May 2024 News

 

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

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

 

May 30

Top Headlines

 

 

More On Trump Trials, Probes, Allies

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More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

 

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

A photo taken in about 1905 of female students and several sisters at St. Paul in Hays, Mont. (Montana Historical Society Library and Archives)

 

More On U.S. Supreme Court

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

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

 

More On Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

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

 

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More On U.S. Schools, Protests, Politics, Graduations

 

Russia-Ukraine War, Russian Terror Attacks, Hostages

 

GOP Claims Against Bidens

 

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Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Disasters, Transportation

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U.S. Immigration News

Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

 

U.S. Reproductive Rights, #MeToo, Trafficking, Culture Wars

 

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U.S. Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Space

 

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

 

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Top Stories 

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Hush-Money Trial: Jury in Trump Criminal Trial Resumes Deliberating After Rehearing Testimony, Jonah E. Bromwich and Maggie Haberman, May 30, 2024. The 12 New Yorkers deciding the case against Donald Trump reheard parts of the testimony by two witnesses and some of the judge’s instructions.

The 12 jurors deciding the criminal trial of former President Donald J. Trump are deliberating again after spending much of the morning rehearing testimony and some of the instructions the judge in the case had given them a day earlier. Court reporters recited the testimony, which had been given by Mr. Trump’s onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who made the hush-money payment at the center of the case and a longtime tabloid publisher who was the first witness called.

Mr. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush-money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels. Mr. Cohen made the payment on the eve of the 2016 election to silence her account of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump a decade earlier, and prosecutors say Mr. Trump faked the records to conceal his reimbursement of Mr. Cohen. If convicted, Mr. Trump faces a sentence ranging from probation to four years in prison.

Here’s what to know:

  • Jurors sought a refresher: Thursday’s session began with the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, repeating some of the instructions he gave the jury on Wednesday, which serve as a guide to their deliberations. The jurors also asked to again hear portions of testimony by Mr. Cohen and David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, who prosecutors say was part of a conspiracy to suppress unflattering stories on Mr. Trump’s behalf during the 2016 campaign.
  • One portion of the testimony related to another hush-money deal, with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who says she had a monthslong affair with Mr. Trump in 2005 and 2006. (Mr. Trump denies this.) Ms. McDougal, who did not testify, was paid $150,000 in August 2016 by The National Enquirer’s parent company in exchange for her story, which The Enquirer then did not publish, a practice known as “catch and kill.”
  • Dueling views of the case: A prosecutor from the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in closing arguments that Mr. Trump had tried to “hoodwink the American voter” with a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election. “All roads lead to the man who benefited the most: Donald Trump,” the prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, told the jury.

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, argued in his closing that Mr. Trump’s actions were not crimes, but merely business as it is commonly practiced. The case, he told jurors, hinged on the testimony of Mr. Cohen, whom he called “the greatest liar of all time.”

There’s no way to know when a verdict might come: After closing arguments that lasted until 8 p.m. Tuesday, jurors had about four and a half hours of deliberations on Wednesday. It’s common to wait days, or even weeks, for a verdict.

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Politico, Biden: If Black Americans stormed the Capitol, Trump wouldn’t be ‘talking about pardons,’ Myah Ward, May 30, 2024. The remarks came as the campaign launched a new Black voter outreach strategy in Philadelphia.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden tore into Donald Trump over his record on race on Wednesday, targeting the former president for his past comments before a crowd of Black voters in Philadelphia.

“What would’ve happened if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol? I don’t think he’d be talking about pardons,” Biden said. “This is the same guy who wanted to tear gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd’s murder. It’s the same guy who still calls the ‘Central Park Five’ guilty, even though they were exonerated. He’s that landlord who denies housing applications because of the color of your skin. He’s that guy who won’t say Black lives matter and invokes neo-Nazi, Third Reich terms.”

“We all remember, Trump is the same guy who unleashed the birtherism lie against Barack,” he continued.

biden harris 2024 logo oBiden’s remarks came as he and Vice President Kamala Harris rallied supporters at Girard College, where they launched an organizing effort to win over Black voters. The campaign is planning an eight-figure investment in engagement with Black student groups, community and faith-based organizations across battleground states in the coming months, and Biden’s comments were among several direct appeals to Black Americans.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris wave at a campaign event.

Wednesday’s speech marked the most forceful rhetoric Biden's used against former President Donald Trump. | Joe Lamberti/AP

“Donald Trump is pandering and peddling lies and stereotypes for your vote so he can win for himself, not for you,” Biden said. “Well Donald Trump, I have a message for you: Not in our house, and not on our watch.”

It wasn’t the first time the president has leveled such attacks against Trump, but Wednesday’s speech marked the most forceful rhetoric he’s used. And it served as a response to efforts by Trump and his allies to appeal to voters in Democratic strongholds, including Atlanta and a heavily Latino and Black neighborhood in the Bronx. In his own campaign events, Trump recently has slammed Biden’s policies as harmful to communities of color.

“Joe Biden is gaslighting Black voters and failing to address his terrible policies that are hurting our community,” said Janiyah Thomas, the Trump campaign’s Black media director, in a statement. “The Biden campaign is panicking because they see that Black voters aren’t buying what Biden is selling, and President Trump is receiving a record high support in the polls from Black voters that we haven’t seen in decades.”

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: Israel Used U.S.-Made Bombs in Strike That Killed Dozens Near Rafah, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). The munitions used in an attack on a camp for displaced people were identified by weapons experts and a Times visual analysis.

The bombs used in the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a camp for displaced people near Rafah on Sunday were made in the United States, according to weapons experts and visual evidence reviewed by The New York Times.

Munition debris filmed at the strike location the next day was remnants from a GBU-39, a bomb designed and manufactured in the United States, The Times found. U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to use more of this type of bomb, which they say can reduce civilian casualties.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in cities around the world on Tuesday days after an Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza.

In Britain, a large protest gathered in central London chanting, “Blood on your hands” and, “Stop arming Israel” not far from Downing Street and the prime minister’s residence. Most of the demonstrators left peacefully but officers arrested 40 people at a breakaway protest that obstructed a highway, according to the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday, and three officers were injured.

Here’s what we know:

  • The munitions used in an attack on a camp for displaced people were identified by weapons experts and a Times visual analysis.
  • U.S. officials have pressed Israel to use more GBU-39s, which they say can reduce civilian casualties.
  • Thousands around the world protest after the deadly Israeli strike in Rafah.
  • ‘All eyes on Rafah’ surges on social media after a deadly Israeli strike.
  • U.N. says it is struggling to keep operating in Gaza because of Israel’s expanding offensive.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Blinken Hints Acceptance of Ukrainian Strikes in Russia With U.S. Arms, Edward Wong, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke after some European leaders called on President Biden to lift restrictions on Ukraine’s use of U.S. weapons.

antony blinken o newSecretary of State Antony J. Blinken, right, suggested on Wednesday that the Biden administration could be open to tolerating strikes by the Ukrainian military inside Russia using American-made weapons, saying that the United States would “adapt and adjust” its stance based on changing conditions on the battlefield.

Mr. Blinken said that the United States had neither encouraged nor enabled such attacks. But he said that the Ukrainians needed to make their own decisions on how to best defend themselves — a position he has stated before — and that the U.S. government had “adapted and adjusted as necessary” as the war evolves.

When asked by a reporter whether his words “adapt and adjust” meant the United States could support attacks by Ukraine with American-made weapons inside Russia, he said, “Adapt and adjust means exactly that” — meaning those words, signaling flexibility from Washington.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Washington has sent the Ukrainians military aid but has repeatedly asked that they not fire U.S.-made weapons into Russian territory for fear of escalating the war.

ny times logoNew York Times, Alito Refuses Calls for Recusal Over Display of Provocative Flags, Adam Liptak, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). “My wife is fond of flying flags,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote to lawmakers demanding he step down from two cases related to the Jan. 6 attack. “I am not.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. declined on Wednesday to recuse himself from two cases arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol after reports that flags displayed outside his houses appeared to support the “Stop the Steal” movement.

In letters to Democratic members of Congress who had demanded his recusal, Justice Alito said that the flags, at his home in Virginia and a beach house in New Jersey, were flown by his wife, Martha-Ann.

“My wife is fond of flying flags,” the justice wrote. “I am not. She was solely responsible for having flagpoles put up at our residence and our vacation home and has flown a wide variety of flags over the years.”

The revelation that provocative flags flew outside the Alitos’ property has raised questions about the appearance of bias in two cases the Supreme Court is considering related to Jan. 6. In the weeks after the Capitol attack, an inverted American flag that Trump loyalists have adopted to contest Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory was aloft at Justice Alito’s residence in Alexandria, Va. Last summer, an “Appeal to Heaven” flag, carried by rioters at the Capitol and now a symbol of support for a more Christian-minded government, was on display at his vacation house on Long Beach Island.

ny times logoNew York Times, The U.S. Seeks to Ramp Up Arms Production for Ukraine. Will It Be Enough? John Ismay, Photographs and Video by Desiree Rios, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). A plant still under construction in Mesquite, Texas, will soon turn out 30,000 artillery shells each month, roughly doubling current U.S. output.Department of Defense SealIn a warehouse off Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway in an industrial area outside Dallas, the future of American military ammunition production is coming online.

Here, in the Pentagon’s first new major arms plant built since Russia invaded Ukraine, Turkish workers in orange hard hats are busy unpacking wood crates stenciled with the name Repkon, a defense company based in Istanbul, and assembling computer-controlled robots and lathes.

ukraine flagThe factory will soon turn out about 30,000 steel shells every month for the 155-millimeter howitzers that have become crucial to Kyiv’s war effort.

Ukraine fired between 4,000 and 7,000 such shells daily for several months in 2023, according to NATO’s secretary-general, before infighting among House Republicans held up further funding for Pentagon arms shipments. Large shipments of American artillery ammunition resumed in April after Congress passed an aid package that included $61 billion to Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once a Sheriff’s Deputy in Florida, Now a Source of Disinformation From Russia, Steven Lee Myers, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). In 2016, Russia used an army of trolls to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. This year, an American given asylum in Moscow is helping that effort.

A dozen years ago, John Mark Dougan, a former deputy sheriff in Palm Beach County, Fla., sent voters an email posing as a county commissioner, urging them to oppose the re-election of the county’s sheriff.

Russian FlagHe later masqueraded online as a Russian tech worker with a pseudonym, BadVolf, to leak confidential information in violation of state law, fooling officials in Florida who thought they were dealing with a foreigner.

He also posed as a fictional New York City heiress he called Jessica, tricking an adviser to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office into divulging improper conduct by the department.

“And boy, did he ever spill ALL of the beans,” Mr. Dougan said in a written response to questions for this article, in which he confirmed his role in these episodes.

Those subterfuges in the United States, it turned out, were only a prelude to a more prominent and potentially more ominous campaign of deception he has been conducting from Russia.

Mr. Dougan, 51, who received political asylum in Moscow, is now a key player in Russia’s disinformation operations against the West. Back in 2016, when the Kremlin interfered in the American presidential election, an army of computer trolls toiled for hours in an office building in St. Petersburg to try to fool Americans online.

Today Mr. Dougan may be accomplishing much the same task largely by himself, according to American and European government officials and researchers from companies and organizations that have tracked his activities since August. The groups include NewsGuard, a company that reviews the reliability of news and information online; Recorded Future, a threat intelligence company; and Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub.

Working from an apartment crowded with servers and other computer equipment, Mr. Dougan has built an ever-growing network of more than 160 fake websites that mimic news outlets in the United States, Britain and France.

With the help of commercially available artificial intelligence tools, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT and DALL-E 3, he has filled the sites with tens of thousands of articles, many based on actual news events. Interspersed among them are also bespoke fabrications that officials in the United States and European Union have attributed to Russian intelligence agencies or the administration of President Vladimir V. Putin.

Between September and May, Mr. Dougan’s outlets have been cited or referred to in news articles or social media posts nearly 8,000 times, and seen by more than 37 million people in 16 languages, according to a report to be released Wednesday by NewsGuard.

The fakes have recently included a baseless article on a fake San Francisco Chronicle website that said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, had smuggled 300 kilograms of cocaine from Argentina. Another false narrative appeared last month in the sham Chronicle and on another site, called The Boston Times, claiming that the C.I.A. was working with Ukrainians to undermine Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Dougan, in a series of text exchanges and one telephone interview with The New York Times, denied operating the sites. A digital trail of clues, including web domains and internet protocol addresses, suggests otherwise, the officials and researchers say.

A friend in Florida who has known Mr. Dougan for 20 years, Jose Lambiet, also said in a telephone interview that Mr. Dougan told him in January that he had created the sites.

 

More Trump-Related News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In closing, Trump’s team takes the jurors for idiots, Dana Milbank, May 29, 2024. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche dana milbank newesttreated jurors as if they were deaf, or slow. “THAT. IS. A. LIE!” he bellowed at them.

Donald Trump’s lawyers ended their defense of the former president in a way uniquely suited to their client: with a ludicrous and easily debunked lie.

In Tuesday’s closing arguments of Trump’s hush money trial here, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told the jury that the revelation of the “Access Hollywood” tapes — Trump’s “grab ’em by the p---y” moment, which set off the fateful effort to buy Stormy Daniels’s silence — was not the earthshaking event we all remember it being for the 2016 Trump campaign. Rather, Blanche said, it was just one of those things “that happens all the time in campaigns.”

djt solo no credit nyc court“The government wants you to believe that the release of that tape, from 2005, was so catastrophic to the campaign that it provided a motive, a motive for President Trump to do something criminal. But there is no evidence of that,” Blanche said. Rather, Trump’s lawyer maintained, “it was not a doomsday event,” and Trump “never thought that it was going to cause him to lose the campaign.”

With indignation, Blanche lied to the jury: “You heard that politicians reacted negatively to the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. They didn’t testify. You heard that there was even talk about something consequential for President Trump, who was the Republican nominee. But none of that happened. None of that is true.”

Republican officeholders didn’t rain denunciations on Trump? Party elders didn’t discuss replacing him as the GOP nominee? Blanche must have supposed that these jurors have been sequestered. In a cave. For 10 years.

Eight years ago, Trump himself worried aloud that the “Access Hollywood” episode would cost him the election (and it may well have, if not for WikiLeaks and James Comey): “If 5 percent of the people think it’s true, and maybe 10 percent,” Trump said in one clip from a rally that prosecutors later played for the jury, “we don’t win.” Blanche was also suggesting that Trump’s own former White House assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, perjured herself in the trial when she testified about conversations at the Republican National Committee, where she then worked, about replacing Trump on the ticket.

washington post logoWashington Post, If Trump were convicted in his hush money trial, here’s what he could face next, David Nakamura, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). A guilty verdict for Trump in the New York trial would mean a mix of routine court processing and extraordinary logistical considerations, legal experts say, Donald Trump has complained of the indignities of a cold, uncomfortable Manhattan courtroom during his hush money trial, which is expected to begin jury deliberations after jurors hear instructions from the judge Wednesday morning.

If convicted, Trump could face other conditions he may consider insulting, including a required inmate review by New York City’s Department of Probation.

The probation office on the 10th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse prepares presentencing reports for judges. There, Trump would be interviewed about his personal history, his mental health and the circumstances that led to his conviction.

Lawyers say the process is humbling.

“If you think the courtroom is dingy, just wait until you go to the probation office,” said Daniel Horwitz, a white-collar criminal defense attorney in New York and former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Former prosecutors sketched out a mix of likely experiences for Trump if he were found guilty of any charge in the case, which includes 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes sweeping promises to donors on audacious fundraising tour, Josh Dawsey, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). By tying donation requests to pledges of tax cuts and other policies, Trump is testing the boundaries of federal campaign finance laws.

When Donald Trump met some of the country’s top donors at a luxurious New York hotel earlier this month, he told the group that a businessman had recently offered $1 million to his presidential effort and wanted to have lunch.

“I’m not having lunch,” Trump said he responded, according to donors who attended. “You’ve got to make it $25 million.”

Another businessman, he said, had traditionally given $2 million to $3 million to Republicans. Instead, he said he told the donor that he wanted a $25 million or $50 million contribution or he would not be “very happy.”

As he closed his pitch at the Pierre Hotel, Trump explained to the group why it was in their interest to cut large checks. If he was not put back in office, taxes would go up for them under President Biden, who vows to let Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy and corporations expire at the end of 2025.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump told donors he will crush pro-Palestinian protests, deport demonstrators, Josh Dawsey, Karen DeYoung and Marianne LeVine, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). The former president has publicly waffled on the Israel-Gaza war. But he told wealthy donors he supports Israel’s right to continue “its war on terror.”

Former president Donald Trump promised to crush pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, telling a roomful of donors — a group that he joked included “98 percent of my Jewish friends” — that he would expel student demonstrators from the United States, according to participants in the roundtable event with him in New York.

“One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country. You know, there are a lot of foreign students. As soon as they hear that, they’re going to behave,” Trump said on May 14, according to donors at the event.

When one of the donors complained that many of the students and professors protesting on campuses could one day hold positions of power in the United States, Trump called the demonstrators part of a “radical revolution” that he vowed to defeat. He praised the New York Police Department for clearing the campus at Columbia University and said other cities needed to follow suit, saying “it has to be stopped now.”

 

djt solo no credit nyc courtPolitico, DC’s liberal bent does not amount to inherent bias against Jan. 6 defendants, appeals court rules, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The three-judge panel included two of Donald Trump’s appointees.

politico CustomWashington, D.C.’s left-leaning politics has no bearing on its residents’ ability to be fair jurors in trials of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Two former President Donald Trump appointees from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals joined an appointee of former President Barack Obama in a unanimous three-judge ruling that turned down arguments from lawyers for former New York City Police Officer Thomas Webster that Washington jurors were too biased to sit on cases related to the riot.

“The political inclinations of a populace writ large say nothing about an individual’s ability to serve impartially in adjudicating the criminal conduct of an individual,” Obama appointee Patricia Millett wrote in a decision joined by Trump appointees Greg Katsas and Neomi Rao.

The ruling is a ringing rejection of Trump and his allies’ longstanding claims that fair trials are impossible in cities with Democratic-leaning populations. Trump himself is, of course, currently on trial in deep-blue Manhattan, where he was held in contempt for violating a gag order after he claimed that his jury there is “95 percent Democrats.”

Tuesday’s decision from the D.C. Circuit is also an endorsement of courtroom processes intended to screen potential jurors for bias before trials begin. And it could give a boost to the stalled effort to try Trump on charges that he attempted to subvert the 2020 election and helped foment the riot that Webster joined.

Many of the more than 150 Jan. 6 defendants who have gone to trial have argued for a change of venue on the basis of political bias of the jury pool or lingering anger over the events of Jan. 6. However, federal judges in Washington have uniformly rejected those challenges, responding that the process for questioning potential jurors was sufficient to weed out potential bias.

In the wake of his indictment last August on charges he led a conspiracy aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election, Trump repeatedly echoed the claims that a Washington jury would be hopelessly unfair to him because the city voted 92 percent for Biden and only 5 percent for him in that contest. (Judges have repeatedly noted that this statistic omits the 30 percent of D.C. residents who did not vote but would be included in the jury pool).

“No way I can get a fair trial, or even close to a fair trial, in Washington, D.C.,” Trump wrote on his social media site shortly after he was charged last summer. “There are many reasons for this, but just one is that I am calling for a federal takeover of this filthy and crime ridden embarrassment to our nation.”

 

juan merchan djtMeidas Touch Network, Commentary: ‘Highly Inappropriate’: Judge Hits Trump Lawyer Over ‘Outrageous’ Remark, Aaron Parnas, May 28, 2024. 
Merchan, above left, referenced Blanche's history as a federal prosecutor.

mtn meidas touch networkThis morning, at the conclusion of Todd Blanche's closing argument in Donald Trump's election interference criminal trial, Blanche told that jury that they should think twice before "sending a man to prison." Blanche, during his closing argument, tried to play on the emotions of the jury by noting that a guilty verdict could lead to a prison sentence for Donald Trump.

The issue? Punishment is a matter for the judge, not the jury to decide. The jury's role is to determine guilty or innocence, not to prescribe punishment. As a result, Blanche's comment was inappropriate, and Justice Merchan quickly acknowledged that Blanche overstepped.

After the jury left the courtroom, and before lawyers departed, Justice Merchan stated that Blanche's statement was "outrageous" and "highly inappropriate," referencing his past history as a federal prosecutor.

"You know that making a comment like that is highly inappropriate. It's simply not allowed," said Justice Merchan. "I think that was outrageous, Mr Blanche. Someone who has been a prosecutor as long as you should know. It's hard for me to imagine how that was accidental in any way."

As a result, the District Attorney sought a curative instruction on the comment, and Justice Merchan agreed to give a curative instruction to a jury after lunch.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Robert De Niro Slams Donald Trump Outside of Courthouse, Aaron Parnas, May 28, 2024. De Niro is holding a press conference as closing arguments are ongoing inside Trump's election interference criminal trial

mtn meidas touch networkThis morning, actor Robert De Niro slammed Donald Trump during a press conference outside of the Manhattan courthouse where closing arguments are currently ongoing in Trump's election interference criminal trial. De Niro was joined by the Biden Campaign's communication director and former Capitol Police Officers Harry Dunn and Michael Fanone

De Niro began his remarks by blasting Trump as a 'clown':

"Donald Trump doesn’t belong in my city. We New Yorkers used to tolerate him when he was just another grubby real estate hustler masquerading as a big shot. A two-bit playboy lying his way into the tabloids. He’s a clown. But this person can’t run the country. That does not work, and we all know that."

De Niro went on to discuss the crime rates under Trump versus under President Biden, especially the murder rate in New York City:

"It's no surprise that the murder rate and other violent crimes peaked under Trump and are now falling under Biden. And now Trump is promising to use our own military to attack U.S. citizens. That's the tyrant he's telling us he'll be. And believe me, he means it."

He concluded his remarks by speaking about Trump's actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021, stating that Trump "left destruction in its wake"

"On January 6, Trump rallied an angry mob to threaten democracy, leaving death and destruction in its wake. That's why I needed to be involved in the Biden-Harris ad. Because it reminds us that Trump will use violence against anyone who stands in the way of his megalomania and greed. But it's a coward's violence. Do you think Trump ever threw a punch himself or took one? This guy who ran and hid in the White House bunker when there were protesters outside? He directs the mob to do his dirty work for him."

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Will Consider Felony Charges Against Trump Today, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, May 30, 2024 (print ed.).  After the judge instructs them on the law, 12 New Yorkers will retreat behind closed doors to weigh Donald Trump’s fate in the hush-money trial.

Jurors in Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial will begin deliberations on Wednesday after hearing hours of closing arguments that portrayed the case in stark and irreconcilable terms.

It could take hours, days or even weeks for the 12 New Yorkers to reach a verdict in the first criminal trial of an American president. And before they begin deliberating, the jurors will receive instructions from the judge on the relevant law.

This last stage of the weekslong case comes a day after the jurors watched both sides deliver their final flurry of arguments.

A prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, meticulously described a scheme on the eve of the 2016 election to muzzle a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. The woman, Stormy Daniels, kept quiet after Mr. Trump’s onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, bought her silence with a $130,000 hush-money deal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Prosecutor Portrays Trump’s Actions as a Fraud on the American People, Staff Reports, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). In closing arguments of the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, a prosecutor said the case centered on “a conspiracy and a coverup” related to hush money paid to a porn star. A Trump lawyer earlier called for a “very quick and easy” verdict. Jurors could begin deliberating by Wednesday.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Aid groups say Israel’s Rafah assault upends food and relief operations, Ellen Francis, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Susannah George and Adela Suliman, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). World Central Kitchen paused work at its main Rafah kitchen, as aid groups said Israel’s offensive upended efforts to deliver basic services in southern Gaza.

World Central Kitchen said ongoing attacks in Rafah forced it to suspend work at its main kitchen there, and aid groups warned that Israel’s offensive makes relief efforts nearly impossible. Biden administration officials said a recent Israeli strike that killed at least 45 Palestinians at a tent encampment in Rafah did not cross his “red line.”

Israel FlagThe White House said Tuesday that Israel has not violated President Biden’s warnings on the conduct of its military campaign in Rafah, as scenes of charred bodies and accounts of people burning alive prompted global condemnation of the Israeli strike on Sunday. Biden officials lamented the loss of life but said the attack did not cross the line Biden announced when he said the United States would suspend delivery of offensive weapons to Israel if it went into “population centers” in Rafah.

Responding to questions on whether Israeli tanks have pushed closer to central Rafah, the Israeli military said Wednesday that it “does not share the location of its forces.”

Israel has expanded its offensive in Rafah in recent weeks, even though U.S. officials said they had been assured operations in the city in southern Gaza would remain “limited.” On Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Israel had not launched a “major ground operation” in the city.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Gaza Offensive Will Last at Least Through End of Year, Israeli Official Says, Staff Reports, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). Israel’s national security adviser appeared to reject the idea of a quick end to the war, though it was unclear what the intensity of the campaign would be.

palestinian flagIsrael’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said Wednesday that he expected Israel’s military operations in Gaza to continue through at least the end of the year, appearing to dismiss the idea that the war could come to an end after the military offensive against Hamas in Rafah.

“We expect another seven months of combat in order to shore up our achievement and realize what we define as the destruction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s military and governing capabilities,” Mr. Hanegbi said in a radio interview with Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Defeat by Truth’: Biden’s Gaza Critics Start an Anti-Trump Campaign, Katie Glueck and Maya King, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). The effort by Black faith leaders and activists signals that at least some of President Biden’s critics on the left will work to defeat his G.O.P. rival.

biden harris 2024 logo oThe Rev. Michael McBride was an early backer of a cease-fire in Gaza, publicly breaking with President Biden’s support for the war months before many other Democrats arrived in a similar place.

palestinian flagNearly five months before Election Day, Mr. McBride, a co-founder of the group Black Church PAC, remains critical of how the administration has stood by Israel. But he is now leading an effort, alongside other progressive Black activists, strategists and faith leaders, that would indirectly help Mr. Biden by working to defeat former President Donald J. Trump.

It is one of the clearest signs yet that at least some of Mr. Biden’s critics on the left will still work to stop Mr. Trump — even if they are lukewarm on the incumbent president.

“We need to continue to push the president to shift his course on how he is addressing a number of issues, primarily which is Gaza,” Mr. McBride, the lead pastor at The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, Calif., said in an interview, noting that the campaign was not an endorsement of Mr. Biden. But, he said, “we can’t wait for the Biden administration to change their course before we start to sound the alarm.”nikki haley aipac

ny times logoNew York Times, Nikki Haley wrote “Finish them” on an artillery shell in Israel, days after Israel received condemnation for a strike in Rafah, Maggie Astor, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). Her visit came just days after Israel drew international condemnation for a strike that killed dozens of Gazan civilians in a camp for displaced Palestinians.

Nikki Haley, the former Republican presidential candidate and U.N. ambassador during the Trump administration (shown above in a file photo speaking at an AIPAC meeting), wrote “Finish them” on an artillery shell in Israel this week.

Danny Danon, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and a member of the Israeli Parliament, shared a photo on social media on Tuesday showing Ms. Haley signing the shell. Her visit came just days after Israel drew international condemnation for a strike that killed dozens of Gazan civilians in a camp for displaced Palestinians.

“This is what my friend, the former ambassador Nikki Haley, wrote today on a shell during a visit to an artillery post on the northern border,” Mr. Danon wrote, declaring of the Israeli military, “The I.D.F. will win!”

Ms. Haley finished her inscription with a note that “America loves Israel always,” using a heart emoji for “loves.”

She signed the artillery shell not along the Gaza frontier, in the south, but near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, with which Israel also has a longstanding conflict. She also visited a kibbutz where Israelis were killed on Oct. 7, and her public remarks focused on Gaza.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

 

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

 


U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

 

ohio map

Politico, Biden to be nominated virtually before the convention in order to get on Ohio’s ballot, Lauren Egan, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The move ensures joe biden twitterthat, for the second cycle in a row, there will be no in-person nomination.

politico CustomThe Democratic National Committee announced on Tuesday that it will nominate President Joe Biden through a “virtual roll call” vote ahead of the August convention to ensure he appears on the Ohio ballot this November.

Ohio’s ballot deadline is Aug. 7, two weeks before the DNC planned to hold its official presidential nomination at an in-person convention in Chicago. Frank LaRose, the Republican secretary of state, warned last week that Biden would not be on the state’s ballot unless the state

lawmakers moved the ballot access deadline to after the Democratic convention. Days later, the DNC announced it would expedite the nominating process, though no date has yet been announced for the virtual roll call.

dnc square logo“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio and all 50 states, and Ohio Republicans agree. But when the time has come for action, they have failed to act every time, so Democrats will land this plane on our own,” DNC chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement. “Through a virtual roll call, we will ensure that Republicans can’t chip away at our democracy through incompetence or partisan tricks and that Ohioans can exercise their right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice.”

The virtual nomination will look similar to the process the party used during the 2020 convention, when most of the proceedings were impacted by the Covid pandemic. The DNC said the Chicago convention will still go on as planned, serving as a convening event for the party.

There are typically a few states each election year whose ballot certification deadlines do not align with the party’s official nominating convention. These misalignments are almost always quietly resolved by either the state legislature or by the secretary of state.

Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, called a special session to pass a law ensuring that Biden does appear on the ballot. But GOP biden harris 2024 logolawmakers would only agree to such a change only if it included a campaign finance bill that would stop foreign donations to state and local ballot-issue campaigns. The party’s supermajority shot down a proposal by Democrats to pass a clean measure that would have moved the ballot deadline past the convention with no accompanying changes.

The state of Washington and Alabama also have early certification deadlines that fall before the DNC. But Democrats in the former resolved the issue by offering a provisional certification of Biden’s nomination. Lawmakers in Alabama passed legislation earlier this spring that deferred the state’s certification deadline until after the DNC.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Harris to launch Black voter group, as they aim to blunt Trump’s gains, Toluse Olorunnipa, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). The move underscores how much the president’s electoral fate hinges on his ability to gin up support from what has been his most loyal voting bloc.

biden harris 2024 logo oPresident Biden and Vice President Harris will travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday to launch “Black Voters for Biden-Harris,” the latest sign that their campaign is trying to shore up its support with a crucial constituency.

The rally, to be held at a mostly Black school in the city, will feature top Black leaders from across the country, who will join Biden to draw a sharp contrast with his Republican rival, former president Donald Trump. Biden will also visit a Black-owned small business and meet with local volunteers, campaign officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, RFK Jr. had a ‘visceral’ reaction to tear-downs of Confederate statues, Mariana Alfaro, May 30, 2024 (print ed.).  Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said on a podcast that he doesn’t think “it’s a good, healthy thing for any culture to erase history.”

rfk jr mouth openIndependent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he had a “visceral reaction against” the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville.

Speaking to podcast host Tim Pool in a “Timcast IRL” episode Friday, Kennedy — who is mounting a long-shot bid for the White House — said he doesn’t think “it’s a good, healthy thing for any culture to erase history,” when asked for his thoughts on the removal of Confederate monuments around the country.
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“I have a visceral reaction against, against the attacks on those statues,” he said. “There were heroes in the Confederacy who didn’t have slaves and, you know, I just, I just have a visceral reaction against destroying history. I don’t like it. I think we should celebrate who we are.”

He added: “We should celebrate the good qualities of everybody. … If we want to find people who were completely virtuous on every issue throughout history, we would erase all of history.”

The statue of Lee that once stood in Charlottesville was removed in 2021 before being cut into fragments and melted in a furnace last year. The 2017 battle over its removal prompted the deadly Unite the Right rally in which violence erupted when white nationalists and supremacists descended on the Virginia college town to protest. Charlotteville’s action to take down the statue was perhaps the most remarkable of Confederate statue removals around the country, which included a Congress-backed effort to wipe Confederate names and legacies from the nation’s military bases and assets.

 Barbara Balmaseda sent this photo of herself to Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021./ Background: Circled in yellow, Balmaseda is seen climbing the Capitol balustrade on Jan. 6; behind her in red cap is Proud Boy Garcia. Justice Department provided photos.

Barbara Balmaseda sent this photo of herself to Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021./ Background: Circled in yellow, Balmaseda is seen climbing the Capitol balustrade on Jan. 6; behind her in red cap is Proud Boy Garcia. The Justice Department provided photos.

Law & Crime, ‘You have my taser’: Proud Boys-trailing Miami Young Republicans director with ties to Rubio, DeSantis, indicted for Jan. 6, Brandi lawcrime logoBuchman, May 28, 2024. A Florida woman and former director for the Miami Young Republicans who allegedly spent months exchanging texts and photos with a member of the Proud Boys before joining him at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has been formally indicted, court records show.

Barbara “Barby” Balmaseda, 23, once a reported intern for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and a campaign organizer for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was arrested last December.

She was charged with felony obstruction of justice/threat of physical force for reporting crimes, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and two disorderly and disruptful conduct charges — one for being in a restricted area, the other for being in the Capitol — and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Her indictment was entered onto the docket on May 22.

Her next court appearance is a status hearing on June 27 before Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather.

Prosecutors said Balmaseda, a resident of Miami Lakes, exchanged “hundreds of texts and images” with the now-convicted Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia spanning from August 2020 through January 2021, even making travel arrangements to coordinate her flight with his to Washington, D.C., for a day before the certification of the 2020 election.

So close were the two, prosecutors say, that on Jan. 8, Balmaseda told Garcia: “Hey! Good morning! You left a hat and a gas mask in Adolfo’s car, I also have your sunglasses in my purse and you have my taser.”

Investigators were able to identify Balmaseda in part thanks to evidence pulled from her devices, as well as from Garcia’s, according to a statement of facts.

Some of those photos showed the two together on the evening of Jan. 5, attending a pro-Trump rally where the Miami Lakes woman was snapped wearing a pink and black neck gaiter. She wore the same gaiter on Jan. 6 in a photo taken that afternoon after the breach alongside a shirtless Garcia, and another man unidentified in court records.

Over roughly 900 messages from November 2020 to January 2021, Balmaseda often spoke about now-President Joe Biden “stealing” the election and shared articles or social media posts in the chat from Trump’s allies in Congress who planned to object including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. After Donald Trump’s defeat was declared on Nov. 7, however, she lamented to her group chat: “F— it, going to take pain killers and sleep to Monday call me when people grab there [sic] f—— balls.”

The Hartmann Report, Commentary: The Press: What Has Happened to the Lifeblood of our Democracy? Thom Hartmann, May 28, 2024. How thom hartmanndid America reach this point where about half our country thinks up is down, black is white, and Republicans are best trusted with our money and national security?

The fifteen or twenty percent of Americans who follow actual news reporting are dumbfounded:

— Only about half of Americans know that Trump set up and wanted the end of Roe v Wade while one-in-five think President Biden is responsible for it,

— More trust Republicans with the economy than Democrats and 46% say Trump can fix the economy compared to 32% for Biden,

— Only a third of Americans know that Republicans appointed the majority on the Supreme Court,

— 46% of Americans say a second Biden presidency will weaken American democracy,

— More than half (55%) of Americans believe the economy is shrinking and we’re in a recession (when it’s growing faster than under any president since FDR and has been for three-plus years),

— When President Biden came into office in 2021, almost two-thirds of Americans approved of his handling the economy and foreign affairs; today that number is fewer than a third,

— Almost half (49%) think the stock market is down for the year when in fact the S&P 500 was up 24% last year and is up more than 12% this year,

— About three-quarters (72%) are sure that inflation is up right now, when the rate has fallen from 9.1% to a current low of 3.4%, far better than the lowest inflation number Reagan had at 4.1% in his entire 8 years in office,

— While unemployment is lower than it’s been in over 50 years, half of Americans (49%) say “unemployment is at a 50-year high,”

— Only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of government while 69% of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump,

— As violent weather tears apart America, only 23% of Republicans consider climate change a major threat to our nation’s well-being,

— Today, 58% of Americans say the economy is getting worse daily because of mismanagement by Biden and Democrats in Congress,

— Almost half of Americans (44%) think Social Security will be gone by the time they retire,

— Fully 44% of Americans say the media and politicians are “making too much” of the January 6th assault on our capitol.

How did America reach this point where about half our country thinks up is down, black is white, and Republicans are best trusted with our money and national security?

The first imperative for any dictatorial regime is to seize control of the press. Hitler not only shut down all the opposition press and turned all of Germany’s newspapers into propaganda outlets, but ordered Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will played in every theater in Germany before every movie. The first thing his soldiers did upon occupying every country he conquered was to seize the offices of the local newspapers and radio stations.

Orbán destroyed the free press in Hungary by changing that nation’s libel and defamation laws in the same way Trump is today advocating, setting up libel lawsuits against virtually every press outlet that had ever criticized him and bankrupting them and their owners and editors with lawsuits. His oligarch buddies then bought the media properties out of bankruptcy for pennies on the dollar.

Putin did the same in Russia, and Modi is pursuing a similar effort in India.

Here in America, though, the rightwing billionaires who overwhelmingly own our media didn’t need the heavy hand of libel laws to seize control of this nation’s news and information channels (although Trump promises to do so anyway).

Zuckerberg built Facebook by buying out and shutting down or taking over his competitors in defiance of anti-trust laws that haven’t been used (until recently) since Reagan’s famous 1983 order to stop their enforcement.

Musk brought in cash from Saudi Arabia to help finance his purchase of Twitter, turning it into a rightwing cesspool that has become one of America’s premier sources of misinformation tilted toward Trump and hard-right Republicans.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, and the wealthy owner of The New York Times, some argue, is pushing that paper to hammer Biden’s age because the president won’t do a sit-down interview with him.

From the 1930s, media monopoly laws prevented the consolidation of TV and radio stations and newspapers into a few rich hands. That ended when Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which discarded those ownership restrictions: within a decade virtually all of America’s media (in terms of reach) was in the hands of fewer than a dozen corporations.

A few years ago, I met with the billionaire owner of 900 or so radio stations, many of them carrying rightwing talk radio. We were in the offices of a US Senator, who pointed out to the billionaire that my show was regularly beating Rush Limbaugh in the ratings and asked the media mogul if he’d ever considered balancing his programming with some progressive shows, which make just as much money for their stations as do conservative hosts.

The billionaire laughed at the senator and said, simply, “I’ll never put anybody on the air who wants to raise my taxes.”

Ever since Reagan’s deregulation of the financial sector legalized the private equity scam, these predatory companies have bought up, sucked dry, and driven into bankruptcy more than half of America’s small local newspapers.

It’s the same strategy they used to drain hundreds of billions from Red Lobster, J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, Toys “R” Us, Sears, 24 Hour Fitness, Aeropostale, American Apparel, Brookstone, Charlotte Russe, Claire’s, David’s Bridal, Clear Channel, Deadspin, Fairway, Gymboree, Hertz, KB Toys, Linens ’n Things, Mervyn’s, Mattress Firm, Musicland, Nine West, Payless ShoeSource, RadioShack, Shopko, Sports Authority, Rockport, True Religion, and Wickes Furniture (among hundreds of others).

The fact that information is the lifeblood of democracy and news media is the only industry explicitly named and protected by the Constitution is as irrelevant to these parasites as it is to Supreme Court justices Alito and Thomas, who the billionaire owners of such firms regularly spiff with luxury vacations and other gifts.

Political and economic commentators seem baffled. Last week, Steve Rattner did a long-form charts-and-graphs presentation for Joe Scarborough’s show demonstrating how the economy, by almost every measure, is better than any time since World War II but — bafflingly — Americans are convinced it’s in the tank and getting worse. He didn’t once, however, mention the role played by the media.

When large numbers of the people of any nation believe things that are objectively untrue, it’s a huge warning sign that something is awry with that nation’s media.

Almost half of Americans get all or most of their news from social media, which is dominated by two rightwing billionaires and the Chinese Communist Party, all of them apparently fans of Trump and his dreamed-of autocracy.

The rest of us get our news from radio, TV, cable, and other online sources, again dominated by billionaire interests who put keeping their tax rates low above threats to our democratic system of government.

Back in the 1980s, when the media told the truth about Reagan’s massive tax cuts, deregulation, gutting public education, and selling off public lands for pennies on the dollar, rightwing strategists began a unified chant about “liberal media bias.” Other than being unhappy about news outlets telling the truth, the one twig they could hang onto was the fact that most journalists were college graduates and colleges were then considered bastions of liberalism.

Rush Limbaugh debuted in 1988, claiming his show was a necessary antidote to liberal media bias even though it was the “liberal media” that made him famous and promoted his show to the top of the ratings. By the end of the ’80s the “liberal media” had become the GOP’s go-to meme under almost all circumstances.

At the 1992 Republican nominating convention, everybody from Barbara Bush to Marilyn Quayle was trashing the so-called leftwing media. GOP Chairman Rich Bond told The Washington Post that this was, in fact, a coordinated effort to influence coverage by intimidating reporters and their editors:

“But there is some strategy to it. I’m a coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs’ — meaning the media. Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

It’s high time for Democrats and advocates for democracy to begin working the refs, and pushing for legislation to outlaw media monopolies, eliminate Section 230 liability limitations on social media, and end the destruction of local news by private equity.

If we don’t, America will continue to look more and more like Hungary or Russia and it could soon be too late to do anything about it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidential 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.nomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the nomination and party leadership positions. After winning, Oliver promised to unify the party in his acceptance speech.
“I’m extending my hand,” he said. “Take it and be a part of liberty.”

Oliver is supported by the Classic Liberal Caucus, a left-leaning faction. After the last standing contender was knocked out, Oliver won with 60 percent of the vote against “none of the above.” The contest had fewer than 900 delegates voting.

The final contender was Michael Rectenwald, a former New York University professor who faced backlash and left his job after he invited controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos to speak to his class. Rectenwald, endorsed by the right-wing Mises Caucus that had taken over the party in 2022, had been the front-runner for most of the day.

But Oliver, who was in some ways a protest vote against the ruling caucus, ultimately surpassed Rectenwald in their final head-to-head round.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Trump Pledges to Commute Life Sentence of Drug Trafficker Serving Life, Ron Filipkowski, May 25, 2024.
More from the "law and order" candidate.

mtn meidas touch networkIn addition to promising to pardon J6 defendants who beat police officers, and sharing the stage with 2 gang members currently out on bond for a 140 count indictment including conspiracy to commit murder, Trump finished up the week pledging to commute the sentence of one of the most notorious drug traffickers in American history.

Trump was given a list today by the Libertarian Party of the Top 10 most important issues for delegates attending their National Convention this weekend. The first item on that list was to commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht created the dark web network called Silk Road which was used to traffic narcotics to over 100,000 buyers in hundreds of kilos of a variety of drugs. The drugs sales using Ulbricht's network totaled over $183 million. Ulbricht was convicted at trial of 7 counts of distributing narcotics and was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal in 2018.

Of course, Trump could've pardoned Ulbricht during any of his four years as president, but choose not to. But now, the "law and order" candidate currently under indictment himself for 91 felonies needs votes to solve his criminal own problems by getting elected president, and he is willing to promise just about anything to anyone at this point.

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan, who received a fortune following her divorce from a Google co-founder, on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘I ran into her yesterday’: RFK’s strange non-relationship with his VP pick, Ashley Parker and Meryl Kornfield, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his vice-presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, are on the same ticket. Getting on the same page is taking a bit more time.

Almost exactly a month after introducing Nicole Shanahan as his vice-presidential pick in a carefully choreographed Bay Area extravaganza, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still seemed a bit unclear on exactly how his running mate was spending her time.

At a late April event in Dallas, Kennedy told reporters that Shanahan — who had yet to appear at a public campaign event since her beaming, purple-pantsuited debut four weeks prior — had spent “three or four days at the border.” (In fact, she had spent just a day there, according to two advisers who toured the nation’s Southern border with her.)

Three days later, speaking to reporters in Buffalo, Kennedy said Shanahan had been “talking a lot to the press.” (In fact, she had given no interviews that had been published in mainstream publications.)

He offered some vague reassurances that the woman he had recently chosen to potentially sit just a heartbeat from the presidency was “working on every issue” and “doing a lot of podcasts” — and that while he couldn’t say “exactly what her schedule is,” he was “very happy with what she’s doing.”

“I ran into her yesterday,” Kennedy said, as if his No. 2 on the independent ticket that Democrats and Republicans alike fear could prove a decisive spoiler in the high-stakes 2024 election was more of a casual acquaintance or Craigslist Missed Connection than a true political and ideological partner.

Tell me how this war ends. From the beginning, that has been the agonizing question with the Gaza conflict. After seven horrific months, a resolution is still some way off. But some clarity is emerging about the shape of a possible endgame.

The parameters of an eventual conclusion to the war became more evident after a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel this past weekend by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk. The conversations they had there were outlined to me by knowledgeable sources.

Politico, Super PAC backing RFK Jr. got another $5M from GOP megadonor in April, Brittany Gibson and Jessica Piper, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Tim Mellon, a prolific donor to groups supporting former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, has now given the pro-Kennedy super PAC a total of $25 million.

politico CustomThe super PAC backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr., right, got another cash infusion from GOP megadonor Tim Mellon in April, rfk jr mouth openaccording to the latest campaign finance report.

Mellon is the largest GOP donor this campaign cycle to date, and has now given the American Values 2024 super PAC backing Kennedy’s long-shot independent presidential bid $25 million.

His $5 million donation also made up the vast majority of the super PAC’s haul last month, which totaled $6.1 million. Another $1 million in April came from PAC co-founder Mark Gorton, who also co-founded Limewire.

Mellon is a longtime GOP donor who has given $15 million to Make America Great Again Inc., the super PAC backing former President Donald Trump, including a new $10 million donation last month. He also gave $5 million in March to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC for GOP House candidates, as well as $4 million to The Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC affiliated with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Wyoming billionaire is also releasing a memoir this summer with Skyhorse Publishing, the publishing house run by Tony Lyons, the co-founder of American Values 2024. Kennedy provided a blurb for the book’s cover, according to its Amazon presale page.

American Values also continued its financial relationship with Gavin de Becker, founder of the security firm by the same name — though not through a new contribution.

De Becker was refunded $2 million on April 25. The return was another transaction in the “bridge funding” arrangement between the donor and super PAC. De Becker has now donated $14 million to American Values 2024 and received $11.65 million back since the PAC started backing Kennedy’s White House bid. His net contribution is now $2.35 million.

The arrangement has drawn scrutiny from Kennedy’s rivals, and the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with federal regulators about the consistent transfers of funds back to de Becker, alleging that the contributions function as loans.

The super PAC also spent a bit over $100,000 on social media ads and $31,500 on radio ads in April, the filing showed. American Values ended the month with $20.8 million in cash on hand.

ny times logoNew York Times, He Threw ‘Spaghetti at the Wall’ for Trump. Now He’s After a Top Job, Elizabeth Williamson, May 28, 2024 (print ed.)  If Donald Trump wins the presidency, Richard Grenell, right, hopes to be secretary of state. But his work raises questions, even from his former boss. richard grenell Custom

Richard Grenell’s quest to be secretary of state in a second Trump administration began late on Election Day in 2020, when the defeated president dispatched loyalists to run shambolic “stop the steal” operations in battleground states.

President Donald J. Trump tapped Mr. Grenell — his combative former ambassador to Germany, acting national intelligence chief and special envoy to the Balkans — to fly by private plane to Nevada, where Mr. Grenell ensconced himself, his dog Lola, lawyers and a crew of far-right activists in a suite at the Venetian Resort, which served as the group’s war room in Las Vegas. In a days-long spectacle, the Trump team filed a lawsuit and aired false accusations of fraud, including one wrongly implicating hundreds of members of the military.

It was all a sham. Mr. Grenell told the team in the war room, two G.O.P. operatives recalled, that the Nevada vote was not, in fact, stolen. The operatives, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from Mr. Grenell, said he told the team that the goal was simply to “throw spaghetti at the wall” — the operatives described Mr. Grenell making a theatrical tossing gesture as he spoke — to distract the media from calling Nevada while the election battle in neighboring Arizona played out.

In retrospect, one of the operatives said, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should have subpoenaed everyone in the room, including the operative himself.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 

 A photo taken in about 1905 of female students and several sisters at St. Paul in Hays, Mont. (Montana Historical Society Library and Archives)

A photo taken in about 1905 of female students and several sisters at St. Paul in Hays, Mont. (Montana Historical Society Library and Archives)

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: ‘In the name of God’: Native American children endured years of sexual abuse at boarding schools, Sari Horwitz, Dana Hedgpeth, Emmanuel Martinez, Scott Higham and Salwan Georges, May 29, 2024. Taken from their families and sent to remote boarding schools, Native American children often faced sexual abuse by priests, brothers or sisters who ran the facilities.

Clarita Vargas was 8 when she was forced to live at St. Mary’s Mission, a Catholic-run Indian boarding school in Omak, Wash., that was created under a U.S. government policy to strip Native American children of their identities. A priest took her and other girls to his office to watch a TV movie, then groped and fondled her as she sat on his lap — the beginning of three years of sexual abuse, she said.

“It haunted me my entire life,” said Vargas, now 64.

These firsthand accounts and other evidence documented by The Washington Post reveal the brutality and sexual abuse inflicted upon children who were taken from their families under a systematic effort by the federal government to destroy Native American culture, assimilate children into White society and seize tribal lands.

From 1819 to 1969, tens of thousands of children were sent to more than 500 boarding schools across the country, the majority run or funded by the U.S. government. Children were stripped of their names, their long hair was cut, and they were beaten for speaking their languages, leaving deep emotional scars on Native American families and communities. By 1900, 1 out of 5 Native American school-age children attended a boarding school. At least 80 of the schools were operated by the Catholic Church or its religious affiliates.

The Post investigation reveals a portrait of pervasive sexual abuse endured by Native American children at Catholic-run schools in remote regions of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, including Alaska.

At least 122 priests, sisters and brothers assigned to 22 boarding schools since the 1890s were later accused of sexually abusing Native American children under their care, The Post found. Most of the documented abuse occurred in the 1950s and 1960s and involved more than 1,000 children.

“A national crime scene” is how Deborah Parker, a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes and the chief executive of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, described the network of church-run Indian boarding schools.

“They committed crimes under the cloak,” said Parker, whose grandmother and other family members were sent to boarding schools. “They did it in the name of God.”

To investigate, The Post examined the work histories of priests named on lists, disclosed by Catholic entities, as having faced a “credible claim of sexual abuse.” Using those lists from dioceses and religious orders, The Post then identified which abusers worked at Indian boarding schools. Reporters also reviewed lawsuits, sworn affidavits, oral histories and thousands of boarding school records, and conducted interviews with former students.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Gonzales narrowly wins GOP primary runoff in Texas, beating back far-right challenger, Amy B Wang and Marianna Sotomayor, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). The Republican is favored to win in November against Democrat Santos Limon in the 23rd District. In the 28th, Jay Furman (R) won the runoff to challenge Henry Cuellar (D).

tony gonzalesRep. Tony Gonzales, right, a Texas Republican, narrowly eked out a win Tuesday against pro-gun YouTuber Brandon Herrera in a contest that was a proxy fight for how House Republicans should be governing in Washington.

Gonzales defeated Herrera with 50.7 percent of the vote in a Republican runoff, according to the Associated Press, to win the GOP nomination in Texas’s 23rd District, which runs along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats thought they would have a better shot of poaching the seat if Herrera had won the nomination because of his far-right politics.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Progressive Democrats aren’t turning activism into election wins, Paul Kane, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Left-wing candidates, especially those backing pro-Palestinian protests, have lost many primary races — so far.

Despite the intense focus the past couple of months on pro-Palestinian protests, many of which were championed by the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, the self-proclaimed progressive bloc has struggled to churn out victories at the ballot box.
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Oregon’s Democratic primary served up the latest example of this uphill fight, as the more traditional liberal wing won two contested primaries. State Rep. Janelle Bynum, with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, crushed a progressive favorite, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, by about 40 percentage points.

Politico, Nonconsensual AI porn is hated on the left and right. Can Congress act on it? Mohar Chatterjee, May 26, 2024. Victims of nonconsensual, sexually explicit deepfakes are lobbying Congress to pass a bill. Lawmakers are running out of time.

politico CustomLiberals and conservatives in Congress — from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Josh Hawley — all agree that something should be done to rein in nonconsensual porn generated by AI. The White House issued a “call to action” this week, urging Congress to strengthen legal protections for survivors. But lawmakers have struggled for more than a year to draft a solution, illustrating how ill-equipped Washington is to set limits on rapidly evolving technology with the power to disrupt people’s lives.

Legislation has been mired in debate over who should be held accountable for the deepfakes — with tech lobbyists pushing back on any language that would ensnare the platforms that distribute them.

Meanwhile, it is rapidly becoming easier for anyone with a couple of photos and a computer to make and distribute the videos.

“There are now hundreds of apps that can make non-consensual, sexually explicit deepfakes right on your phone,” Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored a bill against deepfake porn, told POLITICO in an email. “Congress needs to address this growing crisis as quickly as possible.”

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More On Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say, Staff Report, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Just getting to survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge, with a blocked highway and unstable ground “posing ongoing danger” to rescue workers.

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in the landslide that smothered a Papua New Guinea village and work camp on Friday in the country’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the United Nations on Monday.

Government officials visited the disaster site on Sunday. And even as the official death toll jumped from a few dozen to 670, they warned that far more victims than expected appeared to still be caught under the rubble.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated and located near the Porgera gold mine operated by Barrick Gold, a company based in Canada, in collaboration with Zijin Mining, a Chinese group. It is an area of remote and difficult jungle terrain, in a country of around 12 million people that sits just north of Australia. Tropical and divided along tribal, ethnic and linguistic lines, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources but largely underdeveloped, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters, which strike frequently.

ny times logoNew York Times, South Africa’s Young Democracy Leaves Its Young Voters Disillusioned, Lynsey Chutel, Photographs by Joao Silva, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). South Africans who grew up after the country held its first free election in 1994 spoke about their lives and plans to vote — or not — in this week’s election.

At the dawn of South Africa’s democracy after the fall of the racist apartheid government, millions lined up before sunrise to cast their ballots in the country’s first free and fair election in 1994.

Thirty years later, democracy has lost its luster for a new generation.

South Africa is now heading into a pivotal election on Wednesday, in which voters will determine which party — or alliance — will pick the president. But voter turnout has been dropping consistently in recent years. It fell to below 50 percent for the first time in the 2021 municipal elections, and analysts said that voter registration has not kept up with the growth of the voting-age population.

This downward curve has mirrored the support for South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, or A.N.C., which was a liberation movement before becoming a political machine. Polls show the party may lose its outright majority for the first time since taking power in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.

A new generation of voters do not have the lived experience of apartheid nor the emotional connection that their parents and grandparents had to the party. The A.N.C. as a governing party is all young people know, and they blame it for their joblessness, rampant crime and an economy blighted by electricity blackouts

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Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 

U.S. Supreme Court

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, The Untold Story of the Network That Took Down Roe v. Wade, Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer, May 28, 2024. A conservative Christian coalition’s plan to end the federal right to abortion began just days after Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

For more than 40 years, a passionate band of conservative and mostly Christian activists tried to find ways to undermine the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion and revolutionized America.

But they had been losing. The country appeared to be moving away from them, increasingly secular and increasingly liberal on sexual matters. The anti-abortion movement lacked the critical mass needed in Washington and the control of courts to end federal abortion rights. But now, with Trump, who promised to name “pro-life judges,” in the White House, there was a new vista before them.

 


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats press Chief Justice Roberts to address ethics at Supreme Court, Ann E. Marimow, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Sens. Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse say flags flown outside the homes of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. mean he must recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases.

Two Democratic senators are calling on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take immediate steps to ensure that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. does not participate in a pair of Supreme Court cases related to the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), who oversee the federal courts in their respective roles as chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a judicial oversight subcommittee, requested a meeting with Roberts as soon as possible to discuss what they called an “ethics crisis” at the Supreme Court. In their letter, dated Thursday, the senators renewed calls for the high court to strengthen its ethics policy to include an enforcement mechanism.

 

samuel alito horizontal headshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Another Provocative Flag Was Flown at Another Alito Home, Jodi Kantor, Aric Toler and Julie Tate, May 23, 2024 (print ed.). Last year, Justice Samuel Alito’s beach house displayed a flag with a symbol carried on Jan. 6 and associated with a push for a more Christian-minded government. The “Appeal to Heaven” flag, right, flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.Last summer, two years after an upside-down American flag was flown outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., shown above in a file photo, another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation house in New Jersey, according to interviews and photographs.

This time, it was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the “Stop the Steal” campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.

 

dick durbin speaking screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What more need Alito do before Durbin gets off the stick? Jennifer Rubin, right, May 26, 2024. Passivity in the face of jennifer rubin new headshotSupreme Court corruption is unacceptable.

After the New York Times reported on an upside-down flag identified with the Jan. 6 insurrectionists flying over Alito’s Virginia home in the days after Jan. 6, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) responded that he didn’t have “anything planned” in response. No hearing? No bill ready to go? Nope.

“I think [Alito’s] explained his situation. The American public understand what he did,” Durbin proclaimed, as if Alito’s excuses were the definitive explanation for a gross breach of judicial ethics. “But I don’t think there’s much to be gained with a hearing at this point. I think he should recuse himself from cases involving Trump and his administration.” And if Alito doesn’t recuse, Durbin cannot find any “recourse other than impeachment, and we’re not at that point at all.” That weak-kneed response would not be Durbin’s worst on Alito this week.

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More On U.S. Schools, Politics, Protests

Politico, AI is shockingly good at making fake nudes — and causing havoc in schools, Dana Nickel, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). Several states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated deepfake nudes, but when the deepfakes are discovered, what happens next in schools varies depending on the state.

politico CustomAngela Tipton was disgusted when she heard that her students were circulating a lewd image around their middle school. What made it far worse was seeing that the picture had her face on someone else’s naked body.

For Tipton, a classroom teacher for 20 years who lives in Indianapolis, the incident with an AI-generated deepfake drove her to change jobs. She now works with an alternative program within her city’s public school system that lets her help students one-on-one or in small groups.

“The way it impacted my career is indescribable,” Tipton said of the picture in an interview. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

K-12 educators, school administrators and law enforcement were already struggling with how to address rare instances of the realistic-looking fake images that cause real damage. But the explosion of sophisticated, easy-to-access artificial intelligence apps is making deepfakes a disturbingly common occurrence in schools.

Twenty states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated pornographic materials, according to data from MultiState, a Virginia-based state and local government relations firm. Still, when the fake images and videos of students and educators are discovered, what happens next in schools — who gets disciplined, how minors are treated and who is responsible for taking images to the police — varies widely depending on the state.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

Several pieces of legislation in Congress designed to limit deepfakes have not advanced largely because lawmakers don’t agree on who should be held responsible. In the absence of federal action, some school systems aren’t mandated to report deepfake incidents to law enforcement, and administrators say they need help.

A new Title IX rule finalized this year requires schools to address online sex-based harassment that happens within a school program or activity. The rule provides examples of online sex-based harassment that would fall under Title IX — including “nonconsensual distribution of intimate images that have been altered or generated by AI technologies.” It also states that schools will be required to address off-campus behavior stoked online if they created a hostile environment in the school, the spokesperson said.

The White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse released a final report earlier this month that laid out prevention, support and accountability efforts for government agencies combating image-based sexual abuse. The report indicates that the Education Department will issue “resources, model policies and best practices” for school districts to promote digital literacy and prevent online harassment.

With Washington divided and power increasingly shifting to the states, governors and mayors are making crucial decisions that are shaping our future. While many states are building on child abuse protections or revenge porn laws, there are limitations: The statutes typically do not specify how schools should discipline students when these incidents happen.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This college invited young people to shape our democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Other schools should follow Occidental College’s lead.

Since 2008, Occidental College in Los Angeles has offered students a chance to join a “Campaign Semester,” in which they dedicate themselves to a political campaign of their choice in presidential and midterm years. Students spend 10 weeks working their hearts out in the field and then the rest of the semester reflecting on what they learned and engaging in the academic study of elections.

Its origin owes a lot to former president Barack Obama, who attended Occidental before transferring to Columbia University. Obama’s 2008 campaign inspired a lot of young people, especially Oxy’s students, many of whom approached Dreier to learn how they might work on the campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, University Leaders Face a Long, Complex Summer, Jeremy W. Peters, May 24, 2024. Many officials may be confronting federal investigations, disputes over student discipline — and the prospect that anti-war protests start again in the fall.

Campuses are emptying out for the end of the academic year. Gone, for the most part, are the tent cities that student activists erected as a symbol of opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

But this summer might feel longer than most.

Congressional Republicans have promised to press their investigation into college antisemitism, even as they have completed their latest hearing, which they tried to turn into a public shaming session for the leaders of Rutgers, Northwestern and the University of California, Los Angeles, over their handling of campus encampments.

And protesters have likewise promised not to give up — with hundreds walking out at Harvard’s graduation on Thursday, and students at U.C.L.A. pitching new tents and briefly taking over a building.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Law

ny times logoNew York Times, Even as Violent Crime Drops, Lawlessness Rises as an Election Issue, Glenn Thrush, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In most U.S. cities, rates of homicide and violent assault are down from pandemic-era highs. But property crimes have risen, fueling voter anxiety.

In mid-2020, the country was reeling from a surge in violent crime and civil upheaval after the killing of George Floyd by the police — a knife’s-edge national crisis that President Donald J. Trump made a central issue in the run-up to Election Day.

Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the “law and order president” standing up to lawlessness, slamming “weak” liberals and calling demonstrators “domestic terrorists.” Joseph R. Biden Jr., who charted a centrist course on law enforcement as a senator, vice president and presidential candidate, vowed to address racial inequities in policing while standing behind the police as they battled the rising violence.

Four years later, the nation’s crime rates have shifted. The politics, however, have not budged.

Homicide rates are tumbling from pandemic highs in most cities, funding for law enforcement is rising, and tensions between the police and communities of color, while still significant, are no longer at a boiling point. But property crime, carjackings and smash-and-grab burglaries are up, adding to a sense of lawlessness, amplified on social media and local online message boards.

Mr. Trump is re-upping his blunt, visceral appeal to voter anxieties. He declared recently that “crime is rampant and out of control like never before,” promised to shoot shoplifters, embraced the “back the blue” slogan against liberal changes to police departments — and even falsely accused the F.B.I. of fabricating positive crime data to bolster Mr. Biden.

 

uvalde massacre all victims

washington post logoWashington Post, Uvalde parents sue gunmaker, ‘Call of Duty’ manufacturer and Meta, Arelis R. Hernández and Naomi Nix, May 24, 2024. The lawyer who won a record-breaking settlement for Sandy Hook families alleges Daniel Defense, Activision and Meta are responsible for pushing the shooter to acquire the AR-15 style weapon he used in the elementary school attack.

The lawyer who won a record-setting settlement for Sandy Hook families announced two lawsuits Friday on behalf of Uvalde school shooting victims against the manufacturer of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack, as well as the publisher of “Call of Duty” and the social media giant Meta.

The lawsuits against Daniel Defense, known for its high-end rifles; Activision, the manufacturer of first-person shooter game “Call of Duty”;” and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, may be the first of their kind to connect aggressive firearms marketing tactics on social media and gaming platforms to the actions of a mass shooter.

The complaints contend the three companies are responsible for “grooming” a generation of “socially vulnerable” young men radicalized to live out violent video game fantasies in the real world with easily accessible weapons of war.

One of those men, the legal team argues, was Robb Elementary School shooter Salvador Ramos. The lawsuits allege Meta and Activision “knowingly exposed the Shooter to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems, and trained him to use it.”

“Over the last 15 years, two of America’s largest technology companies — Defendants Activision and Meta — have partnered with the firearms industry in a scheme that makes the Joe Camel campaign look laughably harmless, even quaint,” the complaint states.

uvalde massacre all victims

The lawsuits are part of an intensifying quest for accountability by Uvalde shooting victim relatives through the civil courts. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack, one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Law enforcement officers waited 77 minutes to enter the classroom and kill the gunman.

“The truth is that the gun industry and Daniel Defense didn’t act alone. They couldn’t have reached this kid but for Instagram,” attorney Josh Koskoff said of the shooter. “They couldn’t expose him to the dopamine loop of virtually killing a person. That’s what ‘Call of Duty’ does.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s fascist talk is what’s ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ Dana Milbank, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). No, dana milbank newestTrump isn’t Hitler. But his copycat words lead nowhere good.

As you’ve probably heard, Donald Trump has once again raised a führer.

The former president’s Truth Social account posted a video posing the question “What happens after Donald Trump wins?” and providing a possible answer: In the background was the phrase “unified Reich.”

ICE logoThis follows Trump’s echoing Adolf Hitler in campaign speeches, saying that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and calling his opponents “vermin.”

trump 2024And that, in turn, followed Trump’s dining at Mar-a-Lago with high-profile antisemite Ye (Kanye West) and white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes, who likened incinerating Jews to baking cookies.

Under the three-Reichs-and-you’re-out rule, Trump should be on the bench. Yet he keeps swinging — and this week provided a sobering measure of how numb we have become to his undeniably fascist rhetoric.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 24, 2024. A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

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Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Space, Transportation

 

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New York Times, Climate Change Added a Month’s Worth of Extra-Hot Days in Past Year, Raymond Zhong, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). Since last May, the average person experienced 26 more days of abnormal warmth than they would have without global warming, a new analysis found.

Over the past year of record-shattering warmth, the average person on Earth experienced 26 more days of abnormally high temperatures than they otherwise would have, were it not for human-induced climate change, scientists said Tuesday.

The past 12 months have been the planet’s hottest ever measured, and the burning of fossil fuels, which has added huge amounts of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, is a major reason. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population experienced at least 31 days of atypical warmth since last May as a result of human-caused warming, the researchers’ analysis found.

Hypothetically, had we not heated the globe to its current state, the number of unusually warm days would have been far fewer, the scientists estimated, using mathematical modeling of the global climate.

The precise difference varies place to place. In some countries, it is just two or three weeks, the researchers found. In others, including Colombia, Indonesia and Rwanda, the difference is upward of 120 days.

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana’s coast is sinking. Advocates say the governor is undermining efforts to save it, Shannon Osaka, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). A new Republican governor, Jeff Landry, shown at right, is taking aim at the state’s coastal protection agency.

jeff landry oFor the past decade, Louisiana’s program for coastal protection has been hailed as one of the best in the country, after the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed the state to shore up coastlines, repair levees and protect natural habitats.

But now, environmental advocates and experts say the state’s new Republican governor is undermining its coastal protection agency — the state’s first and strongest line of defense against climate change-induced sea level rise. In an open letter published this week and signed by more than 200 business leaders, environmental advocates and other experts, various groups warned against Gov. Jeff Landry’s plans to transform the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

“The very future of our state is at stake,” the letter read.

Environmentalists say that the new governor’s actions could hobble the agency just as its work is most needed. The moves come as other right-leaning states are also cutting back on climate goals and even references to climate change.

Since 2005, when Louisiana was devastated by two hurricanes, the coastal restoration agency has built or revamped over 300 miles of levees that hold back floodwaters, and restored dozens of miles of barrier islands that can absorb the pressure of waves and rising seas. The agency works to shore up these defenses in the face of future, stronger storms and higher seas.

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 26, 2024. Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

ny times logoNew York Times, 600,000 Without Power in 13 States After Deadly Storms, Damien Cave, Mike Ives and Johnny Diaz, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Severe weather was shifting east to threaten much of the Eastern United States on Monday, after powerful storms over the weekend left at least 23 dead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions, Anna Phillips and Veronica Penney, May 24, 2024. Nearly 40 percent of schools in the United States were built before the 1970s, when temperatures were cooler and fewer buildings needed air conditioning.

America’s aging school buildings are on a collision course with a rapidly warming climate.

Last fall, school officials were forced to send students home across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic — just as many were returning from summer break — because of extreme heat and schools lacking air conditioning. In Baltimore and Detroit, high heat led to early dismissals, the same as it had four months earlier when summer temperatures struck in May.

Hot weather is not a new concern for school districts. But as the burning of fossil fuels heats the planet, it’s delivering longer-lasting, more dangerous heat waves, and higher average temperatures. Across much of the northern United States, where many schools were built without air conditioning, districts are now forced to confront the academic and health risks posed by poorly cooled schools. Fixing the problem often requires residents to pass multimillion dollar school repair bonds, which can be hard to do. Climatic change is arriving faster than most can adapt.

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Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals

ny times logoNew York Times, Calls Mount to Let Ukraine Strike Russia With Western Weapons, Constant Méheut, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. and other allies banned Ukraine from firing Western weapons into Russia. Kyiv says that has handcuffed its ability to prevent cross-border attacks.

Russian FlagCalls are mounting among Western nations to allow attacks on Russian territory using weapons that they have sent the Ukrainian military, a measure that Ukraine says will enable it to better prevent Russian attacks.

ukraine flagOn Monday, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, made up of lawmakers from countries belonging to the military alliance, adopted a declaration urging NATO members to lift a ban on firing Western weapons into Russia. That came after similar calls by NATO’s top official, Jens Stoltenberg, and government ministers in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden.

european union logo rectangleThe calls to allow Ukraine to expand its use of the Western weapons are mostly directed at the United States, the largest supplier of arms to the Ukrainian government. Washington has repeatedly asked Ukraine not to fire U.S.-made weapons into Russian territory for fear of escalating the war, although a debate has now opened within the Biden administration over relaxing the ban.

Ukraine has complained in recent months that the ban allows Russian forces to launch attacks from inside Russian territory without risk and hampers its ability to repel them. That disadvantage became clear this month when Russia started a new offensive in northeastern Ukraine after amassing troops and equipment just across the border.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

vladimir putin hand up palmer

ny times logoNew York Times, Optimistic About the War in Ukraine, Putin Unleashes a Purge at Home, Paul Sonne and Anatoly Kurmanaev, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Despite years of criticism, President Vladimir Putin of Russia,shown above in a file photo, has only now changed his defense minister and allowed high-level corruption arrests.

Periodic outcries over incompetence and corruption at the top of the Russian military have dogged President Vladimir V. Putin’s war effort since the start of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

When his forces faltered around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the need for change was laid bare. When they were routed months later outside the city of Kharkiv, expectations of a shake-up grew. And after the mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin marched his men toward Moscow, complaining of deep rot and ineptitude at the top of the Russian force, Mr. Putin seemed obliged to respond.

But, at each turn, the Russian president avoided any major public moves that could have been seen as validating the criticism, keeping his defense minister and top general in place through the firestorm while shuffling battlefield commanders and making other moves lower on the chain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Steps Up a Covert Sabotage Campaign in Europe, Julian E. Barnes, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Russian military intelligence is behind arson attacks aimed at undermining support for Ukraine’s war effort, U.S. and European security officials say.

russian flag wavingThe covert operations have mostly been arsons or attempted arsons targeting a wide range of sites, including a warehouse in England, a paint factory in Poland, homes in Latvia and, most oddly, an Ikea store in Lithuania.

But people accused of being Russian operatives have also been arrested on charges of plotting attacks on U.S. military bases.

While the acts might appear random, American and European security officials say they are part of a concerted effort by Russia to slow arms transfers to Kyiv and create the appearance of growing European opposition to support for Ukraine. And the officials say Russia’s military intelligence arm, the G.R.U., is leading the campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. and allies move to tap frozen Russian funds despite Kremlin threats, Jeff Stein, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Kremlin officials have suggested retaliating by confiscating U.S. assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

The United States and its Western allies took a key step Saturday toward using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s war effort, moving closer to providing another key financial stream for Kyiv.

Russian FlagRussian officials have suggested they could retaliate by confiscating U.S. and European assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

ukraine flagMeeting in northern Italy this week, the top financial officials of the Group of Seven nations agreed in a joint statement to tap the investment returns of “immobilized Russian sovereign assets” to support Ukraine. The Kremlin has been blocked from accessing hundreds of billions of dollars held in Western financial institutions after invading Ukraine in 2022, and European and U.S. officials have for months debated whether or how to unlock these funds to help fight off the invasion.

Russia has roughly $280 billion in sovereign assets stashed in Western financial institutions, the majority of which is held by European firms. Those funds are now frozen under the U.S.-led sanctions effort.

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More On U.S. Military, Space, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon suspends aid deliveries via Gaza pier after repeated mishaps, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Alex Horton, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The gap in deliveries is likely to extend “at least a week,” said a Pentagon official, as the U.S. and Israeli militaries reassemble pieces of the damaged pier.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via its floating pier after mishaps in which four U.S. military vessels were beached, one U.S. service member was critically injured, and sections of the structure were ripped free in bad weather.

The damage will require the U.S. military, with Israeli assistance, to disassemble pieces of the pier attached to the Gazan shore, rebuild them in the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, then transport them back to the Gazan shore and reconnect them, said Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman. That process will take at least a week, temporarily eliminating the pier as an option to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza aid as Israel continues its months-long military campaign against the militant group Hamas.

“The pier proved highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza,” Singh said. “Thus, upon completion of the pier repair and reassembly, the intention is to re-anchor the temporary pier to the coast of Gaza and resume humanitarian aid to the people who need it most.”

The project, announced by President Biden in March, is intended to provide an additional route to get aid to Gazan civilians on top of land routes that have been squeezed by Israeli officials and beset with looting and violence. While the U.S. military has been able to deliver more than 1,000 tons of aid over the pier this month, according to officials, its initial installation was delayed for days by bad weather, and it is unclear whether the refurbishment in Ashdod may render it less susceptible to future storms.

 arlington national cemetery us army

Approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery (shown above in a U.S. Army photo). Service members from every one of America’s major wars, from the Revolutionary War to today's conflicts, are interred at ANC. Wikimedia further describes the history:

As a result, the history of the nation is reflected on the grounds of the cemetery. Arlington Estate was established by George Washington's adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, to be a living memorial to the first president. Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864, by order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The first official “Decoration Day,” later renamed Memorial Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. This tradition continues today, and is one reason why Arlington transformed from being one of many national cemeteries into the premier national military cemetery.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Marks Memorial Day With Message About Freedom as Trump Lashes Out, Michael D. Shear, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden paid tribute to veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. Donald Trump posted an angry and incendiary message on his social media site.

President Biden paid tribute to veterans who died in America’s wars at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, hailing them as “a link in the chain of honor” who deserve recognition for protecting the nation’s democracy.

“Freedom has never been guaranteed,” Mr. Biden said in a nine-minute Memorial Day address, moments after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“Every generation has to earn it. Fight for it. Defend it in battle between autocracy and democracy,” he said of the nation’s veterans. “Our democracy is more than just a system of government. It’s the very soul of America.”

His somber message was a sharp contrast to that of former President Donald J. Trump, his challenger for re-election this year, who posted an angry and incendiary Memorial Day message on his social media site.

“Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country,” the former president wrote on Truth Social.

Mr. Trump also wished a happy Memorial Day to Lewis Kaplan, the federal judge who oversaw the trials in which the former president was accused of defamation. Mr. Trump called Judge Kaplan “the Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge.” He also called Justice Arthur F. Engoron, who presided over Mr. Trump’s civil fraud case, a “wacko.”

In an earlier, more traditional Memorial Day missive on Truth Social, Mr. Trump posted a photograph of himself saluting a wreath while he was president, and saying “WE CAN NEVER REPLACE THEM. WE CAN NEVER REPAY THEM. BUT WE CAN ALWAYS REMEMBER.”

But his vitriolic post followed a few minutes later as a reminder of the stark differences between the two rivals for the White House. As has been the case for years, either as president or as a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump showed that he would not be held to the norms of behavior that guide the nation’s leaders on a somber national holiday.

By contrast, Mr. Biden’s appearance was typical of the kind of message delivered by other presidents in both parties.

He focused mostly on the sacrifices of the past — members of the military who died in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam and the two world wars.

“Our fallen heroes have brought us closer today,” he said. “We’re not just fortunate heirs of their legacy. We have a responsibility to be the keepers of their mission, that truest memorial of their lives.”

Mr. Biden did not mention the wars raging in Europe and the Middle East, where he has pledged not to send American service members to fight alongside allies in Ukraine or Israel. The United States has been drawn into both conflicts nonetheless. The military is helping to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza and is equipping and supporting fighters in both places against Russia and Hamas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Memorial Day U.S. Reflections: What’s to become of the keepsakes left at Arlington Cemetery? Kelsey Baker, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Thousands of mementos have been placed on the graves of those lost to America’s post-9/11 wars. The collection needs a new home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Dominates the Space Launch Business. Rivals Are Calling Foul, Eric Lipton, May 28, 2024. The U.S. government is concerned about its reliance on a billionaire for access to space. New competitors say SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them.

Elon Musk aggressively elbowed his way into the space launch business over the past two decades, combining engineering genius and an entrepreneurial drive with a demand that the U.S. government stop favoring the big, slow-moving contractors that had long dominated the industry.

Today, it is Mr. Musk who is dominant. His company, SpaceX, is the primary provider of launch services to NASA and to the Pentagon. His rockets carry far more commercial satellites into orbit than anyone else’s, including those for his own Starlink communications network. He has set new standards for reaching space cheaply and reliably.

But in one striking way, the former outsider has come to resemble the entrenched contractors he once fought to topple: He is increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay, his competitors say, even as his success is prompting qualms within the government about such heavy reliance on a mercurial billionaire.

 

President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden welcoming President William Ruto of Kenya and Rachel Ruto for their state visit at the White House on Thursday (New York Times photo by Haiyun Jiang on May 23, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Barack Obama Is a Surprise Guest at Biden’s State Dinner for Kenya, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The dinner was held in honor of Kenya, but it was clear that the night was built to keep Democratic allies close as President Biden headed into campaign season.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Full Guest List for Biden’s State Dinner With Kenya, Minho Kim, May 24, 2024. The Bidens invited more than 450 guests, including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Carol Moseley Braun, Melinda Gates, Lester Holt, LeVar Burton and Sean Penn.

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The New York Times documented the disappearances of more than 300 Afghans under a general backed by the United States.

 

U.S. Immigration News

 

ICE logoPolitico, Senate border vote fails again, losing support from both sides, Ursula Perano, May 23, 2024. President Joe Biden is expected to start issuing executive actions in June that mirror parts of the bipartisan border deal.

politico CustomChuck Schumer’s second attempt to advance a sweeping border package failed by a wider margin than the first time, with increased opposition among both Republicans and Democrats.

senate democrats logoSenate campaign arms have already been hitting the other side on the predictable outcome, hoping to blame problems at the border on the opposing party. Biden administration officials have telegraphed that the president will soon take executive action to address border issues ahead of the November election.

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President Joe Biden and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City last year. Administration officials have refused to give any timeline on whether Mr. Biden could announce an order shutting down asylum at the border (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

 

Claims Against Biden Family

 

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Washington Post, Who is Robert Hur, special counsel for Biden classified documents probe?

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says Hur tapes are privileged as Congress moves to hold Garland in contempt, Jacqueline Alemany and Perry Stein, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has asserted executive privilege over audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials.

U.S. House logoPresident Biden has asserted executive privilege over the audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials and will refuse congressional requests to hand them over, the White House and the Justice Department said in letters to House Republican leaders Thursday.

 

hunter biden abbe Lowell 1 10 2024Businessman Hunter Biden, left, President Biden's son and a defendant in two federal indictments, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this winter at which Biden made a surprise offer to testify publicly.

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U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by Defendant's psychiatrist).

U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by defendant's psychiatrist).

 

U.S. Reproductive Rights, #MeToo, Trafficking, Culture Wars

Politico, AI is shockingly good at making fake nudes — and causing havoc in schools, Dana Nickel, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). Several states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated deepfake nudes, but when the deepfakes are discovered, what happens next in schools varies depending on the state.

politico CustomAngela Tipton was disgusted when she heard that her students were circulating a lewd image around their middle school. What made it far worse was seeing that the picture had her face on someone else’s naked body.

For Tipton, a classroom teacher for 20 years who lives in Indianapolis, the incident with an AI-generated deepfake drove her to change jobs. She now works with an alternative program within her city’s public school system that lets her help students one-on-one or in small groups.

“The way it impacted my career is indescribable,” Tipton said of the picture in an interview. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

K-12 educators, school administrators and law enforcement were already struggling with how to address rare instances of the realistic-looking fake images that cause real damage. But the explosion of sophisticated, easy-to-access artificial intelligence apps is making deepfakes a disturbingly common occurrence in schools.

Twenty states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated pornographic materials, according to data from MultiState, a Virginia-based state and local government relations firm. Still, when the fake images and videos of students and educators are discovered, what happens next in schools — who gets disciplined, how minors are treated and who is responsible for taking images to the police — varies widely depending on the state.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

Several pieces of legislation in Congress designed to limit deepfakes have not advanced largely because lawmakers don’t agree on who should be held responsible. In the absence of federal action, some school systems aren’t mandated to report deepfake incidents to law enforcement, and administrators say they need help.

A new Title IX rule finalized this year requires schools to address online sex-based harassment that happens within a school program or activity. The rule provides examples of online sex-based harassment that would fall under Title IX — including “nonconsensual distribution of intimate images that have been altered or generated by AI technologies.” It also states that schools will be required to address off-campus behavior stoked online if they created a hostile environment in the school, the spokesperson said.

The White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse released a final report earlier this month that laid out prevention, support and accountability efforts for government agencies combating image-based sexual abuse. The report indicates that the Education Department will issue “resources, model policies and best practices” for school districts to promote digital literacy and prevent online harassment.

With Washington divided and power increasingly shifting to the states, governors and mayors are making crucial decisions that are shaping our future. While many states are building on child abuse protections or revenge porn laws, there are limitations: The statutes typically do not specify how schools should discipline students when these incidents happen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hillary Clinton on Democrats’ Failures on Abortion: ‘We Could Have Done More,’ Lisa Lerer and Elizabeth Dias, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In an interview for a forthcoming book, Mrs. Clinton also suggested that if Donald Trump won in November, “we may never have another actual election.”

Hillary Clinton criticized her fellow Democrats over what she described as a decades-in-the-making failure to protect abortion rights, saying in her first extended interview about the fall of Roe v. Wade that her party underestimated the growing strength of anti-abortion forces until many Democrats were improbably “taken by surprise” by the landmark Dobbs decision in 2022.

In wide-ranging and unusually frank comments, Mrs. Clinton said Democrats had spent decades in a state of denial that a right enshrined in American life for generations could fall — that faith in the courts and legal precedent had made politicians, voters and officials unable to see clearly how the anti-abortion movement was chipping away at abortion rights, restricting access to the procedure and transforming the Supreme Court, until it was too late.

“We didn’t take it seriously, and we didn’t understand the threat,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Most Democrats, most Americans, did not realize we are in an existential struggle for the future of this country.”

She said: “We could have done more to fight.”

Mrs. Clinton’s comments came in an interview conducted in late February for a forthcoming book, “The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America.”

The interview represented Mrs. Clinton’s most detailed comments on abortion rights since the Supreme Court decision that led to the procedure becoming criminalized or restricted in 21 states. She said not only that her party was complacent but also that if she had been in the Senate at the time she would have worked harder to block confirmation of Trump-appointed justices.

 

 mifepristone Allen g breed ap

Politico, Louisiana is set to make possessing abortion pills without a prescription punishable by up to 10 years in prisonMegan Messerly, May jeff landry o24, 2024. GOP Gov. Jeff Landry, right, signed the bill (see below).

politico CustomLouisiana lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation making the possession of abortion pills without a prescription a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Louisiana prisons jailsThe first-in-the-nation legislation could be a model for other red states grappling with how to stop their residents from traveling out of state to get abortion pills or ordering them online despite their abortion bans. But people who obtain those pills don’t always have prescriptions for them, particularly if they are mailed from overseas.

djt maga hatUnder the Louisiana bill, pregnant women who obtain the medication for their own use would be exempt from criminal liability. But friends or family who help them get the pills and non-pregnant women who obtain them as a precaution could face criminal penalties for possession.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This Alabama AG won’t stop at the state line to prosecute abortion, Ruth Marcus, right, May 17, 2024 (print ruth marcused.). Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is Exhibit A in why leaving abortion to the states is a nightmare.

Not content to prevent women from obtaining abortions in his own state, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is doing his best to prevent them from traveling to other states where the procedure remains legal. Fortunately, a federal judge just ruled that the Constitution won’t let him. Unfortunately, we might have more of this kind of zealotry heading our way.

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. Gov. Youngkin vetoes bills on birth control, Confederate tax loopholes, Laura Vozzella, May 18, 2024. Many of the vetoes were related to culture-war issues that could play into this fall’s presidential and congressional contests.

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana moves to make abortion pills ‘controlled dangerous substances,’ Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, May 14, 2024 (print ed.). Someone possessing the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice could be prosecuted and sentenced to prison.

louisiana map horizontalLouisiana could become the first state in the country to categorize mifepristone and misoprostol — the drugs used to induce an abortion — as controlled dangerous substances, threatening incarceration and fines if an individual possesses the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice.A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump during cross-examination attacked Stormy Daniels for trying to monetize her life story (Charly Triballeau photo via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images on May 9, 2024)

A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump during cross-examination attacked Stormy Daniels, above, for trying to monetize her life story (Charly Triballeau photo via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images on May 9, 2024).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Karmic justice: Women might seal Trump’s fate in New York trial, Jennifer Rubin, May 13, 2024.  jennifer rubin new headshotHope Hicks and Stormy Daniels supplied critical testimony.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Countries Fail to Agree on Treaty to Prepare World for the Next Pandemic, Apoorva Mandavilli, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Negotiators plan to ask for more time. Among the sticking points are equitable access to vaccines and financing to set up surveillance systems.

Countries around the globe have failed to reach consensus on the terms of a treaty that would unify the world in a strategy against the inevitable next pandemic, trumping the nationalist ethos that emerged during Covid-19.

The deliberations, which were scheduled to be a central item at the weeklong meeting of the World Health Assembly beginning Monday in Geneva, aimed to correct the inequities in access to vaccines and treatments between wealthier nations and poorer ones that became glaringly apparent during the Covid pandemic.

Although much of the urgency around Covid has faded since the treaty negotiations began two years ago, public health experts are still acutely aware of the pandemic potential of emerging pathogens, familiar threats like bird flu and mpox, and once-vanquished diseases like smallpox.

“Those of us in public health recognize that another pandemic really could be around the corner,” said Loyce Pace, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, who oversees the negotiations in her role as the United States liaison to the World Health Organization.

washington post logoWashington Post, Covid will still be here this summer. Will anyone care? Fenit Nirappil and Sabrina Malhi, May 26, 2024. Despite “FLiRT” variants, this may be the first covid wave with little federal pressure to limit transmission or data to even declare a surge.

 

ozempic

ny times logoNew York Times, Ozempic Cuts Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease Complications, Study Finds, Dani Blum, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Major clinical trial showed such promising results that the drug’s maker halted it early.

Semaglutide, the compound in the blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, dramatically reduced the risk of kidney complications, heart issues and death in people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease in a major clinical trial, the results of which were published on Friday. The findings could transform how doctors treat some of the sickest patients with chronic kidney disease, which affects more than one in seven adults in the United States but has no cure.

“Those of us who really care about kidney patients spent our whole careers wanting something better,” said Dr. Katherine Tuttle, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an author of the study. “And this is as good as it gets.” The research was presented at a European Renal Association meeting in Stockholm on Friday and simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial, funded by Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk, was so successful that the company stopped it early. Dr. Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk’s executive vice president of development, said that the company would ask the Food and Drug Administration to update Ozempic’s label to say it can also be used to reduce the progression of chronic kidney disease or complications in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease, which occurs when the kidneys don’t function as well as they should. In advanced stages, the kidneys are so damaged that they cannot properly filter blood. This can cause fluid and waste to build up in the blood, which can exacerbate high blood pressure and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke, said Dr. Subramaniam Pennathur, the chief of the nephrology division at Michigan Medicine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Farm Animals Are Hauled All Over the U.S. So Are Their Pathogens, Emily Anthes and Linda Qiu, May 21, 2024 (print ed.). Tens of millions of farm animals cross state lines every year, traveling in cramped, stressful conditions that can facilitate the spread of disease.

The bird flu virus that is spreading through American dairy cows can probably be traced back to a single spillover event. Late last year, scientists believe, the virus jumped from wild birds into cattle in the Texas panhandle. By this spring, the virus, known as H5N1, had traveled hundreds of miles or more, appearing on farms in Idaho, North Carolina and Michigan.

The virus did not traverse those distances on its own. Instead, it hitched a ride with its hosts, the cows, moving into new states as cattle were transported from the outbreak’s epicenter to farms across the country.

Live animal transport is essential to industrial animal agriculture, which has become increasingly specialized. Many facilities focus on just one step in the production process — producing new young, for instance, or fattening adults for slaughter — and then send the animals on.

The exact number of chickens, cows and pigs being transported on trucks, ships, planes and trains within the United States is difficult to pinpoint because there is no universal national system for tracking their movement.

But estimates from official sources and animal advocates offer a sense of the scale: In 2022, some 21 million cattle and 62 million hogs were shipped into states for breeding, or feeding, according to the Agriculture Department; these figures do not include poultry, movement within the same state or journeys to slaughter. That same year, more than 500,000 young dairy calves, some only a few days old, were shipped from just six states, according to the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit group. Some traveled more than 1,500 miles.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. halts funding to virus research organization linked to pandemic probes, Dan Diamond, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). Top NIH official Lawrence Tabak is set to face off this morning with the House panel probing the coronavirus covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2response. Expect lawmakers to focus on the agency’s oversight and funding of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic.

U.S. House logoEcoHealth was thrown back into the spotlight Wednesday, after the Department of Health and Human Services said it was suspending funding to the organization and moving to debar the New York-based nonprofit from receiving additional funds, citing evidence EcoHealth had failed to monitor and report on risky virus experiments in China.

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U.S., Global Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Consumers

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Dominates the Space Launch Business. Rivals Are Calling Foul, Eric Lipton, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. government is concerned about its reliance on a billionaire for access to space. New competitors say SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them.

Elon Musk aggressively elbowed his way into the space launch business over the past two decades, combining engineering genius and an entrepreneurial drive with a demand that the U.S. government stop favoring the big, slow-moving contractors that had long dominated the industry.

Today, it is Mr. Musk who is dominant. His company, SpaceX, is the primary provider of launch services to NASA and to the Pentagon. His rockets carry far more commercial satellites into orbit than anyone else’s, including those for his own Starlink communications network. He has set new standards for reaching space cheaply and reliably.

But in one striking way, the former outsider has come to resemble the entrenched contractors he once fought to topple: He is increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay, his competitors say, even as his success is prompting qualms within the government about such heavy reliance on a mercurial billionaire.

The new generation of space entrepreneurs trying to emulate Mr. Musk is sufficiently concerned about what they see as his anticompetitive tactics that some of them are now willing to take him on publicly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Doesn’t Want You Buying an E.V. From China. Here’s Why, Jim Tankersley, May 28, 2024 (print ed.).  President Biden wants to shift America’s car fleet toward electric vehicles, but not at the expense of American jobs or national security.

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Media, Sports, Religion, High Tech, Education, Culture

washington post logoWashington Post, Giant pandas are returning to D.C.’s National Zoo. Meet Bao Li and Qing Bao, Michael E. Ruane, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). D.C.’s National Zoo said China has agreed to lease it two new pandas — Bao Li, 2, a male, and Qing Bao, 2, a female. They are set to arrive later this year. Giant pandas are coming back to Washington.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo announced Wednesday that two new giant pandas — Bao Li, 2, a male, and Qing Bao, 2, a female — will be arriving from China later this year.

The announcement was a surprise, given the tense relationship between the United States and China, which owns and leases all giant pandas in U.S. zoos, and the short period of time since the departure of Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their son, Xiao Qi Ji, late last year.

The new pandas are coming on a 10-year lease, ending in April 2034, during which the zoo will pay the China Wildlife and Conservation Association $1 million a year, the zoo said in its announcement. All cubs born in U.S. zoos are, by agreement, sent to China around the age of 4. Mei Xiang, 25, and Tian Tian, 26, went back because the term of their lease was up.

The zoo said its David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is being renovated for the first time in more than a decade. A new rock landscape with shallow pools, as well as bamboo stands for foraging, and climbing structures are being added.

washington post logoWashington Post, MLB incorporates stats from Negro Leagues, altering record books, Chelsea Janes, May 30, 2024 (print ed.). For example, Josh Gibson, the Homestead Grays star with legendary power whose career was cut short when he suffered a stroke and died at 35, will now be at the top of several lists.

major league baseball mlb logoBaseball history will change forever Wednesday. Major League Baseball plans to officially incorporate Negro Leagues statistics into its record book, according to a person familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity Tuesday night because MLB was planning an announcement for Wednesday morning.

The move comes 3½ years after MLB said it would consider the Negro Leagues as major leagues, meaning all Negro leaguers would be considered major leaguers from that point forward. On Wednesday, the players from Negro Leagues in operation from 1920 to 1948 will be fully incorporated into MLB’s statistical record.

Just one example: When looking up the highest career batting averages in MLB’s record book, the leader will be Josh Gibson, whose average of .372 in Negro Leagues play is higher than the .367 Ty Cobb posted to lead all MLB players.

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Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

 

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The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

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Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates:Jury Begins Deciding Trump’s Fate in Hush-Money Case, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, May 29, 2024. The landmark case is in the hands of a Manhattan jury. Twelve New Yorkers have begun deliberations on the 34 felony counts against Donald Trump in the first criminal trial of an American president. He is accused of falsifying business records in connection with a payment to a porn star.Here’s the latest.

After weeks of tawdry testimony describing sex, tabloid deal-making and claims of a conspiracy that stretched into the Oval Office, a group of 12 New Yorkers must now decide whether to convict Donald J. Trump in the first criminal trial of an American president. The jurors filed out of a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday to begin deliberations, tasked with reaching a verdict that could either vindicate Mr. Trump’s argument that he did nothing wrong or sully him as a felon as he seeks to regain the presidency.

The criminal case — one of four against Mr. Trump, and most likely the only one that will go to trial before Election Day — exposed what prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office described as a fraud on the American people. Mr. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush-money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, on the eve of the 2016 election. His onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, made the payment and was repaid by Mr. Trump, who prosecutors say concealed the nature of the reimbursement. If convicted, he faces a sentence ranging from probation to four years in prison.

Here’s what to know:

  • Instructions for the jury: The judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, issued instructions to the jurors that serve as something of a guide to applying the law to the case. One challenge for the jury is the unusual layering of charges: The charges against Mr. Trump are felonies because prosecutors say he falsified the records to cover up another crime. Here’s a look at the instructions.
  • Trump is leaving the courtroom. He cannot leave the courthouse while the jury is deliberating, as Justice Merchan informed him with a quirk of his mouth, as if to say, "nothing to be done about this."

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes sweeping promises to donors on audacious fundraising tour, Josh Dawsey, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). By tying donation requests to pledges of tax cuts and other policies, Trump is testing the boundaries of federal campaign finance laws.

When Donald Trump met some of the country’s top donors at a luxurious New York hotel earlier this month, he told the group that a businessman had recently offered $1 million to his presidential effort and wanted to have lunch.

“I’m not having lunch,” Trump said he responded, according to donors who attended. “You’ve got to make it $25 million.”

Another businessman, he said, had traditionally given $2 million to $3 million to Republicans. Instead, he said he told the donor that he wanted a $25 million or $50 million contribution or he would not be “very happy.”

As he closed his pitch at the Pierre Hotel, Trump explained to the group why it was in their interest to cut large checks. If he was not put back in office, taxes would go up for them under President Biden, who vows to let Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy and corporations expire at the end of 2025.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump told donors he will crush pro-Palestinian protests, deport demonstrators, Josh Dawsey, Karen DeYoung and Marianne LeVine, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). The former president has publicly waffled on the Israel-Gaza war. But he told wealthy donors he supports Israel’s right to continue “its war on terror.”

Former president Donald Trump promised to crush pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, telling a roomful of donors — a group that he joked included “98 percent of my Jewish friends” — that he would expel student demonstrators from the United States, according to participants in the roundtable event with him in New York.

“One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country. You know, there are a lot of foreign students. As soon as they hear that, they’re going to behave,” Trump said on May 14, according to donors at the event.

When one of the donors complained that many of the students and professors protesting on campuses could one day hold positions of power in the United States, Trump called the demonstrators part of a “radical revolution” that he vowed to defeat. He praised the New York Police Department for clearing the campus at Columbia University and said other cities needed to follow suit, saying “it has to be stopped now.”

 

djt solo no credit nyc courtPolitico, DC’s liberal bent does not amount to inherent bias against Jan. 6 defendants, appeals court rules, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The three-judge panel included two of Donald Trump’s appointees.

politico CustomWashington, D.C.’s left-leaning politics has no bearing on its residents’ ability to be fair jurors in trials of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Two former President Donald Trump appointees from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals joined an appointee of former President Barack Obama in a unanimous three-judge ruling that turned down arguments from lawyers for former New York City Police Officer Thomas Webster that Washington jurors were too biased to sit on cases related to the riot.

“The political inclinations of a populace writ large say nothing about an individual’s ability to serve impartially in adjudicating the criminal conduct of an individual,” Obama appointee Patricia Millett wrote in a decision joined by Trump appointees Greg Katsas and Neomi Rao.

The ruling is a ringing rejection of Trump and his allies’ longstanding claims that fair trials are impossible in cities with Democratic-leaning populations. Trump himself is, of course, currently on trial in deep-blue Manhattan, where he was held in contempt for violating a gag order after he claimed that his jury there is “95 percent Democrats.”

Tuesday’s decision from the D.C. Circuit is also an endorsement of courtroom processes intended to screen potential jurors for bias before trials begin. And it could give a boost to the stalled effort to try Trump on charges that he attempted to subvert the 2020 election and helped foment the riot that Webster joined.

Many of the more than 150 Jan. 6 defendants who have gone to trial have argued for a change of venue on the basis of political bias of the jury pool or lingering anger over the events of Jan. 6. However, federal judges in Washington have uniformly rejected those challenges, responding that the process for questioning potential jurors was sufficient to weed out potential bias.

In the wake of his indictment last August on charges he led a conspiracy aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election, Trump repeatedly echoed the claims that a Washington jury would be hopelessly unfair to him because the city voted 92 percent for Biden and only 5 percent for him in that contest. (Judges have repeatedly noted that this statistic omits the 30 percent of D.C. residents who did not vote but would be included in the jury pool).

“No way I can get a fair trial, or even close to a fair trial, in Washington, D.C.,” Trump wrote on his social media site shortly after he was charged last summer. “There are many reasons for this, but just one is that I am calling for a federal takeover of this filthy and crime ridden embarrassment to our nation.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Live Updates: Israel Used U.S.-Made Bombs in Strike That Killed Dozens Near Rafah, May 29, 2024. The munitions used in an attack on a camp for displaced people were identified by weapons experts and a Times visual analysis.

The bombs used in the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a camp for displaced people near Rafah on Sunday were made in the United States, according to weapons experts and visual evidence reviewed by The New York Times.

Munition debris filmed at the strike location the next day was remnants from a GBU-39, a bomb designed and manufactured in the United States, The Times found. U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to use more of this type of bomb, which they say can reduce civilian casualties.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in cities around the world on Tuesday days after an Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza.

In Britain, a large protest gathered in central London chanting, “Blood on your hands” and, “Stop arming Israel” not far from Downing Street and the prime minister’s residence. Most of the demonstrators left peacefully but officers arrested 40 people at a breakaway protest that obstructed a highway, according to the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday, and three officers were injured.

Here’s what we know:

  • The munitions used in an attack on a camp for displaced people were identified by weapons experts and a Times visual analysis.
  • U.S. officials have pressed Israel to use more GBU-39s, which they say can reduce civilian casualties.
  • Thousands around the world protest after the deadly Israeli strike in Rafah.
  • ‘All eyes on Rafah’ surges on social media after a deadly Israeli strike.
  • U.N. says it is struggling to keep operating in Gaza because of Israel’s expanding offensive.

ny times logoNew York Times, Gaza’s Historic Heart, Now in Ruins, Bora Erden, Graham Bowley and Tala Safie, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The Great Omari Mosque, built on an ancient holy site, is one of the many treasured landmarks damaged in Israel’s military offensive.

Perhaps no structure so exemplified the rich, interwoven history of Gaza as the Great Omari Mosque, believed by many to be the oldest in the territory. As empires waned, religious buildings on the site — first pagan, then Christian and Muslim — were destroyed or repurposed. The mosque was rebuilt many times, surviving not only as a beloved center for Islamic faith and learning, but also as a symbol of resilience.

In December, the mosque was all but destroyed in an airstrike by the Israeli military, which claimed the site had become a command center for Hamas.

Palestinians say they lost not only a critical anchor to their past, but also a place for the present, a public space for prayer and contemplation, for wedding announcements and soccer games. That vitality is evident in the many images created over the centuries by illustrators and photographers who sought to capture its central role in Gazan life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Climate Change Added a Month’s Worth of Extra-Hot Days in Past Year, Raymond Zhong, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). Since last May, the average person experienced 26 more days of abnormal warmth than they would have without global warming, a new analysis found.

Over the past year of record-shattering warmth, the average person on Earth experienced 26 more days of abnormally high temperatures than they otherwise would have, were it not for human-induced climate change, scientists said Tuesday.

The past 12 months have been the planet’s hottest ever measured, and the burning of fossil fuels, which has added huge amounts of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, is a major reason. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population experienced at least 31 days of atypical warmth since last May as a result of human-caused warming, the researchers’ analysis found.

Hypothetically, had we not heated the globe to its current state, the number of unusually warm days would have been far fewer, the scientists estimated, using mathematical modeling of the global climate.

The precise difference varies place to place. In some countries, it is just two or three weeks, the researchers found. In others, including Colombia, Indonesia and Rwanda, the difference is upward of 120 days.

ny times logoNew York Times, Calls Mount to Let Ukraine Strike Russia With Western Weapons, Constant Méheut, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. and other allies banned Ukraine from firing Western weapons into Russia. Kyiv says that has handcuffed its ability to prevent cross-border attacks.

Russian FlagCalls are mounting among Western nations to allow attacks on Russian territory using weapons that they have sent the Ukrainian military, a measure that Ukraine says will enable it to better prevent Russian attacks.

ukraine flagOn Monday, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, made up of lawmakers from countries belonging to the military alliance, adopted a declaration urging NATO members to lift a ban on firing Western weapons into Russia. That came after similar calls by NATO’s top official, Jens Stoltenberg, and government ministers in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden.

european union logo rectangleThe calls to allow Ukraine to expand its use of the Western weapons are mostly directed at the United States, the largest supplier of arms to the Ukrainian government. Washington has repeatedly asked Ukraine not to fire U.S.-made weapons into Russian territory for fear of escalating the war, although a debate has now opened within the Biden administration over relaxing the ban.

Ukraine has complained in recent months that the ban allows Russian forces to launch attacks from inside Russian territory without risk and hampers its ability to repel them. That disadvantage became clear this month when Russia started a new offensive in northeastern Ukraine after amassing troops and equipment just across the border.

 

More Trump-Related News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In closing, Trump’s team takes the jurors for idiots, Dana Milbank, May 29, 2024. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche dana milbank newesttreated jurors as if they were deaf, or slow. “THAT. IS. A. LIE!” he bellowed at them.

Donald Trump’s lawyers ended their defense of the former president in a way uniquely suited to their client: with a ludicrous and easily debunked lie.

In Tuesday’s closing arguments of Trump’s hush money trial here, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told the jury that the revelation of the “Access Hollywood” tapes — Trump’s “grab ’em by the p---y” moment, which set off the fateful effort to buy Stormy Daniels’s silence — was not the earthshaking event we all remember it being for the 2016 Trump campaign. Rather, Blanche said, it was just one of those things “that happens all the time in campaigns.”

djt solo no credit nyc court“The government wants you to believe that the release of that tape, from 2005, was so catastrophic to the campaign that it provided a motive, a motive for President Trump to do something criminal. But there is no evidence of that,” Blanche said. Rather, Trump’s lawyer maintained, “it was not a doomsday event,” and Trump “never thought that it was going to cause him to lose the campaign.”

With indignation, Blanche lied to the jury: “You heard that politicians reacted negatively to the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. They didn’t testify. You heard that there was even talk about something consequential for President Trump, who was the Republican nominee. But none of that happened. None of that is true.”

Republican officeholders didn’t rain denunciations on Trump? Party elders didn’t discuss replacing him as the GOP nominee? Blanche must have supposed that these jurors have been sequestered. In a cave. For 10 years.

Eight years ago, Trump himself worried aloud that the “Access Hollywood” episode would cost him the election (and it may well have, if not for WikiLeaks and James Comey): “If 5 percent of the people think it’s true, and maybe 10 percent,” Trump said in one clip from a rally that prosecutors later played for the jury, “we don’t win.” Blanche was also suggesting that Trump’s own former White House assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, perjured herself in the trial when she testified about conversations at the Republican National Committee, where she then worked, about replacing Trump on the ticket.

washington post logoWashington Post, If Trump were convicted in his hush money trial, here’s what he could face next, David Nakamura, May 29, 2024. A guilty verdict for Trump in the New York trial would mean a mix of routine court processing and extraordinary logistical considerations, legal experts say, Donald Trump has complained of the indignities of a cold, uncomfortable Manhattan courtroom during his hush money trial, which is expected to begin jury deliberations after jurors hear instructions from the judge Wednesday morning.

If convicted, Trump could face other conditions he may consider insulting, including a required inmate review by New York City’s Department of Probation.

The probation office on the 10th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse prepares presentencing reports for judges. There, Trump would be interviewed about his personal history, his mental health and the circumstances that led to his conviction.

Lawyers say the process is humbling.

“If you think the courtroom is dingy, just wait until you go to the probation office,” said Daniel Horwitz, a white-collar criminal defense attorney in New York and former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Former prosecutors sketched out a mix of likely experiences for Trump if he were found guilty of any charge in the case, which includes 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

 

juan merchan djtMeidas Touch Network, Commentary: ‘Highly Inappropriate’: Judge Hits Trump Lawyer Over ‘Outrageous’ Remark, Aaron Parnas, May 28, 2024. 
Merchan, above left, referenced Blanche's history as a federal prosecutor.

mtn meidas touch networkThis morning, at the conclusion of Todd Blanche's closing argument in Donald Trump's election interference criminal trial, Blanche told that jury that they should think twice before "sending a man to prison." Blanche, during his closing argument, tried to play on the emotions of the jury by noting that a guilty verdict could lead to a prison sentence for Donald Trump.

The issue? Punishment is a matter for the judge, not the jury to decide. The jury's role is to determine guilty or innocence, not to prescribe punishment. As a result, Blanche's comment was inappropriate, and Justice Merchan quickly acknowledged that Blanche overstepped.

After the jury left the courtroom, and before lawyers departed, Justice Merchan stated that Blanche's statement was "outrageous" and "highly inappropriate," referencing his past history as a federal prosecutor.

"You know that making a comment like that is highly inappropriate. It's simply not allowed," said Justice Merchan. "I think that was outrageous, Mr Blanche. Someone who has been a prosecutor as long as you should know. It's hard for me to imagine how that was accidental in any way."

As a result, the District Attorney sought a curative instruction on the comment, and Justice Merchan agreed to give a curative instruction to a jury after lunch.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Robert De Niro Slams Donald Trump Outside of Courthouse, Aaron Parnas, May 28, 2024. De Niro is holding a press conference as closing arguments are ongoing inside Trump's election interference criminal trial

mtn meidas touch networkThis morning, actor Robert De Niro slammed Donald Trump during a press conference outside of the Manhattan courthouse where closing arguments are currently ongoing in Trump's election interference criminal trial. De Niro was joined by the Biden Campaign's communication director and former Capitol Police Officers Harry Dunn and Michael Fanone

De Niro began his remarks by blasting Trump as a 'clown':

"Donald Trump doesn’t belong in my city. We New Yorkers used to tolerate him when he was just another grubby real estate hustler masquerading as a big shot. A two-bit playboy lying his way into the tabloids. He’s a clown. But this person can’t run the country. That does not work, and we all know that."

De Niro went on to discuss the crime rates under Trump versus under President Biden, especially the murder rate in New York City:

"It's no surprise that the murder rate and other violent crimes peaked under Trump and are now falling under Biden. And now Trump is promising to use our own military to attack U.S. citizens. That's the tyrant he's telling us he'll be. And believe me, he means it."

He concluded his remarks by speaking about Trump's actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021, stating that Trump "left destruction in its wake"

"On January 6, Trump rallied an angry mob to threaten democracy, leaving death and destruction in its wake. That's why I needed to be involved in the Biden-Harris ad. Because it reminds us that Trump will use violence against anyone who stands in the way of his megalomania and greed. But it's a coward's violence. Do you think Trump ever threw a punch himself or took one? This guy who ran and hid in the White House bunker when there were protesters outside? He directs the mob to do his dirty work for him."

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Will Consider Felony Charges Against Trump Today, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, May 29, 2024. After the judge instructs them on the law, 12 New Yorkers will retreat behind closed doors to weigh Donald Trump’s fate in the hush-money trial.

Jurors in Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial will begin deliberations on Wednesday after hearing hours of closing arguments that portrayed the case in stark and irreconcilable terms.

It could take hours, days or even weeks for the 12 New Yorkers to reach a verdict in the first criminal trial of an American president. And before they begin deliberating, the jurors will receive instructions from the judge on the relevant law.

This last stage of the weekslong case comes a day after the jurors watched both sides deliver their final flurry of arguments.

A prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, meticulously described a scheme on the eve of the 2016 election to muzzle a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. The woman, Stormy Daniels, kept quiet after Mr. Trump’s onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, bought her silence with a $130,000 hush-money deal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Prosecutor Portrays Trump’s Actions as a Fraud on the American People, Staff Reports, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). In closing arguments of the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, a prosecutor said the case centered on “a conspiracy and a coverup” related to hush money paid to a porn star. A Trump lawyer earlier called for a “very quick and easy” verdict. Jurors could begin deliberating by Wednesday.

A prosecutor in the criminal case against Donald J. Trump suggested on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had engaged in a fraud against the American people on the eve of the 2016 election by silencing a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with him. The prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, told jurors in his closing argument that the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels was part of a conspiracy that “could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

Prosecutors say Mr. Trump falsified business records to conceal his reimbursement of his onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who testified that he was acting on orders from Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen, who became the prosecution’s star witness, testified that Mr. Trump confirmed the plan to reimburse him during an Oval Office meeting.

The defense’s summation: Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, called Mr. Cohen “the greatest liar of all time” in his closing argument and said there was “not a shred of evidence” that Mr. Trump had plotted to falsify records. He also argued that there was nothing false about the documents because Mr. Cohen had in fact performed legal work — and suggested that Mr. Trump had little reason to pay attention to them in any case, because he was the “leader of the free world” at the time.

But Mr. Blanche’s argument was at times perplexing. He sometimes called extra attention to elements of the prosecution’s case and repeatedly emphasized Mr. Cohen’s position as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer even as he was impugning his character. He also played down prosecutors’ contention that Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and the longtime publisher of The National Enquirer had engaged in a criminal conspiracy to suppress negative stories about Mr. Trump in order to protect his candidacy.

“Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy,” he said. Here’s a recap of the defense’s closing argument.

Biden trolls Trump: During Mr. Blanche’s closing argument, President Biden’s campaign held a news conference outside the courthouse with the actor Robert De Niro and two former Capitol Police officers. It was the most direct reference Mr. Biden’s campaign has made to Mr. Trump’s legal troubles after mostly sticking to sly insinuations. Read about the news conference.

Here’s what to know:

  • The charges: Mr. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Mr. Cohen testified that Mr. Trump had ordered him to “take care of” Ms. Daniels’s account in the waning days of the 2016 campaign because he feared she would derail his candidacy if she went public. Prosecutors say Mr. Trump faked business records to conceal the repayment of Mr. Cohen by listing them as legal fees. Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and also says he never had sex with Ms. Daniels. Here’s a refresher on the case.
  • What happens next: The closing arguments could spill into Wednesday. After both sides have summarized their cases for the jury, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, will instruct jurors on the relevant law before they begin deliberations — which could take anywhere from a few hours to weeks. If convicted, Mr. Trump faces up to four years in prison.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Leans Into an Outlaw Image as His Criminal Trial Concludes, Maggie Haberman and Jonah E. Bromwich, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). Preparing for a potential verdict in Manhattan, Donald Trump has increasingly aligned himself with fellow defendants and people convicted of crimes.

Over the past week, Donald J. Trump rallied alongside two rap artists accused of conspiracy to commit murder. He promised to commute the sentence of a notorious internet drug dealer. And he appeared backstage with another rap artist who has pleaded guilty to assault for punching a female fan.

As Mr. Trump awaits the conclusion of his Manhattan trial — closing arguments are set for Tuesday and a verdict could arrive as soon as this week — he used a weeklong break from court to align himself with defendants and convicted criminals charged by the same system with which he is at war.

The appearances fit neatly into Mr. Trump’s 2024 campaign, during which he has said he is likely to pardon those prosecuted for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and lent his voice to a recording of the national anthem by a choir of Jan. 6 inmates.

There was a time when so much confirmed and alleged criminality would be too much to tolerate for supporters of a candidate for president, an office with a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. That might have been especially true in the case of a candidate who has been indicted four times and stands accused of rank disregard for the law.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why a Star Witness Never Testified at Trump’s Trial, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump’s lawyers are expected to highlight the absence of Allen Weisselberg, Mr. Trump’s former finance chief. But he is in jail, serving time for perjury.

allen weisselberg croppedProsecutors never called Mr. Weisselberg to testify, because, although he knows the truth, he has not always told it. He is serving time in the Rikers Island jail complex after pleading guilty to perjury in an unrelated civil case involving Mr. Trump, the man he served for nearly half a century.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Verdict Playbook: Anger and Retribution, Regardless of Outcome, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump has a history of attacking investigators, blaming President Biden and seeking vengeance on those who cross him.

The verdict in former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial remains a mystery, at least for a few more days. Less of a mystery is what Mr. Trump will say and do after it is announced — whatever the outcome might be.

If the past is any guide, even with a full acquittal, Mr. Trump will be angry and vengeful, and will direct attacks against everyone he perceives to be responsible for the Manhattan district attorney’s prosecution. He will continue to level the attacks publicly, at rallies and on Truth Social, and privately encourage his House Republican allies to subpoena his Democratic enemies.

The pattern is firmly established: After Mr. Trump escaped impeachment twice and survived a special counsel investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia, he immediately went into revenge mode — complaining about the injustices he was forced to endure and urging his allies to investigate the investigators.

“Regardless of the outcome, the playbook is the same,” said Alyssa Farah Griffin, Mr. Trump’s former White House communications director, who began working for him shortly after his first impeachment trial but has since become a sharp critic of her former boss. 

Politico, Judge Cannon rebukes Trump prosecutors over gag order request, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). In a court order, the judge again faulted the special counsel for failing to provide ‘courtesy’ to Trump lawyers.

politico CustomThe judge overseeing the criminal case against Donald Trump for hoarding classified documents at his Florida home has again chided special counsel Jack Smith’s team for its tactics — this time over a request for an order preventing Trump from repeating baseless claims that FBI agents carrying out a search at Mar-a-Lago last year were authorized to kill him.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, right, turned down the gag order request Tuesday as she delivered another sharp warning to prosecutors that they need to make more concerted efforts at dialogue with Trump’s counsel before bringing disputes to the court.

“The Court finds the Special Counsel’s pro forma ‘conferral’ [with the defense] to be wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy,” wrote Cannon, a Trump appointee. “It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise.”

Cannon didn’t rule out granting the request in the future, but she said prosecutors would need to to further engage with Trump’s side over the issue before she will take it up again. She also questioned Smith’s claim of urgency to file the gag order request, noting that prosecutors filed it on a “non-emergency” basis. It was submitted on the Friday evening before the Memorial Day weekend, leading Trump lawyers to complain that they were being rushed into responding.

In addition, Cannon appeared to fault Smith’s attorneys for skewing how they described the stance that Trump’s lawyers had taken on the proposed gag order. The judge suggested prosecutors had relegated Trump’s response to “editorialized footnotes,” rather than just reciting it neutrally to the court. She directed both sides to provide her with more details in the future on their attempts to work out such disputes and to do so “in objective terms.”

While the judge seemed piqued by the prosecutors’ actions, she turned down a request from Trump’s defense to impose sanctions on the prosecution for allegedly defying court rules and her previous orders. However, Cannon said that was possible if her rulings aren’t obeyed.

“Failure to comply with these requirements may result in sanctions,” the judge wrote in the brief order posted to the south Florida federal court’s online docket Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment on the judge’s order.

Prosecutors have indicated they needed to move quickly with the gag request because of a series of inflammatory public statements by Trump claiming that FBI officials had given the OK to kill him during the court-ordered raid at Mar-a-Lago in May 2022. The claim stems from the inclusion of a policy on use of deadly force included in the operations plan given to agents prior to the search.

Current and former FBI officials have said the policy is standard, included in virtually all such operations plans, and intended to limit the use of force — not broaden it. In addition, they’ve noted that the operation was coordinated with the Secret Service, which is responsible for guarding Trump and his residences, and that it was intentionally scheduled at a time when Trump was out of town.

Prosecutors argued that Trump’s assertions were endangering the lives of FBI agents who took part in the search.

Cannon, the judge who delivered the brush back to Smith’s prosecutors Tuesday, has a prickly relationship with those attorneys. They often seem to bristle at her willingness to entertain some of Trump’s arguments and have signaled some impatience at the slow pace of the case, which was brought against Trump last June and presently has no scheduled trial date.

Last week, at a hearing in Cannon’s Fort Pierce, Florida, courtroom, the judge urged prosecutor David Harbach to “just calm down” as he argued against claims of prosecutorial misconduct leveled in the case.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors expected the filing of the gag request on Friday would immediately deter Trump from making similar statements. If so, it was unsuccessful: Trump’s campaign issued several fundraising emails over the weekend, including one that said President Joe Biden “authorized deadly force on my home.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Emerging Portrait of Judge in Trump Documents Case: Prepared, Prickly and Slow, Alan Feuer, May 29, 2024. Judge Aileen Cannon’s handling of court hearings in Florida offers insights into how the case has become bogged down in unresolved issues.

aileen cannonA few months ago, a top prosecutor on former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case stood up in court and told Judge Aileen M. Cannon that he was concerned about the pace of the proceeding, gingerly expressing his desire to keep the matter “moving along.”

Almost instantly, Judge Cannon got defensive.

“I can assure you that in the background there is a great deal of judicial work going on,” she snapped. “So while it may not appear on the surface that anything is happening, there is a ton of work being done.”

In some sense, Judge Cannon had a point. Much of what judges do unfolds out of sight in the sanctity of their chambers.

But at seven public hearings over more than 10 months, Judge Cannon has left an increasingly detailed record of her decision-making skills and judicial temperament.

The portrait that has emerged so far is that of an industrious but inexperienced and often insecure judge whose reluctance to rule decisively even on minor matters has permitted one of the country’s most important criminal cases to become bogged down in a logjam of unresolved issues.

She rarely issues rulings that explain her thinking in a way that might reveal her legal influences or any guiding philosophy. And that has made the hearings, which have taken place in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., all the more important in assessing her management of the case.

Regardless of her motives, Judge Cannon has effectively imperiled the future of a criminal prosecution that once seemed the most straightforward of the four Mr. Trump is facing.

She has largely accomplished this by granting a serious hearing to almost every issue — no matter how far-fetched — that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised, playing directly into the former president’s strategy of delaying the case from reaching trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump loudly heckled at Libertarian National Convention, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). “Maybe you don’t want to win,” Trump said to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. “Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.”

Former president Donald Trump encountered an unusually tough crowd at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday night as the audience loudly booed him and used noisemakers to drown out his speech.

The first current or former president to speak at the third-party’s convention, Trump made several major promises to libertarians in the crowded, rowdy room, including assuring the audience that he would appoint a libertarian to his Cabinet if elected in November. But the presumptive Republican nominee also taunted the third party that has typically garnered around 1 to 3 percent of the vote in presidential races, saying they should nominate him if they want to win.

“Maybe you don’t want to win,” Trump said to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. “Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.”

The raucous event for the former president marked a sharp departure from the typical celebratory atmosphere at such Trump campaign gatherings, normally full of thousands of supporters who travel from other states to see the former president while laughing and clapping to their favorite, often biting punchlines. Trump is said to derive energy from these trademark rallies and reacts to any disruption by threatening to have that person or people removed.

He is unaccustomed to dealing with a divided audience, such as the one on Saturday night — some of which didn’t seem to want him there.

“I don’t think it is a good idea for the party to invite candidates who can take our voters,” Illinois Libertarian voter Gavin Hanson said. “I don’t think he got any voters from that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump told Libertarians to nominate him. He then mocked them when they booed him, Michael Gold and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump’s appearance before the Libertarian Party on Saturday was without modern precedent: the presumptive nominee of one party addressing the convention of another.

Early in his speech at the Libertarian Party’s national convention on Saturday, Donald J. Trump told the party’s delegates bluntly that they should nominate him as its candidate for president. He was vigorously booed.

When the jeers died down, Mr. Trump, visibly frustrated with the rowdy reception he had received ever since taking the stage, dug in and went a step further, seeming to insult the very group that had invited him.

“Only do that if you want to win,” he said of nominating him. “If you want to lose, don’t do that. Keep getting your three percent every four years.”

The boos began anew, only louder.

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek to Bar Trump From Attacking F.B.I. Agents in Documents Case, Alan Feuer, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). The prosecutors said the former president had made “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago that could endanger the agents involved.

Justice Department log circularFederal prosecutors on Friday night asked the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case to bar him from making any statements that might endanger law enforcement agents involved in the proceedings.

Prosecutors tendered the request after Mr. Trump made what they described as “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida. This week, the former president falsely suggested that the F.B.I. had been authorized to shoot him when agents discovered more than 100 classified documents while executing a court-approved search warrant there.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that President Biden “authorized the FBI to use deadly (lethal) force” during the search.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidentialnomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

 

djt indicted proof

Associated Press via Politico, Prosecutors seek to bar Trump in classified files case from statements endangering law enforcement, ap logoStaff Report, May 24, 2024. The request follows a false claim by Trump earlier this week that FBI agents who searched his home were “authorized to shoot me.”

aileen cannonFederal prosecutors on Friday asked the judge overseeing the classified documents case against Donald Trump to bar the former president from public statements that “pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents” participating in the prosecution.

politico CustomThe request to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, right, follows a false claim by Trump earlier this week that the FBI agents who searched his home in August 2022 were “authorized to shoot me” and were “locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

He was referring to the disclosure in a court document that was made public that the FBI, during the search, followed a standard use-of-force policy that prohibits the use of deadly force except when the officer conducting the search has a reasonable belief that the “subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

FBI logoThe policy is routine and meant to limit the use of force during searches. Prosecutors noted that the search was intentionally conducted when Trump and his family were away and was coordinated with the Secret Service. No force was used.

“The Government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago,” prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team wrote in asking that Cannon make a restriction on Trump’s statements a condition of his release pending trial.

“Those statements create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents — falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him — and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment,” they added.

An attorney for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday night.

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Defense lawyers have objected to the government’s motion, prosecutors wrote.

Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021, and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

Trump faces four criminal cases as he seeks to reclaim the White House, but outside of the ongoing New York hush money prosecution, it’s not clear that any of the other three will reach trial before the election.

merrick garlandAsked Thursday at an unrelated event about the claim that the FBI intended to use force against Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, said: “That allegation is false, and it is extremely dangerous. The document that is being referred to in the allegation is the Justice Department’s standard policy limiting the use of force. As the FBI advises, it is part of the standard operations plan for searches. And in fact, it was even used in a consensual search of President Biden’s home.”

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Conway: Judge Cannon's Response to Gag Order Could Cause Her Removal, Acyn (Senior Digital Editor), May 24, 2024. ‘She's really on the spot here.’

mtn meidas touch networkRenowned attorney George Conway, right, warned that if Judge Aileen Cannon failed to act on a motion to impose a gag order on Donald Trump igeorge conway twittern the classified documents case, Special Counsel Jack Smith might use it an opportunity to have her removed from the case.

 

Donald J. Trump built Trump Tower in the early 1980s — “his golden time,” as one supporter put it (New York Times photo by Don Hogan Charles).Donald J. Trump, right, built Trump Tower in the early 1980s — “his golden time,” as one supporter put it (New York Times photo by Don Hogan Charles).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Legal Troubles News Analysis: How Donald Trump Still Lives in the 1980s, Maggie Haberman, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The greed-is-good era was the last time his preferred public image was intact, and he’s been returning there as he sits through his criminal trial in Manhattan.

When his criminal trial finishes for the day, Donald J. Trump typically returns to the marble-and-gold triplex atop Trump Tower, the high rise he built in the early 1980s and used to establish a public image as a master builder.

It is the silver lining for Mr. Trump, as he spends his first sustained period of time in Manhattan since he moved to Washington in 2017. He passes the days in a dingy courtroom downtown, where he faces 34 felonies, listening to people from his old life describe him as a depraved liar who sullied the White House. At the end of it all, he could be sent to prison.

But in the evenings, people who have spoken to him say, he has been enjoying being back in the penthouse apartment that he moved into four decades ago. He still considers it home — and a permanent reminder of the easiest period of his life.

That period was the greed-is-good era in which Mr. Trump sold himself nationally as a titan of industry, despite a relatively small, and local, real estate portfolio. He had just built a glittering tower on Fifth Avenue, infuriating elites and demanding a tax break from the city. And it is the era he alludes to constantly, referring to 1980s cultural touchstones, including the news show “60 Minutes,” Time magazine and celebrities like the boxer Mike Tyson.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

djt solo no credit nyc court

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

 

 

world central kitchen

washington post logoWashington Post, Aid groups say Israel’s Rafah assault upends food and relief operations, Ellen Francis, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Susannah George and Adela Suliman, May 29, 2024. World Central Kitchen paused work at its main Rafah kitchen, as aid groups said Israel’s offensive upended efforts to deliver basic services in southern Gaza.

World Central Kitchen said ongoing attacks in Rafah forced it to suspend work at its main kitchen there, and aid groups warned that Israel’s offensive makes relief efforts nearly impossible. Biden administration officials said a recent Israeli strike that killed at least 45 Palestinians at a tent encampment in Rafah did not cross his “red line.”

Israel FlagThe White House said Tuesday that Israel has not violated President Biden’s warnings on the conduct of its military campaign in Rafah, as scenes of charred bodies and accounts of people burning alive prompted global condemnation of the Israeli strike on Sunday. Biden officials lamented the loss of life but said the attack did not cross the line Biden announced when he said the United States would suspend delivery of offensive weapons to Israel if it went into “population centers” in Rafah.

Responding to questions on whether Israeli tanks have pushed closer to central Rafah, the Israeli military said Wednesday that it “does not share the location of its forces.”

Israel has expanded its offensive in Rafah in recent weeks, even though U.S. officials said they had been assured operations in the city in southern Gaza would remain “limited.” On Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Israel had not launched a “major ground operation” in the city.

ny times logoNew York Times, Updates: Israeli Troops Keep Up Assault on Rafah After Condemnation of Deadly Strike, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). Israel said it was still operating in the Rafah area, even as outrage intensified in the wake of a deadly airstrike on a camp for Palestinians.

Israel’s military said its troops were still operating in the Rafah area on Tuesday, even as international outrage over its assault on the city intensified in the wake of a deadly airstrike on a camp for displaced Palestinians.

The military has said that the strike in Rafah on Sunday — which ignited a deadly fire in the camp and killed dozens of people — was targeting a Hamas compound. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said it was a “tragic accident” that civilians were killed, a statement that did little to quell a chorus of voices demanding accountability and a halt to the fighting.

Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, on Tuesday cited the “deeply distressing” scenes from Rafah over the weekend — many of which featured charred bodies in the wreckage of the encampment — in calling for a “swift, comprehensive” investigation.

Key Developments

  • The U.N. says about 1 million people have fled Rafah, and other news.
  • Around one million people have fled Rafah amid Israel’s assault on the city in southern Gaza, according to the United Nations. The evacuation from Rafah, once the primary destination for people leaving other parts of the enclave, is the latest in a string of displacements since Israel launched a war to dismantle Hamas, the armed group that led the deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
  • China on Tuesday joined a chorus of international voices in expressing “serious concern” about the Israeli military’s actions in Rafah, citing an order by the International Court of Justice last week that appeared to call for Israel to halt its military offensive there. China “opposes any violation of international law” and “strongly urges Israel to listen to the voice of the international community and stop attacking Rafah,” said Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • A member of Egypt’s security forces was killed near the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip and an investigation is underway, an Egyptian army spokesman said on Monday, after the Israeli military reported a shooting on the border. Al Qahera News, Egypt’s state-owned television station, cited an unnamed security official as saying it appeared there had been gunfire exchanged between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, and that the ensuing battle resulted in the death of the soldier. The New York Times could not independently verify the circumstances of the shooting.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon suspends aid deliveries via Gaza pier after repeated mishaps, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Alex Horton, May 28, 2024. The gap in deliveries is likely to extend “at least a week,” said a Pentagon official, as the U.S. and Israeli militaries reassemble pieces of the damaged pier.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via its floating pier after mishaps in which four U.S. military vessels were beached, one U.S. service member was critically injured, and sections of the structure were ripped free in bad weather.

The damage will require the U.S. military, with Israeli assistance, to disassemble pieces of the pier attached to the Gazan shore, rebuild them in the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, then transport them back to the Gazan shore and reconnect them, said Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman. That process will take at least a week, temporarily eliminating the pier as an option to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza aid as Israel continues its months-long military campaign against the militant group Hamas.

“The pier proved highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza,” Singh said. “Thus, upon completion of the pier repair and reassembly, the intention is to re-anchor the temporary pier to the coast of Gaza and resume humanitarian aid to the people who need it most.”

The project, announced by President Biden in March, is intended to provide an additional route to get aid to Gazan civilians on top of land routes that have been squeezed by Israeli officials and beset with looting and violence. While the U.S. military has been able to deliver more than 1,000 tons of aid over the pier this month, according to officials, its initial installation was delayed for days by bad weather, and it is unclear whether the refurbishment in Ashdod may render it less susceptible to future storms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Israeli Strike in Rafah ‘Tragic Accident,’ Staff Reports, May 28, 2024 (print ed.).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments came amid international condemnation over the strike, which killed 45 people, according to Gaza officials.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWith international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, right, said Monday that the killing of dozens of people in a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” but gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive there.

His comments came at a particularly delicate time, just three days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive in the city and as diplomats were aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: Israeli Airstrike Kills Dozens in Tent Camp in Rafah, Gazan Officials Say, Staff Reports, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). At least 45 people were killed at the makeshift camp, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound; Witnesses described charred bodies and flames. A doctor said the majority of the victims he saw were women and children.

An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, killed at least 45 people on Sunday night and wounded 249, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Monday. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it was looking into reports that “several civilians in the area were harmed” by the airstrike and a subsequent fire. A follow-up statement said the strike had killed two Hamas leaders. A legal official with the military said Monday that the strike was under review.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that its ambulance crews had taken a “large” number of victims to the Tal as Sultan clinic and field hospitals in Rafah, where few functioning hospitals remain, and that “numerous” people had been trapped in fires at the site of the strikes.

Macron says Israeli operations in Rafah ‘must stop,’ and more news:

  • President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday he was “outraged” by an Israeli attack in Rafah that the authorities in Gaza said killed dozens of people. “These operations must stop,” he said, referring to the strike on Sunday. “There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians.” Mr. Macron called “for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.” His comments came after the International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to halt its offensive in the city and added to a drumbeat of criticism of Israel over its conduct in the war.
  • Aid trucks from Egypt reached the Gaza Strip under a new U.S.-brokered agreement to reopen a vital conduit for humanitarian relief, the Israeli military and the Egyptian Red Crescent said. Some 126 trucks from Egypt containing food, fuel and other necessities made it to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement. The trucks were inspected by Israeli officials, said Ahmad Ezzat, an Egyptian Red Crescent official. On Sunday, the U.N. trucks sent to Kerem Shalom to pick up the Egyptian aid were forced to evacuate the crossing because of a security issue, according to Sam Rose, a spokesman for UNRWA. Officials including Mr. Rose said the aid had not made it past the crossing as of Sunday.
  • Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, has said that Israel’s offensive in Rafah is “incompatible with international law.” His comments were reported on Saturday by the country’s public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. Senior German officials had previously warned Israel against attacking Rafah, but Mr. Habeck’s comments appear to represent a hardening of that tone in a country with a longstanding policy of support for Israel. “Israel must not carry out this attack, at least not in the way it did in the Gaza Strip before, bombing refugee camps and so on,” Mr. Habeck said.
  • Israel’s war cabinet met on Sunday night to discuss continuing efforts to reach a cease-fire deal and free hostages held in Gaza, according to an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks. Diplomats are aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week, according to three officials briefed on the process. According to the officials, preliminary discussions were held this weekend in Paris.

washington post logoWashington Post, Middle East Conflict: Netanyahu’s split with Biden and the Democrats was years in the making, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Steve Hendrix and Tyler Pager, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Israeli leader’s longtime strategy of aligning with the GOP has helped shatter the American consensus behind Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWhen President Barack Obama hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, in the Oval Office in 2014, the Israeli leader lectured him about Gaza’s future, a Palestinian state and an Iranian nuclear deal in a tone that Obama found condescending and dismissive.

After the meeting, an aide asked how it went. Netanyahu “peed on my leg,” Obama replied, according to two people familiar with the exchange who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose a private conversation.

Israel Flagdemocratic donkey logoThe moment was emblematic of a dynamic that is culminating in the bitter debates over Israel now erupting across the American political landscape. Over the past 16 years, Netanyahu has departed sharply from his predecessors’ studious bipartisanship to embrace Republicans and disdain Democrats, an attitude increasingly mirrored in each party’s approach to Israel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right Israeli settlers step up attacks on aid trucks bound for Gaza, Loveday Morris, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The settler groups use a web of publicly accessible WhatsApp groups to track the trucks and coordinate attacks, providing a window into their activities.

Radical Israeli settlers have expanded their attacks on aid trucks passing through the West Bank this month, blocking food from reaching Gaza as humanitarian groups warn that the enclave is sinking deeper into famine.

Groups of settler youth are tailing relief convoys, setting up checkpoints and interrogating drivers. In some cases, far-right attackers have ransacked and burned trucks and beaten Palestinian drivers, leaving at least two hospitalized.

The assailants use a web of publicly accessible WhatsApp groups to track the trucks and coordinate attacks, providing a window into their activities. Working off what they say are tips from Israeli soldiers and police, in addition to the public, members pore over photos to work out which vehicles might be carrying aid to Gaza and mobilize local supporters to block them.

An attack on Thursday showed the system in action: Users in one WhatsApp group with more than 800 members began posting about a flatbed truck loaded with sugar, sharing photos from the road as they followed it.
Far-right Jewish protesters pray as they block a road in the West Bank near the Tarqumiyah crossing, where aid trucks headed to Gaza must pass before entering Israel, on May 17. (Heidi Levine/FTWP)

“The truck supplying Hamas stopped in front of Evyatar!” said 23-year-old Yosef de Bresser, referring to an Israeli outpost south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. De Bresser is a leader in the “We Won’t Forget” movement, which set up protest camps at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza earlier this year and runs several of the WhatsApp groups targeting aid trucks.

“Come join the blockade!” he wrote. Others answered the call.

The flatbed was ransacked, its load strewn across the road, according to images posted later in the group, one of two sugar trucks vandalized by settlers that day. De Bresser said the waybills — which did not show a destination — prove that the truck was headed to Gaza.

Fahed Arar, who owned the cargo, said the 30-ton load of sugar was actually destined for Salfit, a Palestinian town in the West Bank. The driver escaped unharmed, he said, but the Israeli military wouldn’t let him reload the goods.

 

A file photo shows the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo via EPA and Shutterstock).

A file photo shows the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo via EPA and Shutterstock).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Palestinians can’t wait for difficult “day after” problems to be solved, David Ignatius, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). david ignatiusIn Gaza City last November, I watched thousands of Palestinian civilians slowly march south from their shattered homes toward what Israel promised would be food and shelter in Rafah.

palestinian flagNow, with Rafah a military target, many of those Palestinians are again on the move fleeing conflict — their plight nearly as desperate as before. Israel, prodded by the United States, must fulfill its repeated promises to provide adequate humanitarian assistance — so that the next phase of the war in Gaza doesn’t become an even deeper tragedy.

 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa’s request to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive in Gaza (Reuters photo by Johanna Geron on May 24, 2024).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa’s request to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive in Gaza (Reuters photo by Johanna Geron on May 24, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Top U.N. Court Orders Israel to Halt Its Assault on Rafah, Gaya Gupta, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). While the International Court of Justice has no means of enforcing its orders, the ruling adds to the condemnation that Israel has faced over the war.

Israel FlagThe International Court of Justice on Friday ruled that Israel must immediately halt its ground assault on Rafah, dealing another blow to Israel as the country faces increasing international isolation.

While the court has no means of enforcing its orders, the ruling adds to the condemnation that Israel has faced over the war, in which more than 35,000 people in Gaza have died, according to health authorities in the enclave.

south africa flag after 1994A South African legal team urged the United Nations’ top court last week to put further constraints on Israel’s incursion there, saying it was “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its people.”

Israel has said that its operation in Rafah is a precise operation to target Hamas. The country’s military said on Thursday that it was fighting in neighborhoods near the heart of the city, where half of the territory’s population had been sheltering before the Israeli military ordered mass evacuations there.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

 

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

 


U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

 

ohio map

Politico, Biden to be nominated virtually before the convention in order to get on Ohio’s ballot, Lauren Egan, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). The move ensures joe biden twitterthat, for the second cycle in a row, there will be no in-person nomination.

politico CustomThe Democratic National Committee announced on Tuesday that it will nominate President Joe Biden through a “virtual roll call” vote ahead of the August convention to ensure he appears on the Ohio ballot this November.

Ohio’s ballot deadline is Aug. 7, two weeks before the DNC planned to hold its official presidential nomination at an in-person convention in Chicago. Frank LaRose, the Republican secretary of state, warned last week that Biden would not be on the state’s ballot unless the state

lawmakers moved the ballot access deadline to after the Democratic convention. Days later, the DNC announced it would expedite the nominating process, though no date has yet been announced for the virtual roll call.

dnc square logo“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio and all 50 states, and Ohio Republicans agree. But when the time has come for action, they have failed to act every time, so Democrats will land this plane on our own,” DNC chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement. “Through a virtual roll call, we will ensure that Republicans can’t chip away at our democracy through incompetence or partisan tricks and that Ohioans can exercise their right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice.”

The virtual nomination will look similar to the process the party used during the 2020 convention, when most of the proceedings were impacted by the Covid pandemic. The DNC said the Chicago convention will still go on as planned, serving as a convening event for the party.

There are typically a few states each election year whose ballot certification deadlines do not align with the party’s official nominating convention. These misalignments are almost always quietly resolved by either the state legislature or by the secretary of state.

Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, called a special session to pass a law ensuring that Biden does appear on the ballot. But GOP biden harris 2024 logolawmakers would only agree to such a change only if it included a campaign finance bill that would stop foreign donations to state and local ballot-issue campaigns. The party’s supermajority shot down a proposal by Democrats to pass a clean measure that would have moved the ballot deadline past the convention with no accompanying changes.

The state of Washington and Alabama also have early certification deadlines that fall before the DNC. But Democrats in the former resolved the issue by offering a provisional certification of Biden’s nomination. Lawmakers in Alabama passed legislation earlier this spring that deferred the state’s certification deadline until after the DNC.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Harris to launch Black voter group, as they aim to blunt Trump’s gains, Toluse Olorunnipa, May 29, 2024. The move underscores how much the president’s electoral fate hinges on his ability to gin up support from what has been his most loyal voting bloc.

biden harris 2024 logo oPresident Biden and Vice President Harris will travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday to launch “Black Voters for Biden-Harris,” the latest sign that their campaign is trying to shore up its support with a crucial constituency.

The rally, to be held at a mostly Black school in the city, will feature top Black leaders from across the country, who will join Biden to draw a sharp contrast with his Republican rival, former president Donald Trump. Biden will also visit a Black-owned small business and meet with local volunteers, campaign officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, RFK Jr. had a ‘visceral’ reaction to tear-downs of Confederate statues, Mariana Alfaro, May 29, 2024. Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said on a podcast that he doesn’t think “it’s a good, healthy thing for any culture to erase history.”

rfk jr mouth openIndependent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he had a “visceral reaction against” the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville.

Speaking to podcast host Tim Pool in a “Timcast IRL” episode Friday, Kennedy — who is mounting a long-shot bid for the White House — said he doesn’t think “it’s a good, healthy thing for any culture to erase history,” when asked for his thoughts on the removal of Confederate monuments around the country.
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“I have a visceral reaction against, against the attacks on those statues,” he said. “There were heroes in the Confederacy who didn’t have slaves and, you know, I just, I just have a visceral reaction against destroying history. I don’t like it. I think we should celebrate who we are.”

He added: “We should celebrate the good qualities of everybody. … If we want to find people who were completely virtuous on every issue throughout history, we would erase all of history.”

The statue of Lee that once stood in Charlottesville was removed in 2021 before being cut into fragments and melted in a furnace last year. The 2017 battle over its removal prompted the deadly Unite the Right rally in which violence erupted when white nationalists and supremacists descended on the Virginia college town to protest. Charlotteville’s action to take down the statue was perhaps the most remarkable of Confederate statue removals around the country, which included a Congress-backed effort to wipe Confederate names and legacies from the nation’s military bases and assets.

 Barbara Balmaseda sent this photo of herself to Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021./ Background: Circled in yellow, Balmaseda is seen climbing the Capitol balustrade on Jan. 6; behind her in red cap is Proud Boy Garcia. Justice Department provided photos.

Barbara Balmaseda sent this photo of herself to Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021./ Background: Circled in yellow, Balmaseda is seen climbing the Capitol balustrade on Jan. 6; behind her in red cap is Proud Boy Garcia. The Justice Department provided photos.

Law & Crime, ‘You have my taser’: Proud Boys-trailing Miami Young Republicans director with ties to Rubio, DeSantis, indicted for Jan. 6, Brandi lawcrime logoBuchman, May 28, 2024. A Florida woman and former director for the Miami Young Republicans who allegedly spent months exchanging texts and photos with a member of the Proud Boys before joining him at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has been formally indicted, court records show.

Barbara “Barby” Balmaseda, 23, once a reported intern for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and a campaign organizer for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was arrested last December.

She was charged with felony obstruction of justice/threat of physical force for reporting crimes, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and two disorderly and disruptful conduct charges — one for being in a restricted area, the other for being in the Capitol — and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Her indictment was entered onto the docket on May 22.

Her next court appearance is a status hearing on June 27 before Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather.

Prosecutors said Balmaseda, a resident of Miami Lakes, exchanged “hundreds of texts and images” with the now-convicted Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia spanning from August 2020 through January 2021, even making travel arrangements to coordinate her flight with his to Washington, D.C., for a day before the certification of the 2020 election.

So close were the two, prosecutors say, that on Jan. 8, Balmaseda told Garcia: “Hey! Good morning! You left a hat and a gas mask in Adolfo’s car, I also have your sunglasses in my purse and you have my taser.”

Investigators were able to identify Balmaseda in part thanks to evidence pulled from her devices, as well as from Garcia’s, according to a statement of facts.

Some of those photos showed the two together on the evening of Jan. 5, attending a pro-Trump rally where the Miami Lakes woman was snapped wearing a pink and black neck gaiter. She wore the same gaiter on Jan. 6 in a photo taken that afternoon after the breach alongside a shirtless Garcia, and another man unidentified in court records.

Over roughly 900 messages from November 2020 to January 2021, Balmaseda often spoke about now-President Joe Biden “stealing” the election and shared articles or social media posts in the chat from Trump’s allies in Congress who planned to object including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. After Donald Trump’s defeat was declared on Nov. 7, however, she lamented to her group chat: “F— it, going to take pain killers and sleep to Monday call me when people grab there [sic] f—— balls.”

The Hartmann Report, Commentary: The Press: What Has Happened to the Lifeblood of our Democracy? Thom Hartmann, May 28, 2024. How thom hartmanndid America reach this point where about half our country thinks up is down, black is white, and Republicans are best trusted with our money and national security?

The fifteen or twenty percent of Americans who follow actual news reporting are dumbfounded:

— Only about half of Americans know that Trump set up and wanted the end of Roe v Wade while one-in-five think President Biden is responsible for it,

— More trust Republicans with the economy than Democrats and 46% say Trump can fix the economy compared to 32% for Biden,

— Only a third of Americans know that Republicans appointed the majority on the Supreme Court,

— 46% of Americans say a second Biden presidency will weaken American democracy,

— More than half (55%) of Americans believe the economy is shrinking and we’re in a recession (when it’s growing faster than under any president since FDR and has been for three-plus years),

— When President Biden came into office in 2021, almost two-thirds of Americans approved of his handling the economy and foreign affairs; today that number is fewer than a third,

— Almost half (49%) think the stock market is down for the year when in fact the S&P 500 was up 24% last year and is up more than 12% this year,

— About three-quarters (72%) are sure that inflation is up right now, when the rate has fallen from 9.1% to a current low of 3.4%, far better than the lowest inflation number Reagan had at 4.1% in his entire 8 years in office,

— While unemployment is lower than it’s been in over 50 years, half of Americans (49%) say “unemployment is at a 50-year high,”

— Only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of government while 69% of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump,

— As violent weather tears apart America, only 23% of Republicans consider climate change a major threat to our nation’s well-being,

— Today, 58% of Americans say the economy is getting worse daily because of mismanagement by Biden and Democrats in Congress,

— Almost half of Americans (44%) think Social Security will be gone by the time they retire,

— Fully 44% of Americans say the media and politicians are “making too much” of the January 6th assault on our capitol.

How did America reach this point where about half our country thinks up is down, black is white, and Republicans are best trusted with our money and national security?

The first imperative for any dictatorial regime is to seize control of the press. Hitler not only shut down all the opposition press and turned all of Germany’s newspapers into propaganda outlets, but ordered Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will played in every theater in Germany before every movie. The first thing his soldiers did upon occupying every country he conquered was to seize the offices of the local newspapers and radio stations.

Orbán destroyed the free press in Hungary by changing that nation’s libel and defamation laws in the same way Trump is today advocating, setting up libel lawsuits against virtually every press outlet that had ever criticized him and bankrupting them and their owners and editors with lawsuits. His oligarch buddies then bought the media properties out of bankruptcy for pennies on the dollar.

Putin did the same in Russia, and Modi is pursuing a similar effort in India.

Here in America, though, the rightwing billionaires who overwhelmingly own our media didn’t need the heavy hand of libel laws to seize control of this nation’s news and information channels (although Trump promises to do so anyway).

Zuckerberg built Facebook by buying out and shutting down or taking over his competitors in defiance of anti-trust laws that haven’t been used (until recently) since Reagan’s famous 1983 order to stop their enforcement.

Musk brought in cash from Saudi Arabia to help finance his purchase of Twitter, turning it into a rightwing cesspool that has become one of America’s premier sources of misinformation tilted toward Trump and hard-right Republicans.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, and the wealthy owner of The New York Times, some argue, is pushing that paper to hammer Biden’s age because the president won’t do a sit-down interview with him.

From the 1930s, media monopoly laws prevented the consolidation of TV and radio stations and newspapers into a few rich hands. That ended when Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which discarded those ownership restrictions: within a decade virtually all of America’s media (in terms of reach) was in the hands of fewer than a dozen corporations.

A few years ago, I met with the billionaire owner of 900 or so radio stations, many of them carrying rightwing talk radio. We were in the offices of a US Senator, who pointed out to the billionaire that my show was regularly beating Rush Limbaugh in the ratings and asked the media mogul if he’d ever considered balancing his programming with some progressive shows, which make just as much money for their stations as do conservative hosts.

The billionaire laughed at the senator and said, simply, “I’ll never put anybody on the air who wants to raise my taxes.”

Ever since Reagan’s deregulation of the financial sector legalized the private equity scam, these predatory companies have bought up, sucked dry, and driven into bankruptcy more than half of America’s small local newspapers.

It’s the same strategy they used to drain hundreds of billions from Red Lobster, J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, Toys “R” Us, Sears, 24 Hour Fitness, Aeropostale, American Apparel, Brookstone, Charlotte Russe, Claire’s, David’s Bridal, Clear Channel, Deadspin, Fairway, Gymboree, Hertz, KB Toys, Linens ’n Things, Mervyn’s, Mattress Firm, Musicland, Nine West, Payless ShoeSource, RadioShack, Shopko, Sports Authority, Rockport, True Religion, and Wickes Furniture (among hundreds of others).

The fact that information is the lifeblood of democracy and news media is the only industry explicitly named and protected by the Constitution is as irrelevant to these parasites as it is to Supreme Court justices Alito and Thomas, who the billionaire owners of such firms regularly spiff with luxury vacations and other gifts.

Political and economic commentators seem baffled. Last week, Steve Rattner did a long-form charts-and-graphs presentation for Joe Scarborough’s show demonstrating how the economy, by almost every measure, is better than any time since World War II but — bafflingly — Americans are convinced it’s in the tank and getting worse. He didn’t once, however, mention the role played by the media.

When large numbers of the people of any nation believe things that are objectively untrue, it’s a huge warning sign that something is awry with that nation’s media.

Almost half of Americans get all or most of their news from social media, which is dominated by two rightwing billionaires and the Chinese Communist Party, all of them apparently fans of Trump and his dreamed-of autocracy.

The rest of us get our news from radio, TV, cable, and other online sources, again dominated by billionaire interests who put keeping their tax rates low above threats to our democratic system of government.

Back in the 1980s, when the media told the truth about Reagan’s massive tax cuts, deregulation, gutting public education, and selling off public lands for pennies on the dollar, rightwing strategists began a unified chant about “liberal media bias.” Other than being unhappy about news outlets telling the truth, the one twig they could hang onto was the fact that most journalists were college graduates and colleges were then considered bastions of liberalism.

Rush Limbaugh debuted in 1988, claiming his show was a necessary antidote to liberal media bias even though it was the “liberal media” that made him famous and promoted his show to the top of the ratings. By the end of the ’80s the “liberal media” had become the GOP’s go-to meme under almost all circumstances.

At the 1992 Republican nominating convention, everybody from Barbara Bush to Marilyn Quayle was trashing the so-called leftwing media. GOP Chairman Rich Bond told The Washington Post that this was, in fact, a coordinated effort to influence coverage by intimidating reporters and their editors:

“But there is some strategy to it. I’m a coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs’ — meaning the media. Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

It’s high time for Democrats and advocates for democracy to begin working the refs, and pushing for legislation to outlaw media monopolies, eliminate Section 230 liability limitations on social media, and end the destruction of local news by private equity.

If we don’t, America will continue to look more and more like Hungary or Russia and it could soon be too late to do anything about it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidential 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.nomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the nomination and party leadership positions. After winning, Oliver promised to unify the party in his acceptance speech.
“I’m extending my hand,” he said. “Take it and be a part of liberty.”

Oliver is supported by the Classic Liberal Caucus, a left-leaning faction. After the last standing contender was knocked out, Oliver won with 60 percent of the vote against “none of the above.” The contest had fewer than 900 delegates voting.

The final contender was Michael Rectenwald, a former New York University professor who faced backlash and left his job after he invited controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos to speak to his class. Rectenwald, endorsed by the right-wing Mises Caucus that had taken over the party in 2022, had been the front-runner for most of the day.

But Oliver, who was in some ways a protest vote against the ruling caucus, ultimately surpassed Rectenwald in their final head-to-head round.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Trump Pledges to Commute Life Sentence of Drug Trafficker Serving Life, Ron Filipkowski, May 25, 2024.
More from the "law and order" candidate.

mtn meidas touch networkIn addition to promising to pardon J6 defendants who beat police officers, and sharing the stage with 2 gang members currently out on bond for a 140 count indictment including conspiracy to commit murder, Trump finished up the week pledging to commute the sentence of one of the most notorious drug traffickers in American history.

Trump was given a list today by the Libertarian Party of the Top 10 most important issues for delegates attending their National Convention this weekend. The first item on that list was to commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht created the dark web network called Silk Road which was used to traffic narcotics to over 100,000 buyers in hundreds of kilos of a variety of drugs. The drugs sales using Ulbricht's network totaled over $183 million. Ulbricht was convicted at trial of 7 counts of distributing narcotics and was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal in 2018.

Of course, Trump could've pardoned Ulbricht during any of his four years as president, but choose not to. But now, the "law and order" candidate currently under indictment himself for 91 felonies needs votes to solve his criminal own problems by getting elected president, and he is willing to promise just about anything to anyone at this point.

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan, who received a fortune following her divorce from a Google co-founder, on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘I ran into her yesterday’: RFK’s strange non-relationship with his VP pick, Ashley Parker and Meryl Kornfield, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his vice-presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, are on the same ticket. Getting on the same page is taking a bit more time.

Almost exactly a month after introducing Nicole Shanahan as his vice-presidential pick in a carefully choreographed Bay Area extravaganza, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still seemed a bit unclear on exactly how his running mate was spending her time.

At a late April event in Dallas, Kennedy told reporters that Shanahan — who had yet to appear at a public campaign event since her beaming, purple-pantsuited debut four weeks prior — had spent “three or four days at the border.” (In fact, she had spent just a day there, according to two advisers who toured the nation’s Southern border with her.)

Three days later, speaking to reporters in Buffalo, Kennedy said Shanahan had been “talking a lot to the press.” (In fact, she had given no interviews that had been published in mainstream publications.)

He offered some vague reassurances that the woman he had recently chosen to potentially sit just a heartbeat from the presidency was “working on every issue” and “doing a lot of podcasts” — and that while he couldn’t say “exactly what her schedule is,” he was “very happy with what she’s doing.”

“I ran into her yesterday,” Kennedy said, as if his No. 2 on the independent ticket that Democrats and Republicans alike fear could prove a decisive spoiler in the high-stakes 2024 election was more of a casual acquaintance or Craigslist Missed Connection than a true political and ideological partner.

Tell me how this war ends. From the beginning, that has been the agonizing question with the Gaza conflict. After seven horrific months, a resolution is still some way off. But some clarity is emerging about the shape of a possible endgame.

The parameters of an eventual conclusion to the war became more evident after a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel this past weekend by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk. The conversations they had there were outlined to me by knowledgeable sources.

Politico, Super PAC backing RFK Jr. got another $5M from GOP megadonor in April, Brittany Gibson and Jessica Piper, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Tim Mellon, a prolific donor to groups supporting former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, has now given the pro-Kennedy super PAC a total of $25 million.

politico CustomThe super PAC backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr., right, got another cash infusion from GOP megadonor Tim Mellon in April, rfk jr mouth openaccording to the latest campaign finance report.

Mellon is the largest GOP donor this campaign cycle to date, and has now given the American Values 2024 super PAC backing Kennedy’s long-shot independent presidential bid $25 million.

His $5 million donation also made up the vast majority of the super PAC’s haul last month, which totaled $6.1 million. Another $1 million in April came from PAC co-founder Mark Gorton, who also co-founded Limewire.

Mellon is a longtime GOP donor who has given $15 million to Make America Great Again Inc., the super PAC backing former President Donald Trump, including a new $10 million donation last month. He also gave $5 million in March to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC for GOP House candidates, as well as $4 million to The Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC affiliated with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Wyoming billionaire is also releasing a memoir this summer with Skyhorse Publishing, the publishing house run by Tony Lyons, the co-founder of American Values 2024. Kennedy provided a blurb for the book’s cover, according to its Amazon presale page.

American Values also continued its financial relationship with Gavin de Becker, founder of the security firm by the same name — though not through a new contribution.

De Becker was refunded $2 million on April 25. The return was another transaction in the “bridge funding” arrangement between the donor and super PAC. De Becker has now donated $14 million to American Values 2024 and received $11.65 million back since the PAC started backing Kennedy’s White House bid. His net contribution is now $2.35 million.

The arrangement has drawn scrutiny from Kennedy’s rivals, and the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with federal regulators about the consistent transfers of funds back to de Becker, alleging that the contributions function as loans.

The super PAC also spent a bit over $100,000 on social media ads and $31,500 on radio ads in April, the filing showed. American Values ended the month with $20.8 million in cash on hand.

ny times logoNew York Times, He Threw ‘Spaghetti at the Wall’ for Trump. Now He’s After a Top Job, Elizabeth Williamson, May 28, 2024 (print ed.)  If Donald Trump wins the presidency, Richard Grenell, right, hopes to be secretary of state. But his work raises questions, even from his former boss. richard grenell Custom

Richard Grenell’s quest to be secretary of state in a second Trump administration began late on Election Day in 2020, when the defeated president dispatched loyalists to run shambolic “stop the steal” operations in battleground states.

President Donald J. Trump tapped Mr. Grenell — his combative former ambassador to Germany, acting national intelligence chief and special envoy to the Balkans — to fly by private plane to Nevada, where Mr. Grenell ensconced himself, his dog Lola, lawyers and a crew of far-right activists in a suite at the Venetian Resort, which served as the group’s war room in Las Vegas. In a days-long spectacle, the Trump team filed a lawsuit and aired false accusations of fraud, including one wrongly implicating hundreds of members of the military.

It was all a sham. Mr. Grenell told the team in the war room, two G.O.P. operatives recalled, that the Nevada vote was not, in fact, stolen. The operatives, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from Mr. Grenell, said he told the team that the goal was simply to “throw spaghetti at the wall” — the operatives described Mr. Grenell making a theatrical tossing gesture as he spoke — to distract the media from calling Nevada while the election battle in neighboring Arizona played out.

In retrospect, one of the operatives said, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should have subpoenaed everyone in the room, including the operative himself.

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U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 

 A photo taken in about 1905 of female students and several sisters at St. Paul in Hays, Mont. (Montana Historical Society Library and Archives)

A photo taken in about 1905 of female students and several sisters at St. Paul in Hays, Mont. (Montana Historical Society Library and Archives)

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: ‘In the name of God’: Native American children endured years of sexual abuse at boarding schools, Sari Horwitz, Dana Hedgpeth, Emmanuel Martinez, Scott Higham and Salwan Georges, May 29, 2024. Taken from their families and sent to remote boarding schools, Native American children often faced sexual abuse by priests, brothers or sisters who ran the facilities.

Clarita Vargas was 8 when she was forced to live at St. Mary’s Mission, a Catholic-run Indian boarding school in Omak, Wash., that was created under a U.S. government policy to strip Native American children of their identities. A priest took her and other girls to his office to watch a TV movie, then groped and fondled her as she sat on his lap — the beginning of three years of sexual abuse, she said.

“It haunted me my entire life,” said Vargas, now 64.

These firsthand accounts and other evidence documented by The Washington Post reveal the brutality and sexual abuse inflicted upon children who were taken from their families under a systematic effort by the federal government to destroy Native American culture, assimilate children into White society and seize tribal lands.

From 1819 to 1969, tens of thousands of children were sent to more than 500 boarding schools across the country, the majority run or funded by the U.S. government. Children were stripped of their names, their long hair was cut, and they were beaten for speaking their languages, leaving deep emotional scars on Native American families and communities. By 1900, 1 out of 5 Native American school-age children attended a boarding school. At least 80 of the schools were operated by the Catholic Church or its religious affiliates.

The Post investigation reveals a portrait of pervasive sexual abuse endured by Native American children at Catholic-run schools in remote regions of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, including Alaska.

At least 122 priests, sisters and brothers assigned to 22 boarding schools since the 1890s were later accused of sexually abusing Native American children under their care, The Post found. Most of the documented abuse occurred in the 1950s and 1960s and involved more than 1,000 children.

“A national crime scene” is how Deborah Parker, a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes and the chief executive of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, described the network of church-run Indian boarding schools.

“They committed crimes under the cloak,” said Parker, whose grandmother and other family members were sent to boarding schools. “They did it in the name of God.”

To investigate, The Post examined the work histories of priests named on lists, disclosed by Catholic entities, as having faced a “credible claim of sexual abuse.” Using those lists from dioceses and religious orders, The Post then identified which abusers worked at Indian boarding schools. Reporters also reviewed lawsuits, sworn affidavits, oral histories and thousands of boarding school records, and conducted interviews with former students.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Gonzales narrowly wins GOP primary runoff in Texas, beating back far-right challenger, Amy B Wang and Marianna Sotomayor, May 29, 2024. The Republican is favored to win in November against Democrat Santos Limon in the 23rd District. In the 28th, Jay Furman (R) won the runoff to challenge Henry Cuellar (D).

tony gonzalesRep. Tony Gonzales, right, a Texas Republican, narrowly eked out a win Tuesday against pro-gun YouTuber Brandon Herrera in a contest that was a proxy fight for how House Republicans should be governing in Washington.

Gonzales defeated Herrera with 50.7 percent of the vote in a Republican runoff, according to the Associated Press, to win the GOP nomination in Texas’s 23rd District, which runs along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats thought they would have a better shot of poaching the seat if Herrera had won the nomination because of his far-right politics.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Progressive Democrats aren’t turning activism into election wins, Paul Kane, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Left-wing candidates, especially those backing pro-Palestinian protests, have lost many primary races — so far.

Despite the intense focus the past couple of months on pro-Palestinian protests, many of which were championed by the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, the self-proclaimed progressive bloc has struggled to churn out victories at the ballot box.
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Oregon’s Democratic primary served up the latest example of this uphill fight, as the more traditional liberal wing won two contested primaries. State Rep. Janelle Bynum, with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, crushed a progressive favorite, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, by about 40 percentage points.

Politico, Nonconsensual AI porn is hated on the left and right. Can Congress act on it? Mohar Chatterjee, May 26, 2024. Victims of nonconsensual, sexually explicit deepfakes are lobbying Congress to pass a bill. Lawmakers are running out of time.

politico CustomLiberals and conservatives in Congress — from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Josh Hawley — all agree that something should be done to rein in nonconsensual porn generated by AI. The White House issued a “call to action” this week, urging Congress to strengthen legal protections for survivors. But lawmakers have struggled for more than a year to draft a solution, illustrating how ill-equipped Washington is to set limits on rapidly evolving technology with the power to disrupt people’s lives.

Legislation has been mired in debate over who should be held accountable for the deepfakes — with tech lobbyists pushing back on any language that would ensnare the platforms that distribute them.

Meanwhile, it is rapidly becoming easier for anyone with a couple of photos and a computer to make and distribute the videos.

“There are now hundreds of apps that can make non-consensual, sexually explicit deepfakes right on your phone,” Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored a bill against deepfake porn, told POLITICO in an email. “Congress needs to address this growing crisis as quickly as possible.”

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More On Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

 

papua new guinea2

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say, Staff Report, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Just getting to survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge, with a blocked highway and unstable ground “posing ongoing danger” to rescue workers.

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in the landslide that smothered a Papua New Guinea village and work camp on Friday in the country’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the United Nations on Monday.

Government officials visited the disaster site on Sunday. And even as the official death toll jumped from a few dozen to 670, they warned that far more victims than expected appeared to still be caught under the rubble.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated and located near the Porgera gold mine operated by Barrick Gold, a company based in Canada, in collaboration with Zijin Mining, a Chinese group. It is an area of remote and difficult jungle terrain, in a country of around 12 million people that sits just north of Australia. Tropical and divided along tribal, ethnic and linguistic lines, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources but largely underdeveloped, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters, which strike frequently.

ny times logoNew York Times, South Africa’s Young Democracy Leaves Its Young Voters Disillusioned, Lynsey Chutel, Photographs by Joao Silva, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). South Africans who grew up after the country held its first free election in 1994 spoke about their lives and plans to vote — or not — in this week’s election.

At the dawn of South Africa’s democracy after the fall of the racist apartheid government, millions lined up before sunrise to cast their ballots in the country’s first free and fair election in 1994.

Thirty years later, democracy has lost its luster for a new generation.

South Africa is now heading into a pivotal election on Wednesday, in which voters will determine which party — or alliance — will pick the president. But voter turnout has been dropping consistently in recent years. It fell to below 50 percent for the first time in the 2021 municipal elections, and analysts said that voter registration has not kept up with the growth of the voting-age population.

This downward curve has mirrored the support for South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, or A.N.C., which was a liberation movement before becoming a political machine. Polls show the party may lose its outright majority for the first time since taking power in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.

A new generation of voters do not have the lived experience of apartheid nor the emotional connection that their parents and grandparents had to the party. The A.N.C. as a governing party is all young people know, and they blame it for their joblessness, rampant crime and an economy blighted by electricity blackouts

ny times logoNew York Times, London Moves to Revive Its Reputation as a Financial Hub, Eshe Nelson and Michael J. de la Merced, May 29, 2024 (print ed.). As fears have grown that the city is losing its attractiveness for publicly traded businesses, Britain’s government is making changes to bring them back.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Factory Supplying Half of Africa’s Syringes, Apoorva Mandavilli, Photographs by Brian Otieno, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). In Kenya, Revital Healthcare is manufacturing medical products that Africa needs to take charge of routine health care and respond to outbreaks. 

On the stunning Kenyan coast, about halfway between 15th-century ruins and the vibrant city of Mombasa, a small factory is helping to achieve one of Africa’s biggest health care goals: self-reliance.

With fewer than 700 employees, Revital Healthcare makes 300 million syringes a year, enough to meet more than half of Africa’s routine immunization needs.

In the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, when governments were faced with vaccinating millions of people amid severe shortages, Revital shipped syringes to Sri Lanka, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan — and even sent 15 million syringes to India, said Roneek Vora, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

“This is the first time ever in the life of Africa that a medical industry is exporting syringes to India, when we know India is a powerhouse of syringe manufacturing,” Mr. Vora said. “This was a very big deal for us — it broke a lot of barriers,” he added.

ny times logoNew York Times, Recent arrests on spying charges have sent a chill through Britain’s thriving community of Hong Kongers, Megan Specia May 28, 2024 (print ed.). A bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan to offer support in the face of Chinese military drills.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have resettled in the U.K. since 2021, among them prominent pro-democracy activists. China has not forgotten them.

The landslide hit a rural region of the island nation early Friday, but search-and-rescue efforts have been hampered by difficulty in reaching the disaster site and by the hazard that the shifting ground continues to pose.

This danger has prompted many survivors to abandon their homes, according to Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration’s office in Papua New Guinea, who estimated that over 250 houses were abandoned and that roughly 1,250 people were displaced.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated, according to local officials, and has a young population. The authorities fear that many of the fatalities will be children under 15.

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Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 

U.S. Supreme Court

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, The Untold Story of the Network That Took Down Roe v. Wade, Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer, May 28, 2024. A conservative Christian coalition’s plan to end the federal right to abortion began just days after Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

For more than 40 years, a passionate band of conservative and mostly Christian activists tried to find ways to undermine the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion and revolutionized America.

But they had been losing. The country appeared to be moving away from them, increasingly secular and increasingly liberal on sexual matters. The anti-abortion movement lacked the critical mass needed in Washington and the control of courts to end federal abortion rights. But now, with Trump, who promised to name “pro-life judges,” in the White House, there was a new vista before them.

 


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats press Chief Justice Roberts to address ethics at Supreme Court, Ann E. Marimow, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Sens. Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse say flags flown outside the homes of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. mean he must recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases.

Two Democratic senators are calling on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take immediate steps to ensure that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. does not participate in a pair of Supreme Court cases related to the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), who oversee the federal courts in their respective roles as chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a judicial oversight subcommittee, requested a meeting with Roberts as soon as possible to discuss what they called an “ethics crisis” at the Supreme Court. In their letter, dated Thursday, the senators renewed calls for the high court to strengthen its ethics policy to include an enforcement mechanism.

 

samuel alito horizontal headshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Another Provocative Flag Was Flown at Another Alito Home, Jodi Kantor, Aric Toler and Julie Tate, May 23, 2024 (print ed.). Last year, Justice Samuel Alito’s beach house displayed a flag with a symbol carried on Jan. 6 and associated with a push for a more Christian-minded government. The “Appeal to Heaven” flag, right, flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.Last summer, two years after an upside-down American flag was flown outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., shown above in a file photo, another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation house in New Jersey, according to interviews and photographs.

This time, it was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the “Stop the Steal” campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.

 

dick durbin speaking screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What more need Alito do before Durbin gets off the stick? Jennifer Rubin, right, May 26, 2024. Passivity in the face of jennifer rubin new headshotSupreme Court corruption is unacceptable.

After the New York Times reported on an upside-down flag identified with the Jan. 6 insurrectionists flying over Alito’s Virginia home in the days after Jan. 6, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) responded that he didn’t have “anything planned” in response. No hearing? No bill ready to go? Nope.

“I think [Alito’s] explained his situation. The American public understand what he did,” Durbin proclaimed, as if Alito’s excuses were the definitive explanation for a gross breach of judicial ethics. “But I don’t think there’s much to be gained with a hearing at this point. I think he should recuse himself from cases involving Trump and his administration.” And if Alito doesn’t recuse, Durbin cannot find any “recourse other than impeachment, and we’re not at that point at all.” That weak-kneed response would not be Durbin’s worst on Alito this week.

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More On U.S. Schools, Politics, Protests

Politico, AI is shockingly good at making fake nudes — and causing havoc in schools, Dana Nickel, May 29, 2024. Several states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated deepfake nudes, but when the deepfakes are discovered, what happens next in schools varies depending on the state.

politico CustomAngela Tipton was disgusted when she heard that her students were circulating a lewd image around their middle school. What made it far worse was seeing that the picture had her face on someone else’s naked body.

For Tipton, a classroom teacher for 20 years who lives in Indianapolis, the incident with an AI-generated deepfake drove her to change jobs. She now works with an alternative program within her city’s public school system that lets her help students one-on-one or in small groups.

“The way it impacted my career is indescribable,” Tipton said of the picture in an interview. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

K-12 educators, school administrators and law enforcement were already struggling with how to address rare instances of the realistic-looking fake images that cause real damage. But the explosion of sophisticated, easy-to-access artificial intelligence apps is making deepfakes a disturbingly common occurrence in schools.

Twenty states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated pornographic materials, according to data from MultiState, a Virginia-based state and local government relations firm. Still, when the fake images and videos of students and educators are discovered, what happens next in schools — who gets disciplined, how minors are treated and who is responsible for taking images to the police — varies widely depending on the state.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

Several pieces of legislation in Congress designed to limit deepfakes have not advanced largely because lawmakers don’t agree on who should be held responsible. In the absence of federal action, some school systems aren’t mandated to report deepfake incidents to law enforcement, and administrators say they need help.

A new Title IX rule finalized this year requires schools to address online sex-based harassment that happens within a school program or activity. The rule provides examples of online sex-based harassment that would fall under Title IX — including “nonconsensual distribution of intimate images that have been altered or generated by AI technologies.” It also states that schools will be required to address off-campus behavior stoked online if they created a hostile environment in the school, the spokesperson said.

The White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse released a final report earlier this month that laid out prevention, support and accountability efforts for government agencies combating image-based sexual abuse. The report indicates that the Education Department will issue “resources, model policies and best practices” for school districts to promote digital literacy and prevent online harassment.

With Washington divided and power increasingly shifting to the states, governors and mayors are making crucial decisions that are shaping our future. While many states are building on child abuse protections or revenge porn laws, there are limitations: The statutes typically do not specify how schools should discipline students when these incidents happen.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This college invited young people to shape our democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Other schools should follow Occidental College’s lead.

Since 2008, Occidental College in Los Angeles has offered students a chance to join a “Campaign Semester,” in which they dedicate themselves to a political campaign of their choice in presidential and midterm years. Students spend 10 weeks working their hearts out in the field and then the rest of the semester reflecting on what they learned and engaging in the academic study of elections.

Its origin owes a lot to former president Barack Obama, who attended Occidental before transferring to Columbia University. Obama’s 2008 campaign inspired a lot of young people, especially Oxy’s students, many of whom approached Dreier to learn how they might work on the campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, University Leaders Face a Long, Complex Summer, Jeremy W. Peters, May 24, 2024. Many officials may be confronting federal investigations, disputes over student discipline — and the prospect that anti-war protests start again in the fall.

Campuses are emptying out for the end of the academic year. Gone, for the most part, are the tent cities that student activists erected as a symbol of opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

But this summer might feel longer than most.

Congressional Republicans have promised to press their investigation into college antisemitism, even as they have completed their latest hearing, which they tried to turn into a public shaming session for the leaders of Rutgers, Northwestern and the University of California, Los Angeles, over their handling of campus encampments.

And protesters have likewise promised not to give up — with hundreds walking out at Harvard’s graduation on Thursday, and students at U.C.L.A. pitching new tents and briefly taking over a building.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Law

ny times logoNew York Times, Even as Violent Crime Drops, Lawlessness Rises as an Election Issue, Glenn Thrush, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In most U.S. cities, rates of homicide and violent assault are down from pandemic-era highs. But property crimes have risen, fueling voter anxiety.

In mid-2020, the country was reeling from a surge in violent crime and civil upheaval after the killing of George Floyd by the police — a knife’s-edge national crisis that President Donald J. Trump made a central issue in the run-up to Election Day.

Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the “law and order president” standing up to lawlessness, slamming “weak” liberals and calling demonstrators “domestic terrorists.” Joseph R. Biden Jr., who charted a centrist course on law enforcement as a senator, vice president and presidential candidate, vowed to address racial inequities in policing while standing behind the police as they battled the rising violence.

Four years later, the nation’s crime rates have shifted. The politics, however, have not budged.

Homicide rates are tumbling from pandemic highs in most cities, funding for law enforcement is rising, and tensions between the police and communities of color, while still significant, are no longer at a boiling point. But property crime, carjackings and smash-and-grab burglaries are up, adding to a sense of lawlessness, amplified on social media and local online message boards.

Mr. Trump is re-upping his blunt, visceral appeal to voter anxieties. He declared recently that “crime is rampant and out of control like never before,” promised to shoot shoplifters, embraced the “back the blue” slogan against liberal changes to police departments — and even falsely accused the F.B.I. of fabricating positive crime data to bolster Mr. Biden.

 

uvalde massacre all victims

washington post logoWashington Post, Uvalde parents sue gunmaker, ‘Call of Duty’ manufacturer and Meta, Arelis R. Hernández and Naomi Nix, May 24, 2024. The lawyer who won a record-breaking settlement for Sandy Hook families alleges Daniel Defense, Activision and Meta are responsible for pushing the shooter to acquire the AR-15 style weapon he used in the elementary school attack.

The lawyer who won a record-setting settlement for Sandy Hook families announced two lawsuits Friday on behalf of Uvalde school shooting victims against the manufacturer of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack, as well as the publisher of “Call of Duty” and the social media giant Meta.

The lawsuits against Daniel Defense, known for its high-end rifles; Activision, the manufacturer of first-person shooter game “Call of Duty”;” and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, may be the first of their kind to connect aggressive firearms marketing tactics on social media and gaming platforms to the actions of a mass shooter.

The complaints contend the three companies are responsible for “grooming” a generation of “socially vulnerable” young men radicalized to live out violent video game fantasies in the real world with easily accessible weapons of war.

One of those men, the legal team argues, was Robb Elementary School shooter Salvador Ramos. The lawsuits allege Meta and Activision “knowingly exposed the Shooter to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems, and trained him to use it.”

“Over the last 15 years, two of America’s largest technology companies — Defendants Activision and Meta — have partnered with the firearms industry in a scheme that makes the Joe Camel campaign look laughably harmless, even quaint,” the complaint states.

uvalde massacre all victims

The lawsuits are part of an intensifying quest for accountability by Uvalde shooting victim relatives through the civil courts. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack, one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Law enforcement officers waited 77 minutes to enter the classroom and kill the gunman.

“The truth is that the gun industry and Daniel Defense didn’t act alone. They couldn’t have reached this kid but for Instagram,” attorney Josh Koskoff said of the shooter. “They couldn’t expose him to the dopamine loop of virtually killing a person. That’s what ‘Call of Duty’ does.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s fascist talk is what’s ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ Dana Milbank, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). No, dana milbank newestTrump isn’t Hitler. But his copycat words lead nowhere good.

As you’ve probably heard, Donald Trump has once again raised a führer.

The former president’s Truth Social account posted a video posing the question “What happens after Donald Trump wins?” and providing a possible answer: In the background was the phrase “unified Reich.”

ICE logoThis follows Trump’s echoing Adolf Hitler in campaign speeches, saying that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and calling his opponents “vermin.”

trump 2024And that, in turn, followed Trump’s dining at Mar-a-Lago with high-profile antisemite Ye (Kanye West) and white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes, who likened incinerating Jews to baking cookies.

Under the three-Reichs-and-you’re-out rule, Trump should be on the bench. Yet he keeps swinging — and this week provided a sobering measure of how numb we have become to his undeniably fascist rhetoric.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 24, 2024. A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

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Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Space, Transportation

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana’s coast is sinking. Advocates say the governor is undermining efforts to save it, Shannon Osaka, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). A new Republican governor, Jeff Landry, shown at right, is taking aim at the state’s coastal protection agency.

jeff landry oFor the past decade, Louisiana’s program for coastal protection has been hailed as one of the best in the country, after the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed the state to shore up coastlines, repair levees and protect natural habitats.

But now, environmental advocates and experts say the state’s new Republican governor is undermining its coastal protection agency — the state’s first and strongest line of defense against climate change-induced sea level rise. In an open letter published this week and signed by more than 200 business leaders, environmental advocates and other experts, various groups warned against Gov. Jeff Landry’s plans to transform the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

“The very future of our state is at stake,” the letter read.

Environmentalists say that the new governor’s actions could hobble the agency just as its work is most needed. The moves come as other right-leaning states are also cutting back on climate goals and even references to climate change.

Since 2005, when Louisiana was devastated by two hurricanes, the coastal restoration agency has built or revamped over 300 miles of levees that hold back floodwaters, and restored dozens of miles of barrier islands that can absorb the pressure of waves and rising seas. The agency works to shore up these defenses in the face of future, stronger storms and higher seas.

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 26, 2024. Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

ny times logoNew York Times, 600,000 Without Power in 13 States After Deadly Storms, Damien Cave, Mike Ives and Johnny Diaz, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Severe weather was shifting east to threaten much of the Eastern United States on Monday, after powerful storms over the weekend left at least 23 dead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions, Anna Phillips and Veronica Penney, May 24, 2024. Nearly 40 percent of schools in the United States were built before the 1970s, when temperatures were cooler and fewer buildings needed air conditioning.

America’s aging school buildings are on a collision course with a rapidly warming climate.

Last fall, school officials were forced to send students home across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic — just as many were returning from summer break — because of extreme heat and schools lacking air conditioning. In Baltimore and Detroit, high heat led to early dismissals, the same as it had four months earlier when summer temperatures struck in May.

Hot weather is not a new concern for school districts. But as the burning of fossil fuels heats the planet, it’s delivering longer-lasting, more dangerous heat waves, and higher average temperatures. Across much of the northern United States, where many schools were built without air conditioning, districts are now forced to confront the academic and health risks posed by poorly cooled schools. Fixing the problem often requires residents to pass multimillion dollar school repair bonds, which can be hard to do. Climatic change is arriving faster than most can adapt.

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Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

vladimir putin hand up palmer

ny times logoNew York Times, Optimistic About the War in Ukraine, Putin Unleashes a Purge at Home, Paul Sonne and Anatoly Kurmanaev, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Despite years of criticism, President Vladimir Putin of Russia,shown above in a file photo, has only now changed his defense minister and allowed high-level corruption arrests.

Periodic outcries over incompetence and corruption at the top of the Russian military have dogged President Vladimir V. Putin’s war effort since the start of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

When his forces faltered around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the need for change was laid bare. When they were routed months later outside the city of Kharkiv, expectations of a shake-up grew. And after the mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin marched his men toward Moscow, complaining of deep rot and ineptitude at the top of the Russian force, Mr. Putin seemed obliged to respond.

But, at each turn, the Russian president avoided any major public moves that could have been seen as validating the criticism, keeping his defense minister and top general in place through the firestorm while shuffling battlefield commanders and making other moves lower on the chain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Steps Up a Covert Sabotage Campaign in Europe, Julian E. Barnes, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Russian military intelligence is behind arson attacks aimed at undermining support for Ukraine’s war effort, U.S. and European security officials say.

russian flag wavingThe covert operations have mostly been arsons or attempted arsons targeting a wide range of sites, including a warehouse in England, a paint factory in Poland, homes in Latvia and, most oddly, an Ikea store in Lithuania.

But people accused of being Russian operatives have also been arrested on charges of plotting attacks on U.S. military bases.

While the acts might appear random, American and European security officials say they are part of a concerted effort by Russia to slow arms transfers to Kyiv and create the appearance of growing European opposition to support for Ukraine. And the officials say Russia’s military intelligence arm, the G.R.U., is leading the campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. and allies move to tap frozen Russian funds despite Kremlin threats, Jeff Stein, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Kremlin officials have suggested retaliating by confiscating U.S. assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

The United States and its Western allies took a key step Saturday toward using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s war effort, moving closer to providing another key financial stream for Kyiv.

Russian FlagRussian officials have suggested they could retaliate by confiscating U.S. and European assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

ukraine flagMeeting in northern Italy this week, the top financial officials of the Group of Seven nations agreed in a joint statement to tap the investment returns of “immobilized Russian sovereign assets” to support Ukraine. The Kremlin has been blocked from accessing hundreds of billions of dollars held in Western financial institutions after invading Ukraine in 2022, and European and U.S. officials have for months debated whether or how to unlock these funds to help fight off the invasion.

Russia has roughly $280 billion in sovereign assets stashed in Western financial institutions, the majority of which is held by European firms. Those funds are now frozen under the U.S.-led sanctions effort.

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More On U.S. Military, Space, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon suspends aid deliveries via Gaza pier after repeated mishaps, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Alex Horton, May 28, 2024. The gap in deliveries is likely to extend “at least a week,” said a Pentagon official, as the U.S. and Israeli militaries reassemble pieces of the damaged pier.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via its floating pier after mishaps in which four U.S. military vessels were beached, one U.S. service member was critically injured, and sections of the structure were ripped free in bad weather.

The damage will require the U.S. military, with Israeli assistance, to disassemble pieces of the pier attached to the Gazan shore, rebuild them in the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, then transport them back to the Gazan shore and reconnect them, said Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman. That process will take at least a week, temporarily eliminating the pier as an option to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza aid as Israel continues its months-long military campaign against the militant group Hamas.

“The pier proved highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza,” Singh said. “Thus, upon completion of the pier repair and reassembly, the intention is to re-anchor the temporary pier to the coast of Gaza and resume humanitarian aid to the people who need it most.”

The project, announced by President Biden in March, is intended to provide an additional route to get aid to Gazan civilians on top of land routes that have been squeezed by Israeli officials and beset with looting and violence. While the U.S. military has been able to deliver more than 1,000 tons of aid over the pier this month, according to officials, its initial installation was delayed for days by bad weather, and it is unclear whether the refurbishment in Ashdod may render it less susceptible to future storms.

 arlington national cemetery us army

Approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery (shown above in a U.S. Army photo). Service members from every one of America’s major wars, from the Revolutionary War to today's conflicts, are interred at ANC. Wikimedia further describes the history:

As a result, the history of the nation is reflected on the grounds of the cemetery. Arlington Estate was established by George Washington's adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, to be a living memorial to the first president. Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864, by order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The first official “Decoration Day,” later renamed Memorial Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. This tradition continues today, and is one reason why Arlington transformed from being one of many national cemeteries into the premier national military cemetery.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Marks Memorial Day With Message About Freedom as Trump Lashes Out, Michael D. Shear, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden paid tribute to veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. Donald Trump posted an angry and incendiary message on his social media site.

President Biden paid tribute to veterans who died in America’s wars at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, hailing them as “a link in the chain of honor” who deserve recognition for protecting the nation’s democracy.

“Freedom has never been guaranteed,” Mr. Biden said in a nine-minute Memorial Day address, moments after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“Every generation has to earn it. Fight for it. Defend it in battle between autocracy and democracy,” he said of the nation’s veterans. “Our democracy is more than just a system of government. It’s the very soul of America.”

His somber message was a sharp contrast to that of former President Donald J. Trump, his challenger for re-election this year, who posted an angry and incendiary Memorial Day message on his social media site.

“Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country,” the former president wrote on Truth Social.

Mr. Trump also wished a happy Memorial Day to Lewis Kaplan, the federal judge who oversaw the trials in which the former president was accused of defamation. Mr. Trump called Judge Kaplan “the Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge.” He also called Justice Arthur F. Engoron, who presided over Mr. Trump’s civil fraud case, a “wacko.”

In an earlier, more traditional Memorial Day missive on Truth Social, Mr. Trump posted a photograph of himself saluting a wreath while he was president, and saying “WE CAN NEVER REPLACE THEM. WE CAN NEVER REPAY THEM. BUT WE CAN ALWAYS REMEMBER.”

But his vitriolic post followed a few minutes later as a reminder of the stark differences between the two rivals for the White House. As has been the case for years, either as president or as a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump showed that he would not be held to the norms of behavior that guide the nation’s leaders on a somber national holiday.

By contrast, Mr. Biden’s appearance was typical of the kind of message delivered by other presidents in both parties.

He focused mostly on the sacrifices of the past — members of the military who died in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam and the two world wars.

“Our fallen heroes have brought us closer today,” he said. “We’re not just fortunate heirs of their legacy. We have a responsibility to be the keepers of their mission, that truest memorial of their lives.”

Mr. Biden did not mention the wars raging in Europe and the Middle East, where he has pledged not to send American service members to fight alongside allies in Ukraine or Israel. The United States has been drawn into both conflicts nonetheless. The military is helping to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza and is equipping and supporting fighters in both places against Russia and Hamas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Memorial Day U.S. Reflections: What’s to become of the keepsakes left at Arlington Cemetery? Kelsey Baker, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Thousands of mementos have been placed on the graves of those lost to America’s post-9/11 wars. The collection needs a new home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Dominates the Space Launch Business. Rivals Are Calling Foul, Eric Lipton, May 28, 2024. The U.S. government is concerned about its reliance on a billionaire for access to space. New competitors say SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them.

Elon Musk aggressively elbowed his way into the space launch business over the past two decades, combining engineering genius and an entrepreneurial drive with a demand that the U.S. government stop favoring the big, slow-moving contractors that had long dominated the industry.

Today, it is Mr. Musk who is dominant. His company, SpaceX, is the primary provider of launch services to NASA and to the Pentagon. His rockets carry far more commercial satellites into orbit than anyone else’s, including those for his own Starlink communications network. He has set new standards for reaching space cheaply and reliably.

But in one striking way, the former outsider has come to resemble the entrenched contractors he once fought to topple: He is increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay, his competitors say, even as his success is prompting qualms within the government about such heavy reliance on a mercurial billionaire.

 

President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden welcoming President William Ruto of Kenya and Rachel Ruto for their state visit at the White House on Thursday (New York Times photo by Haiyun Jiang on May 23, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Barack Obama Is a Surprise Guest at Biden’s State Dinner for Kenya, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The dinner was held in honor of Kenya, but it was clear that the night was built to keep Democratic allies close as President Biden headed into campaign season.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Full Guest List for Biden’s State Dinner With Kenya, Minho Kim, May 24, 2024. The Bidens invited more than 450 guests, including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Carol Moseley Braun, Melinda Gates, Lester Holt, LeVar Burton and Sean Penn.

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afghanistan nyt

The New York Times documented the disappearances of more than 300 Afghans under a general backed by the United States.

 

U.S. Immigration News

 

ICE logoPolitico, Senate border vote fails again, losing support from both sides, Ursula Perano, May 23, 2024. President Joe Biden is expected to start issuing executive actions in June that mirror parts of the bipartisan border deal.

politico CustomChuck Schumer’s second attempt to advance a sweeping border package failed by a wider margin than the first time, with increased opposition among both Republicans and Democrats.

senate democrats logoSenate campaign arms have already been hitting the other side on the predictable outcome, hoping to blame problems at the border on the opposing party. Biden administration officials have telegraphed that the president will soon take executive action to address border issues ahead of the November election.

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President Joe Biden and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City last year. Administration officials have refused to give any timeline on whether Mr. Biden could announce an order shutting down asylum at the border (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

 

Claims Against Biden Family

 

robert hur us attorney

Washington Post, Who is Robert Hur, special counsel for Biden classified documents probe?

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says Hur tapes are privileged as Congress moves to hold Garland in contempt, Jacqueline Alemany and Perry Stein, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has asserted executive privilege over audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials.

U.S. House logoPresident Biden has asserted executive privilege over the audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials and will refuse congressional requests to hand them over, the White House and the Justice Department said in letters to House Republican leaders Thursday.

 

hunter biden abbe Lowell 1 10 2024Businessman Hunter Biden, left, President Biden's son and a defendant in two federal indictments, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this winter at which Biden made a surprise offer to testify publicly.

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U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by Defendant's psychiatrist).

U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by defendant's psychiatrist).

 

U.S. Reproductive Rights, #MeToo, Trafficking, Culture Wars

Politico, AI is shockingly good at making fake nudes — and causing havoc in schools, Dana Nickel, May 29, 2024. Several states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated deepfake nudes, but when the deepfakes are discovered, what happens next in schools varies depending on the state.

politico CustomAngela Tipton was disgusted when she heard that her students were circulating a lewd image around their middle school. What made it far worse was seeing that the picture had her face on someone else’s naked body.

For Tipton, a classroom teacher for 20 years who lives in Indianapolis, the incident with an AI-generated deepfake drove her to change jobs. She now works with an alternative program within her city’s public school system that lets her help students one-on-one or in small groups.

“The way it impacted my career is indescribable,” Tipton said of the picture in an interview. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

K-12 educators, school administrators and law enforcement were already struggling with how to address rare instances of the realistic-looking fake images that cause real damage. But the explosion of sophisticated, easy-to-access artificial intelligence apps is making deepfakes a disturbingly common occurrence in schools.

Twenty states have passed laws penalizing the dissemination of nonconsensual AI-generated pornographic materials, according to data from MultiState, a Virginia-based state and local government relations firm. Still, when the fake images and videos of students and educators are discovered, what happens next in schools — who gets disciplined, how minors are treated and who is responsible for taking images to the police — varies widely depending on the state.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stand in front of a classroom in Indianapolis again.”

Several pieces of legislation in Congress designed to limit deepfakes have not advanced largely because lawmakers don’t agree on who should be held responsible. In the absence of federal action, some school systems aren’t mandated to report deepfake incidents to law enforcement, and administrators say they need help.

A new Title IX rule finalized this year requires schools to address online sex-based harassment that happens within a school program or activity. The rule provides examples of online sex-based harassment that would fall under Title IX — including “nonconsensual distribution of intimate images that have been altered or generated by AI technologies.” It also states that schools will be required to address off-campus behavior stoked online if they created a hostile environment in the school, the spokesperson said.

The White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse released a final report earlier this month that laid out prevention, support and accountability efforts for government agencies combating image-based sexual abuse. The report indicates that the Education Department will issue “resources, model policies and best practices” for school districts to promote digital literacy and prevent online harassment.

With Washington divided and power increasingly shifting to the states, governors and mayors are making crucial decisions that are shaping our future. While many states are building on child abuse protections or revenge porn laws, there are limitations: The statutes typically do not specify how schools should discipline students when these incidents happen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hillary Clinton on Democrats’ Failures on Abortion: ‘We Could Have Done More,’ Lisa Lerer and Elizabeth Dias, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In an interview for a forthcoming book, Mrs. Clinton also suggested that if Donald Trump won in November, “we may never have another actual election.”

Hillary Clinton criticized her fellow Democrats over what she described as a decades-in-the-making failure to protect abortion rights, saying in her first extended interview about the fall of Roe v. Wade that her party underestimated the growing strength of anti-abortion forces until many Democrats were improbably “taken by surprise” by the landmark Dobbs decision in 2022.

In wide-ranging and unusually frank comments, Mrs. Clinton said Democrats had spent decades in a state of denial that a right enshrined in American life for generations could fall — that faith in the courts and legal precedent had made politicians, voters and officials unable to see clearly how the anti-abortion movement was chipping away at abortion rights, restricting access to the procedure and transforming the Supreme Court, until it was too late.

“We didn’t take it seriously, and we didn’t understand the threat,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Most Democrats, most Americans, did not realize we are in an existential struggle for the future of this country.”

She said: “We could have done more to fight.”

Mrs. Clinton’s comments came in an interview conducted in late February for a forthcoming book, “The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America.”

The interview represented Mrs. Clinton’s most detailed comments on abortion rights since the Supreme Court decision that led to the procedure becoming criminalized or restricted in 21 states. She said not only that her party was complacent but also that if she had been in the Senate at the time she would have worked harder to block confirmation of Trump-appointed justices.

 

 mifepristone Allen g breed ap

Politico, Louisiana is set to make possessing abortion pills without a prescription punishable by up to 10 years in prisonMegan Messerly, May jeff landry o24, 2024. GOP Gov. Jeff Landry, right, signed the bill (see below).

politico CustomLouisiana lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation making the possession of abortion pills without a prescription a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Louisiana prisons jailsThe first-in-the-nation legislation could be a model for other red states grappling with how to stop their residents from traveling out of state to get abortion pills or ordering them online despite their abortion bans. But people who obtain those pills don’t always have prescriptions for them, particularly if they are mailed from overseas.

djt maga hatUnder the Louisiana bill, pregnant women who obtain the medication for their own use would be exempt from criminal liability. But friends or family who help them get the pills and non-pregnant women who obtain them as a precaution could face criminal penalties for possession.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This Alabama AG won’t stop at the state line to prosecute abortion, Ruth Marcus, right, May 17, 2024 (print ruth marcused.). Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is Exhibit A in why leaving abortion to the states is a nightmare.

Not content to prevent women from obtaining abortions in his own state, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is doing his best to prevent them from traveling to other states where the procedure remains legal. Fortunately, a federal judge just ruled that the Constitution won’t let him. Unfortunately, we might have more of this kind of zealotry heading our way.

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. Gov. Youngkin vetoes bills on birth control, Confederate tax loopholes, Laura Vozzella, May 18, 2024. Many of the vetoes were related to culture-war issues that could play into this fall’s presidential and congressional contests.

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana moves to make abortion pills ‘controlled dangerous substances,’ Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, May 14, 2024 (print ed.). Someone possessing the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice could be prosecuted and sentenced to prison.

louisiana map horizontalLouisiana could become the first state in the country to categorize mifepristone and misoprostol — the drugs used to induce an abortion — as controlled dangerous substances, threatening incarceration and fines if an individual possesses the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice.A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump during cross-examination attacked Stormy Daniels for trying to monetize her life story (Charly Triballeau photo via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images on May 9, 2024)

A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump during cross-examination attacked Stormy Daniels, above, for trying to monetize her life story (Charly Triballeau photo via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images on May 9, 2024).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Karmic justice: Women might seal Trump’s fate in New York trial, Jennifer Rubin, May 13, 2024.  jennifer rubin new headshotHope Hicks and Stormy Daniels supplied critical testimony.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Countries Fail to Agree on Treaty to Prepare World for the Next Pandemic, Apoorva Mandavilli, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Negotiators plan to ask for more time. Among the sticking points are equitable access to vaccines and financing to set up surveillance systems.

Countries around the globe have failed to reach consensus on the terms of a treaty that would unify the world in a strategy against the inevitable next pandemic, trumping the nationalist ethos that emerged during Covid-19.

The deliberations, which were scheduled to be a central item at the weeklong meeting of the World Health Assembly beginning Monday in Geneva, aimed to correct the inequities in access to vaccines and treatments between wealthier nations and poorer ones that became glaringly apparent during the Covid pandemic.

Although much of the urgency around Covid has faded since the treaty negotiations began two years ago, public health experts are still acutely aware of the pandemic potential of emerging pathogens, familiar threats like bird flu and mpox, and once-vanquished diseases like smallpox.

“Those of us in public health recognize that another pandemic really could be around the corner,” said Loyce Pace, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, who oversees the negotiations in her role as the United States liaison to the World Health Organization.

washington post logoWashington Post, Covid will still be here this summer. Will anyone care? Fenit Nirappil and Sabrina Malhi, May 26, 2024. Despite “FLiRT” variants, this may be the first covid wave with little federal pressure to limit transmission or data to even declare a surge.

 

ozempic

ny times logoNew York Times, Ozempic Cuts Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease Complications, Study Finds, Dani Blum, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Major clinical trial showed such promising results that the drug’s maker halted it early.

Semaglutide, the compound in the blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, dramatically reduced the risk of kidney complications, heart issues and death in people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease in a major clinical trial, the results of which were published on Friday. The findings could transform how doctors treat some of the sickest patients with chronic kidney disease, which affects more than one in seven adults in the United States but has no cure.

“Those of us who really care about kidney patients spent our whole careers wanting something better,” said Dr. Katherine Tuttle, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an author of the study. “And this is as good as it gets.” The research was presented at a European Renal Association meeting in Stockholm on Friday and simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial, funded by Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk, was so successful that the company stopped it early. Dr. Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk’s executive vice president of development, said that the company would ask the Food and Drug Administration to update Ozempic’s label to say it can also be used to reduce the progression of chronic kidney disease or complications in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease, which occurs when the kidneys don’t function as well as they should. In advanced stages, the kidneys are so damaged that they cannot properly filter blood. This can cause fluid and waste to build up in the blood, which can exacerbate high blood pressure and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke, said Dr. Subramaniam Pennathur, the chief of the nephrology division at Michigan Medicine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Farm Animals Are Hauled All Over the U.S. So Are Their Pathogens, Emily Anthes and Linda Qiu, May 21, 2024 (print ed.). Tens of millions of farm animals cross state lines every year, traveling in cramped, stressful conditions that can facilitate the spread of disease.

The bird flu virus that is spreading through American dairy cows can probably be traced back to a single spillover event. Late last year, scientists believe, the virus jumped from wild birds into cattle in the Texas panhandle. By this spring, the virus, known as H5N1, had traveled hundreds of miles or more, appearing on farms in Idaho, North Carolina and Michigan.

The virus did not traverse those distances on its own. Instead, it hitched a ride with its hosts, the cows, moving into new states as cattle were transported from the outbreak’s epicenter to farms across the country.

Live animal transport is essential to industrial animal agriculture, which has become increasingly specialized. Many facilities focus on just one step in the production process — producing new young, for instance, or fattening adults for slaughter — and then send the animals on.

The exact number of chickens, cows and pigs being transported on trucks, ships, planes and trains within the United States is difficult to pinpoint because there is no universal national system for tracking their movement.

But estimates from official sources and animal advocates offer a sense of the scale: In 2022, some 21 million cattle and 62 million hogs were shipped into states for breeding, or feeding, according to the Agriculture Department; these figures do not include poultry, movement within the same state or journeys to slaughter. That same year, more than 500,000 young dairy calves, some only a few days old, were shipped from just six states, according to the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit group. Some traveled more than 1,500 miles.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. halts funding to virus research organization linked to pandemic probes, Dan Diamond, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). Top NIH official Lawrence Tabak is set to face off this morning with the House panel probing the coronavirus covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2response. Expect lawmakers to focus on the agency’s oversight and funding of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic.

U.S. House logoEcoHealth was thrown back into the spotlight Wednesday, after the Department of Health and Human Services said it was suspending funding to the organization and moving to debar the New York-based nonprofit from receiving additional funds, citing evidence EcoHealth had failed to monitor and report on risky virus experiments in China.

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U.S., Global Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Consumers

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Dominates the Space Launch Business. Rivals Are Calling Foul, Eric Lipton, May 28, 2024. The U.S. government is concerned about its reliance on a billionaire for access to space. New competitors say SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them.

Elon Musk aggressively elbowed his way into the space launch business over the past two decades, combining engineering genius and an entrepreneurial drive with a demand that the U.S. government stop favoring the big, slow-moving contractors that had long dominated the industry.

Today, it is Mr. Musk who is dominant. His company, SpaceX, is the primary provider of launch services to NASA and to the Pentagon. His rockets carry far more commercial satellites into orbit than anyone else’s, including those for his own Starlink communications network. He has set new standards for reaching space cheaply and reliably.

But in one striking way, the former outsider has come to resemble the entrenched contractors he once fought to topple: He is increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay, his competitors say, even as his success is prompting qualms within the government about such heavy reliance on a mercurial billionaire.

The new generation of space entrepreneurs trying to emulate Mr. Musk is sufficiently concerned about what they see as his anticompetitive tactics that some of them are now willing to take him on publicly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Doesn’t Want You Buying an E.V. From China. Here’s Why, Jim Tankersley, May 28, 2024 (print ed.).  President Biden wants to shift America’s car fleet toward electric vehicles, but not at the expense of American jobs or national security.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Media, Sports, Religion, High Tech, Education, Culture

washington post logoWashington Post, Giant pandas are returning to D.C.’s National Zoo. Meet Bao Li and Qing Bao, Michael E. Ruane, May 29, 2024. D.C.’s National Zoo said China has agreed to lease it two new pandas — Bao Li, 2, a male, and Qing Bao, 2, a female. They are set to arrive later this year. Giant pandas are coming back to Washington.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo announced Wednesday that two new giant pandas — Bao Li, 2, a male, and Qing Bao, 2, a female — will be arriving from China later this year.

The announcement was a surprise, given the tense relationship between the United States and China, which owns and leases all giant pandas in U.S. zoos, and the short period of time since the departure of Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their son, Xiao Qi Ji, late last year.

The new pandas are coming on a 10-year lease, ending in April 2034, during which the zoo will pay the China Wildlife and Conservation Association $1 million a year, the zoo said in its announcement. All cubs born in U.S. zoos are, by agreement, sent to China around the age of 4. Mei Xiang, 25, and Tian Tian, 26, went back because the term of their lease was up.

The zoo said its David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is being renovated for the first time in more than a decade. A new rock landscape with shallow pools, as well as bamboo stands for foraging, and climbing structures are being added.

washington post logoWashington Post, MLB incorporates stats from Negro Leagues, altering record books, Chelsea Janes, May 29, 2024. For example, Josh Gibson, the Homestead Grays star with legendary power whose career was cut short when he suffered a stroke and died at 35, will now be at the top of several lists.

major league baseball mlb logoBaseball history will change forever Wednesday. Major League Baseball plans to officially incorporate Negro Leagues statistics into its record book, according to a person familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity Tuesday night because MLB was planning an announcement for Wednesday morning.

The move comes 3½ years after MLB said it would consider the Negro Leagues as major leagues, meaning all Negro leaguers would be considered major leaguers from that point forward. On Wednesday, the players from Negro Leagues in operation from 1920 to 1948 will be fully incorporated into MLB’s statistical record.

Just one example: When looking up the highest career batting averages in MLB’s record book, the leader will be Josh Gibson, whose average of .372 in Negro Leagues play is higher than the .367 Ty Cobb posted to lead all MLB players.

 

 bill walton ap

ny times logoNew York Times, Bill Walton, one of basketball’s most eccentric characters, dies at 71, Jason Quick, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Bill Walton, a Hall of nba logoFame center who authored a career that was triumphant and tragic, as well as colorful and controversial, died Monday at the age of 71 after abattle with cancer, the NBA announced.

Walton, shown above in a f le photo, was regarded as one of the most dominant and versatile centers to ever play, which translated to two state titles with Helix High in La Mesa, Calif., two NCAA titles at UCLA and two NBA titles, one with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977 and one with the Boston Celtics in 1986. In 1993, he was elected into the Naismith Hall of Fame, and in 1997, the NBA named him one of the Top 50 players of all time.

ny times logoNew York Times, Musk’s A.I. Firm Raises $6 Billion in Race With Rivals, Jason Karaian, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Mr. Musk, who founded xAI last year, has said the business “still has a lot of catching up to do” as it looks to compete with well-funded companies like OpenAI.

Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence company, xAI, said on Sunday that it has raised $6 billion, helping to close the funding gap with OpenAI, Anthropic and other rivals in the red-hot industry.

The funds would be used “to take xAI’s first products to market, build advanced infrastructure, and accelerate the research and development of future technologies,” the company said in a statement.

Mr. Musk, who founded xAI in July, said in a social media post the funding round valued the company at $18 billion, not including the new money. Investors included the Silicon Valley heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, along with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

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Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

 

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The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

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Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).


ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Prosecutor Portrays Trump’s Actions as a Fraud on the American People, Staff Reports, May 28, 2024. In closing arguments of the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, a prosecutor said the case centered on “a conspiracy and a coverup” related to hush money paid to a porn star. A Trump lawyer earlier called for a “very quick and easy” verdict. Jurors could begin deliberating by Wednesday.

A prosecutor in the criminal case against Donald J. Trump suggested on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had engaged in a fraud against the American people on the eve of the 2016 election by silencing a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with him. The prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, told jurors in his closing argument that the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels was part of a conspiracy that “could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

Prosecutors say Mr. Trump falsified business records to conceal his reimbursement of his onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who testified that he was acting on orders from Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen, who became the prosecution’s star witness, testified that Mr. Trump confirmed the plan to reimburse him during an Oval Office meeting.

The defense’s summation: Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, called Mr. Cohen “the greatest liar of all time” in his closing argument and said there was “not a shred of evidence” that Mr. Trump had plotted to falsify records. He also argued that there was nothing false about the documents because Mr. Cohen had in fact performed legal work — and suggested that Mr. Trump had little reason to pay attention to them in any case, because he was the “leader of the free world” at the time.

But Mr. Blanche’s argument was at times perplexing. He sometimes called extra attention to elements of the prosecution’s case and repeatedly emphasized Mr. Cohen’s position as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer even as he was impugning his character. He also played down prosecutors’ contention that Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and the longtime publisher of The National Enquirer had engaged in a criminal conspiracy to suppress negative stories about Mr. Trump in order to protect his candidacy.

“Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy,” he said. Here’s a recap of the defense’s closing argument.

Biden trolls Trump: During Mr. Blanche’s closing argument, President Biden’s campaign held a news conference outside the courthouse with the actor Robert De Niro and two former Capitol Police officers. It was the most direct reference Mr. Biden’s campaign has made to Mr. Trump’s legal troubles after mostly sticking to sly insinuations. Read about the news conference.

Here’s what to know:

  • The charges: Mr. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Mr. Cohen testified that Mr. Trump had ordered him to “take care of” Ms. Daniels’s account in the waning days of the 2016 campaign because he feared she would derail his candidacy if she went public. Prosecutors say Mr. Trump faked business records to conceal the repayment of Mr. Cohen by listing them as legal fees. Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and also says he never had sex with Ms. Daniels. Here’s a refresher on the case.
  • What happens next: The closing arguments could spill into Wednesday. After both sides have summarized their cases for the jury, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, will instruct jurors on the relevant law before they begin deliberations — which could take anywhere from a few hours to weeks. If convicted, Mr. Trump faces up to four years in prison.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Leans Into an Outlaw Image as His Criminal Trial Concludes, Maggie Haberman and Jonah E. Bromwich, May 28, 2024. Preparing for a potential verdict in Manhattan, Donald Trump has increasingly aligned himself with fellow defendants and people convicted of crimes.

Over the past week, Donald J. Trump rallied alongside two rap artists accused of conspiracy to commit murder. He promised to commute the sentence of a notorious internet drug dealer. And he appeared backstage with another rap artist who has pleaded guilty to assault for punching a female fan.

As Mr. Trump awaits the conclusion of his Manhattan trial — closing arguments are set for Tuesday and a verdict could arrive as soon as this week — he used a weeklong break from court to align himself with defendants and convicted criminals charged by the same system with which he is at war.

The appearances fit neatly into Mr. Trump’s 2024 campaign, during which he has said he is likely to pardon those prosecuted for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and lent his voice to a recording of the national anthem by a choir of Jan. 6 inmates.

There was a time when so much confirmed and alleged criminality would be too much to tolerate for supporters of a candidate for president, an office with a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. That might have been especially true in the case of a candidate who has been indicted four times and stands accused of rank disregard for the law.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes sweeping promises to donors on audacious fundraising tour, Josh Dawsey, May 28, 2024. By tying donation requests to pledges of tax cuts and other policies, Trump is testing the boundaries of federal campaign finance laws.

When Donald Trump met some of the country’s top donors at a luxurious New York hotel earlier this month, he told the group that a businessman had recently offered $1 million to his presidential effort and wanted to have lunch.

“I’m not having lunch,” Trump said he responded, according to donors who attended. “You’ve got to make it $25 million.”

Another businessman, he said, had traditionally given $2 million to $3 million to Republicans. Instead, he said he told the donor that he wanted a $25 million or $50 million contribution or he would not be “very happy.”

As he closed his pitch at the Pierre Hotel, Trump explained to the group why it was in their interest to cut large checks. If he was not put back in office, taxes would go up for them under President Biden, who vows to let Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy and corporations expire at the end of 2025.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump told donors he will crush pro-Palestinian protests, deport demonstrators, Josh Dawsey, Karen DeYoung and Marianne LeVine, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). The former president has publicly waffled on the Israel-Gaza war. But he told wealthy donors he supports Israel’s right to continue “its war on terror.”

Former president Donald Trump promised to crush pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, telling a roomful of donors — a group that he joked included “98 percent of my Jewish friends” — that he would expel student demonstrators from the United States, according to participants in the roundtable event with him in New York.

“One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country. You know, there are a lot of foreign students. As soon as they hear that, they’re going to behave,” Trump said on May 14, according to donors at the event.

When one of the donors complained that many of the students and professors protesting on campuses could one day hold positions of power in the United States, Trump called the demonstrators part of a “radical revolution” that he vowed to defeat. He praised the New York Police Department for clearing the campus at Columbia University and said other cities needed to follow suit, saying “it has to be stopped now.”

 

djt solo no credit nyc courtPolitico, DC’s liberal bent does not amount to inherent bias against Jan. 6 defendants, appeals court rules, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, May 28, 2024. The three-judge panel included two of Donald Trump’s appointees.

politico CustomWashington, D.C.’s left-leaning politics has no bearing on its residents’ ability to be fair jurors in trials of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Two former President Donald Trump appointees from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals joined an appointee of former President Barack Obama in a unanimous three-judge ruling that turned down arguments from lawyers for former New York City Police Officer Thomas Webster that Washington jurors were too biased to sit on cases related to the riot.

“The political inclinations of a populace writ large say nothing about an individual’s ability to serve impartially in adjudicating the criminal conduct of an individual,” Obama appointee Patricia Millett wrote in a decision joined by Trump appointees Greg Katsas and Neomi Rao.

The ruling is a ringing rejection of Trump and his allies’ longstanding claims that fair trials are impossible in cities with Democratic-leaning populations. Trump himself is, of course, currently on trial in deep-blue Manhattan, where he was held in contempt for violating a gag order after he claimed that his jury there is “95 percent Democrats.”

Tuesday’s decision from the D.C. Circuit is also an endorsement of courtroom processes intended to screen potential jurors for bias before trials begin. And it could give a boost to the stalled effort to try Trump on charges that he attempted to subvert the 2020 election and helped foment the riot that Webster joined.

Many of the more than 150 Jan. 6 defendants who have gone to trial have argued for a change of venue on the basis of political bias of the jury pool or lingering anger over the events of Jan. 6. However, federal judges in Washington have uniformly rejected those challenges, responding that the process for questioning potential jurors was sufficient to weed out potential bias.

In the wake of his indictment last August on charges he led a conspiracy aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election, Trump repeatedly echoed the claims that a Washington jury would be hopelessly unfair to him because the city voted 92 percent for Biden and only 5 percent for him in that contest. (Judges have repeatedly noted that this statistic omits the 30 percent of D.C. residents who did not vote but would be included in the jury pool).

“No way I can get a fair trial, or even close to a fair trial, in Washington, D.C.,” Trump wrote on his social media site shortly after he was charged last summer. “There are many reasons for this, but just one is that I am calling for a federal takeover of this filthy and crime ridden embarrassment to our nation.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Israeli Troops Keep Up Assault on Rafah After Condemnation of Deadly Strike, May 28, 2024. Israel said it was still operating in the Rafah area, even as outrage intensified in the wake of a deadly airstrike on a camp for Palestinians.

Israel’s military said its troops were still operating in the Rafah area on Tuesday, even as international outrage over its assault on the city intensified in the wake of a deadly airstrike on a camp for displaced Palestinians.

The military has said that the strike in Rafah on Sunday — which ignited a deadly fire in the camp and killed dozens of people — was targeting a Hamas compound. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said it was a “tragic accident” that civilians were killed, a statement that did little to quell a chorus of voices demanding accountability and a halt to the fighting.

Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, on Tuesday cited the “deeply distressing” scenes from Rafah over the weekend — many of which featured charred bodies in the wreckage of the encampment — in calling for a “swift, comprehensive” investigation.

Key Developments

  • The U.N. says about 1 million people have fled Rafah, and other news.
  • Around one million people have fled Rafah amid Israel’s assault on the city in southern Gaza, according to the United Nations. The evacuation from Rafah, once the primary destination for people leaving other parts of the enclave, is the latest in a string of displacements since Israel launched a war to dismantle Hamas, the armed group that led the deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
  • China on Tuesday joined a chorus of international voices in expressing “serious concern” about the Israeli military’s actions in Rafah, citing an order by the International Court of Justice last week that appeared to call for Israel to halt its military offensive there. China “opposes any violation of international law” and “strongly urges Israel to listen to the voice of the international community and stop attacking Rafah,” said Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • A member of Egypt’s security forces was killed near the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip and an investigation is underway, an Egyptian army spokesman said on Monday, after the Israeli military reported a shooting on the border. Al Qahera News, Egypt’s state-owned television station, cited an unnamed security official as saying it appeared there had been gunfire exchanged between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, and that the ensuing battle resulted in the death of the soldier. The New York Times could not independently verify the circumstances of the shooting.

ny times logoNew York Times, Climate Change Added a Month’s Worth of Extra-Hot Days in Past Year, Raymond Zhong, May 28, 2024. Since last May, the average person experienced 26 more days of abnormal warmth than they would have without global warming, a new analysis found.

Over the past year of record-shattering warmth, the average person on Earth experienced 26 more days of abnormally high temperatures than they otherwise would have, were it not for human-induced climate change, scientists said Tuesday.

The past 12 months have been the planet’s hottest ever measured, and the burning of fossil fuels, which has added huge amounts of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, is a major reason. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population experienced at least 31 days of atypical warmth since last May as a result of human-caused warming, the researchers’ analysis found.

Hypothetically, had we not heated the globe to its current state, the number of unusually warm days would have been far fewer, the scientists estimated, using mathematical modeling of the global climate.

The precise difference varies place to place. In some countries, it is just two or three weeks, the researchers found. In others, including Colombia, Indonesia and Rwanda, the difference is upward of 120 days.

ny times logoNew York Times, Calls Mount to Let Ukraine Strike Russia With Western Weapons, Constant Méheut, May 28, 2024. The U.S. and other allies banned Ukraine from firing Western weapons into Russia. Kyiv says that has handcuffed its ability to prevent cross-border attacks.

Russian FlagCalls are mounting among Western nations to allow attacks on Russian territory using weapons that they have sent the Ukrainian military, a measure that Ukraine says will enable it to better prevent Russian attacks.

ukraine flagOn Monday, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, made up of lawmakers from countries belonging to the military alliance, adopted a declaration urging NATO members to lift a ban on firing Western weapons into Russia. That came after similar calls by NATO’s top official, Jens Stoltenberg, and government ministers in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden.

european union logo rectangleThe calls to allow Ukraine to expand its use of the Western weapons are mostly directed at the United States, the largest supplier of arms to the Ukrainian government. Washington has repeatedly asked Ukraine not to fire U.S.-made weapons into Russian territory for fear of escalating the war, although a debate has now opened within the Biden administration over relaxing the ban.

Ukraine has complained in recent months that the ban allows Russian forces to launch attacks from inside Russian territory without risk and hampers its ability to repel them. That disadvantage became clear this month when Russia started a new offensive in northeastern Ukraine after amassing troops and equipment just across the border.

 

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juan merchan djtMeidas Touch Network, Commentary: ‘Highly Inappropriate’: Judge Hits Trump Lawyer Over ‘Outrageous’ Remark, Aaron Parnas, May 28, 2024. 
Merchan, above left, referenced Blanche's history as a federal prosecutor.

mtn meidas touch networkThis morning, at the conclusion of Todd Blanche's closing argument in Donald Trump's election interference criminal trial, Blanche told that jury that they should think twice before "sending a man to prison." Blanche, during his closing argument, tried to play on the emotions of the jury by noting that a guilty verdict could lead to a prison sentence for Donald Trump.

The issue? Punishment is a matter for the judge, not the jury to decide. The jury's role is to determine guilty or innocence, not to prescribe punishment. As a result, Blanche's comment was inappropriate, and Justice Merchan quickly acknowledged that Blanche overstepped.

After the jury left the courtroom, and before lawyers departed, Justice Merchan stated that Blanche's statement was "outrageous" and "highly inappropriate," referencing his past history as a federal prosecutor.

"You know that making a comment like that is highly inappropriate. It's simply not allowed," said Justice Merchan. "I think that was outrageous, Mr Blanche. Someone who has been a prosecutor as long as you should know. It's hard for me to imagine how that was accidental in any way."

As a result, the District Attorney sought a curative instruction on the comment, and Justice Merchan agreed to give a curative instruction to a jury after lunch.

 Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Robert De Niro Slams Donald Trump Outside of Courthouse, Aaron Parnas, May 28, 2024. De Niro is holding a press conference as closing arguments are ongoing inside Trump's election interference criminal trial

mtn meidas touch networkThis morning, actor Robert De Niro slammed Donald Trump during a press conference outside of the Manhattan courthouse where closing arguments are currently ongoing in Trump's election interference criminal trial. De Niro was joined by the Biden Campaign's communication director and former Capitol Police Officers Harry Dunn and Michael Fanone

De Niro began his remarks by blasting Trump as a 'clown':

"Donald Trump doesn’t belong in my city. We New Yorkers used to tolerate him when he was just another grubby real estate hustler masquerading as a big shot. A two-bit playboy lying his way into the tabloids. He’s a clown. But this person can’t run the country. That does not work, and we all know that."

De Niro went on to discuss the crime rates under Trump versus under President Biden, especially the murder rate in New York City:

"It's no surprise that the murder rate and other violent crimes peaked under Trump and are now falling under Biden. And now Trump is promising to use our own military to attack U.S. citizens. That's the tyrant he's telling us he'll be. And believe me, he means it."

He concluded his remarks by speaking about Trump's actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021, stating that Trump "left destruction in its wake"

"On January 6, Trump rallied an angry mob to threaten democracy, leaving death and destruction in its wake. That's why I needed to be involved in the Biden-Harris ad. Because it reminds us that Trump will use violence against anyone who stands in the way of his megalomania and greed. But it's a coward's violence. Do you think Trump ever threw a punch himself or took one? This guy who ran and hid in the White House bunker when there were protesters outside? He directs the mob to do his dirty work for him."

ny times logoNew York Times, Why a Star Witness Never Testified at Trump’s Trial, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump’s lawyers are expected to highlight the absence of Allen Weisselberg, Mr. Trump’s former finance chief. But he is in jail, serving time for perjury.

allen weisselberg croppedProsecutors never called Mr. Weisselberg to testify, because, although he knows the truth, he has not always told it. He is serving time in the Rikers Island jail complex after pleading guilty to perjury in an unrelated civil case involving Mr. Trump, the man he served for nearly half a century.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Verdict Playbook: Anger and Retribution, Regardless of Outcome, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump has a history of attacking investigators, blaming President Biden and seeking vengeance on those who cross him.

The verdict in former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial remains a mystery, at least for a few more days. Less of a mystery is what Mr. Trump will say and do after it is announced — whatever the outcome might be.

If the past is any guide, even with a full acquittal, Mr. Trump will be angry and vengeful, and will direct attacks against everyone he perceives to be responsible for the Manhattan district attorney’s prosecution. He will continue to level the attacks publicly, at rallies and on Truth Social, and privately encourage his House Republican allies to subpoena his Democratic enemies.

The pattern is firmly established: After Mr. Trump escaped impeachment twice and survived a special counsel investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia, he immediately went into revenge mode — complaining about the injustices he was forced to endure and urging his allies to investigate the investigators.

“Regardless of the outcome, the playbook is the same,” said Alyssa Farah Griffin, Mr. Trump’s former White House communications director, who began working for him shortly after his first impeachment trial but has since become a sharp critic of her former boss. 

Politico, Judge Cannon rebukes Trump prosecutors over gag order request, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, May 28, 2024. In a court order, the judge again faulted the special counsel for failing to provide ‘courtesy’ to Trump lawyers.

politico CustomThe judge overseeing the criminal case against Donald Trump for hoarding classified documents at his Florida home has again chided special counsel Jack Smith’s team for its tactics — this time over a request for an order preventing Trump from repeating baseless claims that FBI agents carrying out a search at Mar-a-Lago last year were authorized to kill him.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, right, turned down the gag order request Tuesday as she delivered another sharp warning to prosecutors that they need to make more concerted efforts at dialogue with Trump’s counsel before bringing disputes to the court.

“The Court finds the Special Counsel’s pro forma ‘conferral’ [with the defense] to be wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy,” wrote Cannon, a Trump appointee. “It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise.”

Cannon didn’t rule out granting the request in the future, but she said prosecutors would need to to further engage with Trump’s side over the issue before she will take it up again. She also questioned Smith’s claim of urgency to file the gag order request, noting that prosecutors filed it on a “non-emergency” basis. It was submitted on the Friday evening before the Memorial Day weekend, leading Trump lawyers to complain that they were being rushed into responding.

In addition, Cannon appeared to fault Smith’s attorneys for skewing how they described the stance that Trump’s lawyers had taken on the proposed gag order. The judge suggested prosecutors had relegated Trump’s response to “editorialized footnotes,” rather than just reciting it neutrally to the court. She directed both sides to provide her with more details in the future on their attempts to work out such disputes and to do so “in objective terms.”

While the judge seemed piqued by the prosecutors’ actions, she turned down a request from Trump’s defense to impose sanctions on the prosecution for allegedly defying court rules and her previous orders. However, Cannon said that was possible if her rulings aren’t obeyed.

“Failure to comply with these requirements may result in sanctions,” the judge wrote in the brief order posted to the south Florida federal court’s online docket Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment on the judge’s order.

Prosecutors have indicated they needed to move quickly with the gag request because of a series of inflammatory public statements by Trump claiming that FBI officials had given the OK to kill him during the court-ordered raid at Mar-a-Lago in May 2022. The claim stems from the inclusion of a policy on use of deadly force included in the operations plan given to agents prior to the search.

Current and former FBI officials have said the policy is standard, included in virtually all such operations plans, and intended to limit the use of force — not broaden it. In addition, they’ve noted that the operation was coordinated with the Secret Service, which is responsible for guarding Trump and his residences, and that it was intentionally scheduled at a time when Trump was out of town.

Prosecutors argued that Trump’s assertions were endangering the lives of FBI agents who took part in the search.

Cannon, the judge who delivered the brush back to Smith’s prosecutors Tuesday, has a prickly relationship with those attorneys. They often seem to bristle at her willingness to entertain some of Trump’s arguments and have signaled some impatience at the slow pace of the case, which was brought against Trump last June and presently has no scheduled trial date.

Last week, at a hearing in Cannon’s Fort Pierce, Florida, courtroom, the judge urged prosecutor David Harbach to “just calm down” as he argued against claims of prosecutorial misconduct leveled in the case.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors expected the filing of the gag request on Friday would immediately deter Trump from making similar statements. If so, it was unsuccessful: Trump’s campaign issued several fundraising emails over the weekend, including one that said President Joe Biden “authorized deadly force on my home.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump loudly heckled at Libertarian National Convention, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). “Maybe you don’t want to win,” Trump said to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. “Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.”

Former president Donald Trump encountered an unusually tough crowd at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday night as the audience loudly booed him and used noisemakers to drown out his speech.

The first current or former president to speak at the third-party’s convention, Trump made several major promises to libertarians in the crowded, rowdy room, including assuring the audience that he would appoint a libertarian to his Cabinet if elected in November. But the presumptive Republican nominee also taunted the third party that has typically garnered around 1 to 3 percent of the vote in presidential races, saying they should nominate him if they want to win.

“Maybe you don’t want to win,” Trump said to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. “Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.”

The raucous event for the former president marked a sharp departure from the typical celebratory atmosphere at such Trump campaign gatherings, normally full of thousands of supporters who travel from other states to see the former president while laughing and clapping to their favorite, often biting punchlines. Trump is said to derive energy from these trademark rallies and reacts to any disruption by threatening to have that person or people removed.

He is unaccustomed to dealing with a divided audience, such as the one on Saturday night — some of which didn’t seem to want him there.

“I don’t think it is a good idea for the party to invite candidates who can take our voters,” Illinois Libertarian voter Gavin Hanson said. “I don’t think he got any voters from that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump told Libertarians to nominate him. He then mocked them when they booed him, Michael Gold and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump’s appearance before the Libertarian Party on Saturday was without modern precedent: the presumptive nominee of one party addressing the convention of another.

Early in his speech at the Libertarian Party’s national convention on Saturday, Donald J. Trump told the party’s delegates bluntly that they should nominate him as its candidate for president. He was vigorously booed.

When the jeers died down, Mr. Trump, visibly frustrated with the rowdy reception he had received ever since taking the stage, dug in and went a step further, seeming to insult the very group that had invited him.

“Only do that if you want to win,” he said of nominating him. “If you want to lose, don’t do that. Keep getting your three percent every four years.”

The boos began anew, only louder.

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek to Bar Trump From Attacking F.B.I. Agents in Documents Case, Alan Feuer, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). The prosecutors said the former president had made “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago that could endanger the agents involved.

Justice Department log circularFederal prosecutors on Friday night asked the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case to bar him from making any statements that might endanger law enforcement agents involved in the proceedings.

Prosecutors tendered the request after Mr. Trump made what they described as “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida. This week, the former president falsely suggested that the F.B.I. had been authorized to shoot him when agents discovered more than 100 classified documents while executing a court-approved search warrant there.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that President Biden “authorized the FBI to use deadly (lethal) force” during the search.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidentialnomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

 

djt indicted proof

Associated Press via Politico, Prosecutors seek to bar Trump in classified files case from statements endangering law enforcement, ap logoStaff Report, May 24, 2024. The request follows a false claim by Trump earlier this week that FBI agents who searched his home were “authorized to shoot me.”

aileen cannonFederal prosecutors on Friday asked the judge overseeing the classified documents case against Donald Trump to bar the former president from public statements that “pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents” participating in the prosecution.

politico CustomThe request to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, right, follows a false claim by Trump earlier this week that the FBI agents who searched his home in August 2022 were “authorized to shoot me” and were “locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

He was referring to the disclosure in a court document that was made public that the FBI, during the search, followed a standard use-of-force policy that prohibits the use of deadly force except when the officer conducting the search has a reasonable belief that the “subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

FBI logoThe policy is routine and meant to limit the use of force during searches. Prosecutors noted that the search was intentionally conducted when Trump and his family were away and was coordinated with the Secret Service. No force was used.

“The Government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago,” prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team wrote in asking that Cannon make a restriction on Trump’s statements a condition of his release pending trial.

“Those statements create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents — falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him — and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment,” they added.

An attorney for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday night.

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Defense lawyers have objected to the government’s motion, prosecutors wrote.

Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021, and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

Trump faces four criminal cases as he seeks to reclaim the White House, but outside of the ongoing New York hush money prosecution, it’s not clear that any of the other three will reach trial before the election.

merrick garlandAsked Thursday at an unrelated event about the claim that the FBI intended to use force against Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, said: “That allegation is false, and it is extremely dangerous. The document that is being referred to in the allegation is the Justice Department’s standard policy limiting the use of force. As the FBI advises, it is part of the standard operations plan for searches. And in fact, it was even used in a consensual search of President Biden’s home.”

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Conway: Judge Cannon's Response to Gag Order Could Cause Her Removal, Acyn (Senior Digital Editor), May 24, 2024. ‘She's really on the spot here.’

mtn meidas touch networkRenowned attorney George Conway, right, warned that if Judge Aileen Cannon failed to act on a motion to impose a gag order on Donald Trump igeorge conway twittern the classified documents case, Special Counsel Jack Smith might use it an opportunity to have her removed from the case.

 

Donald J. Trump built Trump Tower in the early 1980s — “his golden time,” as one supporter put it (New York Times photo by Don Hogan Charles).Donald J. Trump, right, built Trump Tower in the early 1980s — “his golden time,” as one supporter put it (New York Times photo by Don Hogan Charles).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Legal Troubles News Analysis: How Donald Trump Still Lives in the 1980s, Maggie Haberman, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The greed-is-good era was the last time his preferred public image was intact, and he’s been returning there as he sits through his criminal trial in Manhattan.

When his criminal trial finishes for the day, Donald J. Trump typically returns to the marble-and-gold triplex atop Trump Tower, the high rise he built in the early 1980s and used to establish a public image as a master builder.

It is the silver lining for Mr. Trump, as he spends his first sustained period of time in Manhattan since he moved to Washington in 2017. He passes the days in a dingy courtroom downtown, where he faces 34 felonies, listening to people from his old life describe him as a depraved liar who sullied the White House. At the end of it all, he could be sent to prison.

But in the evenings, people who have spoken to him say, he has been enjoying being back in the penthouse apartment that he moved into four decades ago. He still considers it home — and a permanent reminder of the easiest period of his life.

That period was the greed-is-good era in which Mr. Trump sold himself nationally as a titan of industry, despite a relatively small, and local, real estate portfolio. He had just built a glittering tower on Fifth Avenue, infuriating elites and demanding a tax break from the city. And it is the era he alludes to constantly, referring to 1980s cultural touchstones, including the news show “60 Minutes,” Time magazine and celebrities like the boxer Mike Tyson.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

djt solo no credit nyc court

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon suspends aid deliveries via Gaza pier after repeated mishaps, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Alex Horton, May 28, 2024. The gap in deliveries is likely to extend “at least a week,” said a Pentagon official, as the U.S. and Israeli militaries reassemble pieces of the damaged pier.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via its floating pier after mishaps in which four U.S. military vessels were beached, one U.S. service member was critically injured, and sections of the structure were ripped free in bad weather.

The damage will require the U.S. military, with Israeli assistance, to disassemble pieces of the pier attached to the Gazan shore, rebuild them in the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, then transport them back to the Gazan shore and reconnect them, said Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman. That process will take at least a week, temporarily eliminating the pier as an option to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza aid as Israel continues its months-long military campaign against the militant group Hamas.

“The pier proved highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza,” Singh said. “Thus, upon completion of the pier repair and reassembly, the intention is to re-anchor the temporary pier to the coast of Gaza and resume humanitarian aid to the people who need it most.”

The project, announced by President Biden in March, is intended to provide an additional route to get aid to Gazan civilians on top of land routes that have been squeezed by Israeli officials and beset with looting and violence. While the U.S. military has been able to deliver more than 1,000 tons of aid over the pier this month, according to officials, its initial installation was delayed for days by bad weather, and it is unclear whether the refurbishment in Ashdod may render it less susceptible to future storms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Israeli Strike in Rafah ‘Tragic Accident,’ Staff Reports, May 28, 2024 (print ed.).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments came amid international condemnation over the strike, which killed 45 people, according to Gaza officials.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWith international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, right, said Monday that the killing of dozens of people in a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” but gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive there.

His comments came at a particularly delicate time, just three days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive in the city and as diplomats were aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: Israeli Airstrike Kills Dozens in Tent Camp in Rafah, Gazan Officials Say, Staff Reports, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). At least 45 people were killed at the makeshift camp, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound; Witnesses described charred bodies and flames. A doctor said the majority of the victims he saw were women and children.

An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, killed at least 45 people on Sunday night and wounded 249, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Monday. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it was looking into reports that “several civilians in the area were harmed” by the airstrike and a subsequent fire. A follow-up statement said the strike had killed two Hamas leaders. A legal official with the military said Monday that the strike was under review.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that its ambulance crews had taken a “large” number of victims to the Tal as Sultan clinic and field hospitals in Rafah, where few functioning hospitals remain, and that “numerous” people had been trapped in fires at the site of the strikes.

Macron says Israeli operations in Rafah ‘must stop,’ and more news:

  • President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday he was “outraged” by an Israeli attack in Rafah that the authorities in Gaza said killed dozens of people. “These operations must stop,” he said, referring to the strike on Sunday. “There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians.” Mr. Macron called “for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.” His comments came after the International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to halt its offensive in the city and added to a drumbeat of criticism of Israel over its conduct in the war.
  • Aid trucks from Egypt reached the Gaza Strip under a new U.S.-brokered agreement to reopen a vital conduit for humanitarian relief, the Israeli military and the Egyptian Red Crescent said. Some 126 trucks from Egypt containing food, fuel and other necessities made it to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement. The trucks were inspected by Israeli officials, said Ahmad Ezzat, an Egyptian Red Crescent official. On Sunday, the U.N. trucks sent to Kerem Shalom to pick up the Egyptian aid were forced to evacuate the crossing because of a security issue, according to Sam Rose, a spokesman for UNRWA. Officials including Mr. Rose said the aid had not made it past the crossing as of Sunday.
  • Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, has said that Israel’s offensive in Rafah is “incompatible with international law.” His comments were reported on Saturday by the country’s public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. Senior German officials had previously warned Israel against attacking Rafah, but Mr. Habeck’s comments appear to represent a hardening of that tone in a country with a longstanding policy of support for Israel. “Israel must not carry out this attack, at least not in the way it did in the Gaza Strip before, bombing refugee camps and so on,” Mr. Habeck said.
  • Israel’s war cabinet met on Sunday night to discuss continuing efforts to reach a cease-fire deal and free hostages held in Gaza, according to an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks. Diplomats are aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week, according to three officials briefed on the process. According to the officials, preliminary discussions were held this weekend in Paris.

washington post logoWashington Post, Middle East Conflict: Netanyahu’s split with Biden and the Democrats was years in the making, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Steve Hendrix and Tyler Pager, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Israeli leader’s longtime strategy of aligning with the GOP has helped shatter the American consensus behind Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWhen President Barack Obama hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, in the Oval Office in 2014, the Israeli leader lectured him about Gaza’s future, a Palestinian state and an Iranian nuclear deal in a tone that Obama found condescending and dismissive.

After the meeting, an aide asked how it went. Netanyahu “peed on my leg,” Obama replied, according to two people familiar with the exchange who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose a private conversation.

Israel Flagdemocratic donkey logoThe moment was emblematic of a dynamic that is culminating in the bitter debates over Israel now erupting across the American political landscape. Over the past 16 years, Netanyahu has departed sharply from his predecessors’ studious bipartisanship to embrace Republicans and disdain Democrats, an attitude increasingly mirrored in each party’s approach to Israel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right Israeli settlers step up attacks on aid trucks bound for Gaza, Loveday Morris, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The settler groups use a web of publicly accessible WhatsApp groups to track the trucks and coordinate attacks, providing a window into their activities.

Radical Israeli settlers have expanded their attacks on aid trucks passing through the West Bank this month, blocking food from reaching Gaza as humanitarian groups warn that the enclave is sinking deeper into famine.

Groups of settler youth are tailing relief convoys, setting up checkpoints and interrogating drivers. In some cases, far-right attackers have ransacked and burned trucks and beaten Palestinian drivers, leaving at least two hospitalized.

The assailants use a web of publicly accessible WhatsApp groups to track the trucks and coordinate attacks, providing a window into their activities. Working off what they say are tips from Israeli soldiers and police, in addition to the public, members pore over photos to work out which vehicles might be carrying aid to Gaza and mobilize local supporters to block them.

An attack on Thursday showed the system in action: Users in one WhatsApp group with more than 800 members began posting about a flatbed truck loaded with sugar, sharing photos from the road as they followed it.
Far-right Jewish protesters pray as they block a road in the West Bank near the Tarqumiyah crossing, where aid trucks headed to Gaza must pass before entering Israel, on May 17. (Heidi Levine/FTWP)

“The truck supplying Hamas stopped in front of Evyatar!” said 23-year-old Yosef de Bresser, referring to an Israeli outpost south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. De Bresser is a leader in the “We Won’t Forget” movement, which set up protest camps at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza earlier this year and runs several of the WhatsApp groups targeting aid trucks.

“Come join the blockade!” he wrote. Others answered the call.

The flatbed was ransacked, its load strewn across the road, according to images posted later in the group, one of two sugar trucks vandalized by settlers that day. De Bresser said the waybills — which did not show a destination — prove that the truck was headed to Gaza.

Fahed Arar, who owned the cargo, said the 30-ton load of sugar was actually destined for Salfit, a Palestinian town in the West Bank. The driver escaped unharmed, he said, but the Israeli military wouldn’t let him reload the goods.

 

A file photo shows the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo via EPA and Shutterstock).

A file photo shows the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo via EPA and Shutterstock).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Palestinians can’t wait for difficult “day after” problems to be solved, David Ignatius, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). david ignatiusIn Gaza City last November, I watched thousands of Palestinian civilians slowly march south from their shattered homes toward what Israel promised would be food and shelter in Rafah.

palestinian flagNow, with Rafah a military target, many of those Palestinians are again on the move fleeing conflict — their plight nearly as desperate as before. Israel, prodded by the United States, must fulfill its repeated promises to provide adequate humanitarian assistance — so that the next phase of the war in Gaza doesn’t become an even deeper tragedy.

 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa’s request to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive in Gaza (Reuters photo by Johanna Geron on May 24, 2024).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa’s request to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive in Gaza (Reuters photo by Johanna Geron on May 24, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Top U.N. Court Orders Israel to Halt Its Assault on Rafah, Gaya Gupta, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). While the International Court of Justice has no means of enforcing its orders, the ruling adds to the condemnation that Israel has faced over the war.

Israel FlagThe International Court of Justice on Friday ruled that Israel must immediately halt its ground assault on Rafah, dealing another blow to Israel as the country faces increasing international isolation.

While the court has no means of enforcing its orders, the ruling adds to the condemnation that Israel has faced over the war, in which more than 35,000 people in Gaza have died, according to health authorities in the enclave.

south africa flag after 1994A South African legal team urged the United Nations’ top court last week to put further constraints on Israel’s incursion there, saying it was “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its people.”

Israel has said that its operation in Rafah is a precise operation to target Hamas. The country’s military said on Thursday that it was fighting in neighborhoods near the heart of the city, where half of the territory’s population had been sheltering before the Israeli military ordered mass evacuations there.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

 

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

 


U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

 

ohio map

Politico, Biden to be nominated virtually before the convention in order to get on Ohio’s ballot, Lauren Egan, May 28, 2024. The move ensures joe biden twitterthat, for the second cycle in a row, there will be no in-person nomination.

politico CustomThe Democratic National Committee announced on Tuesday that it will nominate President Joe Biden through a “virtual roll call” vote ahead of the August convention to ensure he appears on the Ohio ballot this November.

Ohio’s ballot deadline is Aug. 7, two weeks before the DNC planned to hold its official presidential nomination at an in-person convention in Chicago. Frank LaRose, the Republican secretary of state, warned last week that Biden would not be on the state’s ballot unless the state

lawmakers moved the ballot access deadline to after the Democratic convention. Days later, the DNC announced it would expedite the nominating process, though no date has yet been announced for the virtual roll call.

dnc square logo“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio and all 50 states, and Ohio Republicans agree. But when the time has come for action, they have failed to act every time, so Democrats will land this plane on our own,” DNC chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement. “Through a virtual roll call, we will ensure that Republicans can’t chip away at our democracy through incompetence or partisan tricks and that Ohioans can exercise their right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice.”

The virtual nomination will look similar to the process the party used during the 2020 convention, when most of the proceedings were impacted by the Covid pandemic. The DNC said the Chicago convention will still go on as planned, serving as a convening event for the party.

There are typically a few states each election year whose ballot certification deadlines do not align with the party’s official nominating convention. These misalignments are almost always quietly resolved by either the state legislature or by the secretary of state.

Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, called a special session to pass a law ensuring that Biden does appear on the ballot. But GOP biden harris 2024 logolawmakers would only agree to such a change only if it included a campaign finance bill that would stop foreign donations to state and local ballot-issue campaigns. The party’s supermajority shot down a proposal by Democrats to pass a clean measure that would have moved the ballot deadline past the convention with no accompanying changes.

The state of Washington and Alabama also have early certification deadlines that fall before the DNC. But Democrats in the former resolved the issue by offering a provisional certification of Biden’s nomination. Lawmakers in Alabama passed legislation earlier this spring that deferred the state’s certification deadline until after the DNC.

 Barbara Balmaseda sent this photo of herself to Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021./ Background: Circled in yellow, Balmaseda is seen climbing the Capitol balustrade on Jan. 6; behind her in red cap is Proud Boy Garcia. Justice Department provided photos.

Barbara Balmaseda sent this photo of herself to Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021./ Background: Circled in yellow, Balmaseda is seen climbing the Capitol balustrade on Jan. 6; behind her in red cap is Proud Boy Garcia. The Justice Department provided photos.

Law & Crime, ‘You have my taser’: Proud Boys-trailing Miami Young Republicans director with ties to Rubio, DeSantis, indicted for Jan. 6, Brandi lawcrime logoBuchman, May 28, 2024. A Florida woman and former director for the Miami Young Republicans who allegedly spent months exchanging texts and photos with a member of the Proud Boys before joining him at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has been formally indicted, court records show.

Barbara “Barby” Balmaseda, 23, once a reported intern for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and a campaign organizer for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was arrested last December.

She was charged with felony obstruction of justice/threat of physical force for reporting crimes, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and two disorderly and disruptful conduct charges — one for being in a restricted area, the other for being in the Capitol — and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Her indictment was entered onto the docket on May 22.

Her next court appearance is a status hearing on June 27 before Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather.

Prosecutors said Balmaseda, a resident of Miami Lakes, exchanged “hundreds of texts and images” with the now-convicted Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia spanning from August 2020 through January 2021, even making travel arrangements to coordinate her flight with his to Washington, D.C., for a day before the certification of the 2020 election.

So close were the two, prosecutors say, that on Jan. 8, Balmaseda told Garcia: “Hey! Good morning! You left a hat and a gas mask in Adolfo’s car, I also have your sunglasses in my purse and you have my taser.”

Investigators were able to identify Balmaseda in part thanks to evidence pulled from her devices, as well as from Garcia’s, according to a statement of facts.

Some of those photos showed the two together on the evening of Jan. 5, attending a pro-Trump rally where the Miami Lakes woman was snapped wearing a pink and black neck gaiter. She wore the same gaiter on Jan. 6 in a photo taken that afternoon after the breach alongside a shirtless Garcia, and another man unidentified in court records.

Over roughly 900 messages from November 2020 to January 2021, Balmaseda often spoke about now-President Joe Biden “stealing” the election and shared articles or social media posts in the chat from Trump’s allies in Congress who planned to object including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. After Donald Trump’s defeat was declared on Nov. 7, however, she lamented to her group chat: “F— it, going to take pain killers and sleep to Monday call me when people grab there [sic] f—— balls.”

 

The Hartmann Report, Commentary: The Press: What Has Happened to the Lifeblood of our Democracy? Thom Hartmann, May 28, 2024. How thom hartmanndid America reach this point where about half our country thinks up is down, black is white, and Republicans are best trusted with our money and national security?

The fifteen or twenty percent of Americans who follow actual news reporting are dumbfounded:

— Only about half of Americans know that Trump set up and wanted the end of Roe v Wade while one-in-five think President Biden is responsible for it,

— More trust Republicans with the economy than Democrats and 46% say Trump can fix the economy compared to 32% for Biden,

— Only a third of Americans know that Republicans appointed the majority on the Supreme Court,

— 46% of Americans say a second Biden presidency will weaken American democracy,

— More than half (55%) of Americans believe the economy is shrinking and we’re in a recession (when it’s growing faster than under any president since FDR and has been for three-plus years),

— When President Biden came into office in 2021, almost two-thirds of Americans approved of his handling the economy and foreign affairs; today that number is fewer than a third,

— Almost half (49%) think the stock market is down for the year when in fact the S&P 500 was up 24% last year and is up more than 12% this year,

— About three-quarters (72%) are sure that inflation is up right now, when the rate has fallen from 9.1% to a current low of 3.4%, far better than the lowest inflation number Reagan had at 4.1% in his entire 8 years in office,

— While unemployment is lower than it’s been in over 50 years, half of Americans (49%) say “unemployment is at a 50-year high,”

— Only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of government while 69% of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump,

— As violent weather tears apart America, only 23% of Republicans consider climate change a major threat to our nation’s well-being,

— Today, 58% of Americans say the economy is getting worse daily because of mismanagement by Biden and Democrats in Congress,

— Almost half of Americans (44%) think Social Security will be gone by the time they retire,

— Fully 44% of Americans say the media and politicians are “making too much” of the January 6th assault on our capitol.

How did America reach this point where about half our country thinks up is down, black is white, and Republicans are best trusted with our money and national security?

The first imperative for any dictatorial regime is to seize control of the press. Hitler not only shut down all the opposition press and turned all of Germany’s newspapers into propaganda outlets, but ordered Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will played in every theater in Germany before every movie. The first thing his soldiers did upon occupying every country he conquered was to seize the offices of the local newspapers and radio stations.

Orbán destroyed the free press in Hungary by changing that nation’s libel and defamation laws in the same way Trump is today advocating, setting up libel lawsuits against virtually every press outlet that had ever criticized him and bankrupting them and their owners and editors with lawsuits. His oligarch buddies then bought the media properties out of bankruptcy for pennies on the dollar.

Putin did the same in Russia, and Modi is pursuing a similar effort in India.

Here in America, though, the rightwing billionaires who overwhelmingly own our media didn’t need the heavy hand of libel laws to seize control of this nation’s news and information channels (although Trump promises to do so anyway).

Zuckerberg built Facebook by buying out and shutting down or taking over his competitors in defiance of anti-trust laws that haven’t been used (until recently) since Reagan’s famous 1983 order to stop their enforcement.

Musk brought in cash from Saudi Arabia to help finance his purchase of Twitter, turning it into a rightwing cesspool that has become one of America’s premier sources of misinformation tilted toward Trump and hard-right Republicans.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, and the wealthy owner of The New York Times, some argue, is pushing that paper to hammer Biden’s age because the president won’t do a sit-down interview with him.

From the 1930s, media monopoly laws prevented the consolidation of TV and radio stations and newspapers into a few rich hands. That ended when Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which discarded those ownership restrictions: within a decade virtually all of America’s media (in terms of reach) was in the hands of fewer than a dozen corporations.

A few years ago, I met with the billionaire owner of 900 or so radio stations, many of them carrying rightwing talk radio. We were in the offices of a US Senator, who pointed out to the billionaire that my show was regularly beating Rush Limbaugh in the ratings and asked the media mogul if he’d ever considered balancing his programming with some progressive shows, which make just as much money for their stations as do conservative hosts.

The billionaire laughed at the senator and said, simply, “I’ll never put anybody on the air who wants to raise my taxes.”

Ever since Reagan’s deregulation of the financial sector legalized the private equity scam, these predatory companies have bought up, sucked dry, and driven into bankruptcy more than half of America’s small local newspapers.

It’s the same strategy they used to drain hundreds of billions from Red Lobster, J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, Toys “R” Us, Sears, 24 Hour Fitness, Aeropostale, American Apparel, Brookstone, Charlotte Russe, Claire’s, David’s Bridal, Clear Channel, Deadspin, Fairway, Gymboree, Hertz, KB Toys, Linens ’n Things, Mervyn’s, Mattress Firm, Musicland, Nine West, Payless ShoeSource, RadioShack, Shopko, Sports Authority, Rockport, True Religion, and Wickes Furniture (among hundreds of others).

The fact that information is the lifeblood of democracy and news media is the only industry explicitly named and protected by the Constitution is as irrelevant to these parasites as it is to Supreme Court justices Alito and Thomas, who the billionaire owners of such firms regularly spiff with luxury vacations and other gifts.

Political and economic commentators seem baffled. Last week, Steve Rattner did a long-form charts-and-graphs presentation for Joe Scarborough’s show demonstrating how the economy, by almost every measure, is better than any time since World War II but — bafflingly — Americans are convinced it’s in the tank and getting worse. He didn’t once, however, mention the role played by the media.

When large numbers of the people of any nation believe things that are objectively untrue, it’s a huge warning sign that something is awry with that nation’s media.

Almost half of Americans get all or most of their news from social media, which is dominated by two rightwing billionaires and the Chinese Communist Party, all of them apparently fans of Trump and his dreamed-of autocracy.

The rest of us get our news from radio, TV, cable, and other online sources, again dominated by billionaire interests who put keeping their tax rates low above threats to our democratic system of government.

Back in the 1980s, when the media told the truth about Reagan’s massive tax cuts, deregulation, gutting public education, and selling off public lands for pennies on the dollar, rightwing strategists began a unified chant about “liberal media bias.” Other than being unhappy about news outlets telling the truth, the one twig they could hang onto was the fact that most journalists were college graduates and colleges were then considered bastions of liberalism.

Rush Limbaugh debuted in 1988, claiming his show was a necessary antidote to liberal media bias even though it was the “liberal media” that made him famous and promoted his show to the top of the ratings. By the end of the ’80s the “liberal media” had become the GOP’s go-to meme under almost all circumstances.

At the 1992 Republican nominating convention, everybody from Barbara Bush to Marilyn Quayle was trashing the so-called leftwing media. GOP Chairman Rich Bond told The Washington Post that this was, in fact, a coordinated effort to influence coverage by intimidating reporters and their editors:

“But there is some strategy to it. I’m a coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs’ — meaning the media. Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

It’s high time for Democrats and advocates for democracy to begin working the refs, and pushing for legislation to outlaw media monopolies, eliminate Section 230 liability limitations on social media, and end the destruction of local news by private equity.

If we don’t, America will continue to look more and more like Hungary or Russia and it could soon be too late to do anything about it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidential 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.nomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the nomination and party leadership positions. After winning, Oliver promised to unify the party in his acceptance speech.
“I’m extending my hand,” he said. “Take it and be a part of liberty.”

Oliver is supported by the Classic Liberal Caucus, a left-leaning faction. After the last standing contender was knocked out, Oliver won with 60 percent of the vote against “none of the above.” The contest had fewer than 900 delegates voting.

The final contender was Michael Rectenwald, a former New York University professor who faced backlash and left his job after he invited controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos to speak to his class. Rectenwald, endorsed by the right-wing Mises Caucus that had taken over the party in 2022, had been the front-runner for most of the day.

But Oliver, who was in some ways a protest vote against the ruling caucus, ultimately surpassed Rectenwald in their final head-to-head round.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Trump Pledges to Commute Life Sentence of Drug Trafficker Serving Life, Ron Filipkowski, May 25, 2024.
More from the "law and order" candidate.

mtn meidas touch networkIn addition to promising to pardon J6 defendants who beat police officers, and sharing the stage with 2 gang members currently out on bond for a 140 count indictment including conspiracy to commit murder, Trump finished up the week pledging to commute the sentence of one of the most notorious drug traffickers in American history.

Trump was given a list today by the Libertarian Party of the Top 10 most important issues for delegates attending their National Convention this weekend. The first item on that list was to commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht created the dark web network called Silk Road which was used to traffic narcotics to over 100,000 buyers in hundreds of kilos of a variety of drugs. The drugs sales using Ulbricht's network totaled over $183 million. Ulbricht was convicted at trial of 7 counts of distributing narcotics and was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal in 2018.

Of course, Trump could've pardoned Ulbricht during any of his four years as president, but choose not to. But now, the "law and order" candidate currently under indictment himself for 91 felonies needs votes to solve his criminal own problems by getting elected president, and he is willing to promise just about anything to anyone at this point.

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan, who received a fortune following her divorce from a Google co-founder, on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘I ran into her yesterday’: RFK’s strange non-relationship with his VP pick, Ashley Parker and Meryl Kornfield, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his vice-presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, are on the same ticket. Getting on the same page is taking a bit more time.

Almost exactly a month after introducing Nicole Shanahan as his vice-presidential pick in a carefully choreographed Bay Area extravaganza, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still seemed a bit unclear on exactly how his running mate was spending her time.

At a late April event in Dallas, Kennedy told reporters that Shanahan — who had yet to appear at a public campaign event since her beaming, purple-pantsuited debut four weeks prior — had spent “three or four days at the border.” (In fact, she had spent just a day there, according to two advisers who toured the nation’s Southern border with her.)

Three days later, speaking to reporters in Buffalo, Kennedy said Shanahan had been “talking a lot to the press.” (In fact, she had given no interviews that had been published in mainstream publications.)

He offered some vague reassurances that the woman he had recently chosen to potentially sit just a heartbeat from the presidency was “working on every issue” and “doing a lot of podcasts” — and that while he couldn’t say “exactly what her schedule is,” he was “very happy with what she’s doing.”

“I ran into her yesterday,” Kennedy said, as if his No. 2 on the independent ticket that Democrats and Republicans alike fear could prove a decisive spoiler in the high-stakes 2024 election was more of a casual acquaintance or Craigslist Missed Connection than a true political and ideological partner.

Tell me how this war ends. From the beginning, that has been the agonizing question with the Gaza conflict. After seven horrific months, a resolution is still some way off. But some clarity is emerging about the shape of a possible endgame.

The parameters of an eventual conclusion to the war became more evident after a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel this past weekend by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk. The conversations they had there were outlined to me by knowledgeable sources.

Politico, Super PAC backing RFK Jr. got another $5M from GOP megadonor in April, Brittany Gibson and Jessica Piper, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Tim Mellon, a prolific donor to groups supporting former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, has now given the pro-Kennedy super PAC a total of $25 million.

politico CustomThe super PAC backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr., right, got another cash infusion from GOP megadonor Tim Mellon in April, rfk jr mouth openaccording to the latest campaign finance report.

Mellon is the largest GOP donor this campaign cycle to date, and has now given the American Values 2024 super PAC backing Kennedy’s long-shot independent presidential bid $25 million.

His $5 million donation also made up the vast majority of the super PAC’s haul last month, which totaled $6.1 million. Another $1 million in April came from PAC co-founder Mark Gorton, who also co-founded Limewire.

Mellon is a longtime GOP donor who has given $15 million to Make America Great Again Inc., the super PAC backing former President Donald Trump, including a new $10 million donation last month. He also gave $5 million in March to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC for GOP House candidates, as well as $4 million to The Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC affiliated with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Wyoming billionaire is also releasing a memoir this summer with Skyhorse Publishing, the publishing house run by Tony Lyons, the co-founder of American Values 2024. Kennedy provided a blurb for the book’s cover, according to its Amazon presale page.

American Values also continued its financial relationship with Gavin de Becker, founder of the security firm by the same name — though not through a new contribution.

De Becker was refunded $2 million on April 25. The return was another transaction in the “bridge funding” arrangement between the donor and super PAC. De Becker has now donated $14 million to American Values 2024 and received $11.65 million back since the PAC started backing Kennedy’s White House bid. His net contribution is now $2.35 million.

The arrangement has drawn scrutiny from Kennedy’s rivals, and the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with federal regulators about the consistent transfers of funds back to de Becker, alleging that the contributions function as loans.

The super PAC also spent a bit over $100,000 on social media ads and $31,500 on radio ads in April, the filing showed. American Values ended the month with $20.8 million in cash on hand.

ny times logoNew York Times, He Threw ‘Spaghetti at the Wall’ for Trump. Now He’s After a Top Job, Elizabeth Williamson, May 28, 2024 (print ed.)  If Donald Trump wins the presidency, Richard Grenell, right, hopes to be secretary of state. But his work raises questions, even from his former boss. richard grenell Custom

Richard Grenell’s quest to be secretary of state in a second Trump administration began late on Election Day in 2020, when the defeated president dispatched loyalists to run shambolic “stop the steal” operations in battleground states.

President Donald J. Trump tapped Mr. Grenell — his combative former ambassador to Germany, acting national intelligence chief and special envoy to the Balkans — to fly by private plane to Nevada, where Mr. Grenell ensconced himself, his dog Lola, lawyers and a crew of far-right activists in a suite at the Venetian Resort, which served as the group’s war room in Las Vegas. In a days-long spectacle, the Trump team filed a lawsuit and aired false accusations of fraud, including one wrongly implicating hundreds of members of the military.

It was all a sham. Mr. Grenell told the team in the war room, two G.O.P. operatives recalled, that the Nevada vote was not, in fact, stolen. The operatives, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from Mr. Grenell, said he told the team that the goal was simply to “throw spaghetti at the wall” — the operatives described Mr. Grenell making a theatrical tossing gesture as he spoke — to distract the media from calling Nevada while the election battle in neighboring Arizona played out.

In retrospect, one of the operatives said, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should have subpoenaed everyone in the room, including the operative himself.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Progressive Democrats aren’t turning activism into election wins, Paul Kane, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Left-wing candidates, especially those backing pro-Palestinian protests, have lost many primary races — so far.

Despite the intense focus the past couple of months on pro-Palestinian protests, many of which were championed by the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, the self-proclaimed progressive bloc has struggled to churn out victories at the ballot box.
Cut through the 2024 election noise. Get The Campaign Moment newsletter.

Oregon’s Democratic primary served up the latest example of this uphill fight, as the more traditional liberal wing won two contested primaries. State Rep. Janelle Bynum, with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, crushed a progressive favorite, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, by about 40 percentage points.

Politico, Nonconsensual AI porn is hated on the left and right. Can Congress act on it? Mohar Chatterjee, May 26, 2024. Victims of nonconsensual, sexually explicit deepfakes are lobbying Congress to pass a bill. Lawmakers are running out of time.

politico CustomLiberals and conservatives in Congress — from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Josh Hawley — all agree that something should be done to rein in nonconsensual porn generated by AI. The White House issued a “call to action” this week, urging Congress to strengthen legal protections for survivors. But lawmakers have struggled for more than a year to draft a solution, illustrating how ill-equipped Washington is to set limits on rapidly evolving technology with the power to disrupt people’s lives.

Legislation has been mired in debate over who should be held accountable for the deepfakes — with tech lobbyists pushing back on any language that would ensnare the platforms that distribute them.

Meanwhile, it is rapidly becoming easier for anyone with a couple of photos and a computer to make and distribute the videos.

“There are now hundreds of apps that can make non-consensual, sexually explicit deepfakes right on your phone,” Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored a bill against deepfake porn, told POLITICO in an email. “Congress needs to address this growing crisis as quickly as possible.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More On Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

 

papua new guinea2

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say, Staff Report, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Just getting to survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge, with a blocked highway and unstable ground “posing ongoing danger” to rescue workers.

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in the landslide that smothered a Papua New Guinea village and work camp on Friday in the country’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the United Nations on Monday.

Government officials visited the disaster site on Sunday. And even as the official death toll jumped from a few dozen to 670, they warned that far more victims than expected appeared to still be caught under the rubble.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated and located near the Porgera gold mine operated by Barrick Gold, a company based in Canada, in collaboration with Zijin Mining, a Chinese group. It is an area of remote and difficult jungle terrain, in a country of around 12 million people that sits just north of Australia. Tropical and divided along tribal, ethnic and linguistic lines, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources but largely underdeveloped, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters, which strike frequently.

ny times logoNew York Times, South Africa’s Young Democracy Leaves Its Young Voters Disillusioned, Lynsey Chutel, Photographs by Joao Silva, May 28, 2024. South Africans who grew up after the country held its first free election in 1994 spoke about their lives and plans to vote — or not — in this week’s election.

At the dawn of South Africa’s democracy after the fall of the racist apartheid government, millions lined up before sunrise to cast their ballots in the country’s first free and fair election in 1994.

Thirty years later, democracy has lost its luster for a new generation.

South Africa is now heading into a pivotal election on Wednesday, in which voters will determine which party — or alliance — will pick the president. But voter turnout has been dropping consistently in recent years. It fell to below 50 percent for the first time in the 2021 municipal elections, and analysts said that voter registration has not kept up with the growth of the voting-age population.

This downward curve has mirrored the support for South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, or A.N.C., which was a liberation movement before becoming a political machine. Polls show the party may lose its outright majority for the first time since taking power in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.

A new generation of voters do not have the lived experience of apartheid nor the emotional connection that their parents and grandparents had to the party. The A.N.C. as a governing party is all young people know, and they blame it for their joblessness, rampant crime and an economy blighted by electricity blackouts

ny times logoNew York Times, London Moves to Revive Its Reputation as a Financial Hub, Eshe Nelson and Michael J. de la Merced, May 28, 2024.  As fears have grown that the city is losing its attractiveness for publicly traded businesses, Britain’s government is making changes to bring them back.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Factory Supplying Half of Africa’s Syringes, Apoorva Mandavilli, Photographs by Brian Otieno, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). In Kenya, Revital Healthcare is manufacturing medical products that Africa needs to take charge of routine health care and respond to outbreaks. 

On the stunning Kenyan coast, about halfway between 15th-century ruins and the vibrant city of Mombasa, a small factory is helping to achieve one of Africa’s biggest health care goals: self-reliance.

With fewer than 700 employees, Revital Healthcare makes 300 million syringes a year, enough to meet more than half of Africa’s routine immunization needs.

In the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, when governments were faced with vaccinating millions of people amid severe shortages, Revital shipped syringes to Sri Lanka, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan — and even sent 15 million syringes to India, said Roneek Vora, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

“This is the first time ever in the life of Africa that a medical industry is exporting syringes to India, when we know India is a powerhouse of syringe manufacturing,” Mr. Vora said. “This was a very big deal for us — it broke a lot of barriers,” he added.

ny times logoNew York Times, Recent arrests on spying charges have sent a chill through Britain’s thriving community of Hong Kongers, Megan Specia May 28, 2024 (print ed.). A bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan to offer support in the face of Chinese military drills.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have resettled in the U.K. since 2021, among them prominent pro-democracy activists. China has not forgotten them.

The landslide hit a rural region of the island nation early Friday, but search-and-rescue efforts have been hampered by difficulty in reaching the disaster site and by the hazard that the shifting ground continues to pose.

This danger has prompted many survivors to abandon their homes, according to Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration’s office in Papua New Guinea, who estimated that over 250 houses were abandoned and that roughly 1,250 people were displaced.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated, according to local officials, and has a young population. The authorities fear that many of the fatalities will be children under 15.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 

U.S. Supreme Court

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, The Untold Story of the Network That Took Down Roe v. Wade, Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer, May 28, 2024. A conservative Christian coalition’s plan to end the federal right to abortion began just days after Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

For more than 40 years, a passionate band of conservative and mostly Christian activists tried to find ways to undermine the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion and revolutionized America.

But they had been losing. The country appeared to be moving away from them, increasingly secular and increasingly liberal on sexual matters. The anti-abortion movement lacked the critical mass needed in Washington and the control of courts to end federal abortion rights. But now, with Trump, who promised to name “pro-life judges,” in the White House, there was a new vista before them.

 


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats press Chief Justice Roberts to address ethics at Supreme Court, Ann E. Marimow, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Sens. Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse say flags flown outside the homes of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. mean he must recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases.

Two Democratic senators are calling on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take immediate steps to ensure that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. does not participate in a pair of Supreme Court cases related to the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), who oversee the federal courts in their respective roles as chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a judicial oversight subcommittee, requested a meeting with Roberts as soon as possible to discuss what they called an “ethics crisis” at the Supreme Court. In their letter, dated Thursday, the senators renewed calls for the high court to strengthen its ethics policy to include an enforcement mechanism.

 

samuel alito horizontal headshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Another Provocative Flag Was Flown at Another Alito Home, Jodi Kantor, Aric Toler and Julie Tate, May 23, 2024 (print ed.). Last year, Justice Samuel Alito’s beach house displayed a flag with a symbol carried on Jan. 6 and associated with a push for a more Christian-minded government. The “Appeal to Heaven” flag, right, flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.Last summer, two years after an upside-down American flag was flown outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., shown above in a file photo, another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation house in New Jersey, according to interviews and photographs.

This time, it was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the “Stop the Steal” campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.

 

dick durbin speaking screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What more need Alito do before Durbin gets off the stick? Jennifer Rubin, right, May 26, 2024. Passivity in the face of jennifer rubin new headshotSupreme Court corruption is unacceptable.

After the New York Times reported on an upside-down flag identified with the Jan. 6 insurrectionists flying over Alito’s Virginia home in the days after Jan. 6, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) responded that he didn’t have “anything planned” in response. No hearing? No bill ready to go? Nope.

“I think [Alito’s] explained his situation. The American public understand what he did,” Durbin proclaimed, as if Alito’s excuses were the definitive explanation for a gross breach of judicial ethics. “But I don’t think there’s much to be gained with a hearing at this point. I think he should recuse himself from cases involving Trump and his administration.” And if Alito doesn’t recuse, Durbin cannot find any “recourse other than impeachment, and we’re not at that point at all.” That weak-kneed response would not be Durbin’s worst on Alito this week.

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More On U.S. Schools, Politics, Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This college invited young people to shape our democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Other schools should follow Occidental College’s lead.

Since 2008, Occidental College in Los Angeles has offered students a chance to join a “Campaign Semester,” in which they dedicate themselves to a political campaign of their choice in presidential and midterm years. Students spend 10 weeks working their hearts out in the field and then the rest of the semester reflecting on what they learned and engaging in the academic study of elections.

Its origin owes a lot to former president Barack Obama, who attended Occidental before transferring to Columbia University. Obama’s 2008 campaign inspired a lot of young people, especially Oxy’s students, many of whom approached Dreier to learn how they might work on the campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, University Leaders Face a Long, Complex Summer, Jeremy W. Peters, May 24, 2024. Many officials may be confronting federal investigations, disputes over student discipline — and the prospect that anti-war protests start again in the fall.

Campuses are emptying out for the end of the academic year. Gone, for the most part, are the tent cities that student activists erected as a symbol of opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

But this summer might feel longer than most.

Congressional Republicans have promised to press their investigation into college antisemitism, even as they have completed their latest hearing, which they tried to turn into a public shaming session for the leaders of Rutgers, Northwestern and the University of California, Los Angeles, over their handling of campus encampments.

And protesters have likewise promised not to give up — with hundreds walking out at Harvard’s graduation on Thursday, and students at U.C.L.A. pitching new tents and briefly taking over a building.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Law

ny times logoNew York Times, Even as Violent Crime Drops, Lawlessness Rises as an Election Issue, Glenn Thrush, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In most U.S. cities, rates of homicide and violent assault are down from pandemic-era highs. But property crimes have risen, fueling voter anxiety.

In mid-2020, the country was reeling from a surge in violent crime and civil upheaval after the killing of George Floyd by the police — a knife’s-edge national crisis that President Donald J. Trump made a central issue in the run-up to Election Day.

Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the “law and order president” standing up to lawlessness, slamming “weak” liberals and calling demonstrators “domestic terrorists.” Joseph R. Biden Jr., who charted a centrist course on law enforcement as a senator, vice president and presidential candidate, vowed to address racial inequities in policing while standing behind the police as they battled the rising violence.

Four years later, the nation’s crime rates have shifted. The politics, however, have not budged.

Homicide rates are tumbling from pandemic highs in most cities, funding for law enforcement is rising, and tensions between the police and communities of color, while still significant, are no longer at a boiling point. But property crime, carjackings and smash-and-grab burglaries are up, adding to a sense of lawlessness, amplified on social media and local online message boards.

Mr. Trump is re-upping his blunt, visceral appeal to voter anxieties. He declared recently that “crime is rampant and out of control like never before,” promised to shoot shoplifters, embraced the “back the blue” slogan against liberal changes to police departments — and even falsely accused the F.B.I. of fabricating positive crime data to bolster Mr. Biden.

 

uvalde massacre all victims

washington post logoWashington Post, Uvalde parents sue gunmaker, ‘Call of Duty’ manufacturer and Meta, Arelis R. Hernández and Naomi Nix, May 24, 2024. The lawyer who won a record-breaking settlement for Sandy Hook families alleges Daniel Defense, Activision and Meta are responsible for pushing the shooter to acquire the AR-15 style weapon he used in the elementary school attack.

The lawyer who won a record-setting settlement for Sandy Hook families announced two lawsuits Friday on behalf of Uvalde school shooting victims against the manufacturer of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack, as well as the publisher of “Call of Duty” and the social media giant Meta.

The lawsuits against Daniel Defense, known for its high-end rifles; Activision, the manufacturer of first-person shooter game “Call of Duty”;” and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, may be the first of their kind to connect aggressive firearms marketing tactics on social media and gaming platforms to the actions of a mass shooter.

The complaints contend the three companies are responsible for “grooming” a generation of “socially vulnerable” young men radicalized to live out violent video game fantasies in the real world with easily accessible weapons of war.

One of those men, the legal team argues, was Robb Elementary School shooter Salvador Ramos. The lawsuits allege Meta and Activision “knowingly exposed the Shooter to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems, and trained him to use it.”

“Over the last 15 years, two of America’s largest technology companies — Defendants Activision and Meta — have partnered with the firearms industry in a scheme that makes the Joe Camel campaign look laughably harmless, even quaint,” the complaint states.

uvalde massacre all victims

The lawsuits are part of an intensifying quest for accountability by Uvalde shooting victim relatives through the civil courts. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack, one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Law enforcement officers waited 77 minutes to enter the classroom and kill the gunman.

“The truth is that the gun industry and Daniel Defense didn’t act alone. They couldn’t have reached this kid but for Instagram,” attorney Josh Koskoff said of the shooter. “They couldn’t expose him to the dopamine loop of virtually killing a person. That’s what ‘Call of Duty’ does.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s fascist talk is what’s ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ Dana Milbank, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). No, dana milbank newestTrump isn’t Hitler. But his copycat words lead nowhere good.

As you’ve probably heard, Donald Trump has once again raised a führer.

The former president’s Truth Social account posted a video posing the question “What happens after Donald Trump wins?” and providing a possible answer: In the background was the phrase “unified Reich.”

ICE logoThis follows Trump’s echoing Adolf Hitler in campaign speeches, saying that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and calling his opponents “vermin.”

trump 2024And that, in turn, followed Trump’s dining at Mar-a-Lago with high-profile antisemite Ye (Kanye West) and white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes, who likened incinerating Jews to baking cookies.

Under the three-Reichs-and-you’re-out rule, Trump should be on the bench. Yet he keeps swinging — and this week provided a sobering measure of how numb we have become to his undeniably fascist rhetoric.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 24, 2024. A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

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Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Space, Transportation

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana’s coast is sinking. Advocates say the governor is undermining efforts to save it, Shannon Osaka, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). A new Republican governor, Jeff Landry, shown at right, is taking aim at the state’s coastal protection agency.

jeff landry oFor the past decade, Louisiana’s program for coastal protection has been hailed as one of the best in the country, after the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed the state to shore up coastlines, repair levees and protect natural habitats.

But now, environmental advocates and experts say the state’s new Republican governor is undermining its coastal protection agency — the state’s first and strongest line of defense against climate change-induced sea level rise. In an open letter published this week and signed by more than 200 business leaders, environmental advocates and other experts, various groups warned against Gov. Jeff Landry’s plans to transform the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

“The very future of our state is at stake,” the letter read.

Environmentalists say that the new governor’s actions could hobble the agency just as its work is most needed. The moves come as other right-leaning states are also cutting back on climate goals and even references to climate change.

Since 2005, when Louisiana was devastated by two hurricanes, the coastal restoration agency has built or revamped over 300 miles of levees that hold back floodwaters, and restored dozens of miles of barrier islands that can absorb the pressure of waves and rising seas. The agency works to shore up these defenses in the face of future, stronger storms and higher seas.

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 26, 2024. Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

ny times logoNew York Times, 600,000 Without Power in 13 States After Deadly Storms, Damien Cave, Mike Ives and Johnny Diaz, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Severe weather was shifting east to threaten much of the Eastern United States on Monday, after powerful storms over the weekend left at least 23 dead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions, Anna Phillips and Veronica Penney, May 24, 2024. Nearly 40 percent of schools in the United States were built before the 1970s, when temperatures were cooler and fewer buildings needed air conditioning.

America’s aging school buildings are on a collision course with a rapidly warming climate.

Last fall, school officials were forced to send students home across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic — just as many were returning from summer break — because of extreme heat and schools lacking air conditioning. In Baltimore and Detroit, high heat led to early dismissals, the same as it had four months earlier when summer temperatures struck in May.

Hot weather is not a new concern for school districts. But as the burning of fossil fuels heats the planet, it’s delivering longer-lasting, more dangerous heat waves, and higher average temperatures. Across much of the northern United States, where many schools were built without air conditioning, districts are now forced to confront the academic and health risks posed by poorly cooled schools. Fixing the problem often requires residents to pass multimillion dollar school repair bonds, which can be hard to do. Climatic change is arriving faster than most can adapt.

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Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

vladimir putin hand up palmer

ny times logoNew York Times, Optimistic About the War in Ukraine, Putin Unleashes a Purge at Home, Paul Sonne and Anatoly Kurmanaev, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Despite years of criticism, President Vladimir Putin of Russia,shown above in a file photo, has only now changed his defense minister and allowed high-level corruption arrests.

Periodic outcries over incompetence and corruption at the top of the Russian military have dogged President Vladimir V. Putin’s war effort since the start of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

When his forces faltered around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the need for change was laid bare. When they were routed months later outside the city of Kharkiv, expectations of a shake-up grew. And after the mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin marched his men toward Moscow, complaining of deep rot and ineptitude at the top of the Russian force, Mr. Putin seemed obliged to respond.

But, at each turn, the Russian president avoided any major public moves that could have been seen as validating the criticism, keeping his defense minister and top general in place through the firestorm while shuffling battlefield commanders and making other moves lower on the chain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Steps Up a Covert Sabotage Campaign in Europe, Julian E. Barnes, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Russian military intelligence is behind arson attacks aimed at undermining support for Ukraine’s war effort, U.S. and European security officials say.

russian flag wavingThe covert operations have mostly been arsons or attempted arsons targeting a wide range of sites, including a warehouse in England, a paint factory in Poland, homes in Latvia and, most oddly, an Ikea store in Lithuania.

But people accused of being Russian operatives have also been arrested on charges of plotting attacks on U.S. military bases.

While the acts might appear random, American and European security officials say they are part of a concerted effort by Russia to slow arms transfers to Kyiv and create the appearance of growing European opposition to support for Ukraine. And the officials say Russia’s military intelligence arm, the G.R.U., is leading the campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. and allies move to tap frozen Russian funds despite Kremlin threats, Jeff Stein, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Kremlin officials have suggested retaliating by confiscating U.S. assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

The United States and its Western allies took a key step Saturday toward using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s war effort, moving closer to providing another key financial stream for Kyiv.

Russian FlagRussian officials have suggested they could retaliate by confiscating U.S. and European assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

ukraine flagMeeting in northern Italy this week, the top financial officials of the Group of Seven nations agreed in a joint statement to tap the investment returns of “immobilized Russian sovereign assets” to support Ukraine. The Kremlin has been blocked from accessing hundreds of billions of dollars held in Western financial institutions after invading Ukraine in 2022, and European and U.S. officials have for months debated whether or how to unlock these funds to help fight off the invasion.

Russia has roughly $280 billion in sovereign assets stashed in Western financial institutions, the majority of which is held by European firms. Those funds are now frozen under the U.S.-led sanctions effort.

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More On U.S. Military, Space, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon suspends aid deliveries via Gaza pier after repeated mishaps, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Alex Horton, May 28, 2024. The gap in deliveries is likely to extend “at least a week,” said a Pentagon official, as the U.S. and Israeli militaries reassemble pieces of the damaged pier.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via its floating pier after mishaps in which four U.S. military vessels were beached, one U.S. service member was critically injured, and sections of the structure were ripped free in bad weather.

The damage will require the U.S. military, with Israeli assistance, to disassemble pieces of the pier attached to the Gazan shore, rebuild them in the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, then transport them back to the Gazan shore and reconnect them, said Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman. That process will take at least a week, temporarily eliminating the pier as an option to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza aid as Israel continues its months-long military campaign against the militant group Hamas.

“The pier proved highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza,” Singh said. “Thus, upon completion of the pier repair and reassembly, the intention is to re-anchor the temporary pier to the coast of Gaza and resume humanitarian aid to the people who need it most.”

The project, announced by President Biden in March, is intended to provide an additional route to get aid to Gazan civilians on top of land routes that have been squeezed by Israeli officials and beset with looting and violence. While the U.S. military has been able to deliver more than 1,000 tons of aid over the pier this month, according to officials, its initial installation was delayed for days by bad weather, and it is unclear whether the refurbishment in Ashdod may render it less susceptible to future storms.

 arlington national cemetery us army

Approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery (shown above in a U.S. Army photo). Service members from every one of America’s major wars, from the Revolutionary War to today's conflicts, are interred at ANC. Wikimedia further describes the history:

As a result, the history of the nation is reflected on the grounds of the cemetery. Arlington Estate was established by George Washington's adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, to be a living memorial to the first president. Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864, by order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The first official “Decoration Day,” later renamed Memorial Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. This tradition continues today, and is one reason why Arlington transformed from being one of many national cemeteries into the premier national military cemetery.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Marks Memorial Day With Message About Freedom as Trump Lashes Out, Michael D. Shear, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden paid tribute to veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. Donald Trump posted an angry and incendiary message on his social media site.

President Biden paid tribute to veterans who died in America’s wars at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, hailing them as “a link in the chain of honor” who deserve recognition for protecting the nation’s democracy.

“Freedom has never been guaranteed,” Mr. Biden said in a nine-minute Memorial Day address, moments after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“Every generation has to earn it. Fight for it. Defend it in battle between autocracy and democracy,” he said of the nation’s veterans. “Our democracy is more than just a system of government. It’s the very soul of America.”

His somber message was a sharp contrast to that of former President Donald J. Trump, his challenger for re-election this year, who posted an angry and incendiary Memorial Day message on his social media site.

“Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country,” the former president wrote on Truth Social.

Mr. Trump also wished a happy Memorial Day to Lewis Kaplan, the federal judge who oversaw the trials in which the former president was accused of defamation. Mr. Trump called Judge Kaplan “the Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge.” He also called Justice Arthur F. Engoron, who presided over Mr. Trump’s civil fraud case, a “wacko.”

In an earlier, more traditional Memorial Day missive on Truth Social, Mr. Trump posted a photograph of himself saluting a wreath while he was president, and saying “WE CAN NEVER REPLACE THEM. WE CAN NEVER REPAY THEM. BUT WE CAN ALWAYS REMEMBER.”

But his vitriolic post followed a few minutes later as a reminder of the stark differences between the two rivals for the White House. As has been the case for years, either as president or as a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump showed that he would not be held to the norms of behavior that guide the nation’s leaders on a somber national holiday.

By contrast, Mr. Biden’s appearance was typical of the kind of message delivered by other presidents in both parties.

He focused mostly on the sacrifices of the past — members of the military who died in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam and the two world wars.

“Our fallen heroes have brought us closer today,” he said. “We’re not just fortunate heirs of their legacy. We have a responsibility to be the keepers of their mission, that truest memorial of their lives.”

Mr. Biden did not mention the wars raging in Europe and the Middle East, where he has pledged not to send American service members to fight alongside allies in Ukraine or Israel. The United States has been drawn into both conflicts nonetheless. The military is helping to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza and is equipping and supporting fighters in both places against Russia and Hamas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Memorial Day U.S. Reflections: What’s to become of the keepsakes left at Arlington Cemetery? Kelsey Baker, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Thousands of mementos have been placed on the graves of those lost to America’s post-9/11 wars. The collection needs a new home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Dominates the Space Launch Business. Rivals Are Calling Foul, Eric Lipton, May 28, 2024. The U.S. government is concerned about its reliance on a billionaire for access to space. New competitors say SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them.

Elon Musk aggressively elbowed his way into the space launch business over the past two decades, combining engineering genius and an entrepreneurial drive with a demand that the U.S. government stop favoring the big, slow-moving contractors that had long dominated the industry.

Today, it is Mr. Musk who is dominant. His company, SpaceX, is the primary provider of launch services to NASA and to the Pentagon. His rockets carry far more commercial satellites into orbit than anyone else’s, including those for his own Starlink communications network. He has set new standards for reaching space cheaply and reliably.

But in one striking way, the former outsider has come to resemble the entrenched contractors he once fought to topple: He is increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay, his competitors say, even as his success is prompting qualms within the government about such heavy reliance on a mercurial billionaire.

 

President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden welcoming President William Ruto of Kenya and Rachel Ruto for their state visit at the White House on Thursday (New York Times photo by Haiyun Jiang on May 23, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Barack Obama Is a Surprise Guest at Biden’s State Dinner for Kenya, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The dinner was held in honor of Kenya, but it was clear that the night was built to keep Democratic allies close as President Biden headed into campaign season.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Full Guest List for Biden’s State Dinner With Kenya, Minho Kim, May 24, 2024. The Bidens invited more than 450 guests, including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Carol Moseley Braun, Melinda Gates, Lester Holt, LeVar Burton and Sean Penn.

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afghanistan nyt

The New York Times documented the disappearances of more than 300 Afghans under a general backed by the United States.

 

U.S. Immigration News

 

ICE logoPolitico, Senate border vote fails again, losing support from both sides, Ursula Perano, May 23, 2024. President Joe Biden is expected to start issuing executive actions in June that mirror parts of the bipartisan border deal.

politico CustomChuck Schumer’s second attempt to advance a sweeping border package failed by a wider margin than the first time, with increased opposition among both Republicans and Democrats.

senate democrats logoSenate campaign arms have already been hitting the other side on the predictable outcome, hoping to blame problems at the border on the opposing party. Biden administration officials have telegraphed that the president will soon take executive action to address border issues ahead of the November election.

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President Joe Biden and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City last year. Administration officials have refused to give any timeline on whether Mr. Biden could announce an order shutting down asylum at the border (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

 

Claims Against Biden Family

 

robert hur us attorney

Washington Post, Who is Robert Hur, special counsel for Biden classified documents probe?

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says Hur tapes are privileged as Congress moves to hold Garland in contempt, Jacqueline Alemany and Perry Stein, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has asserted executive privilege over audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials.

U.S. House logoPresident Biden has asserted executive privilege over the audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials and will refuse congressional requests to hand them over, the White House and the Justice Department said in letters to House Republican leaders Thursday.

 

hunter biden abbe Lowell 1 10 2024Businessman Hunter Biden, left, President Biden's son and a defendant in two federal indictments, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this winter at which Biden made a surprise offer to testify publicly.

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U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by Defendant's psychiatrist).

U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by defendant's psychiatrist).

 

U.S. Reproductive Rights, #MeToo, Trafficking, Culture Wars

ny times logoNew York Times, Hillary Clinton on Democrats’ Failures on Abortion: ‘We Could Have Done More,’ Lisa Lerer and Elizabeth Dias, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In an interview for a forthcoming book, Mrs. Clinton also suggested that if Donald Trump won in November, “we may never have another actual election.”

Hillary Clinton criticized her fellow Democrats over what she described as a decades-in-the-making failure to protect abortion rights, saying in her first extended interview about the fall of Roe v. Wade that her party underestimated the growing strength of anti-abortion forces until many Democrats were improbably “taken by surprise” by the landmark Dobbs decision in 2022.

In wide-ranging and unusually frank comments, Mrs. Clinton said Democrats had spent decades in a state of denial that a right enshrined in American life for generations could fall — that faith in the courts and legal precedent had made politicians, voters and officials unable to see clearly how the anti-abortion movement was chipping away at abortion rights, restricting access to the procedure and transforming the Supreme Court, until it was too late.

“We didn’t take it seriously, and we didn’t understand the threat,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Most Democrats, most Americans, did not realize we are in an existential struggle for the future of this country.”

She said: “We could have done more to fight.”

Mrs. Clinton’s comments came in an interview conducted in late February for a forthcoming book, “The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America.”

The interview represented Mrs. Clinton’s most detailed comments on abortion rights since the Supreme Court decision that led to the procedure becoming criminalized or restricted in 21 states. She said not only that her party was complacent but also that if she had been in the Senate at the time she would have worked harder to block confirmation of Trump-appointed justices.

 

 mifepristone Allen g breed ap

Politico, Louisiana is set to make possessing abortion pills without a prescription punishable by up to 10 years in prisonMegan Messerly, May jeff landry o24, 2024. GOP Gov. Jeff Landry, right, signed the bill (see below).

politico CustomLouisiana lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation making the possession of abortion pills without a prescription a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Louisiana prisons jailsThe first-in-the-nation legislation could be a model for other red states grappling with how to stop their residents from traveling out of state to get abortion pills or ordering them online despite their abortion bans. But people who obtain those pills don’t always have prescriptions for them, particularly if they are mailed from overseas.

djt maga hatUnder the Louisiana bill, pregnant women who obtain the medication for their own use would be exempt from criminal liability. But friends or family who help them get the pills and non-pregnant women who obtain them as a precaution could face criminal penalties for possession.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This Alabama AG won’t stop at the state line to prosecute abortion, Ruth Marcus, right, May 17, 2024 (print ruth marcused.). Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is Exhibit A in why leaving abortion to the states is a nightmare.

Not content to prevent women from obtaining abortions in his own state, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is doing his best to prevent them from traveling to other states where the procedure remains legal. Fortunately, a federal judge just ruled that the Constitution won’t let him. Unfortunately, we might have more of this kind of zealotry heading our way.

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. Gov. Youngkin vetoes bills on birth control, Confederate tax loopholes, Laura Vozzella, May 18, 2024. Many of the vetoes were related to culture-war issues that could play into this fall’s presidential and congressional contests.

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana moves to make abortion pills ‘controlled dangerous substances,’ Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, May 14, 2024 (print ed.). Someone possessing the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice could be prosecuted and sentenced to prison.

louisiana map horizontalLouisiana could become the first state in the country to categorize mifepristone and misoprostol — the drugs used to induce an abortion — as controlled dangerous substances, threatening incarceration and fines if an individual possesses the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice.A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump during cross-examination attacked Stormy Daniels for trying to monetize her life story (Charly Triballeau photo via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images on May 9, 2024)

A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump during cross-examination attacked Stormy Daniels, above, for trying to monetize her life story (Charly Triballeau photo via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images on May 9, 2024).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Karmic justice: Women might seal Trump’s fate in New York trial, Jennifer Rubin, May 13, 2024.  jennifer rubin new headshotHope Hicks and Stormy Daniels supplied critical testimony.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Countries Fail to Agree on Treaty to Prepare World for the Next Pandemic, Apoorva Mandavilli, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Negotiators plan to ask for more time. Among the sticking points are equitable access to vaccines and financing to set up surveillance systems.

Countries around the globe have failed to reach consensus on the terms of a treaty that would unify the world in a strategy against the inevitable next pandemic, trumping the nationalist ethos that emerged during Covid-19.

The deliberations, which were scheduled to be a central item at the weeklong meeting of the World Health Assembly beginning Monday in Geneva, aimed to correct the inequities in access to vaccines and treatments between wealthier nations and poorer ones that became glaringly apparent during the Covid pandemic.

Although much of the urgency around Covid has faded since the treaty negotiations began two years ago, public health experts are still acutely aware of the pandemic potential of emerging pathogens, familiar threats like bird flu and mpox, and once-vanquished diseases like smallpox.

“Those of us in public health recognize that another pandemic really could be around the corner,” said Loyce Pace, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, who oversees the negotiations in her role as the United States liaison to the World Health Organization.

washington post logoWashington Post, Covid will still be here this summer. Will anyone care? Fenit Nirappil and Sabrina Malhi, May 26, 2024. Despite “FLiRT” variants, this may be the first covid wave with little federal pressure to limit transmission or data to even declare a surge.

 

ozempic

ny times logoNew York Times, Ozempic Cuts Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease Complications, Study Finds, Dani Blum, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Major clinical trial showed such promising results that the drug’s maker halted it early.

Semaglutide, the compound in the blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, dramatically reduced the risk of kidney complications, heart issues and death in people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease in a major clinical trial, the results of which were published on Friday. The findings could transform how doctors treat some of the sickest patients with chronic kidney disease, which affects more than one in seven adults in the United States but has no cure.

“Those of us who really care about kidney patients spent our whole careers wanting something better,” said Dr. Katherine Tuttle, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an author of the study. “And this is as good as it gets.” The research was presented at a European Renal Association meeting in Stockholm on Friday and simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial, funded by Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk, was so successful that the company stopped it early. Dr. Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk’s executive vice president of development, said that the company would ask the Food and Drug Administration to update Ozempic’s label to say it can also be used to reduce the progression of chronic kidney disease or complications in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease, which occurs when the kidneys don’t function as well as they should. In advanced stages, the kidneys are so damaged that they cannot properly filter blood. This can cause fluid and waste to build up in the blood, which can exacerbate high blood pressure and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke, said Dr. Subramaniam Pennathur, the chief of the nephrology division at Michigan Medicine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Farm Animals Are Hauled All Over the U.S. So Are Their Pathogens, Emily Anthes and Linda Qiu, May 21, 2024 (print ed.). Tens of millions of farm animals cross state lines every year, traveling in cramped, stressful conditions that can facilitate the spread of disease.

The bird flu virus that is spreading through American dairy cows can probably be traced back to a single spillover event. Late last year, scientists believe, the virus jumped from wild birds into cattle in the Texas panhandle. By this spring, the virus, known as H5N1, had traveled hundreds of miles or more, appearing on farms in Idaho, North Carolina and Michigan.

The virus did not traverse those distances on its own. Instead, it hitched a ride with its hosts, the cows, moving into new states as cattle were transported from the outbreak’s epicenter to farms across the country.

Live animal transport is essential to industrial animal agriculture, which has become increasingly specialized. Many facilities focus on just one step in the production process — producing new young, for instance, or fattening adults for slaughter — and then send the animals on.

The exact number of chickens, cows and pigs being transported on trucks, ships, planes and trains within the United States is difficult to pinpoint because there is no universal national system for tracking their movement.

But estimates from official sources and animal advocates offer a sense of the scale: In 2022, some 21 million cattle and 62 million hogs were shipped into states for breeding, or feeding, according to the Agriculture Department; these figures do not include poultry, movement within the same state or journeys to slaughter. That same year, more than 500,000 young dairy calves, some only a few days old, were shipped from just six states, according to the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit group. Some traveled more than 1,500 miles.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. halts funding to virus research organization linked to pandemic probes, Dan Diamond, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). Top NIH official Lawrence Tabak is set to face off this morning with the House panel probing the coronavirus covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2response. Expect lawmakers to focus on the agency’s oversight and funding of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic.

U.S. House logoEcoHealth was thrown back into the spotlight Wednesday, after the Department of Health and Human Services said it was suspending funding to the organization and moving to debar the New York-based nonprofit from receiving additional funds, citing evidence EcoHealth had failed to monitor and report on risky virus experiments in China.

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U.S., Global Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Consumers

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Dominates the Space Launch Business. Rivals Are Calling Foul, Eric Lipton, May 28, 2024. The U.S. government is concerned about its reliance on a billionaire for access to space. New competitors say SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them.

Elon Musk aggressively elbowed his way into the space launch business over the past two decades, combining engineering genius and an entrepreneurial drive with a demand that the U.S. government stop favoring the big, slow-moving contractors that had long dominated the industry.

Today, it is Mr. Musk who is dominant. His company, SpaceX, is the primary provider of launch services to NASA and to the Pentagon. His rockets carry far more commercial satellites into orbit than anyone else’s, including those for his own Starlink communications network. He has set new standards for reaching space cheaply and reliably.

But in one striking way, the former outsider has come to resemble the entrenched contractors he once fought to topple: He is increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay, his competitors say, even as his success is prompting qualms within the government about such heavy reliance on a mercurial billionaire.

The new generation of space entrepreneurs trying to emulate Mr. Musk is sufficiently concerned about what they see as his anticompetitive tactics that some of them are now willing to take him on publicly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Doesn’t Want You Buying an E.V. From China. Here’s Why, Jim Tankersley, May 28, 2024 (print ed.).  President Biden wants to shift America’s car fleet toward electric vehicles, but not at the expense of American jobs or national security.

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Media, Sports, Religion, High Tech, Education, Culture

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ny times logoNew York Times, Bill Walton, one of basketball’s most eccentric characters, dies at 71, Jason Quick, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Bill Walton, a Hall of nba logoFame center who authored a career that was triumphant and tragic, as well as colorful and controversial, died Monday at the age of 71 after abattle with cancer, the NBA announced.

Walton, shown above in a f le photo, was regarded as one of the most dominant and versatile centers to ever play, which translated to two state titles with Helix High in La Mesa, Calif., two NCAA titles at UCLA and two NBA titles, one with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977 and one with the Boston Celtics in 1986. In 1993, he was elected into the Naismith Hall of Fame, and in 1997, the NBA named him one of the Top 50 players of all time.

ny times logoNew York Times, Musk’s A.I. Firm Raises $6 Billion in Race With Rivals, Jason Karaian, May 28, 2024 (print ed.). Mr. Musk, who founded xAI last year, has said the business “still has a lot of catching up to do” as it looks to compete with well-funded companies like OpenAI.

Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence company, xAI, said on Sunday that it has raised $6 billion, helping to close the funding gap with OpenAI, Anthropic and other rivals in the red-hot industry.

The funds would be used “to take xAI’s first products to market, build advanced infrastructure, and accelerate the research and development of future technologies,” the company said in a statement.

Mr. Musk, who founded xAI in July, said in a social media post the funding round valued the company at $18 billion, not including the new money. Investors included the Silicon Valley heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, along with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

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 arlington national cemetery us army

Today, approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery (shown above in a U.S. Army photo). Service members from every one of America’s major wars, from the Revolutionary War to today's conflicts, are interred at ANC. Wikimedia further describes the history:

As a result, the history of the nation is reflected on the grounds of the cemetery. Arlington Estate was established by George Washington's adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, to be a living memorial to the first president. Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864, by order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The first official “Decoration Day,” later renamed Memorial Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. This tradition continues today, and is one reason why Arlington transformed from being one of many national cemeteries into the premier national military cemetery.

washington post logoWashington Post, Memorial Day U.S. Reflections: What’s to become of the keepsakes left at Arlington Cemetery? Kelsey Baker, May 27, 2024. Thousands of mementos have been placed on the graves of those lost to America’s post-9/11 wars. The collection needs a new home.

During one of their winter visits to Arlington National Cemetery, Mark and Nancy Umbrell placed a colorful patchwork quilt beside their son Colby’s grave. It had arrived in the mail years earlier from a sender they did not know after the 26-year-old’s 2007 death in Iraq.

They had observed other visitors leaving mementos, a gesture that felt to them like a fitting way to both honor the fallen Army officer and thank the quilt maker whose kindness meant so much in their moment of grief, Nancy Umbrell said.

Days later, Rod Gainer set out on his weekly walk through Section 60, the cemetery’s 14-acre parcel where Colby Umbrell and other U.S. service members lost to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and counterterrorism missions elsewhere. As Gainer, the cemetery’s historical curator, surveyed the thousands of snow-dusted headstones, he spotted the quilt and approached, gently tucking it under his arm while tagging it with the plot number and date, Feb. 2, 2019.

Today, the Umbrells’ quilt belongs to a collection of more than 3,250 keepsakes gathered over the past 15 years from Section 60. Each is packed in a transparent red plastic bag, placed inside a white corrugated cardboard box, like the kind that holds printer paper, and locked out of sight in a climate-controlled underground corridor not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“It’s an amazing slice of life in the early 21st century of America,” Gainer said, adding that it humanizes the cost of these conflicts.

Yet Arlington Cemetery, in the midst of an expansion to accommodate tens of thousands of future burials, has no plan for the long-term storage of Section 60 mementos, and it lacks the space and budget to properly conserve and display them, Gainer said. He said that because the boxed archives are not official U.S. government property, they are ineligible for taxpayer funding.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Marks Memorial Day With Message About Freedom as Trump Lashes Out, Michael D. Shear, May 27, 2024.
President Biden paid tribute to veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. Donald Trump posted an angry and incendiary message on his social media site.

President Biden paid tribute to veterans who died in America’s wars at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, hailing them as “a link in the chain of honor” who deserve recognition for protecting the nation’s democracy.

“Freedom has never been guaranteed,” Mr. Biden said in a nine-minute Memorial Day address, moments after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“Every generation has to earn it. Fight for it. Defend it in battle between autocracy and democracy,” he said of the nation’s veterans. “Our democracy is more than just a system of government. It’s the very soul of America.”

His somber message was a sharp contrast to that of former President Donald J. Trump, his challenger for re-election this year, who posted an angry and incendiary Memorial Day message on his social media site.

“Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country,” the former president wrote on Truth Social.

Mr. Trump also wished a happy Memorial Day to Lewis Kaplan, the federal judge who oversaw the trials in which the former president was accused of defamation. Mr. Trump called Judge Kaplan “the Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge.” He also called Justice Arthur F. Engoron, who presided over Mr. Trump’s civil fraud case, a “wacko.”

In an earlier, more traditional Memorial Day missive on Truth Social, Mr. Trump posted a photograph of himself saluting a wreath while he was president, and saying “WE CAN NEVER REPLACE THEM. WE CAN NEVER REPAY THEM. BUT WE CAN ALWAYS REMEMBER.”

But his vitriolic post followed a few minutes later as a reminder of the stark differences between the two rivals for the White House. As has been the case for years, either as president or as a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump showed that he would not be held to the norms of behavior that guide the nation’s leaders on a somber national holiday.

By contrast, Mr. Biden’s appearance was typical of the kind of message delivered by other presidents in both parties.

He focused mostly on the sacrifices of the past — members of the military who died in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam and the two world wars.

“Our fallen heroes have brought us closer today,” he said. “We’re not just fortunate heirs of their legacy. We have a responsibility to be the keepers of their mission, that truest memorial of their lives.”

Mr. Biden did not mention the wars raging in Europe and the Middle East, where he has pledged not to send American service members to fight alongside allies in Ukraine or Israel. The United States has been drawn into both conflicts nonetheless. The military is helping to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza and is equipping and supporting fighters in both places against Russia and Hamas.

 

 

Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

Defendant Donald Trump, center, with defense attorney Todd Blanche, at right, at the New York City state courthouse for his trial on election interference charges relating to hush money payments adult film star Stormy Daniels (Pool photo May 7, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Verdict Playbook: Anger and Retribution, Regardless of Outcome, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman
May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump has a history of attacking investigators, blaming President Biden and seeking vengeance on those who cross him.

The verdict in former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial remains a mystery, at least for a few more days. Less of a mystery is what Mr. Trump will say and do after it is announced — whatever the outcome might be.

If the past is any guide, even with a full acquittal, Mr. Trump will be angry and vengeful, and will direct attacks against everyone he perceives to be responsible for the Manhattan district attorney’s prosecution. He will continue to level the attacks publicly, at rallies and on Truth Social, and privately encourage his House Republican allies to subpoena his Democratic enemies.

The pattern is firmly established: After Mr. Trump escaped impeachment twice and survived a special counsel investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia, he immediately went into revenge mode — complaining about the injustices he was forced to endure and urging his allies to investigate the investigators.

“Regardless of the outcome, the playbook is the same,” said Alyssa Farah Griffin, Mr. Trump’s former White House communications director, who began working for him shortly after his first impeachment trial but has since become a sharp critic of her former boss. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Israeli Strike in Rafah ‘Tragic Accident,’ Staff Reports, May 27, 2024. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments came amid international condemnation over the strike, which killed 45 people, according to Gaza officials.

With international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Monday that the killing of dozens of people in a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” but gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive there.

His comments came at a particularly delicate time, just three days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive in the city and as diplomats were aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Live Updates: Israel-Hamas War: Israeli Airstrike Kills Dozens in Tent Camp in Rafah, Gazan Officials Say, Staff Reports, May 27, 2024. At least 45 people were killed at the makeshift camp, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound; Witnesses described charred bodies and flames. A doctor said the majority of the victims he saw were women and children.

An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, killed at least 45 people on Sunday night and wounded 249, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Monday. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it was looking into reports that “several civilians in the area were harmed” by the airstrike and a subsequent fire. A follow-up statement said the strike had killed two Hamas leaders. A legal official with the military said Monday that the strike was under review.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that its ambulance crews had taken a “large” number of victims to the Tal as Sultan clinic and field hospitals in Rafah, where few functioning hospitals remain, and that “numerous” people had been trapped in fires at the site of the strikes.

Macron says Israeli operations in Rafah ‘must stop,’ and more news:

  • President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday he was “outraged” by an Israeli attack in Rafah that the authorities in Gaza said killed dozens of people. “These operations must stop,” he said, referring to the strike on Sunday. “There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians.” Mr. Macron called “for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.” His comments came after the International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to halt its offensive in the city and added to a drumbeat of criticism of Israel over its conduct in the war.
  • Aid trucks from Egypt reached the Gaza Strip under a new U.S.-brokered agreement to reopen a vital conduit for humanitarian relief, the Israeli military and the Egyptian Red Crescent said. Some 126 trucks from Egypt containing food, fuel and other necessities made it to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement. The trucks were inspected by Israeli officials, said Ahmad Ezzat, an Egyptian Red Crescent official. On Sunday, the U.N. trucks sent to Kerem Shalom to pick up the Egyptian aid were forced to evacuate the crossing because of a security issue, according to Sam Rose, a spokesman for UNRWA. Officials including Mr. Rose said the aid had not made it past the crossing as of Sunday.
  • Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, has said that Israel’s offensive in Rafah is “incompatible with international law.” His comments were reported on Saturday by the country’s public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. Senior German officials had previously warned Israel against attacking Rafah, but Mr. Habeck’s comments appear to represent a hardening of that tone in a country with a longstanding policy of support for Israel. “Israel must not carry out this attack, at least not in the way it did in the Gaza Strip before, bombing refugee camps and so on,” Mr. Habeck said.
  • Israel’s war cabinet met on Sunday night to discuss continuing efforts to reach a cease-fire deal and free hostages held in Gaza, according to an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks. Diplomats are aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas at some point in the next week, according to three officials briefed on the process. According to the officials, preliminary discussions were held this weekend in Paris.

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

vladimir putin hand up palmer

ny times logoNew York Times, Optimistic About the War in Ukraine, Putin Unleashes a Purge at Home, Paul Sonne and Anatoly Kurmanaev, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). Despite years of criticism, President Vladimir Putin of Russia,shown above in a file photo, has only now changed his defense minister and allowed high-level corruption arrests.

Periodic outcries over incompetence and corruption at the top of the Russian military have dogged President Vladimir V. Putin’s war effort since the start of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

When his forces faltered around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the need for change was laid bare. When they were routed months later outside the city of Kharkiv, expectations of a shake-up grew. And after the mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin marched his men toward Moscow, complaining of deep rot and ineptitude at the top of the Russian force, Mr. Putin seemed obliged to respond.

But, at each turn, the Russian president avoided any major public moves that could have been seen as validating the criticism, keeping his defense minister and top general in place through the firestorm while shuffling battlefield commanders and making other moves lower on the chain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Steps Up a Covert Sabotage Campaign in Europe, Julian E. Barnes, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Russian military intelligence is behind arson attacks aimed at undermining support for Ukraine’s war effort, U.S. and European security officials say.

russian flag wavingThe covert operations have mostly been arsons or attempted arsons targeting a wide range of sites, including a warehouse in England, a paint factory in Poland, homes in Latvia and, most oddly, an Ikea store in Lithuania.

But people accused of being Russian operatives have also been arrested on charges of plotting attacks on U.S. military bases.

While the acts might appear random, American and European security officials say they are part of a concerted effort by Russia to slow arms transfers to Kyiv and create the appearance of growing European opposition to support for Ukraine. And the officials say Russia’s military intelligence arm, the G.R.U., is leading the campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, Even as Violent Crime Drops, Lawlessness Rises as an Election Issue, Glenn Thrush, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In most U.S. cities, rates of homicide and violent assault are down from pandemic-era highs. But property crimes have risen, fueling voter anxiety.

In mid-2020, the country was reeling from a surge in violent crime and civil upheaval after the killing of George Floyd by the police — a knife’s-edge national crisis that President Donald J. Trump made a central issue in the run-up to Election Day.

Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the “law and order president” standing up to lawlessness, slamming “weak” liberals and calling demonstrators “domestic terrorists.” Joseph R. Biden Jr., who charted a centrist course on law enforcement as a senator, vice president and presidential candidate, vowed to address racial inequities in policing while standing behind the police as they battled the rising violence.

Four years later, the nation’s crime rates have shifted. The politics, however, have not budged.

Homicide rates are tumbling from pandemic highs in most cities, funding for law enforcement is rising, and tensions between the police and communities of color, while still significant, are no longer at a boiling point. But property crime, carjackings and smash-and-grab burglaries are up, adding to a sense of lawlessness, amplified on social media and local online message boards.

Mr. Trump is re-upping his blunt, visceral appeal to voter anxieties. He declared recently that “crime is rampant and out of control like never before,” promised to shoot shoplifters, embraced the “back the blue” slogan against liberal changes to police departments — and even falsely accused the F.B.I. of fabricating positive crime data to bolster Mr. Biden.

 

Defending Against Attacks On America

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek to Bar Trump From Attacking F.B.I. Agents in Documents Case, Alan Feuer, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). The prosecutors said the former president had made “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago that could endanger the agents involved.

Justice Department log circularFederal prosecutors on Friday night asked the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case to bar him from making any statements that might endanger law enforcement agents involved in the proceedings.

Prosecutors tendered the request after Mr. Trump made what they described as “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida. This week, the former president falsely suggested that the F.B.I. had been authorized to shoot him when agents discovered more than 100 classified documents while executing a court-approved search warrant there.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that President Biden “authorized the FBI to use deadly (lethal) force” during the search.

Mr. Trump’s post came in reaction to an F.B.I. operational plan for the Mar-a-Lago search that was unsealed on Tuesday as part of a legal motion filed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The plan contained a boilerplate reference to lethal force being authorized in cases of emergency, which prosecutors said that Mr. Trump badly distorted.

“As Trump is well aware, the F.B.I. took extraordinary care to execute the search warrant unobtrusively and without needless confrontation,” prosecutors wrote in a motion to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is overseeing the classified documents case.

The request to Judge Cannon was the first time that prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, have sought to restrict Mr. Trump’s public statements in the classified documents case. But Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly attacked witnesses, court officials and others in his four criminal proceedings, is under gag orders in two of his other three cases.

By falsely suggesting that F.B.I. agents “were complicit in a plot to assassinate him,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Trump exposed them “to the risk of threats, violence and harassment.”

Meidas Touch Network, Jack Smith THROWS DOWN on Cannon and Trump, Michael Popok, May 25, 2024. Trump’s false and incendiary claims that President Biden, the DOJ and the FBI plotted to murder him, his family and secret service agents during the mtn meidas touch networkMar a Lago search warrant execution, has now been met by a new EMERGENCY GAG ORDER MOTION by the Special Counsel.

Michael Popok explains how Trump’s violent rhetoric puts FBI agents lives in danger and must be stopped either by Judge Cannon or her bosses at the 11th circuit court of appeals.

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This image contained in the criminal complaint against Alexander Yuk Ching Ma shows a screenshot made from a video by an FBI undercover employee taken of Ma in January 2019 during a meeting (U.S. Justice Department photo via AP).

This image contained in the criminal complaint against Alexander Yuk Ching Ma shows a screenshot made from a video by an FBI undercover employee taken of Ma in January 2019 during a meeting (U.S. Justice Department photo via AP).

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump told donors he will crush pro-Palestinian protests, deport demonstrators, Josh Dawsey, Karen DeYoung and Marianne LeVine, May 27, 2024. The former president has publicly waffled on the Israel-Gaza war. But he told wealthy donors he supports Israel’s right to continue “its war on terror.”

Former president Donald Trump promised to crush pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, telling a roomful of donors — a group that he joked included “98 percent of my Jewish friends” — that he would expel student demonstrators from the United States, according to participants in the roundtable event with him in New York.

“One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country. You know, there are a lot of foreign students. As soon as they hear that, they’re going to behave,” Trump said on May 14, according to donors at the event.

When one of the donors complained that many of the students and professors protesting on campuses could one day hold positions of power in the United States, Trump called the demonstrators part of a “radical revolution” that he vowed to defeat. He praised the New York Police Department for clearing the campus at Columbia University and said other cities needed to follow suit, saying “it has to be stopped now.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Middle East Conflict: Netanyahu’s split with Biden and the Democrats was years in the making, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Steve Hendrix and Tyler Pager, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The Israeli leader’s longtime strategy of aligning with the GOP has helped shatter the American consensus behind Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWhen President Barack Obama hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, in the Oval Office in 2014, the Israeli leader lectured him about Gaza’s future, a Palestinian state and an Iranian nuclear deal in a tone that Obama found condescending and dismissive.

After the meeting, an aide asked how it went. Netanyahu “peed on my leg,” Obama replied, according to two people familiar with the exchange who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose a private conversation.

Israel Flagdemocratic donkey logoThe moment was emblematic of a dynamic that is culminating in the bitter debates over Israel now erupting across the American political landscape. Over the past 16 years, Netanyahu has departed sharply from his predecessors’ studious bipartisanship to embrace Republicans and disdain Democrats, an attitude increasingly mirrored in each party’s approach to Israel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right Israeli settlers step up attacks on aid trucks bound for Gaza, Loveday Morris, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). The settler groups use a web of publicly accessible WhatsApp groups to track the trucks and coordinate attacks, providing a window into their activities.

Radical Israeli settlers have expanded their attacks on aid trucks passing through the West Bank this month, blocking food from reaching Gaza as humanitarian groups warn that the enclave is sinking deeper into famine.

Groups of settler youth are tailing relief convoys, setting up checkpoints and interrogating drivers. In some cases, far-right attackers have ransacked and burned trucks and beaten Palestinian drivers, leaving at least two hospitalized.

The assailants use a web of publicly accessible WhatsApp groups to track the trucks and coordinate attacks, providing a window into their activities. Working off what they say are tips from Israeli soldiers and police, in addition to the public, members pore over photos to work out which vehicles might be carrying aid to Gaza and mobilize local supporters to block them.

An attack on Thursday showed the system in action: Users in one WhatsApp group with more than 800 members began posting about a flatbed truck loaded with sugar, sharing photos from the road as they followed it.
Far-right Jewish protesters pray as they block a road in the West Bank near the Tarqumiyah crossing, where aid trucks headed to Gaza must pass before entering Israel, on May 17. (Heidi Levine/FTWP)

“The truck supplying Hamas stopped in front of Evyatar!” said 23-year-old Yosef de Bresser, referring to an Israeli outpost south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. De Bresser is a leader in the “We Won’t Forget” movement, which set up protest camps at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza earlier this year and runs several of the WhatsApp groups targeting aid trucks.

“Come join the blockade!” he wrote. Others answered the call.

The flatbed was ransacked, its load strewn across the road, according to images posted later in the group, one of two sugar trucks vandalized by settlers that day. De Bresser said the waybills — which did not show a destination — prove that the truck was headed to Gaza.

Fahed Arar, who owned the cargo, said the 30-ton load of sugar was actually destined for Salfit, a Palestinian town in the West Bank. The driver escaped unharmed, he said, but the Israeli military wouldn’t let him reload the goods.

 

A file photo shows the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo via EPA and Shutterstock).

A file photo shows the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo via EPA and Shutterstock).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Palestinians can’t wait for difficult “day after” problems to be solved, David Ignatius, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). david ignatiusIn Gaza City last November, I watched thousands of Palestinian civilians slowly march south from their shattered homes toward what Israel promised would be food and shelter in Rafah.

palestinian flagNow, with Rafah a military target, many of those Palestinians are again on the move fleeing conflict — their plight nearly as desperate as before. Israel, prodded by the United States, must fulfill its repeated promises to provide adequate humanitarian assistance — so that the next phase of the war in Gaza doesn’t become an even deeper tragedy.

 

 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa’s request to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive in Gaza (Reuters photo by Johanna Geron on May 24, 2024).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa’s request to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive in Gaza (Reuters photo by Johanna Geron on May 24, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Top U.N. Court Orders Israel to Halt Its Assault on Rafah, Gaya Gupta, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). While the International Court of Justice has no means of enforcing its orders, the ruling adds to the condemnation that Israel has faced over the war.

Israel FlagThe International Court of Justice on Friday ruled that Israel must immediately halt its ground assault on Rafah, dealing another blow to Israel as the country faces increasing international isolation.

While the court has no means of enforcing its orders, the ruling adds to the condemnation that Israel has faced over the war, in which more than 35,000 people in Gaza have died, according to health authorities in the enclave.

south africa flag after 1994A South African legal team urged the United Nations’ top court last week to put further constraints on Israel’s incursion there, saying it was “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its people.”

Israel has said that its operation in Rafah is a precise operation to target Hamas. The country’s military said on Thursday that it was fighting in neighborhoods near the heart of the city, where half of the territory’s population had been sheltering before the Israeli military ordered mass evacuations there.

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The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

The International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and for the leaders of Hamas, including Yahya Sinwar.

 

U.S. Supreme Court

 


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sit for a group photo at the Supreme Court in 2022 (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats press Chief Justice Roberts to address ethics at Supreme Court, Ann E. Marimow, May 25, 2024 (print ed.). Sens. Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse say flags flown outside the homes of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. mean he must recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases.

Two Democratic senators are calling on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take immediate steps to ensure that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. does not participate in a pair of Supreme Court cases related to the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), who oversee the federal courts in their respective roles as chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a judicial oversight subcommittee, requested a meeting with Roberts as soon as possible to discuss what they called an “ethics crisis” at the Supreme Court. In their letter, dated Thursday, the senators renewed calls for the high court to strengthen its ethics policy to include an enforcement mechanism.

The court and its governing body, the Judicial Conference of the United States, have the “ability and responsibility to enforce ethics rules applicable to the justices,” they wrote, but “it remains unclear what actions — if any — the judiciary has taken in response to allegations and reporting on ethical misconduct by Supreme Court justices.”

Roberts did not respond to a request for comment through the court’s spokesperson.

The letter from the two senators adds to pressure from dozens of Democratic lawmakers who have questioned Alito’s impartiality after the report of an upside-down American flag outside his home in the Washington suburbs in the days following the Capitol attack. The flag — long used as a sign of distress by the U.S. military — had become a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement that falsely claims the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. A second flag carried by Jan. 6 rioters, which has been embraced by Christian nationalists who want to find a greater place for religion in public life, was flown outside Alito’s vacation home last summer, the Times reported this week.samuel alito horizontal headshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Another Provocative Flag Was Flown at Another Alito Home, Jodi Kantor, Aric Toler and Julie Tate, May 23, 2024 (print ed.). Last year, Justice Samuel Alito’s beach house displayed a flag with a symbol carried on Jan. 6 and associated with a push for a more Christian-minded government. The “Appeal to Heaven” flag, right, flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew outside the Alitos’ New Jersey vacation home last summer, along with a “2022” Phillies flag and a Long Beach Island flag.Last summer, two years after an upside-down American flag was flown outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., shown above in a file photo, another provocative symbol was displayed at his vacation house in New Jersey, according to interviews and photographs.

This time, it was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the “Stop the Steal” campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.

 

dick durbin speaking screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What more need Alito do before Durbin gets off the stick? Jennifer Rubin, right, May 26, 2024. Passivity in the face of jennifer rubin new headshotSupreme Court corruption is unacceptable.

After the New York Times reported on an upside-down flag identified with the Jan. 6 insurrectionists flying over Alito’s Virginia home in the days after Jan. 6, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) responded that he didn’t have “anything planned” in response. No hearing? No bill ready to go? Nope.

“I think [Alito’s] explained his situation. The American public understand what he did,” Durbin proclaimed, as if Alito’s excuses were the definitive explanation for a gross breach of judicial ethics. “But I don’t think there’s much to be gained with a hearing at this point. I think he should recuse himself from cases involving Trump and his administration.” And if Alito doesn’t recuse, Durbin cannot find any “recourse other than impeachment, and we’re not at that point at all.” That weak-kneed response would not be Durbin’s worst on Alito this week.

With a second flag story, Durbin got huffy on social media. “This incident is yet another example of apparent ethical misconduct by a sitting justice, and it adds to the Court’s ongoing ethical crisis,” he tweeted. “Justice Alito must recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection.”

In response to Durbin’s empty words, constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe declared that the issue was no longer “just about the insurrection-abetting Sam Alito, [but] about the AWOL Senator Durbin.” Tribe added, “He has no excuse for not holding hearings about Alito now.”

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The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

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

 

More Trump-Related News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump loudly heckled at Libertarian National Convention, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). “Maybe you don’t want to win,” Trump said to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. “Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.”

Former president Donald Trump encountered an unusually tough crowd at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday night as the audience loudly booed him and used noisemakers to drown out his speech.

The first current or former president to speak at the third-party’s convention, Trump made several major promises to libertarians in the crowded, rowdy room, including assuring the audience that he would appoint a libertarian to his Cabinet if elected in November. But the presumptive Republican nominee also taunted the third party that has typically garnered around 1 to 3 percent of the vote in presidential races, saying they should nominate him if they want to win.

“Maybe you don’t want to win,” Trump said to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. “Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.”

The raucous event for the former president marked a sharp departure from the typical celebratory atmosphere at such Trump campaign gatherings, normally full of thousands of supporters who travel from other states to see the former president while laughing and clapping to their favorite, often biting punchlines. Trump is said to derive energy from these trademark rallies and reacts to any disruption by threatening to have that person or people removed.

He is unaccustomed to dealing with a divided audience, such as the one on Saturday night — some of which didn’t seem to want him there.

“I don’t think it is a good idea for the party to invite candidates who can take our voters,” Illinois Libertarian voter Gavin Hanson said. “I don’t think he got any voters from that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump told Libertarians to nominate him. He then mocked them when they booed him, Michael Gold and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump’s appearance before the Libertarian Party on Saturday was without modern precedent: the presumptive nominee of one party addressing the convention of another.

Early in his speech at the Libertarian Party’s national convention on Saturday, Donald J. Trump told the party’s delegates bluntly that they should nominate him as its candidate for president. He was vigorously booed.

When the jeers died down, Mr. Trump, visibly frustrated with the rowdy reception he had received ever since taking the stage, dug in and went a step further, seeming to insult the very group that had invited him.

“Only do that if you want to win,” he said of nominating him. “If you want to lose, don’t do that. Keep getting your three percent every four years.”

The boos began anew, only louder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidential 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.nomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why a Star Witness Never Testified at Trump’s Trial, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, May 27, 2024. Donald Trump’s lawyers are expected to highlight the absence of Allen Weisselberg, Mr. Trump’s former finance chief. But he is in jail, serving time for perjury.

allen weisselberg croppedProsecutors never called Mr. Weisselberg to testify, because, although he knows the truth, he has not always told it. He is serving time in the Rikers Island jail complex after pleading guilty to perjury in an unrelated civil case involving Mr. Trump, the man he served for nearly half a century.

 

djt indicted proof

Associated Press via Politico, Prosecutors seek to bar Trump in classified files case from statements endangering law enforcement, ap logoStaff Report, May 24, 2024. The request follows a false claim by Trump earlier this week that FBI agents who searched his home were “authorized to shoot me.”

aileen cannonFederal prosecutors on Friday asked the judge overseeing the classified documents case against Donald Trump to bar the former president from public statements that “pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents” participating in the prosecution.

politico CustomThe request to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, right, follows a false claim by Trump earlier this week that the FBI agents who searched his home in August 2022 were “authorized to shoot me” and were “locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

He was referring to the disclosure in a court document that was made public that the FBI, during the search, followed a standard use-of-force policy that prohibits the use of deadly force except when the officer conducting the search has a reasonable belief that the “subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

FBI logoThe policy is routine and meant to limit the use of force during searches. Prosecutors noted that the search was intentionally conducted when Trump and his family were away and was coordinated with the Secret Service. No force was used.

“The Government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago,” prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team wrote in asking that Cannon make a restriction on Trump’s statements a condition of his release pending trial.

“Those statements create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents — falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him — and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment,” they added.

An attorney for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday night.

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Defense lawyers have objected to the government’s motion, prosecutors wrote.

Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021, and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

Trump faces four criminal cases as he seeks to reclaim the White House, but outside of the ongoing New York hush money prosecution, it’s not clear that any of the other three will reach trial before the election.

merrick garlandAsked Thursday at an unrelated event about the claim that the FBI intended to use force against Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, said: “That allegation is false, and it is extremely dangerous. The document that is being referred to in the allegation is the Justice Department’s standard policy limiting the use of force. As the FBI advises, it is part of the standard operations plan for searches. And in fact, it was even used in a consensual search of President Biden’s home.”

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Conway: Judge Cannon's Response to Gag Order Could Cause Her Removal, Acyn (Senior Digital Editor), May 24, 2024. ‘She's really on the spot here.’

mtn meidas touch networkRenowned attorney George Conway, right, warned that if Judge Aileen Cannon failed to act on a motion to impose a gag order on Donald Trump igeorge conway twittern the classified documents case, Special Counsel Jack Smith might use it an opportunity to have her removed from the case.

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump’s Pattern of Sowing Election Doubt Intensifies in 2024, Karen Yourish and Charlie Smart, May 24, 2024 (interactive). A false, familiar claim by the former president — that the contest in which he’s participating is “rigged” — has reached a fever pitch in this cycle.

Former President Donald J. Trump has baselessly and publicly cast doubt about the fairness of the 2024 election about once a day, on average, since he announced his candidacy for president, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

Though the tactic is familiar — Mr. Trump raised the specter of a “rigged” election in the 2016 and 2020 cycles, too — his attempts to undermine the 2024 contest are a significant escalation.

Mr. Trump first raised questions about the 2016 election in August of that year, about 100 days before the election.

Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election had historic consequences. The so-called “Big Lie” — Mr. Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from him — led to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol and two of four criminal indictments against Mr. Trump, as well as his second impeachment.

But Mr. Trump had planted seeds of doubt among his followers long before Election Day, essentially setting up a no-lose future for himself: Either he would prevail, or the election would be rigged.

He has never given up that framing, which no evidence supports, even well after the end of his presidency. And as he seeks to return to the White House, the same claim has become the backbone of his campaign.

Long before announcing his candidacy, Mr. Trump and his supporters had been falsely claiming that President Biden was “weaponizing” the Justice Department to target him. But it took until March of last year for Mr. Trump to settle on a new accusation: that the multiple legal challenges related to Mr. Trump’s business and political activities constituted a “new way of cheating” in order to “interfere” in the 2024 election. He has made versions of that accusation more than 350 times.

 

djt solo no credit nyc courtPolitico, Trump is still pushing the limits of the gag order. It could come back to haunt him at sentencing, Ben Feuerherd, May 25, 2024. Dealing with the gag order is a distraction for both sides. But if Trump is convicted, his violations could be used as aggravating factors.

politico CustomThroughout the hush money trial, Trump has routinely spoken several times a day to a gaggle of media camped outside the courtroom, giving him an outlet to vent his frustrations. | Michael M. Santiago/AP

 So far, Donald Trump has faced only fines for repeatedly violating a gag order in his hush money case.

The consequences might not end there. If he’s convicted, Trump’s defiance of the judge’s order — including two recent comments posing a new test of its boundaries — could make things worse for the former president at sentencing.

“Those are obviously aggravating factors, generically speaking, for someone to get a stiffer sentence,” said Mark Bederow, a veteran New York defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor, referring to Trump’s unrepentant verbal attacks on witnesses, prosecutors and the judge himself.

Donald J. Trump built Trump Tower in the early 1980s — “his golden time,” as one supporter put it (New York Times photo by Don Hogan Charles).Donald J. Trump, right, built Trump Tower in the early 1980s — “his golden time,” as one supporter put it (New York Times photo by Don Hogan Charles).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Legal Troubles News Analysis: How Donald Trump Still Lives in the 1980s, Maggie Haberman, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The greed-is-good era was the last time his preferred public image was intact, and he’s been returning there as he sits through his criminal trial in Manhattan.

When his criminal trial finishes for the day, Donald J. Trump typically returns to the marble-and-gold triplex atop Trump Tower, the high rise he built in the early 1980s and used to establish a public image as a master builder.

It is the silver lining for Mr. Trump, as he spends his first sustained period of time in Manhattan since he moved to Washington in 2017. He passes the days in a dingy courtroom downtown, where he faces 34 felonies, listening to people from his old life describe him as a depraved liar who sullied the White House. At the end of it all, he could be sent to prison.

But in the evenings, people who have spoken to him say, he has been enjoying being back in the penthouse apartment that he moved into four decades ago. He still considers it home — and a permanent reminder of the easiest period of his life.

That period was the greed-is-good era in which Mr. Trump sold himself nationally as a titan of industry, despite a relatively small, and local, real estate portfolio. He had just built a glittering tower on Fifth Avenue, infuriating elites and demanding a tax break from the city. And it is the era he alludes to constantly, referring to 1980s cultural touchstones, including the news show “60 Minutes,” Time magazine and celebrities like the boxer Mike Tyson.

 

 

Former President Donald Trump and attorneys Todd Blanche, Emil Bove and Susan Necheles attend his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 13, 2024, in New York City (Pool photo by Steven Hirsch).

ny times logoNew York Times, Defense Rests in Trump Trial; Jury Deliberations Are Expected Next Week, Matthew Haag, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). The jury in the criminal case has been dismissed until closing arguments. Donald Trump’s lawyers wrapped up their case without calling him to the stand.

Lawyers defending Donald J. Trump in his Manhattan criminal trial rested their case on Tuesday after calling just two witnesses — neither of them the former president — setting the stage for closing arguments next week. The judge overseeing the case said those summations would take place in a week, and he hoped that the jury of 12 New Yorkers could begin deciding Mr. Trump’s guilt or innocence the day after that.

The two sides returned to the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon — without the jury — to hash out a crucial, if complicated, matter: the instructions jurors will receive before deliberating on the 34 felony counts against Mr. Trump. Prosecutors say he falsified business records related to a $130,000 hush-money payment his onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, made to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election.

Here’s what to know about the trial:

  • Instructing the jury: The next turn of the trial is far less dramatic than the weeks of vivid testimony that preceded it, but it’s vitally important. The instructions that jurors receive serve as a road map to help them apply the law to the facts they have gleaned from witnesses, documents and other evidence. Read about the two sides’ dueling visions for jury instructions.
  • Key testimony: The final witness was Robert Costello, who was once an informal legal adviser to Mr. Cohen. Prosecutors sought to portray him as having actually acted as an agent of Mr. Trump, trying to keep Mr. Cohen from cooperating with investigators following a 2018 raid by federal agents.

Mr. Cohen had testified that he was wary of Mr. Costello, who he said was close with Mr. Trump’s lawyer at the time, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Among the emails prosecutors displayed for the jury on Tuesday was one in which Mr. Costello told his law partner, “Our issue is to get Cohen on the right page without giving him the appearance that we are following instructions from Giuliani or the president.”

Mr. Costello had been expected to attack the credibility of Mr. Cohen, but after he first took the stand on Monday, attention quickly turned to Mr. Costello himself, when prosecutors objected to a question and Mr. Costello protested the situation under his breath.

Justice Merchan rebuked him, later reminding him that the judge was the only person who could strike testimony from the record. “Are you staring me down?” the judge demanded before clearing the courtroom of the jury, reporters and other onlookers — but not Mr. Trump’s allies.

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djt solo no credit nyc court

 

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

washington post logoWashington Post, Chase Oliver nominated as Libertarian presidential candidate, Meryl Kornfield, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the process and party leadership positions.

Chase Oliver, right, a candidate for the Georgia Senate election in 2022 shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, won the presidential 2024 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Chase Oliver, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.nomination late Sunday night for the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party.

The nomination came after seven rounds of voting over a long, contentious day as factions of the party feuded over the nomination and party leadership positions. After winning, Oliver promised to unify the party in his acceptance speech.
“I’m extending my hand,” he said. “Take it and be a part of liberty.”

Oliver is supported by the Classic Liberal Caucus, a left-leaning faction. After the last standing contender was knocked out, Oliver won with 60 percent of the vote against “none of the above.” The contest had fewer than 900 delegates voting.

The final contender was Michael Rectenwald, a former New York University professor who faced backlash and left his job after he invited controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos to speak to his class. Rectenwald, endorsed by the right-wing Mises Caucus that had taken over the party in 2022, had been the front-runner for most of the day.

But Oliver, who was in some ways a protest vote against the ruling caucus, ultimately surpassed Rectenwald in their final head-to-head round.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Trump Pledges to Commute Life Sentence of Drug Trafficker Serving Life, Ron Filipkowski, May 25, 2024.
More from the "law and order" candidate.

mtn meidas touch networkIn addition to promising to pardon J6 defendants who beat police officers, and sharing the stage with 2 gang members currently out on bond for a 140 count indictment including conspiracy to commit murder, Trump finished up the week pledging to commute the sentence of one of the most notorious drug traffickers in American history.

Trump was given a list today by the Libertarian Party of the Top 10 most important issues for delegates attending their National Convention this weekend. The first item on that list was to commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht created the dark web network called Silk Road which was used to traffic narcotics to over 100,000 buyers in hundreds of kilos of a variety of drugs. The drugs sales using Ulbricht's network totaled over $183 million. Ulbricht was convicted at trial of 7 counts of distributing narcotics and was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal in 2018.

Of course, Trump could've pardoned Ulbricht during any of his four years as president, but choose not to. But now, the "law and order" candidate currently under indictment himself for 91 felonies needs votes to solve his criminal own problems by getting elected president, and he is willing to promise just about anything to anyone at this point.

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan, who received a fortune following her divorce from a Google co-founder, on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, California (AP photo by Eric Risberg).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘I ran into her yesterday’: RFK’s strange non-relationship with his VP pick, Ashley Parker and Meryl Kornfield, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his vice-presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, are on the same ticket. Getting on the same page is taking a bit more time.

Almost exactly a month after introducing Nicole Shanahan as his vice-presidential pick in a carefully choreographed Bay Area extravaganza, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still seemed a bit unclear on exactly how his running mate was spending her time.

At a late April event in Dallas, Kennedy told reporters that Shanahan — who had yet to appear at a public campaign event since her beaming, purple-pantsuited debut four weeks prior — had spent “three or four days at the border.” (In fact, she had spent just a day there, according to two advisers who toured the nation’s Southern border with her.)

Three days later, speaking to reporters in Buffalo, Kennedy said Shanahan had been “talking a lot to the press.” (In fact, she had given no interviews that had been published in mainstream publications.)

He offered some vague reassurances that the woman he had recently chosen to potentially sit just a heartbeat from the presidency was “working on every issue” and “doing a lot of podcasts” — and that while he couldn’t say “exactly what her schedule is,” he was “very happy with what she’s doing.”

“I ran into her yesterday,” Kennedy said, as if his No. 2 on the independent ticket that Democrats and Republicans alike fear could prove a decisive spoiler in the high-stakes 2024 election was more of a casual acquaintance or Craigslist Missed Connection than a true political and ideological partner.

Tell me how this war ends. From the beginning, that has been the agonizing question with the Gaza conflict. After seven horrific months, a resolution is still some way off. But some clarity is emerging about the shape of a possible endgame.

The parameters of an eventual conclusion to the war became more evident after a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel this past weekend by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk. The conversations they had there were outlined to me by knowledgeable sources.

Politico, Super PAC backing RFK Jr. got another $5M from GOP megadonor in April, Brittany Gibson and Jessica Piper, May 22, 2024 (print ed.). Tim Mellon, a prolific donor to groups supporting former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, has now given the pro-Kennedy super PAC a total of $25 million.

politico CustomThe super PAC backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr., right, got another cash infusion from GOP megadonor Tim Mellon in April, rfk jr mouth openaccording to the latest campaign finance report.

Mellon is the largest GOP donor this campaign cycle to date, and has now given the American Values 2024 super PAC backing Kennedy’s long-shot independent presidential bid $25 million.

His $5 million donation also made up the vast majority of the super PAC’s haul last month, which totaled $6.1 million. Another $1 million in April came from PAC co-founder Mark Gorton, who also co-founded Limewire.

Mellon is a longtime GOP donor who has given $15 million to Make America Great Again Inc., the super PAC backing former President Donald Trump, including a new $10 million donation last month. He also gave $5 million in March to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC for GOP House candidates, as well as $4 million to The Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC affiliated with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Wyoming billionaire is also releasing a memoir this summer with Skyhorse Publishing, the publishing house run by Tony Lyons, the co-founder of American Values 2024. Kennedy provided a blurb for the book’s cover, according to its Amazon presale page.

American Values also continued its financial relationship with Gavin de Becker, founder of the security firm by the same name — though not through a new contribution.

De Becker was refunded $2 million on April 25. The return was another transaction in the “bridge funding” arrangement between the donor and super PAC. De Becker has now donated $14 million to American Values 2024 and received $11.65 million back since the PAC started backing Kennedy’s White House bid. His net contribution is now $2.35 million.

The arrangement has drawn scrutiny from Kennedy’s rivals, and the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with federal regulators about the consistent transfers of funds back to de Becker, alleging that the contributions function as loans.

The super PAC also spent a bit over $100,000 on social media ads and $31,500 on radio ads in April, the filing showed. American Values ended the month with $20.8 million in cash on hand.

Politico, Kennedy turns up the heat on Trump: He ‘caved’ on Covid-19, Peder Schaefer, May 24, 2024. The independent presidential candidate laid into Trump at the Libertarian convention — while mostly laying off Biden.

rfk jr mouth openpolitico CustomRobert F. Kennedy Jr., right, ramped up his attacks on former President Donald Trump before libertarians Friday afternoon — setting up dueling speeches as Trump prepares to address the convention on Saturday evening.

During a nearly hourlong address at the Libertarian National Convention at the Washington Hilton, Kennedy laid into Trump repeatedly on what he cast as civil liberties violations during the pandemic — an important issue for Libertarians — while rarely mentioning President Joe Biden.

Kennedy said that Trump “caved into bureaucrats” after signing off on stay-at-home orders during the Covid-19 pandemic, and blamed the former president for shutting down millions of businesses, mask mandates, travel restrictions and a slew of other attacks on individual liberties during his time in office.

“With lock down, mask mandates, the travel restrictions, President Trump presided over the greatest restriction on individual liberties this country has ever known,” Kennedy added, while also mentioning Trump’s role in wireless surveillance programs, Operation Warp Speed and shutting down churches.

The verbal barbs from Kennedy came only moments after Libertarian delegates came to blows over Trump’s — and Kennedy’s — speaking invites on the floor of the convention hall.

Delegates have been sharply divided over the invitation of the Republican nominee and the independent candidate to prominent speaking slots at the national convention. Several said they disagreed with Trump and Kennedy’s policy positions and tried to make a motion to rescind the invites — leading to a verbal and physical altercation.

To add to the opposition to Trump, other Libertarians attending the event said they planned to protest Trump’s speech on Saturday evening.

Much of Kennedy’s speech broadly touched on the history of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and his attacks on Trump were relatively well received.

“He got rolled by his bureaucrats,” said Kennedy, winning applause. “He caved in, and many of our most fundamental rights practically disappeared overnight.”

As he went along with his attacks, Kennedy name-checked amendment after amendment, frequently winning cheers from Libertarians.

“The only amendment that did not come under attack during the Covid-19 pandemic was the second amendment,” Kennedy said.

But Kennedy won the biggest cheers of the evening and a standing ovation when he attacked Trump over his refusal to pardon Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is accused of leaking U.S. government secrets.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ohio governor calls special session to ensure Biden gets on ballot, Patrick Svitek, May 25, 2024 (print ed.).The Republican governor took the move after fellow GOP members in the state assembly were at an impasse to ensure President Biden would be on the November election ballot in his state.

ohio mapOhio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Thursday that he was calling a special legislative session to ensure President Biden will be on the November election ballot in his state.

“This is simply unacceptable,” DeWine said at a news conference. “Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting president of the United States, on the ballot this fall. Failing to do so is simply not acceptable. This is a ridiculous — this is an absurd — situation.”

The special session is set to start Tuesday. Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Frank LaRose, first warned Democrats in early April that Biden was at risk of missing the ballot because the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for Aug. 19-22, falls after the state’s certification deadline of Aug. 7.

A similar issue also came up in Alabama but with little drama as state lawmakers passed a bill to move the deadline later and Gov. Kay Ivey (R) quickly signed it into law. 

ny times logoNew York Times, He Threw ‘Spaghetti at the Wall’ for Trump. Now He’s After a Top Job, Elizabeth Williamson, May 26, 2024 (print ed.)  If Donald Trump wins the presidency, Richard Grenell hopes to be secretary of state. But his work raises questions, even from his former boss.

Richard Grenell’s quest to be secretary of state in a second Trump administration began late on Election Day in 2020, when the defeated president dispatched loyalists to run shambolic “stop the steal” operations in battleground states.

President Donald J. Trump tapped Mr. Grenell — his combative former ambassador to Germany, acting national intelligence chief and special envoy to the Balkans — to fly by private plane to Nevada, where Mr. Grenell ensconced himself, his dog Lola, lawyers and a crew of far-right activists in a suite at the Venetian Resort, which served as the group’s war room in Las Vegas. In a days-long spectacle, the Trump team filed a lawsuit and aired false accusations of fraud, including one wrongly implicating hundreds of members of the military.

It was all a sham. Mr. Grenell told the team in the war room, two G.O.P. operatives recalled, that the Nevada vote was not, in fact, stolen. The operatives, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from Mr. Grenell, said he told the team that the goal was simply to “throw spaghetti at the wall” — the operatives described Mr. Grenell making a theatrical tossing gesture as he spoke — to distract the media from calling Nevada while the election battle in neighboring Arizona played out.

In retrospect, one of the operatives said, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should have subpoenaed everyone in the room, including the operative himself.

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U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Progressive Democrats aren’t turning activism into election wins, Paul Kane, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Left-wing candidates, especially those backing pro-Palestinian protests, have lost many primary races — so far.

Despite the intense focus the past couple of months on pro-Palestinian protests, many of which were championed by the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, the self-proclaimed progressive bloc has struggled to churn out victories at the ballot box.
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Oregon’s Democratic primary served up the latest example of this uphill fight, as the more traditional liberal wing won two contested primaries. State Rep. Janelle Bynum, with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, crushed a progressive favorite, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, by about 40 percentage points.

Politico, Nonconsensual AI porn is hated on the left and right. Can Congress act on it? Mohar Chatterjee, May 26, 2024. Victims of nonconsensual, sexually explicit deepfakes are lobbying Congress to pass a bill. Lawmakers are running out of time.

politico CustomLiberals and conservatives in Congress — from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Josh Hawley — all agree that something should be done to rein in nonconsensual porn generated by AI. The White House issued a “call to action” this week, urging Congress to strengthen legal protections for survivors. But lawmakers have struggled for more than a year to draft a solution, illustrating how ill-equipped Washington is to set limits on rapidly evolving technology with the power to disrupt people’s lives.

Legislation has been mired in debate over who should be held accountable for the deepfakes — with tech lobbyists pushing back on any language that would ensnare the platforms that distribute them.

Meanwhile, it is rapidly becoming easier for anyone with a couple of photos and a computer to make and distribute the videos.

“There are now hundreds of apps that can make non-consensual, sexually explicit deepfakes right on your phone,” Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored a bill against deepfake porn, told POLITICO in an email. “Congress needs to address this growing crisis as quickly as possible.”

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More On Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

 

papua new guinea2

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say, Staff Report, May 27, 2024. Just getting to survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge, with a blocked highway and unstable ground “posing ongoing danger” to rescue workers.

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in the landslide that smothered a Papua New Guinea village and work camp on Friday in the country’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the United Nations on Monday.

Government officials visited the disaster site on Sunday. And even as the official death toll jumped from a few dozen to 670, they warned that far more victims than expected appeared to still be caught under the rubble.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated and located near the Porgera gold mine operated by Barrick Gold, a company based in Canada, in collaboration with Zijin Mining, a Chinese group. It is an area of remote and difficult jungle terrain, in a country of around 12 million people that sits just north of Australia. Tropical and divided along tribal, ethnic and linguistic lines, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources but largely underdeveloped, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters, which strike frequently.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Factory Supplying Half of Africa’s Syringes, Apoorva Mandavilli, Photographs by Brian Otieno, May 27, 2024.  In Kenya, Revital Healthcare is manufacturing medical products that Africa needs to take charge of routine health care and respond to outbreaks. 

On the stunning Kenyan coast, about halfway between 15th-century ruins and the vibrant city of Mombasa, a small factory is helping to achieve one of Africa’s biggest health care goals: self-reliance.

With fewer than 700 employees, Revital Healthcare makes 300 million syringes a year, enough to meet more than half of Africa’s routine immunization needs.

In the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, when governments were faced with vaccinating millions of people amid severe shortages, Revital shipped syringes to Sri Lanka, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan — and even sent 15 million syringes to India, said Roneek Vora, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

“This is the first time ever in the life of Africa that a medical industry is exporting syringes to India, when we know India is a powerhouse of syringe manufacturing,” Mr. Vora said. “This was a very big deal for us — it broke a lot of barriers,” he added.

ny times logoNew York Times, Recent arrests on spying charges have sent a chill through Britain’s thriving community of Hong Kongers, Megan Specia May 27, 2024. A bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan to offer support in the face of Chinese military drills.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have resettled in the U.K. since 2021, among them prominent pro-democracy activists. China has not forgotten them.

The landslide hit a rural region of the island nation early Friday, but search-and-rescue efforts have been hampered by difficulty in reaching the disaster site and by the hazard that the shifting ground continues to pose.

This danger has prompted many survivors to abandon their homes, according to Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration’s office in Papua New Guinea, who estimated that over 250 houses were abandoned and that roughly 1,250 people were displaced.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated, according to local officials, and has a young population. The authorities fear that many of the fatalities will be children under 15.

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Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 Davy and Natalie Lloyd worked for Missions in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker via Facebook).

 

More On U.S. Schools, Politics, Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This college invited young people to shape our democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 26, 2024.  Other schools should follow Occidental College’s lead.

Since 2008, Occidental College in Los Angeles has offered students a chance to join a “Campaign Semester,” in which they dedicate themselves to a political campaign of their choice in presidential and midterm years. Students spend 10 weeks working their hearts out in the field and then the rest of the semester reflecting on what they learned and engaging in the academic study of elections.

Its origin owes a lot to former president Barack Obama, who attended Occidental before transferring to Columbia University. Obama’s 2008 campaign inspired a lot of young people, especially Oxy’s students, many of whom approached Dreier to learn how they might work on the campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, University Leaders Face a Long, Complex Summer, Jeremy W. Peters, May 24, 2024. Many officials may be confronting federal investigations, disputes over student discipline — and the prospect that anti-war protests start again in the fall.

Campuses are emptying out for the end of the academic year. Gone, for the most part, are the tent cities that student activists erected as a symbol of opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

But this summer might feel longer than most.

Congressional Republicans have promised to press their investigation into college antisemitism, even as they have completed their latest hearing, which they tried to turn into a public shaming session for the leaders of Rutgers, Northwestern and the University of California, Los Angeles, over their handling of campus encampments.

And protesters have likewise promised not to give up — with hundreds walking out at Harvard’s graduation on Thursday, and students at U.C.L.A. pitching new tents and briefly taking over a building.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Law

 

uvalde massacre all victims

washington post logoWashington Post, Uvalde parents sue gunmaker, ‘Call of Duty’ manufacturer and Meta, Arelis R. Hernández and Naomi Nix, May 24, 2024. The lawyer who won a record-breaking settlement for Sandy Hook families alleges Daniel Defense, Activision and Meta are responsible for pushing the shooter to acquire the AR-15 style weapon he used in the elementary school attack.

The lawyer who won a record-setting settlement for Sandy Hook families announced two lawsuits Friday on behalf of Uvalde school shooting victims against the manufacturer of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack, as well as the publisher of “Call of Duty” and the social media giant Meta.

The lawsuits against Daniel Defense, known for its high-end rifles; Activision, the manufacturer of first-person shooter game “Call of Duty”;” and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, may be the first of their kind to connect aggressive firearms marketing tactics on social media and gaming platforms to the actions of a mass shooter.

The complaints contend the three companies are responsible for “grooming” a generation of “socially vulnerable” young men radicalized to live out violent video game fantasies in the real world with easily accessible weapons of war.

One of those men, the legal team argues, was Robb Elementary School shooter Salvador Ramos. The lawsuits allege Meta and Activision “knowingly exposed the Shooter to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems, and trained him to use it.”

“Over the last 15 years, two of America’s largest technology companies — Defendants Activision and Meta — have partnered with the firearms industry in a scheme that makes the Joe Camel campaign look laughably harmless, even quaint,” the complaint states.

uvalde massacre all victims

The lawsuits are part of an intensifying quest for accountability by Uvalde shooting victim relatives through the civil courts. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack, one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Law enforcement officers waited 77 minutes to enter the classroom and kill the gunman.

“The truth is that the gun industry and Daniel Defense didn’t act alone. They couldn’t have reached this kid but for Instagram,” attorney Josh Koskoff said of the shooter. “They couldn’t expose him to the dopamine loop of virtually killing a person. That’s what ‘Call of Duty’ does.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s fascist talk is what’s ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ Dana Milbank, right, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). No, dana milbank newestTrump isn’t Hitler. But his copycat words lead nowhere good.

As you’ve probably heard, Donald Trump has once again raised a führer.

The former president’s Truth Social account posted a video posing the question “What happens after Donald Trump wins?” and providing a possible answer: In the background was the phrase “unified Reich.”

ICE logoThis follows Trump’s echoing Adolf Hitler in campaign speeches, saying that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and calling his opponents “vermin.”

trump 2024And that, in turn, followed Trump’s dining at Mar-a-Lago with high-profile antisemite Ye (Kanye West) and white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes, who likened incinerating Jews to baking cookies.

Under the three-Reichs-and-you’re-out rule, Trump should be on the bench. Yet he keeps swinging — and this week provided a sobering measure of how numb we have become to his undeniably fascist rhetoric.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Florida’s abortion law is affecting East Coast abortion clinics, Caitlin Gilbert, Caroline Kitchener and Janice Kai Chen, May 24, 2024. A survey offers a first-of-its-kind look at the practical impact of a Florida law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Clinics up the East Coast have seen a surge in patient traffic since a law banning most abortions in Florida went into effect on May 1 — but so far they have not experienced the collapse in care that many providers had feared before the new restrictions began in the country’s third most populous state, according to new data collected by a research team at Middlebury College.

Wait times for abortion appointments have increased at approximately 30 percent of clinics across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the areas closest to Florida where abortion remains legal after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the data, which is based on a survey of clinics before and after the law went into effect. North Carolina experienced the sharpest increases, with wait times rising in half of the state’s 16 clinics.

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Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Space, Transportation

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana’s coast is sinking. Advocates say the governor is undermining efforts to save it, Shannon Osaka, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). A new Republican governor, Jeff Landry, shown at right, is taking aim at the state’s coastal protection agency.

jeff landry oFor the past decade, Louisiana’s program for coastal protection has been hailed as one of the best in the country, after the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed the state to shore up coastlines, repair levees and protect natural habitats.

But now, environmental advocates and experts say the state’s new Republican governor is undermining its coastal protection agency — the state’s first and strongest line of defense against climate change-induced sea level rise. In an open letter published this week and signed by more than 200 business leaders, environmental advocates and other experts, various groups warned against Gov. Jeff Landry’s plans to transform the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

“The very future of our state is at stake,” the letter read.

Environmentalists say that the new governor’s actions could hobble the agency just as its work is most needed. The moves come as other right-leaning states are also cutting back on climate goals and even references to climate change.

Since 2005, when Louisiana was devastated by two hurricanes, the coastal restoration agency has built or revamped over 300 miles of levees that hold back floodwaters, and restored dozens of miles of barrier islands that can absorb the pressure of waves and rising seas. The agency works to shore up these defenses in the face of future, stronger storms and higher seas.

washington post logoWashington Post, The 22 million people living in Mexico City could run out of water by the end of June, Kasha Patel, May 26, 2024. Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from a system that is running dry. Some say it could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Mexico City gets about a quarter of its water from the Cutzamala system, a series of reservoirs, water treatment plants and lengthy canals and tunnels, which is running dry. Some say the system could be unable to provide water by June 26, known as “Day Zero” in the metropolitan area of 22 million, although scientists say rainfall could avert that disaster. As of May 21, the Cutzamala system is at 28 percent of its capacity, according to the Basin Agency for the Valley of Mexico, a historic low.

Even though rain would help alleviate the strain on the system, it could also “cause a false sense of security” in a city that needs to use less water and create better infrastructure to make use of rainfall, said Christina Boyes, a professor of international studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.

ny times logoNew York Times, 600,000 Without Power in 13 States After Deadly Storms, Damien Cave, Mike Ives and Johnny Diaz, May 27, 2024. Severe weather was shifting east to threaten much of the Eastern United States on Monday, after powerful storms over the weekend left at least 19 dead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schools that never needed AC are now overheating. Fixes will cost billions, Anna Phillips and Veronica Penney, May 24, 2024. Nearly 40 percent of schools in the United States were built before the 1970s, when temperatures were cooler and fewer buildings needed air conditioning.

America’s aging school buildings are on a collision course with a rapidly warming climate.

Last fall, school officials were forced to send students home across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic — just as many were returning from summer break — because of extreme heat and schools lacking air conditioning. In Baltimore and Detroit, high heat led to early dismissals, the same as it had four months earlier when summer temperatures struck in May.

Hot weather is not a new concern for school districts. But as the burning of fossil fuels heats the planet, it’s delivering longer-lasting, more dangerous heat waves, and higher average temperatures. Across much of the northern United States, where many schools were built without air conditioning, districts are now forced to confront the academic and health risks posed by poorly cooled schools. Fixing the problem often requires residents to pass multimillion dollar school repair bonds, which can be hard to do. Climatic change is arriving faster than most can adapt.

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Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. and allies move to tap frozen Russian funds despite Kremlin threats, Jeff Stein, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). Kremlin officials have suggested retaliating by confiscating U.S. assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

The United States and its Western allies took a key step Saturday toward using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s war effort, moving closer to providing another key financial stream for Kyiv.

Russian FlagRussian officials have suggested they could retaliate by confiscating U.S. and European assets in Russia, although it’s unclear how much impact such measures could have.

ukraine flagMeeting in northern Italy this week, the top financial officials of the Group of Seven nations agreed in a joint statement to tap the investment returns of “immobilized Russian sovereign assets” to support Ukraine. The Kremlin has been blocked from accessing hundreds of billions of dollars held in Western financial institutions after invading Ukraine in 2022, and European and U.S. officials have for months debated whether or how to unlock these funds to help fight off the invasion.

Russia has roughly $280 billion in sovereign assets stashed in Western financial institutions, the majority of which is held by European firms. Those funds are now frozen under the U.S.-led sanctions effort.

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

 

President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden welcoming President William Ruto of Kenya and Rachel Ruto for their state visit at the White House on Thursday (New York Times photo by Haiyun Jiang on May 23, 2024).

ny times logoNew York Times, Barack Obama Is a Surprise Guest at Biden’s State Dinner for Kenya, May 26, 2024 (print ed.). The dinner was held in honor of Kenya, but it was clear that the night was built to keep Democratic allies close as President Biden headed into campaign season.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Full Guest List for Biden’s State Dinner With Kenya, Minho Kim, May 24, 2024. The Bidens invited more than 450 guests, including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Carol Moseley Braun, Melinda Gates, Lester Holt, LeVar Burton and Sean Penn.

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afghanistan nyt

The New York Times documented the disappearances of more than 300 Afghans under a general backed by the United States.

 

U.S. Immigration News

 

ICE logoPolitico, Senate border vote fails again, losing support from both sides, Ursula Perano, May 23, 2024. President Joe Biden is expected to start issuing executive actions in June that mirror parts of the bipartisan border deal.

politico CustomChuck Schumer’s second attempt to advance a sweeping border package failed by a wider margin than the first time, with increased opposition among both Republicans and Democrats.

senate democrats logoSenate campaign arms have already been hitting the other side on the predictable outcome, hoping to blame problems at the border on the opposing party. Biden administration officials have telegraphed that the president will soon take executive action to address border issues ahead of the November election.

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President Joe Biden and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City last year. Administration officials have refused to give any timeline on whether Mr. Biden could announce an order shutting down asylum at the border (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

 

Claims Against Biden Family

 

robert hur us attorney

Washington Post, Who is Robert Hur, special counsel for Biden classified documents probe?

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says Hur tapes are privileged as Congress moves to hold Garland in contempt, Jacqueline Alemany and Perry Stein, May 17, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has asserted executive privilege over audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials.

U.S. House logoPresident Biden has asserted executive privilege over the audio and video recordings from the special counsel investigation into his handling of classified materials and will refuse congressional requests to hand them over, the White House and the Justice Department said in letters to House Republican leaders Thursday.

 

hunter biden abbe Lowell 1 10 2024Businessman Hunter Biden, left, President Biden's son and a defendant in two federal indictments, confers with his attorney Abbe Lowell at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this winter at which Biden made a surprise offer to testify publicly.

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U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by Defendant's psychiatrist).

U.S. Justice Department photo of sawdust used in the prosecution of President's son Hunter Biden (shown at left in a file photo) to allege falsely that the photo was by the defendant showing cocaine (Justice Department photo seized from a transmission by defendant's psychiatrist).

 

U.S. Reproductive Rights, #MeToo, Trafficking, Culture Wars

ny times logoNew York Times, Hillary Clinton on Democrats’ Failures on Abortion: ‘We Could Have Done More,’ Lisa Lerer and Elizabeth Dias, May 27, 2024 (print ed.). In an interview for a forthcoming book, Mrs. Clinton also suggested that if Donald Trump won in November, “we may never have another actual election.”