel, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza are now being used against them.

Israeli military and intelligence officials have concluded that a significant number of weapons used by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks and in the war in Gaza came from an unlikely source: the Israeli military itself.

Israel FlagFor years, analysts have pointed to underground smuggling routes to explain how Hamas stayed so heavily armed despite an Israeli military blockade of the Gaza Strip. But recent intelligence has shown the extent to which Hamas has been able to build many of its rockets and anti-tank weaponry out of the thousands of munitions that failed to detonate when Israel lobbed them into Gaza, according to weapons experts and Israeli and Western intelligence officials. Hamas is also arming its fighters with weapons stolen from Israeli military bases.

Intelligence gathered during months of fighting revealed that, just as the Israeli authorities misjudged Hamas’s intentions before Oct. 7, they also underestimated its ability to obtain arms.

What is clear now is that the very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza over the past 17 years are now being used against them. Israeli and American military explosives have enabled Hamas to shower Israel with rockets and, for the first time, penetrate Israeli towns from Gaza.

“Unexploded ordnance is a main source of explosives for Hamas,” said Michael Cardash, the former deputy head of the Israeli National Police Bomb Disposal Division and an Israeli police consultant. “They are cutting open bombs from Israel, artillery bombs from Israel, and a lot of them are being used, of course, and repurposed for their explosives and rockets.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Negotiators Close In on Hostage Deal That Would Halt War in Gaza for Weeks, Peter Baker, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). A written draft agreement calls for the release of captives held by Hamas in exchange for a cessation of Israel’s military offensive for two months.

American-led negotiators are edging closer to an agreement in which Israel would suspend its war in Gaza for about two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas, a deal that could be sealed in the next two weeks and would transform the conflict consuming the region.

Israel FlagNegotiators have developed a written draft agreement merging proposals offered by Israel and Hamas in the last 10 days into a basic framework that will be the subject of talks in Paris on Sunday. While there are still important disagreements to be worked out, negotiators are cautiously optimistic that a final accord is within reach, according to U.S. officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive talks.

President Biden spoke by phone separately Friday with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, who have served as intermediaries with Hamas, to narrow the remaining differences. He is also sending his C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, to Paris for Sunday’s talks with Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials. If Mr. Burns makes enough progress, Mr. Biden may then send his Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, who just returned to Washington, back to the region to help finalize the agreement.

“Both leaders affirmed that a hostage deal is central to establishing a prolonged humanitarian pause in the fighting and ensure additional lifesaving humanitarian assistance reaches civilians in need throughout Gaza,” the White House said in a statement Friday night summarizing the president’s conversation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister. “They underscored the urgency of the situation and welcomed the close cooperation among their teams to advance recent discussions.”

In a statement in Israel on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to securing the release of those hostages who were not freed as part of a more limited agreement in November. “As of today, we have returned 110 of our hostages and we are committed to returning all of them home,” he said. “We are dealing with this and we are doing so around the clock, including now.”

The hostages have been in captivity since Oct. 7, when Hamas gunmen stormed into Israel and killed an estimated 1,200 people and seized about 240 more in the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history. Israel’s military retaliation since then has killed more than 25,000 people, most of them women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry. It is not clear how many of those killed in Gaza were Hamas combatants.

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.N. chief urged the U.S. and other donors not to suspend aid for Palestinians, Vivek Shankar, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The secretary general, Antonío Guterres, said money to aid Palestinians would run out next month, leaving hundreds of thousands without clean water, food and other necessities.

Israel FlagThe head of the United Nations on Sunday implored the United States and other major donors to continue funding the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, saying that without their support the agency would run out of money next month to help the two million Gazans who depend on it for food, water and essential services.

palestinian flagAt least eight countries including the United States have said they would suspend some funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, after a dozen of its employees were accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks. Neither Israel nor the United Nations has made public the details of the accusations against the employees of UNRWA, which has said it was investigating.

The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said on Sunday that nine of the 12 accused employees had been fired, one had been confirmed dead and that the identities of the remaining two were being “clarified.”

“Any U.N. employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Guterres said he was “horrified” by the accusations and understood the “concerns” of donor countries, but noted that “UNRWA’s current funding will not allow it to meet all requirements” to support Gazans in February.

Here’s what we’re covering:

  • The U.N. says its agency to aid Palestinians will run out of money.
  • Talks in Paris will focus on a hostage deal that could pause the fighting in Gaza.
  • Hospitals in Khan Younis struggle amid intense fighting.
  • Allegations against the U.N. aid agency follow decades of friction with Israel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Widening Mideast Crisis: Four Countries Join U.S. in Pausing Funding for U.N. Aid Agency in Gaza, Victoria Kim and Aaron Boxerman, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). Britain, Finland and Australia became the latest countries to freeze additional funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees on Saturday after it fired a dozen of its employees accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks.

The three joined the United States and Canada, which said late Friday that they would temporarily pause additional funding to the body, known by the acronym UNRWA (often pronounced Un-ruh-WUH or simply Un-RUH). Other major donors, including Germany and the European Union, expressed concern but did not immediately suspend funding.

The United States has been the biggest donor by a large margin, providing the agency with several hundred million dollars in 2023 and $340 million in 2022. Australia, Britain, Canada and Finland together contributed about $66 million that year, according to the agency.

It was not immediately clear how the decisions would affect the agencies operations. They come as the United Nations’ highest court said on Friday that Israel must take action to prevent acts of genocide by its forces.

The agency has long been a vital lifeline in Gaza, which has grown increasingly desperate as Israel pursues a military campaign there in an attempt to eradicate Hamas.

None of the donor countries specified for how long they would pause the funding. A Security Council diplomat, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the news, said UNRWA appeared to have funding in the near-term but that the frozen funds could paralyze the agency some time in the future.

On Saturday, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, welcomed the decisions by the United States and Canada, and called for UNRWA to stop its work in Gaza after Israel’s military campaign there was over.

Israel aims to ensure that “UNRWA will not be a part of the day after,” Mr. Katz said on social media, referring to the end of the war. He added that he would seek support for the goal from European Union, the United States and other countries.

Earlier in the week, Israel made accusations to the United Nations that the employees had helped plan and had participated in the cross-border assault that the country says left 1,200 people dead and more than 240 taken hostage. A senior U.N. official briefed on the accusations against the employees said they were “extremely serious and horrific.”

Neither Israel nor the United Nations released more details on Saturday.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said in a statement Friday that any employee involved in acts of terrorism would be “held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

Hamas slammed UNRWA for firing the employees before completing their internal investigation and said it was overstepping its mandate to provide services to Palestinians.

“UNRWA has been subjected to blackmail by countries that support Zionist terrorism under the pretext of continued financial support,” the Palestinian armed group said.

Canada’s minister of international development, Ahmed Hussen, said in a statement that the country was conferring with other donors on the issue and had “temporarily paused any additional funding” to UNRWA while the agency investigates the allegations.

In a notable show of support for UNRWA, Ireland said it had no plans to suspend the agency’s “vital Gaza work.” Micheál Martin, the country’s foreign minister, wrote on social media that the agency’s staff members had worked to “provide life saving assistance” in Gaza “at incredible personal cost,” with over 150 killed since the start of the war.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden vows to respond after 3 U.S. troops killed in attack blamed on Iranian proxies, Alex Horton, Toluse Olorunnipa, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Three U.S. troops were killed and at least 34 injured in a militant drone attack Sunday in Jordan, officials said, marking the first deadly military action against American service members since the war in Gaza triggered a steep rise in violence throughout the Middle East.

President Biden blamed the attack on groups supported by Iran, and the incident raised immediate questions about when, where and how forcefully the United States might respond. In a statement, he said the United States will “hold those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

As the number of attacks on deployed American personnel has surged to more than 160 since October, the Pentagon has carried out selective retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. But to the frustration of many in Washington, those actions have failed to deter the groups perpetrating the violence, and the president’s critics seized on this development to intensify their demands for more aggressive countermeasures.

Sunday’s attack targeted a facility known as Tower 22. The base, which houses about 350 U.S. troops, is located in northeast Jordan along the country’s shared borders with Syria and Iraq. A U.S. defense official said the one-way drone struck the base’s living quarters, causing injuries that ranged from cuts and bruises to brain trauma.

It was not immediately clear from which country the attack was launched, said the official, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the incident. Military commanders are working to determine that information and, crucially, why U.S. air defenses failed to intercept the drone.

Some of the wounded personnel required medical evacuation, the official said. The identities of those slain were not disclosed, pending family notifications. Biden, in his statement, called them “patriots in the highest sense.”

Sunday’s bloodshed spotlighted Jordan’s attempt to walk a tenuous line as many in the Arab world, outraged by Israel’s punishing assault on Gaza, have faulted the United States for its unconditional backing of the Jewish state despite the war’s enormous civilian toll. The kingdom has continued to partner with the United States on counterterrorism while looking to avoid the wrath of Iran and other regional neighbors. On Sunday, despite the U.S. government’s disclosure about where the attack occurred, Jordanian officials claimed it was another U.S. base in the region — one located on the Syrian side of the border — that was targeted.

The defense official characterized operations at Tower 22 vaguely, saying the Americans deployed there are on an advise-and-assist mission.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group that includes Kataib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and other Iranian-backed militants, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a senior official with the organization who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity in accordance with its rules.

“As we said before, if the U.S. keeps supporting Israel, there will be escalations. All the U.S. interests in the region are legitimate targets and we don’t care about U.S. threats to respond, we know the direction we are taking and martyrdom is our prize,” the Islamic Resistance in Iraq official said.

The group is a front for Iranian-backed militias there. Its forces began targeting U.S. interests in 2018, after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

There are about 2,500 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and another 900 in Syria. They have been focused on preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State, the terrorist network that took over large swaths of both countries until a U.S.-led military campaign left the group decimated. Last week, amid deepening strain between the U.S. and Iraqi governments, the Pentagon signaled its openness to reducing the American military presence there.

Friction between the two countries has worsened in recent weeks, as U.S. forces have fought back against the rise in Iranian proxy attacks. On Jan. 4, the Biden administration launched a rare retaliatory strike on a base belonging to a militia in central Baghdad, killing the group’s commander. American officials said at the time that it was hoped the strike would serve as a deterrent against further hostility toward U.S. troops. Instead, the attacks have grown more ambitious.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lankford defends bipartisan border security bill after attacks by Trump, GOP, Amy B Wang, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is facing blowback from within his party for working on a bipartisan border security package, defended the bill on Sunday, saying his Republican colleagues who have criticized the measure are misunderstanding it.

james lankfordLankford, right, has been the GOP’s lead negotiator on the bipartisan deal, which would tie funding for Ukraine to border policy changes pushed by Republicans. Though senators have not yet released the text of the bill, President Biden has praised the general framework of the deal. But former president Donald Trump has opposed the package, which has prompted several Senate Republicans to say they would not support the measure.

On Sunday, Lankford said his colleagues had not had a chance yet to read the full text of the bill and said there were “internet rumors” floating around about the measure that were false.

“This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day. There’s no amnesty. It increases the number of Border Patrol agents, increases asylum officers, it increases detention beds so we can quickly detain and then deport individuals,” Lankford said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It focuses on additional deportation flights out. It changes our asylum process so that people get a fast asylum screening at a higher standard and then get returned back to their home country,” Lankford added.

Lankford called out his colleagues for bowing to political pressure, noting that four months ago Republicans refused to grant funding for Ukraine, Israel and the southern border until there were policy changes.

“So we actually locked arms together and said we’re not going to give you money for this. We want a change in law,” Lankford said. “When we’re finally going to the end, they’re like, ‘Oh, just kidding. I actually don’t want a change in law because it’s a presidential election year.’ We all have an oath to the Constitution and we have a commitment to say we’re going to do whatever we can to be able to secure the border.”
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Lankford, however, is facing intense criticism from within his own party over his efforts to get the bipartisan bill done. On Saturday, the Oklahoma GOP committee passed a resolution condemning Lankford for his work with Democrats on the border security bill and called on the senator “to cease and desist jeopardizing the security and liberty of the people of Oklahoma and of these United States.”

The resolution accused Lankford of “playing fast and loose with Democrats on our border policy” and of “authorizing several thousand people to invade our borders before any action can be taken.”

Trump, who is running for reelection and who decisively won the GOP’s first two nominating contests this month, blasted the would-be bipartisan deal as a potential political “gift” to Democrats during an election year. On Saturday, Trump bragged about inserting himself into the debate and stymieing efforts to get the bill passed, even though he is not in office.

Democrats, including Biden’s reelection campaign officials and top lawmakers, have accused Trump of acting against national security interests for political gain. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), another key negotiator on the border bill, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the bill could be ready to be on the Senate floor this week.

“I am hopeful that we will still have enough Republicans in the Senate who want to fix the problem at the border, rather than just do Donald Trump’s bidding, but we will see over the next 24 to 48 hours whether that’s true,” Murphy said.

Biden on Friday said that the bill would grant him new emergency authority to “shut down” the border, referring to a provision that would kick in when unauthorized crossings surpass 5,000 over a five-day average. He vowed to use that new authority on the day he signed the bill into law.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Republicans now say it might be okay to ignore the Supreme Court, Aaron Blake, Jan. 29, 2024. A consequential development of the Trump era is what increasingly looks like the Republicans’ acrimonious divorce from the rule of law.

The party that once prided itself as the law-and-order side has leaped headlong into highly speculative theories about the “weaponization” of the justice system, spurred by former president Donald Trump. Both Trump and his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently flouted civil defamation verdicts against them by continuing to defame their victims — cheered on by many on the right. Republican voters increasingly want a president who is willing to break both rules and laws to get things done.

But some members of the party have in recent days crossed a new threshold: by suggesting that it’s okay to disregard the Supreme Court.

After the Supreme Court ruled last week that federal authorities can remove razor wire that Texas put on the U.S.-Mexico border, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) posted on X, formerly Twitter, that “Texas should ignore it.”
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“It’s like, if someone’s breaking into your house, and the court says, ‘Oh, sorry. You can’t defend yourself.’ What do you tell the court?” Roy separately told Fox News. “You tell the court to go to hell, you defend yourself and then figure it out later.”

By Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) had gone on CNN and indicated that it would be okay to disregard the Supreme Court in certain circumstances.

“We all agree that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land,” Stitt said. “And if the Supreme Court gets something wrong — for example, if they tried to ban and say that we didn’t have a Second Amendment right to bear arms — I think the Constitution supersedes somebody in Washington, D.C., telling us, you know.”

Stitt didn’t seem to finish the thought (and his office hasn’t responded to a request for comment), but the thrust of what he was saying is pretty clear. Host Jake Tapper’s question was about “whether elected officials should just ignore rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court with which they disagree,” and Stitt’s response was decidedly not “no.”
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Stitt’s comments also came after he had spent a day repeatedly floating a scenario in which members of the National Guard might disobey orders from their commander in chief, the president of the United States. Stitt repeatedly cited the difficult decisions those Guard members would face if President Biden tried to federalize them. (Biden has the authority to do so, though such authority has rarely been invoked, and the White House has not signaled it’s in the works.) Stitt suggested they might be standing on principle by refusing Biden’s orders.

It’s important to note that, despite the claims of some on the left, what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is doing right now doesn’t violate what the Supreme Court ruled.

The court overturned a ruling that said the federal government couldn’t remove the razor wire, effectively allowing it to do so; Abbott has signaled he’ll continue to have the National Guard lay the wire, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has rejected the Biden administration’s request for full access to the area.
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Provocative? Yes. Interfering with federal authority? Quite possibly. But directly violating the Supreme Court’s decision? No.

Roy’s and Stitt’s comments, then, take this debate quite a bit further.

In some ways, it’s a logical extension of the emerging Republican argument about state sovereignty. Anticipating a federal-vs.-state clash, Republicans have taken to arguing that Texas has the authority to defend itself from those crossing the border illegally.

But you can also see how we’re getting into dicey territory here. The Supreme Court is the institution we charge with interpreting our Constitution; we now have a sitting U.S. governor and a congressman suggesting it’s okay to ignore what the court says if you have a different interpretation. (Tapper noted to Stitt that Democratic governors could seemingly do the same in restricting gun rights beyond what the court says is constitutional — by arguing that it’s just that important to protect their citizens.)

ny times logoNew York Times, At Penn, Tensions May Only Be Growing After Magill’s Resignation, Stephanie Saul, Jan. 29, 2024. Professors at the University of Pennsylvania have begun to organize, fearing what they view as a plan by the billionaire Marc Rowan to upend academic freedom.

Campus protests are not usually aimed at a single person. But last week at the University of Pennsylvania, professors staged a rally targeting Marc Rowan, the New York private-equity billionaire.

A Penn alumnus and a major benefactor of the university, Mr. Rowan deployed his formidable resources in a relentless campaign against Penn’s president, M. Elizabeth Magill, leading to her resignation in December.

But it was what happened next that spurred the protest. Mr. Rowan sent a four-page email to university trustees titled “Moving Forward,” which many professors interpreted as a blueprint for a more conservative campus.

Amy C. Offner, a history professor who led the protest, called the document a proposed “hostile takeover of the core academic functions of the university.”

The protest of about 100 people was a sign that the discord on campus would probably continue despite Ms. Magill’s resignation, which many members of Penn’s community hoped would quell the outrage over testimony she gave at a congressional hearing that seemed to equivocate over whether students would be disciplined if they called for the genocide of the Jews.
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Marc Rowan, the chief of Apollo Management Group, at a summit in Hong Kong in November.Credit...Vernon Yuen/Nurphoto, via Reuters
Marc Rowan, the chief of Apollo Management Group, at a summit in Hong Kong in November.

Instead, Penn, now operating under an interim president, Dr. J. Larry Jameson, is facing a lineup of alumni, donors and students who argue that universities have been taken over by a liberal orthodoxy that tolerates or even promotes antisemitism.

Penn is now being assailed from many sides. It is the defendant in a lawsuit filed by Jewish students and partly financed by unnamed donors, and the subject of a congressional investigation with subpoena power. State Republican lawmakers have threatened to withhold $31 million for its veterinary medicine program, the only state appropriation the private university receives.

Two alumni, Mr. Rowan and Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics heir, were notable among the sponsors of a fund-raiser for the re-election of Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, whose House committee is investigating Penn and other universities over claims of antisemitism.

Mr. Rowan and Mr. Lauder did not attend the fund-raiser, but the event’s organizer — Andrew Sabin, a New Yorker who made a fortune in metal recycling — said that the sponsors shared an opposition to antisemitism and are hoping to pressure Congress to remove federal funding and the tax-exempt status of some universities.

A separate investigation by the House Ways and Means Committee has questioned whether campus antisemitism jeopardizes the nonprofit status of Penn as well as Cornell, Harvard, and M.I.T.

“We’ve got a very, very aggressive path forward,” said Mr. Sabin, who did not attend Penn.

Some professors at the university say the attack on Penn is part of a conservative effort, begun by governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida, to overhaul American higher education — an effort that is now spreading to dozens of universities, including Penn, Harvard and Columbia, which are now under investigation by the federal government over reports of antisemitism.

“This is an anti-democratic attack unfolding, not just at Penn, but all across the country, including at public universities in Florida, in Texas, Ohio and beyond,” said Dr. Offner, the president of the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, a professional faculty organization.

Penn, she said, had become “ground zero of a coordinated national assault on higher education, an assault organized by billionaires, lobbying organizations, and politicians who would like to control what can be studied and taught in the United States.”
On Wednesday — two days after the fund-raiser, which raised an estimated $60,000 for her campaign — Ms. Foxx submitted a 14-page letter to the university, demanding documents that may reflect the concerns of some Penn donors that the number of Jewish students at Penn has declined as the university has admitted more Asian, Black and Latino students.
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The University of Pennsylvania campus last week.Credit...Rachel Wisniewski for The New York Times
The University of Pennsylvania campus last week.

The demands made by Ms. Foxx cited figures from the Jewish organization Hillel International suggesting that Penn’s Jewish undergraduate population had fallen to about 1,600, or 16.4 percent of the student body, in 2023, compared with about 2,500 students, or 25 percent, in 2013. Jews make up a little more than 2 percent of the U.S. population.

Mr. Rowan’s proposal, which was published in its entirety by The Philadelphia Inquirer, was framed as a series of questions about the university’s direction. It asked whether some academic programs should be eliminated and whether merit and academic excellence should be the paramount consideration in hiring and admissions, which many interpreted as a call to eliminate diversity considerations.

  Washington Post, Falling inflation, rising growth give U.S. the world’s best recovery, David J. Lynch, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). After posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

The European economy, hobbled by unfamiliar weakness in Germany, is barely growing. China is struggling to recapture its sizzle. And Japan continues to disappoint.

But in the United States, it’s a different story. Here, despite lingering consumer angst over inflation, the surprisingly strong economy is outperforming all of its major trading partners.

Since 2020, the United States has powered through a once-in-a-century pandemic, the highest inflation in 40 years and fallout from two foreign wars. Now, after posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

“The U.S. has really come out of this into a place of strength and is moving forward like covid never happened,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who now runs an eponymous consulting firm. “We earned this; it wasn’t just a fluke.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia projects confidence as it pursues alliances to undermine the West, Catherine Belton, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Russia is increasingly confident that deepening economic and diplomatic ties with China and the Global South will allow it to challenge the international financial system dominated by the United States and undermine the West, according to Kremlin documents and interviews with Russian officials and business executives.

Russia has been buoyed by its success in holding off a Western-backed Ukrainian counteroffensive followed by political stalemates in Washington and Brussels over continued funding for Kyiv. In Moscow’s view, the U.S. backing of Israel’s invasion of Gaza has damaged Washington’s standing in many parts of the world. The confluence of events has led to a surge of optimism about Russia’s global position.

Officials in Moscow point to growing trade with China, military cooperation with Iran, diplomatic outreach in the Arab world and the expansion of the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Ethiopia.

The BRICS expansion demonstrated the group’s “growing authority and role in world affairs,” and its work will focus on “sovereign equality,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a Jan. 1 statement as Russia assumed the chairmanship of the group. The Kremlin has begun to refer to itself as part of the “Global Majority.”

 

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, center, Sydney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis falsely claim at a 2020 news conference that election fraud deprived President Trump of reelection (Nov. 19, 2020 photo).

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, center, Sydney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis falsely claim at a 2020 news conference that election fraud deprived President Trump of reelection (Nov. 19, 2020 photo).  Powell has since pleaded guilty in a Georgia racketeering case arising out of the false claims.

Defamed Georgia election workers Shae Moss, center, and Ruby Freeman speak after a federal jury awarded them $148 million in damages for defamation by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 15, 2024 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig).

Defamed Georgia election workers Shae Moss, center, and Ruby Freeman speak after a federal jury awarded them $148 million in damages for defamation by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 15, 2024 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig).

Law&Crime, Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing claims ‘net income’ is $2,308 per month – after over $43,000 in monthly expenses, Colin Kalmbacher, Jan. 27, 2024. Rudy Giuliani has a “net income” of $2,308 per month, according to a series of filings in a federal bankruptcy court on Friday afternoon.

lawcrime logoThe former New York City mayor identified substantial sources of income and hefty financial obligations in various schedules and additional context about his finances in a statement of financial affairs submitted with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and obtained by Law&Crime.

The concept of “net income,” however, is a feature of U.S. Bankruptcy rules that does not accurately reflect income as generally understood.
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Giuliani filed for bankruptcy in December 2023 after a federal court ordered him to “immediately” pay former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss $148 million after they won a defamation case against him. The onetime Donald Trump attorney found himself the subject of that pricey defamation lawsuit — and eventual verdict in the plaintiffs’ favor — after he falsely claimed the two women committed electoral fraud during the 2020 election.

The bankruptcy filing effectively paused collection efforts on that judgment against him. He is now seeking to use the proceedings to request a modification of his liability to Freeman and Moss — and potentially a do-over trial on the amount of damages he owes them.

More Law&Crime coverage: Rudy Giuliani ordered to testify under oath in bankruptcy proceedings

According to the filings, Giuliani has a “combined monthly income” of just over $46,000 from various sources, including Social Security payments and income from a rental property or business, and requires minimum distributions from three separate retirement accounts.

At the same time, Giuliani claims monthly expenses of $43,797 — including court-ordered payments to his mother-in-law ($13,500) and alimony ($5,000). His personal expenses run somewhat high for a New Yorker and include itemized entries on transportation ($1,600), food and household items ($1,050), laundry and dry cleaning ($500), and personal care products or services ($425). The total also includes $10,934 per month for homeowner’s association or condominium dues on his New York City apartment, $5,166 per month for such fees on his Florida residence, and a $3,000 per month mortgage in Florida. He does not list any money being spent whatsoever on entertainment.

All told, subtracting his monthly expenses from his monthly income nets Giuliani $2,308, the filings claim. And, he’s apparently not much of a saver: the filings claim Giuliani has $14,000 in his checking account and just $351 in his savings account — as well as $50 in cash.

But, far from pleading anything akin to poverty, his assets are assessed to be in the range of several million dollars. At least.

Giuliani has estimated that his Upper East Side apartment is worth $5.6 million; he claims his Palm Beach home is worth $3.5 million. There are various entries for personal property including a $25,000 Mercedes, a $2,500 “Television,” and nearly $60,000 worth of personal effects, jewelry (including three Yankees World Series rings), clothing, furniture, and other household goods.

Then there are the unknowns. Giuliani owns a certain number of Uber shares — which would seemingly be easy enough to estimate. But the space for the value of those shares reads: “Unknown.”

Another “Unknown” entry is the value of a signed picture of Reggie Jackson, a signed picture of Yankee Stadium, and the crowned jewel of his Bronx Bombers collection: a signed “Joe DiMaggio” shirt.

There are also three incorporated companies owned entirely by Giuliani. The value of those companies is listed as “Unknown.”

The filings also assert two possible forthcoming credits to his overall financial health under a section for “contingent and unliquidated claims.” There, Giuliani asserts he has a “Possible claim for legal fees against Donald J. Trump” and a “Joseph Biden defamation action.” Those values are listed as “Undetermined.”

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: When the Right Ignores Its Sex Scandals, David French, right, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). Let me share with you one of the worst and david french croppedmost important recent news stories that you’ve probably never heard about.

Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought against a man named Paul Pressler for an undisclosed sum. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and alleged that Pressler had raped a man named Duane Rollins for decades, with the rapes beginning when Rollins was only 14 years old.

The story would be terrible enough if Pressler were simply an ordinary predator. But while relatively unknown outside of evangelical circles, Pressler is one of the most important American religious figures of the 20th century. He and his friend Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, are two of the key architects of the so-called conservative resurgence within the S.B.C.

southern baptist convention logo 2The conservative resurgence was a movement conceived in the 1960s and launched in the 1970s that sought to wrest control of the S.B.C. from more theologically liberal and moderate voices. It was a remarkable success. While many established denominations were liberalizing, the S.B.C. lurched to the right and exploded in growth, ultimately becoming the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Pressler and Patterson were heroes within the movement. Patterson led Baptist seminaries and became president of the convention. Pressler was a Texas state judge and a former president of the Council for National Policy, a powerful conservative Christian activist organization.

Both men are now disgraced. In 2018, the board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fired Patterson after it found that he’d grossly mishandled rape allegations — including writing in an email that he wanted to meet alone with a woman who had reported being raped to “break her down” — at both Southwestern and another Baptist seminary.

Pressler’s story is even worse. The evidence that people were aware of allegations against him stretches back decades. To take just two examples, in 1989, Pressler failed an F.B.I. background check after President George H.W. Bush tapped him to lead the Office of Government Ethics. And in 2004, First Baptist Church of Houston investigated accusations that Pressler had groped and undressed a college student, deemed his behavior “morally and spiritually inappropriate” and warned him, but took no other action.

Pressler’s story is in some ways eerily similar to that of Harvey Weinstein. Both were powerful men so brazen about their misconduct that it was an “open secret” in their respective worlds. Yet they were also so powerful that an army of enablers coalesced around them, protecting them from the consequences of their actions. A single individual can be a predator, but it takes a village to protect him from exposure and punishment.

All of these facts are terrible enough, and it’s important to write about them even if we can only bear witness to the injustice. But the coverage, or lack thereof, of Pressler’s fall also helps explain why we’re so very polarized as a nation.

The American right exists in a news environment that reports misconduct on the left or in left-wing institutions loudly and with granular detail. When Weinstein fell and that fall prompted the cascade of revelations that created the #MeToo moment, the right was overrun with commentary on the larger lessons of the episode, including scathing indictments of a Hollywood culture that permitted so much abuse for so very long.

Much of this commentary was good and necessary. Hollywood deserved the indictment. But the coverage on the right also fit a cherished conservative narrative: that liberal sexual values such as those in Hollywood invariably lead to abuse. In Christian America, it was more ammunition for the sense that a righteous “us” was taking on a villainous “them.”

But stories such as Pressler’s complicate this narrative immensely. If both the advocates and enemies of the sexual revolution have their Harvey Weinsteins — that is, if both progressive and conservative institutions can enable abuse — then all that partisan moral clarity starts to disappear. We’re all left with the disturbing and humbling reality that whatever our ideology or theology, it doesn’t make us good people. The allegedly virtuous “us” commits the same sins as the presumptively villainous “them.”

 

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

ny times logoNew York Times, Carroll Promises to Do ‘Something Good’ With a Fortune Won From Trump, Benjamin Weiser, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). The writer E. Jean Carroll was awarded $83.3 million for Donald Trump’s defamation. Now, she will have to figure out how to use it.

As soon as E. Jean Carroll heard the verdict on Friday — $83.3 million in defamation damages against Donald J. Trump — a world of possibility opened before her: How to use the money?

The amount vastly eclipsed the $5 million awarded to her by a jury last spring in a different trial against Mr. Trump. It could take years before she sees the money, as Mr. Trump has said he will appeal, but she is already considering how she might use the money once she obtains it.

“I’m not going to waste a cent of this,” she said. “We’re going to do something good with it.”

Figuring that out will take some time, she added. But she will splurge on one luxury, she said — for her Great Pyrenees and her pit bull. “I’m going to be able to buy some premium dog food now,” she said.

Ms. Carroll, appearing relaxed and happy in her lawyers’ offices on Saturday, spoke in her first interview since the Manhattan jury’s award in her favor a day earlier.

Ms. Carroll, 80, sued Mr. Trump, 77, for defamation after he called her a liar in June 2019, when she first publicly accused him, in a magazine article, of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades earlier. Mr. Trump continued to attack Ms. Carroll, in posts on his Truth Social website that lasted right into the trial, as well as in news conferences and on the campaign trial.

After the verdict on Friday, Mr. Trump, issued a new attack on social media: “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.” But he avoided criticizing Ms. Carroll, a silence that spoke volumes. Ms. Carroll said she was not ready to assume that the former president was finished with her.

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a jury verdict that he sexually attacked her three decades ago.

donald trump ny daily pussy

The disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape verdict echoed Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case. 

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump to pay additional $83.3 million, Larry Neumeister, Jake Offenhartz and Jennifer Peltz, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Jury says Donald Trump must pay an additional $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll in defamation case. Former President Donald Trump was on and off the witness stand at a jury trial Thursday in less than 3 minutes but not before breaking a judge’s rules on what he could say by claiming that a writer’s sexual assault allegations were a “false accusation.” 

A jury has awarded a huge $83.3 million in additional damages to advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says former President Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.

lewis kaplanThe judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, left, has ruled that the sole focus for the jury is the matter of damages.

The verdict was delivered Friday by a seven-man, two-woman jury in a trial regularly attended by Trump, who abruptly left the courtroom during closing arguments by Carroll’s lawyer, only to later return.

Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building in his motorcade.

“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a statement shortly after the verdict was announced. He vowed an appeal. “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.”

It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, chance encounter with Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights and forced himself on her.

 

More On  U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Biden’s Anti-Trump Battle Plan (and Where Taylor Swift Fits In), Reid J. Epstein, Lisa Lerer, Katie Glueck and Katie Rogers, Jan. 29, 2024. President Biden’s campaign is aiming to make the general election all about Donald Trump. It’s also hoping for some big endorsements.

biden harris 2024 logoAs former President Donald J. Trump speeds toward the Republican nomination, President Biden is moving quickly to pump energy into his re-election bid, kicking off what is likely to be an ugly, dispiriting and historically long slog to November between two unpopular nominees.

After months of languid buildup in which he held only a single public campaign event, Mr. Biden has thrown a series of rallies across battleground states, warning that democracy itself is at stake in 2024.

He sent two of his most trusted White House operatives to take the helm of his re-election campaign in Wilmington, Del., after Mr. Trump seized control of the Republican primary race more rapidly than Mr. Biden’s advisers had initially expected.

And other Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift.

“It’s game on, the beginning of the general election,” said Representative Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 97 centrist House Democrats. “We’ve got to win this.”

In a race without historical parallel — a contest between two presidents, one of them facing 91 criminal charges — Mr. Biden is making an extraordinary gamble, betting that Mr. Trump remains such an animating force in American life that the nation’s current leader can turn the 2024 election into a referendum not on himself but on his predecessor.

Resurrecting a version of the argument that worked for them in 2020, Mr. Biden’s team and his top allies plan to paint Mr. Trump as a mortal threat to American government and civil society, and are banking that fears of another turbulent Trump administration will outweigh worries about Mr. Biden’s age and vitality. Polls have shown Mr. Biden trailing Mr. Trump in a head-to-head contest, with many Democratic voters reluctant to back him again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Kamala Harris, Sharper and Lively, Begins to Make Her Case, Mara Gay, Jan. 29, 2024. In Las Vegas this weekend, a group of cheery Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters gathered at a union hall to hear Vice President Kamala Harris make the case for re-electing her and President Biden. The crowd started quietly, but as I watched, Harris brought them to life, warning Nevada voters in explicit terms about the threat posed by Donald Trump.

“Understand what dictators do,” Harris told the crowd on Saturday. “Dictators jail journalists. Dictators suspend elections. Dictators take your rights!”

Four years after Harris’s own failed White House bid and a rocky early tenure as vice president, her campaigning skills have grown vastly sharper. She is sounding increasingly confident, laying out the stakes of the November election with an ease more evocative of Barack Obama than the prosecutor Harris used to be.

At age 59, which is 22 years younger than Biden, who is facing concerns about his age, her role in the 2024 election could prove significant.

“Do we believe in democracy?” she asked them.

“Yes!” the crowd shouted, growing louder.

“Are we ready to fight for it?”

“Yes!”

The vice president has visited the state twice this month, looking to shore up support in a state crucial to a Biden victory in November but where attachment to party can be fickle and interest in politics in general even weaker.

At the event this weekend, Curtis Williams, 64, said he planned to vote for Biden, even though, like a plurality of voters in Nevada, he is unaffiliated with a party. “I’m kind of commitment-phobic,” Williams joked.

Other voters were still undecided. “I’m coming to learn more,” Yamilah Nguyen, 27, told me. Nguyen, an entrepreneur, didn’t vote in the 2020 presidential election, but plans to this year, largely over concerns about access to abortion. “I believe it should be an option,” she said.

At the Democratic event, Nevadans of different backgrounds mingled politely: union members and conservationists, retirees and students, Hispanic Americans and Black Americans, Asian Americans and white Americans.

As those in attendance swayed to the live music, Trump held a rally across town repeating a campaign promise to prosecute Biden, the man who is again his biggest political enemy.

Whether Trump succeeds may depend on Democrats awakening from their weary slumber.

ny times logoNew York Times, Haley’s Dilemma: How to Diminish Trump Without Alienating Republican Voters, Jonathan Weisman and Jazmine Ulloa, Jan. 29, 2024 (print ed.). On “Meet the Press,” Nikki Haley said she trusted the jury in Donald Trump’s sex-assault defamation case, while she tried to peel away his supporters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Rages at U.A.W. President After Biden Endorsement, Maggie Astor, Jan. 29, 2024. The provocation for the former president’s comments appeared to be remarks that Shawn Fain, the union’s leader, made on Sunday.

ICE logoA few days after the United Auto Workers endorsed President Biden for re-election, former President Donald J. Trump raged at the union’s leader, Shawn Fain, on Sunday night.

djt maga hatMr. Trump wrote on his social media platform that Mr. Fain “is selling the Automobile Industry right into the big, powerful, hands of China.”

He claimed that Mr. Biden’s support for electric vehicles would destroy the American auto industry and send jobs overseas. “Shawn Fain doesn’t understand this or have a clue,” he wrote. “Get rid of this dope & vote for DJT. I will bring the Automobile Industry back to our Country.”

The provocation for Mr. Trump’s comments appeared to be a CBS News interview on Sunday in which Mr. Fain said that Mr. Biden had “a history of serving others and serving the working class,” while Mr. Trump had “a history of serving himself and standing for the billionaire class.”

Mr. Fain also emphasized Mr. Biden’s decision to meet with striking U.A.W. workers in September, which made him the first sitting president to join a picket line. Mr. Trump has sought to position himself as a champion of the workers’ interests, and he tried to court blue-collar workers with a speech the same week — but at a nonunion factory.

Michael Tyler, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign, said in a statement, “Apparently losing the U.A.W. endorsement to Joe Biden has left Donald Trump’s wounded ego with quite the SCAB.” He argued that the corporate tax changes Mr. Trump signed as president had themselves encouraged companies to move jobs overseas.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump and President Biden Get Ready for the Very Long Haul, Adam Nagourney, Jan. 28, 2024. The 2024 general election campaign is set to be one of the longest in modern history. There will be no spring break.

With Donald J. Trump rapidly closing in on the Republican presidential nomination, the 2024 general election campaign is set to be one of the longest in modern history, pushing President Biden and Mr. Trump into unfamiliar territory as they struggle to engage an electorate that seems numbed by the prospect of a 2020 rematch.

For all their experience in presidential politics, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump face extraordinarily complicated challenges as they and their aides grapple with how to run a presidential campaign that will last almost nine months, significantly longer than most general election contests.

This is a race that has been run before, a rematch between two older and by now well-known candidates: Mr. Trump is 77, and Mr. Biden is 81. Mr. Trump has essentially been a candidate for re-election since his defeat four years ago and may spend much of the spring fighting felony charges in court. Both men are unpopular with large numbers of voters.

“What can they possibly say about their opponent that voters don’t already know?” said Mark McKinnon, who was the chief media adviser to George W. Bush for his 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

The time between the end of the primaries and the party conventions usually brings a lull in the campaign, when presumptive nominees test attacks on opponents, shore up their shortcomings and build the policy, political and financing foundation for the fall campaign. That period usually begins in late spring, but if Mr. Trump maintains his commanding lead over Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, it could start before winter is through.

As a result, the Biden and Trump campaigns face a series of unusual strategic decisions in the weeks ahead: How much of the next nine months do they devote to sending Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden across the country for rallies? Is it better to deploy attacks on opponents now, or wait until the conventions, when more voters will presumably be paying attention?

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, In South Carolina, President Biden tried to persuade Black voters to reject Donald Trump, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden sought to energize his base in the state that propelled him to the White House, but some local leaders said he needed to do more to highlight his achievements.

Hoping to revitalize the momentum that propelled him to the White House, President Biden told a largely Black audience on Saturday night that “you’re the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president,” in what was effectively his first appearance related to the Democratic primaries.

Mr. Biden made clear in his remarks at a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner in Columbia, S.C., that he viewed the forthcoming week as not just a contest but a pivotal moment to energize a frustrated base of Black voters across the nation. And in the run-up to the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary, which the party’s national committee selected last year to be the first in the nation, Democrats believe they have entered an opportune time.

With former President Donald J. Trump having won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary for the Republican nomination, Mr. Biden’s allies plan to emphasize not just the president’s record but also the urgency of the moment: The general election effectively starts now, they say.

“He has made it known what he’s going to do if he gets back into office,” Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, said of Mr. Trump in an interview. “And to see that blooming as a possibility and see him running as well as he is in the polls, I’m concerned about it.”

“Do what you did before,” Mr. Clyburn said in an appeal to the Black electorate. “Turn that election around and save this democracy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Phillips appeal to S.C. voters, but crowd has clear favorite, Toluse Olorunnipa, Jan. 28, 2024. In what was supposed to be a strictly celebratory event launching President Biden’s glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination here, long-shot primary challenger Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) sought to appeal to the crowd with a somber warning.

Speaking minutes before Biden was set to take the stage here at the First-in-the-Nation Dinner on Saturday, Phillips warned the gathered Democrats that Biden’s low poll numbers and weak political standing threatened to let former president Donald Trump back into the White House.

biden harris 2024 logo“I’m here to tell you the numbers do not say things are looking good,” Phillips said from the stage, as Democratic officials milled about the hall. Phillips received some light applause after his remarks, which he had to stop at one point to try to get the attention of people who were not listening.

“So my invitation to President Biden — a man I love, a man I respect, a man who saved this country, a man who did a lot of good in the last four years — my invitation to President Biden is to pass the torch to a new generation ready to take the stage.”

The comments from Phillips stood as a brief aberration from what was largely — outside of a few outbursts from pro-Palestinian protesters during Biden’s speech — a show of unified support for the president in a state that helped launch him into the presidency in 2020.

Biden, at Black church, says Republicans are ‘trying to steal history’

Biden was showered with praise by every other speaker on the program, including during a lengthy introduction from Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who touted his record and called him “a great president” and “a president with compassion.” Biden campaign officials said the president was visiting the state to demonstrate his commitment to Black voters, who make up a majority of Democrats in the state.

During his remarks, Biden boasted of strong economic growth under his watch, focusing specifically on progress for Black voters.

“All the progress we’ve made comes down to a simple proposition: promises made, and promises kept,” Biden said. He repeated the phrase multiple times as he outlined various parts of his record in what amounted to a rebuttal to critics who question whether Biden’s presidency has delivered for Black Americans.

He also used his remarks to ramp up his attacks on Trump, repeatedly calling the former president a “loser.” Biden grew visibly angry as he referred to alleged remarks Trump made disparaging U.S. troops after he abandoned a plan to visit an American cemetery in Paris in 2018, for reasons that Trump said involved poor weather.

Trump has denied the allegation that he referred to troops as “suckers and losers.”

“How dare he say that?” Biden said. “I call them patriots and heroes. The only loser I see is Donald Trump. It makes me angry.”

Biden, who began his speech with shout-outs to local officials and members of Congress in attendance, did not acknowledge Phillips during his remarks.

Still, the presence of Phillips at the dinner — and in the Democratic primary race — highlighted the at-times awkward dynamics of Biden’s reelection bid. In polls, most Democrats say the 81-year-old president is too old to run for a second term and that they would rather have a different standard-bearer. But Phillips is the only major elected Democrat who has challenged Biden, and his campaign has struggled to garner much support.

Phillips, a third-term congressman and heir to a family liquor business, acknowledged early in his remarks that he faced long odds in the state’s primary, which is scheduled for next Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sure, Trump and Biden are old. The similarities end there, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Jan. 28, 2024. The most convenient ej dionne w open neckpolitical habit of the moment is to natter on about how both President Biden and Donald Trump are unpopular and old and how Americans long for some new and energetic candidate (identity to be disclosed later).

This above-the-battle, “woe is us” posture makes those who adopt it look tough-minded, independent and clear-eyed. It puts Biden and Trump on the same level and then compares both with someone who doesn’t yet exist. Never mind that it’s far easier to imagine the perfect candidate than to find one.

This might be harmless if Biden and Trump really were equivalent, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Another document, written by a close ally of Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev and circulated in the Kremlin this summer, advocated greater cooperation between China and Russia on artificial intelligence, cyber systems and the “internet of things.” As part of that, the document envisioned Beijing and Moscow creating a new financial system and a Eurasian digital currency based on alternative payment systems, such as blockchain, to bypass the Western dominance of global financial transactions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Gen Z might be the MAGA movement’s undoing, Jennifer Rubin, right,  Jan. 28, 2024. Four-times-indicted former jennifer rubin new headshotpresident Donald Trump has been successfully selling white Christian nostalgia, racism and xenophobia to his base. However, the Public Religion Research Institute’s massive poll of 6,616 participants suggests that what works with his base might pose an insurmountable problem with Gen Z teens and Gen Z adults (who are younger than 25).

Demographically, this cohort of voters bears little resemblance to Trump’s older, whiter, more religious followers. “In addition to being the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in our nation’s history, Gen Z adults also identify as LGBTQ at much higher rates than older Americans,” the PRRI poll found. “Like millennials, Gen Zers are also less likely than older generations to affiliate with an established religion.”

Those characteristics suggest Gen Z will favor a progressive message that incorporates diversity and opposes government imposition of religious views. Indeed, “Gen Z adults (21%) are less likely than all generational groups except millennials (21%) to identify as Republican.” Though 36 percent of Gen Z adults identify as Democrats, their teenage counterparts are more likely to be independents (51 percent) than older generations.

Ideologically, “Gen Z adults are the most likely of any generation to identify as liberal, at 43%, compared with one in four members of the Silent Generation (24%), baby boomers (25%), and Gen Xers (25%), and 39% of millennials.” However, Gen Z women are much more liberal than Gen Z men: “There is also a pronounced gender gap among Gen Z adults, with 47% of Gen Z women and 38% of Gen Z men identifying as liberal.” A racial divide exists, but it’s not as great as one might imagine: “White Gen Z adults are more likely than their non-white counterparts to identify as conservative (32% vs. 23%), but there is no significant difference in the proportion who identify as liberal.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Key Network of G.O.P. Megadonors to Meet With Trump and Haley Camps, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). A network of Republican megadonors has invited aides to both Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley to make presentations at the group’s winter meeting next week, as the wealthy contributors assess the presidential race with just nine months until Election Day.

The network, known as the American Opportunity Alliance, is expected to hear from Ms. Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, and Mr. Trump’s top adviser, Susie Wiles, at the gathering in Palm Beach, Fla., according to two people familiar with the event.

The group’s meeting was reported earlier by Puck.

The network was founded a decade ago by a group of wealthy donors, including members of the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, and the investors Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin.

But the donors in the American Opportunity Alliance do not move in unison, and people supporting Ms. Haley — and who had supported Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who dropped out of the race last Sunday — are part of the network. Some members of the group have been open about wanting a candidate other than Mr. Trump.

But even when officials representing Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis presented at the group’s meeting in Dallas in early October — when their campaigns were the only two whose advisers had been invited — some people working with A.O.A. were clear that the focus was more on the general election than on the primary cycle. A Republican strategist working with the group called Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination “straightforward” at the time.

Assessing the presidential race, the American Opportunity Alliance has invited representatives from both the Trump and Haley campaigns to make their pitches at a meeting next week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza, Maya King, Jan. 28, 2024. Black congregants’ dismay at President Biden’s posture on the war could imperil his re-election bid.

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it.

More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.

“Black faith leaders are extremely disappointed in the Biden administration on this issue,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald, the senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which boasts more than 1,500 members. He was one of the first pastors of more than 200 Black clergy members in Georgia, a key swing state, to sign an open letter calling for a cease-fire. “We are afraid,” Mr. McDonald said. “And we’ve talked about it — it’s going to be very hard to persuade our people to go back to the polls and vote for Biden.”

Any cracks in the ordinarily rock-solid foundation of Black support for Mr. Biden, and for Democrats nationally, could be of enormous significance in November.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Must Campaign Against a Man Who Already Thinks He’s President, Katie Rogers, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). How will President Biden, who is actually in the White House, run against Donald Trump, who never conceded his election loss?

He promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He demanded states deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. He warned congressional Republicans to hold out for a perfect deal on immigration — or else.

djt biden smilesFormer President Donald J. Trump has not even clinched the Republican presidential nomination, but he has wasted no time issuing directives as if he were making them from the Oval Office instead of between appearances in a New York courtroom.

And now, President Biden has been forced to ponder a campaign question that no president has ever had to consider: How do you run against a man who has already had the job, never conceded his election loss and is already acting like he has the job again?

Mr. Trump’s power over his party, the loyalty of his base and his swift re-emergence as the likely Republican nominee allows him to spar with Mr. Biden in ways that other candidates could not.

The president’s frustrations boiled over on Friday night as he fought to save an immigration deal from collapse in Congress. Mr. Trump has spent weeks pressuring lawmakers to oppose the deal, and Republicans appear unlikely to defy him.

In an unusual statement from a president who often keeps the most sensitive negotiations private, Mr. Biden said Friday he would shut down the U.S.-Mexico border under the emergency authority in the deal if Republicans returned to the table and agreed to it.

Politico, The 2024 door is closing faster than Haley thinks. Here's what the math shows, Steven Shepard, Jan. 27, 2024. The delegate count is about to accelerate, and the kind of campaign Haley’s riding to South Carolina won’t get her to victory on Super Tuesday and the rest of the March states.

politico CustomNikki Haley isn’t wrong when she says it’s early in the GOP primary — less than 3 percent of delegates have been awarded so far.

But the rest of the states are coming fast, and the relative lull over the next four weeks before the South Carolina primary is followed by a sprint: Within four weeks after Haley faces former President Donald Trump in her home state, more than 70 percent of the delegates to the Republican convention in July will have been awarded.

That sudden acceleration could be whiplash-inducing for Haley, who already faces an unfriendly electorate in the upcoming states. The former South Carolina governor has been able to mount a challenge to Trump by investing significant time and money into individual states. And now she faces a primary calendar that requires a totally different approach.

It’s a structural problem, in addition to Haley’s political one: trying to turn out the moderates and independents who boosted her in New Hampshire in states where they are in shorter supply. The door is still technically open for her to dethrone the former president despite his victories in the first two states, but it’s going to close very quickly.

Politico, Haley targeted in December swatting incident, Olivia Alafriz, Jan. 27, 2024. Swatting incidents have accompanied a recent rise in threats against political candidates and state officials.

politico CustomGOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was targeted in a swatting incident last month, according to media reports Saturday.

Authorities responded to a false emergency call on Dec. 30 after a man claimed to have shot a woman and threatened to harm himself at Haley’s home in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, records obtained by Reuters showed.

Haley and her son were not in town at the time of the incident, according to the reports. Her husband is currently deployed overseas.

Swatting incidents have accompanied a recent rise in threats against political candidates, state officials, and members of the judiciary and legislature.

Politico, The Pollster Getting Under Democrats’ Skin, Ryan Lizza,  Jan. 27, 2024. One of the biggest threats to Joe Biden’s reelection is a third politico Customparty candidate — viable or not. It wouldn’t take much for a third party or independent contender to tip the election in Donald Trump’s favor. In 2020, the presidency was decided by less than 40,000 votes in three swing states. And in 2024, third party fever seems to be on the rise. Already, Cornel West, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Jill Stein are running.

Then there’s the quixotic movement known as No Labels, which has cited a stream of polling data arguing that a large majority of Americans are crying out for an alternative to Trump and Biden.

The man producing those polls is Mark Penn, best known for two things: his devotion to centrist politics and his longtime role as the top pollster and strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Penn’s wife Nancy Jacobson runs No Labels and frequently uses Penn’s data to support her project, though he says he has no role in the organization. Penn reports that 64 percent of voters say “the country needs another choice” if it’s a Biden-Trump rematch and that most voters would consider a moderate, independent candidate as an alternative to the current president and former president.

Not surprisingly, the couple’s work has infuriated Democrats — who are spending money to discredit them, sue No Labels, thwart the group’s voter registration efforts and pressure its affiliates.

So what does Mark Penn think about all of this? We decided to ask him.

I caught up with Penn on this week’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast. We talked about his controversial polls, his real relationship with No Labels and why he thinks that Nikki Haley may still have a big role to play in this year’s election.

Politico, Cheney accuses Stefanik of deleting 2021 statement condemning Jan. 6 protesters, Olivia Alafriz, Jan. 27, 2024. Former GOP House chair Liz Cheney on Saturday accused her successor Elise Stefanik of deleting a press release from 2021 condemning protesters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

politico CustomOn Tuesday, Cheney tweeted at Stefanik, an ally of former President Donald Trump, saying: “This is what ⁦⁦@EliseStefanik said, in a rare moment of honesty, about the January 6 attack on our Capitol. One day she will have to explain how and why she morphed into a total crackpot. History, and our children, deserve to know.”

In Stefanik’s 2021 press release, she condemned the “violence and destruction” of Jan. 6 and called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted.

Stefanik has since downplayed the significance of the attack on the Capitol and cast doubt on the legitimacy of legal action against the attack’s participants. She is reportedly under consideration to be Trump’s VP pick should he win his bid for the presidency.

Cheney formerly was vice chair of the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack — which Stefanik has described as ”illegitimate and unconstitutional.” Cheney became the focus of Trump’s ire and lost in the primary for her Wyoming House seat in 2022.

On Saturday, Cheney posted again to point out that the statement in question was no longer available on Stefanik’s official House website.

As of Saturday morning, the website showed no press releases prior to 2023.

On Jan. 7 of this year, Stefanik referred to those imprisoned for offenses related to Jan. 6 as “hostages” in an appearance on “Meet The Press.”

“I have concerns about the treatment of the January 6 hostages,“ she added.

Cheney called her out for it later that morning on “Face the Nation.”

In a statement to POLITICO Saturday, a spokesperson for Stefanik accused Cheney of “lashing out” over personal animus, noting that Stefanik’s previous statements could still be found on several social media channels.

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know About Nevada’s Primary and Caucus, Kellen Browning, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). The candidates have turned their attention to South Carolina, but the next contests are in the Silver State. The process there is complex and confusing.

As the calendar gets ready to flip to February and the remaining Republican presidential candidates move on from the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s Nevada — not South Carolina — that’s next on the schedule.

Former President Donald J. Trump will campaign in Las Vegas on Saturday, while Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has so far ignored the state. In a confusing and complicated process, the two candidates will not appear on the same ballot in Nevada.

Here’s what you need to know about Nevada’s upcoming nominating contests.
When are the Nevada primary and caucus? How can I vote?

The Nevada primary, which the state is running, will be on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Early in-person voting begins on Saturday, Jan. 27, and runs through Friday, Feb. 2, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. In-person polling places will be open the day of the primary as well, though voters can choose to vote by mail. All registered voters received a ballot in the mail.

Meantime, the Nevada Republican Party has chosen to hold a party-run caucus on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Republicans can look up their precinct locations online, but the caucus itself is entirely in-person. A valid government I.D. is required to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Looming Contest Between Two Presidents and Two Americas, Peter Baker, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). The general election matchup that seems likely between President Biden and former President Trump is about fundamentally disparate visions of the nation.

Each of them has sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, signed bills into law, appointed judges, bartered with foreign leaders and ordered the armed forces into combat. They both know what it is like to be the most powerful person on the planet.

Yet the general election matchup that seems likely after this week’s New Hampshire primary represents more than the first-in-a-century contest between two men who have both lived in the White House. It represents the clash of two presidents of profoundly different countries, the president of Blue America versus the president of Red America.

The looming showdown between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump, assuming Nikki Haley cannot pull off a hail-mary surprise, goes beyond the binary liberal-conservative split of two political parties familiar to generations of Americans. It is at least partly about ideology, yes, but also fundamentally about race and religion and culture and economics and democracy and retribution and most of all, perhaps, about identity.

It is about two vastly disparate visions of America led by two presidents who, other than their age and the most recent entry on their résumés, could hardly be more dissimilar. Mr. Biden leads an America that, as he sees it, embraces diversity, democratic institutions and traditional norms, that considers government at its best to be a force for good in society. Mr. Trump leads an America where, in his view, the system has been corrupted by dark conspiracies and the undeserving are favored over hard-working everyday people.

Deep divisions in the United States are not new; indeed, they can be traced back to the Constitutional Convention and the days of John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson. But according to some scholars, they have rarely reached the levels seen today, when Red and Blue Americas are moving farther and farther apart geographically, philosophically, financially, educationally and informationally.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Haley presses on against Trump on the trail. Her fight is a lonely one, Dylan Wells, Jan. 26, 2024 (print ed.). Beyond the walls of the ballroom where Nikki Haley, above, won cheers, a very different attitude was evident in the GOP, as many have rallied around Donald Trump.

Nikki Haley returned to the campaign trail in her home state and swiftly unfurled an arsenal of attacks against Donald Trump. She accused him of throwing a “temper tantrum” in his victory speech, attacked his acuity and reprised her challenge to debate him. “Bring it, Donald, show me what you got,” Haley said. The crowd cheered.

But beyond the walls of the convention center ballroom where she spoke, a very different attitude was evident.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said she didn’t see “the math and the path going forward” for Haley after former president Trump scored a second straight early-state win this week in New Hampshire. Trump scooped up new support from congressional Republicans, including some former skeptics who saw the GOP race as all but over. And the Trump campaign released a list of his 158 endorsements in South Carolina — which Haley calls her “sweet home state,” despite polls showing her trailing by a wide margin against

The events and developments on Wednesday brought into focus Haley’s new reality as she continues on in a Republican presidential contest most of her party believes isn’t much of one at all. Outside of Haley’s most loyal supporters, Republicans are coalescing around Trump and have rejected attacks against him. Some have come to view her candidacy as merely a speed bump on Trump’s path to the nomination.

After losing by about 11 points in New Hampshire — which had been seen as her most promising early state — Haley returned home to South Carolina, where she previously defied expectations to win a seat in the legislature and then the governorship. Haley released two ads in South Carolina on Thursday and announced a schedule of weekend rallies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Haley Escalates Attacks on Trump, Calling Him ‘Totally Unhinged,’ Neil Vigdor, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Nikki Haley’s comments came after an ally of Donald Trump tried to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee.

Nikki Haley on Friday called Donald J. Trump “totally unhinged” after a failed attempt by one of his allies to push the Republican National Committee to declare him the party’s presumptive nominee, escalating her attacks on his mental acuity.

Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, cast her onetime boss as increasingly antagonistic during an appearance on Fox News.

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U.S. Immigration / Illegal Alien Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden vows to ‘shut down’ an overwhelmed border if Senate deal passes, Toluse Olorunnipa and Liz Goodwin, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). Senators hope to release the legislative text of the bill next week, but it faces stiff odds in the Republican-led House.

President Biden said Friday that he would use new emergency authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” if Congress passes a bipartisan immigration plan that the Senate has been negotiating.

The comments signified a remarkable shift in tone for a Democratic president and underscored the urgency of the issue for his reelection campaign as immigration remains one of his most vexing political and policy challenges.

In a lengthy statement Friday, Biden praised the bipartisan border deal senators have been negotiating, calling it “the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”

U.S. House logo“It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed,” he said. “And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Biden is referencing a new expulsion authority senators have negotiated that would kick in on days unauthorized border crossings reach 5,000 over a five-day average, according to two people familiar with the outlines of the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. That authority would shut down most asylum screenings for migrants crossing illegally. Migrants could still apply at ports of entry, where a set number of asylum claims would need to be granted, they said. Migrants would be expelled indefinitely until crossings dipped below 3,750 per day, which would end the expulsion authority period.

The deal also changes the U.S. asylum process with the goal of reducing the average time for an asylum claim to be resolved from several years to 6 months, the people said. It also raises the standard for migrants to be able to make an asylum claim in the first place. Some Republicans’ goal to dramatically curtail Biden’s use of his humanitarian parole powers for certain categories of migrants is not in the final deal, they said.

Senators said they hope to release the legislative text of the deal next week.

With crossings passing 10,000 per day during much of last month, both Democrats and Republicans have described that level of migration as unsustainable. Crossings have declined so far in January as Mexico has stepped up its enforcement, but Biden’s pledge to invoke a new “shut down” authority immediately upon signing a bill suggested that the border remained “overwhelmed.”

“For too long, we all know the border’s been broken,” Biden said in his statement. “It’s long past time to fix it.”

In a political atmosphere in which former president Donald Trump and top Republicans have hammered Biden over the influx of millions of migrants into the country, the president’s willingness — and apparent eagerness — to pursue a “shut down” at the border marked a major departure from traditional Democratic rhetoric on migration. It was also a reversal for Biden, who came into office determined to undo much of Trump’s immigration policies and implement what he called “humane and orderly” systems for processing desperate people fleeing troubled homelands.

Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has publicly opposed the bipartisan Senate deal, dismissing it as “meaningless.” He has repeatedly claimed that he would close down the border with Mexico on the first day of his presidency. He has also pledged to launch a massive deportation operation.

Biden has faced accusations from parts of his political base that his approach to the migrant crisis has become too reminiscent of Trump’s restrictive policies. His decision to back a Senate deal that includes a new provision to close down the border threatens to heighten those claims just as he is aiming to rally his party behind his reelection bid.

Nearly 250,000 illegal border crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border in December, the highest monthly total ever.

 

 

ICE logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden pledge to shut down border points to policy shortfalls, Nick Miroff and Toluse Olorunnipa, Jan. 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s surprise declaration Friday that he would “shut down” the southern border when illegal crossings surge to overwhelming levels illustrates how his many other efforts to address immigration have fallen short of their goals.

Department of Defense SealBiden signed more executive orders related to immigration than any other topic on his first day in office. He’s taken more than 500 executive actions since then, already surpassing former president Donald Trump’s four-year total, according to a recent tally by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

But one of Biden’s most active areas of policymaking has become one of his biggest vulnerabilities to reelection. The president’s management of the southern border and immigration is his worst-rated issue in polls, and record numbers of illegal crossings have galvanized Republicans, undermined the president’s push for Ukraine aid and played to the perceived strengths of Trump, the GOP front-runner.

Several of the Biden administration’s signature initiatives intended to make the immigration system fairer and more orderly have stalled out or remained too limited to significantly curb illegal entries and reduce chaos at the border, according to analysts, and current and former administration officials.

“This is the area where the gap between the president and Trump is the widest, and where the country seems to have least confidence in the president,” said Muzaffar Chishti, an MPI senior fellow and one of the report’s authors.

Last month 249,785 illegal crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest monthly total ever, and Biden officials acknowledge the majority of the migrants were released into the United States with pending claims for protection. The latest influx has worsened strains on New York, Chicago, Denver and other cities whose Democratic mayors are pleading for more federal aid to shelter and assist the newcomers, including the thousands of migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
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The political pressure on Biden has been growing, with Trump saying the issue won’t be fixed until he reclaims the White House and Abbott testing the president — and federal law — by seizing a public park along the border and denying access to U.S. agents.

Frustrated and anxious about legislative negotiations that would deliver aid to Ukraine and Israel in exchange for new border restrictions, Biden stated Friday that he was willing to accept restrictions to the asylum system and other enforcement measures that were almost unthinkable for Democrats at the beginning of the president’s term. Trump and top Republicans have cast doubt in recent days on a potential deal — which include several measures sought by GOP leaders — with some lawmakers suggesting the changes could help drive down illegal crossings and benefit Biden.

Biden said the bipartisan Senate bill “would be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”
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senate democrats logoMeasures under discussion include an expansion of the government’s deportation powers and an ability to expel border-crossers — denying them access to the asylum system — when daily crossings surpass 5,000. Republicans have also pushed for new limits on the president’s ability to use executive parole authority to waive in migrants without visas.

Biden said the changes would give him an emergency authority to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” and said he would “use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Such statements risk further alienating some Democrats who see efforts to stiffen enforcement as too similar to the Trump-era approach Biden campaigned against, leaving the president in a political squeeze.

Why immigration parole is sticking point in Ukraine-border deal

Biden’s desire to secure funding for Ukraine and Israel is a key reason he is entertaining the idea of major policy changes on the border backed by Republicans, but the political and logistical challenges he faces have forced him to consider new options, said Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former federal immigration official who is now a senior policy adviser on the issue at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Politico, Senators could vote on bipartisan border deal next week, top negotiator says, Kelly Garrity, Jan. 28, 2024. Whether Republicans will support the long-debated border deal amid pressure from Donald Trump to reject it remains to be seen.

politico CustomSenators could vote on a bipartisan immigration deal as soon as next week, one of the top negotiators said Sunday.

“Well, we do have a bipartisan deal. We’re finishing the text right now,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But whether Republicans in both chambers will support the long-awaited legislation amid pressure from former President Donald Trump to deny Democrats a win is unclear.

republican elephant logo“The question is whether Republicans are going to listen to Donald Trump,” Murphy said, “who wants to preserve chaos at the border, because he thinks it’s a winning political issue for him, or whether we are going to pass legislation which would be the biggest bipartisan reform of our border immigration laws in 40 years and would give the president of the United States, whether that president is a Republican or a Democrat, new, important power to be able to better manage the flow of people across the border.”

Murphy said he’s “hopeful” enough Republican senators will be willing to sign on.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP unveils articles of impeachment against Mayorkas despite lack of evidence, Jacqueline Alemany, Jan. 28, 2024. The charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas come as Republicans swiftly concluded two impeachment hearings this month without Mayorkas’s in-person testimony or testimony from any fact witnesses.

Alejandro MayorkasHouse Republicans announced two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday, accusing him of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and breach of the public trust.

The charges come as Republicans swiftly concluded two public impeachment hearings this month without Mayorkas’s in-person testimony or testimony from any fact witnesses, and they have struggled to detail clear evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.

us dhs big eagle logo4Republicans argue in the first article that Mayorkas has failed to enforce U.S. immigration policies at the nation’s border, has disregarded laws passed by Congress and has ignored court orders, allowing for a surge of migration at the southern border that has resulted in record highs of illegal crossings in recent months.

“Congress has a duty to see that the executive branch implements and enforces the laws we have passed,” Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. “Yet Secretary Mayorkas has repeatedly refused to do so.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Election 2024: Trump brags about efforts to stymie border talks: ‘Please blame it on me,’ Isaac Arnsdorf, Jan. 28, 2024. The Republican front-runner slams bipartisan talks in the Senate for a deal as Biden calls for emergency authority to address surging crossings.

ICE logoRepublican front-runner Donald Trump said he wants to be held responsible for blocking a bipartisan border security bill in the works in the Senate as President Biden seeks emergency authority to rein in a record surge of unauthorized border crossings.

“As the leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America,” Trump told a rowdy crowd of supporters at a rally in Las Vegas on Saturday, ahead of the state’s presidential caucus on Feb. 8. “I’ll fight it all the way. A lot of the senators are trying to say, respectfully, they’re blaming it on me. I say, that’s okay. Please blame it on me. Please.”

Trump’s opposition follows Biden’s statement on Friday praising the deal and pledging to use its new authorities to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” — a striking shift as he signaled openness to asylum restrictions and other enforcement measures that were previously unacceptable to Democrats.

 ICE logo

ap logoAssociated Press, Supreme Court allows federal agents to cut razor wire Texas installed on US-Mexico border, Staff Report, Jan. 22-23, 2024. A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire that Texas installed on the U.S.-Mexico border, while a lawsuit over the wire continues.

The justices, by a 5-4 vote, granted an emergency appeal from the Biden administration, which has been in an escalating standoff at the border with Texas and had objected to an appellate ruling in favor of the state.

The concertina wire along roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Rio Grande near the border city of Eagle Pass is part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s broader fight with the administration over immigration enforcement.

Abbott also has authorized installing floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass and allowed troopers to arrest and jail thousands of migrants on trespassing charges. The administration also is challenging those actions in federal court.

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international court of justice icc

Among other major global courts is the International Court of Justice (ICJ), shown above, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. As described by its website, the ICJ is a civil tribunal that hears disputes between countries. It has no prosecutor or jurisdiction to try individuals, joan donoghue robe oincluding those accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Its current president, Joan Donoghue, right, is a United States citizen who became a justice on the court in 2010 following election by United Nations members. She then won election from other justices in 2021 to become the ICJ president for a three-year term. The court's vice president is Kiill Gevorgian of the Russian Federation. Other current members are shown here.

 United Nations

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. court orders Israel to do more to prevent killing, harm in Gaza, Emily Rauhala and Steve Hendrix, Jan. 27, 2024 (print ed.). The order is not a decision on whether Israel has committed genocide but a provisional measure aimed to prevent the situation from getting worse while the case proceeds.

The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to do more to prevent the killing and harm of civilians in Gaza but did not call for a cease-fire, disappointing Palestinians who had hoped the court would endorse their pleas for immediate relief from the killing

At a closely watched hearing at The Hague’s Peace Palace, the court’s president read out its order and reasoning, confirming that the ICJ ha