June 2024 News


 

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

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

 

June 24

Top Headlines

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U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

 ramin setoodeh collage

 

Trump Verdicts, Reactions, Probes, Family, Allies

 

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

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

 

More On U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 

Major U.S. Investigations, Commentaries

 

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

 

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Russia-Ukraine War, Russian Terror Attacks, Hostages

 

U.S. Supreme Court Rulings, Scandals, Disputes

 

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More On Global Elections, Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

 

Reactions To Hunter Biden Convictions, Probes

 

President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)

 

More On U.S. Schools, Protests, Politics

 

Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Disasters, Transportation

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More U.S. Immigration News

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Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

 

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

 

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Poverty, Space

 

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

 

Top Stories

 

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Billions of people just felt the deadly intensity of climate-fueled heat waves, Sarah Kaplan and Scott Dance, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Scorching heat across five continents set 1,400 records this week and showed how human-caused global warming has made catastrophic temperatures commonplace.

Dozens of bodies were discovered in Delhi during a two-day stretch this week when even sundown brought no relief from sweltering heat and humidity. Tourists died or went missing as the mercury surged in Greece. Hundreds of pilgrims perished before they could reach Islam’s holiest site, struck down by temperatures as high as 125 degrees.

The scorching heat across five continents in recent days, scientists say, provided yet more proof that human-caused global warming has so raised the baseline of normal temperatures that once-unthinkable catastrophes have become commonplace.

The suffering came despite predictions that a year-long surge of global heat might soon begin to wane. Instead, in the past seven days alone, billions felt heat with climate change-fueled intensity that broke more than 1,000 temperature records around the globe. Hundreds fell in the United States, where tens of millions of people across the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard have been sweltering amid one of the worst early-season heat waves in memory.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Over 1,300 pilgrims died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, officials say, Staff Report, June 23, 2024 (updated print ed.). More than 1,300 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as the faithful faced extreme high temperatures at Islamic holy sites in the desert kingdom, officials said Sunday.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cranks up false, inflammatory messages to rake in campaign cash, Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Fundraising experts say the solicitations are aggressive even by the standards of Trump’s frequently hyperbolic language. President Biden’s campaign condemned the messages as laying the groundwork for more violence.

The fundraising pitch from Donald Trump was neither accurate nor subtle.

It read: “1 MONTH UNTIL ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! THEY WANT TO SENTENCE ME TO DEATH.”

djt maga hatThe message blasted out to his supporters was a reference to the former president’s sentencing scheduled for July 11, when he faces fines or possible jail time after being convicted on 34 charges of business fraud in connection with hush money paid to an adult-film star. A death sentence is not under consideration in the case. Neither is a “GUILLOTINE,” as another fundraising pitch suggested last week.

trump 2024The incendiary emails are part of a concerted strategy that has allowed the campaign to erase a financial lead that President Biden’s campaign had opened up in recent months, according to people close to the former president who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak for the campaign. But experts in small-dollar fundraising say the solicitations are aggressive even by the standards of Trump’s frequently hyperbolic and inflammatory language.

“I think those are clearly an escalation over and above some incredibly heated rhetoric and some irresponsible rhetoric we’ve seen over time,” said Matthew Hindman, a professor at George Washington University who studies digital emails. “The fact that those messages continue to be sent out tell us about something. The rhetoric has been driven by user response and user donations. If this extreme rhetoric continues to generate funds, it’s going to be rewarded with an even more extreme response next time.”

The Biden campaign condemned the messages as laying the groundwork for more violence. “Convicted felon Donald Trump is so obsessed with his own election loss that he’s become unhinged,” spokeswoman Sarafina Chitika said. “The American people have had enough of Trump’s dangerous rhetoric.”

Campaign finance records filed Thursday showed the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and an allied super PAC raised $171 million in May. The surge left Trump and the RNC with more cash on hand than Biden and the Democratic National Committee, the reports showed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: I Know What America’s Leading C.E.O.s Really Think of Donald Trump, Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, June 24, 2024 (print ed.).jeffrey sonnenfeld Dr. Sonnenfeld, right, is the president of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

Recent headlines suggest that our nation’s business leaders are embracing the presidential candidate Donald Trump. His campaign would have you believe that our nation’s top chief executives are returning to support Mr. Trump for president, touting declarations of support from some prominent financiers like Steve Schwarzman and David Sacks.

trump 2024That is far from the truth. They didn’t flock to him before, and they certainly aren’t flocking to him now. Mr. Trump continues to suffer from the lowest level of corporate support in the history of the Republican Party.

I know this because I work with roughly 1,000 chief executives a year, running a school for them, which I started 35 years ago, and I speak with business leaders almost every day. Our surveys show that 60 to 70 percent of them are registered Republicans.

The reality is that the top corporate leaders working today, like many Americans, aren’t entirely comfortable with either Mr. Trump or President Biden. But they largely like — or at least can tolerate — one of them. They truly fear the other.

If you want the most telling data point on corporate America’s lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Trump, look where they are investing their money.

Not a single Fortune 100 chief executive has donated to the candidate so far this year, which indicates a major break from overwhelming business and executive support for Republican presidential candidates dating back over a century, to the days of Taft and stretching through Coolidge and the Bushes, all of whom had dozens of major company heads donating to their campaigns.

Mr. Trump secured the White House partly by tapping into the anticorporate, populist messaging of Bernie Sanders, who was then a candidate, a move that Mr. Trump discussed with me when I met him in 2015. The strategy might have won voters but did little to enhance Mr. Trump’s image with the business community. And while a number of chief executives tried to work with Mr. Trump as they would with any incumbent president and many celebrated his move to cut the corporate tax rate, wariness persisted.

Several chief executives resented Mr. Trump’s personal attacks on businesses through divide-and-conquer tactics, meddling and pitting competitors against each other publicly. Scores of them rushed to distance themselves from Mr. Trump’s more provocative stances, resigning en masse from his business advisory councils in 2017 after he equated antiracism activists with white supremacists. Dozens of them openly called for Mr. Trump’s impeachment in 2021 after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system.

Manhattan prosecutors said Friday that a judge should keep in place major elements of the gag order imposed on Donald J. Trump before his criminal trial, citing dozens of threats that have been made against officials connected to the case.

The gag order, issued before the trial began in mid-April, bars Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and relatives of the judge who presided over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, among others.

Since his conviction late last month on 34 felony counts, Mr. Trump’s calls for the order to be lifted have only grown louder. But in a 19-page filing on Friday, prosecutors argued that while Justice Merchan no longer needed to enforce the portion of the order relating to witnesses, he should leave its other provisions in place ahead of Mr. Trump’s sentencing on July 11.

While the gag order does not prohibit Mr. Trump from criticizing Justice Merchan or Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who brought the case, it does preclude attacks on prosecutors and their relatives, including Mr. Bragg’s.

And on Friday, prosecutors said those protections from Mr. Trump’s public attacks remained necessary to protect the integrity of an ongoing criminal proceeding.

The New York Police Department has logged 56 “actionable threats” against Mr. Bragg, his family, and employees at the district attorney’s office since early April, according to an affidavit provided with the filing.

Such threats, evidently made by supporters of Mr. Trump, included a post disclosing the home address of one of Mr. Bragg’s employees, and bomb threats made on the first day of the trial targeting two people involved in the case.

Prosecutors said the threats were “directly connected to defendant’s dangerous rhetoric,” and cited several examples, including a post that depicted cross hairs “on people involved in this case.”

Others were homicidal messages directed at Mr. Bragg or his employees, including, “We will kill you all,” “You are dead” and “Your life is done.” Four of the threats were referred for further investigation, according to the police affidavit.

The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.”

All told, prosecutors argued that the threats “overwhelmingly outweighed” the “expressive interest” of Mr. Trump, especially considering that he had yet to be sentenced. (Continued below.)

 

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

 

ramin setoodeh collage

ny times logoNew York Times, New Book Paints Trump as Wounded, Forgetful and Hung Up on Hollywood, Shawn McCreesh, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). In the dark months following the Jan. 6 attack, Donald J. Trump opened up to an entertainment journalist, revealing his fixation with celebrity, acceptance and the TV show that made him.

It was May 2021, and Donald J. Trump was wounded. Four months earlier, his supporters had ransacked the Capitol. He had departed Washington, disgraced, defeated and twice impeached. His party had abandoned him, however temporarily, and he’d been kicked off his social media accounts. He holed up inside Trump Tower and stewed.

An entertainment journalist named Ramin Setoodeh came knocking. He told Mr. Trump he wanted to write a book, not about the unpleasantness of the previous four years, but about that prelapsarian period before Mr. Trump entered politics. Then, he was merely the star of “The Apprentice,” the reality TV show that aired on NBC beginning in 2004 and “changed television,” as Mr. Setoodeh put it to the former president.

Mr. Trump was sold. He granted the reporter several long, recorded interviews. “He was at his lowest then,” Mr. Setoodeh, 42, said over lunch in Manhattan’s West Village on Friday. “I think talking about ‘The Apprentice’ allowed him to feel comfort.”

Mr. Trump became so excited about the book that he offered to promote it at his rallies, saying that the merchants who follow his traveling roadshow would help peddle it. “You’ll sell 10,000 books at one rally,” he told Mr. Setoodeh. “Let’s see how this works out.”

 

A promotional photo of Donald J. Trump and his sons standing stern-faced at the head of a table covered in a map of Manhattan, as various celebrities gesture and mug around it with the Season 12 cast of “The Apprentice” in 2012 (NBC Photo by Mitchell Haaseth).

A promotional photo of Donald J. Trump and his sons standing stern-faced at the head of a table covered in a map of Manhattan, as various celebrities gesture and mug around it with the Season 12 cast of “The Apprentice” in 2012 (NBC Photo by Mitchell Haaseth).

Not well, as it turns out — at least for Mr. Trump. “Apprentice in Wonderland,” published Tuesday, depicts its subject as a lonely and sometimes dotty man, longing for the days when he was still accepted by his fellow celebrities, even as he seems to crave political power.

One minute he’s bragging that Joan Rivers voted for him in 2016 (she died in 2014); the next he’s excusing himself to go deal with “the whole thing with the Afghanistan,” as he told Mr. Setoodeh, who happened to be interviewing him the week President Biden was pulling U.S. troops out of the country. It was unclear what Mr. Trump meant.

Mr. Setoodeh spent three afternoons at Trump Tower and one at Mar-a-Lago, and interviewed Mr. Trump twice on the phone. His final visit was in November of last year. He came away believing Mr. Trump, now 78, was declining, he said.

“Trump was certainly much sharper when he was in his 60s hosting ‘The Apprentice,’ and he did struggle with short-term memory,” Mr. Setoodeh said. When the author showed up for his second interview, the former president did not appear to remember giving a first, Mr. Setoodeh said, although just under three months had passed.

“President Trump was aware of who this individual was throughout the interview process, but this ‘writer’ is a nobody and insignificant, so of course he never made an impression,” said Mr. Trump’s spokesperson Steven Cheung, adding that Mr. Setoodeh “has now chosen to allow Trump Derangement Syndrome to rot his brain like so many other losers whose entire existence revolves around President Trump.”

On social media, the campaign has gone on the attack, threatening to release audio clips of Mr. Setoodeh’s interviews with Mr. Trump in which the journalist talked favorably about his legacy as an entertainer.

 

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Mr. Setoodeh said Mr. Trump was much happier discussing “The Apprentice” (shown above in a promotional photo) than anything having to do with his presidency. “He compares himself to Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando, and sees himself in a lot of ways as an actor and a famous person,” said Mr. Setoodeh. The 45th president gossiped about Khloe Kardashian (“I never got along great with Khloe. Khloe was arrested for drunk driving, did you know that?”); the disgraced former head of CBS, Leslie Moonves (“Now he sits at the Bel-Air club and nobody cares”); Bette Midler (“I had her in my apartment and now she says the nastiest things”); Dennis Rodman (“A pretty cool cat in many ways … Kim Jong-un really liked him, legit”); and Taylor Swift (“I find her very beautiful. I think she’s liberal. Probably doesn’t like Trump”).

“I was really surprised by how much he was still fixated on celebrity culture and how much celebrity still means to him,” Mr. Setoodeh said. He noted that Mr. Trump became “most excited” talking about his theory that famous people living in Beverly Hills vote for him but won’t admit it.

“What is the advantage of having secret voters in Beverly Hills?” Mr. Setoodeh wondered. “Wouldn’t you want secret voters in Ohio or Pennsylvania? But he wants secret voters in Beverly Hills because he associates that with show business, and that’s the most important thing for him.”

RawStory, Trump taunted Jewish employees with jokes about Nazi ovens: Ex-Trump Org VP, Tom Boggioni, June 23, 2024. Trump taunted Jewish employees with jokes about Nazi ovens: Ex-Trump Org VP.

raw story logo squareDuring an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday morning, a former executive vice president of the Trump Organization revealed that her former boss thought it was funny to make jokes about the Nazi ovens around Jewish employees.

President Donald Trump officialSpeaking with host Ali Velshi, attorney Barbara Res, who worked for the former president for years before reportedly leaving because she refused to tolerate his "explosive moods" any longer, was asked if the "weird rants" he has been going on lately are something new.

After stating, he was "a little saner" back then occasionally"he would make ridiculous remarks" that unnerved people, she then provided a startling example.

In one case, she recalled his taunting of Jewish executives.

Citing his frequent mentions of fictional cannibal Hannibal Lecter, she recalled, "Like it was funny that Hannibal Lecter ate people and reminded me of a time when we had just hired a residential manager, a German guy, and he [Trump] was bragging amongst executives about how great the guy was and he was a real gentleman and so neat and clean and then he looked at a couple of our executives whohappen to be Jewish, and he said 'Watch out for this guy, he sort of remembers the ovens,' and then smiled."

One Year Ago:

June 28

 

donald trump ivanka bed kissRaw Story, Ex-staffer describes Trump fantasizing about sex with Ivanka, Adam Nichols, June 28, 2023. Ex-staffer describes Trump fantasizing about sex with Ivanka (shown together in a 1990s file photo).

Former President Donald Trump made sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka that were so lewd he was rebuked by his Chief of Staff, former Trump official Miles Taylor writes in a new book.

raw story logo squareThe comments are used by Taylor, right, to highlight almost daily instances of sexism in the Trump White House that were so miles taylor 1 gmabad one senior female official told the writer, “This is not a healthy workplace for women.”

"Aides said he talked about Ivanka Trump's breasts, her backside, and what it might be like to have sex with her, remarks that once led (former Chief of Staff) John Kelly to remind the president that Ivanka was his daughter," Taylor writes.

"Afterward, Kelly retold that story to me in visible disgust. Trump, he said, was 'a very, very evil man.'"
The details contained in the upcoming new book, “Blowback: A Warning to Save Democracy from the Next Trump,” were outlined in an exclusive interview with Newsweek Wednesday.

miles taylor bookTaylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security who admitted to anonymously writing a 2018 op-ed in the New York Times titled “"I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” said, "There still are quite a few female leaders from the Trump administration who have held their tongues about the unequal treatment they faced in the administration at best, and the absolute naked sexism they experienced with the hands of Donald Trump at worst."

He said “undisguised sexism” was aimed at everybody from lowly staff members to cabinet secretaries.

He remembered Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s former secretary of homeland security, being called “sweetie” and “honey” and having her makeup critiqued by the president.

Taylor said, at one point, Nielsen whispered to him, "Trust me, this is not a healthy workplace for women.”

Donald TrumpAnd Taylor said senior counselor Kellyanne Conway called Trump a “misogynistic bully," a comment that she denied making when contacted by Newsweek.

"He's a pervert, he's difficult to deal with," Taylor told Newsweek. "This is still the same man and, incredibly, we're considering electing him to the presidency again."

He added, “He's setting a very vile tone within the Republican Party, and in a sense has normalized pretty derisive views towards women in general.”

Trump was found liable of sexual abuse in a recent civil trial brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Biden and Trump, a Debate Rematch With Even Greater Risks and Rewards, Lisa Lerer, Shane Goldmacher, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). On Thursday, President Biden and Donald Trump will take part in the earliest presidential debate ever. Any potential missteps could linger.

The debate between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump this week will be the highest-stakes moment of their rematch, plunging two presidents into an extraordinarily early confrontation before a divided and angry nation.

For Mr. Biden, the debate in Atlanta offers an opportunity to remind voters of the chaos of his predecessor’s leadership, his criminal convictions and to warn of an even darker future should he win a second term. For Mr. Trump, it’s a chance to make his case that America has grown more expensive, weaker and more dangerous under his successor.

But the face-off on Thursday also poses significant risks for the two men — both of them the oldest candidates ever to compete in a presidential race — who have been locked in a contentious rivalry defined by mutual hatred for more than four years. That animosity heightens the evening’s unpredictability. A notable misstep — a physical stumble, a mental lapse or a barrage of too-personal insults — could reverberate for months, because of the unusually long period until they meet again for the second debate in September.

“This is a big inflection point,” said Karl Rove, a leading Republican strategist who guided George W. Bush’s two successful presidential runs. “Can Biden be consistently cogent, causing people to say, ‘Well, maybe the old guy is up to it?’ And is Trump going to be sufficiently restrained that people say, ‘You know what, it really is about us, not about him?’”

This presidential debate will be the earliest in the nation’s history and notably different from those familiar to many Americans. Hosted by CNN rather than a nonpartisan commission, it will be simulcast on more than five networks, without a live audience and without opening statements. Each candidate will have two minutes to answer questions, followed by one-minute rebuttals and responses to the rebuttals, and their microphones will be muted when it is not their turn to speak.

The two men are taking strikingly different approaches to their preparation. Mr. Biden hunkered down with his aides at Camp David for formal debate sessions, with the part of Mr. Trump expected to be played by Bob Bauer, the president’s personal attorney. The former president is taking a looser approach but is participating in more “policy sessions” than he held in 2020.

Mr. Trump’s advisers hope the former president keeps his attention on the issues that are widely seen as Mr. Biden’s biggest vulnerabilities — inflation and immigration — and is not baited into exchanges over his false claims about a stolen 2020 election and a justice system he claims is rigged against him.

Mr. Biden’s team sees an opportunity to focus Democratic and independent voters, and even some moderate Republicans, on how much more radical a second Trump administration might be than the first. Yet they are also preparing for Mr. Trump to deliver a more disciplined performance than in the first debate of 2020, when he had a chaotic showing that was likened to a “dumpster fire.”

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn Has Turned His Trump-World Celebrity Into a Family Business, David A. Fahrenthold and Alexandra Berzon, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). The former national security adviser, shown above right in a 2016 presidential campaign file photo, took over a nonprofit group. Soon, it was paying five of his relatives and trafficking in conspiracy theories.

In 2021, retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Donald J. Trump’s first national security adviser, became chairman of a 75-year-old nonprofit organization — the kind of small charity where chairmen typically work for free.

But Mr. Flynn received a salary of $40,000, for working two hours per week.

The next year, he got a raise: $60,000, for two hours.

Mr. Flynn’s charity also paid one of his brothers, two of his sisters, his niece and his sister-in-law. By the end of its second year, his nonprofit group, America’s Future Inc., was running in the red, burning through reserves — and still paying $518,000, or 29 percent of its budget, to Flynns.

Since leaving the Trump administration under an ethical cloud, Michael Flynn has converted his Trump-world celebrity into a lucrative and sprawling family business. He and his relatives have marketed the retired general as a martyr, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a legal-defense fund and then pocketing leftover money. Through a network of nonprofit and for-profit ventures, they have sold far-right conspiracy theories, ranging from lies about the 2020 election to warnings, embraced by followers of QAnon, about cabals of pedophiles and child traffickers.

“This is one that goes up to the highest levels of corporations, up to the highest levels of the government,” Mr. Flynn said recently at a meeting hosted by America’s Future in Kent, Ohio. “People that you know and that you think you respect.”

A New York Times investigation found Flynn family members had made at least $2.2 million monetizing Michael Flynn’s right-wing stardom in recent years, with more than half of that going to Mr. Flynn directly. That total includes several payments not previously reported, but it is still a low estimate, since not all financial records are public. The Times’s reporting also raised questions about whether America’s Future had properly disclosed its payments to Mr. Flynn’s relatives.

Many of Mr. Trump’s closest allies have tried to turn political fame into private income, hawking everything from T-shirts to coffee beans to podcasts. Other than Mr. Trump himself, few have done it on the scale of Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Flynn’s reinvention could lead to resurrection: In the last year, Mr. Trump has alluded several times to his intention to bring the retired general back into his administration should Mr. Trump win the White House in November.

Mr. Flynn and his relatives did not respond directly to questions. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn, Jesse Binnall, said in an interview that the Flynns had earned their payments from America’s Future and other groups and that any errors in their filings were unintentional.

“General Flynn’s dedication to the cause of American freedom is steadfast and resolute, especially as it relates to the freedom of children,” Mr. Binnall said in a statement, adding that the Flynn family’s “strength, unity and dedication to America should be celebrated, not attacked.”

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Watch Fox News So You Don’t Have to’: How Clippers Make Videos Go Viral, Simon J. Levien, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). Despite criticism that the most-watched moments omit crucial context, candidates are tapping into the practice — and watching their words.

Clipping political gaffes was once more of a pastime for amateur political obsessives. Now, professionals have stepped in and supercharged the political discourse, flooding platforms like X and TikTok with cuttingly captioned video snippets, often publishing edited clips within minutes or even seconds.

Despite concerns that the most-watched clips often omit crucial context, sometimes by design, clippers have amassed tens of millions of views, forcing candidates to pay attention — and to watch their words.

More so than ever before, clipping has been embraced by both official Democratic and Republican campaign committees that have exploited the reach of real-time clips and even outdone their independent predecessors.

Gone is the heyday of the tracker, a political operative who would tail candidates at stump events big and small, camcorder in hand, hoping to catch gaffes on tape. Today, the ubiquity of livestreaming and video recording has transformed any rallygoer with a smartphone into a wellspring of videos clippers can turn into potential viral sensations. With so much of a campaign being captured on video and then quickly spotlighted in microscopic, mocking detail, the smallest personality foible, momentary lapse or passing awkwardness can spell a public-relations nightmare for a candidate.

Curtis Houck, an editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, which says its mission is to call out liberal media bias, clips and analyzes White House news briefings. He said that on his X account alone he had racked up about 150 million impressions since he started clipping during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On both sides of the partisan divide, clippers contend that they are backstopping for news organizations that fail to do their jobs impartially. “There’s just a few merry band of us holding the media accountable, real-time, to show presidential speeches and remarks where the president veers off,” Mr. Houck said of his team of media analysts who scan TV shows and news briefings for material.
Then again, clippers often strip their video posts of the context that journalists are generally trained to supply.

 

joe biden benjamin netanyahu split

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Netanyahu Doesn’t Take Biden Seriously, Nicholas Kristof, below left, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A few months ago, President Biden seemed so fed up as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ignored his calls for restraint in Gaza that he finally sounded tough.

nicolas kristoffIn March, Biden was asked if his calls for Israel not to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah marked a “red line,” meaning that an invasion would lead to serious consequences.

“It is a red line,” Biden said, “but I’m never gonna leave Israel.”

All this seemed to signal Biden’s belated willingness to stand up to Netanyahu and avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah. After being widely urged to do more for Gazans — even by his wife — Biden seemed to condition assistance so as to push Israel to flood the territory with aid, avoid an invasion of Rafah, stop killing aid workers and move toward a cease-fire.

In the period since that stern April phone call, Biden has again allowed Netanyahu to walk all over him.

This war began when Israel suffered a horrendous terrorist attack, and it had every right to strike Hamas — but not to level entire neighborhoods or to starve civilians. Biden has enabled Netanyahu and protected him at the United Nations even as a U.N. commission found Israel responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The paradox is that Biden has generally had a successful foreign policy, especially in knitting together an alliance in Asia to reduce the risk of war with China. Yet he now finds himself mired in a mess in the Middle East that could well worsen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system. (Continued from above.

Manhattan prosecutors said Friday that a judge should keep in place major elements of the gag order imposed on Donald J. Trump before his criminal trial, citing dozens of threats that have been made against officials connected to the case.

The gag order, issued before the trial began in mid-April, bars Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and relatives of the judge who presided over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, among others.

Prosecutors said the threats were “directly connected to defendant’s dangerous rhetoric,” and cited several examples, including a post that depicted cross hairs “on people involved in this case.”

Others were homicidal messages directed at Mr. Bragg or his employees, including, “We will kill you all,” “You are dead” and “Your life is done.” Four of the threats were referred for further investigation, according to the police affidavit.
The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.”

All told, prosecutors argued that the threats “overwhelmingly outweighed” the “expressive interest” of Mr. Trump, especially considering that he had yet to be sentenced.

During his seven-week trial, Mr. Trump, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee, repeatedly attacked Mr. Bragg and Justice Merchan. He was also cited 10 times for violating his gag order with online postings and comments excoriating jurors or witnesses. The violations led Justice Merchan to impose a $10,000 fine and threaten Mr. Trump with jail time.

Mr. Trump’s vitriol flared again on Friday morning, before the district attorney’s filing, with a post on his Truth Social account.

“I DID NOTHING WRONG on the D.A. Alvin Bragg case, it was only because my name is TRUMP that they went after me,” he wrote, citing an article in The Wall Street Journal.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Insiders: The 3 Men at the Core of Biden’s Brain Trust, Katie Rogers and Michael D. Shear, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has a diverse group of advisers, but few have the influence of three men in his inner circle during his final campaign.

Multiple times each day, President Biden dials up Mike Donilon, a close adviser since the 1980s, to chew on the latest polls and headlines.

“What’s your instinct? What do you think?” Mr. Biden will ask Mr. Donilon, who recently left the White House for the campaign’s Delaware headquarters.

Once a week, Mr. Biden summons Ron Klain, his former chief of staff, to workshop the best attacks to use against former President Donald J. Trump as the presidential debate draws closer.

When he leaves for Delaware on weekends, Mr. Biden seeks out Ted Kaufman, a confidant who represents the president’s ties to the state that introduced him to the national stage more than a half-century ago. It was Mr. Kaufman who was brutally direct with Mr. Biden when a plagiarism scandal threatened his first campaign for president in 1987.

“There’s only one way to stop the sharks,” Mr. Kaufman told him at the time, “and that’s pull out.” Mr. Biden did.

Interviews with dozens of people close to the president reveal a truth at the heart of Mr. Biden’s political life: While he is surrounded by a diverse and multigenerational crowd of campaign operatives, policy experts and cabinet secretaries, he reserves his full trust for a small circle of insiders who are the definition of old school.

The three are at the center of the Biden world, part of an echo chamber where dissent is rare. In important moments, each has told the president news he did not want to hear, although not one of them said no when the president was considering whether to run for a second term. They are also decades older than the young voters who could decide the election, which worries many of the president’s allies.

Mr. Klain is the youngest at 62. Mr. Donilon is 65. Mr. Kaufman is 85, four years older than Mr. Biden. Each has earned the president’s trust over not just years but decades. On this last of Mr. Biden’s four presidential campaigns, the three are his political comfort animals on speed dial.

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Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel-Hamas War: Blaming Hamas for Gazans’ Suffering, Many Israelis Feel Little Sympathy, Isabel Kershner, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). Despite being aware of the devastation in Gaza, many in Israel ask why they should show pity when, in their view, Palestinians showed none on Oct. 7.

The southern Israeli city of Netivot, a working-class hub for mystical rabbis about 10 miles from the Gaza border, escaped the worst of the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, a fluke many residents ascribe to miraculous intervention by the Jewish sages buried here.

Nevertheless, many here seem to show little concern about the suffering now of the Palestinian civilians — practically neighbors — across the fence in Gaza.

Michael Zigdon, who operates a small food shack in Netivot’s rundown market and had employed two men from Gaza until the attack, expressed little sympathy for Gazans, who have endured a ferocious Israeli military onslaught for the past eight months.

“Who wants this war and who doesn’t?” Mr. Zigdon said, while mopping up red food dye that had spilled from a crushed-ice drink machine in his shack. “It wasn’t us who attacked them on Oct. 7.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Benjamin Netanyahu aired new grievances against the U.S. as Israel’s defense minister heads to Washington today,
Isabel Kershner, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel aired new grievances on Sunday over the Biden administration’s supply of munitions for the war in Gaza as his minister of defense headed to Washington for meetings with senior U.S. officials.

Some Israeli news outlets had portrayed the visit by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, albeit preplanned, as a “reconciliation” trip aimed at smoothing recent tensions with the country’s most crucial ally. Mr. Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration have been increasingly at odds over Israel’s conduct in Gaza, and Mr. Netanyahu lashed out at the United States last week for withholding some heavy munitions.

But on Sunday morning, Mr. Netanyahu doubled down. In remarks broadcast in Hebrew before his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Mr. Netanyahu said he appreciated the Biden administration’s support for Israel through eight months of war, “but starting four months ago, there was a dramatic decrease in the supply of armaments.”

“For long weeks, we turned to our American friends with a request to speed up the deliveries. We did that time after time,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding that he had also tried working behind closed doors.

“We received all sorts of explanations, but one thing we didn’t receive: The basic situation didn’t change,” he continued, adding, “Certain items arrived in a trickle, but the great mass of munitions stayed behind.”

The remarks came days after Mr. Netanyahu released a combative video, in English, excoriating the Biden administration for, as Mr. Netanyahu put it, withholding weapons and ammunition when Israel was “fighting for its life” against Iran and other common enemies.

U.S. officials said at the time that they found the video “perplexing” and did not know what Mr. Netanyahu was talking about. While the Israeli prime minister complained of “bottlenecks,” the Biden administration maintained that it had held up only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated parts of Gaza.

The continuation of the spat on Sunday and Mr. Gallant’s travel to the United States come at a critical juncture. Israel’s military has indicated that it wants to wind down the fighting in Gaza and potentially turn its attention to its northern border with Lebanon, after weeks of escalating tit-for-tat strikes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia backed by Iran.

The Biden administration has been working to try to find a diplomatic solution to avert a full-blown conflagration between Israel and Hezbollah. President Biden has also invested time and political capital endorsing an Israeli proposal for a truce in Gaza involving an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners. Hamas raised significant reservations about the proposal, and talks have been at an impasse.

Mr. Gallant was invited to Washington by his counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, according to Mr. Gallant’s office. It also said he was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other senior American officials.

“The United States is our most important and central ally,” Mr. Gallant said shortly before his departure. “Our ties are crucial, and perhaps more important than ever, at this time,” he added.

Mr. Gallant and Mr. Netanyahu are themselves rivals who have openly clashed in recent months, even as they jointly oversee Israel’s military operations. As the Israeli prime minister has lashed out at the White House, he also has engaged in increasingly public spats with his military brass and his right-wing coalition partners.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis  Updates: Deadly Strike Hits Area of Gaza Where Displaced People Were Sheltering, Staff Reports, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike near Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike amid tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a coastal community in the southern Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials. (Continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Beleaguered aid pier functional again in Gaza; Netanyahu slams U.S, Adela Suliman and Hazem Balousha, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Washington over slow weapons deliveries, drawing a puzzled response from U.S. officials.

Israel FlagA controversial U.S.-built floating pier that has been racked with problems is once again operational and delivered 656 metric tons of much needed aid to Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday. However, the restoration did little to address questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the multimillion-dollar project, or even if it would continue.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterOn the political scene, a war of words appears to have erupted between the United States and Israel this week, as Washington hit back after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, criticized the slow delivery of U.S. weapons.

Netanyahu said in a social media video this week that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months the [Biden] administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he was unaware the video was coming and called it “perplexing,” given the volume of U.S. military support to Israel. “It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect,” he said. “There’s no other country that’s done more but will continue to do more than the United States to help Israel defend itself.”

At least 37,431 ​​people have been killed and 85,653 injured in Gaza since the war started, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and it says 312 soldiers have been killed since the launch of its military operations in Gaza. (Excerpt continued below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: Deadly Strike Hits Area of Gaza Where Displaced People Were Sheltering, Staff Reports, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike near Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike amid tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a coastal community in the southern Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

The Israeli military said “the incident is under review.”

Al-Mawasi contains a zone where the Israeli military has told people fleeing the fighting in Rafah to go for their safety, though such zones have also come under fire during the war. It was unclear from the accounts of Gazan officials whether the attack was within the zone.

Key Developments

  • An Israeli official described a government bid to cement control of the West Bank, and other news.
  • An influential member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was caught on tape telling settlers in the occupied West Bank that the government is engaged in a stealthy campaign to impose control on the territory for the long term. In a leaked recording, the official, Bezalel Smotrich, can be heard suggesting that the goal was to deter the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state.
  • After months of escalating violence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the chief of the United Nations warned on Friday that “the risk for the conflict in the Middle East to widen is real — and must be avoided.” Secretary General António Guterres said that “one rash move” by Israel or Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group targeting Israel in allegiance with Hamas fighters in Gaza, could trigger a “catastrophe that goes far beyond the border and, frankly, beyond imagination.”
  • Armenia is recognizing a Palestinian state, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, a largely symbolic move that adds to the international pressure on Israel over its war in Gaza. In response, Israel said it had summoned Armenia’s ambassador for a “harsh reprimand.” More than 140 countries and the Holy See have recognized a Palestinian state — including Spain, Norway and Ireland who jointly did so last month — though most Western European countries and the United States have not.
  • The Israeli military said that it struck a missile launch site that belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group in the Gaza Strip, embedded within a shelter for displaced Palestinians of Khan Younis. Before the strike, “various measures were taken in order to mitigate harm to uninvolved civilians,” the military said in a statement on Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Beleaguered aid pier functional again in Gaza; Netanyahu slams U.S, Adela Suliman and Hazem Balousha, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Washington over slow weapons deliveries, drawing a puzzled response from U.S. officials.

Israel FlagA controversial U.S.-built floating pier that has been racked with problems is once again operational and delivered 656 metric tons of much needed aid to Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday. However, the restoration did little to address questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the multimillion-dollar project, or even if it would continue.

palestinian flagThe Centcom statement described it as “the largest single day delivery of aid to date” — about the equivalent 38 truckloads. Aid groups estimate that the battered Gaza Strip requires hundreds of truckloads a day to support the more than 2 million people trapped inside. The Pentagon originally said it would be delivering up to 1,700 tons a day via the pier.

Department of Defense SealThe pier, which Centcom says has been used to deliver 4,160 tons of humanitarian aid to date, is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to get food and other lifesaving necessities to starving Gazans as the humanitarian situation worsens and the enclave remains largely sealed off. But it is challenging to use when waves exceed 2 to 3 feet in height, according to past assessments in military journals.

Critics have argued that instead of constructing the pier, the administration could have delivered aid into Gaza faster and at less cost by pressuring the Israeli government to ease restrictions on aid moving through land routes. Georgios Petropoulos, head of the U.N. humanitarian coordination office in Gaza, told The Post that the pier operation “was a failure.”

“Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s much to do about nothing. Distracted us for three months,” he said, adding that it was not yet serving the interests of people in the Gaza Strip.

The floating pier was first announced by President Biden in his March State of the Union address, and construction was completed in May. The project cost an estimated $230 million.

In late May, the pier was ripped apart by bad weather, causing an estimated $22 million in damage and sidelining the operation for days while it was repaired. Earlier this month, it was again partly dismantled and towed to shelter in the Israeli port of Ashdod to avoid forecast bad weather and to “ensure the structural integrity of the pier and safety of our service members,” Centcom said.

Another issue has been the suspension of operations by the United Nations’ World Food Program, partly responsible for the distribution of aid arriving from the pier, after an Israeli hostage rescue operation on June 8 freed four hostages and left more than 250 Palestinians dead. The WFP is expected to resume work pending a review “to ensure that secure conditions for humanitarian work can be reestablished,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq has said.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for aid delivery to Gaza, reported that 324 truckloads of aid passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south. But aid agencies have said it is difficult to collect because of the ongoing fighting inside Gaza as well as the increased lawlessness of the desperate population.

Israel announced a daily pause in combat operations earlier this week to facilitate the delivery of aid, but WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain told Al-Monitor in an interview Thursday that it made little difference. “We haven’t been able to get in,” she said. “We’ve had to reroute some of our trucks. They’ve been looted. As you know, we’ve been shot at, and we’ve been rocketed. So far as we can tell, there’s no difference at all.”

Aid group Doctors Without Borders said Friday that they may need to “stop or drastically reduce some of its medical activities” in Gaza as it has been unable to bring any medical supplies into the strip since the end of April due to the Israeli closure of the Rafah crossing.
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“We have six trucks filled with 37 tons of supplies — the vast majority of which are essential medical items — that have been waiting since June 14 on the Egyptian side of Kerem Shalom crossing point, unable to cross into Gaza where they are needed to save lives,” Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator with the group, said in a statement.

On the political scene, a war of words appears to have erupted between the United States and Israel this week, as Washington hit back after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the slow delivery of U.S. weapons.

Netanyahu said in a social media video this week that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months the [Biden] administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he was unaware the video was coming and called it “perplexing,” given the volume of U.S. military support to Israel. “It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect,” he said. “There’s no other country that’s done more but will continue to do more than the United States to help Israel defend itself.”
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Characterizing Kirby’s comments as a personal attack, Netanyahu said he was “willing to absorb personal attacks if that is what it takes for Israel to get the arms and ammunition it needs in its war for survival.”

Netanyahu said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Friday that he was “appreciative” of U.S. military aid but that he had tried talking with the president to resolve what he maintained was a slowdown in weapons deliveries. “I felt that airing it was absolutely necessary after months of quiet conversation that did not solve the problem,” he added.

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Smoke rising from bombed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 29, 2023 (EPA photo by Hannibal Hanschke via Shutterstock and The New York Times).

Smoke rising from bombed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 29, 2023 (EPA photo by Hannibal Hanschke via Shutterstock and The New York Times). 

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 

 

Kamala Harris Munich Security Conference 2 16 2024washington post logo

Washington Post, Opinion: A closer look at Harris shows how effective she’s become, Jennifer Rubin, June 23, 2024. As the election jennifer rubin new headshotnears, the vice president, shown above delivering a speech earlier this year, is connecting policy to lived experience.

On Friday, after the Supreme Court issued its latest batch of opinions, I spoke briefly on the phone with Vice President Harris. After several days spent attending her appearances, it had become obvious to me that far from being a liability, as her critics insist, she is an effective communicator and skilled advocate — especially on causes on which she has developed expertise over decades.

biden harris 2024 logoGiven the recent court scandals, I asked her about ethics reform. Even when in the Senate, she recalled, she supported a code of ethics for the Supreme Court. “The reasons are more evident today, ” she said. She pointed to blindfolded Lady Justice. “This is how ingrained it is in our system of justice,” she added. “I’m concerned there has been loss of confidence” in the court, Harris said, highlighting not only ethics concerns but also the extreme ideology of a court that has shredded precedent.

From there she spoke passionately about her work since Dobbs to defend reproductive freedom. According to her office, since that decision, she has delivered scores of speeches and held more than 90 gatherings in 21 states (as well as convening groups at the White House) to discuss reproductive freedom with elected officials, health-care providers, faith leaders, students, and advocates. On her Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour, beginning in 2023, she raised the issue at college campuses.

Harris told me her campus visits have been standing room only, with overflow rooms. “Students stood in line for hours,” she said, “not for a rock concert, but to have a conversations with the vice president.” Contrary to the impression that Gen Z voters are disengaged, she came away “inspired” and more certain that they will mark a “sea change” in politics. Guns, abortion rights and climate are not academic issues to this generation. “It is a lived experience. In the height of their reproductive years, the Supreme Court took away the right to make decisions about their own body. . . . They understand we need practical solutions.”

Observing Harris last week, I could see the extent of her political maturation since her first year in office, when withering and often baseless criticism dominated coverage. Her delivery is crisp and authoritative. She appears relaxed, confident and centered in formal and informal settings. And she appears to relish taking on bullies. She can draw on not only three years of experience as vice president but 20 years or so as a prosecutor. “There are very few things I do now that I have not done over [that time],” she told me, pointing to a career that’s ranged from working as a line prosecutor to running the San Francisco agency for abused and neglected children to serving as California Attorney General and then its senator.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pro-Ted Cruz group draws scrutiny for receiving money from his podcast’s company, Patrick Svitek, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Campaign finance experts have questioned whether the arrangement runs afoul of a ban on candidates directing money to super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money.

A super PAC supporting Sen. Ted Cruz’s reelection campaign has received nearly $800,000 in receipts from the company that distributes the Texas Republican’s podcast, an arrangement that is attracting scrutiny from campaign finance experts and Democrats.

Federal law prohibits candidates from soliciting or directing money to super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of funds, including corporate money, as long as they do not coordinate with the candidate they are working to elect.

Some campaign finance watchdogs say it’s hard to believe that Cruz would not have been involved in any arrangement to route the funds from the company that distributes his podcast to the super PAC, known as Truth and Courage PAC.

“It just defies credulity that this is a normal business transaction,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer with no involvement in Cruz’s race. “Even if it were, the idea that a super PAC derives a substantial portion of its revenue … from a commercial business in which a sitting senator is a principal is completely unique and … raises all sorts of legal and ethical issues.”

Cruz’s campaign has emphasized he does not get paid personally to do the podcast, although critics say the arrangement raises other issues and requires investigation by the Federal Election Commission.

End Citizens United — a group whose political arm has endorsed Cruz’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Colin Allred (Tex.) — filed an FEC complaint in April alleging Cruz has run afoul of the ban on soliciting or directing money for a super PAC. The group was joined in the complaint by the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan government watchdog group.

Allred, a congressman from Dallas, has made Cruz’s podcasting a major part of his campaign, accusing the senator of focusing more on being a media personality than serving Texans. Cruz has argued the podcast allows him to bypass traditional media to talk to his constituents about important issues.

washington post logoWashington Post, Carter’s next potential milestone: First former president to see 100, Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, June 23, 2024. Jimmy Carter has been in hospice care for 16 months, but he continues to eat well and defy the odds as his 100th birthday approaches.

Jimmy Carter is within sight of making history yet again. Sunday marks 100 days until Carter would become the first president to witness his own 100th birthday.

Statistically, Americans have a less than 1 percent chance of living to 100. And Carter faces particularly significant challenges in reaching the milestone. For the past 16 months, he’s been in hospice, end-of-life care that focuses on comfort and forgoes medical intervention. Half of people in hospice died within 17 days in 2020, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
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Yet as Carter inches closer to his 100th birthday on Oct. 1, defying odds and expectations, preparations are gearing up for the landmark event — including a 100-mile bike ride and a film festival in his home state of Georgia. Some oddsmakers are not only taking bets on whether he will make it to his birthday but whether he will live long enough to see the end of the Ukraine war.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Culture Wars Came to a California Suburb. A Leader Was Ousted, Jill Cowan, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Voters recalled a school board president after his conservative majority approved policies on critical race theory and transgender issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S.D.A. Avocado Inspectors Will Start Returning to Mexican Packing Plants, Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The inspections in Michoacán, the Mexican state responsible for most avocado exports to the U.S., were suspended last weekend because of security concerns.

The move has fueled concern among producers in Michoacán, the state responsible for 73 percent of avocado production in Mexico. Jalisco, the other Mexican state allowed to ship the fruit, accounts for 12 percent of production. Together, the two states supply about 90 percent of all U.S. avocado imports.

“We haven’t seen what measures the authorities are going to take to prevent this from happening again,” Juan Carlos Anaya, director general of an agricultural consulting group in Mexico, said in a radio interview this week.

This is not the first time that the United States has cited security concerns regarding their U.S.D.A. inspectors in Michoacán, where criminal groups have sought to infiltrate the avocado industry, a lucrative export market.

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida to Pay Millions to Victims of Abuses at Notorious Reform School, Patricia Mazzei. June 22, 2024 (print ed.). A $20 million program will give financial restitution to students who endured abuse and neglect at the hands of the state.

ny times logoNew York Times, Louisiana’s Ten Commandments Law Signals a Broader Christian Agenda, Rick Rojas, David W. Chen and Elizabeth Dias, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Gov. Jeff Landry wants his state to be at the forefront of a national movement to advance legislation with a Christian worldview.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, IRS says ‘vast majority’ of 1 million pandemic-era credit claims show a risk of being improper, Staff Report, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Tens of thousands of claims showing “clear signs of being erroneous” will be denied in coming weeks, the agency said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Thou Shalt Not Post the Ten Commandments in the Classroom, David French, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). There is a certain irony in the bravado about the Ten Commandments from Gov. Jeff Landry of Louisiana. On Saturday he told attendees at a Republican fund-raiser, “I can’t wait to be sued.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Bowman, in a Fight for His Political Life, Embraces the Left’s Star Power, Nicholas Fandos and Claire Fahy, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders will appear at a rally for Representative Jamaal Bowman today, ahead of New York’s primary.

Overpowered on the airwaves and behind in the polls, Mr. Bowman is leaning heavily on national star power in a last-minute bid to alter the trajectory of one of the nation’s most hotly contested Democratic primaries.

“They have the money,” Mr. Bowman, 48, boomed at the event with Mr. Sanders on Friday in Hastings-on-Hudson, just north of his hometown, Yonkers. “We have the many.”

The megawatt events drove home the sharp contrasts between the congressman and his opponent, George Latimer, but they also demonstrated how the candidates are betting on two very different paths to victory, in a district split between wealthy suburbs and working-class neighborhoods, and among white, Black and Latino voters.

Rather than reach toward the party’s center, Mr. Bowman has reiterated the left-leaning positions that helped make him a national figure. He has railed against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s record spending blitz against him and an entrenched establishment, all in hopes of increasing turnout among progressives and voters of color.

Mr. Latimer, a middle-of-the-road Democrat and the Westchester County executive, is largely grinding toward the primary on Tuesday alone with no tinsel in sight.

ny times logoNew York Times, AIPAC Unleashes a Record $14.5 Million Bid to Defeat a Critic of Israel, Nicholas Fandos, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The deluge in outside spending, which also includes another $1 million from another pro-Israel group, threatens to sink Representative Jamaal Bowman.

 

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin speaks during a press conference where he announced corruption charges against George Norcross (seated, second from left) in Trenton, New Jersey, on June 17, 2024 (Politico photo by Daniel Han).

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin speaks during a press conference where he announced corruption charges against George Norcross (seated, second from left) in Trenton, New Jersey, on June 17, 2024 (Politico photo by Daniel Han).

Politico, New Jersey AG charges Democratic power broker George Norcross in bombshell indictment, Dustin Racioppi and Daniel Han, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). He has long been the subject of scrutiny by law enforcement and a political task force, but has never been charged.

ny times logoNew York Times, In a State Notorious for Political Scandal, Signs of Change Emerge, Nick Corasaniti and Tracey Tully, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). In New Jersey, a senator is charged with taking bribes. A political power broker is accused of racketeering. A judge has declared the election system unfair.

washington post logoWashington Post, Md. governor to pardon 175,000 marijuana convictions in sweeping order, Erin Cox, Katie Shepherd and Katie Mettler, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). The blanket pardon by Gov. Wes Moore is among the country’s most far reaching and will forgive wes mooredecades of low-level marijuana possession charges for an estimated 100,000 people.

 

irs logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Closing asset loophole could add billions to tax collections, IRS says, Julie Zauzmer Weil, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). The Treasury Department said it will enact rules to prevent certain large businesses from depreciating the same asset repeatedly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mark Robinson’s comments on sexual assault could strain GOP’s hopes of flipping N.C. governor’s seat, Patrick Svitek and Maegan Vazquez, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). Mark Robinson has spent years repeatedly questioning the veracity of women who accuse prominent men of violence.

mark robinson oMark Robinson, right, the firebrand Republican nominee for governor in North Carolina, has for years made comments downplaying and making light of sexual assault and domestic violence.

A review of Robinson’s social media posts over the past decade shows that he frequently questioned the credibility of women who aired allegations of sexual assault against prominent men, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Bill Cosby and now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. In one post, Robinson, North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, characterized Weinstein and others as “sacrificial lambs” being “slaughtered.”

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Trump Guilty Verdicts, Reactions, Probes, Allies

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump allies who were charged in an Arizona election case began filing what was expected to be a series of challenges, Danny Hakim and Jack Healy, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). The challenges from defendants charged with trying to overturn the 2020 election will be a test case for a new but little-known state law aimed at curbing political prosecutions.

Allies of former President Donald J. Trump charged in a sweeping Arizona election case on Friday began filing what is expected to be a series of challenges, seizing on a new state law aimed at curbing litigation and prosecutions involving political figures.

The law was originally crafted by Kory Langhofer, a Phoenix lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign during the 2020 election but who subsequently fell out of favor with the former president. He said the 2022 law’s intent was to limit politically motivated prosecutions on both sides of the aisle.

The new challenges could have the effect of delaying the election case in Arizona for several months, given the timeline for decisions and appeals. The case was brought in April by the state attorney general, Kris Mayes, a Democrat.

The 18 defendants have each been charged with nine counts of fraud, forgery and conspiracy. The indictment lays out a series of efforts by the defendants to overturn Arizona’s election results, from the plan to deploy fake electors on Mr. Trump’s behalf, despite his loss at the polls, to the steps some took to put pressure on “officials responsible for certifying election results.”

Seven Trump advisers are among those charged, among them Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff. Eleven Republicans committed to Mr. Trump who claimed to be the state’s electors, even though President Biden had already been certified by state officials as the winner in Arizona, were also charged.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pledged to pardon Jan. 6 rioters. He faces pressure to name names, Isaac Arnsdorf and Greg Jaffe, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s campaign said he will decide pardons on a “case-by-case” basis without specifying factors.

 

djt todd blanche court pen

Donald Trump is shown in a file photo with his counsel Todd Blanche, right, outside the New York City courtroom where a state jury found him guilty of 34 felony counts on May 30, 2024.

Politico, Trump’s private demand to Johnson: Help overturn my conviction, Rachael Bade, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). As the former president heads to Capitol Hill, he is privately seeking legislative revenge.

politico CustomDonald Trump makes his first visit to Capitol Hill since leaving the presidency Thursday morning, meeting with Republican lawmakers in what is being billed as a resolutely forward-looking session focused on a potential 2025 legislative agenda.

In fact, Trump has bigger, more immediate legislative priorities.

mike johnson oHe has been obsessed in recent weeks with harnessing the powers of Congress to fight on his own behalf and go to war against the Democrats he accuses of “weaponizing” the justice system against him.

It’s a campaign he orchestrated in the days after his May 31 conviction on 34 felony counts in New York, starting with a phone call to the man he wanted to lead it: Speaker Mike Johnson, right.

U.S. House logoTrump was still angry when he made the call, according to those who have heard accounts of it from Johnson, dropping frequent F-bombs as he spoke with the soft-spoken and pious GOP leader.

“We have to overturn this,” Trump insisted.

djt maga hatJohnson sympathized with Trump’s frustration. He’d been among the first batch of Republican lawmakers to appear alongside Trump at the Manhattan trial. He’d been harping on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case and the alleged broader abuse of the justice system since before he took the gavel.

The speaker didn’t really need to be convinced, one person familiar with the conversation said: Johnson, a former attorney himself,already believed the House had a role to play in addressing Trump’s predicament. The two have since spoken on the subject multiple times.

Politico, Inside the room during Trump's visit with House Republican, Olivia Beavers, June 14, 2024 (print ed.).He asked Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene if she was "being nice to" Speaker Johnson, according to a person at the private meeting off the Hill.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pledged to pardon Jan. 6 rioters. He faces pressure to name names, Isaac Arnsdorf and Greg Jaffe, June 14, 2024. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s campaign said he will decide pardons on a “case-by-case” basis without specifying factors.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn Has Turned His Trump-World Celebrity Into a Family Business, David A. Fahrenthold and Alexandra Berzon, June 23, 2024. The former national security adviser, shown above right in a 2016 presidential campaign file photo, took over a nonprofit group. Soon, it was paying five of his relatives and trafficking in conspiracy theories.

In 2021, retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Donald J. Trump’s first national security adviser, became chairman of a 75-year-old nonprofit organization — the kind of small charity where chairmen typically work for free.

But Mr. Flynn received a salary of $40,000, for working two hours per week.

The next year, he got a raise: $60,000, for two hours.

Mr. Flynn’s charity also paid one of his brothers, two of his sisters, his niece and his sister-in-law. By the end of its second year, his nonprofit group, America’s Future Inc., was running in the red, burning through reserves — and still paying $518,000, or 29 percent of its budget, to Flynns.

Since leaving the Trump administration under an ethical cloud, Michael Flynn has converted his Trump-world celebrity into a lucrative and sprawling family business. He and his relatives have marketed the retired general as a martyr, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a legal-defense fund and then pocketing leftover money. Through a network of nonprofit and for-profit ventures, they have sold far-right conspiracy theories, ranging from lies about the 2020 election to warnings, embraced by followers of QAnon, about cabals of pedophiles and child traffickers.

“This is one that goes up to the highest levels of corporations, up to the highest levels of the government,” Mr. Flynn said recently at a meeting hosted by America’s Future in Kent, Ohio. “People that you know and that you think you respect.”

A New York Times investigation found Flynn family members had made at least $2.2 million monetizing Michael Flynn’s right-wing stardom in recent years, with more than half of that going to Mr. Flynn directly. That total includes several payments not previously reported, but it is still a low estimate, since not all financial records are public. The Times’s reporting also raised questions about whether America’s Future had properly disclosed its payments to Mr. Flynn’s relatives.

Many of Mr. Trump’s closest allies have tried to turn political fame into private income, hawking everything from T-shirts to coffee beans to podcasts. Other than Mr. Trump himself, few have done it on the scale of Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Flynn’s reinvention could lead to resurrection: In the last year, Mr. Trump has alluded several times to his intention to bring the retired general back into his administration should Mr. Trump win the White House in November.

Mr. Flynn and his relatives did not respond directly to questions. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn, Jesse Binnall, said in an interview that the Flynns had earned their payments from America’s Future and other groups and that any errors in their filings were unintentional.

“General Flynn’s dedication to the cause of American freedom is steadfast and resolute, especially as it relates to the freedom of children,” Mr. Binnall said in a statement, adding that the Flynn family’s “strength, unity and dedication to America should be celebrated, not attacked.” 

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington Post publisher retains ties to past business ventures, Craig Whitlock, Jonathan O'Connell and Jon Swaine, June 23, 2024. William Lewis holds a stake in a start-up that has reached a deal with The Post to collaborate. The Post said the arrangement conforms with its conflict-of-interest policy.

A small digital start-up launched by Washington Post publisher William Lewis has entered into an agreement with The Post that allows the two companies to pursue deals together, even as Lewis still holds a financial stake in the firm.

The News Movement, which Lewis co-founded in 2020, recently developed pitches for two major advertisers, Rolex and Starbucks, to engage in commercial partnerships that would involve The Post, according to documents and interviews.

The Post’s relationship with the News Movement represents one of several ways in which Lewis remains connected to his previous business endeavors and associates. The Post said the arrangements conform with its conflict-of-interest policy. (More below.)

The Hartmann Report, Does Project 2025's Secret Plan Include Moving Beyond Trump's Shadow? Thom Hartmann, right, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). thom hartmannThe real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president.

In less than a month, Republicans will meet in Milwaukee to crown Donald Trump as their Emperor King and Sun God. But the real powers behind the GOP — the billionaires and their institutions that created Project 2025 as a how-to manual to convert American democracy into something like the old Confederacy — don’t much care about poor old Donald.

Sure, they want him to be the nominee because NBC trained him well in the dark art of playing a successful businessman on television. He brings in the rubes like nobody since Huey Long; he’s a singularly brilliant politician, much as Putin, Hitler, Orbán, and Mussolini are and were.

rnc logoBut he can also be irrational, impulsive, disloyal, dishonest, and unpredictable, qualities that make the men who want to revive the Confederacy to replace our republican form of government wary. They have big plans — far bigger than Trump’s tiny dream of vengeance — and don’t want him screwing things up.

Thus, the real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president. That’ll be the guy (it will be a guy) who does the actual heavy lifting in “deconstructing the administrative state,” seizing control of our media, and stripping average Americans of what’s left of their wealth and rights.

It’ll almost certainly work much like it did with the contestants on The Apprentice: NBC’s writers and producers would figure out who’d make the best winner, who’d draw the best audience “in the demo,” who would get the most PR for the show, and then Trump would pretend the choice was his. After all, he did exactly that for 14 television seasons over more than 300 episodes; he knows the routine well.

Trump is elderly, obese, and self-absorbed. He’s a heart attack waiting to happen, his cognitive capabilities are clearly slipping, and he’s incapable of seeing any issue in any context other than, “What’s in it for Donald?” They had to draw him pictures when they did intelligence briefings in the White House.

But the Project 2025 folks and their Steve Bannon fellow travelers, in their effort to tear down America and make our country safe(er) for morbidly rich oligarchs, have big plans, including:

— Placing the entire federal bureaucracy, including independent agencies like the Department of Justice, under direct presidential control through an extreme interpretation of the “unitary executive theory,” thus turning the federal police system into an enforcement mechanism against dissenters.

— Eliminating job protections for thousands of federal civil servants, allowing for their replacement by political appointees loyal to the administration, reversing the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and returning America to the corrupt spoils system.

— Dismantling the Department of Education and transferring or terminating its programs, speeding up the GOP’s ongoing project of ending public schools (with their unionized teachers) and replacing them with private, segregated, often-religious academies for the white upper middle class.

— Slashing funding for the Department of Justice and dismantling the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (which will probably be replaced by a new Schutzstaffel-style police force answerable directly to the president, as Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have already done in Florida and Texas).

— Abolishing the Federal Reserve and potentially returning to a gold-backed currency, transferring power over the nation’s economy from the Fed’s technocrats into the hands of the wealthiest men in America.

— Criminalizing pornography, abortion, mifepristone, and most forms of birth control, placing women under the direct control of the state.

— Removing legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, returning us to the days when queer people were routinely harassed and murdered.

— Terminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and affirmative action initiatives across the federal government, locking into place the white racial hierarchy that currently controls most wealth and power in the USA.

— Cutting funding for renewable energy research and climate change initiatives while boosting fossil fuel production so the fossil fuel barons who largely own the GOP can make more billions.

— Imposing work requirements for recipients of food stamps (SNAP) and other welfare programs as the first step toward ending all welfare programs that are funded by rich people’s taxpayer dollars.

— Extending Trump’s 2017 tax cuts , which would add $4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years according to estimates, so billionaires can continue to only pay a 3.4% income tax.

— Requiring a three-fifths supermajority in Congress to raise individual or corporate income taxes, making future tax increases on the morbidly rich almost impossible.

— Infusing the government with elements of Christianity, rejecting our nation’s Founders’ vision of America as the world’s first secular democratic republic.
— Eliminating terms like “sexual orientation,” “gender equality,” and “reproductive right” from all federal laws and regulations.

— Appointing more extremist federal judges who would overturn landmark Supreme Court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and Griswold v Connecticut, which legalized birth control.

— Restricting voting rights by pushing for strict voter ID laws, limiting mail-in and early voting, and criminalizing voter registration drives as DeSantis has done in Florida.

To accomplish a major task like this is going to require a person who’s smart, well-educated, disciplined, wealthy, and utterly without scruples or a moral compass. In other words, JD Vance (or somebody very much like him: Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Elise Stefanik).

Trump should be watching his back right now. It’s a safe bet that the minute he begins to stray from the oligarchs’ agenda, his cabinet will get together and pull a 25th Amendment on him, as was so frequently discussed by members of his cabinet during his first term as president. Or, in true mob fashion, they’ll just sit him down and tell him that he can have a fine fun time playing president, but somebody else is going to take care of the actual business side of the operation.

And odds are he’ll never see it coming.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Why the Breaking News About Roger Stone and Judge Aileen Cannon Is So Concerning, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, June 20-21, 2024. Two major stories have dropped about Donald Trump, Florida, Trumpworld and the ongoing legal woes of the former president—and current convicted felon—over the last 48 hours. And they may be connected.

Roger Stone was recently secretly recorded by two leftist activists—in two different conversations—and what he said is deeply troubling to anyone who loves democracy.

seth abramson proof logoNot to put too fine a point on it, but Stone (1) indicated that he’s laser-focused on all of Donald Trump’s ongoing criminal cases; (2) appeared to have (or else appeared to believe he has) special knowledge of what’s going to happen in the one of aileen cannonTrump’s three remaining criminal cases (namely, the one that’s taking place near Stone’s home), and (3) confessed that either he or Trump agents who he’s in contact with have the home phone numbers of key judges whose decisions could significantly impact the 2024 U.S. presidential election.

Given that Trump’s Manhattan trial is already over, and that for now—unless Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis decides to recuse herself entirely from Trump’s RICO case in Georgia—that case can’t go to trial anytime before the middle of next year, there are only two judges on Trump criminal cases whose home phone number(s) Stone could have been bragging about people he knows having, if his comments were a reference to Trump and/or his team having home-phone access to a Trump judge.

 

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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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Judge in Trump Documents Case Rejected Suggestions to Step Aside, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Two federal judges in South Florida privately urged Aileen M. Cannon to decline the case when it was assigned to her last year, according to two people briefed on the matter. She chose to keep it.

aileen cannonShortly after Judge Aileen M. Cannon, right,  drew the assignment in June 2023 to oversee former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, two more experienced colleagues on the federal bench in Florida urged her to pass it up and hand it off to another jurist, according to two people briefed on the conversations.

The judges who approached Judge Cannon — including the chief judge in the Southern District of Florida, Cecilia M. Altonaga — each asked her to consider whether it would be better if she were to decline the high-profile case, allowing it to go to another judge, the two people said.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wanted to keep the case and refused the judges’ entreaties. Her assignment raised eyebrows because she has scant trial experience and had previously shown unusual favor to Mr. Trump by intervening in a way that helped him in the criminal investigation that led to his indictment, only to be reversed in a sharply critical rebuke by a conservative appeals court panel.

The extraordinary and previously undisclosed effort by Judge Cannon’s colleagues to persuade her to step aside adds another dimension to the increasing criticism of how she has gone on to handle the case.

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).She has broken, according to lawyers who operate there, with a general practice of federal judges in the Southern District of Florida of delegating some pretrial motions to a magistrate — in this instance, Judge Bruce E. Reinhart. While he is subordinate to her, Judge Reinhart is an older and much more experienced jurist. In 2022, he was the one who signed off on an F.B.I. warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club and residence in Florida, for highly sensitive government files that Mr. Trump kept after leaving office.

Since then, Judge Cannon has exhibited hostility to prosecutors, handled pretrial motions slowly and indefinitely postponed the trial, declining to set a date for it to begin even though both the prosecution and the defense had told her they could be ready to start this summer.

But Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also urged her to delay any trial until after the election, and her handling of the case has virtually ensured that they will succeed in that strategy. Should Mr. Trump retake the White House, he could order the Justice Department to drop the case.

As Judge Cannon’s handling of the case has come under intensifying scrutiny, her critics have suggested that she could be in over her head, in the tank for Mr. Trump — or both.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: For Judge in Trump Documents Case, Unusual Rulings Are Business as Usual, Alan Feuer and Eileen Sullivan, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). When Judge Aileen M. Cannon presides over a hearing on Friday in former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, she will spend the day considering well-trod arguments about an arcane legal issue in an unorthodox manner.

It will be the latest example of how her unusual handling of the case has now become business as usual.

aileen cannonOver the past several months, Judge Cannon, right, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in his final days in office, has made a number of decisions that have prompted second-guessing and criticism among legal scholars following the case. Many of her rulings, on a wide array of topics, have been confounding to them, often evincing her willingness to grant a serious hearing to far-fetched issues that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised in his defense.

The issue that will be discussed on Friday in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., is a motion by the defense to dismiss the charges in the case on the grounds that Jack Smith, the special counsel who filed them last spring, was improperly funded and appointed.

The defense has argued that Mr. Smith was not named to his post by the president or approved by the Senate like other federal officers, and that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who gave him the job, had no legal power to do so on his own.

Mr. Smith’s deputies have countered that under the appointments clause of the Constitution, agency heads like Mr. Garland are authorized to name “inferior officers” like special counsels to act as their subordinates.

Judge Aileen Cannon has repeatedly proved willing to hear out even far-fetched arguments from former President Trump’s legal team.

And while the subject of the hearing may seem rather technical, what is most unusual is that it is happening at all.

Reaching back to the early 1970s, courts have repeatedly rejected efforts like Mr. Trump’s to question the legality of independent prosecutors. Those have included the Supreme Court upholding the appointment of Leon Jaworski, one of the special prosecutors who investigated the Watergate scandal, in a decision that was largely focused on the issue of President Richard Nixon’s claims of executive privilege.

Judges have also tossed efforts to invalidate the work of special counsels like Robert S. Mueller III, who examined connections between Russia and Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and David C. Weiss, who has brought two criminal cases against Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.

Despite this record, however, Judge Cannon has decided to consider the constitutionality of Mr. Smith’s appointment anew — and not on the merits of written briefs, but rather at an expansive hearing that will spill across two days. The proceeding might go beyond the normal process of merely making arguments and could include, as the judge recently wrote, the “presentation of evidence,” though it remains unclear what evidence she meant.

 

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

CNN, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists call for leadership change amid publisher scrutiny, Oliver Darcy, June 20, 2024. Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at The Washington Post went on the record late Wednesday, calling for leadership change at the storied newspaper as questions swirl over the integrity of its new publisher and chief executive, Will Lewis.

cnn logo“I don’t know a single person at the Post who thinks the current situation with the publisher and supposed new editor can stand,” David Maraniss, an associate editor who has worked at The Post for nearly five decades and won two Pulitzer david maraniss 2012 wPrizes at the newspaper, wrote in a candid Facebook post. “There might be a few, but very very few.”

Maraniss, shown at right in a 2012 photo, also zinged Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of The Post who installed Lewis, writing that he is “not of and for the Post or he would understand.”

Scott Higham, scott highamleft, another Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The Post, echoed Maraniss’ call for Lewis to exit the newspaper.

washington post logo“Will Lewis needs to step down for the good of The Post and the public,” Higham replied in a comment on Maraniss’ post. “He has lost the newsroom and will never win it back.”

Spokespersons for Bezos, shown below left in a file photo, and The Post did not immediately comment.

The backlash from The Post’s journalists comes after serious questions were raised about Lewis, who has been the subject of several jeffrey bezos washington postexplosive reports in recent days scrutinizing his journalistic integrity.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that, in his Fleet Street days, Lewis assigned an article that was based on stolen phone records. And The Post itself reported in a 3,000-word front page expose Sunday that a “thief” who used deceptive tactics to obtain private robert winnett linked inmaterial had ties with Lewis’ hand-picked incoming top editor, Robert Winnett, right.

The stories, which landed like a one-two punch in The Post’s newsroom, followed reports that Lewis tried to suppress stories at The Post and NPR about his role cleaning up Rupert Murdoch’s UK phone hacking scandal, when he served rupert murdoch newas a lieutenant to the right-wing media mogul (shown in a file photo at left).

In response to the reports earlier this month, Lewis initially lashed out, criticizing his own media reporters and attacking veteran NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, who he referred to as an “activist, not a journalist.” Lewis later sent a memo to staffers, striking a notably different tone. But the note failed to quell the growing disapproval within the newspaper’s ranks.

Inside The Post’s newsroom, morale has plunged as staffers express alarm over Lewis’ conduct and worries over the future direction of the newspaper under his leadership. Interviews with nearly a dozen Post staffers and others

Politico, Robert Winnett withdraws from becoming next Washington Post senior editor, Jared Mitovich, June 21, 2024. The Post will begin a “timely and thorough” search to fill the job, publisher Will Lewis announced.

robert winnett linked inRobert Winnett, right, will no longer become The Washington Post’s senior editor amid growing criticism over his alleged ties to unethical journalism practices.

In a message to staff Friday morning, Post publisher Will Lewis announced “with regret” that Winnett had “withdrawn” from the position of editor and would remain at The Telegraph, a U.K.-based newsroom where he currently serves as deputy editor.

“Rob has my greatest respect and is an incredibly talented editor and journalist,” Lewis wrote. “The leadership at The Telegraph Media Group are reaffirming his continued role as deputy editor.”

The Post will “immediately” begin a “timely and thorough” search to fill the vacant position, Lewis added. Winnett was set to join the Post after the November election to oversee the newsroom’s main reporting arm, in an abrupt leadership shakeup earlier this month that also included the departure of Sally Buzbee as executive editor.

Lewis added that Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, will continue as the Post’s executive editor through the November presidential election. The Post would also continue to prepare the launch of a “third newsroom” — which is slated to cover service and social media journalism — as part of a plan to address the newsroom’s struggling financial picture, he said.

Over the weekend, news reports emerged that included allegations of dubious ethical conduct by Winnett and Lewis. The Post itself reported that Winnett worked with a man who used deceptive tactics to acquire confidential information during his tenure at the Sunday Times. While working at the same British newspaper, the New York Times reported that Lewis and Winnett used stolen phone and company records in the process of reporting two articles.

For both reports, Lewis declined to comment through a Washington Post spokesperson and Winnett did not respond.

The reporting has sparked fierce scrutiny of the publisher and incoming editor, ranging from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at the Post to former President Donald Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite a Biden-Xi agreement to crack down on fentanyl, Chinese sellers are open for business, Cate Cadell and Lily Kuo, China FlagJune 21, 2024 (print ed.). A booming online marketplace for shipping small but potent packages of the chemicals used in the production of fentanyl from China to Mexico remains largely unhindered, a Post investigation found.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: China backed families behind a vast scam network before turning on them, Shibani Mahtani, Christian Shepherd and Pei-Lin Wu, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A Post investigation found that criminal networks in Myanmar enjoyed the protection of Chinese officials as well as the military government in Myanmar.

China FlagFor the scion of a crime family linked to human trafficking and enslavement, money laundering and global cyberscams, Wei Qingtao was brazenly public. His Douyin account, the Chinese-language version of TikTok, flaunted the excesses of his life in a remote corner of Myanmar by the border with China: Bentleys and Lamborghinis, rare cigars and private jets.

In November, the good times rolled to a stop. Wei’s social media presence vanished. He soon appeared in a different kind of video: reading a scripted confession while in Chinese custody.

The detention of Wei and at least 15 other alleged senior crime family members and their associates was lavishly covered by Chinese media, designed to showcase Beijing’s reach. This was proof, Chinese officials said, of their determination to crush transnational criminals victimizing their citizens, no matter where they are based.

That crusading narrative is incomplete, however.

A Washington Post investigation found that Kokang’s criminal networks — principally led by the Wei, Bai and Liu families, according to U.N. officials, Chinese court records and analysts — had for more than a decade enjoyed close relations with Chinese officials, primarily in neighboring Yunnan province, along with support from Beijing and the military government in Myanmar. The Myanmar military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, further solidified the families as political and economic brokers after taking power in a 2021 coup.


Real estate developer Fred C.Trump, Sr. with his son and heir, Donald J. Trump, the future U.S. president.

Real estate developer Fred C.Trump, Sr. with his son and heir, Donald J. Trump, the future U.S. president.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Gaping holes in the Trump family history point to three generations of spies against Americawayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, author of 24 books, widely published commentator and former Navy intelligence officer, June 18, 2024. Three generation of Trumps do not pass the smell test when it comes to espionage. WMR's series on the anti-American perfidy of the Trump family continues. Stay tuned.

wayne madesen report logoThere is an ample amount of evidentiary and circumstantial information found in contemporaneous news reports and archival records that point to the Trump family conducting espionage for hostile foreign powers for at least three generations. This malfeasance extends from Frederick Trump, who bore the telltale signs of having been an agent for Imperial Germany in New York City during World War I, to Fred C. Trump, Sr., whose dalliance with far-right causes in New York before and during World War II strongly matches the profile of a Nazi agent, and, finally, to Donald Trump, whose reckless handling of America's most classified information may have ended up in the hands of Russia, China, and other nations hostile to the United States.

Frederick, the patriarch of the Trump family, and his son, Fred Trump, Sr., found in New York a city that was home to a large German community. Among its ranks were German-born and first generation German-Americans who remained steadfastly supportive of their fatherland. Frederick immigrated to America in 1885 at the age of 16 not so much because he wanted to share in the liberty and rights afforded to all American citizens and residents but to avoid mandatory conscription in his native Germany and to have a chance to strike it rich.

Avoiding the German military draft was capped off with Frederick making money in the restaurant, bar, hotel, and prostitution business in British Columbia during the Yukon Gold Rush of the late 1890s. It is clear that Frederick, a wealthy man at the turn of the century, did not want to remain in America. With his newly-found wealth, Frederick returned to his native Kallstadt in Germany, where he married Elisabeth Christ. With a Bavarian government arrest warrant hanging over his head for being a draft dodger, Frederick decided to return to the States with his new bride to The Bronx, where he applied for a U.S. passport as an insurance policy to avoid arrest in Germany. Returning to Germany with his homesick wife and American-born daughter, Frederick deposited in a German bank 80,000 marks, $641,438 in today's money.

In 1904, the Bavarian government determined that Frederick was a draft dodger and ordered him deported back to the United States. Frederick appealed the decision and the Trump family history, written later by John W. Walter, Frederick's grandson and an executive of the Trump Organization who also served as the "official historian" of the Trump family, claims that Frederick, his wife, and daughter ultimately settled in Woodhaven, Queens, where Frederick began buying land. Thus began the Trump real estate empire. Oddly, Frederick began branching out into other occupations rather than live off his sizable wealth and new real estate business in Queens.

Other recent columns:

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The Ukraine Peace Conference: a new Western tactic is required, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The diplomacy of 1919 and 1920 should be employed against Putin, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Putin's "election surprise" -- an attack on NATO a real threat, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2024
    Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Election manipulation is a game NATO should not permit Putin to play, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2024.
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washington post logoWashington Post, Outgoing Dutch leader Mark Rutte looks set to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO chief, Emily Rauhala, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Known for his direct manner and pragmatic approach, Rutte was seen by allies as the right leader to potentially work with Trump should he be elected.

Mark Rutte, the longtime prime minister of the Netherlands, looks set to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general, after the last remaining candidate running against him withdrew from the race, paving the way for his selection by allies.

The change of leadership at NATO, which could be formally agreed on within days, comes at a delicate moment for the 32-member military alliance. Thanks in large part to Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO is bigger, stronger and more relevant than its been in ages, but a growing current of isolationism in some countries has raised questions about its future.

Consensus on Rutte’s candidacy comes just weeks before allies gather in Washington and as the alliance braces for the possible return of former president Donald Trump. In February, Trump said he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries and may consider leaving the 75-year-old military alliance.

 Former President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington (Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon).

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington (Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon). 

Politico, NATO hopes to Trump-proof the alliance with new chief Mark Rutte. It could backfire, Miles Herszenhorn, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). . NATO officials and U.S. diplomats say the alliance needs to be battle ready if Donald Trump wins back the presidency in November.

The Biden administration got its way when outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte secured the support of all 32 NATO allies for the alliance’s top political post.

Though the secretary general of NATO is often described as more of a secretary than a general, former NATO officials and U.S. diplomats said the alliance may need Rutte to be battle ready if Donald Trump wins back the presidency in November.

The question looming over next month’s NATO leaders’ summit — to be held in Washington from July 9 to 11 — is if Rutte will be up to the task.

Rutte, whose center-right politics in Europe would put him to the left of many mainstream Democrats, is known for his pragmatism, his skill for building coalitions and his staunch transatlantic views. But his low-key, common-sense approach might make him better suited to working with President Joe Biden than Trump, who at one point threatened to pull the U.S. out of the alliance, and who has repeatedly berated European allies over their meager defense spending.

“Having a superb coalition builder — which is what NATO is all about, getting the consensus for an organization — is good for NATO,” said Ivo Daalder, who served as U.S. ambassador to NATO during the Obama administration. “But no one person is going to be able to manage an alliance that is bound to be disrupted by a president who is not interested in either being managed himself or managing an alliance.”

Trump only had a few one-on-one in-person meetings with Rutte during his presidency, and several of his former diplomats in Europe said they couldn’t speak to the relationship between the two men. But when the two leaders did meet, Rutte’s no-nonsense approach to Trump made headlines.

"This is not about geography. It's about common sense," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS. | Susan Walsh/AP

Politico, US says Ukraine can hit inside Russia ‘anywhere’ its forces attack across the border, Lara Seligman, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. has told Ukraine it can use American-supplied weapons to hit any Russian forces attacking from across the border — not just those in the region near Kharkiv, according to U.S. officials.

The subtle shift in messaging — which officials insist is not a change in policy — comes just weeks after the U.S. quietly gave Kyiv the green light to strike inside Russia in response to a cross-border assault on the city of Kharkiv. At the time, U.S. officials stressed that the policy was limited to the Kharkiv region, among other restrictions.

Ukrainian forces have since used American weapons to strike into Russia at least once, destroying targets in the city of Belgorod, and managed to hold back the Russian assault. But Ukrainian and other European officials have pressed the U.S. to loosen its restrictions even further, allowing Ukraine to strike anywhere inside Russia.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS on Tuesday that the agreement with Ukraine about firing American weapons into Russia extends to “anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory.”

Russia has in recent days indicated it may soon move on the northeastern city of Sumy, which is also near the Russian border. If that happens, the policy would apply there as well, Sullivan said.

“This is not about geography. It’s about common sense. If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border,” Sullivan said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia sentences U.S. soldier to almost 4 years in penal colony, Adela Suliman and Natalia Abbakumova, June 19, 2024. Prosecutors accused U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black of stealing 10,000 rubles ($120) from his Russian girlfriend and threatening to kill her. He plans to appeal.

A Russian court sentenced an American soldier Wednesday to three years and nine months in a penal colony after finding him guilty of theft and threatening to kill his Russian girlfriend, state media reported.

Prosecutors said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, stole 10,000 rubles ($120) from his girlfriend Alexandra Vashchuk and grabbed her by the neck, which she considered a threat to her life, Interfax reported. The sentencing took place in at Vladivostok’s Pervomaisky District Court, in Russia’s far east.

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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:

 

Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Vladimir Putin Came to Asia to Disrupt, and He Succeeded, Damien Cave, June 23, 2024 (print ed.).  His embrace of North Korea and deal-making with Vietnam injected more potential threats into a region strained by tensions in Taiwan and the South China Sea.

russian flag wavingFour days in Asia. That’s all President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia needed to anger Washington, undermine Beijing and rattle a collection of Indo-Pacific nations already scrambling to cope with a jumbled world order.

After stops in Pyongyang and Hanoi this week that were draped in Communist red, Mr. Putin left behind a redrawn map of risk in Asia. North Korea sat at the center: a rogue nuclear state that regularly threatens its neighbors, suddenly empowered by Russian promises of sophisticated military aid and a mutual defense pact.

Mr. Putin also signed at least a dozen deals with Vietnam — a country of growing importance for both China and the United States as they vie for influence — where he insisted that “reliable security architecture” could not be built with “closed military-political blocs.”

The trip was both defiant and disruptive. It showed that the jockeying for power sometimes framed as a new Cold War between the United States and China is less binary than it might seem, and many countries in the region seemed to emerge from the week with a deeper sense of unease.

Mr. Putin’s presence and his threats, bold one minute, vague the next, have added even more complexity to their already difficult calculations around security and Great Power competition.

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin Threatens to Arm North Korea, Escalating Tension With West Over Ukraine, Paul Sonne, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). President Vladimir Putin issued the warning at the end of a trip to Asia, during which he signed a mutual defense pact with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directly warned the United States and its allies that he is willing to arm North Korea if they continue to supply Kyiv with sophisticated weapons that have struck Russian territory, raising the stakes for the Western powers backing Ukraine.

Mr. Putin made the threat in comments to reporters traveling with him late Thursday in Vietnam before he flew home to Russia after a trip there and to North Korea. He had made a similar, though significantly less overt, threat a day earlier in Pyongyang, where he revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pact with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. The pact requires each nation to provide military assistance to the other “with all means at its disposal” in the event of an attack.

Mr. Putin cast his threat to arm Pyongyang, in violation of United Nations sanctions, as a response to decisions by the United States and its allies in recent months to allow Ukraine to make certain strikes on Russian territory with their weapons. The White House made that decision last month, but maintained its prohibition on longer-range attacks deeper in the country with U.S. arms.

 


Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, left, welcoming President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Pyongyang early Wednesday, in an image released by the North’s state media (Photo by Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images).

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, left, welcoming President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Pyongyang early Wednesday, in an image released by the North’s state media (Photo by Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin and Kim Sign Pact Pledging Mutual Support Against ‘Aggression,’ Choe Sang-Hun and Paul Sonne, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A need for munitions to use against Ukraine is pushing Russia’s leader to deepen his ties with North Korea, raising alarms in the West. The text of the agreement was not immediately released.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pledge between their nations on Wednesday, signing a new agreement that calls for them to assist each other in the event of “aggression” against either country.

Russian FlagThe Russian president, in a briefing after the two leaders signed the document, did not clarify whether such assistance would require immediate and full-fledged military intervention in the event of an attack, as the now-defunct 1961 treaty specified. But he said that Russia “does not exclude the development of military-technical cooperation” with North Korea in accordance with the new agreement.

The pact was one of the most visible rewards Mr. Kim has extracted from Moscow in return for the dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 shipping containers of munitions that Washington has said North Korea has provided in recent months to help support Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine.

North Korean flagIt also represented the farthest the Kremlin has gone in throwing its weight behind North Korea, after years of cooperating with the United States at the United Nations in curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program — a change that accelerated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a truly breakthrough document, reflecting the desire of the two countries not to rest on their laurels, but to raise our relations to a new qualitative level,” Mr. Putin added. Neither North Korea nor Russia immediately released the text of the new agreement.

Mr. Putin denounced the United States for expanding military infrastructure in the region and holding drills with South Korea and Japan. He rejected what he called attempts to blame the deteriorating security situation on North Korea, which has carried out six nuclear test explosions since 2006 and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the United States.

ny times logoNew York Times, What weapons is North Korea accused of supplying to Russia? Lara Jakes, June 17, 2024. Moscow needs conventional arms like artillery shells and missiles that North Korea could provide to give it an edge in its war of attrition in Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine-Russia Peace Is as Elusive as Ever. But in 2022 They Were Talking, Anton Troianovski, Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). The warring nations held peace talks in the early weeks of the Russian invasion. They fizzled. Documents show why new negotiations will face major obstacles.

ukraine flagWith Russia and Ukraine locked in their third year of all-out war, there is no clear path to military victory for either side. Nor are there immediate prospects for a ceasefire and an eventual peace plan, with both sides sticking to irreconcilable positions.

Yet the issues that would need to be tackled in any future peace settlement are evident, and in fact were at the center of negotiations two years ago that explored peace terms in remarkable detail.

Documents reviewed by The New York Times shed light on the points of disagreement that would have to be overcome.

Russian FlagThe documents emerged from negotiating sessions that took place in the weeks after the start of the war, from February to April of 2022. It was the only time that Ukrainian and Russian officials are known to have engaged in direct peace talks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia-Ukraine War: Putin Makes Cease-Fire Offer With Sweeping Demands on Ukraine’s Territory, Ivan Nechepurenko, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). Ukraine denounced the offer, saying that Vladimir Putin was “afraid of real peace.” He made the remarks one day before a peace summit organized by Kyiv.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Stalled Russia Near the Border. This Town Has Paid the Price, Maria Varenikova, Photographs and Video by Finbarr O’Reilly, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). Faced with an assault from the northeast, Ukrainian forces made their stand in Vovchansk. The front line is still there, but little else is.

ukraine flagA month into Russia’s push across the border in northern Ukraine, Western weapons and Ukrainian reinforcements have largely stalled the attack. But they came too late to save one town, Vovchansk, where the city hall, a cultural center, countless apartment blocks and several riverside hotels are all now in ruins.

Russian FlagNew York Times, Biden Links Fight for Ukraine With Allied Effort on D-Day, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, June 7, 2024 (print ed.).  Speaking in Normandy, the president argued that similar principles were at stake in both wars: the defense of freedom and a rules-based international order.

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More On Global Elections, Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: In France, and the U.S., Immigration Moves to the Political Center, Roger Cohen, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). Feelings are hardening against immigrants in both countries. President Emmanuel Macron and President Biden are taking note.

At the heart of the rapid rise of the nationalist right, with its view of immigrants as a direct threat to the essence of France, there appears to lie a growing feeling among many French people that they are no longer at home in their own country.

That feeling, a vague but potent malaise, has many elements. They include a sense of dispossession, of neighborhoods transformed in dress and habits by the arrival of mainly Muslim immigrants from North Africa, and of lost identity in a fast-changing world. The National Rally, whose anti-immigrant position lies at the core of its fast-growing popularity, has benefited from all this.

“No French citizen would tolerate living in a house without doors or windows,” Jordan Bardella, the smooth-talking 28-year-old symbol of the National Rally’s advance to the brink of power, told France 3 TV this past week. “Well, it’s the same thing with a country.”

In other words, nations need effective borders that can be sealed tight.

This message, echoed by rising nationalist parties across Europe, and a central theme of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in the United States, has proved potent. In France, it propelled Marine Le Pen’s National Rally to victory over President Emmanuel Macron’s party in voting for the European Parliament this month.

So rattled was Mr. Macron by the defeat that he threw open the country’s political future with a risky bet. He called for legislative elections, the first round of which is June 30. France may have a nationalist far-right government with Mr. Bardella as prime minister before the Olympic Games begin in Paris on July 26.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Man Softening the Ground for an Extremist Germany, Erika Solomon, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). A leader of the Alternative for Germany party has done more than take the far right into the mainstream. He is tilting the mainstream toward the far right.

From the small stage of a pub in a wooded town of eastern Germany, the right-wing ideologue Björn Höcke regaled a crowd of followers late last year with the tale of his imminent trial. He faced charges for saying “Everything for Germany” at a political rally — breaking German laws against uttering Nazi slogans.

Despite that approaching court date, he looked down at the crowd, and gestured to them with an impish grin. “Everything for?” he asked.

“Germany!” they shouted.

After a decade of testing the boundaries of political speech in Germany, Mr. Höcke, a leader of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, no longer needed to push the limits himself. The crowd did it for him.

That moment crystallizes why, to his critics, Mr. Höcke is not simply a challenge to the political order, but a threat to German democracy itself.

For years, Mr. Höcke has methodically chipped away at the prohibitions Germany has imposed on itself to prevent being taken over by extremists again. It takes a tougher stance on free speech than many Western democracies, a consequence of the bitter lessons of the 1930s, when the Nazis used democratic elections to seize the levers of power.

 

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, is shown above.

 United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, is shown above.

Politico, Sunak, Starmer slam Farage claim that EU, NATO ‘provoked’ invasion of Ukraine, Leonie Cater, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). “We have provoked this war,” the Reform UK leader said Friday evening.

politico CustomBritish Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer blasted comments made by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, below right, claiming the EU and NATO “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expanding eastwards.

nigel farage twitter“What he said is completely wrong and only plays into [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] hands,” Sunak told reporters on Saturday. “This kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

Sunak added that Putin was behind the release of nerve agents on the “streets of Britain.”

keir starmer w 2017Starmer, left, told reporters Farage’s comments were “disgraceful,” adding that Russia alone is responsible for the invasion of Ukraine.

United Kingdom flag“Anyone who is standing for parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, and that we stand with Ukraine, as we have done from the beginning of this conflict,” he said. “Parliament has spoken with one voice on this since the beginning of the conflict.”

Farage made the comments in an interview with BBC’s Panorama on Friday evening in the run-up to the July 4 U.K. general elections. On the program, Farage was challenged on a social media post he sent as Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine back in early 2022, which said the conflict “was a consequence of EU and NATO expansion.”

Asked whether he stood by those views Friday, Farage said he had been warning for decades about the increasing scope of both the military alliance and the EU.

“We have provoked this war,” Farage said. “Of course, it’s his [Putin’s] fault. He’s used what we’ve done.”

His comments have sparked a wave of criticism aside from Sunak and Starmer, including from Labour defense spokesman John Healey, who said the comments “reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.”

Former Conservative Defense Secretary Ben Wallace likened him to a “pub bore we’ve all met at the end of the bar,” in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

ny times logoNew York Times, Slur by Pope Francis Lays Bare the Church’s Contradictions on Homosexuality, Emma Bubola and Elisabetta Povoledo, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The pope used homophobic slang and cautioned prelates about admitting gay men into seminaries. But ordination has also long been a refuge for gay Catholic men.

When reports spread that Pope Francis had used an offensive anti-gay slur while speaking to Italian bishops at a conference last month, many Catholics were both shocked and baffled. How could a pope known for his openness to and acceptance of L.G.B.T.Q. people use homophobic slang and caution prelates about admitting gay men into seminaries?

But the question, and the apparent inconsistency in Francis’ messaging, reflect the deep contradictions and tensions that underlie the Roman Catholic Church’s and Francis’ relationship to homosexuality.

The church holds that “homosexual tendencies” are “intrinsically disordered.” When it comes to ordination, the church’s guidelines state that people with “deep-seated” gay tendencies should not become priests.

Yet ordination has also long been a refuge of sorts for homosexual Catholic men, according to researchers and priests, who say that at least thousands of clergymen are gay, though only a few are public about their sexual orientation because of the stigma it still carries in the church.

mexico flag1

ny times logoNew York Times, Claudia Sheinbaum’s U.S. Experience Offers Clues to Her Approach to Relations, Natalie Kitroeff, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The next Mexican president’s years of living in California provide insight into how she will handle key issues in Mexico-Washington ties.

In the early 1990s, a young scientist named Claudia Sheinbaum, left, moved with her family from Mexico City to Northern California, where she claudia sheinbaum w 2024studied at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

She lived in housing provided by Stanford University with her two small children and her husband, who was pursuing a Ph.D. there. For four years, Ms. Sheinbaum immersed herself in a new life as an immigrant academic in the United States.

She audited a class taught by a future Mexican foreign minister. She landed on the front page of The Stanford Daily student newspaper for protesting the North American Free Trade Agreement. She found friends who missed Mexico as much as she did. And to people who knew her, she seemed entirely at ease in California, navigating the world of American academia.

“They could have been professors, they could have made their lives here,” said Alma González, a close friend of Ms. Sheinbaum’s in California. “But they decided to return.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Hundreds of Muslim Pilgrims Die in Mecca Heat Wave; Death Toll Expected to Rise, Emad Mekay and Lynsey Chutel, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). At least 450 died during the hajj pilgrimage, one of the most important events of the Muslim calendar. Heat appeared to at least contribute to many of the deaths.

During the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, one of the most important events on the Muslim calendar, at least 450 people died under a scorching sun as they prayed at sacred sites around the holy city of Mecca.

Amid maximum temperatures that ranged from 108 Fahrenheit to 120, according to preliminary data, and throngs of people, many passed out and needed medical care. The pilgrims, some who have saved their whole lives for the hajj, spend days walking and sleeping in tents during their journey to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims. The hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars, and all Muslims who are physically and financially able are obliged to embark on the pilgrimage.

Indonesia has so far reported the most deaths, 199, and India has reported 98. The countries said at this point that they could not be sure that heat was the cause of all the deaths, though, relatives of the missing and dead and tour operators have said the heat was at least a contributing factor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran signals a major boost in nuclear enrichment at key site, Joby Warrick, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). Hundreds of new centrifuges would triple Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity at a deeply buried underground nuclear facility.

A major expansion underway inside Iran’s most heavily protected nuclear facility could soon triple the site’s production of enriched uranium and give Tehran new options for quickly assembling a nuclear arsenal if it chooses to, according to confidential documents and analysis by weapons experts.

iran flag mapInspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed new construction activity inside the Fordow enrichment plant, just days after Tehran formally notified the nuclear watchdog of plans for a substantial upgrade at the underground facility built inside a mountain in north-central Iran.

Iran also disclosed plans for expanding production at its main enrichment plant near the city of Natanz. Both moves are certain to escalate tensions with Western governments and spur fears that Tehran is moving briskly toward becoming a threshold nuclear power, capable of making nuclear bombs rapidly if its leaders decide to do so.

Iran already possesses a stockpile of about 300 pounds of highly enriched uranium that could be further refined into weapons-grade fuel for nuclear bombs within weeks, or perhaps days, U.S. intelligence officials say. Iran also is believed to have accumulated most of the technical know-how for a simple nuclear device, although it would probably take another two years to build a nuclear warhead that could be fitted onto a missile, according to intelligence officials and weapons experts.

 

sudan sudanese flag on the map of africa

ny times logoNew York Times, A Massacre Threatens Darfur, Again, Lauren Leatherby, Declan Walsh, Sanjana Varghese and Christoph Koettl, June 19, 2024 (interactive. Darfur, the region of Sudan once synonymous with genocide, may be on the brink of a new chapter of horror.

A civil war is ripping apart Sudan, one of Africa’s largest countries.

Tens of thousands have been killed, millions scattered and an enormous famine looms, setting off one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.

sudan flagpngThe city of El Fasher, home to 1.8 million people, is now at the center of global alarm. If it falls, officials warn, there may be little to stop a massacre.

Fighters battling Sudan’s military for control of the country have encircled the city. Gunfights rage. Hospitals have closed. Residents are running out of food.

The advancing fighters are known as the Rapid Support Forces — the successors to the notorious Janjaweed militias that slaughtered ethnic African tribes in Darfur in the 2000s. Last week, the U.N. Security Council demanded that they “halt the siege” of the city.

Yet a New York Times examination of satellite imagery and video from El Fasher make one thing clear: The assault is intensifying.

ny times logoNew York Times, French Election Becomes ‘Nightmare’ for Nation’s Jews, Roger Cohen, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl is inflaming an already tense and divisive situation.

The alleged rape last weekend of a 12-year-old Jewish girl by boys who hurled antisemitic abuse at her has ignited simmering tensions in France over attitudes toward the largest Jewish community in Western Europe.

President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist whose decision to call snap elections this month shocked even his closest allies, responded by denouncing the “scourge of antisemitism” in French schools. The prime minister, Gabriel Attal, urged politicians to “refuse the banalization” of hatred toward Jews, a thinly veiled attack on Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the ardently pro-Palestinian leader of the left who on June 2 called antisemitism in France “residual.”

There were more than 360 antisemitic episodes in France in the first three months of this year, or an average of four a day, an increase of 300 percent over the same period last year, the government said. In the most recent one that shocked the country, the three boys are said to have dragged the girl into an abandoned building where she was repeatedly raped and insulted.

The three boys, ages 12 and 13, one of them previously known to the girl, are being investigated for rape, death threats and insults “aggravated by their link to the victim’s religion,” a prosecutor’s statement on Wednesday said. Two of them have been placed in pretrial detention, it added.

The place of Jews in French society has emerged as a prominent theme in the election because the once-antisemitic National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, whose anti-immigrant position lies at the core of its fast-growing popularity, has been one of the most emphatic supporters of Israel and French Jews since the Hamas-led terrorist attack of Oct. 7 on Israel.

Mr. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed, by contrast, has been vehement in its denunciation of Israel’s military operation in Gaza as “genocide.”

This denunciation has often appeared to stray into outright antisemitism, as when Mr. Mélenchon accused Yaël Braun-Pivet, the Jewish president of the National Assembly, of “camping out in Tel Aviv to encourage the massacre,” and described Élisabeth Borne, the former French prime minister and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, as expressing “a foreign point of view.”

Mr. Mélenchon said on Wednesday he was “horrified by this rape in Courbevoie,” the northwestern Paris suburb where the prosecutor said it took place.

The confrontation of an abruptly pro-Israeli National Rally, whose antisemitic founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, described the Holocaust as “a detail” of history, with a far left that Mr. Macron described last week as “guilty of antisemitism” has confronted French Jews and others with an agonizing choice.

Can they really bring themselves to vote for Ms. Le Pen’s party, given its history of antisemitism and its xenophobic determination to seek a ban on the public use of the Muslim head scarf if elected, out of loathing for Mr. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed?

In many constituencies, the standoff in the second round of voting on July 7 will most likely be between the two extreme parties. A lot of previously centrist voters are tired of Mr. Macron and do not want to vote for him again.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.K. Election Winner’s First Problem: Fix a Stagnant Economy, Eshe Nelson, June 20, 2024 (print ed.).After more than a decade of deep budget cuts, slow growth and weak productivity, Britain has struggled to overcome years of uncertainty and underinvestment.

“Our economy has truly turned a corner,” Rishi Sunak, Britain’s prime minister, said last week as he introduced his party’s election manifesto, buoyed by recent data showing that Britain’s economy had exited from a recession more strongly than expected in the beginning of the year and that inflation had slowed substantially.

Justifying the optimism, data released on Wednesday showed that consumer prices rose 2 percent in May from a year earlier, touching the Bank of England’s target for the first time since 2021. That was also way down from 11.1 percent in October 2022, when Mr. Sunak started his premiership.

Many economists argue that it will take more than a few good economic indicators to change Britain’s economic path after more than a decade of slow economic growth, chronically weak productivity, high taxes and struggling public services, with a notably underfunded and overstretched National Health Service.

Polls suggest there is a desire to eject the governing Conservative Party from Downing Street, after 14 years, in next month’s general election. But lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party have already warned that — should they win — they will inherit a hobbled economy with little room for bold changes.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. calls for end to siege of Darfur city amid Sudan civil war, Katharine Houreld and Paul Schemm, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. envoy to the U.N. has called Sudan the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than half of the country’s population needing assistance.

The United Nations Security Council passed a near-unanimous resolution demanding the end of a siege of western Sudan’s El Fashir city to avert a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn nation.

The British-sponsored resolution, which passed with 14 nations in support and Russia abstaining, calls for a cease-fire as well as “rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need.”

For more than a year, Sudan has been engulfed in a civil war between the military dictatorship and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful militia that has seized huge swaths of the country.

El Fashir, in the vast, arid Darfur region of the country, is the final regional capital still in government hands, and it has been under siege for the past month. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have sheltered there, fleeing RSF advances elsewhere in the country.

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World leaders at this year’s G7 meeting, in Savelletri, Italy on June 13, 2024 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

World leaders at this year’s G7 meeting, in Savelletri, Italy on June 13, 2024 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

 

U.S. Supreme Court Rulings, Scandals, Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court upholds gun ban for domestic-violence restraining orders, Ann E. Marimow, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). The law was among many imperiled by the 2022 Supreme Court decision requiring historical precedent for gun restrictions.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal law that prevents people who are subject to domestic-violence restraining orders from having firearms in its first major Second Amendment decision since a 2022 ruling that expanded gun rights.

The court said the Constitution permits laws that strip guns from those deemed dangerous, one of a number of firearms restrictions that have been imperiled since the conservative majority bolstered gun rights in its decision two years ago known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

In an 8-1 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that “an individual found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment.”

Bruen required the government to point to historic analogues when defending laws that place limits on firearms, leading to a spate of court challenges against limits on possessing firearms — including the one in this case, United States v. Rahimi.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the Bruen decision, was the lone dissenter on Friday, writing that “not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland praised the court’s decision, saying the law “protects victims” by keeping guns out of the hands of people who threaten them.

“As the Justice Department argued, and as the Court reaffirmed today, that commonsense prohibition is entirely consistent with the Court’s precedent and the text and history of the Second Amendment,” Garland said in a statement.

The challenge to the law was brought by Zackey Rahimi, a drug dealer who was placed under a restraining order after a 2019 argument with his girlfriend. He argued that the government had violated his Second Amendment rights by blocking him from possessing guns.

Politico, Supreme Court rejects bid to preempt wealth tax, Brian Faler, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The case was being closely watched for its overall impact on large swaths of tax law.

politico CustomThe Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative-backed bid to preemptively block Congress from ever adopting a wealth tax.

The justices voted 7-2 to turn aside a complaint from a Washington state couple that a special tax Republicans created in 2017 on irs logobusinesses’ overseas profits amounted to a federal property tax, something that’s restricted by the Constitution.

Charles and Kathleen Moore had hoped their challenge would in turn slam the legal door on any possibility of lawmakers creating a wealth tax, a levy on assets that has become increasingly popular in recent years among progressives.

But the court rejected the premise of the Moores’ lawsuit, ruling the so-called repatriation tax imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a levy on income, not property.

If the plaintiffs had won, the IRS would have also likely had to return hundreds of billions of dollars that companies have already paid under the repatriation levy plus interest.

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden lambasted the Supreme Court. Now he should support court reform, Jennifer Rubin, June jennifer rubin new headshot20, 2024. He should make court reform a key campaign issue. The court is broken, unpopular and in dire need of reform. Biden knows it and should make court reform a key campaign issue.

The White House has been mum on ethics reform, leaving the issue to Senate Democrats, who inexplicably have yet to bring the Supreme Court ethics bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee passed last year to the floor for a full vote. There is no reason Biden should not publicly push for the bill.

Moreover, to the dismay of court reform advocates, Biden has never embraced any further structural reform. During the 2020 campaign, he resisted calls for term limits or court expansion. Once elected, he appointed an all-star, bipartisan commission to study court reform. It published an impressive report, but Biden took no action.

The commission also considered the more controversial proposal to expand the size of the court (perhaps to 13, matching the number of circuits), with the new appointments spread over multiple presidential terms. There is no magic to the current number of nine, which has not always been in place. The size is tiny compared with courts in other Western democracies. Nevertheless, opponents of expansion expressed fear of reaching an unwieldy number of justices and a vague sense that we should not end “an enduring bipartisan norm against Court packing.” (The bipartisan norm against ripping up decades of precedent seems to have gone by the wayside.)

 

djt indicted proof

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Something’s Rotten About the Justices Taking So Long on Trump’s Immunity Case, Leah Litman (a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, a host of the “Strict Scrutiny” podcast and a former clerk to the Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy), June 20, 2024 (print ed.).

For those looking for the hidden hand of politics in what the Supreme Court does, there’s plenty of reason for suspicion on Donald Trump’s as-yet-undecided immunity case given its urgency. There are, of course, explanations that have nothing to do with politics for why a ruling still hasn’t been issued. But the reasons to think something is rotten at the court are impossible to ignore.

supreme court graphicOn Feb. 28, the justices agreed to hear Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to subvert the 2020 election. The court scheduled oral arguments in the case for the end of April. That eight-week interval is much quicker than the ordinary Supreme Court briefing process, which usually extends for at least 10 weeks. But it’s considerably more drawn out than the schedule the court established earlier this year on a challenge from Colorado after that state took Mr. Trump off its presidential primary ballot. The court agreed to hear arguments on the case a mere month after accepting it and issued its decision less than a month after the argument. Mr. Trump prevailed, 9-0.

Nearly two months have passed since the justices heard lawyers for the former president and for the special counsel’s office argue the immunity case. The court is dominated by conservatives nominated by Republican presidents. Every passing day further delays a potential trial on charges related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election and his role in the events that led to the storming of the Capitol; indeed, at this point, even if the court rules that Mr. Trump has limited or no immunity, it is unlikely a verdict will be delivered before the election.

MSNBC, Commentary: Donald Trump is proposing the ‘worst economic policy in U.S. history,’ Lawrence O’Donnell, June 19, 2024. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains why Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the tax code and replace it with tariffs is, as Henry Ford would say, “an economic stupidity.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Major Decisions Still Before the Supreme Court, Adam Liptak, Abbie VanSickle and Alicia Parlapiano, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). As the Supreme Court enters the final weeks of its term, it is poised to issue a series of blockbuster decisions. Some could be released today.

As the Supreme Court enters the final weeks of its term, it is poised to issue a series of blockbuster decisions, including ones on federal criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump, abortion rights and the Second Amendment.

No Supreme Court term in recent memory has featured so many cases with the potential to transform American society.

  • Bump Stocks for Guns 6-3 ruling
  • Abortion Pills 9-0 ruling
  • N.R.A. and the First Amendment 9-0 ruling
  • Racial Gerrymandering 6-3 ruling
  • Agency Funding 7-2 ruling
  • Trump’s Ballot Eligibility 9-0 ruling
  • Immunity for Former Presidents
  • Jan. 6 Obstruction Charges
  • Emergency Abortion Care
  • Gun Rights
  • Restrictions on the Homeless
  • Rights of Social Media Platforms
  • Disinformation on Social Media
  • Opioids Settlement
  • Power of Federal Agencies
  • Administrative Courts
  • Cross-State Air Pollution

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court’s leisurely pace so far will produce a pileup of late June rulings, Adam Liptak, Updated June 19, 2024. Even as the size of its docket has shrunk, the court has deferred a larger share of its decisions to the very end of its term.

The Supreme Court has been moving at a sluggish pace in issuing decisions this term, entering the second half of June with more than 20 left to go. That is not terribly different from the last two terms, when the pace at which the court issued decisions started to slow.

Over the almost two decades in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has led the court, it has on average decided 72 percent of argued cases by this point in the term, according to data compiled by Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at the University of Southern California. The corresponding number for the previous court, led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1986 to 2005, was 78 percent.

But in the last three terms, the court has decided no more than 62 percent of the term’s cases by June 14.

SCOTUSblog, Supreme Court allows ex-council member’s retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward, Amy Howe, June 20, 2024. Supreme Court allows ex-council member’s retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward

The court handed a win to a former-city council member in Texas on Thursday, clearing the way for her federal civil rights claim to move forward. Sylvia Gonzalez contends that her 2019 arrest on charges that she had tampered with government records came in retaliation for her criticism of the city manager in Castle Hills, Tex. In a brief unsigned opinion, the justices reinstated Gonzalez’s claim after a federal appeals court had thrown it out, holding that the lower court had applied an “overly cramped” reading of its caselaw.

Gonzalez, who is 76 years old and the first Hispanic woman elected to the city council in Castle Hills, was charged in 2019 with violating a state law that makes it a crime to intentionally tamper with government records after she placed a petition that she had initiated, criticizing the city manager, in her binder. Gonzalez says that she accidentally picked up the petition after a long meeting. She spent the day in jail and eventually left the council.

The district attorney did not pursue the charges against Gonzalez. But Gonzalez went to federal court in 2020, where she argued that the charges stemmed from the desire of three city officials – the city’s mayor, its police chief, and a detective – to retaliate against her because she had criticized the city’s manager.

Gonzalez’s complaint noted that she was the only person charged in the past 10 years under the state’s government records law for temporarily misplacing government documents. Almost all of the 215 felony indictments under that law, she observed, involved the use or creation of fake government IDs.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether this kind of evidence was enough to allow Gonzalez’s retaliatory arrest claim to go forward. Under the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Nieves v. Bartlett, a plaintiff can generally only bring a federal civil rights claim alleging that she was arrested in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights if she can show that police officers did not have probable cause to arrest her. At the same time, the court also carved out an exemption for plaintiffs who can show that others who were not engaged in the same kind of protected speech were not arrested.

SCOTUSblog, Nine new relists as the court approaches the finish line, John Elwood, June 20, 2024. The Relist Watch column examines cert petitions that the Supreme Court has “relisted” for its upcoming conference. A short explanation of relists is available here.

With just a few weeks left before the Supreme Court’s summer recess, and with only the October and November argument sittings filled, the court has switched into high gear. It granted five of last week’s six new relists on Monday.

The pace is only increasing. There are nine newly relisted cases this week, so I’m going to be even more summary than last time in describing them.

 

 Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Reactions To Hunter Biden Conviction, Probes

 


President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says he will not pardon Hunter or commute his sentence, Matt Viser and Tyler Pager, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). The president, speaking to reporters in Italy, reiterates his support for his son.

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First lady Jill Biden arrives at the Wilmington federal courthouse on June 3 for the first day of Hunter Biden's criminal trial (Photo by Ryan Collerd of AFP via Getty Images).

First lady Jill Biden arrives at the Wilmington federal courthouse on June 3 for the first day of Hunter Biden's criminal trial (Photo by Ryan Collerd of AFP via Getty Images).

 

More On U.S. Schools, Politics, Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Failed Children on Safety, Natasha Singer, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The chief executive and his team drove efforts to capture young users and misled the public about the risks, lawsuits by state attorneys general say.

In April 2019, David Ginsberg, a Meta executive, emailed his boss, Mark Zuckerberg, right, with a proposal to research and reduce loneliness mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wand compulsive use on Instagram and Facebook.

In the email, Mr. Ginsberg noted that the company faced scrutiny for its products’ impacts “especially around areas of meta logoproblematic use/addiction and teens.” He asked Mr. Zuckerberg for 24 engineers, researchers and other staff, saying Instagram had a “deficit” on such issues.

A week later, Susan Li, now the company’s chief financial officer, informed Mr. Ginsberg that the project was “not funded” because of staffing constraints. Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, ultimately declined to finance the project, too.

The email exchanges are just one slice of evidence cited among more than a dozen lawsuits filed since last year by the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia. The states accuse Meta of unfairly ensnaring teenagers and children on Instagram and Facebook while deceiving the public about the hazards. Using a coordinated legal approach reminiscent of the government’s pursuit of Big Tobacco in the 1990s, the attorneys general seek to compel Meta to bolster protections for minors.U.S. House logo

ny times logoNew York Times, These Grieving Parents Want Congress to Protect Children Online, Cecilia Kang, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A group is using the Mothers Against Drunk Driving playbook, sharing personal tragedies, to lobby for the Kids Online Safety Act.

Deb Schmill has become a fixture on Capitol Hill. Last week alone, she visited the offices of 13 lawmakers, one of more than a dozen trips she has made from her home near Boston over the past two years.

meta logoIn each meeting, Ms. Schmill talks about her daughter Becca, who died in 2020 at age 18. Ms. Schmill said Becca had died after taking fentanyl-laced drugs bought on Facebook. Before that, she said, her daughter was raped by a boy she had met online, then was cyberbullied on Snapchat.

ny times logoNew York Times, 3 Columbia Deans Are Placed on Leave Over Conduct at Antisemitism Panel, Hurubie Meko June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Leaked images showed the trio sharing disparaging text messages during an alumni group discussion last month about Jewish life on campus.

columbia logoColumbia University placed three administrators on leave this week, a university spokesman said on Saturday. The moves came a little more than a week after images emerged showing the school officials sharing disparaging text messages during a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus.

The panel, which focused on Jewish life on campus amid tensions over Israel’s war in Gaza, occurred during a Columbia College reunion on May 31.

The spokesman did not identify which officials were placed on leave, but The Washington Free Beacon, the website that first published the images, reported that they were Susan Chang-Kim, the vice dean and chief administrative officer; Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life; and Matthew Patashnick, the associate dean for student and family support.

The Free Beacon, a conservative news site, said it had obtained the images from a person who sat behind Ms. Chang-Kim at the event and took photos of her phone screen as she texted with the other administrators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump has a plan to give green cards to military-age males from China, Philip Bump, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). More than a quarter of foreign college students come from the country Trump loves to pillory.

China FlagMore recently, he has suggested that an increase in people seeking to immigrate from China is a sign that the Chinese government is building an army (small and poorly equipped) within the United States — an easier admission than that the strong economy continues to be a draw for immigrants.

And yet, in a podcast discussion on Thursday, Trump also proposed granting permanent residency to tens of thousands of military-age men from China.

Though he might not have known it.

Generally, Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration tends toward the hyperbolic and alarmist. Like many in his party, for example, he has taken to referring to those seeking to come to the United States as “military-aged males,” a pejorative ignoring that “military-aged” is also “prime working age” and overlooking the large percentage of immigrants who are women, children or men traveling with their families.

ny times logoNew York Times, Louisiana Requires All Public Classrooms to Display Ten Commandments, Rick Rojas, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A law signed by Gov. Jeff Landry on Wednesday makes the state the only one with such a mandate. Critics have vowed to mount a constitutional challenge.

jeff landry oGov. Jeff Landry, right, signed legislation on Wednesday requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in every public classroom in Louisiana, making the state the only one with such a mandate and reigniting the debate over how porous the boundary between church and state should be.

Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, vowed a legal fight against the law they deemed “blatantly unconstitutional.” But it is a battle that proponents are prepared, and in many ways, eager, to take on.

“I can’t wait to be sued,” Mr. Landry said on Saturday at a Republican fund-raiser in Nashville, according to The Tennessean. And on Wednesday, as he signed the measure, he argued that the Ten Commandments contained valuable lessons for students.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Head of One of New York’s Most Elite Schools Quit, Katherine Rosman, June 10, 2024. The leader of Collegiate School in Manhattan stepped down after an internal report found “problems of religious and cultural bias.”

The leader of one of New York’s most elite schools has stepped down after a damning internal audit found “disquieting problems of religious and cultural bias” at the school.

David Lourie, who became the leader of the all-boys Collegiate School in Manhattan just four years ago, announced on Monday that he and the board had agreed he would leave his post as head of school. “After four years filled with shared successes alongside challenges that required difficult and at times divisive decisions, we agreed that a new Head of School is what is best for the boys and the school community,” Mr. Lourie said in an email to the school community.

The Collegiate report, issued in May and reviewed by The New York Times, was commissioned by the school to investigate parents’ concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia. Nearly two weeks later, a gender discrimination lawsuit was filed against Collegiate and Mr. Lourie by one of the school’s deans, who claimed that Mr. Lourie had referred to the report as “a joke” and a “power play by Jewish families.”

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Law

 

Tree of Life Synagogue In Pittsburgh (Washington Post photo by Salwan Georges).

Tree of Life Synagogue In Pittsburgh (Washington Post photo by Salwan Georges).

ny times logoNew York Times, Tree of Life Synagogue to Break Ground on New Sanctuary, and New Mission, Campbell Robertson, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A museum on the history of antisemitism will be part of the new building, alongside a memorial to the 11 worshipers killed in the 2018 attack in Pittsburgh.

Israel FlagOn Sunday, members of the Tree of Life congregation will gather to break ground for a memorial and a new Tree of Life building. The airy, angular structure, designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind, will house a sanctuary for the Tree of Life congregation — one of three congregations that were meeting at the synagogue at the time of the shooting — an education center dedicated to combating bigotry and a museum chronicling the long history of antisemitism in America.

It is a story that has gotten more complicated to tell since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the war that has followed.

“It makes our job harder, and I’m sure we’re going to have to wade into some fairly difficult waters,” said Michael Bernstein, the chair of the Tree of Life board of directors. But “that is the point of what we have to do,” he added, “to allow people to engage in this much more deeply.”

The museum will be the first in the United States dedicated exclusively to the history of antisemitism in America, from the colonial days through the hard-line anti-immigrant politics of the mid-20th century to the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, and beyond. The museum will show how the mass shooting at Tree of Life was an especially dark day, but nonetheless part of an old affliction in America.

The motive for that violence was indeed clear, explained by the killer in hate-filled rants on social media. Pittsburghers of many different faiths rallied to support the survivors and denounce the antisemitism behind the attack. The phrase “stronger than hate” quickly became a mantra for the whole city.

Those in synagogue leadership, as well as some of the academic advisers who have been brought on to help shape the museum, said the new institution was not envisioned as a place that would deliver definitive answers on heated public questions. The museum will provide historical context, and the education center will be a place where difficult questions can be debated and discussed.

She and other officials pointed out that focusing only on issues in the most recent headlines would miss other, dangerous expressions of antisemitism in the country festering outside of public view. There was, after all, a long history behind the hatred harbored by the Tree of Life gunman, who was convicted last summer and sentenced to death. But in 2018, no one realized the threat he posed to the synagogue and the deeply rooted Jewish community around it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Grocery Store Shooting That Killed 4 Leaves an Arkansas Town in Disbelief, Erica Sweeney and David W. Chen June 23, 2024. The  small town of Fordyce, Ark., was beginning to absorb the impact of the bloodshed, as a few details began to emerge.

All told, the police said that the gunman killed four people and injured nine after he opened fire at the Mad Butcher grocery store. On Saturday, this town of 3,400 people, about 70 miles south of Little Rock, was only beginning to absorb the impact of the bloodshed, as a few details began to emerge, including a fourth victim who died in the evening.

Among those hurt were two law enforcement officers with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Arkansas State Police, along with the suspect, Travis Eugene Posey, 44, of New Edinburg, a community about 10 miles southeast of Fordyce. The police said late Saturday that four people remain hospitalized, including one in critical condition at a hospital in Little Rock.

The police had announced late Friday that Mr. Posey would be charged with three counts of capital murder. That number increased to four with the news of the latest victim late Saturday, and additional charges are pending. An inmate registry for Ouachita County, which adjoins Dallas County, where the shooting took place, showed that Mr. Posey was being held there on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Authorities have not released any details on a possible motive behind the shooting, which appears to have occurred both inside the store and in the parking lot.

 

anderson aldrich mug

washington post logoWashington Post, Club Q gunman sentenced to 55 life sentences in Colorado mass killing, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). The federal sentences, which include no chance of parole, further ensure that Anderson Lee Aldrich will never leave prison.

The shooter who killed five people and wounded 19 others during a midnight rampage at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs in 2022 was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 55 concurrent life sentences in addition to a 190-year sentence with no possibility of parole.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, pleaded guilty to 74 federal counts, including 50 federal hate crimes and other gun crimes, arising from the tragedy at Club Q. The plea was part of a deal with prosecutors to ensure that the death penalty would not be imposed.

The courtroom in Denver was filled with victims’ friends and family as U.S. District Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney, the first openly gay federal judge in Colorado, decided whether to accept it. She waited until she had heard from anyone who wanted to speak, telling those attending the hearing that they could take as long as they needed and “we can go till tomorrow if you want.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 defendant’s attorney posts video of sleeping D.C. jail guard, Spencer S. Hsu, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The detention facility launched an investigation after video recorded on a jail-issued laptop was posted on social media by Joseph McBride, an attorney with a penchant for notoriety.

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Space, Transportation

 

climate change photo

 

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Over 1,300 pilgrims died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, officials say, Staff Report, June 23, 2024. More than 1,300 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as the faithful faced extreme high temperatures at Islamic holy sites in the desert kingdom, officials said Sunday.

More than half of the fatalities were people from Egypt, according to two officials in Cairo. Egypt revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies politico Customthat helped unauthorized pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, authorities said.

Saudi Arabia has not commented on the deaths during the pilgrimage, which is required of every able Muslim once in their life.

The Egyptian government announced the death of 31 authorized pilgrims due to chronic diseases during this year’s Hajj, but didn’t offer an official tally for other pilgrims.

However, a Cabinet official said that at least 630 other Egyptians died during the pilgrimage, with most reported at the Emergency Complex in Mecca’s Al-Muaisem neighborhood. Confirming the tally, an Egyptian diplomat said most of the dead have been buried in Saudi Arabia.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

Saudi authorities cracked down on unauthorized pilgrims, expelling tens of thousands of people. But many, mostly Egyptians, managed to reach holy sites in and around Mecca, some on foot. Unlike authorized pilgrims, they had no hotels to escape from the scorching heat.

In its statement, the government said the 16 travel agencies failed to provide adequate services for pilgrims. It said these agencies illegally facilitated the travel of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia using visas that don’t allow holders to travel to Mecca.

The government also said officials from the companies have been referred to the public prosecutor for investigations.

The fatalities also included 165 pilgrims from Indonesia, 98 from India and dozens more from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Malaysia, according to an Associated Press tally. Two U.S. pilgrims were also reported dead.

The AP could not independently confirm the causes of death, but some countries like Jordan and Tunisia blamed the soaring heat.

Associated Press journalists saw pilgrims fainting from the scorching heat during the Hajj, especially on the second and third days. Some vomited and collapsed.

Deaths are not uncommon at the Hajj, which has seen at times over 2 million people travel to Saudi Arabia for a five-day pilgrimage. The pilgrimage’s history has also seen deadly stampedes and epidemics.

But this year’s tally was unusually high, suggesting exceptional circumstances.

A 2015 stampede in Mina during the Hajj killed over 2,400 pilgrims, the deadliest incident ever to strike the pilgrimage, according to an AP count. Saudi Arabia has never acknowledged the full toll of the stampede. A separate crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque earlier the same year killed 111.

The second-deadliest incident at the Hajj was a 1990 stampede that killed 1,426 people.

ny times logoNew York Times, Heat Wave Enters 7th Day, but the End Is in Sight, Kate Selig, June 24, 2024 (print ed.). The unusually early heat wave that has gripped much of the United States may let up early this week, forecasters predict.

The end of the unusually early heat wave that gripped much of the United States over the past seven days is in sight.

But first, the country will need to endure another day, possibly two, of scorching hot temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic States and along the I-95 urban corridor on the East Coast.

washington post logoWashington Post, Power Grab: AI is exhausting the power grid. Tech firms are seeking a miracle solution, Evan Halper and Caroline O'Donovan, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). As power needs of AI push emissions up and put big tech in a bind, companies put their faith in elusive — some say improbable — technologies.

As the tech giants compete in a global AI arms race, a frenzy of data center construction is sweeping the country. Some computing campuses require as much energy as a modest-sized city, turning tech firms that promised to lead the way into a clean energy future into some of the world’s most insatiable guzzlers of power. Their projected energy needs are so huge, some worry whether there will be enough electricity to meet them from any source.

Data centers, the nondescript warehouses packed with racks of servers that power the modern internet, have been around for decades. But the amount of electricity they need now is soaring because of AI. Training artificial intelligence models and using AI to execute even simple tasks involves ever more complicated, faster and voluminous computations that are straining the electricity system.

A ChatGPT-powered search on Google, according to the International Energy Agency, consumes almost 10 times the amount of electricity as a traditional search. One large data center complex in Iowa owned by Meta burns the annual equivalent amount of power as 7 million laptops running eight hours every day, based on data shared publicly by the company.

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U.S. Immigration News

Politico, Trump floats UFC-style migrant league amid border crisis, Arek Sarkissian, June 22, 2024. At the Faith & Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C., Trump called migrants “tough people” who could beat the country’s best fighters.

politico CustomFormer President Donald Trump suggested in two speeches Saturday that migrants coming to the U.S. should have their own fighting league, remarking that they’re “nasty, mean” and “tough people” who could beat the country’s top fighters.

Speaking first to a crowd of conservative Christians at a Faith & Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C., Trump said he shared the idea with Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“I said, ‘Dana I have an idea. Why don’t you set up a migrant league of fighters and have your regular league fighters,” Trump said, “and then you have the champion of your league — these are the greatest fighters in the world — fight the champion of the migrants.’” The suggestion drew laughter and applause from the crowd, a response that continued as he spoke more about the concept.

“I think the migrant guy might win,” Trump said, adding that White “didn’t like that idea too much.”

“But actually, it’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had,” he continued.

Trump later repeated the idea during a rally Saturday evening in Philadelphia.

UFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s rhetoric on Saturday was the latest in a longstanding series of remarks demonizing immigrants entering the country illegally, including previously calling them “vermin” and proclaiming they are “poisoning the blood” of America. But his comments come as voters overwhelmingly support securing the southern border, prompting President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats to propose tighter security measures at the border.

“Remember this, these migrants are tough. They’re tough. They come from prisons and many other places, rough places,” Trump said. “They’re just getting used to a country. They’re just settling in.”

 

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Gives Legal Protections to Undocumented Spouses of U.S. Citizens, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Miriam Jordan, Jazmine Ulloa and Hamed Aleaziz, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden on Tuesday announced sweeping new protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been living in the United States illegally for years but are married to American citizens.

Under the new policy, some 500,000 undocumented spouses will be shielded from deportation and given a pathway to citizenship and the ability to work legally in the United States. It is one of the most expansive presidential actions to protect immigrants in more than a decade.

joe biden black background resized serious fileMr. Biden will celebrate the program during a White House ceremony on Tuesday marking the 12-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects people who came to the United States as children from deportation.

The decision comes as Mr. Biden tries to strike a balance on one of the most dominant political issues in 2024. Aware that many Americans want tougher policies on the border, Mr. Biden just two weeks ago announced a crackdown that suspended longtime guarantees that give anyone who steps onto U.S. soil the right to seek asylum here.

President Biden’s policy, a significant action to protect immigrants, affects about 500,000 people who’ve been living in the U.S. for more than a decade.

Mr. Biden is also expected on Tuesday to detail separate actions that will make it easier for undocumented young people, many of them known as Dreamers, to access work visas.

Almost immediately after he issued that order, White House officials began privately reassuring progressives that the president would also help undocumented immigrants who had been in the nation for years, according to people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Tuesday’s move could help Mr. Biden address some of the blowback that his asylum restrictions elicited among members of his progressive base, who have accused the White House of betraying campaign promises to enact a more humane approach to immigrants.

The new benefits for undocumented spouses will not take effect immediately; senior Biden administration officials said they expected the program to launch by the end of the summer. Those eligible will then be able to apply for the benefits.

Marrying an American citizen generally provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship. But people who crossed the southern border illegally — rather than arriving in the country with a visa — must return to their home countries to complete the process for a green card.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden’s Strategy: Help Immigrants in U.S., but Stop Others From Arriving, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s recent actions on immigration put his approach to one of the most divisive issues in the election into focus.

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. States, Claiming ‘Invasion,’ Push to Expand Power to Curb Immigration, Jazmine Ulloa, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). Nearly a year since Texas adopted a law empowering state and local police officers to arrest undocumented migrants who cross into its territory, Republican lawmakers in at least 11 states have tried to adopt similar measures, capitalizing on the prominence of immigration in the 2024 presidential election.

Politico, Biden issues new executive action: Much of southern border to close at midnight, Myah Ward, June 5, 2024 (print ed.). Biden issued long-expected executive actions on Tuesday to clamp down on migrants seeking asylum.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden issued long-expected executive actions on Tuesday to clamp down on migrants seeking asylum, and in doing so set the stage for the U.S. border with Mexico to be shut down between ports of entry at midnight.

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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).

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats seek to repeal Comstock abortion rule, fearing Trump crackdown, Dan Diamond and Caroline Kitchener, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The Comstock Act, an 1873 law that bans abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail, could be used by the GOP to restrict abortion nationwide.

Democrats are seeking to overhaul an 1873 federal law that bans abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail, worried that a future Trump administration could invoke the Comstock Act to crack down on abortion access or effectively ban the procedure altogether.

senate democrats logo“There is a very clear, well-organized plan afoot by the MAGA Republicans to use Comstock as a tool to ban medication abortion, and potentially all abortions,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who on Thursday plans to introduce legislation to repeal the Comstock Act’s abortion provisions. “My job is to take that tool away.”

Democrats’ push to defang the 151-year-old law comes less than five months before a presidential election in which reproductive rights appear destined to play a defining role. But the party’s mixed reaction to the plan underscores the balancing act between policy aspirations and political realities.

mifepristone Allen g breed ap

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, the Supreme Court has not become reasonable. It did not ‘save’ mifepristone, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 17, jennifer rubin new headshot2024. Its ruling on mifepristone is nothing to celebrate.

seth abramson proof logoProof, Investigative Commentary:  Why a Unanimous Supreme Court Decision Protecting Access to Abortion Medication Mifepristone Means seth abramson graphicLess Than You Think, Seth Abramson, left, June 14-15, 2024. A unanimous SCOTUS decision being hailed by major media as a big win for abortion rights advocates is actually something else entirely. This report from an attorney and legal journalist explains why.

Simply put, the Trumpists have weaponized our justice system and turned it into a vehicle for lawfare.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court upheld access to a widely available abortion pill, rejecting a bid from anti-abortion groups to unravel federal approval, Abbie VanSickle, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). The justices unanimously rejected a bid to sharply curtail access to a widely available abortion pill, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The perverse zealotry of the anti-IVF movement, David Von Drehle, June 17, 2024. If they knew what patients endured, antiabortion extremists might learn more about caring for unborn babies.

 

southern baptist convention logo

ny times logoNew York Times, One Week That Revealed the Struggles of the Anti-Abortion Movement, Elizabeth Dias, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). Opponents of the procedure are looking for a path forward: “Is the goal the absolute abolition of abortion in our nation?

ny times logoNew York Times, 171,000 Traveled for Abortions Last Year. See Where They Went, Molly Cook Escobar, Amy Schoenfeld Walker, Allison McCann, Scott Reinhard and Helmuth Rosales, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). Out-of-state trips for abortions more than doubled in 2023, demonstrating the upheaval in access since the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Hundreds of officers abused children. Many exploited their authority to coerce victims, Jessica Contrera, Jenn Abelson, John D. Harden, Hayden Godfrey and Nate Jones, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). (interactive). A Washington Post investigation found at least 1,800 state and local law enforcement officers who were charged with crimes involving child sexual abuse from 2005 through 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abused by the Badge: An officer abused a 16-year-old in his police car. Now a judge must decide his punishment, Jenn Abelson, Jessica Contrera and John D. Harden, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). A Washington Post investigation found hundreds of officers evaded serious consequences for preying on children, even after they admitted to wrongdoing.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sexually transmitted infections are skyrocketing in this unexpected group, Leana S. Wen, June 23, 2024. / Older adults deserve a healthy sex life, too.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that among those 65 and older, chlamydia diagnoses more than tripled between 2010 and 2023. Gonorrhea cases multiplied about sixfold. And syphilis cases increased nearly tenfold.

washington post logoWashington Post, Intermittent fasting over two days can help people with Type 2 diabetes, Anahad O’Connor, June 21, 2024. A study found that intermittent fasting had striking metabolic benefits that surpassed the effects of prescription drugs for people with newly diagnosed diabetes.

Intermittent fasting can help people with Type 2 diabetes lose weight, lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar levels, a rigorous new study has found.

The new research, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that intermittent fasting had striking metabolic benefits that surpassed even the effects of prescription medications for people with newly diagnosed diabetes. Here are the findings:

Over the course of 16 weeks, people who were assigned to practice intermittent fasting lost more weight and improved their blood sugar control to a greater extent than people who were given metformin or empagliflozin, two commonly prescribed diabetes medications.
The research focused on a form of fasting called the 5:2 diet, in which people eat normally for five days a week and then fast for two days, consuming just 500 to 600 calories on their fasting days.

After 16 weeks, the fasting group lost an average of 21 pounds, almost double the 12 pounds on average that the people taking metformin lost. Those who were prescribed empagliflozin lost an average of about 12.8 pounds during the study.

Previous studies have examined whether intermittent fasting can help people with Type 2 diabetes, but they have been mostly small and did not compare the diet head-to-head with medications.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Surgeon General Calls for Warning Labels on Social Media Platforms, Ellen Barry, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). Dr. Vivek Murthy, shown above in a file photo, said he would urge Congress to require a warning that social media use can harm teenagers’ mental health.

The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, announced on Monday that he would push for a warning label on social media platforms advising parents that using the platforms might damage adolescents’ mental health.

ny times logoNew York Times, Expletive-Laden Rants Part of Fauci’s ‘Complicated’ Relationship With Trump, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 14, 2024. In a new book, Dr. Anthony Fauci recounts a career advising seven presidents. The chapter about Donald Trump is titled “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.”

anthony fauci on call memoirThree months into the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, shown at right on the cover of his new memoir, was at home in northwest Washington when he answered his cellphone to President Donald J. Trump screaming at him in an expletive-laden rant. He had incurred the president’s wrath by remarking that the vaccines under development might not provide long-lasting immunity.

That was the day, June 3, 2020, “that I first experienced the brunt of the president’s rage,” Dr. Fauci writes in his forthcoming autobiography.

Dr. Fauci has long been circumspect in describing his feelings toward Mr. Trump. But in the book, “On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service,” he writes with candor about their relationship, which he describes as “complicated.”

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Millennials had it bad financially, but Gen Z may have it worse, Abha Bhattarai and Federica Cocco, June 23, 2024.  Generation Z is spending more on housing and car insurance than millennials did. They’re also more likely to be in debt, despite higher wages and more jobs.

Generation Z has been disproportionately pummeled by rising prices, higher housing costs, larger student loan balances and more overall debt than the millennials before them.

While both generations came of age in the midst of an economic upheaval, Gen Z is spending more on necessities than millennials did at the same age, according to a Washington Post analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. While millennials are between 28 and 43, Gen Z generally refers to those ages 12 to 27.

So far, Gen Z workers are more likely to go to college, have jobs and make more money than millennials did. But they are also paying 31 percent more for housing than their counterparts were a decade ago, after adjusting for inflation. Spending on car insurance by people 16 to 24 more than doubled between 2012 and 2022, BLS data shows, while health insurance spending for that age group is up 46 percent after inflation.

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

 

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington Post publisher retains ties to past business ventures, Craig Whitlock, Jonathan O'Connell and Jon Swaine, June 23, 2024. William Lewis holds a stake in a start-up that has reached a deal with The Post to collaborate. The Post said the arrangement conforms with its conflict-of-interest policy.

A small digital start-up launched by Washington Post publisher William Lewis has entered into an agreement with The Post that allows the two companies to pursue deals together, even as Lewis still holds a financial stake in the firm.

The News Movement, which Lewis co-founded in 2020, recently developed pitches for two major advertisers, Rolex and Starbucks, to engage in commercial partnerships that would involve The Post, according to documents and interviews.

The Post’s relationship with the News Movement represents one of several ways in which Lewis remains connected to his previous business endeavors and associates. The Post said the arrangements conform with its conflict-of-interest policy.

The privately owned News Movement specializes in what it describes as “creative storytelling” for youthful consumers on social media. Ramin Beheshti, who succeeded Lewis as its chief executive, said in text messages Thursday that the firm reached a “light framework agreement” with The Post in the past few months.

“There is no requirement or obligation in that framework — just a formality that would allow us to operate as a team if needed,” he wrote. Beheshti said Lewis had no part in setting up the arrangement.

Kathy Baird, a spokesperson for The Post, also said that Lewis was not involved in the agreement. She said Lewis stepped down as CEO of the News Movement before coming to The Post in January and has no operational involvement in the start-up, but remains a “proud shareholder.”

The Post’s conflict-of-interest policy stresses the need to eliminate or manage situations in which an employee could benefit from the company’s outside partnerships. Those scenarios include cases in which an employee “has a substantial financial interest” in “any business entity which does business with or which seeks to do business with [The Post] if the employee is involved in the transactions in any way.”

Lewis declined to respond directly to a list of questions about his business interests and how he has managed potential conflicts.

Patty Stonesifer, a Post adviser and former CEO of the company, said in a statement Saturday that “I have full confidence that all aspects of The News Movement partnership with The Washington Post have been handled well within the guidelines of our conflict of interest policy and are to the benefit of The Post.”

washington post logoIn a separate statement, Baird said that Lewis has personally “adhered to all aspects of our conflict of interest policy, including for the News Movement,” and that he has “documented his ownership share” in the start-up.

She noted that The Post had a relationship with the News Movement before Lewis joined the news organization, saying it “is not dissimilar to other partnerships on the business side.”

“There has been no financial impact from the relationship and since Mr. Lewis’s joining, all aspects have been managed and are consistent with our conflicts of interest policy,” she added.

A January 2022 company filing by The News Movement Holdings Ltd in Britain, the most recent that details the company’s ownership, identified Lewis as its controlling shareholder. That company is directly owned by The News Movement Inc. in Delaware, which is not required to publicly identify its shareholders.

Politico, Opinion: For Post’s Lewis, Credibility Dies in Silence, Jack Shafer, June 23, 2024. Refusing to talk about his past ethical lapses has cost him an editor and might cost him his job.

politico CustomRobert Winnett, the Daily Telegraph editor that Washington Post Publisher and CEO William Lewis recruited to edit “core news” at the paper, resigned last week as the tide of exposés about his and Lewis’ shady conduct at British newspapers continued to surge. “It is with regret that I share with you that Robert Winnett has withdrawn from the position of Editor of The Washington Post,” Lewis wrote in a staff memo.

Suddenly, Lewis looks increasingly isolated and his own job seems at risk — made more so by a PR strategy of deflection and silence increasingly at odds with the severity of his predicament.

washington post logoSince accepting the publisher position in November — and even before — Lewis has tried to charm everybody he encounters. When charm won’t suffice, Lewis plays the “tough guy.” That was his move at a recent Post staff meeting when he parried with his irate journalists, saying, “Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff. Right. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore.”

But his most potent tactic, more effective so far than charm or trash-talking, has been to stonewall ethical questions about his past — other than to deny them, that is. “I took a view very early on that I’m never going to talk about it,” Lewis told the Washington Post about his purported role or non-role in destroying evidence when he took the job. Recent news accounts about him are peppered with him declining to take questions from the press or even respond to queries. When NPR reporter David Folkenflik sought an interview with Lewis last year, he agreed on the condition Folkenflik didn’t ask about phone-hacking. Folkenflik declined.

Is this any way for the publisher of the Washington Post to behave? Especially a former top Financial Times and Daily Telegraph journalist who has turned publisher? The press demands accountability from people in power, such as Lewis. Instead of coming clean, he’s chosen to present like an unscrupulous member of Congress, or a corporate chief caught sweeping toxic waste under the carpet.

It’s not as though Lewis doesn’t fathom the art of public relations. As the Financial Times reported Friday, he founded his own communications and consultancy firm, WJL Partners (his initials), in 2020 and it has prepped its clients for press interviews. The FT also reports that Lewis gave up his interest and involvement in the firm although it still distributes his free newsletter. According to the FT, Lewis also coached former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson through his “Partygate” crisis in 2022, and as the Guardian reported this week, he allegedly told the PM to “clean up” his phone to avert scandal. Was Lewis offering general advice or urging Johnson to destroy evidence? It’s fair to ask.

Lewis is back inside the journalistic world, yet he seems to still be operating in PR mode. He has abandoned the formidable powers of discovery and disclosure he wielded as a journalist to become the kind of zip-lipped operator who advises other big shots on how to stall the press. Again, this is not a good look for the publisher of the Washington Post. Nor is it a winning plan in the long run. Whenever Lewis attempts to ignore the fire burning under him by stiffing the press, it only pours nitromethane on the story and encourages reporters to widen their search for answers. You don’t have to be a PR executive to figure this out.

Where will the Lewis story’s next stop be? The Washington Post reported in March that the news startup Lewis co-founded, the News Movement, was funded by a venture capital firm led by billionaire Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani, a former Qatar official. The firm has also invested in the right-wing NewsMax channel. Known as the “man who bought London,” Al Thani made news in 2022 for alleged donations to Prince Charles. We can assume reporters are digging. Speculation making the rounds in U.K. journalism circles is that Lewis may yet be drawn further into the phone-hacking case if it can be proved he destroyed evidence. He may even be called to testify. Will Bezos still stand by his man?

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Watch Fox News So You Don’t Have to’: How Clippers Make Videos Go Viral, Simon J. Levien, June 23, 2024. Despite criticism that the most-watched moments omit crucial context, candidates are tapping into the practice — and watching their words.

fox news logo SmallClipping political gaffes was once more of a pastime for amateur political obsessives. Now, professionals have stepped in and supercharged the political discourse, flooding platforms like X and TikTok with cuttingly captioned video snippets, often publishing edited clips within minutes or even seconds.

Despite concerns that the most-watched clips often omit crucial context, sometimes by design, clippers have amassed tens of millions of views, forcing candidates to pay attention — and to watch their words.

More so than ever before, clipping has been embraced by both official Democratic and Republican campaign committees that have exploited the reach of real-time clips and even outdone their independent predecessors.

Gone is the heyday of the tracker, a political operative who would tail candidates at stump events big and small, camcorder in hand, hoping to catch gaffes on tape. Today, the ubiquity of livestreaming and video recording has transformed any rallygoer with a smartphone into a wellspring of videos clippers can turn into potential viral sensations. With so much of a campaign being captured on video and then quickly spotlighted in microscopic, mocking detail, the smallest personality foible, momentary lapse or passing awkwardness can spell a public-relations nightmare for a candidate.

Curtis Houck, an editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, which says its mission is to call out liberal media bias, clips and analyzes White House news briefings. He said that on his X account alone he had racked up about 150 million impressions since he started clipping during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On both sides of the partisan divide, clippers contend that they are backstopping for news organizations that fail to do their jobs impartially. “There’s just a few merry band of us holding the media accountable, real-time, to show presidential speeches and remarks where the president veers off,” Mr. Houck said of his team of media analysts who scan TV shows and news briefings for material.

Then again, clippers often strip their video posts of the context that journalists are generally trained to supply.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Failed Children on Safety, Natasha Singer, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The chief executive and his team drove efforts to capture young users and misled the public about the risks, lawsuits by state attorneys general say.

In April 2019, David Ginsberg, a Meta executive, emailed his boss, Mark Zuckerberg, right, with a proposal to research and reduce loneliness mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wand compulsive use on Instagram and Facebook.

In the email, Mr. Ginsberg noted that the company faced scrutiny for its products’ impacts “especially around areas of meta logoproblematic use/addiction and teens.” He asked Mr. Zuckerberg for 24 engineers, researchers and other staff, saying Instagram had a “deficit” on such issues.

A week later, Susan Li, now the company’s chief financial officer, informed Mr. Ginsberg that the project was “not funded” because of staffing constraints. Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, ultimately declined to finance the project, too.

The email exchanges are just one slice of evidence cited among more than a dozen lawsuits filed since last year by the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia. The states accuse Meta of unfairly ensnaring teenagers and children on Instagram and Facebook while deceiving the public about the hazards. Using a coordinated legal approach reminiscent of the government’s pursuit of Big Tobacco in the 1990s, the attorneys general seek to compel Meta to bolster protections for minors.

A New York Times analysis of the states’ court filings — including roughly 1,400 pages of company documents and correspondence filed as evidence by the State of Tennessee — show how Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta leaders repeatedly promoted the safety of the company’s platforms, playing down risks to young people, even as they rejected employee pleas to bolster youth guardrails and hire additional staff.

In interviews, the attorneys general of several states suing Meta said Mr. Zuckerberg had led his company to drive user engagement at the expense of child welfare.

U.S. House logo

ny times logoNew York Times, These Grieving Parents Want Congress to Protect Children Online, Cecilia Kang, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A group is using the Mothers Against Drunk Driving playbook, sharing personal tragedies, to lobby for the Kids Online Safety Act.

Deb Schmill has become a fixture on Capitol Hill. Last week alone, she visited the offices of 13 lawmakers, one of more than a dozen trips she has made from her home near Boston over the past two years.

meta logoIn each meeting, Ms. Schmill talks about her daughter Becca, who died in 2020 at age 18. Ms. Schmill said Becca had died after taking fentanyl-laced drugs bought on Facebook. Before that, she said, her daughter was raped by a boy she had met online, then was cyberbullied on Snapchat.

“I have to do what I can to help pass legislation to protect other children and to prevent what happened to Becca from happening to them,” Ms. Schmill, 60, said. “It’s my coping mechanism.”

Ms. Schmill is among dozens of parents who are lobbying for the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, a bill that would require social media, gaming and messaging apps to limit features that could heighten depression or bullying or lead to sexual exploitation. The bill, which has the greatest momentum of any broad tech industry legislation in years, would also require the tech services to turn on the highest privacy and safety settings by default for users under 17 and let youths opt out of some features that can lead to compulsive use.

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June 23

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Trump Verdicts, Reactions, Probes, Family, Allies

 

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

 

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President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Billions of people just felt the deadly intensity of climate-fueled heat waves, Sarah Kaplan and Scott Dance, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Scorching heat across five continents set 1,400 records this week and showed how human-caused global warming has made catastrophic temperatures commonplace.

Dozens of bodies were discovered in Delhi during a two-day stretch this week when even sundown brought no relief from sweltering heat and humidity. Tourists died or went missing as the mercury surged in Greece. Hundreds of pilgrims perished before they could reach Islam’s holiest site, struck down by temperatures as high as 125 degrees.

The scorching heat across five continents in recent days, scientists say, provided yet more proof that human-caused global warming has so raised the baseline of normal temperatures that once-unthinkable catastrophes have become commonplace.

The suffering came despite predictions that a year-long surge of global heat might soon begin to wane. Instead, in the past seven days alone, billions felt heat with climate change-fueled intensity that broke more than 1,000 temperature records around the globe. Hundreds fell in the United States, where tens of millions of people across the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard have been sweltering amid one of the worst early-season heat waves in memory.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Over 1,000 pilgrims died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, officials say, Staff Report, June 23, 2024. More than 1,000 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as the faithful faced extreme high temperatures at Islamic holy sites in the desert kingdom, officials said Sunday.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cranks up false, inflammatory messages to rake in campaign cash, Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Fundraising experts say the solicitations are aggressive even by the standards of Trump’s frequently hyperbolic language. President Biden’s campaign condemned the messages as laying the groundwork for more violence.

The fundraising pitch from Donald Trump was neither accurate nor subtle.

It read: “1 MONTH UNTIL ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! THEY WANT TO SENTENCE ME TO DEATH.”

djt maga hatThe message blasted out to his supporters was a reference to the former president’s sentencing scheduled for July 11, when he faces fines or possible jail time after being convicted on 34 charges of business fraud in connection with hush money paid to an adult-film star. A death sentence is not under consideration in the case. Neither is a “GUILLOTINE,” as another fundraising pitch suggested last week.

trump 2024The incendiary emails are part of a concerted strategy that has allowed the campaign to erase a financial lead that President Biden’s campaign had opened up in recent months, according to people close to the former president who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak for the campaign. But experts in small-dollar fundraising say the solicitations are aggressive even by the standards of Trump’s frequently hyperbolic and inflammatory language.

“I think those are clearly an escalation over and above some incredibly heated rhetoric and some irresponsible rhetoric we’ve seen over time,” said Matthew Hindman, a professor at George Washington University who studies digital emails. “The fact that those messages continue to be sent out tell us about something. The rhetoric has been driven by user response and user donations. If this extreme rhetoric continues to generate funds, it’s going to be rewarded with an even more extreme response next time.”

The Biden campaign condemned the messages as laying the groundwork for more violence. “Convicted felon Donald Trump is so obsessed with his own election loss that he’s become unhinged,” spokeswoman Sarafina Chitika said. “The American people have had enough of Trump’s dangerous rhetoric.”

Campaign finance records filed Thursday showed the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and an allied super PAC raised $171 million in May. The surge left Trump and the RNC with more cash on hand than Biden and the Democratic National Committee, the reports showed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: I Know What America’s Leading C.E.O.s Really Think of Donald Trump, Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, June 23, jeffrey sonnenfeld2024. Dr. Sonnenfeld, right, is the president of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

Recent headlines suggest that our nation’s business leaders are embracing the presidential candidate Donald Trump. His campaign would have you believe that our nation’s top chief executives are returning to support Mr. Trump for president, touting declarations of support from some prominent financiers like Steve Schwarzman and David Sacks.

trump 2024That is far from the truth. They didn’t flock to him before, and they certainly aren’t flocking to him now. Mr. Trump continues to suffer from the lowest level of corporate support in the history of the Republican Party.

I know this because I work with roughly 1,000 chief executives a year, running a school for them, which I started 35 years ago, and I speak with business leaders almost every day. Our surveys show that 60 to 70 percent of them are registered Republicans.

The reality is that the top corporate leaders working today, like many Americans, aren’t entirely comfortable with either Mr. Trump or President Biden. But they largely like — or at least can tolerate — one of them. They truly fear the other.

If you want the most telling data point on corporate America’s lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Trump, look where they are investing their money.

Not a single Fortune 100 chief executive has donated to the candidate so far this year, which indicates a major break from overwhelming business and executive support for Republican presidential candidates dating back over a century, to the days of Taft and stretching through Coolidge and the Bushes, all of whom had dozens of major company heads donating to their campaigns.

Mr. Trump secured the White House partly by tapping into the anticorporate, populist messaging of Bernie Sanders, who was then a candidate, a move that Mr. Trump discussed with me when I met him in 2015. The strategy might have won voters but did little to enhance Mr. Trump’s image with the business community. And while a number of chief executives tried to work with Mr. Trump as they would with any incumbent president and many celebrated his move to cut the corporate tax rate, wariness persisted.

Several chief executives resented Mr. Trump’s personal attacks on businesses through divide-and-conquer tactics, meddling and pitting competitors against each other publicly. Scores of them rushed to distance themselves from Mr. Trump’s more provocative stances, resigning en masse from his business advisory councils in 2017 after he equated antiracism activists with white supremacists. Dozens of them openly called for Mr. Trump’s impeachment in 2021 after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Failed Children on Safety, Natasha Singer, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The chief executive and his team drove efforts to capture young users and misled the public about the risks, lawsuits by state attorneys general say.

In April 2019, David Ginsberg, a Meta executive, emailed his boss, Mark Zuckerberg, right, with a proposal to research and reduce loneliness mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wand compulsive use on Instagram and Facebook.

In the email, Mr. Ginsberg noted that the company faced scrutiny for its products’ impacts “especially around areas of meta logoproblematic use/addiction and teens.” He asked Mr. Zuckerberg for 24 engineers, researchers and other staff, saying Instagram had a “deficit” on such issues.

A week later, Susan Li, now the company’s chief financial officer, informed Mr. Ginsberg that the project was “not funded” because of staffing constraints. Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, ultimately declined to finance the project, too.

The email exchanges are just one slice of evidence cited among more than a dozen lawsuits filed since last year by the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia. The states accuse Meta of unfairly ensnaring teenagers and children on Instagram and Facebook while deceiving the public about the hazards. Using a coordinated legal approach reminiscent of the government’s pursuit of Big Tobacco in the 1990s, the attorneys general seek to compel Meta to bolster protections for minors.

A New York Times analysis of the states’ court filings — including roughly 1,400 pages of company documents and correspondence filed as evidence by the State of Tennessee — show how Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta leaders repeatedly promoted the safety of the company’s platforms, playing down risks to young people, even as they rejected employee pleas to bolster youth guardrails and hire additional staff.

In interviews, the attorneys general of several states suing Meta said Mr. Zuckerberg had led his company to drive user engagement at the expense of child welfare.

U.S. House logo

ny times logoNew York Times, These Grieving Parents Want Congress to Protect Children Online, Cecilia Kang, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A group is using the Mothers Against Drunk Driving playbook, sharing personal tragedies, to lobby for the Kids Online Safety Act.

Deb Schmill has become a fixture on Capitol Hill. Last week alone, she visited the offices of 13 lawmakers, one of more than a dozen trips she has made from her home near Boston over the past two years.

meta logoIn each meeting, Ms. Schmill talks about her daughter Becca, who died in 2020 at age 18. Ms. Schmill said Becca had died after taking fentanyl-laced drugs bought on Facebook. Before that, she said, her daughter was raped by a boy she had met online, then was cyberbullied on Snapchat.

“I have to do what I can to help pass legislation to protect other children and to prevent what happened to Becca from happening to them,” Ms. Schmill, 60, said. “It’s my coping mechanism.”

Ms. Schmill is among dozens of parents who are lobbying for the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, a bill that would require social media, gaming and messaging apps to limit features that could heighten depression or bullying or lead to sexual exploitation. The bill, which has the greatest momentum of any broad tech industry legislation in years, would also require the tech services to turn on the highest privacy and safety settings by default for users under 17 and let youths opt out of some features that can lead to compulsive use.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court upholds gun ban for domestic-violence restraining orders, Ann E. Marimow, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). The law was among many imperiled by the 2022 Supreme Court decision requiring historical precedent for gun restrictions.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal law that prevents people who are subject to domestic-violence restraining orders from having firearms in its first major Second Amendment decision since a 2022 ruling that expanded gun rights.

The court said the Constitution permits laws that strip guns from those deemed dangerous, one of a number of firearms restrictions that have been imperiled since the conservative majority bolstered gun rights in its decision two years ago known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

In an 8-1 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that “an individual found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment.”

Bruen required the government to point to historic analogues when defending laws that place limits on firearms, leading to a spate of court challenges against limits on possessing firearms — including the one in this case, United States v. Rahimi.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the Bruen decision, was the lone dissenter on Friday, writing that “not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland praised the court’s decision, saying the law “protects victims” by keeping guns out of the hands of people who threaten them.

“As the Justice Department argued, and as the Court reaffirmed today, that commonsense prohibition is entirely consistent with the Court’s precedent and the text and history of the Second Amendment,” Garland said in a statement.

The challenge to the law was brought by Zackey Rahimi, a drug dealer who was placed under a restraining order after a 2019 argument with his girlfriend. He argued that the government had violated his Second Amendment rights by blocking him from possessing guns.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Vladimir Putin Came to Asia to Disrupt, and He Succeeded, Damien Cave, June 23, 2024 (print ed.).  His embrace of North Korea and deal-making with Vietnam injected more potential threats into a region strained by tensions in Taiwan and the South China Sea.

russian flag wavingFour days in Asia. That’s all President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia needed to anger Washington, undermine Beijing and rattle a collection of Indo-Pacific nations already scrambling to cope with a jumbled world order.

After stops in Pyongyang and Hanoi this week that were draped in Communist red, Mr. Putin left behind a redrawn map of risk in Asia. North Korea sat at the center: a rogue nuclear state that regularly threatens its neighbors, suddenly empowered by Russian promises of sophisticated military aid and a mutual defense pact.

Mr. Putin also signed at least a dozen deals with Vietnam — a country of growing importance for both China and the United States as they vie for influence — where he insisted that “reliable security architecture” could not be built with “closed military-political blocs.”

The trip was both defiant and disruptive. It showed that the jockeying for power sometimes framed as a new Cold War between the United States and China is less binary than it might seem, and many countries in the region seemed to emerge from the week with a deeper sense of unease.

Mr. Putin’s presence and his threats, bold one minute, vague the next, have added even more complexity to their already difficult calculations around security and Great Power competition.

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system.

Manhattan prosecutors said Friday that a judge should keep in place major elements of the gag order imposed on Donald J. Trump before his criminal trial, citing dozens of threats that have been made against officials connected to the case.

The gag order, issued before the trial began in mid-April, bars Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and relatives of the judge who presided over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, among others.

Since his conviction late last month on 34 felony counts, Mr. Trump’s calls for the order to be lifted have only grown louder. But in a 19-page filing on Friday, prosecutors argued that while Justice Merchan no longer needed to enforce the portion of the order relating to witnesses, he should leave its other provisions in place ahead of Mr. Trump’s sentencing on July 11.

While the gag order does not prohibit Mr. Trump from criticizing Justice Merchan or Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who brought the case, it does preclude attacks on prosecutors and their relatives, including Mr. Bragg’s.

And on Friday, prosecutors said those protections from Mr. Trump’s public attacks remained necessary to protect the integrity of an ongoing criminal proceeding.

The New York Police Department has logged 56 “actionable threats” against Mr. Bragg, his family, and employees at the district attorney’s office since early April, according to an affidavit provided with the filing.

Such threats, evidently made by supporters of Mr. Trump, included a post disclosing the home address of one of Mr. Bragg’s employees, and bomb threats made on the first day of the trial targeting two people involved in the case.

Prosecutors said the threats were “directly connected to defendant’s dangerous rhetoric,” and cited several examples, including a post that depicted cross hairs “on people involved in this case.”

Others were homicidal messages directed at Mr. Bragg or his employees, including, “We will kill you all,” “You are dead” and “Your life is done.” Four of the threats were referred for further investigation, according to the police affidavit.

The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.”

All told, prosecutors argued that the threats “overwhelmingly outweighed” the “expressive interest” of Mr. Trump, especially considering that he had yet to be sentenced. (Continued below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis  Updates: Deadly Strike Hits Area of Gaza Where Displaced People Were Sheltering, Staff Reports, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike near Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike amid tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a coastal community in the southern Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials. (Continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Beleaguered aid pier functional again in Gaza; Netanyahu slams U.S, Adela Suliman and Hazem Balousha, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Washington over slow weapons deliveries, drawing a puzzled response from U.S. officials.

Israel FlagA controversial U.S.-built floating pier that has been racked with problems is once again operational and delivered 656 metric tons of much needed aid to Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday. However, the restoration did little to address questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the multimillion-dollar project, or even if it would continue.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterOn the political scene, a war of words appears to have erupted between the United States and Israel this week, as Washington hit back after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, criticized the slow delivery of U.S. weapons.

Netanyahu said in a social media video this week that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months the [Biden] administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he was unaware the video was coming and called it “perplexing,” given the volume of U.S. military support to Israel. “It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect,” he said. “There’s no other country that’s done more but will continue to do more than the United States to help Israel defend itself.”

At least 37,431 ​​people have been killed and 85,653 injured in Gaza since the war started, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and it says 312 soldiers have been killed since the launch of its military operations in Gaza. (Excerpt continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Power Grab: AI is exhausting the power grid. Tech firms are seeking a miracle solution, Evan Halper and Caroline O'Donovan, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). As power needs of AI push emissions up and put big tech in a bind, companies put their faith in elusive — some say improbable — technologies.

As the tech giants compete in a global AI arms race, a frenzy of data center construction is sweeping the country. Some computing campuses require as much energy as a modest-sized city, turning tech firms that promised to lead the way into a clean energy future into some of the world’s most insatiable guzzlers of power. Their projected energy needs are so huge, some worry whether there will be enough electricity to meet them from any source.

Data centers, the nondescript warehouses packed with racks of servers that power the modern internet, have been around for decades. But the amount of electricity they need now is soaring because of AI. Training artificial intelligence models and using AI to execute even simple tasks involves ever more complicated, faster and voluminous computations that are straining the electricity system.

A ChatGPT-powered search on Google, according to the International Energy Agency, consumes almost 10 times the amount of electricity as a traditional search. One large data center complex in Iowa owned by Meta burns the annual equivalent amount of power as 7 million laptops running eight hours every day, based on data shared publicly by the company.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, is shown above.

 United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, is shown above.

Politico, Sunak, Starmer slam Farage claim that EU, NATO ‘provoked’ invasion of Ukraine, Leonie Cater, June 22, 2024. “We have provoked this war,” the Reform UK leader said Friday evening.

politico CustomBritish Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer blasted comments made by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, below right, claiming the EU and NATO “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expanding eastwards.

nigel farage twitter“What he said is completely wrong and only plays into [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] hands,” Sunak told reporters on Saturday. “This kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

Sunak added that Putin was behind the release of nerve agents on the “streets of Britain.”

keir starmer w 2017Starmer, left, told reporters Farage’s comments were “disgraceful,” adding that Russia alone is responsible for the invasion of Ukraine.

United Kingdom flag“Anyone who is standing for parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, and that we stand with Ukraine, as we have done from the beginning of this conflict,” he said. “Parliament has spoken with one voice on this since the beginning of the conflict.”

Farage made the comments in an interview with BBC’s Panorama on Friday evening in the run-up to the July 4 U.K. general elections. On the program, Farage was challenged on a social media post he sent as Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine back in early 2022, which said the conflict “was a consequence of EU and NATO expansion.”

Asked whether he stood by those views Friday, Farage said he had been warning for decades about the increasing scope of both the military alliance and the EU.

“We have provoked this war,” Farage said. “Of course, it’s his [Putin’s] fault. He’s used what we’ve done.”

His comments have sparked a wave of criticism aside from Sunak and Starmer, including from Labour defense spokesman John Healey, who said the comments “reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.”

Former Conservative Defense Secretary Ben Wallace likened him to a “pub bore we’ve all met at the end of the bar,” in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

 

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

ramin setoodeh collage

ny times logoNew York Times, New Book Paints Trump as Wounded, Forgetful and Hung Up on Hollywood, Shawn McCreesh, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). In the dark months following the Jan. 6 attack, Donald J. Trump opened up to an entertainment journalist, revealing his fixation with celebrity, acceptance and the TV show that made him.

It was May 2021, and Donald J. Trump was wounded. Four months earlier, his supporters had ransacked the Capitol. He had departed Washington, disgraced, defeated and twice impeached. His party had abandoned him, however temporarily, and he’d been kicked off his social media accounts. He holed up inside Trump Tower and stewed.

An entertainment journalist named Ramin Setoodeh came knocking. He told Mr. Trump he wanted to write a book, not about the unpleasantness of the previous four years, but about that prelapsarian period before Mr. Trump entered politics. Then, he was merely the star of “The Apprentice,” the reality TV show that aired on NBC beginning in 2004 and “changed television,” as Mr. Setoodeh put it to the former president.

Mr. Trump was sold. He granted the reporter several long, recorded interviews. “He was at his lowest then,” Mr. Setoodeh, 42, said over lunch in Manhattan’s West Village on Friday. “I think talking about ‘The Apprentice’ allowed him to feel comfort.”

Mr. Trump became so excited about the book that he offered to promote it at his rallies, saying that the merchants who follow his traveling roadshow would help peddle it. “You’ll sell 10,000 books at one rally,” he told Mr. Setoodeh. “Let’s see how this works out.”

 

A promotional photo of Donald J. Trump and his sons standing stern-faced at the head of a table covered in a map of Manhattan, as various celebrities gesture and mug around it with the Season 12 cast of “The Apprentice” in 2012 (NBC Photo by Mitchell Haaseth).

A promotional photo of Donald J. Trump and his sons standing stern-faced at the head of a table covered in a map of Manhattan, as various celebrities gesture and mug around it with the Season 12 cast of “The Apprentice” in 2012 (NBC Photo by Mitchell Haaseth).

Not well, as it turns out — at least for Mr. Trump. “Apprentice in Wonderland,” published Tuesday, depicts its subject as a lonely and sometimes dotty man, longing for the days when he was still accepted by his fellow celebrities, even as he seems to crave political power.

One minute he’s bragging that Joan Rivers voted for him in 2016 (she died in 2014); the next he’s excusing himself to go deal with “the whole thing with the Afghanistan,” as he told Mr. Setoodeh, who happened to be interviewing him the week President Biden was pulling U.S. troops out of the country. It was unclear what Mr. Trump meant.

Mr. Setoodeh spent three afternoons at Trump Tower and one at Mar-a-Lago, and interviewed Mr. Trump twice on the phone. His final visit was in November of last year. He came away believing Mr. Trump, now 78, was declining, he said.

“Trump was certainly much sharper when he was in his 60s hosting ‘The Apprentice,’ and he did struggle with short-term memory,” Mr. Setoodeh said. When the author showed up for his second interview, the former president did not appear to remember giving a first, Mr. Setoodeh said, although just under three months had passed.

“President Trump was aware of who this individual was throughout the interview process, but this ‘writer’ is a nobody and insignificant, so of course he never made an impression,” said Mr. Trump’s spokesperson Steven Cheung, adding that Mr. Setoodeh “has now chosen to allow Trump Derangement Syndrome to rot his brain like so many other losers whose entire existence revolves around President Trump.”

On social media, the campaign has gone on the attack, threatening to release audio clips of Mr. Setoodeh’s interviews with Mr. Trump in which the journalist talked favorably about his legacy as an entertainer.

 

donald trump apprentice color nbc

Mr. Setoodeh said Mr. Trump was much happier discussing “The Apprentice” (shown above in a promotional photo) than anything having to do with his presidency. “He compares himself to Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando, and sees himself in a lot of ways as an actor and a famous person,” said Mr. Setoodeh. The 45th president gossiped about Khloe Kardashian (“I never got along great with Khloe. Khloe was arrested for drunk driving, did you know that?”); the disgraced former head of CBS, Leslie Moonves (“Now he sits at the Bel-Air club and nobody cares”); Bette Midler (“I had her in my apartment and now she says the nastiest things”); Dennis Rodman (“A pretty cool cat in many ways … Kim Jong-un really liked him, legit”); and Taylor Swift (“I find her very beautiful. I think she’s liberal. Probably doesn’t like Trump”).

“I was really surprised by how much he was still fixated on celebrity culture and how much celebrity still means to him,” Mr. Setoodeh said. He noted that Mr. Trump became “most excited” talking about his theory that famous people living in Beverly Hills vote for him but won’t admit it.

“What is the advantage of having secret voters in Beverly Hills?” Mr. Setoodeh wondered. “Wouldn’t you want secret voters in Ohio or Pennsylvania? But he wants secret voters in Beverly Hills because he associates that with show business, and that’s the most important thing for him.”

RawStory, Trump taunted Jewish employees with jokes about Nazi ovens: Ex-Trump Org VP, Tom Boggioni, June 23, 2024. Trump taunted Jewish employees with jokes about Nazi ovens: Ex-Trump Org VP.

raw story logo squareDuring an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday morning, a former executive vice president of the Trump Organization revealed that her former boss thought it was funny to make jokes about the Nazi ovens around Jewish employees.

President Donald Trump officialSpeaking with host Ali Velshi, attorney Barbara Res, who worked for the former president for years before reportedly leaving because she refused to tolerate his "explosive moods" any longer, was asked if the "weird rants" he has been going on lately are something new.

After stating, he was "a little saner" back then occasionally"he would make ridiculous remarks" that unnerved people, she then provided a startling example.

In one case, she recalled his taunting of Jewish executives.

Citing his frequent mentions of fictional cannibal Hannibal Lecter, she recalled, "Like it was funny that Hannibal Lecter ate people and reminded me of a time when we had just hired a residential manager, a German guy, and he [Trump] was bragging amongst executives about how great the guy was and he was a real gentleman and so neat and clean and then he looked at a couple of our executives whohappen to be Jewish, and he said 'Watch out for this guy, he sort of remembers the ovens,' and then smiled."

One Year Ago:

 

 

donald trump ivanka bed kissRaw Story, Ex-staffer describes Trump fantasizing about sex with Ivanka, Adam Nichols, June 28, 2023. Ex-staffer describes Trump fantasizing about sex with Ivanka.

us dhs big eagle logo4Former President Donald Trump made sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka that were so lewd he was rebuked by his Chief of Staff, former Trump official Miles Taylor writes in a new book.

raw story logo squareThe comments are used by Taylor to highlight almost daily instances of sexism in the Trump White House that were so bad one senior female official told the writer, “This is not a healthy workplace for women.

 

"He's a pervert, he's difficult to deal with," Taylor told Newsweek. "This is still the same man and, incredibly, we're considering electing him to the presidency again."

Donald TrumpHe added, “He's setting a very vile tone within the Republican Party, and in a sense has normalized pretty derisive views towards women in general.”

Trump was found liable of sexual abuse in a recent civil trial brought by writer E. Jean Carr

ny times logoNew York Times, For Biden and Trump, a Debate Rematch With Even Greater Risks and Rewards, Lisa Lerer, Shane Goldmacher, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2024. On Thursday, President Biden and Donald Trump will take part in the earliest presidential debate ever. Any potential missteps could linger.

The debate between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump this week will be the highest-stakes moment of their rematch, plunging two presidents into an extraordinarily early confrontation before a divided and angry nation.

For Mr. Biden, the debate in Atlanta offers an opportunity to remind voters of the chaos of his predecessor’s leadership, his criminal convictions and to warn of an even darker future should he win a second term. For Mr. Trump, it’s a chance to make his case that America has grown more expensive, weaker and more dangerous under his successor.

But the face-off on Thursday also poses significant risks for the two men — both of them the oldest candidates ever to compete in a presidential race — who have been locked in a contentious rivalry defined by mutual hatred for more than four years. That animosity heightens the evening’s unpredictability. A notable misstep — a physical stumble, a mental lapse or a barrage of too-personal insults — could reverberate for months, because of the unusually long period until they meet again for the second debate in September.

“This is a big inflection point,” said Karl Rove, a leading Republican strategist who guided George W. Bush’s two successful presidential runs. “Can Biden be consistently cogent, causing people to say, ‘Well, maybe the old guy is up to it?’ And is Trump going to be sufficiently restrained that people say, ‘You know what, it really is about us, not about him?’”

This presidential debate will be the earliest in the nation’s history and notably different from those familiar to many Americans. Hosted by CNN rather than a nonpartisan commission, it will be simulcast on more than five networks, without a live audience and without opening statements. Each candidate will have two minutes to answer questions, followed by one-minute rebuttals and responses to the rebuttals, and their microphones will be muted when it is not their turn to speak.

The two men are taking strikingly different approaches to their preparation. Mr. Biden hunkered down with his aides at Camp David for formal debate sessions, with the part of Mr. Trump expected to be played by Bob Bauer, the president’s personal attorney. The former president is taking a looser approach but is participating in more “policy sessions” than he held in 2020.

Mr. Trump’s advisers hope the former president keeps his attention on the issues that are widely seen as Mr. Biden’s biggest vulnerabilities — inflation and immigration — and is not baited into exchanges over his false claims about a stolen 2020 election and a justice system he claims is rigged against him.

Mr. Biden’s team sees an opportunity to focus Democratic and independent voters, and even some moderate Republicans, on how much more radical a second Trump administration might be than the first. Yet they are also preparing for Mr. Trump to deliver a more disciplined performance than in the first debate of 2020, when he had a chaotic showing that was likened to a “dumpster fire.”

 

michael flynn djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn Has Turned His Trump-World Celebrity Into a Family Business, David A. Fahrenthold and Alexandra Berzon, June 23, 2024. The former national security adviser, shown above right in a 2016 presidential campaign file photo, took over a nonprofit group. Soon, it was paying five of his relatives and trafficking in conspiracy theories.

In 2021, retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Donald J. Trump’s first national security adviser, became chairman of a 75-year-old nonprofit organization — the kind of small charity where chairmen typically work for free.

But Mr. Flynn received a salary of $40,000, for working two hours per week.

The next year, he got a raise: $60,000, for two hours.

Mr. Flynn’s charity also paid one of his brothers, two of his sisters, his niece and his sister-in-law. By the end of its second year, his nonprofit group, America’s Future Inc., was running in the red, burning through reserves — and still paying $518,000, or 29 percent of its budget, to Flynns.

Since leaving the Trump administration under an ethical cloud, Michael Flynn has converted his Trump-world celebrity into a lucrative and sprawling family business. He and his relatives have marketed the retired general as a martyr, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a legal-defense fund and then pocketing leftover money. Through a network of nonprofit and for-profit ventures, they have sold far-right conspiracy theories, ranging from lies about the 2020 election to warnings, embraced by followers of QAnon, about cabals of pedophiles and child traffickers.

“This is one that goes up to the highest levels of corporations, up to the highest levels of the government,” Mr. Flynn said recently at a meeting hosted by America’s Future in Kent, Ohio. “People that you know and that you think you respect.”

A New York Times investigation found Flynn family members had made at least $2.2 million monetizing Michael Flynn’s right-wing stardom in recent years, with more than half of that going to Mr. Flynn directly. That total includes several payments not previously reported, but it is still a low estimate, since not all financial records are public. The Times’s reporting also raised questions about whether America’s Future had properly disclosed its payments to Mr. Flynn’s relatives.

Many of Mr. Trump’s closest allies have tried to turn political fame into private income, hawking everything from T-shirts to coffee beans to podcasts. Other than Mr. Trump himself, few have done it on the scale of Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Flynn’s reinvention could lead to resurrection: In the last year, Mr. Trump has alluded several times to his intention to bring the retired general back into his administration should Mr. Trump win the White House in November.

Mr. Flynn and his relatives did not respond directly to questions. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn, Jesse Binnall, said in an interview that the Flynns had earned their payments from America’s Future and other groups and that any errors in their filings were unintentional.

“General Flynn’s dedication to the cause of American freedom is steadfast and resolute, especially as it relates to the freedom of children,” Mr. Binnall said in a statement, adding that the Flynn family’s “strength, unity and dedication to America should be celebrated, not attacked.”

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Watch Fox News So You Don’t Have to’: How Clippers Make Videos Go Viral, Simon J. Levien, June 23, 2024. Despite criticism that the most-watched moments omit crucial context, candidates are tapping into the practice — and watching their words.

Clipping political gaffes was once more of a pastime for amateur political obsessives. Now, professionals have stepped in and supercharged the political discourse, flooding platforms like X and TikTok with cuttingly captioned video snippets, often publishing edited clips within minutes or even seconds.

Despite concerns that the most-watched clips often omit crucial context, sometimes by design, clippers have amassed tens of millions of views, forcing candidates to pay attention — and to watch their words.

More so than ever before, clipping has been embraced by both official Democratic and Republican campaign committees that have exploited the reach of real-time clips and even outdone their independent predecessors.

Gone is the heyday of the tracker, a political operative who would tail candidates at stump events big and small, camcorder in hand, hoping to catch gaffes on tape. Today, the ubiquity of livestreaming and video recording has transformed any rallygoer with a smartphone into a wellspring of videos clippers can turn into potential viral sensations. With so much of a campaign being captured on video and then quickly spotlighted in microscopic, mocking detail, the smallest personality foible, momentary lapse or passing awkwardness can spell a public-relations nightmare for a candidate.

Curtis Houck, an editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, which says its mission is to call out liberal media bias, clips and analyzes White House news briefings. He said that on his X account alone he had racked up about 150 million impressions since he started clipping during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On both sides of the partisan divide, clippers contend that they are backstopping for news organizations that fail to do their jobs impartially. “There’s just a few merry band of us holding the media accountable, real-time, to show presidential speeches and remarks where the president veers off,” Mr. Houck said of his team of media analysts who scan TV shows and news briefings for material.
Then again, clippers often strip their video posts of the context that journalists are generally trained to supply.

joe biden benjamin netanyahu split

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Netanyahu Doesn’t Take Biden Seriously, Nicholas Kristof, below left, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A few months ago, President Biden seemed so fed up as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ignored his calls for restraint in Gaza that he finally sounded tough.

nicolas kristoffIn March, Biden was asked if his calls for Israel not to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah marked a “red line,” meaning that an invasion would lead to serious consequences.

“It is a red line,” Biden said, “but I’m never gonna leave Israel.”

All this seemed to signal Biden’s belated willingness to stand up to Netanyahu and avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah. After being widely urged to do more for Gazans — even by his wife — Biden seemed to condition assistance so as to push Israel to flood the territory with aid, avoid an invasion of Rafah, stop killing aid workers and move toward a cease-fire.

In the period since that stern April phone call, Biden has again allowed Netanyahu to walk all over him.

This war began when Israel suffered a horrendous terrorist attack, and it had every right to strike Hamas — but not to level entire neighborhoods or to starve civilians. Biden has enabled Netanyahu and protected him at the United Nations even as a U.N. commission found Israel responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The paradox is that Biden has generally had a successful foreign policy, especially in knitting together an alliance in Asia to reduce the risk of war with China. Yet he now finds himself mired in a mess in the Middle East that could well worsen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system. (Continued from above.

Manhattan prosecutors said Friday that a judge should keep in place major elements of the gag order imposed on Donald J. Trump before his criminal trial, citing dozens of threats that have been made against officials connected to the case.

The gag order, issued before the trial began in mid-April, bars Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and relatives of the judge who presided over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, among others.

Prosecutors said the threats were “directly connected to defendant’s dangerous rhetoric,” and cited several examples, including a post that depicted cross hairs “on people involved in this case.”

Others were homicidal messages directed at Mr. Bragg or his employees, including, “We will kill you all,” “You are dead” and “Your life is done.” Four of the threats were referred for further investigation, according to the police affidavit.
The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.”

All told, prosecutors argued that the threats “overwhelmingly outweighed” the “expressive interest” of Mr. Trump, especially considering that he had yet to be sentenced.

During his seven-week trial, Mr. Trump, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee, repeatedly attacked Mr. Bragg and Justice Merchan. He was also cited 10 times for violating his gag order with online postings and comments excoriating jurors or witnesses. The violations led Justice Merchan to impose a $10,000 fine and threaten Mr. Trump with jail time.

Mr. Trump’s vitriol flared again on Friday morning, before the district attorney’s filing, with a post on his Truth Social account.

“I DID NOTHING WRONG on the D.A. Alvin Bragg case, it was only because my name is TRUMP that they went after me,” he wrote, citing an article in The Wall Street Journal.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Insiders: The 3 Men at the Core of Biden’s Brain Trust, Katie Rogers and Michael D. Shear, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden has a diverse group of advisers, but few have the influence of three men in his inner circle during his final campaign.

Multiple times each day, President Biden dials up Mike Donilon, a close adviser since the 1980s, to chew on the latest polls and headlines.

“What’s your instinct? What do you think?” Mr. Biden will ask Mr. Donilon, who recently left the White House for the campaign’s Delaware headquarters.

Once a week, Mr. Biden summons Ron Klain, his former chief of staff, to workshop the best attacks to use against former President Donald J. Trump as the presidential debate draws closer.

When he leaves for Delaware on weekends, Mr. Biden seeks out Ted Kaufman, a confidant who represents the president’s ties to the state that introduced him to the national stage more than a half-century ago. It was Mr. Kaufman who was brutally direct with Mr. Biden when a plagiarism scandal threatened his first campaign for president in 1987.

“There’s only one way to stop the sharks,” Mr. Kaufman told him at the time, “and that’s pull out.” Mr. Biden did.

Interviews with dozens of people close to the president reveal a truth at the heart of Mr. Biden’s political life: While he is surrounded by a diverse and multigenerational crowd of campaign operatives, policy experts and cabinet secretaries, he reserves his full trust for a small circle of insiders who are the definition of old school.

The three are at the center of the Biden world, part of an echo chamber where dissent is rare. In important moments, each has told the president news he did not want to hear, although not one of them said no when the president was considering whether to run for a second term. They are also decades older than the young voters who could decide the election, which worries many of the president’s allies.

Mr. Klain is the youngest at 62. Mr. Donilon is 65. Mr. Kaufman is 85, four years older than Mr. Biden. Each has earned the president’s trust over not just years but decades. On this last of Mr. Biden’s four presidential campaigns, the three are his political comfort animals on speed dial.

ny times logoNew York Times, Timothy Mellon, Secretive Donor, Gives $50 Million to Pro-Trump Group, Shane Goldmacher and Theodore Schleifer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The cash from Mr. Mellon, who has also been a major donor to a super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is among the largest single disclosed gifts ever.

timothy mellonTimothy Mellon, right, a reclusive heir to a Gilded Age fortune, donated $50 million to a super PAC supporting Donald J. Trump the day after the former president was convicted of 34 felonies, according to new federal filings, an enormous gift that is among the largest single disclosed contributions ever.

The donation’s impact on the 2024 race is expected to be felt almost immediately. Within days of the contribution, the pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., said in a memo that it would begin reserving $100 million in advertising through Labor Day.

The group had only $34.5 million on hand at the end of April, and Mr. Mellon’s contribution accounted for much of the nearly $70 million that the super PAC raised in May. On Wednesday and Thursday, the super PAC began reserving $30 million in ads to air in Georgia and Pennsylvania around the Fourth of July holiday.

Mr. Mellon is now the first donor to give $100 million in disclosed federal contributions in this year’s election. He was already the single largest contributor to super PACs supporting both Mr. Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an independent. Mr. Mellon has previously given $25 million to both.

Democrats have sought to portray Mr. Kennedy as a spoiler supported by Republicans, in part by emphasizing Mr. Mellon’s dual contributions and seemingly split loyalties. The pro-Kennedy super PAC has distributed quotations from the hard-to-reach Mr. Mellon, and for a blurb that appears on the cover of Mr. Mellon’s upcoming book, Mr. Kennedy called the billionaire a “maverick entrepreneur.”

It is not clear what Mr. Mellon’s mega-donation means for his support of Mr. Kennedy going forward. He has so far toggled between giving to support both candidates. His most recent donation to Mr. Kennedy’s super PAC was a $5 million contribution in April.

But Mr. Mellon’s $50 million gift will significantly help pro-Trump forces narrow the financial advantage that President Biden and his allies have enjoyed so far. Miriam Adelson, the casino billionaire and widow of Sheldon G. Adelson, who died in 2021, has also made plans to fund a pro-Trump super PAC with at least as much money as the $90 million that her family gave in the 2020 campaign, although much of the cash has yet to arrive.

Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, the Illinois couple who are among the G.O.P.’s largest donors, each gave $5 million to the Trump super PAC in May. The billionaire energy executive Kelcy Warren also gave $5 million.

But outside groups supporting Mr. Biden have already announced more than $1 billion in planned spending, anchored by a reserved $250 million in advertising from the leading pro-Biden super PAC, Future Forward.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Has Rapidly Eroded Biden’s Edge in 2024 Cash Battle, Shane Goldmacher and Theodore Schleifer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Just two months ago, President Biden appeared to have a daunting financial advantage. After Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felonies, Republicans rallied.

Former President Donald J. Trump out-raised President Biden for the second consecutive month in May, outpacing his successor by roughly $81 million in donations over the last two months as he rode a surge of financial support after his felony conviction.

In May, Mr. Biden’s campaign and its joint operation with the Democratic National Committee raised $85 million, compared with $141 million for Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee, according to the two campaigns. In April, the Trump team also brought in $25 million more than the Biden team.

The Biden campaign said it entered June with $212 million on hand combined with the party. The Trump operation and R.N.C. have not released a full tally of their cash on hand since the end of March. A partial count on Thursday, revealed in Federal Election Commission filings, showed that Mr. Trump had amassed a war chest of at least $170 million with the party.

Overall, Mr. Trump was a daunting $100 million behind Mr. Biden at the start of April. In two months, he cut that cash deficit by at least half.

The full accounting of both sides’ finances will be made public in federal filings next month. But the combination of Mr. Trump’s improved fund-raising and Mr. Biden’s heavier spending on advertising this spring appears to put the two sides on a path to enter the summer relatively close to financial parity.

“Yes, Trump is raising a lot more money now, and that should scare people,” said Brian Derrick, a strategist who founded a Democratic fund-raising platform called Oath. “But at the end of the day, Biden has the funds that he needs to run a really strong campaign.”

Money alone is rarely determinative in big races, like for the presidency, because voters are already well-informed about the candidates. But some of the most important voters this year appear to be those who have tuned out — and breaking through to them can cost considerable money.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bloomberg Backs Biden With $20 Million Donation, Chris Cameron, June 21, 2024 (print ed.).  Michael Bloomberg, the Democratic megadonor and former New York City mayor, became a significant backer of President Biden’s in 2020 after his own bid failed.

michael bloombergMichael R. Bloomberg, right, who is the former mayor of New York City and a Democratic megadonor, has donated nearly $20 million to support President Biden’s re-election campaign, a Bloomberg representative said.

Mr. Bloomberg gave $19 million to Future Forward, the main Democratic super PAC supporting Mr. Biden, and $929,600 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising committee between Mr. Biden and the Democratic National Committee, said Howard Wolfson, the Education program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

"I stood with Joe Biden in 2020, and I am proud to do so again,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.

Mr. Bloomberg, who spent $1 billion of his own money on his failed presidential campaign in 2020, ultimately backed Mr. Biden in the Democratic primary that year and was a significant financial supporter of his campaign. He spent tens of millions of dollars through his political action committee on television ads supporting Mr. Biden and vowed to spend heavily in Florida, which then-President Donald J. Trump ultimately won by about three percentage points.

Mr. Bloomberg’s $19 million donation to Future Forward is significant, but pales in comparison to the super PAC’s spending ambitions for the election. The group has reserved a $250 million ad campaign in seven battleground states, starting in August and running through Election Day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign seeks to head off convention revolt from its right flank, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Arnsdorf, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Aides scrambled to foil a suspected plot to throw the nominating process into chaos as suspicions abound about potentially disloyal delegates.

djt maga hatArizona delegates to the Republican National Convention gathered this month in a Phoenix suburb, showing up to get to know each other and learn about their duties.

Part of the presentation included a secret plan to throw the party’s nomination of Donald Trump for president into chaos.

rnc logoThe instructions did not come from “Never Trumpers” hoping to stop the party from nominating a felon when delegates gather in Milwaukee next month. They instead came from avowed “America First” believers hatching a challenge from the far right — a plot to release the delegates from their pledge to support Trump, according to people present and briefed on the meeting, slides from the presentation and private messages obtained by The Washington Post.

The delegates said the gambit would require support from several other state delegations, and it wasn’t clear whether those allies had been lined up. One idea, discussed as attendees ate finger-foods, was for co-conspirators to signal their allegiance to one another by wearing matching black jackets.

trump 2024The exact purpose of the maneuver was not clear — and left some delegates puzzled and alarmed. People familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said that perhaps the intent was to block an undesirable running mate. Most of the dozen GOP officials or activists interviewed by The Post even ventured that the aim may have been to substitute former national security adviser Michael Flynn for Trump if the former president is sentenced to prison time. Among some on the far right, suspicions have intensified that the former president has surrounded himself with too many advisers beholden to the “deep state.”

Whatever the goal, the Trump campaign rushed to head off the stunt and replace the delegates. One campaign staffer involved in the cleanup described it to at least two Republicans as an “existential threat” to Trump’s nomination next month, two people familiar with conversations told The Post. To another Republican, the staffer described the scenario discussed by the Arizona delegates, however unlikely, as being “the only process that would prevent Trump from being the nominee.”

The episode in Arizona — a swing state where Republicans have been gripped by especially strong doubts about the integrity of elections — unfolded mostly out of sight.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: "Unfair"— Trump Lashes Out Against Fox News Poll Showing Biden Ahead, J.D. Wolf, June 20, 2024.  Poll numbers obsessed Trump warns against Fox News.

mtn meidas touch networkTrump took to Truth Social Thursday in reaction to a Fox News poll showing him losing to President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. Trump complained: "FoxNews Polls are always the worst for me. They have been from the beginning, and always will be!"

fox news logo SmallThe Fox News poll shows Biden at 50% and Trump at 48% nationally. The poll also shows Biden up by 1 point against Trump when factoring in 3rd party candidates.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Confused Trump Told Author He Had to Deal With 'The Afghanistan' After Leaving Office, Troy Matthews, June 19, 2024. Donald Trump continued to believe he had foreign policy authority even after leaving office, according to Variety Co-Editor-in-djt apprenticeChief Ramin Setoodeh who interviewed the disgraced ex-President several times for his Book, Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass, after he left office. (Trump is shown at right in a promo for the hit show of nearly two decades ago.)

mtn meidas touch networkTrump "seemed to think that he still had some foreign policy powers," Setoodeh told CNN's Kaitlin Collins on Tuesday. "There was one day, where he told me he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan even though he clearly didn't," Setoodeh continued.

"While you were interviewing him at Trump Tower, he told you he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan," Collins asked Setoodeh.

"With 'the Afghanistan' is how he referred to it," Setoodeh replied.

Setoodeh interviewed Trump six times after he left office in 2021, primarily about his experiences as the host the reality TV show The Apprentice. Setoodeh said Trump's memory issues were so bad he couldn't even remember that he was being interviewed from one session to the next.

Trump's campaign claimed in a statement he couldn't remember Setoodeh because he was "a nobody," despite Trump approaching Setoodeh to be interviewed when he learned the book was being written.

"There was some cognitive questions about where he was and what he was thinking and he would he would from time to time become confused," Setoodeh said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Election updates: Donald Trump will get the last word at the debate, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. failed to qualify, Neil Vigdor, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). A coin flip won by President Biden gave him the option of picking which podium he will use or choosing the order of closing statements.

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Stands on the Issues, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Katie Glueck and Chris Cameron, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The independent candidate, though still a long shot, has found support for his blend of populist economic rhetoric, isolationist foreign policy leanings and government skepticism.

Here’s what we know about where Mr. Kennedy, 70, stands on key issues.

 

djt biden resized smiles

Hopium Chronicles, Commentary: Biden Gains 3 And Takes Lead in Fox Poll, New With Dems Presentation (Video), Simon Rosenberg, right, June 20-21, 2024. simon rosenberg twitterLast night Fox dropped a bombshell poll that found Biden gaining 3 points in the past month, 7 points since fox news logo SmallMarch and taking the lead in the Presidential race, 50%-48%. Here’s the opening of their article: President Joe Biden is the frontrunner in a hypothetical matchup against [Trump] for the first time since October, as positive views of the economy inch up - hitting their highest level in the Biden presidency.

 

djt biden resized smiles

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tries to Set Expectations, and Floats Excuses, for His Debate With Biden, Shawn McCreesh, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump has set a low bar for President Biden’s performance at next week’s matchup. Now, he is preparing supporters for the possibility that Mr. Biden clears it.

 

Independent 2024 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his vice presidential pick, Niicole Shanahan, an attorney who has helped fund his campaign after being enriched by a divorce settlement from a Google co-founder, at a rally on March 26, 2024 (AP photo by Ericr Risberg).

Independent 2024 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his vice presidential pick, Niicole Shanahan, an attorney who has helped fund his campaign after being enriched by a divorce settlement from a Google co-founder, at a rally on March 26, 2024 (AP photo by Ericr Risberg).

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign raised just $2.6 million in May in a sign of his reliance on his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, Theodore Schleifer, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign has depended heavily on contributions from Nicole Shanahan, his vice-presidential pick, who did not make major new donations in May.

washington post logoWashington Post, RFK Jr. won’t meet CNN debate requirement for ballot access, Nicole Markus and Meryl Kornfield, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). The independent presidential candidate has said he has qualified for enough state ballots, but state election officials have said that’s not true.

rfk jr mouth openIndependent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has repeatedly claimed that he appears on enough statewide ballots to qualify for next week’s debate between President Biden and Donald Trump and has threatened to sue CNN for not letting him on the stage.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Biden and CNN Prepare for a Hostile Debate (With Muted Mics), Shane Goldmacher and Reid J. Epstein, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump’s behavior at the first 2020 debate is fresh in the memories of both campaigns. He and President Biden are preparing in sharply different ways.

cnn logoThere will be no opening statements. President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump will each have two minutes to answer questions — followed by one-minute rebuttals and responses to the rebuttals. Red lights visible to the candidates will flash when they have five seconds left, and turn solid red when time has expired. And each man’s microphone will be muted when it is not his turn to speak.

The candidates will get a breather during two commercial breaks, according to debate rules provided by CNN to the campaigns and reviewed by The New York Times, but they will be barred from huddling with advisers while off the air.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s Declining Support Among Women Is a Warning for Democrats, Ruth Igielnik, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s current standing among women is the weakest lead a Democrat has had since 2004, a key factor in how tight the race is.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden’s Strategy: Help Immigrants in U.S., but Stop Others From Arriving, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s recent actions on immigration put his approach to one of the most divisive issues in the election into focus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mike Johnson’s Intelligence Committee choices anger some in GOP, Marianna Sotomayor, Theodoric Meyer and Leigh Ann Caldwell, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) named two controversial members to the House Intelligence Committee — Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.) and Ronny Jackson (Tex.) — sparking concerns about politicizing a crucial committee. He did so partially because Donald Trump wanted him to.

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Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel-Hamas War: Blaming Hamas for Gazans’ Suffering, Many Israelis Feel Little Sympathy, Isabel Kershner, June 23, 2024. Despite being aware of the devastation in Gaza, many in Israel ask why they should show pity when, in their view, Palestinians showed none on Oct. 7.

The southern Israeli city of Netivot, a working-class hub for mystical rabbis about 10 miles from the Gaza border, escaped the worst of the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, a fluke many residents ascribe to miraculous intervention by the Jewish sages buried here.

Nevertheless, many here seem to show little concern about the suffering now of the Palestinian civilians — practically neighbors — across the fence in Gaza.

Michael Zigdon, who operates a small food shack in Netivot’s rundown market and had employed two men from Gaza until the attack, expressed little sympathy for Gazans, who have endured a ferocious Israeli military onslaught for the past eight months.

“Who wants this war and who doesn’t?” Mr. Zigdon said, while mopping up red food dye that had spilled from a crushed-ice drink machine in his shack. “It wasn’t us who attacked them on Oct. 7.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Benjamin Netanyahu aired new grievances against the U.S. as Israel’s defense minister heads to Washington today,
Isabel Kershner, June 23, 2024. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel aired new grievances on Sunday over the Biden administration’s supply of munitions for the war in Gaza as his minister of defense headed to Washington for meetings with senior U.S. officials.

Some Israeli news outlets had portrayed the visit by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, albeit preplanned, as a “reconciliation” trip aimed at smoothing recent tensions with the country’s most crucial ally. Mr. Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration have been increasingly at odds over Israel’s conduct in Gaza, and Mr. Netanyahu lashed out at the United States last week for withholding some heavy munitions.

But on Sunday morning, Mr. Netanyahu doubled down. In remarks broadcast in Hebrew before his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Mr. Netanyahu said he appreciated the Biden administration’s support for Israel through eight months of war, “but starting four months ago, there was a dramatic decrease in the supply of armaments.”

“For long weeks, we turned to our American friends with a request to speed up the deliveries. We did that time after time,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding that he had also tried working behind closed doors.

“We received all sorts of explanations, but one thing we didn’t receive: The basic situation didn’t change,” he continued, adding, “Certain items arrived in a trickle, but the great mass of munitions stayed behind.”

The remarks came days after Mr. Netanyahu released a combative video, in English, excoriating the Biden administration for, as Mr. Netanyahu put it, withholding weapons and ammunition when Israel was “fighting for its life” against Iran and other common enemies.

U.S. officials said at the time that they found the video “perplexing” and did not know what Mr. Netanyahu was talking about. While the Israeli prime minister complained of “bottlenecks,” the Biden administration maintained that it had held up only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated parts of Gaza.

The continuation of the spat on Sunday and Mr. Gallant’s travel to the United States come at a critical juncture. Israel’s military has indicated that it wants to wind down the fighting in Gaza and potentially turn its attention to its northern border with Lebanon, after weeks of escalating tit-for-tat strikes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia backed by Iran.

The Biden administration has been working to try to find a diplomatic solution to avert a full-blown conflagration between Israel and Hezbollah. President Biden has also invested time and political capital endorsing an Israeli proposal for a truce in Gaza involving an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners. Hamas raised significant reservations about the proposal, and talks have been at an impasse.

Mr. Gallant was invited to Washington by his counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, according to Mr. Gallant’s office. It also said he was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other senior American officials.

“The United States is our most important and central ally,” Mr. Gallant said shortly before his departure. “Our ties are crucial, and perhaps more important than ever, at this time,” he added.

Mr. Gallant and Mr. Netanyahu are themselves rivals who have openly clashed in recent months, even as they jointly oversee Israel’s military operations. As the Israeli prime minister has lashed out at the White House, he also has engaged in increasingly public spats with his military brass and his right-wing coalition partners.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: Deadly Strike Hits Area of Gaza Where Displaced People Were Sheltering, Staff Reports, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike near Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike amid tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a coastal community in the southern Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

The Israeli military said “the incident is under review.”

Al-Mawasi contains a zone where the Israeli military has told people fleeing the fighting in Rafah to go for their safety, though such zones have also come under fire during the war. It was unclear from the accounts of Gazan officials whether the attack was within the zone.

Key Developments

  • An Israeli official described a government bid to cement control of the West Bank, and other news.
  • An influential member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was caught on tape telling settlers in the occupied West Bank that the government is engaged in a stealthy campaign to impose control on the territory for the long term. In a leaked recording, the official, Bezalel Smotrich, can be heard suggesting that the goal was to deter the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state.
  • After months of escalating violence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the chief of the United Nations warned on Friday that “the risk for the conflict in the Middle East to widen is real — and must be avoided.” Secretary General António Guterres said that “one rash move” by Israel or Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group targeting Israel in allegiance with Hamas fighters in Gaza, could trigger a “catastrophe that goes far beyond the border and, frankly, beyond imagination.”
  • Armenia is recognizing a Palestinian state, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, a largely symbolic move that adds to the international pressure on Israel over its war in Gaza. In response, Israel said it had summoned Armenia’s ambassador for a “harsh reprimand.” More than 140 countries and the Holy See have recognized a Palestinian state — including Spain, Norway and Ireland who jointly did so last month — though most Western European countries and the United States have not.
  • The Israeli military said that it struck a missile launch site that belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group in the Gaza Strip, embedded within a shelter for displaced Palestinians of Khan Younis. Before the strike, “various measures were taken in order to mitigate harm to uninvolved civilians,” the military said in a statement on Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Beleaguered aid pier functional again in Gaza; Netanyahu slams U.S, Adela Suliman and Hazem Balousha, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Washington over slow weapons deliveries, drawing a puzzled response from U.S. officials.

Israel FlagA controversial U.S.-built floating pier that has been racked with problems is once again operational and delivered 656 metric tons of much needed aid to Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday. However, the restoration did little to address questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the multimillion-dollar project, or even if it would continue.

palestinian flagThe Centcom statement described it as “the largest single day delivery of aid to date” — about the equivalent 38 truckloads. Aid groups estimate that the battered Gaza Strip requires hundreds of truckloads a day to support the more than 2 million people trapped inside. The Pentagon originally said it would be delivering up to 1,700 tons a day via the pier.

Department of Defense SealThe pier, which Centcom says has been used to deliver 4,160 tons of humanitarian aid to date, is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to get food and other lifesaving necessities to starving Gazans as the humanitarian situation worsens and the enclave remains largely sealed off. But it is challenging to use when waves exceed 2 to 3 feet in height, according to past assessments in military journals.

Critics have argued that instead of constructing the pier, the administration could have delivered aid into Gaza faster and at less cost by pressuring the Israeli government to ease restrictions on aid moving through land routes. Georgios Petropoulos, head of the U.N. humanitarian coordination office in Gaza, told The Post that the pier operation “was a failure.”

“Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s much to do about nothing. Distracted us for three months,” he said, adding that it was not yet serving the interests of people in the Gaza Strip.

The floating pier was first announced by President Biden in his March State of the Union address, and construction was completed in May. The project cost an estimated $230 million.

In late May, the pier was ripped apart by bad weather, causing an estimated $22 million in damage and sidelining the operation for days while it was repaired. Earlier this month, it was again partly dismantled and towed to shelter in the Israeli port of Ashdod to avoid forecast bad weather and to “ensure the structural integrity of the pier and safety of our service members,” Centcom said.

Another issue has been the suspension of operations by the United Nations’ World Food Program, partly responsible for the distribution of aid arriving from the pier, after an Israeli hostage rescue operation on June 8 freed four hostages and left more than 250 Palestinians dead. The WFP is expected to resume work pending a review “to ensure that secure conditions for humanitarian work can be reestablished,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq has said.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for aid delivery to Gaza, reported that 324 truckloads of aid passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south. But aid agencies have said it is difficult to collect because of the ongoing fighting inside Gaza as well as the increased lawlessness of the desperate population.

Israel announced a daily pause in combat operations earlier this week to facilitate the delivery of aid, but WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain told Al-Monitor in an interview Thursday that it made little difference. “We haven’t been able to get in,” she said. “We’ve had to reroute some of our trucks. They’ve been looted. As you know, we’ve been shot at, and we’ve been rocketed. So far as we can tell, there’s no difference at all.”

Aid group Doctors Without Borders said Friday that they may need to “stop or drastically reduce some of its medical activities” in Gaza as it has been unable to bring any medical supplies into the strip since the end of April due to the Israeli closure of the Rafah crossing.
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“We have six trucks filled with 37 tons of supplies — the vast majority of which are essential medical items — that have been waiting since June 14 on the Egyptian side of Kerem Shalom crossing point, unable to cross into Gaza where they are needed to save lives,” Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator with the group, said in a statement.

On the political scene, a war of words appears to have erupted between the United States and Israel this week, as Washington hit back after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the slow delivery of U.S. weapons.

Netanyahu said in a social media video this week that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months the [Biden] administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he was unaware the video was coming and called it “perplexing,” given the volume of U.S. military support to Israel. “It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect,” he said. “There’s no other country that’s done more but will continue to do more than the United States to help Israel defend itself.”
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Characterizing Kirby’s comments as a personal attack, Netanyahu said he was “willing to absorb personal attacks if that is what it takes for Israel to get the arms and ammunition it needs in its war for survival.”

Netanyahu said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Friday that he was “appreciative” of U.S. military aid but that he had tried talking with the president to resolve what he maintained was a slowdown in weapons deliveries. “I felt that airing it was absolutely necessary after months of quiet conversation that did not solve the problem,” he added.

 

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Smoke rising from bombed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 29, 2023 (EPA photo by Hannibal Hanschke via Shutterstock and The New York Times).

Smoke rising from bombed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 29, 2023 (EPA photo by Hannibal Hanschke via Shutterstock and The New York Times). 

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 

 

Kamala Harris Munich Security Conference 2 16 2024washington post logo

Washington Post, Opinion: A closer look at Harris shows how effective she’s become, Jennifer Rubin, June 23, 2024. As the election jennifer rubin new headshotnears, the vice president, shown above delivering a speech earlier this year, is connecting policy to lived experience.

On Friday, after the Supreme Court issued its latest batch of opinions, I spoke briefly on the phone with Vice President Harris. After several days spent attending her appearances, it had become obvious to me that far from being a liability, as her critics insist, she is an effective communicator and skilled advocate — especially on causes on which she has developed expertise over decades.

biden harris 2024 logoGiven the recent court scandals, I asked her about ethics reform. Even when in the Senate, she recalled, she supported a code of ethics for the Supreme Court. “The reasons are more evident today, ” she said. She pointed to blindfolded Lady Justice. “This is how ingrained it is in our system of justice,” she added. “I’m concerned there has been loss of confidence” in the court, Harris said, highlighting not only ethics concerns but also the extreme ideology of a court that has shredded precedent.

From there she spoke passionately about her work since Dobbs to defend reproductive freedom. According to her office, since that decision, she has delivered scores of speeches and held more than 90 gatherings in 21 states (as well as convening groups at the White House) to discuss reproductive freedom with elected officials, health-care providers, faith leaders, students, and advocates. On her Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour, beginning in 2023, she raised the issue at college campuses.

Harris told me her campus visits have been standing room only, with overflow rooms. “Students stood in line for hours,” she said, “not for a rock concert, but to have a conversations with the vice president.” Contrary to the impression that Gen Z voters are disengaged, she came away “inspired” and more certain that they will mark a “sea change” in politics. Guns, abortion rights and climate are not academic issues to this generation. “It is a lived experience. In the height of their reproductive years, the Supreme Court took away the right to make decisions about their own body. . . . They understand we need practical solutions.”

Observing Harris last week, I could see the extent of her political maturation since her first year in office, when withering and often baseless criticism dominated coverage. Her delivery is crisp and authoritative. She appears relaxed, confident and centered in formal and informal settings. And she appears to relish taking on bullies. She can draw on not only three years of experience as vice president but 20 years or so as a prosecutor. “There are very few things I do now that I have not done over [that time],” she told me, pointing to a career that’s ranged from working as a line prosecutor to running the San Francisco agency for abused and neglected children to serving as California Attorney General and then its senator.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pro-Ted Cruz group draws scrutiny for receiving money from his podcast’s company, Patrick Svitek, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Campaign finance experts have questioned whether the arrangement runs afoul of a ban on candidates directing money to super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money.

A super PAC supporting Sen. Ted Cruz’s reelection campaign has received nearly $800,000 in receipts from the company that distributes the Texas Republican’s podcast, an arrangement that is attracting scrutiny from campaign finance experts and Democrats.

Federal law prohibits candidates from soliciting or directing money to super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of funds, including corporate money, as long as they do not coordinate with the candidate they are working to elect.

Some campaign finance watchdogs say it’s hard to believe that Cruz would not have been involved in any arrangement to route the funds from the company that distributes his podcast to the super PAC, known as Truth and Courage PAC.

“It just defies credulity that this is a normal business transaction,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer with no involvement in Cruz’s race. “Even if it were, the idea that a super PAC derives a substantial portion of its revenue … from a commercial business in which a sitting senator is a principal is completely unique and … raises all sorts of legal and ethical issues.”

Cruz’s campaign has emphasized he does not get paid personally to do the podcast, although critics say the arrangement raises other issues and requires investigation by the Federal Election Commission.

End Citizens United — a group whose political arm has endorsed Cruz’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Colin Allred (Tex.) — filed an FEC complaint in April alleging Cruz has run afoul of the ban on soliciting or directing money for a super PAC. The group was joined in the complaint by the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan government watchdog group.

Allred, a congressman from Dallas, has made Cruz’s podcasting a major part of his campaign, accusing the senator of focusing more on being a media personality than serving Texans. Cruz has argued the podcast allows him to bypass traditional media to talk to his constituents about important issues.

washington post logoWashington Post, Carter’s next potential milestone: First former president to see 100, Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, June 23, 2024. Jimmy Carter has been in hospice care for 16 months, but he continues to eat well and defy the odds as his 100th birthday approaches.

Jimmy Carter is within sight of making history yet again. Sunday marks 100 days until Carter would become the first president to witness his own 100th birthday.

Statistically, Americans have a less than 1 percent chance of living to 100. And Carter faces particularly significant challenges in reaching the milestone. For the past 16 months, he’s been in hospice, end-of-life care that focuses on comfort and forgoes medical intervention. Half of people in hospice died within 17 days in 2020, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
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Yet as Carter inches closer to his 100th birthday on Oct. 1, defying odds and expectations, preparations are gearing up for the landmark event — including a 100-mile bike ride and a film festival in his home state of Georgia. Some oddsmakers are not only taking bets on whether he will make it to his birthday but whether he will live long enough to see the end of the Ukraine war.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Culture Wars Came to a California Suburb. A Leader Was Ousted, Jill Cowan, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Voters recalled a school board president after his conservative majority approved policies on critical race theory and transgender issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S.D.A. Avocado Inspectors Will Start Returning to Mexican Packing Plants, Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The inspections in Michoacán, the Mexican state responsible for most avocado exports to the U.S., were suspended last weekend because of security concerns.

The move has fueled concern among producers in Michoacán, the state responsible for 73 percent of avocado production in Mexico. Jalisco, the other Mexican state allowed to ship the fruit, accounts for 12 percent of production. Together, the two states supply about 90 percent of all U.S. avocado imports.

“We haven’t seen what measures the authorities are going to take to prevent this from happening again,” Juan Carlos Anaya, director general of an agricultural consulting group in Mexico, said in a radio interview this week.

This is not the first time that the United States has cited security concerns regarding their U.S.D.A. inspectors in Michoacán, where criminal groups have sought to infiltrate the avocado industry, a lucrative export market.

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida to Pay Millions to Victims of Abuses at Notorious Reform School, Patricia Mazzei. June 22, 2024 (print ed.). A $20 million program will give financial restitution to students who endured abuse and neglect at the hands of the state.

ny times logoNew York Times, Louisiana’s Ten Commandments Law Signals a Broader Christian Agenda, Rick Rojas, David W. Chen and Elizabeth Dias, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Gov. Jeff Landry wants his state to be at the forefront of a national movement to advance legislation with a Christian worldview.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, IRS says ‘vast majority’ of 1 million pandemic-era credit claims show a risk of being improper, Staff Report, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Tens of thousands of claims showing “clear signs of being erroneous” will be denied in coming weeks, the agency said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Thou Shalt Not Post the Ten Commandments in the Classroom, David French, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). There is a certain irony in the bravado about the Ten Commandments from Gov. Jeff Landry of Louisiana. On Saturday he told attendees at a Republican fund-raiser, “I can’t wait to be sued.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Bowman, in a Fight for His Political Life, Embraces the Left’s Star Power, Nicholas Fandos and Claire Fahy, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders will appear at a rally for Representative Jamaal Bowman today, ahead of New York’s primary.

Overpowered on the airwaves and behind in the polls, Mr. Bowman is leaning heavily on national star power in a last-minute bid to alter the trajectory of one of the nation’s most hotly contested Democratic primaries.

“They have the money,” Mr. Bowman, 48, boomed at the event with Mr. Sanders on Friday in Hastings-on-Hudson, just north of his hometown, Yonkers. “We have the many.”

The megawatt events drove home the sharp contrasts between the congressman and his opponent, George Latimer, but they also demonstrated how the candidates are betting on two very different paths to victory, in a district split between wealthy suburbs and working-class neighborhoods, and among white, Black and Latino voters.

Rather than reach toward the party’s center, Mr. Bowman has reiterated the left-leaning positions that helped make him a national figure. He has railed against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s record spending blitz against him and an entrenched establishment, all in hopes of increasing turnout among progressives and voters of color.

Mr. Latimer, a middle-of-the-road Democrat and the Westchester County executive, is largely grinding toward the primary on Tuesday alone with no tinsel in sight.

ny times logoNew York Times, AIPAC Unleashes a Record $14.5 Million Bid to Defeat a Critic of Israel, Nicholas Fandos, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The deluge in outside spending, which also includes another $1 million from another pro-Israel group, threatens to sink Representative Jamaal Bowman.

 

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin speaks during a press conference where he announced corruption charges against George Norcross (seated, second from left) in Trenton, New Jersey, on June 17, 2024 (Politico photo by Daniel Han).

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin speaks during a press conference where he announced corruption charges against George Norcross (seated, second from left) in Trenton, New Jersey, on June 17, 2024 (Politico photo by Daniel Han).

Politico, New Jersey AG charges Democratic power broker George Norcross in bombshell indictment, Dustin Racioppi and Daniel Han, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). He has long been the subject of scrutiny by law enforcement and a political task force, but has never been charged.

ny times logoNew York Times, In a State Notorious for Political Scandal, Signs of Change Emerge, Nick Corasaniti and Tracey Tully, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). In New Jersey, a senator is charged with taking bribes. A political power broker is accused of racketeering. A judge has declared the election system unfair.

washington post logoWashington Post, Md. governor to pardon 175,000 marijuana convictions in sweeping order, Erin Cox, Katie Shepherd and Katie Mettler, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). The blanket pardon by Gov. Wes Moore is among the country’s most far reaching and will forgive wes mooredecades of low-level marijuana possession charges for an estimated 100,000 people.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Closing asset loophole could add billions to tax collections, IRS says, Julie Zauzmer Weil, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). The Treasury Department said it will enact rules to prevent certain large businesses from depreciating the same asset repeatedly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mark Robinson’s comments on sexual assault could strain GOP’s hopes of flipping N.C. governor’s seat, Patrick Svitek and Maegan Vazquez, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). Mark Robinson has spent years repeatedly questioning the veracity of women who accuse prominent men of violence.

mark robinson oMark Robinson, right, the firebrand Republican nominee for governor in North Carolina, has for years made comments downplaying and making light of sexual assault and domestic violence.

A review of Robinson’s social media posts over the past decade shows that he frequently questioned the credibility of women who aired allegations of sexual assault against prominent men, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Bill Cosby and now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. In one post, Robinson, North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, characterized Weinstein and others as “sacrificial lambs” being “slaughtered.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

Trump Guilty Verdicts, Reactions, Probes, Allies

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump allies who were charged in an Arizona election case began filing what was expected to be a series of challenges, Danny Hakim and Jack Healy, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). The challenges from defendants charged with trying to overturn the 2020 election will be a test case for a new but little-known state law aimed at curbing political prosecutions.

Allies of former President Donald J. Trump charged in a sweeping Arizona election case on Friday began filing what is expected to be a series of challenges, seizing on a new state law aimed at curbing litigation and prosecutions involving political figures.

The law was originally crafted by Kory Langhofer, a Phoenix lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign during the 2020 election but who subsequently fell out of favor with the former president. He said the 2022 law’s intent was to limit politically motivated prosecutions on both sides of the aisle.

The new challenges could have the effect of delaying the election case in Arizona for several months, given the timeline for decisions and appeals. The case was brought in April by the state attorney general, Kris Mayes, a Democrat.

The 18 defendants have each been charged with nine counts of fraud, forgery and conspiracy. The indictment lays out a series of efforts by the defendants to overturn Arizona’s election results, from the plan to deploy fake electors on Mr. Trump’s behalf, despite his loss at the polls, to the steps some took to put pressure on “officials responsible for certifying election results.”

Seven Trump advisers are among those charged, among them Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff. Eleven Republicans committed to Mr. Trump who claimed to be the state’s electors, even though President Biden had already been certified by state officials as the winner in Arizona, were also charged.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pledged to pardon Jan. 6 rioters. He faces pressure to name names, Isaac Arnsdorf and Greg Jaffe, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s campaign said he will decide pardons on a “case-by-case” basis without specifying factors.

 

djt todd blanche court pen

Donald Trump is shown in a file photo with his counsel Todd Blanche, right, outside the New York City courtroom where a state jury found him guilty of 34 felony counts on May 30, 2024.

Politico, Trump’s private demand to Johnson: Help overturn my conviction, Rachael Bade, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). As the former president heads to Capitol Hill, he is privately seeking legislative revenge.

politico CustomDonald Trump makes his first visit to Capitol Hill since leaving the presidency Thursday morning, meeting with Republican lawmakers in what is being billed as a resolutely forward-looking session focused on a potential 2025 legislative agenda.

In fact, Trump has bigger, more immediate legislative priorities.

mike johnson oHe has been obsessed in recent weeks with harnessing the powers of Congress to fight on his own behalf and go to war against the Democrats he accuses of “weaponizing” the justice system against him.

It’s a campaign he orchestrated in the days after his May 31 conviction on 34 felony counts in New York, starting with a phone call to the man he wanted to lead it: Speaker Mike Johnson, right.

U.S. House logoTrump was still angry when he made the call, according to those who have heard accounts of it from Johnson, dropping frequent F-bombs as he spoke with the soft-spoken and pious GOP leader.

“We have to overturn this,” Trump insisted.

djt maga hatJohnson sympathized with Trump’s frustration. He’d been among the first batch of Republican lawmakers to appear alongside Trump at the Manhattan trial. He’d been harping on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case and the alleged broader abuse of the justice system since before he took the gavel.

The speaker didn’t really need to be convinced, one person familiar with the conversation said: Johnson, a former attorney himself,already believed the House had a role to play in addressing Trump’s predicament. The two have since spoken on the subject multiple times.

Politico, Inside the room during Trump's visit with House Republican, Olivia Beavers, June 14, 2024 (print ed.).He asked Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene if she was "being nice to" Speaker Johnson, according to a person at the private meeting off the Hill.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pledged to pardon Jan. 6 rioters. He faces pressure to name names, Isaac Arnsdorf and Greg Jaffe, June 14, 2024. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s campaign said he will decide pardons on a “case-by-case” basis without specifying factors.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

djt solo no credit nyc court

 

Major U.S. Investigations, Commentaries

 

michael flynn djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn Has Turned His Trump-World Celebrity Into a Family Business, David A. Fahrenthold and Alexandra Berzon, June 23, 2024. The former national security adviser, shown above right in a 2016 presidential campaign file photo, took over a nonprofit group. Soon, it was paying five of his relatives and trafficking in conspiracy theories.

In 2021, retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Donald J. Trump’s first national security adviser, became chairman of a 75-year-old nonprofit organization — the kind of small charity where chairmen typically work for free.

But Mr. Flynn received a salary of $40,000, for working two hours per week.

The next year, he got a raise: $60,000, for two hours.

Mr. Flynn’s charity also paid one of his brothers, two of his sisters, his niece and his sister-in-law. By the end of its second year, his nonprofit group, America’s Future Inc., was running in the red, burning through reserves — and still paying $518,000, or 29 percent of its budget, to Flynns.

Since leaving the Trump administration under an ethical cloud, Michael Flynn has converted his Trump-world celebrity into a lucrative and sprawling family business. He and his relatives have marketed the retired general as a martyr, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a legal-defense fund and then pocketing leftover money. Through a network of nonprofit and for-profit ventures, they have sold far-right conspiracy theories, ranging from lies about the 2020 election to warnings, embraced by followers of QAnon, about cabals of pedophiles and child traffickers.

“This is one that goes up to the highest levels of corporations, up to the highest levels of the government,” Mr. Flynn said recently at a meeting hosted by America’s Future in Kent, Ohio. “People that you know and that you think you respect.”

A New York Times investigation found Flynn family members had made at least $2.2 million monetizing Michael Flynn’s right-wing stardom in recent years, with more than half of that going to Mr. Flynn directly. That total includes several payments not previously reported, but it is still a low estimate, since not all financial records are public. The Times’s reporting also raised questions about whether America’s Future had properly disclosed its payments to Mr. Flynn’s relatives.

Many of Mr. Trump’s closest allies have tried to turn political fame into private income, hawking everything from T-shirts to coffee beans to podcasts. Other than Mr. Trump himself, few have done it on the scale of Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Flynn’s reinvention could lead to resurrection: In the last year, Mr. Trump has alluded several times to his intention to bring the retired general back into his administration should Mr. Trump win the White House in November.

Mr. Flynn and his relatives did not respond directly to questions. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn, Jesse Binnall, said in an interview that the Flynns had earned their payments from America’s Future and other groups and that any errors in their filings were unintentional.

“General Flynn’s dedication to the cause of American freedom is steadfast and resolute, especially as it relates to the freedom of children,” Mr. Binnall said in a statement, adding that the Flynn family’s “strength, unity and dedication to America should be celebrated, not attacked.” 

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington Post publisher retains ties to past business ventures, Craig Whitlock, Jonathan O'Connell and Jon Swaine, June 23, 2024. William Lewis holds a stake in a start-up that has reached a deal with The Post to collaborate. The Post said the arrangement conforms with its conflict-of-interest policy.

A small digital start-up launched by Washington Post publisher William Lewis has entered into an agreement with The Post that allows the two companies to pursue deals together, even as Lewis still holds a financial stake in the firm.

The News Movement, which Lewis co-founded in 2020, recently developed pitches for two major advertisers, Rolex and Starbucks, to engage in commercial partnerships that would involve The Post, according to documents and interviews.

The Post’s relationship with the News Movement represents one of several ways in which Lewis remains connected to his previous business endeavors and associates. The Post said the arrangements conform with its conflict-of-interest policy. (More below.)

The Hartmann Report, Does Project 2025's Secret Plan Include Moving Beyond Trump's Shadow? Thom Hartmann, right, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). thom hartmannThe real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president.

In less than a month, Republicans will meet in Milwaukee to crown Donald Trump as their Emperor King and Sun God. But the real powers behind the GOP — the billionaires and their institutions that created Project 2025 as a how-to manual to convert American democracy into something like the old Confederacy — don’t much care about poor old Donald.

Sure, they want him to be the nominee because NBC trained him well in the dark art of playing a successful businessman on television. He brings in the rubes like nobody since Huey Long; he’s a singularly brilliant politician, much as Putin, Hitler, Orbán, and Mussolini are and were.

rnc logoBut he can also be irrational, impulsive, disloyal, dishonest, and unpredictable, qualities that make the men who want to revive the Confederacy to replace our republican form of government wary. They have big plans — far bigger than Trump’s tiny dream of vengeance — and don’t want him screwing things up.

Thus, the real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president. That’ll be the guy (it will be a guy) who does the actual heavy lifting in “deconstructing the administrative state,” seizing control of our media, and stripping average Americans of what’s left of their wealth and rights.

It’ll almost certainly work much like it did with the contestants on The Apprentice: NBC’s writers and producers would figure out who’d make the best winner, who’d draw the best audience “in the demo,” who would get the most PR for the show, and then Trump would pretend the choice was his. After all, he did exactly that for 14 television seasons over more than 300 episodes; he knows the routine well.

Trump is elderly, obese, and self-absorbed. He’s a heart attack waiting to happen, his cognitive capabilities are clearly slipping, and he’s incapable of seeing any issue in any context other than, “What’s in it for Donald?” They had to draw him pictures when they did intelligence briefings in the White House.

But the Project 2025 folks and their Steve Bannon fellow travelers, in their effort to tear down America and make our country safe(er) for morbidly rich oligarchs, have big plans, including:

— Placing the entire federal bureaucracy, including independent agencies like the Department of Justice, under direct presidential control through an extreme interpretation of the “unitary executive theory,” thus turning the federal police system into an enforcement mechanism against dissenters.

— Eliminating job protections for thousands of federal civil servants, allowing for their replacement by political appointees loyal to the administration, reversing the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and returning America to the corrupt spoils system.

— Dismantling the Department of Education and transferring or terminating its programs, speeding up the GOP’s ongoing project of ending public schools (with their unionized teachers) and replacing them with private, segregated, often-religious academies for the white upper middle class.

— Slashing funding for the Department of Justice and dismantling the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (which will probably be replaced by a new Schutzstaffel-style police force answerable directly to the president, as Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have already done in Florida and Texas).

— Abolishing the Federal Reserve and potentially returning to a gold-backed currency, transferring power over the nation’s economy from the Fed’s technocrats into the hands of the wealthiest men in America.

— Criminalizing pornography, abortion, mifepristone, and most forms of birth control, placing women under the direct control of the state.

— Removing legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, returning us to the days when queer people were routinely harassed and murdered.

— Terminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and affirmative action initiatives across the federal government, locking into place the white racial hierarchy that currently controls most wealth and power in the USA.

— Cutting funding for renewable energy research and climate change initiatives while boosting fossil fuel production so the fossil fuel barons who largely own the GOP can make more billions.

— Imposing work requirements for recipients of food stamps (SNAP) and other welfare programs as the first step toward ending all welfare programs that are funded by rich people’s taxpayer dollars.

— Extending Trump’s 2017 tax cuts , which would add $4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years according to estimates, so billionaires can continue to only pay a 3.4% income tax.

— Requiring a three-fifths supermajority in Congress to raise individual or corporate income taxes, making future tax increases on the morbidly rich almost impossible.

— Infusing the government with elements of Christianity, rejecting our nation’s Founders’ vision of America as the world’s first secular democratic republic.
— Eliminating terms like “sexual orientation,” “gender equality,” and “reproductive right” from all federal laws and regulations.

— Appointing more extremist federal judges who would overturn landmark Supreme Court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and Griswold v Connecticut, which legalized birth control.

— Restricting voting rights by pushing for strict voter ID laws, limiting mail-in and early voting, and criminalizing voter registration drives as DeSantis has done in Florida.

To accomplish a major task like this is going to require a person who’s smart, well-educated, disciplined, wealthy, and utterly without scruples or a moral compass. In other words, JD Vance (or somebody very much like him: Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Elise Stefanik).

Trump should be watching his back right now. It’s a safe bet that the minute he begins to stray from the oligarchs’ agenda, his cabinet will get together and pull a 25th Amendment on him, as was so frequently discussed by members of his cabinet during his first term as president. Or, in true mob fashion, they’ll just sit him down and tell him that he can have a fine fun time playing president, but somebody else is going to take care of the actual business side of the operation.

And odds are he’ll never see it coming.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Why the Breaking News About Roger Stone and Judge Aileen Cannon Is So Concerning, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, June 20-21, 2024. Two major stories have dropped about Donald Trump, Florida, Trumpworld and the ongoing legal woes of the former president—and current convicted felon—over the last 48 hours. And they may be connected.

Roger Stone was recently secretly recorded by two leftist activists—in two different conversations—and what he said is deeply troubling to anyone who loves democracy.

seth abramson proof logoNot to put too fine a point on it, but Stone (1) indicated that he’s laser-focused on all of Donald Trump’s ongoing criminal cases; (2) appeared to have (or else appeared to believe he has) special knowledge of what’s going to happen in the one of aileen cannonTrump’s three remaining criminal cases (namely, the one that’s taking place near Stone’s home), and (3) confessed that either he or Trump agents who he’s in contact with have the home phone numbers of key judges whose decisions could significantly impact the 2024 U.S. presidential election.

Given that Trump’s Manhattan trial is already over, and that for now—unless Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis decides to recuse herself entirely from Trump’s RICO case in Georgia—that case can’t go to trial anytime before the middle of next year, there are only two judges on Trump criminal cases whose home phone number(s) Stone could have been bragging about people he knows having, if his comments were a reference to Trump and/or his team having home-phone access to a Trump judge.

 

  djt indicted proof

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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Judge in Trump Documents Case Rejected Suggestions to Step Aside, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Two federal judges in South Florida privately urged Aileen M. Cannon to decline the case when it was assigned to her last year, according to two people briefed on the matter. She chose to keep it.

aileen cannonShortly after Judge Aileen M. Cannon, right,  drew the assignment in June 2023 to oversee former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, two more experienced colleagues on the federal bench in Florida urged her to pass it up and hand it off to another jurist, according to two people briefed on the conversations.

The judges who approached Judge Cannon — including the chief judge in the Southern District of Florida, Cecilia M. Altonaga — each asked her to consider whether it would be better if she were to decline the high-profile case, allowing it to go to another judge, the two people said.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wanted to keep the case and refused the judges’ entreaties. Her assignment raised eyebrows because she has scant trial experience and had previously shown unusual favor to Mr. Trump by intervening in a way that helped him in the criminal investigation that led to his indictment, only to be reversed in a sharply critical rebuke by a conservative appeals court panel.

The extraordinary and previously undisclosed effort by Judge Cannon’s colleagues to persuade her to step aside adds another dimension to the increasing criticism of how she has gone on to handle the case.

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).She has broken, according to lawyers who operate there, with a general practice of federal judges in the Southern District of Florida of delegating some pretrial motions to a magistrate — in this instance, Judge Bruce E. Reinhart. While he is subordinate to her, Judge Reinhart is an older and much more experienced jurist. In 2022, he was the one who signed off on an F.B.I. warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club and residence in Florida, for highly sensitive government files that Mr. Trump kept after leaving office.

Since then, Judge Cannon has exhibited hostility to prosecutors, handled pretrial motions slowly and indefinitely postponed the trial, declining to set a date for it to begin even though both the prosecution and the defense had told her they could be ready to start this summer.

But Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also urged her to delay any trial until after the election, and her handling of the case has virtually ensured that they will succeed in that strategy. Should Mr. Trump retake the White House, he could order the Justice Department to drop the case.

As Judge Cannon’s handling of the case has come under intensifying scrutiny, her critics have suggested that she could be in over her head, in the tank for Mr. Trump — or both.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: For Judge in Trump Documents Case, Unusual Rulings Are Business as Usual, Alan Feuer and Eileen Sullivan, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). When Judge Aileen M. Cannon presides over a hearing on Friday in former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, she will spend the day considering well-trod arguments about an arcane legal issue in an unorthodox manner.

It will be the latest example of how her unusual handling of the case has now become business as usual.

aileen cannonOver the past several months, Judge Cannon, right, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in his final days in office, has made a number of decisions that have prompted second-guessing and criticism among legal scholars following the case. Many of her rulings, on a wide array of topics, have been confounding to them, often evincing her willingness to grant a serious hearing to far-fetched issues that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised in his defense.

The issue that will be discussed on Friday in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., is a motion by the defense to dismiss the charges in the case on the grounds that Jack Smith, the special counsel who filed them last spring, was improperly funded and appointed.

The defense has argued that Mr. Smith was not named to his post by the president or approved by the Senate like other federal officers, and that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who gave him the job, had no legal power to do so on his own.

Mr. Smith’s deputies have countered that under the appointments clause of the Constitution, agency heads like Mr. Garland are authorized to name “inferior officers” like special counsels to act as their subordinates.

Judge Aileen Cannon has repeatedly proved willing to hear out even far-fetched arguments from former President Trump’s legal team.

And while the subject of the hearing may seem rather technical, what is most unusual is that it is happening at all.

Reaching back to the early 1970s, courts have repeatedly rejected efforts like Mr. Trump’s to question the legality of independent prosecutors. Those have included the Supreme Court upholding the appointment of Leon Jaworski, one of the special prosecutors who investigated the Watergate scandal, in a decision that was largely focused on the issue of President Richard Nixon’s claims of executive privilege.

Judges have also tossed efforts to invalidate the work of special counsels like Robert S. Mueller III, who examined connections between Russia and Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and David C. Weiss, who has brought two criminal cases against Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.

Despite this record, however, Judge Cannon has decided to consider the constitutionality of Mr. Smith’s appointment anew — and not on the merits of written briefs, but rather at an expansive hearing that will spill across two days. The proceeding might go beyond the normal process of merely making arguments and could include, as the judge recently wrote, the “presentation of evidence,” though it remains unclear what evidence she meant.

 

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

CNN, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists call for leadership change amid publisher scrutiny, Oliver Darcy, June 20, 2024. Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at The Washington Post went on the record late Wednesday, calling for leadership change at the storied newspaper as questions swirl over the integrity of its new publisher and chief executive, Will Lewis.

cnn logo“I don’t know a single person at the Post who thinks the current situation with the publisher and supposed new editor can stand,” David Maraniss, an associate editor who has worked at The Post for nearly five decades and won two Pulitzer david maraniss 2012 wPrizes at the newspaper, wrote in a candid Facebook post. “There might be a few, but very very few.”

Maraniss, shown at right in a 2012 photo, also zinged Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of The Post who installed Lewis, writing that he is “not of and for the Post or he would understand.”

Scott Higham, scott highamleft, another Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The Post, echoed Maraniss’ call for Lewis to exit the newspaper.

washington post logo“Will Lewis needs to step down for the good of The Post and the public,” Higham replied in a comment on Maraniss’ post. “He has lost the newsroom and will never win it back.”

Spokespersons for Bezos, shown below left in a file photo, and The Post did not immediately comment.

The backlash from The Post’s journalists comes after serious questions were raised about Lewis, who has been the subject of several jeffrey bezos washington postexplosive reports in recent days scrutinizing his journalistic integrity.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that, in his Fleet Street days, Lewis assigned an article that was based on stolen phone records. And The Post itself reported in a 3,000-word front page expose Sunday that a “thief” who used deceptive tactics to obtain private robert winnett linked inmaterial had ties with Lewis’ hand-picked incoming top editor, Robert Winnett, right.

The stories, which landed like a one-two punch in The Post’s newsroom, followed reports that Lewis tried to suppress stories at The Post and NPR about his role cleaning up Rupert Murdoch’s UK phone hacking scandal, when he served rupert murdoch newas a lieutenant to the right-wing media mogul (shown in a file photo at left).

In response to the reports earlier this month, Lewis initially lashed out, criticizing his own media reporters and attacking veteran NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, who he referred to as an “activist, not a journalist.” Lewis later sent a memo to staffers, striking a notably different tone. But the note failed to quell the growing disapproval within the newspaper’s ranks.

Inside The Post’s newsroom, morale has plunged as staffers express alarm over Lewis’ conduct and worries over the future direction of the newspaper under his leadership. Interviews with nearly a dozen Post staffers and others

Politico, Robert Winnett withdraws from becoming next Washington Post senior editor, Jared Mitovich, June 21, 2024. The Post will begin a “timely and thorough” search to fill the job, publisher Will Lewis announced.

robert winnett linked inRobert Winnett, right, will no longer become The Washington Post’s senior editor amid growing criticism over his alleged ties to unethical journalism practices.

In a message to staff Friday morning, Post publisher Will Lewis announced “with regret” that Winnett had “withdrawn” from the position of editor and would remain at The Telegraph, a U.K.-based newsroom where he currently serves as deputy editor.

“Rob has my greatest respect and is an incredibly talented editor and journalist,” Lewis wrote. “The leadership at The Telegraph Media Group are reaffirming his continued role as deputy editor.”

The Post will “immediately” begin a “timely and thorough” search to fill the vacant position, Lewis added. Winnett was set to join the Post after the November election to oversee the newsroom’s main reporting arm, in an abrupt leadership shakeup earlier this month that also included the departure of Sally Buzbee as executive editor.

Lewis added that Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, will continue as the Post’s executive editor through the November presidential election. The Post would also continue to prepare the launch of a “third newsroom” — which is slated to cover service and social media journalism — as part of a plan to address the newsroom’s struggling financial picture, he said.

Over the weekend, news reports emerged that included allegations of dubious ethical conduct by Winnett and Lewis. The Post itself reported that Winnett worked with a man who used deceptive tactics to acquire confidential information during his tenure at the Sunday Times. While working at the same British newspaper, the New York Times reported that Lewis and Winnett used stolen phone and company records in the process of reporting two articles.

For both reports, Lewis declined to comment through a Washington Post spokesperson and Winnett did not respond.

The reporting has sparked fierce scrutiny of the publisher and incoming editor, ranging from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at the Post to former President Donald Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite a Biden-Xi agreement to crack down on fentanyl, Chinese sellers are open for business, Cate Cadell and Lily Kuo, China FlagJune 21, 2024 (print ed.). A booming online marketplace for shipping small but potent packages of the chemicals used in the production of fentanyl from China to Mexico remains largely unhindered, a Post investigation found.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: China backed families behind a vast scam network before turning on them, Shibani Mahtani, Christian Shepherd and Pei-Lin Wu, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A Post investigation found that criminal networks in Myanmar enjoyed the protection of Chinese officials as well as the military government in Myanmar.

China FlagFor the scion of a crime family linked to human trafficking and enslavement, money laundering and global cyberscams, Wei Qingtao was brazenly public. His Douyin account, the Chinese-language version of TikTok, flaunted the excesses of his life in a remote corner of Myanmar by the border with China: Bentleys and Lamborghinis, rare cigars and private jets.

In November, the good times rolled to a stop. Wei’s social media presence vanished. He soon appeared in a different kind of video: reading a scripted confession while in Chinese custody.

The detention of Wei and at least 15 other alleged senior crime family members and their associates was lavishly covered by Chinese media, designed to showcase Beijing’s reach. This was proof, Chinese officials said, of their determination to crush transnational criminals victimizing their citizens, no matter where they are based.

That crusading narrative is incomplete, however.

A Washington Post investigation found that Kokang’s criminal networks — principally led by the Wei, Bai and Liu families, according to U.N. officials, Chinese court records and analysts — had for more than a decade enjoyed close relations with Chinese officials, primarily in neighboring Yunnan province, along with support from Beijing and the military government in Myanmar. The Myanmar military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, further solidified the families as political and economic brokers after taking power in a 2021 coup.


Real estate developer Fred C.Trump, Sr. with his son and heir, Donald J. Trump, the future U.S. president.

Real estate developer Fred C.Trump, Sr. with his son and heir, Donald J. Trump, the future U.S. president.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Gaping holes in the Trump family history point to three generations of spies against Americawayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, author of 24 books, widely published commentator and former Navy intelligence officer, June 18, 2024. Three generation of Trumps do not pass the smell test when it comes to espionage. WMR's series on the anti-American perfidy of the Trump family continues. Stay tuned.

wayne madesen report logoThere is an ample amount of evidentiary and circumstantial information found in contemporaneous news reports and archival records that point to the Trump family conducting espionage for hostile foreign powers for at least three generations. This malfeasance extends from Frederick Trump, who bore the telltale signs of having been an agent for Imperial Germany in New York City during World War I, to Fred C. Trump, Sr., whose dalliance with far-right causes in New York before and during World War II strongly matches the profile of a Nazi agent, and, finally, to Donald Trump, whose reckless handling of America's most classified information may have ended up in the hands of Russia, China, and other nations hostile to the United States.

Frederick, the patriarch of the Trump family, and his son, Fred Trump, Sr., found in New York a city that was home to a large German community. Among its ranks were German-born and first generation German-Americans who remained steadfastly supportive of their fatherland. Frederick immigrated to America in 1885 at the age of 16 not so much because he wanted to share in the liberty and rights afforded to all American citizens and residents but to avoid mandatory conscription in his native Germany and to have a chance to strike it rich.

Avoiding the German military draft was capped off with Frederick making money in the restaurant, bar, hotel, and prostitution business in British Columbia during the Yukon Gold Rush of the late 1890s. It is clear that Frederick, a wealthy man at the turn of the century, did not want to remain in America. With his newly-found wealth, Frederick returned to his native Kallstadt in Germany, where he married Elisabeth Christ. With a Bavarian government arrest warrant hanging over his head for being a draft dodger, Frederick decided to return to the States with his new bride to The Bronx, where he applied for a U.S. passport as an insurance policy to avoid arrest in Germany. Returning to Germany with his homesick wife and American-born daughter, Frederick deposited in a German bank 80,000 marks, $641,438 in today's money.

In 1904, the Bavarian government determined that Frederick was a draft dodger and ordered him deported back to the United States. Frederick appealed the decision and the Trump family history, written later by John W. Walter, Frederick's grandson and an executive of the Trump Organization who also served as the "official historian" of the Trump family, claims that Frederick, his wife, and daughter ultimately settled in Woodhaven, Queens, where Frederick began buying land. Thus began the Trump real estate empire. Oddly, Frederick began branching out into other occupations rather than live off his sizable wealth and new real estate business in Queens.

Other recent columns:

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The Ukraine Peace Conference: a new Western tactic is required, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The diplomacy of 1919 and 1920 should be employed against Putin, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Putin's "election surprise" -- an attack on NATO a real threat, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2024
    Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Election manipulation is a game NATO should not permit Putin to play, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary:  WMR Special Study: The New European Parliament, Wayne Madsen, June 11, 2024

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

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Outgoing Dutch leader Mark Rutte looks set to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO chief, Emily Rauhala, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Known for his direct manner and pragmatic approach, Rutte was seen by allies as the right leader to potentially work with Trump should he be elected.

Mark Rutte, the longtime prime minister of the Netherlands, looks set to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general, after the last remaining candidate running against him withdrew from the race, paving the way for his selection by allies.

The change of leadership at NATO, which could be formally agreed on within days, comes at a delicate moment for the 32-member military alliance. Thanks in large part to Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO is bigger, stronger and more relevant than its been in ages, but a growing current of isolationism in some countries has raised questions about its future.

Consensus on Rutte’s candidacy comes just weeks before allies gather in Washington and as the alliance braces for the possible return of former president Donald Trump. In February, Trump said he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries and may consider leaving the 75-year-old military alliance.

 Former President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington (Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon).

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington (Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon). 

Politico, NATO hopes to Trump-proof the alliance with new chief Mark Rutte. It could backfire, Miles Herszenhorn, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). . NATO officials and U.S. diplomats say the alliance needs to be battle ready if Donald Trump wins back the presidency in November.

The Biden administration got its way when outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte secured the support of all 32 NATO allies for the alliance’s top political post.

Though the secretary general of NATO is often described as more of a secretary than a general, former NATO officials and U.S. diplomats said the alliance may need Rutte to be battle ready if Donald Trump wins back the presidency in November.

The question looming over next month’s NATO leaders’ summit — to be held in Washington from July 9 to 11 — is if Rutte will be up to the task.

Rutte, whose center-right politics in Europe would put him to the left of many mainstream Democrats, is known for his pragmatism, his skill for building coalitions and his staunch transatlantic views. But his low-key, common-sense approach might make him better suited to working with President Joe Biden than Trump, who at one point threatened to pull the U.S. out of the alliance, and who has repeatedly berated European allies over their meager defense spending.

“Having a superb coalition builder — which is what NATO is all about, getting the consensus for an organization — is good for NATO,” said Ivo Daalder, who served as U.S. ambassador to NATO during the Obama administration. “But no one person is going to be able to manage an alliance that is bound to be disrupted by a president who is not interested in either being managed himself or managing an alliance.”

Trump only had a few one-on-one in-person meetings with Rutte during his presidency, and several of his former diplomats in Europe said they couldn’t speak to the relationship between the two men. But when the two leaders did meet, Rutte’s no-nonsense approach to Trump made headlines.

"This is not about geography. It's about common sense," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS. | Susan Walsh/AP

Politico, US says Ukraine can hit inside Russia ‘anywhere’ its forces attack across the border, Lara Seligman, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. has told Ukraine it can use American-supplied weapons to hit any Russian forces attacking from across the border — not just those in the region near Kharkiv, according to U.S. officials.

The subtle shift in messaging — which officials insist is not a change in policy — comes just weeks after the U.S. quietly gave Kyiv the green light to strike inside Russia in response to a cross-border assault on the city of Kharkiv. At the time, U.S. officials stressed that the policy was limited to the Kharkiv region, among other restrictions.

Ukrainian forces have since used American weapons to strike into Russia at least once, destroying targets in the city of Belgorod, and managed to hold back the Russian assault. But Ukrainian and other European officials have pressed the U.S. to loosen its restrictions even further, allowing Ukraine to strike anywhere inside Russia.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS on Tuesday that the agreement with Ukraine about firing American weapons into Russia extends to “anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory.”

Russia has in recent days indicated it may soon move on the northeastern city of Sumy, which is also near the Russian border. If that happens, the policy would apply there as well, Sullivan said.

“This is not about geography. It’s about common sense. If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border,” Sullivan said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia sentences U.S. soldier to almost 4 years in penal colony, Adela Suliman and Natalia Abbakumova, June 19, 2024. Prosecutors accused U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black of stealing 10,000 rubles ($120) from his Russian girlfriend and threatening to kill her. He plans to appeal.

A Russian court sentenced an American soldier Wednesday to three years and nine months in a penal colony after finding him guilty of theft and threatening to kill his Russian girlfriend, state media reported.

Prosecutors said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, stole 10,000 rubles ($120) from his girlfriend Alexandra Vashchuk and grabbed her by the neck, which she considered a threat to her life, Interfax reported. The sentencing took place in at Vladivostok’s Pervomaisky District Court, in Russia’s far east.

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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:

 

Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals.

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin Threatens to Arm North Korea, Escalating Tension With West Over Ukraine, Paul Sonne, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). President Vladimir Putin issued the warning at the end of a trip to Asia, during which he signed a mutual defense pact with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directly warned the United States and its allies that he is willing to arm North Korea if they continue to supply Kyiv with sophisticated weapons that have struck Russian territory, raising the stakes for the Western powers backing Ukraine.

Mr. Putin made the threat in comments to reporters traveling with him late Thursday in Vietnam before he flew home to Russia after a trip there and to North Korea. He had made a similar, though significantly less overt, threat a day earlier in Pyongyang, where he revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pact with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. The pact requires each nation to provide military assistance to the other “with all means at its disposal” in the event of an attack.

Mr. Putin cast his threat to arm Pyongyang, in violation of United Nations sanctions, as a response to decisions by the United States and its allies in recent months to allow Ukraine to make certain strikes on Russian territory with their weapons. The White House made that decision last month, but maintained its prohibition on longer-range attacks deeper in the country with U.S. arms.

 


Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, left, welcoming President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Pyongyang early Wednesday, in an image released by the North’s state media (Photo by Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images).

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, left, welcoming President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Pyongyang early Wednesday, in an image released by the North’s state media (Photo by Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin and Kim Sign Pact Pledging Mutual Support Against ‘Aggression,’ Choe Sang-Hun and Paul Sonne, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A need for munitions to use against Ukraine is pushing Russia’s leader to deepen his ties with North Korea, raising alarms in the West. The text of the agreement was not immediately released.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pledge between their nations on Wednesday, signing a new agreement that calls for them to assist each other in the event of “aggression” against either country.

Russian FlagThe Russian president, in a briefing after the two leaders signed the document, did not clarify whether such assistance would require immediate and full-fledged military intervention in the event of an attack, as the now-defunct 1961 treaty specified. But he said that Russia “does not exclude the development of military-technical cooperation” with North Korea in accordance with the new agreement.

The pact was one of the most visible rewards Mr. Kim has extracted from Moscow in return for the dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 shipping containers of munitions that Washington has said North Korea has provided in recent months to help support Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine.

North Korean flagIt also represented the farthest the Kremlin has gone in throwing its weight behind North Korea, after years of cooperating with the United States at the United Nations in curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program — a change that accelerated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a truly breakthrough document, reflecting the desire of the two countries not to rest on their laurels, but to raise our relations to a new qualitative level,” Mr. Putin added. Neither North Korea nor Russia immediately released the text of the new agreement.

Mr. Putin denounced the United States for expanding military infrastructure in the region and holding drills with South Korea and Japan. He rejected what he called attempts to blame the deteriorating security situation on North Korea, which has carried out six nuclear test explosions since 2006 and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the United States.

ny times logoNew York Times, What weapons is North Korea accused of supplying to Russia? Lara Jakes, June 17, 2024. Moscow needs conventional arms like artillery shells and missiles that North Korea could provide to give it an edge in its war of attrition in Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine-Russia Peace Is as Elusive as Ever. But in 2022 They Were Talking, Anton Troianovski, Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). The warring nations held peace talks in the early weeks of the Russian invasion. They fizzled. Documents show why new negotiations will face major obstacles.

ukraine flagWith Russia and Ukraine locked in their third year of all-out war, there is no clear path to military victory for either side. Nor are there immediate prospects for a ceasefire and an eventual peace plan, with both sides sticking to irreconcilable positions.

Yet the issues that would need to be tackled in any future peace settlement are evident, and in fact were at the center of negotiations two years ago that explored peace terms in remarkable detail.

Documents reviewed by The New York Times shed light on the points of disagreement that would have to be overcome.

Russian FlagThe documents emerged from negotiating sessions that took place in the weeks after the start of the war, from February to April of 2022. It was the only time that Ukrainian and Russian officials are known to have engaged in direct peace talks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia-Ukraine War: Putin Makes Cease-Fire Offer With Sweeping Demands on Ukraine’s Territory, Ivan Nechepurenko, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). Ukraine denounced the offer, saying that Vladimir Putin was “afraid of real peace.” He made the remarks one day before a peace summit organized by Kyiv.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Stalled Russia Near the Border. This Town Has Paid the Price, Maria Varenikova, Photographs and Video by Finbarr O’Reilly, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). Faced with an assault from the northeast, Ukrainian forces made their stand in Vovchansk. The front line is still there, but little else is.

ukraine flagA month into Russia’s push across the border in northern Ukraine, Western weapons and Ukrainian reinforcements have largely stalled the attack. But they came too late to save one town, Vovchansk, where the city hall, a cultural center, countless apartment blocks and several riverside hotels are all now in ruins.

Russian FlagNew York Times, Biden Links Fight for Ukraine With Allied Effort on D-Day, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, June 7, 2024 (print ed.).  Speaking in Normandy, the president argued that similar principles were at stake in both wars: the defense of freedom and a rules-based international order.

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More On Global Elections, Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: In France, and the U.S., Immigration Moves to the Political Center, Roger Cohen, June 23, 2024. Feelings are hardening against immigrants in both countries. President Emmanuel Macron and President Biden are taking note.

At the heart of the rapid rise of the nationalist right, with its view of immigrants as a direct threat to the essence of France, there appears to lie a growing feeling among many French people that they are no longer at home in their own country.

That feeling, a vague but potent malaise, has many elements. They include a sense of dispossession, of neighborhoods transformed in dress and habits by the arrival of mainly Muslim immigrants from North Africa, and of lost identity in a fast-changing world. The National Rally, whose anti-immigrant position lies at the core of its fast-growing popularity, has benefited from all this.

“No French citizen would tolerate living in a house without doors or windows,” Jordan Bardella, the smooth-talking 28-year-old symbol of the National Rally’s advance to the brink of power, told France 3 TV this past week. “Well, it’s the same thing with a country.”

In other words, nations need effective borders that can be sealed tight.

This message, echoed by rising nationalist parties across Europe, and a central theme of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in the United States, has proved potent. In France, it propelled Marine Le Pen’s National Rally to victory over President Emmanuel Macron’s party in voting for the European Parliament this month.

So rattled was Mr. Macron by the defeat that he threw open the country’s political future with a risky bet. He called for legislative elections, the first round of which is June 30. France may have a nationalist far-right government with Mr. Bardella as prime minister before the Olympic Games begin in Paris on July 26.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Man Softening the Ground for an Extremist Germany, Erika Solomon, June 23, 2024. A leader of the Alternative for Germany party has done more than take the far right into the mainstream. He is tilting the mainstream toward the far right.

From the small stage of a pub in a wooded town of eastern Germany, the right-wing ideologue Björn Höcke regaled a crowd of followers late last year with the tale of his imminent trial. He faced charges for saying “Everything for Germany” at a political rally — breaking German laws against uttering Nazi slogans.

Despite that approaching court date, he looked down at the crowd, and gestured to them with an impish grin. “Everything for?” he asked.

“Germany!” they shouted.

After a decade of testing the boundaries of political speech in Germany, Mr. Höcke, a leader of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, no longer needed to push the limits himself. The crowd did it for him.

That moment crystallizes why, to his critics, Mr. Höcke is not simply a challenge to the political order, but a threat to German democracy itself.

For years, Mr. Höcke has methodically chipped away at the prohibitions Germany has imposed on itself to prevent being taken over by extremists again. It takes a tougher stance on free speech than many Western democracies, a consequence of the bitter lessons of the 1930s, when the Nazis used democratic elections to seize the levers of power.

ny times logoNew York Times, Slur by Pope Francis Lays Bare the Church’s Contradictions on Homosexuality, Emma Bubola and Elisabetta Povoledo, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The pope used homophobic slang and cautioned prelates about admitting gay men into seminaries. But ordination has also long been a refuge for gay Catholic men.

When reports spread that Pope Francis had used an offensive anti-gay slur while speaking to Italian bishops at a conference last month, many Catholics were both shocked and baffled. How could a pope known for his openness to and acceptance of L.G.B.T.Q. people use homophobic slang and caution prelates about admitting gay men into seminaries?

But the question, and the apparent inconsistency in Francis’ messaging, reflect the deep contradictions and tensions that underlie the Roman Catholic Church’s and Francis’ relationship to homosexuality.

The church holds that “homosexual tendencies” are “intrinsically disordered.” When it comes to ordination, the church’s guidelines state that people with “deep-seated” gay tendencies should not become priests.

Yet ordination has also long been a refuge of sorts for homosexual Catholic men, according to researchers and priests, who say that at least thousands of clergymen are gay, though only a few are public about their sexual orientation because of the stigma it still carries in the church.

mexico flag1

ny times logoNew York Times, Claudia Sheinbaum’s U.S. Experience Offers Clues to Her Approach to Relations, Natalie Kitroeff, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The next Mexican president’s years of living in California provide insight into how she will handle key issues in Mexico-Washington ties.

In the early 1990s, a young scientist named Claudia Sheinbaum, left, moved with her family from Mexico City to Northern California, where she claudia sheinbaum w 2024studied at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

She lived in housing provided by Stanford University with her two small children and her husband, who was pursuing a Ph.D. there. For four years, Ms. Sheinbaum immersed herself in a new life as an immigrant academic in the United States.

She audited a class taught by a future Mexican foreign minister. She landed on the front page of The Stanford Daily student newspaper for protesting the North American Free Trade Agreement. She found friends who missed Mexico as much as she did. And to people who knew her, she seemed entirely at ease in California, navigating the world of American academia.

“They could have been professors, they could have made their lives here,” said Alma González, a close friend of Ms. Sheinbaum’s in California. “But they decided to return.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Hundreds of Muslim Pilgrims Die in Mecca Heat Wave; Death Toll Expected to Rise, Emad Mekay and Lynsey Chutel, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). At least 450 died during the hajj pilgrimage, one of the most important events of the Muslim calendar. Heat appeared to at least contribute to many of the deaths.

During the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, one of the most important events on the Muslim calendar, at least 450 people died under a scorching sun as they prayed at sacred sites around the holy city of Mecca.

Amid maximum temperatures that ranged from 108 Fahrenheit to 120, according to preliminary data, and throngs of people, many passed out and needed medical care. The pilgrims, some who have saved their whole lives for the hajj, spend days walking and sleeping in tents during their journey to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims. The hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars, and all Muslims who are physically and financially able are obliged to embark on the pilgrimage.

Indonesia has so far reported the most deaths, 199, and India has reported 98. The countries said at this point that they could not be sure that heat was the cause of all the deaths, though, relatives of the missing and dead and tour operators have said the heat was at least a contributing factor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran signals a major boost in nuclear enrichment at key site, Joby Warrick, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). Hundreds of new centrifuges would triple Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity at a deeply buried underground nuclear facility.

A major expansion underway inside Iran’s most heavily protected nuclear facility could soon triple the site’s production of enriched uranium and give Tehran new options for quickly assembling a nuclear arsenal if it chooses to, according to confidential documents and analysis by weapons experts.

iran flag mapInspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed new construction activity inside the Fordow enrichment plant, just days after Tehran formally notified the nuclear watchdog of plans for a substantial upgrade at the underground facility built inside a mountain in north-central Iran.

Iran also disclosed plans for expanding production at its main enrichment plant near the city of Natanz. Both moves are certain to escalate tensions with Western governments and spur fears that Tehran is moving briskly toward becoming a threshold nuclear power, capable of making nuclear bombs rapidly if its leaders decide to do so.

Iran already possesses a stockpile of about 300 pounds of highly enriched uranium that could be further refined into weapons-grade fuel for nuclear bombs within weeks, or perhaps days, U.S. intelligence officials say. Iran also is believed to have accumulated most of the technical know-how for a simple nuclear device, although it would probably take another two years to build a nuclear warhead that could be fitted onto a missile, according to intelligence officials and weapons experts.

 

sudan sudanese flag on the map of africa

ny times logoNew York Times, A Massacre Threatens Darfur, Again, Lauren Leatherby, Declan Walsh, Sanjana Varghese and Christoph Koettl, June 19, 2024 (interactive. Darfur, the region of Sudan once synonymous with genocide, may be on the brink of a new chapter of horror.

A civil war is ripping apart Sudan, one of Africa’s largest countries.

Tens of thousands have been killed, millions scattered and an enormous famine looms, setting off one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.

sudan flagpngThe city of El Fasher, home to 1.8 million people, is now at the center of global alarm. If it falls, officials warn, there may be little to stop a massacre.

Fighters battling Sudan’s military for control of the country have encircled the city. Gunfights rage. Hospitals have closed. Residents are running out of food.

The advancing fighters are known as the Rapid Support Forces — the successors to the notorious Janjaweed militias that slaughtered ethnic African tribes in Darfur in the 2000s. Last week, the U.N. Security Council demanded that they “halt the siege” of the city.

Yet a New York Times examination of satellite imagery and video from El Fasher make one thing clear: The assault is intensifying.

ny times logoNew York Times, French Election Becomes ‘Nightmare’ for Nation’s Jews, Roger Cohen, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl is inflaming an already tense and divisive situation.

The alleged rape last weekend of a 12-year-old Jewish girl by boys who hurled antisemitic abuse at her has ignited simmering tensions in France over attitudes toward the largest Jewish community in Western Europe.

President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist whose decision to call snap elections this month shocked even his closest allies, responded by denouncing the “scourge of antisemitism” in French schools. The prime minister, Gabriel Attal, urged politicians to “refuse the banalization” of hatred toward Jews, a thinly veiled attack on Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the ardently pro-Palestinian leader of the left who on June 2 called antisemitism in France “residual.”

There were more than 360 antisemitic episodes in France in the first three months of this year, or an average of four a day, an increase of 300 percent over the same period last year, the government said. In the most recent one that shocked the country, the three boys are said to have dragged the girl into an abandoned building where she was repeatedly raped and insulted.

The three boys, ages 12 and 13, one of them previously known to the girl, are being investigated for rape, death threats and insults “aggravated by their link to the victim’s religion,” a prosecutor’s statement on Wednesday said. Two of them have been placed in pretrial detention, it added.

The place of Jews in French society has emerged as a prominent theme in the election because the once-antisemitic National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, whose anti-immigrant position lies at the core of its fast-growing popularity, has been one of the most emphatic supporters of Israel and French Jews since the Hamas-led terrorist attack of Oct. 7 on Israel.

Mr. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed, by contrast, has been vehement in its denunciation of Israel’s military operation in Gaza as “genocide.”

This denunciation has often appeared to stray into outright antisemitism, as when Mr. Mélenchon accused Yaël Braun-Pivet, the Jewish president of the National Assembly, of “camping out in Tel Aviv to encourage the massacre,” and described Élisabeth Borne, the former French prime minister and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, as expressing “a foreign point of view.”

Mr. Mélenchon said on Wednesday he was “horrified by this rape in Courbevoie,” the northwestern Paris suburb where the prosecutor said it took place.

The confrontation of an abruptly pro-Israeli National Rally, whose antisemitic founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, described the Holocaust as “a detail” of history, with a far left that Mr. Macron described last week as “guilty of antisemitism” has confronted French Jews and others with an agonizing choice.

Can they really bring themselves to vote for Ms. Le Pen’s party, given its history of antisemitism and its xenophobic determination to seek a ban on the public use of the Muslim head scarf if elected, out of loathing for Mr. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed?

In many constituencies, the standoff in the second round of voting on July 7 will most likely be between the two extreme parties. A lot of previously centrist voters are tired of Mr. Macron and do not want to vote for him again.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.K. Election Winner’s First Problem: Fix a Stagnant Economy, Eshe Nelson, June 20, 2024 (print ed.).After more than a decade of deep budget cuts, slow growth and weak productivity, Britain has struggled to overcome years of uncertainty and underinvestment.

“Our economy has truly turned a corner,” Rishi Sunak, Britain’s prime minister, said last week as he introduced his party’s election manifesto, buoyed by recent data showing that Britain’s economy had exited from a recession more strongly than expected in the beginning of the year and that inflation had slowed substantially.

Justifying the optimism, data released on Wednesday showed that consumer prices rose 2 percent in May from a year earlier, touching the Bank of England’s target for the first time since 2021. That was also way down from 11.1 percent in October 2022, when Mr. Sunak started his premiership.

Many economists argue that it will take more than a few good economic indicators to change Britain’s economic path after more than a decade of slow economic growth, chronically weak productivity, high taxes and struggling public services, with a notably underfunded and overstretched National Health Service.

Polls suggest there is a desire to eject the governing Conservative Party from Downing Street, after 14 years, in next month’s general election. But lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party have already warned that — should they win — they will inherit a hobbled economy with little room for bold changes.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. calls for end to siege of Darfur city amid Sudan civil war, Katharine Houreld and Paul Schemm, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. envoy to the U.N. has called Sudan the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than half of the country’s population needing assistance.

The United Nations Security Council passed a near-unanimous resolution demanding the end of a siege of western Sudan’s El Fashir city to avert a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn nation.

The British-sponsored resolution, which passed with 14 nations in support and Russia abstaining, calls for a cease-fire as well as “rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need.”

For more than a year, Sudan has been engulfed in a civil war between the military dictatorship and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful militia that has seized huge swaths of the country.

El Fashir, in the vast, arid Darfur region of the country, is the final regional capital still in government hands, and it has been under siege for the past month. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have sheltered there, fleeing RSF advances elsewhere in the country.

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World leaders at this year’s G7 meeting, in Savelletri, Italy on June 13, 2024 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

World leaders at this year’s G7 meeting, in Savelletri, Italy on June 13, 2024 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

 

U.S. Supreme Court Rulings, Scandals, Disputes

Politico, Supreme Court rejects bid to preempt wealth tax, Brian Faler, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The case was being closely watched for its overall impact on large swaths of tax law.

politico CustomThe Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative-backed bid to preemptively block Congress from ever adopting a wealth tax.

The justices voted 7-2 to turn aside a complaint from a Washington state couple that a special tax Republicans created in 2017 on irs logobusinesses’ overseas profits amounted to a federal property tax, something that’s restricted by the Constitution.

Charles and Kathleen Moore had hoped their challenge would in turn slam the legal door on any possibility of lawmakers creating a wealth tax, a levy on assets that has become increasingly popular in recent years among progressives.

But the court rejected the premise of the Moores’ lawsuit, ruling the so-called repatriation tax imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a levy on income, not property.

If the plaintiffs had won, the IRS would have also likely had to return hundreds of billions of dollars that companies have already paid under the repatriation levy plus interest.

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden lambasted the Supreme Court. Now he should support court reform, Jennifer Rubin, June jennifer rubin new headshot20, 2024. He should make court reform a key campaign issue. The court is broken, unpopular and in dire need of reform. Biden knows it and should make court reform a key campaign issue.

The White House has been mum on ethics reform, leaving the issue to Senate Democrats, who inexplicably have yet to bring the Supreme Court ethics bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee passed last year to the floor for a full vote. There is no reason Biden should not publicly push for the bill.

Moreover, to the dismay of court reform advocates, Biden has never embraced any further structural reform. During the 2020 campaign, he resisted calls for term limits or court expansion. Once elected, he appointed an all-star, bipartisan commission to study court reform. It published an impressive report, but Biden took no action.

The commission also considered the more controversial proposal to expand the size of the court (perhaps to 13, matching the number of circuits), with the new appointments spread over multiple presidential terms. There is no magic to the current number of nine, which has not always been in place. The size is tiny compared with courts in other Western democracies. Nevertheless, opponents of expansion expressed fear of reaching an unwieldy number of justices and a vague sense that we should not end “an enduring bipartisan norm against Court packing.” (The bipartisan norm against ripping up decades of precedent seems to have gone by the wayside.)

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Something’s Rotten About the Justices Taking So Long on Trump’s Immunity Case, Leah Litman (a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, a host of the “Strict Scrutiny” podcast and a former clerk to the Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy), June 20, 2024 (print ed.).

For those looking for the hidden hand of politics in what the Supreme Court does, there’s plenty of reason for suspicion on Donald Trump’s as-yet-undecided immunity case given its urgency. There are, of course, explanations that have nothing to do with politics for why a ruling still hasn’t been issued. But the reasons to think something is rotten at the court are impossible to ignore.

supreme court graphicOn Feb. 28, the justices agreed to hear Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to subvert the 2020 election. The court scheduled oral arguments in the case for the end of April. That eight-week interval is much quicker than the ordinary Supreme Court briefing process, which usually extends for at least 10 weeks. But it’s considerably more drawn out than the schedule the court established earlier this year on a challenge from Colorado after that state took Mr. Trump off its presidential primary ballot. The court agreed to hear arguments on the case a mere month after accepting it and issued its decision less than a month after the argument. Mr. Trump prevailed, 9-0.

Nearly two months have passed since the justices heard lawyers for the former president and for the special counsel’s office argue the immunity case. The court is dominated by conservatives nominated by Republican presidents. Every passing day further delays a potential trial on charges related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election and his role in the events that led to the storming of the Capitol; indeed, at this point, even if the court rules that Mr. Trump has limited or no immunity, it is unlikely a verdict will be delivered before the election.

MSNBC, Commentary: Donald Trump is proposing the ‘worst economic policy in U.S. history,’ Lawrence O’Donnell, June 19, 2024. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains why Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the tax code and replace it with tariffs is, as Henry Ford would say, “an economic stupidity.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Major Decisions Still Before the Supreme Court, Adam Liptak, Abbie VanSickle and Alicia Parlapiano, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). As the Supreme Court enters the final weeks of its term, it is poised to issue a series of blockbuster decisions. Some could be released today.

As the Supreme Court enters the final weeks of its term, it is poised to issue a series of blockbuster decisions, including ones on federal criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump, abortion rights and the Second Amendment.

No Supreme Court term in recent memory has featured so many cases with the potential to transform American society.

  • Bump Stocks for Guns 6-3 ruling
  • Abortion Pills 9-0 ruling
  • N.R.A. and the First Amendment 9-0 ruling
  • Racial Gerrymandering 6-3 ruling
  • Agency Funding 7-2 ruling
  • Trump’s Ballot Eligibility 9-0 ruling
  • Immunity for Former Presidents
  • Jan. 6 Obstruction Charges
  • Emergency Abortion Care
  • Gun Rights
  • Restrictions on the Homeless
  • Rights of Social Media Platforms
  • Disinformation on Social Media
  • Opioids Settlement
  • Power of Federal Agencies
  • Administrative Courts
  • Cross-State Air Pollution

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court’s leisurely pace so far will produce a pileup of late June rulings, Adam Liptak, Updated June 19, 2024. Even as the size of its docket has shrunk, the court has deferred a larger share of its decisions to the very end of its term.

The Supreme Court has been moving at a sluggish pace in issuing decisions this term, entering the second half of June with more than 20 left to go. That is not terribly different from the last two terms, when the pace at which the court issued decisions started to slow.

Over the almost two decades in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has led the court, it has on average decided 72 percent of argued cases by this point in the term, according to data compiled by Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at the University of Southern California. The corresponding number for the previous court, led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1986 to 2005, was 78 percent.

But in the last three terms, the court has decided no more than 62 percent of the term’s cases by June 14.

SCOTUSblog, Supreme Court allows ex-council member’s retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward, Amy Howe, June 20, 2024. Supreme Court allows ex-council member’s retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward

The court handed a win to a former-city council member in Texas on Thursday, clearing the way for her federal civil rights claim to move forward. Sylvia Gonzalez contends that her 2019 arrest on charges that she had tampered with government records came in retaliation for her criticism of the city manager in Castle Hills, Tex. In a brief unsigned opinion, the justices reinstated Gonzalez’s claim after a federal appeals court had thrown it out, holding that the lower court had applied an “overly cramped” reading of its caselaw.

Gonzalez, who is 76 years old and the first Hispanic woman elected to the city council in Castle Hills, was charged in 2019 with violating a state law that makes it a crime to intentionally tamper with government records after she placed a petition that she had initiated, criticizing the city manager, in her binder. Gonzalez says that she accidentally picked up the petition after a long meeting. She spent the day in jail and eventually left the council.

The district attorney did not pursue the charges against Gonzalez. But Gonzalez went to federal court in 2020, where she argued that the charges stemmed from the desire of three city officials – the city’s mayor, its police chief, and a detective – to retaliate against her because she had criticized the city’s manager.

Gonzalez’s complaint noted that she was the only person charged in the past 10 years under the state’s government records law for temporarily misplacing government documents. Almost all of the 215 felony indictments under that law, she observed, involved the use or creation of fake government IDs.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether this kind of evidence was enough to allow Gonzalez’s retaliatory arrest claim to go forward. Under the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Nieves v. Bartlett, a plaintiff can generally only bring a federal civil rights claim alleging that she was arrested in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights if she can show that police officers did not have probable cause to arrest her. At the same time, the court also carved out an exemption for plaintiffs who can show that others who were not engaged in the same kind of protected speech were not arrested.

SCOTUSblog, Nine new relists as the court approaches the finish line, John Elwood, June 20, 2024. The Relist Watch column examines cert petitions that the Supreme Court has “relisted” for its upcoming conference. A short explanation of relists is available here.

With just a few weeks left before the Supreme Court’s summer recess, and with only the October and November argument sittings filled, the court has switched into high gear. It granted five of last week’s six new relists on Monday.

The pace is only increasing. There are nine newly relisted cases this week, so I’m going to be even more summary than last time in describing them.

 

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Reactions To Hunter Biden Conviction, Probes

 


President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says he will not pardon Hunter or commute his sentence, Matt Viser and Tyler Pager, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). The president, speaking to reporters in Italy, reiterates his support for his son.

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First lady Jill Biden arrives at the Wilmington federal courthouse on June 3 for the first day of Hunter Biden's criminal trial (Photo by Ryan Collerd of AFP via Getty Images).

First lady Jill Biden arrives at the Wilmington federal courthouse on June 3 for the first day of Hunter Biden's criminal trial (Photo by Ryan Collerd of AFP via Getty Images).

 

More On U.S. Schools, Politics, Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, 3 Columbia Deans Are Placed on Leave Over Conduct at Antisemitism Panel, Hurubie Meko June 23, 2024 (print ed.). Leaked images showed the trio sharing disparaging text messages during an alumni group discussion last month about Jewish life on campus.

columbia logoColumbia University placed three administrators on leave this week, a university spokesman said on Saturday. The moves came a little more than a week after images emerged showing the school officials sharing disparaging text messages during a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus.

The panel, which focused on Jewish life on campus amid tensions over Israel’s war in Gaza, occurred during a Columbia College reunion on May 31.

The spokesman did not identify which officials were placed on leave, but The Washington Free Beacon, the website that first published the images, reported that they were Susan Chang-Kim, the vice dean and chief administrative officer; Cristen Kromm, the dean of undergraduate student life; and Matthew Patashnick, the associate dean for student and family support.

The Free Beacon, a conservative news site, said it had obtained the images from a person who sat behind Ms. Chang-Kim at the event and took photos of her phone screen as she texted with the other administrators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump has a plan to give green cards to military-age males from China, Philip Bump, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). More than a quarter of foreign college students come from the country Trump loves to pillory.

China FlagMore recently, he has suggested that an increase in people seeking to immigrate from China is a sign that the Chinese government is building an army (small and poorly equipped) within the United States — an easier admission than that the strong economy continues to be a draw for immigrants.

And yet, in a podcast discussion on Thursday, Trump also proposed granting permanent residency to tens of thousands of military-age men from China.

Though he might not have known it.

Generally, Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration tends toward the hyperbolic and alarmist. Like many in his party, for example, he has taken to referring to those seeking to come to the United States as “military-aged males,” a pejorative ignoring that “military-aged” is also “prime working age” and overlooking the large percentage of immigrants who are women, children or men traveling with their families.

ny times logoNew York Times, Louisiana Requires All Public Classrooms to Display Ten Commandments, Rick Rojas, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A law signed by Gov. Jeff Landry on Wednesday makes the state the only one with such a mandate. Critics have vowed to mount a constitutional challenge.

jeff landry oGov. Jeff Landry, right, signed legislation on Wednesday requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in every public classroom in Louisiana, making the state the only one with such a mandate and reigniting the debate over how porous the boundary between church and state should be.

Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, vowed a legal fight against the law they deemed “blatantly unconstitutional.” But it is a battle that proponents are prepared, and in many ways, eager, to take on.

“I can’t wait to be sued,” Mr. Landry said on Saturday at a Republican fund-raiser in Nashville, according to The Tennessean. And on Wednesday, as he signed the measure, he argued that the Ten Commandments contained valuable lessons for students.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Head of One of New York’s Most Elite Schools Quit, Katherine Rosman, June 10, 2024. The leader of Collegiate School in Manhattan stepped down after an internal report found “problems of religious and cultural bias.”

The leader of one of New York’s most elite schools has stepped down after a damning internal audit found “disquieting problems of religious and cultural bias” at the school.

David Lourie, who became the leader of the all-boys Collegiate School in Manhattan just four years ago, announced on Monday that he and the board had agreed he would leave his post as head of school. “After four years filled with shared successes alongside challenges that required difficult and at times divisive decisions, we agreed that a new Head of School is what is best for the boys and the school community,” Mr. Lourie said in an email to the school community.

The Collegiate report, issued in May and reviewed by The New York Times, was commissioned by the school to investigate parents’ concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia. Nearly two weeks later, a gender discrimination lawsuit was filed against Collegiate and Mr. Lourie by one of the school’s deans, who claimed that Mr. Lourie had referred to the report as “a joke” and a “power play by Jewish families.”

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Law

 

Tree of Life Synagogue In Pittsburgh (Washington Post photo by Salwan Georges).

Tree of Life Synagogue In Pittsburgh (Washington Post photo by Salwan Georges).

ny times logoNew York Times, Tree of Life Synagogue to Break Ground on New Sanctuary, and New Mission, Campbell Robertson, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). A museum on the history of antisemitism will be part of the new building, alongside a memorial to the 11 worshipers killed in the 2018 attack in Pittsburgh.

Israel FlagOn Sunday, members of the Tree of Life congregation will gather to break ground for a memorial and a new Tree of Life building. The airy, angular structure, designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind, will house a sanctuary for the Tree of Life congregation — one of three congregations that were meeting at the synagogue at the time of the shooting — an education center dedicated to combating bigotry and a museum chronicling the long history of antisemitism in America.

It is a story that has gotten more complicated to tell since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the war that has followed.

“It makes our job harder, and I’m sure we’re going to have to wade into some fairly difficult waters,” said Michael Bernstein, the chair of the Tree of Life board of directors. But “that is the point of what we have to do,” he added, “to allow people to engage in this much more deeply.”

The museum will be the first in the United States dedicated exclusively to the history of antisemitism in America, from the colonial days through the hard-line anti-immigrant politics of the mid-20th century to the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, and beyond. The museum will show how the mass shooting at Tree of Life was an especially dark day, but nonetheless part of an old affliction in America.

The motive for that violence was indeed clear, explained by the killer in hate-filled rants on social media. Pittsburghers of many different faiths rallied to support the survivors and denounce the antisemitism behind the attack. The phrase “stronger than hate” quickly became a mantra for the whole city.

Those in synagogue leadership, as well as some of the academic advisers who have been brought on to help shape the museum, said the new institution was not envisioned as a place that would deliver definitive answers on heated public questions. The museum will provide historical context, and the education center will be a place where difficult questions can be debated and discussed.

She and other officials pointed out that focusing only on issues in the most recent headlines would miss other, dangerous expressions of antisemitism in the country festering outside of public view. There was, after all, a long history behind the hatred harbored by the Tree of Life gunman, who was convicted last summer and sentenced to death. But in 2018, no one realized the threat he posed to the synagogue and the deeply rooted Jewish community around it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Grocery Store Shooting That Killed 4 Leaves an Arkansas Town in Disbelief, Erica Sweeney and David W. Chen June 23, 2024. The  small town of Fordyce, Ark., was beginning to absorb the impact of the bloodshed, as a few details began to emerge.

All told, the police said that the gunman killed four people and injured nine after he opened fire at the Mad Butcher grocery store. On Saturday, this town of 3,400 people, about 70 miles south of Little Rock, was only beginning to absorb the impact of the bloodshed, as a few details began to emerge, including a fourth victim who died in the evening.

Among those hurt were two law enforcement officers with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Arkansas State Police, along with the suspect, Travis Eugene Posey, 44, of New Edinburg, a community about 10 miles southeast of Fordyce. The police said late Saturday that four people remain hospitalized, including one in critical condition at a hospital in Little Rock.

The police had announced late Friday that Mr. Posey would be charged with three counts of capital murder. That number increased to four with the news of the latest victim late Saturday, and additional charges are pending. An inmate registry for Ouachita County, which adjoins Dallas County, where the shooting took place, showed that Mr. Posey was being held there on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Authorities have not released any details on a possible motive behind the shooting, which appears to have occurred both inside the store and in the parking lot.

 

anderson aldrich mug

washington post logoWashington Post, Club Q gunman sentenced to 55 life sentences in Colorado mass killing, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). The federal sentences, which include no chance of parole, further ensure that Anderson Lee Aldrich will never leave prison.

The shooter who killed five people and wounded 19 others during a midnight rampage at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs in 2022 was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 55 concurrent life sentences in addition to a 190-year sentence with no possibility of parole.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, pleaded guilty to 74 federal counts, including 50 federal hate crimes and other gun crimes, arising from the tragedy at Club Q. The plea was part of a deal with prosecutors to ensure that the death penalty would not be imposed.

The courtroom in Denver was filled with victims’ friends and family as U.S. District Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney, the first openly gay federal judge in Colorado, decided whether to accept it. She waited until she had heard from anyone who wanted to speak, telling those attending the hearing that they could take as long as they needed and “we can go till tomorrow if you want.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 defendant’s attorney posts video of sleeping D.C. jail guard, Spencer S. Hsu, June 23, 2024 (print ed.). The detention facility launched an investigation after video recorded on a jail-issued laptop was posted on social media by Joseph McBride, an attorney with a penchant for notoriety.

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Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Space, Transportation

 

climate change photo

 

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Over 1,000 pilgrims died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, officials say, Staff Report, June 23, 2024. More than 1,000 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as the faithful faced extreme high temperatures at Islamic holy sites in the desert kingdom, officials said Sunday.

More than half of the fatalities were people from Egypt, according to two officials in Cairo. Egypt revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies politico Customthat helped unauthorized pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, authorities said.

Saudi Arabia has not commented on the deaths during the pilgrimage, which is required of every able Muslim once in their life.

The Egyptian government announced the death of 31 authorized pilgrims due to chronic diseases during this year’s Hajj, but didn’t offer an official tally for other pilgrims.

However, a Cabinet official said that at least 630 other Egyptians died during the pilgrimage, with most reported at the Emergency Complex in Mecca’s Al-Muaisem neighborhood. Confirming the tally, an Egyptian diplomat said most of the dead have been buried in Saudi Arabia.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

Saudi authorities cracked down on unauthorized pilgrims, expelling tens of thousands of people. But many, mostly Egyptians, managed to reach holy sites in and around Mecca, some on foot. Unlike authorized pilgrims, they had no hotels to escape from the scorching heat.

In its statement, the government said the 16 travel agencies failed to provide adequate services for pilgrims. It said these agencies illegally facilitated the travel of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia using visas that don’t allow holders to travel to Mecca.

The government also said officials from the companies have been referred to the public prosecutor for investigations.

The fatalities also included 165 pilgrims from Indonesia, 98 from India and dozens more from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Malaysia, according to an Associated Press tally. Two U.S. pilgrims were also reported dead.

The AP could not independently confirm the causes of death, but some countries like Jordan and Tunisia blamed the soaring heat.

Associated Press journalists saw pilgrims fainting from the scorching heat during the Hajj, especially on the second and third days. Some vomited and collapsed.

Deaths are not uncommon at the Hajj, which has seen at times over 2 million people travel to Saudi Arabia for a five-day pilgrimage. The pilgrimage’s history has also seen deadly stampedes and epidemics.

But this year’s tally was unusually high, suggesting exceptional circumstances.

A 2015 stampede in Mina during the Hajj killed over 2,400 pilgrims, the deadliest incident ever to strike the pilgrimage, according to an AP count. Saudi Arabia has never acknowledged the full toll of the stampede. A separate crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque earlier the same year killed 111.

The second-deadliest incident at the Hajj was a 1990 stampede that killed 1,426 people.

ny times logoNew York Times, Heat Wave Enters 7th Day, but the End Is in Sight, Kate Selig, June 23, 2024. The unusually early heat wave that has gripped much of the United States may let up early this week, forecasters predict.

The end of the unusually early heat wave that gripped much of the United States over the past seven days is in sight.

But first, the country will need to endure another day, possibly two, of scorching hot temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic States and along the I-95 urban corridor on the East Coast.

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U.S. Immigration News

Politico, Trump floats UFC-style migrant league amid border crisis, Arek Sarkissian, June 22, 2024. At the Faith & Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C., Trump called migrants “tough people” who could beat the country’s best fighters.

politico CustomFormer President Donald Trump suggested in two speeches Saturday that migrants coming to the U.S. should have their own fighting league, remarking that they’re “nasty, mean” and “tough people” who could beat the country’s top fighters.

Speaking first to a crowd of conservative Christians at a Faith & Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C., Trump said he shared the idea with Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“I said, ‘Dana I have an idea. Why don’t you set up a migrant league of fighters and have your regular league fighters,” Trump said, “and then you have the champion of your league — these are the greatest fighters in the world — fight the champion of the migrants.’” The suggestion drew laughter and applause from the crowd, a response that continued as he spoke more about the concept.

“I think the migrant guy might win,” Trump said, adding that White “didn’t like that idea too much.”

“But actually, it’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had,” he continued.

Trump later repeated the idea during a rally Saturday evening in Philadelphia.

UFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s rhetoric on Saturday was the latest in a longstanding series of remarks demonizing immigrants entering the country illegally, including previously calling them “vermin” and proclaiming they are “poisoning the blood” of America. But his comments come as voters overwhelmingly support securing the southern border, prompting President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats to propose tighter security measures at the border.

“Remember this, these migrants are tough. They’re tough. They come from prisons and many other places, rough places,” Trump said. “They’re just getting used to a country. They’re just settling in.”

 

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Gives Legal Protections to Undocumented Spouses of U.S. Citizens, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Miriam Jordan, Jazmine Ulloa and Hamed Aleaziz, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden on Tuesday announced sweeping new protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been living in the United States illegally for years but are married to American citizens.

Under the new policy, some 500,000 undocumented spouses will be shielded from deportation and given a pathway to citizenship and the ability to work legally in the United States. It is one of the most expansive presidential actions to protect immigrants in more than a decade.

joe biden black background resized serious fileMr. Biden will celebrate the program during a White House ceremony on Tuesday marking the 12-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects people who came to the United States as children from deportation.

The decision comes as Mr. Biden tries to strike a balance on one of the most dominant political issues in 2024. Aware that many Americans want tougher policies on the border, Mr. Biden just two weeks ago announced a crackdown that suspended longtime guarantees that give anyone who steps onto U.S. soil the right to seek asylum here.

President Biden’s policy, a significant action to protect immigrants, affects about 500,000 people who’ve been living in the U.S. for more than a decade.

Mr. Biden is also expected on Tuesday to detail separate actions that will make it easier for undocumented young people, many of them known as Dreamers, to access work visas.

Almost immediately after he issued that order, White House officials began privately reassuring progressives that the president would also help undocumented immigrants who had been in the nation for years, according to people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Tuesday’s move could help Mr. Biden address some of the blowback that his asylum restrictions elicited among members of his progressive base, who have accused the White House of betraying campaign promises to enact a more humane approach to immigrants.

The new benefits for undocumented spouses will not take effect immediately; senior Biden administration officials said they expected the program to launch by the end of the summer. Those eligible will then be able to apply for the benefits.

Marrying an American citizen generally provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship. But people who crossed the southern border illegally — rather than arriving in the country with a visa — must return to their home countries to complete the process for a green card.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden’s Strategy: Help Immigrants in U.S., but Stop Others From Arriving, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden’s recent actions on immigration put his approach to one of the most divisive issues in the election into focus.

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. States, Claiming ‘Invasion,’ Push to Expand Power to Curb Immigration, Jazmine Ulloa, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). Nearly a year since Texas adopted a law empowering state and local police officers to arrest undocumented migrants who cross into its territory, Republican lawmakers in at least 11 states have tried to adopt similar measures, capitalizing on the prominence of immigration in the 2024 presidential election.

Politico, Biden issues new executive action: Much of southern border to close at midnight, Myah Ward, June 5, 2024 (print ed.). Biden issued long-expected executive actions on Tuesday to clamp down on migrants seeking asylum.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden issued long-expected executive actions on Tuesday to clamp down on migrants seeking asylum, and in doing so set the stage for the U.S. border with Mexico to be shut down between ports of entry at midnight.

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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).

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats seek to repeal Comstock abortion rule, fearing Trump crackdown, Dan Diamond and Caroline Kitchener, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The Comstock Act, an 1873 law that bans abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail, could be used by the GOP to restrict abortion nationwide.

Democrats are seeking to overhaul an 1873 federal law that bans abortion-related materials from being sent through the mail, worried that a future Trump administration could invoke the Comstock Act to crack down on abortion access or effectively ban the procedure altogether.

senate democrats logo“There is a very clear, well-organized plan afoot by the MAGA Republicans to use Comstock as a tool to ban medication abortion, and potentially all abortions,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who on Thursday plans to introduce legislation to repeal the Comstock Act’s abortion provisions. “My job is to take that tool away.”

Democrats’ push to defang the 151-year-old law comes less than five months before a presidential election in which reproductive rights appear destined to play a defining role. But the party’s mixed reaction to the plan underscores the balancing act between policy aspirations and political realities.

mifepristone Allen g breed ap

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, the Supreme Court has not become reasonable. It did not ‘save’ mifepristone, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 17, jennifer rubin new headshot2024. Its ruling on mifepristone is nothing to celebrate.

seth abramson proof logoProof, Investigative Commentary:  Why a Unanimous Supreme Court Decision Protecting Access to Abortion Medication Mifepristone Means seth abramson graphicLess Than You Think, Seth Abramson, left, June 14-15, 2024. A unanimous SCOTUS decision being hailed by major media as a big win for abortion rights advocates is actually something else entirely. This report from an attorney and legal journalist explains why.

Simply put, the Trumpists have weaponized our justice system and turned it into a vehicle for lawfare.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court upheld access to a widely available abortion pill, rejecting a bid from anti-abortion groups to unravel federal approval, Abbie VanSickle, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). The justices unanimously rejected a bid to sharply curtail access to a widely available abortion pill, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The perverse zealotry of the anti-IVF movement, David Von Drehle, June 17, 2024. If they knew what patients endured, antiabortion extremists might learn more about caring for unborn babies.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, One Week That Revealed the Struggles of the Anti-Abortion Movement, Elizabeth Dias, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). Opponents of the procedure are looking for a path forward: “Is the goal the absolute abolition of abortion in our nation?

ny times logoNew York Times, 171,000 Traveled for Abortions Last Year. See Where They Went, Molly Cook Escobar, Amy Schoenfeld Walker, Allison McCann, Scott Reinhard and Helmuth Rosales, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). Out-of-state trips for abortions more than doubled in 2023, demonstrating the upheaval in access since the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Hundreds of officers abused children. Many exploited their authority to coerce victims, Jessica Contrera, Jenn Abelson, John D. Harden, Hayden Godfrey and Nate Jones, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). (interactive). A Washington Post investigation found at least 1,800 state and local law enforcement officers who were charged with crimes involving child sexual abuse from 2005 through 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abused by the Badge: An officer abused a 16-year-old in his police car. Now a judge must decide his punishment, Jenn Abelson, Jessica Contrera and John D. Harden, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). A Washington Post investigation found hundreds of officers evaded serious consequences for preying on children, even after they admitted to wrongdoing.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Covid, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sexually transmitted infections are skyrocketing in this unexpected group, Leana S. Wen, June 23, 2024. / Older adults deserve a healthy sex life, too.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that among those 65 and older, chlamydia diagnoses more than tripled between 2010 and 2023. Gonorrhea cases multiplied about sixfold. And syphilis cases increased nearly tenfold.

washington post logoWashington Post, Intermittent fasting over two days can help people with Type 2 diabetes, Anahad O’Connor, June 21, 2024. A study found that intermittent fasting had striking metabolic benefits that surpassed the effects of prescription drugs for people with newly diagnosed diabetes.

Intermittent fasting can help people with Type 2 diabetes lose weight, lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar levels, a rigorous new study has found.

The new research, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that intermittent fasting had striking metabolic benefits that surpassed even the effects of prescription medications for people with newly diagnosed diabetes. Here are the findings:

Over the course of 16 weeks, people who were assigned to practice intermittent fasting lost more weight and improved their blood sugar control to a greater extent than people who were given metformin or empagliflozin, two commonly prescribed diabetes medications.
The research focused on a form of fasting called the 5:2 diet, in which people eat normally for five days a week and then fast for two days, consuming just 500 to 600 calories on their fasting days.

After 16 weeks, the fasting group lost an average of 21 pounds, almost double the 12 pounds on average that the people taking metformin lost. Those who were prescribed empagliflozin lost an average of about 12.8 pounds during the study.

Previous studies have examined whether intermittent fasting can help people with Type 2 diabetes, but they have been mostly small and did not compare the diet head-to-head with medications.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Surgeon General Calls for Warning Labels on Social Media Platforms, Ellen Barry, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). Dr. Vivek Murthy, shown above in a file photo, said he would urge Congress to require a warning that social media use can harm teenagers’ mental health.

The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, announced on Monday that he would push for a warning label on social media platforms advising parents that using the platforms might damage adolescents’ mental health.

ny times logoNew York Times, Expletive-Laden Rants Part of Fauci’s ‘Complicated’ Relationship With Trump, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 14, 2024. In a new book, Dr. Anthony Fauci recounts a career advising seven presidents. The chapter about Donald Trump is titled “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.”

anthony fauci on call memoirThree months into the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, shown at right on the cover of his new memoir, was at home in northwest Washington when he answered his cellphone to President Donald J. Trump screaming at him in an expletive-laden rant. He had incurred the president’s wrath by remarking that the vaccines under development might not provide long-lasting immunity.

That was the day, June 3, 2020, “that I first experienced the brunt of the president’s rage,” Dr. Fauci writes in his forthcoming autobiography.

Dr. Fauci has long been circumspect in describing his feelings toward Mr. Trump. But in the book, “On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service,” he writes with candor about their relationship, which he describes as “complicated.”

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Millennials had it bad financially, but Gen Z may have it worse, Abha Bhattarai and Federica Cocco, June 23, 2024.  Generation Z is spending more on housing and car insurance than millennials did. They’re also more likely to be in debt, despite higher wages and more jobs.

Generation Z has been disproportionately pummeled by rising prices, higher housing costs, larger student loan balances and more overall debt than the millennials before them.

While both generations came of age in the midst of an economic upheaval, Gen Z is spending more on necessities than millennials did at the same age, according to a Washington Post analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. While millennials are between 28 and 43, Gen Z generally refers to those ages 12 to 27.

So far, Gen Z workers are more likely to go to college, have jobs and make more money than millennials did. But they are also paying 31 percent more for housing than their counterparts were a decade ago, after adjusting for inflation. Spending on car insurance by people 16 to 24 more than doubled between 2012 and 2022, BLS data shows, while health insurance spending for that age group is up 46 percent after inflation.

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

 

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington Post publisher retains ties to past business ventures, Craig Whitlock, Jonathan O'Connell and Jon Swaine, June 23, 2024. William Lewis holds a stake in a start-up that has reached a deal with The Post to collaborate. The Post said the arrangement conforms with its conflict-of-interest policy.

A small digital start-up launched by Washington Post publisher William Lewis has entered into an agreement with The Post that allows the two companies to pursue deals together, even as Lewis still holds a financial stake in the firm.

The News Movement, which Lewis co-founded in 2020, recently developed pitches for two major advertisers, Rolex and Starbucks, to engage in commercial partnerships that would involve The Post, according to documents and interviews.

The Post’s relationship with the News Movement represents one of several ways in which Lewis remains connected to his previous business endeavors and associates. The Post said the arrangements conform with its conflict-of-interest policy.

The privately owned News Movement specializes in what it describes as “creative storytelling” for youthful consumers on social media. Ramin Beheshti, who succeeded Lewis as its chief executive, said in text messages Thursday that the firm reached a “light framework agreement” with The Post in the past few months.

“There is no requirement or obligation in that framework — just a formality that would allow us to operate as a team if needed,” he wrote. Beheshti said Lewis had no part in setting up the arrangement.

Kathy Baird, a spokesperson for The Post, also said that Lewis was not involved in the agreement. She said Lewis stepped down as CEO of the News Movement before coming to The Post in January and has no operational involvement in the start-up, but remains a “proud shareholder.”

The Post’s conflict-of-interest policy stresses the need to eliminate or manage situations in which an employee could benefit from the company’s outside partnerships. Those scenarios include cases in which an employee “has a substantial financial interest” in “any business entity which does business with or which seeks to do business with [The Post] if the employee is involved in the transactions in any way.”

Lewis declined to respond directly to a list of questions about his business interests and how he has managed potential conflicts.

Patty Stonesifer, a Post adviser and former CEO of the company, said in a statement Saturday that “I have full confidence that all aspects of The News Movement partnership with The Washington Post have been handled well within the guidelines of our conflict of interest policy and are to the benefit of The Post.”

washington post logoIn a separate statement, Baird said that Lewis has personally “adhered to all aspects of our conflict of interest policy, including for the News Movement,” and that he has “documented his ownership share” in the start-up.

She noted that The Post had a relationship with the News Movement before Lewis joined the news organization, saying it “is not dissimilar to other partnerships on the business side.”

“There has been no financial impact from the relationship and since Mr. Lewis’s joining, all aspects have been managed and are consistent with our conflicts of interest policy,” she added.

A January 2022 company filing by The News Movement Holdings Ltd in Britain, the most recent that details the company’s ownership, identified Lewis as its controlling shareholder. That company is directly owned by The News Movement Inc. in Delaware, which is not required to publicly identify its shareholders.

Politico, Opinion: For Post’s Lewis, Credibility Dies in Silence, Jack Shafer, June 23, 2024. Refusing to talk about his past ethical lapses has cost him an editor and might cost him his job.

politico CustomRobert Winnett, the Daily Telegraph editor that Washington Post Publisher and CEO William Lewis recruited to edit “core news” at the paper, resigned last week as the tide of exposés about his and Lewis’ shady conduct at British newspapers continued to surge. “It is with regret that I share with you that Robert Winnett has withdrawn from the position of Editor of The Washington Post,” Lewis wrote in a staff memo.

Suddenly, Lewis looks increasingly isolated and his own job seems at risk — made more so by a PR strategy of deflection and silence increasingly at odds with the severity of his predicament.

washington post logoSince accepting the publisher position in November — and even before — Lewis has tried to charm everybody he encounters. When charm won’t suffice, Lewis plays the “tough guy.” That was his move at a recent Post staff meeting when he parried with his irate journalists, saying, “Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff. Right. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore.”

But his most potent tactic, more effective so far than charm or trash-talking, has been to stonewall ethical questions about his past — other than to deny them, that is. “I took a view very early on that I’m never going to talk about it,” Lewis told the Washington Post about his purported role or non-role in destroying evidence when he took the job. Recent news accounts about him are peppered with him declining to take questions from the press or even respond to queries. When NPR reporter David Folkenflik sought an interview with Lewis last year, he agreed on the condition Folkenflik didn’t ask about phone-hacking. Folkenflik declined.

Is this any way for the publisher of the Washington Post to behave? Especially a former top Financial Times and Daily Telegraph journalist who has turned publisher? The press demands accountability from people in power, such as Lewis. Instead of coming clean, he’s chosen to present like an unscrupulous member of Congress, or a corporate chief caught sweeping toxic waste under the carpet.

It’s not as though Lewis doesn’t fathom the art of public relations. As the Financial Times reported Friday, he founded his own communications and consultancy firm, WJL Partners (his initials), in 2020 and it has prepped its clients for press interviews. The FT also reports that Lewis gave up his interest and involvement in the firm although it still distributes his free newsletter. According to the FT, Lewis also coached former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson through his “Partygate” crisis in 2022, and as the Guardian reported this week, he allegedly told the PM to “clean up” his phone to avert scandal. Was Lewis offering general advice or urging Johnson to destroy evidence? It’s fair to ask.

Lewis is back inside the journalistic world, yet he seems to still be operating in PR mode. He has abandoned the formidable powers of discovery and disclosure he wielded as a journalist to become the kind of zip-lipped operator who advises other big shots on how to stall the press. Again, this is not a good look for the publisher of the Washington Post. Nor is it a winning plan in the long run. Whenever Lewis attempts to ignore the fire burning under him by stiffing the press, it only pours nitromethane on the story and encourages reporters to widen their search for answers. You don’t have to be a PR executive to figure this out.

Where will the Lewis story’s next stop be? The Washington Post reported in March that the news startup Lewis co-founded, the News Movement, was funded by a venture capital firm led by billionaire Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani, a former Qatar official. The firm has also invested in the right-wing NewsMax channel. Known as the “man who bought London,” Al Thani made news in 2022 for alleged donations to Prince Charles. We can assume reporters are digging. Speculation making the rounds in U.K. journalism circles is that Lewis may yet be drawn further into the phone-hacking case if it can be proved he destroyed evidence. He may even be called to testify. Will Bezos still stand by his man?

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Watch Fox News So You Don’t Have to’: How Clippers Make Videos Go Viral, Simon J. Levien, June 23, 2024. Despite criticism that the most-watched moments omit crucial context, candidates are tapping into the practice — and watching their words.

fox news logo SmallClipping political gaffes was once more of a pastime for amateur political obsessives. Now, professionals have stepped in and supercharged the political discourse, flooding platforms like X and TikTok with cuttingly captioned video snippets, often publishing edited clips within minutes or even seconds.

Despite concerns that the most-watched clips often omit crucial context, sometimes by design, clippers have amassed tens of millions of views, forcing candidates to pay attention — and to watch their words.

More so than ever before, clipping has been embraced by both official Democratic and Republican campaign committees that have exploited the reach of real-time clips and even outdone their independent predecessors.

Gone is the heyday of the tracker, a political operative who would tail candidates at stump events big and small, camcorder in hand, hoping to catch gaffes on tape. Today, the ubiquity of livestreaming and video recording has transformed any rallygoer with a smartphone into a wellspring of videos clippers can turn into potential viral sensations. With so much of a campaign being captured on video and then quickly spotlighted in microscopic, mocking detail, the smallest personality foible, momentary lapse or passing awkwardness can spell a public-relations nightmare for a candidate.

Curtis Houck, an editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, which says its mission is to call out liberal media bias, clips and analyzes White House news briefings. He said that on his X account alone he had racked up about 150 million impressions since he started clipping during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On both sides of the partisan divide, clippers contend that they are backstopping for news organizations that fail to do their jobs impartially. “There’s just a few merry band of us holding the media accountable, real-time, to show presidential speeches and remarks where the president veers off,” Mr. Houck said of his team of media analysts who scan TV shows and news briefings for material.

Then again, clippers often strip their video posts of the context that journalists are generally trained to supply.

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)

President Biden and his son Hunter in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday after Mr. Biden flew from Washington following his son’s guilty verdict (New York Times Photo by Haiyun Jiang.)

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system.

Manhattan prosecutors said Friday that a judge should keep in place major elements of the gag order imposed on Donald J. Trump before his criminal trial, citing dozens of threats that have been made against officials connected to the case.

The gag order, issued before the trial began in mid-April, bars Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and relatives of the judge who presided over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, among others.

Since his conviction late last month on 34 felony counts, Mr. Trump’s calls for the order to be lifted have only grown louder. But in a 19-page filing on Friday, prosecutors argued that while Justice Merchan no longer needed to enforce the portion of the order relating to witnesses, he should leave its other provisions in place ahead of Mr. Trump’s sentencing on July 11.

While the gag order does not prohibit Mr. Trump from criticizing Justice Merchan or Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who brought the case, it does preclude attacks on prosecutors and their relatives, including Mr. Bragg’s.

And on Friday, prosecutors said those protections from Mr. Trump’s public attacks remained necessary to protect the integrity of an ongoing criminal proceeding.

The New York Police Department has logged 56 “actionable threats” against Mr. Bragg, his family, and employees at the district attorney’s office since early April, according to an affidavit provided with the filing.

Such threats, evidently made by supporters of Mr. Trump, included a post disclosing the home address of one of Mr. Bragg’s employees, and bomb threats made on the first day of the trial targeting two people involved in the case.

Prosecutors said the threats were “directly connected to defendant’s dangerous rhetoric,” and cited several examples, including a post that depicted cross hairs “on people involved in this case.”

Others were homicidal messages directed at Mr. Bragg or his employees, including, “We will kill you all,” “You are dead” and “Your life is done.” Four of the threats were referred for further investigation, according to the police affidavit.

The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.”

All told, prosecutors argued that the threats “overwhelmingly outweighed” the “expressive interest” of Mr. Trump, especially considering that he had yet to be sentenced.

 

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).

During his seven-week trial, Mr. Trump, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee, repeatedly attacked Mr. Bragg and Justice Merchan. He was also cited 10 times for violating his gag order with online postings and comments excoriating jurors or witnesses.

The violations led Justice Merchan to impose a $10,000 fine and threaten Mr. Trump with jail time.

Mr. Trump’s vitriol flared again on Friday morning, before the district attorney’s filing, with a post on his Truth Social account.

“I DID NOTHING WRONG on the D.A. Alvin Bragg case, it was only because my name is TRUMP that they went after me,” he wrote, citing an article in The Wall Street Journal.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Billions of people just felt the deadly intensity of climate-fueled heat waves, Sarah Kaplan and Scott Dance, June 22, 2024. Scorching heat across five continents set 1,400 records this week and showed how human-caused global warming has made catastrophic temperatures commonplace.

Dozens of bodies were discovered in Delhi during a two-day stretch this week when even sundown brought no relief from sweltering heat and humidity. Tourists died or went missing as the mercury surged in Greece. Hundreds of pilgrims perished before they could reach Islam’s holiest site, struck down by temperatures as high as 125 degrees.

The scorching heat across five continents in recent days, scientists say, provided yet more proof that human-caused global warming has so raised the baseline of normal temperatures that once-unthinkable catastrophes have become commonplace.

The suffering came despite predictions that a year-long surge of global heat might soon begin to wane. Instead, in the past seven days alone, billions felt heat with climate change-fueled intensity that broke more than 1,000 temperature records around the globe. Hundreds fell in the United States, where tens of millions of people across the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard have been sweltering amid one of the worst early-season heat waves in memory.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign seeks to head off convention revolt from its right flank, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Arnsdorf, June 22, 2024. Aides scrambled to foil a suspected plot to throw the nominating process into chaos as suspicions abound about potentially disloyal delegates.

djt maga hatArizona delegates to the Republican National Convention gathered this month in a Phoenix suburb, showing up to get to know each other and learn about their duties.

Part of the presentation included a secret plan to throw the party’s nomination of Donald Trump for president into chaos.

rnc logoThe instructions did not come from “Never Trumpers” hoping to stop the party from nominating a felon when delegates gather in Milwaukee next month. They instead came from avowed “America First” believers hatching a challenge from the far right — a plot to release the delegates from their pledge to support Trump, according to people present and briefed on the meeting, slides from the presentation and private messages obtained by The Washington Post.

The delegates said the gambit would require support from several other state delegations, and it wasn’t clear whether those allies had been lined up. One idea, discussed as attendees ate finger-foods, was for co-conspirators to signal their allegiance to one another by wearing matching black jackets.

trump 2024The exact purpose of the maneuver was not clear — and left some delegates puzzled and alarmed. People familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said that perhaps the intent was to block an undesirable running mate. Most of the dozen GOP officials or activists interviewed by The Post even ventured that the aim may have been to substitute former national security adviser Michael Flynn for Trump if the former president is sentenced to prison time. Among some on the far right, suspicions have intensified that the former president has surrounded himself with too many advisers beholden to the “deep state.”

Whatever the goal, the Trump campaign rushed to head off the stunt and replace the delegates. One campaign staffer involved in the cleanup described it to at least two Republicans as an “existential threat” to Trump’s nomination next month, two people familiar with conversations told The Post. To another Republican, the staffer described the scenario discussed by the Arizona delegates, however unlikely, as being “the only process that would prevent Trump from being the nominee.”

The episode in Arizona — a swing state where Republicans have been gripped by especially strong doubts about the integrity of elections — unfolded mostly out of sight.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Failed Children on Safety, Natasha Singer, June 22, 2024. The chief executive and his team drove efforts to capture young users and misled the public about the risks, lawsuits by state attorneys general say.

In April 2019, David Ginsberg, a Meta executive, emailed his boss, Mark Zuckerberg, right, with a proposal to research and reduce loneliness mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wand compulsive use on Instagram and Facebook.

In the email, Mr. Ginsberg noted that the company faced scrutiny for its products’ impacts “especially around areas of meta logoproblematic use/addiction and teens.” He asked Mr. Zuckerberg for 24 engineers, researchers and other staff, saying Instagram had a “deficit” on such issues.

A week later, Susan Li, now the company’s chief financial officer, informed Mr. Ginsberg that the project was “not funded” because of staffing constraints. Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, ultimately declined to finance the project, too.

The email exchanges are just one slice of evidence cited among more than a dozen lawsuits filed since last year by the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia. The states accuse Meta of unfairly ensnaring teenagers and children on Instagram and Facebook while deceiving the public about the hazards. Using a coordinated legal approach reminiscent of the government’s pursuit of Big Tobacco in the 1990s, the attorneys general seek to compel Meta to bolster protections for minors.

A New York Times analysis of the states’ court filings — including roughly 1,400 pages of company documents and correspondence filed as evidence by the State of Tennessee — show how Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta leaders repeatedly promoted the safety of the company’s platforms, playing down risks to young people, even as they rejected employee pleas to bolster youth guardrails and hire additional staff.

In interviews, the attorneys general of several states suing Meta said Mr. Zuckerberg had led his company to drive user engagement at the expense of child welfare.

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ny times logoNew York Times, These Grieving Parents Want Congress to Protect Children Online, Cecilia Kang, June 22, 2024. A group is using the Mothers Against Drunk Driving playbook, sharing personal tragedies, to lobby for the Kids Online Safety Act.

Deb Schmill has become a fixture on Capitol Hill. Last week alone, she visited the offices of 13 lawmakers, one of more than a dozen trips she has made from her home near Boston over the past two years.

meta logoIn each meeting, Ms. Schmill talks about her daughter Becca, who died in 2020 at age 18. Ms. Schmill said Becca had died after taking fentanyl-laced drugs bought on Facebook. Before that, she said, her daughter was raped by a boy she had met online, then was cyberbullied on Snapchat.

“I have to do what I can to help pass legislation to protect other children and to prevent what happened to Becca from happening to them,” Ms. Schmill, 60, said. “It’s my coping mechanism.”

Ms. Schmill is among dozens of parents who are lobbying for the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, a bill that would require social media, gaming and messaging apps to limit features that could heighten depression or bullying or lead to sexual exploitation. The bill, which has the greatest momentum of any broad tech industry legislation in years, would also require the tech services to turn on the highest privacy and safety settings by default for users under 17 and let youths opt out of some features that can lead to compulsive use.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court upholds gun ban for domestic-violence restraining orders, Ann E. Marimow, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). The law was among many imperiled by the 2022 Supreme Court decision requiring historical precedent for gun restrictions.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal law that prevents people who are subject to domestic-violence restraining orders from having firearms in its first major Second Amendment decision since a 2022 ruling that expanded gun rights.

The court said the Constitution permits laws that strip guns from those deemed dangerous, one of a number of firearms restrictions that have been imperiled since the conservative majority bolstered gun rights in its decision two years ago known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

In an 8-1 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that “an individual found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment.”

Bruen required the government to point to historic analogues when defending laws that place limits on firearms, leading to a spate of court challenges against limits on possessing firearms — including the one in this case, United States v. Rahimi.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the Bruen decision, was the lone dissenter on Friday, writing that “not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland praised the court’s decision, saying the law “protects victims” by keeping guns out of the hands of people who threaten them.

“As the Justice Department argued, and as the Court reaffirmed today, that commonsense prohibition is entirely consistent with the Court’s precedent and the text and history of the Second Amendment,” Garland said in a statement.

The challenge to the law was brought by Zackey Rahimi, a drug dealer who was placed under a restraining order after a 2019 argument with his girlfriend. He argued that the government had violated his Second Amendment rights by blocking him from possessing guns.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Vladimir Putin Came to Asia to Disrupt, and He Succeeded, Damien Cave, June 22, 2024.  His embrace of North Korea and deal-making with Vietnam injected more potential threats into a region strained by tensions in Taiwan and the South China Sea.

russian flag wavingFour days in Asia. That’s all President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia needed to anger Washington, undermine Beijing and rattle a collection of Indo-Pacific nations already scrambling to cope with a jumbled world order.

After stops in Pyongyang and Hanoi this week that were draped in Communist red, Mr. Putin left behind a redrawn map of risk in Asia. North Korea sat at the center: a rogue nuclear state that regularly threatens its neighbors, suddenly empowered by Russian promises of sophisticated military aid and a mutual defense pact.

Mr. Putin also signed at least a dozen deals with Vietnam — a country of growing importance for both China and the United States as they vie for influence — where he insisted that “reliable security architecture” could not be built with “closed military-political blocs.”

The trip was both defiant and disruptive. It showed that the jockeying for power sometimes framed as a new Cold War between the United States and China is less binary than it might seem, and many countries in the region seemed to emerge from the week with a deeper sense of unease.

Mr. Putin’s presence and his threats, bold one minute, vague the next, have added even more complexity to their already difficult calculations around security and Great Power competition.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Live Updates: Deadly Strike Hits Area of Gaza Where Displaced People Were Sheltering, Staff Reports, June 22, 2024. As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike near Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike amid tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a coastal community in the southern Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials. (Continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Beleaguered aid pier functional again in Gaza; Netanyahu slams U.S, Adela Suliman and Hazem Balousha, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Washington over slow weapons deliveries, drawing a puzzled response from U.S. officials.

Israel FlagA controversial U.S.-built floating pier that has been racked with problems is once again operational and delivered 656 metric tons of much needed aid to Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday. However, the restoration did little to address questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the multimillion-dollar project, or even if it would continue.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterOn the political scene, a war of words appears to have erupted between the United States and Israel this week, as Washington hit back after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, criticized the slow delivery of U.S. weapons.

Netanyahu said in a social media video this week that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months the [Biden] administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he was unaware the video was coming and called it “perplexing,” given the volume of U.S. military support to Israel. “It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect,” he said. “There’s no other country that’s done more but will continue to do more than the United States to help Israel defend itself.”

At least 37,431 ​​people have been killed and 85,653 injured in Gaza since the war started, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and it says 312 soldiers have been killed since the launch of its military operations in Gaza. (Excerpt continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Power Grab: AI is exhausting the power grid. Tech firms are seeking a miracle solution, Evan Halper and Caroline O'Donovan, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). As power needs of AI push emissions up and put big tech in a bind, companies put their faith in elusive — some say improbable — technologies.

As the tech giants compete in a global AI arms race, a frenzy of data center construction is sweeping the country. Some computing campuses require as much energy as a modest-sized city, turning tech firms that promised to lead the way into a clean energy future into some of the world’s most insatiable guzzlers of power. Their projected energy needs are so huge, some worry whether there will be enough electricity to meet them from any source.

Data centers, the nondescript warehouses packed with racks of servers that power the modern internet, have been around for decades. But the amount of electricity they need now is soaring because of AI. Training artificial intelligence models and using AI to execute even simple tasks involves ever more complicated, faster and voluminous computations that are straining the electricity system.

A ChatGPT-powered search on Google, according to the International Energy Agency, consumes almost 10 times the amount of electricity as a traditional search. One large data center complex in Iowa owned by Meta burns the annual equivalent amount of power as 7 million laptops running eight hours every day, based on data shared publicly by the company.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, is shown above.

 United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, is shown above.

Politico, Sunak, Starmer slam Farage claim that EU, NATO ‘provoked’ invasion of Ukraine, Leonie Cater, June 22, 2024. “We have provoked this war,” the Reform UK leader said Friday evening.

politico CustomBritish Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer blasted comments made by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, below right, claiming the EU and NATO “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expanding eastwards.

nigel farage twitter“What he said is completely wrong and only plays into [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] hands,” Sunak told reporters on Saturday. “This kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

Sunak added that Putin was behind the release of nerve agents on the “streets of Britain.”

keir starmer w 2017Starmer, left, told reporters Farage’s comments were “disgraceful,” adding that Russia alone is responsible for the invasion of Ukraine.

United Kingdom flag“Anyone who is standing for parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, and that we stand with Ukraine, as we have done from the beginning of this conflict,” he said. “Parliament has spoken with one voice on this since the beginning of the conflict.”

Farage made the comments in an interview with BBC’s Panorama on Friday evening in the run-up to the July 4 U.K. general elections. On the program, Farage was challenged on a social media post he sent as Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine back in early 2022, which said the conflict “was a consequence of EU and NATO expansion.”

Asked whether he stood by those views Friday, Farage said he had been warning for decades about the increasing scope of both the military alliance and the EU.

“We have provoked this war,” Farage said. “Of course, it’s his [Putin’s] fault. He’s used what we’ve done.”

His comments have sparked a wave of criticism aside from Sunak and Starmer, including from Labour defense spokesman John Healey, who said the comments “reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.”

Former Conservative Defense Secretary Ben Wallace likened him to a “pub bore we’ve all met at the end of the bar,” in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

 

Major U.S. Investigations, Commentaries

The Hartmann Report, Does Project 2025's Secret Plan Include Moving Beyond Trump's Shadow? Thom Hartmann, right, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). thom hartmannThe real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president.

In less than a month, Republicans will meet in Milwaukee to crown Donald Trump as their Emperor King and Sun God. But the real powers behind the GOP — the billionaires and their institutions that created Project 2025 as a how-to manual to convert American democracy into something like the old Confederacy — don’t much care about poor old Donald.

Sure, they want him to be the nominee because NBC trained him well in the dark art of playing a successful businessman on television. He brings in the rubes like nobody since Huey Long; he’s a singularly brilliant politician, much as Putin, Hitler, Orbán, and Mussolini are and were.

rnc logoBut he can also be irrational, impulsive, disloyal, dishonest, and unpredictable, qualities that make the men who want to revive the Confederacy to replace our republican form of government wary. They have big plans — far bigger than Trump’s tiny dream of vengeance — and don’t want him screwing things up.

Thus, the real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president. That’ll be the guy (it will be a guy) who does the actual heavy lifting in “deconstructing the administrative state,” seizing control of our media, and stripping average Americans of what’s left of their wealth and rights.

It’ll almost certainly work much like it did with the contestants on The Apprentice: NBC’s writers and producers would figure out who’d make the best winner, who’d draw the best audience “in the demo,” who would get the most PR for the show, and then Trump would pretend the choice was his. After all, he did exactly that for 14 television seasons over more than 300 episodes; he knows the routine well.

Trump is elderly, obese, and self-absorbed. He’s a heart attack waiting to happen, his cognitive capabilities are clearly slipping, and he’s incapable of seeing any issue in any context other than, “What’s in it for Donald?” They had to draw him pictures when they did intelligence briefings in the White House.

But the Project 2025 folks and their Steve Bannon fellow travelers, in their effort to tear down America and make our country safe(er) for morbidly rich oligarchs, have big plans, including:

— Placing the entire federal bureaucracy, including independent agencies like the Department of Justice, under direct presidential control through an extreme interpretation of the “unitary executive theory,” thus turning the federal police system into an enforcement mechanism against dissenters.

— Eliminating job protections for thousands of federal civil servants, allowing for their replacement by political appointees loyal to the administration, reversing the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and returning America to the corrupt spoils system.

— Dismantling the Department of Education and transferring or terminating its programs, speeding up the GOP’s ongoing project of ending public schools (with their unionized teachers) and replacing them with private, segregated, often-religious academies for the white upper middle class.

— Slashing funding for the Department of Justice and dismantling the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (which will probably be replaced by a new Schutzstaffel-style police force answerable directly to the president, as Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have already done in Florida and Texas).

— Abolishing the Federal Reserve and potentially returning to a gold-backed currency, transferring power over the nation’s economy from the Fed’s technocrats into the hands of the wealthiest men in America.

— Criminalizing pornography, abortion, mifepristone, and most forms of birth control, placing women under the direct control of the state.

— Removing legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, returning us to the days when queer people were routinely harassed and murdered.

— Terminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and affirmative action initiatives across the federal government, locking into place the white racial hierarchy that currently controls most wealth and power in the USA.

— Cutting funding for renewable energy research and climate change initiatives while boosting fossil fuel production so the fossil fuel barons who largely own the GOP can make more billions.

— Imposing work requirements for recipients of food stamps (SNAP) and other welfare programs as the first step toward ending all welfare programs that are funded by rich people’s taxpayer dollars.

— Extending Trump’s 2017 tax cuts , which would add $4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years according to estimates, so billionaires can continue to only pay a 3.4% income tax.

— Requiring a three-fifths supermajority in Congress to raise individual or corporate income taxes, making future tax increases on the morbidly rich almost impossible.

— Infusing the government with elements of Christianity, rejecting our nation’s Founders’ vision of America as the world’s first secular democratic republic.
— Eliminating terms like “sexual orientation,” “gender equality,” and “reproductive right” from all federal laws and regulations.

— Appointing more extremist federal judges who would overturn landmark Supreme Court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and Griswold v Connecticut, which legalized birth control.

— Restricting voting rights by pushing for strict voter ID laws, limiting mail-in and early voting, and criminalizing voter registration drives as DeSantis has done in Florida.

To accomplish a major task like this is going to require a person who’s smart, well-educated, disciplined, wealthy, and utterly without scruples or a moral compass. In other words, JD Vance (or somebody very much like him: Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Elise Stefanik).

Trump should be watching his back right now. It’s a safe bet that the minute he begins to stray from the oligarchs’ agenda, his cabinet will get together and pull a 25th Amendment on him, as was so frequently discussed by members of his cabinet during his first term as president. Or, in true mob fashion, they’ll just sit him down and tell him that he can have a fine fun time playing president, but somebody else is going to take care of the actual business side of the operation.

And odds are he’ll never see it coming.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Why the Breaking News About Roger Stone and Judge Aileen Cannon Is So Concerning, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, June 20-21, 2024. Two major stories have dropped about Donald Trump, Florida, Trumpworld and the ongoing legal woes of the former president—and current convicted felon—over the last 48 hours. And they may be connected.

Roger Stone was recently secretly recorded by two leftist activists—in two different conversations—and what he said is deeply troubling to anyone who loves democracy.

seth abramson proof logoNot to put too fine a point on it, but Stone (1) indicated that he’s laser-focused on all of Donald Trump’s ongoing criminal cases; (2) appeared to have (or else appeared to believe he has) special knowledge of what’s going to happen in the one of aileen cannonTrump’s three remaining criminal cases (namely, the one that’s taking place near Stone’s home), and (3) confessed that either he or Trump agents who he’s in contact with have the home phone numbers of key judges whose decisions could significantly impact the 2024 U.S. presidential election.

Given that Trump’s Manhattan trial is already over, and that for now—unless Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis decides to recuse herself entirely from Trump’s RICO case in Georgia—that case can’t go to trial anytime before the middle of next year, there are only two judges on Trump criminal cases whose home phone number(s) Stone could have been bragging about people he knows having, if his comments were a reference to Trump and/or his team having home-phone access to a Trump judge.

 

  djt indicted proof

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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Judge in Trump Documents Case Rejected Suggestions to Step Aside, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Two federal judges in South Florida privately urged Aileen M. Cannon to decline the case when it was assigned to her last year, according to two people briefed on the matter. She chose to keep it.

aileen cannonShortly after Judge Aileen M. Cannon, right,  drew the assignment in June 2023 to oversee former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, two more experienced colleagues on the federal bench in Florida urged her to pass it up and hand it off to another jurist, according to two people briefed on the conversations.

The judges who approached Judge Cannon — including the chief judge in the Southern District of Florida, Cecilia M. Altonaga — each asked her to consider whether it would be better if she were to decline the high-profile case, allowing it to go to another judge, the two people said.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wanted to keep the case and refused the judges’ entreaties. Her assignment raised eyebrows because she has scant trial experience and had previously shown unusual favor to Mr. Trump by intervening in a way that helped him in the criminal investigation that led to his indictment, only to be reversed in a sharply critical rebuke by a conservative appeals court panel.

The extraordinary and previously undisclosed effort by Judge Cannon’s colleagues to persuade her to step aside adds another dimension to the increasing criticism of how she has gone on to handle the case.

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).She has broken, according to lawyers who operate there, with a general practice of federal judges in the Southern District of Florida of delegating some pretrial motions to a magistrate — in this instance, Judge Bruce E. Reinhart. While he is subordinate to her, Judge Reinhart is an older and much more experienced jurist. In 2022, he was the one who signed off on an F.B.I. warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club and residence in Florida, for highly sensitive government files that Mr. Trump kept after leaving office.

Since then, Judge Cannon has exhibited hostility to prosecutors, handled pretrial motions slowly and indefinitely postponed the trial, declining to set a date for it to begin even though both the prosecution and the defense had told her they could be ready to start this summer.

But Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also urged her to delay any trial until after the election, and her handling of the case has virtually ensured that they will succeed in that strategy. Should Mr. Trump retake the White House, he could order the Justice Department to drop the case.

As Judge Cannon’s handling of the case has come under intensifying scrutiny, her critics have suggested that she could be in over her head, in the tank for Mr. Trump — or both.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: For Judge in Trump Documents Case, Unusual Rulings Are Business as Usual, Alan Feuer and Eileen Sullivan, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). When Judge Aileen M. Cannon presides over a hearing on Friday in former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, she will spend the day considering well-trod arguments about an arcane legal issue in an unorthodox manner.

It will be the latest example of how her unusual handling of the case has now become business as usual.

aileen cannonOver the past several months, Judge Cannon, right, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in his final days in office, has made a number of decisions that have prompted second-guessing and criticism among legal scholars following the case. Many of her rulings, on a wide array of topics, have been confounding to them, often evincing her willingness to grant a serious hearing to far-fetched issues that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised in his defense.

The issue that will be discussed on Friday in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., is a motion by the defense to dismiss the charges in the case on the grounds that Jack Smith, the special counsel who filed them last spring, was improperly funded and appointed.

The defense has argued that Mr. Smith was not named to his post by the president or approved by the Senate like other federal officers, and that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who gave him the job, had no legal power to do so on his own.

Mr. Smith’s deputies have countered that under the appointments clause of the Constitution, agency heads like Mr. Garland are authorized to name “inferior officers” like special counsels to act as their subordinates.

Judge Aileen Cannon has repeatedly proved willing to hear out even far-fetched arguments from former President Trump’s legal team.

And while the subject of the hearing may seem rather technical, what is most unusual is that it is happening at all.

Reaching back to the early 1970s, courts have repeatedly rejected efforts like Mr. Trump’s to question the legality of independent prosecutors. Those have included the Supreme Court upholding the appointment of Leon Jaworski, one of the special prosecutors who investigated the Watergate scandal, in a decision that was largely focused on the issue of President Richard Nixon’s claims of executive privilege.

Judges have also tossed efforts to invalidate the work of special counsels like Robert S. Mueller III, who examined connections between Russia and Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and David C. Weiss, who has brought two criminal cases against Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.

Despite this record, however, Judge Cannon has decided to consider the constitutionality of Mr. Smith’s appointment anew — and not on the merits of written briefs, but rather at an expansive hearing that will spill across two days. The proceeding might go beyond the normal process of merely making arguments and could include, as the judge recently wrote, the “presentation of evidence,” though it remains unclear what evidence she meant.

 

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

William Lewis, the embattled new publisher of the Washington Post (Washington Post photo by Elliott O'Donovan).

CNN, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists call for leadership change amid publisher scrutiny, Oliver Darcy, June 20, 2024. Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at The Washington Post went on the record late Wednesday, calling for leadership change at the storied newspaper as questions swirl over the integrity of its new publisher and chief executive, Will Lewis.

cnn logo“I don’t know a single person at the Post who thinks the current situation with the publisher and supposed new editor can stand,” David Maraniss, an associate editor who has worked at The Post for nearly five decades and won two Pulitzer david maraniss 2012 wPrizes at the newspaper, wrote in a candid Facebook post. “There might be a few, but very very few.”

Maraniss, shown at right in a 2012 photo, also zinged Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of The Post who installed Lewis, writing that he is “not of and for the Post or he would understand.”

Scott Higham, scott highamleft, another Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The Post, echoed Maraniss’ call for Lewis to exit the newspaper.

washington post logo“Will Lewis needs to step down for the good of The Post and the public,” Higham replied in a comment on Maraniss’ post. “He has lost the newsroom and will never win it back.”

Spokespersons for Bezos, shown below left in a file photo, and The Post did not immediately comment.

The backlash from The Post’s journalists comes after serious questions were raised about Lewis, who has been the subject of several jeffrey bezos washington postexplosive reports in recent days scrutinizing his journalistic integrity.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that, in his Fleet Street days, Lewis assigned an article that was based on stolen phone records. And The Post itself reported in a 3,000-word front page expose Sunday that a “thief” who used deceptive tactics to obtain private robert winnett linked inmaterial had ties with Lewis’ hand-picked incoming top editor, Robert Winnett, right.

The stories, which landed like a one-two punch in The Post’s newsroom, followed reports that Lewis tried to suppress stories at The Post and NPR about his role cleaning up Rupert Murdoch’s UK phone hacking scandal, when he served rupert murdoch newas a lieutenant to the right-wing media mogul (shown in a file photo at left).

In response to the reports earlier this month, Lewis initially lashed out, criticizing his own media reporters and attacking veteran NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, who he referred to as an “activist, not a journalist.” Lewis later sent a memo to staffers, striking a notably different tone. But the note failed to quell the growing disapproval within the newspaper’s ranks.

Inside The Post’s newsroom, morale has plunged as staffers express alarm over Lewis’ conduct and worries over the future direction of the newspaper under his leadership. Interviews with nearly a dozen Post staffers and others

Politico, Robert Winnett withdraws from becoming next Washington Post senior editor, Jared Mitovich, June 21, 2024. The Post will begin a “timely and thorough” search to fill the job, publisher Will Lewis announced.

robert winnett linked inRobert Winnett, right, will no longer become The Washington Post’s senior editor amid growing criticism over his alleged ties to unethical journalism practices.

In a message to staff Friday morning, Post publisher Will Lewis announced “with regret” that Winnett had “withdrawn” from the position of editor and would remain at The Telegraph, a U.K.-based newsroom where he currently serves as deputy editor.

“Rob has my greatest respect and is an incredibly talented editor and journalist,” Lewis wrote. “The leadership at The Telegraph Media Group are reaffirming his continued role as deputy editor.”

The Post will “immediately” begin a “timely and thorough” search to fill the vacant position, Lewis added. Winnett was set to join the Post after the November election to oversee the newsroom’s main reporting arm, in an abrupt leadership shakeup earlier this month that also included the departure of Sally Buzbee as executive editor.

Lewis added that Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, will continue as the Post’s executive editor through the November presidential election. The Post would also continue to prepare the launch of a “third newsroom” — which is slated to cover service and social media journalism — as part of a plan to address the newsroom’s struggling financial picture, he said.

Over the weekend, news reports emerged that included allegations of dubious ethical conduct by Winnett and Lewis. The Post itself reported that Winnett worked with a man who used deceptive tactics to acquire confidential information during his tenure at the Sunday Times. While working at the same British newspaper, the New York Times reported that Lewis and Winnett used stolen phone and company records in the process of reporting two articles.

For both reports, Lewis declined to comment through a Washington Post spokesperson and Winnett did not respond.

The reporting has sparked fierce scrutiny of the publisher and incoming editor, ranging from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at the Post to former President Donald Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite a Biden-Xi agreement to crack down on fentanyl, Chinese sellers are open for business, Cate Cadell and Lily Kuo, China FlagJune 21, 2024 (print ed.). A booming online marketplace for shipping small but potent packages of the chemicals used in the production of fentanyl from China to Mexico remains largely unhindered, a Post investigation found.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: China backed families behind a vast scam network before turning on them, Shibani Mahtani, Christian Shepherd and Pei-Lin Wu, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A Post investigation found that criminal networks in Myanmar enjoyed the protection of Chinese officials as well as the military government in Myanmar.

China FlagFor the scion of a crime family linked to human trafficking and enslavement, money laundering and global cyberscams, Wei Qingtao was brazenly public. His Douyin account, the Chinese-language version of TikTok, flaunted the excesses of his life in a remote corner of Myanmar by the border with China: Bentleys and Lamborghinis, rare cigars and private jets.

In November, the good times rolled to a stop. Wei’s social media presence vanished. He soon appeared in a different kind of video: reading a scripted confession while in Chinese custody.

The detention of Wei and at least 15 other alleged senior crime family members and their associates was lavishly covered by Chinese media, designed to showcase Beijing’s reach. This was proof, Chinese officials said, of their determination to crush transnational criminals victimizing their citizens, no matter where they are based.

That crusading narrative is incomplete, however.

A Washington Post investigation found that Kokang’s criminal networks — principally led by the Wei, Bai and Liu families, according to U.N. officials, Chinese court records and analysts — had for more than a decade enjoyed close relations with Chinese officials, primarily in neighboring Yunnan province, along with support from Beijing and the military government in Myanmar. The Myanmar military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, further solidified the families as political and economic brokers after taking power in a 2021 coup.


Real estate developer Fred C.Trump, Sr. with his son and heir, Donald J. Trump, the future U.S. president.

Real estate developer Fred C.Trump, Sr. with his son and heir, Donald J. Trump, the future U.S. president.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Gaping holes in the Trump family history point to three generations of spies against Americawayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, author of 24 books, widely published commentator and former Navy intelligence officer, June 18, 2024. Three generation of Trumps do not pass the smell test when it comes to espionage. WMR's series on the anti-American perfidy of the Trump family continues. Stay tuned.

wayne madesen report logoThere is an ample amount of evidentiary and circumstantial information found in contemporaneous news reports and archival records that point to the Trump family conducting espionage for hostile foreign powers for at least three generations. This malfeasance extends from Frederick Trump, who bore the telltale signs of having been an agent for Imperial Germany in New York City during World War I, to Fred C. Trump, Sr., whose dalliance with far-right causes in New York before and during World War II strongly matches the profile of a Nazi agent, and, finally, to Donald Trump, whose reckless handling of America's most classified information may have ended up in the hands of Russia, China, and other nations hostile to the United States.

Frederick, the patriarch of the Trump family, and his son, Fred Trump, Sr., found in New York a city that was home to a large German community. Among its ranks were German-born and first generation German-Americans who remained steadfastly supportive of their fatherland. Frederick immigrated to America in 1885 at the age of 16 not so much because he wanted to share in the liberty and rights afforded to all American citizens and residents but to avoid mandatory conscription in his native Germany and to have a chance to strike it rich.

Avoiding the German military draft was capped off with Frederick making money in the restaurant, bar, hotel, and prostitution business in British Columbia during the Yukon Gold Rush of the late 1890s. It is clear that Frederick, a wealthy man at the turn of the century, did not want to remain in America. With his newly-found wealth, Frederick returned to his native Kallstadt in Germany, where he married Elisabeth Christ. With a Bavarian government arrest warrant hanging over his head for being a draft dodger, Frederick decided to return to the States with his new bride to The Bronx, where he applied for a U.S. passport as an insurance policy to avoid arrest in Germany. Returning to Germany with his homesick wife and American-born daughter, Frederick deposited in a German bank 80,000 marks, $641,438 in today's money.

In 1904, the Bavarian government determined that Frederick was a draft dodger and ordered him deported back to the United States. Frederick appealed the decision and the Trump family history, written later by John W. Walter, Frederick's grandson and an executive of the Trump Organization who also served as the "official historian" of the Trump family, claims that Frederick, his wife, and daughter ultimately settled in Woodhaven, Queens, where Frederick began buying land. Thus began the Trump real estate empire. Oddly, Frederick began branching out into other occupations rather than live off his sizable wealth and new real estate business in Queens.

Other recent columns:

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The Ukraine Peace Conference: a new Western tactic is required, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The diplomacy of 1919 and 1920 should be employed against Putin, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Putin's "election surprise" -- an attack on NATO a real threat, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2024
    Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Election manipulation is a game NATO should not permit Putin to play, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2024.
  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary:  WMR Special Study: The New European Parliament, Wayne Madsen, June 11, 2024

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

 

nato logo flags name

washington post logoWashington Post, Outgoing Dutch leader Mark Rutte looks set to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO chief, Emily Rauhala, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Known for his direct manner and pragmatic approach, Rutte was seen by allies as the right leader to potentially work with Trump should he be elected.

Mark Rutte, the longtime prime minister of the Netherlands, looks set to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general, after the last remaining candidate running against him withdrew from the race, paving the way for his selection by allies.

The change of leadership at NATO, which could be formally agreed on within days, comes at a delicate moment for the 32-member military alliance. Thanks in large part to Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO is bigger, stronger and more relevant than its been in ages, but a growing current of isolationism in some countries has raised questions about its future.

Consensus on Rutte’s candidacy comes just weeks before allies gather in Washington and as the alliance braces for the possible return of former president Donald Trump. In February, Trump said he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries and may consider leaving the 75-year-old military alliance.

 Former President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington (Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon).

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington (Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon). 

Politico, NATO hopes to Trump-proof the alliance with new chief Mark Rutte. It could backfire, Miles Herszenhorn, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). . NATO officials and U.S. diplomats say the alliance needs to be battle ready if Donald Trump wins back the presidency in November.

The Biden administration got its way when outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte secured the support of all 32 NATO allies for the alliance’s top political post.

Though the secretary general of NATO is often described as more of a secretary than a general, former NATO officials and U.S. diplomats said the alliance may need Rutte to be battle ready if Donald Trump wins back the presidency in November.

The question looming over next month’s NATO leaders’ summit — to be held in Washington from July 9 to 11 — is if Rutte will be up to the task.

Rutte, whose center-right politics in Europe would put him to the left of many mainstream Democrats, is known for his pragmatism, his skill for building coalitions and his staunch transatlantic views. But his low-key, common-sense approach might make him better suited to working with President Joe Biden than Trump, who at one point threatened to pull the U.S. out of the alliance, and who has repeatedly berated European allies over their meager defense spending.

“Having a superb coalition builder — which is what NATO is all about, getting the consensus for an organization — is good for NATO,” said Ivo Daalder, who served as U.S. ambassador to NATO during the Obama administration. “But no one person is going to be able to manage an alliance that is bound to be disrupted by a president who is not interested in either being managed himself or managing an alliance.”

Trump only had a few one-on-one in-person meetings with Rutte during his presidency, and several of his former diplomats in Europe said they couldn’t speak to the relationship between the two men. But when the two leaders did meet, Rutte’s no-nonsense approach to Trump made headlines.

"This is not about geography. It's about common sense," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS. | Susan Walsh/AP

Politico, US says Ukraine can hit inside Russia ‘anywhere’ its forces attack across the border, Lara Seligman, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. has told Ukraine it can use American-supplied weapons to hit any Russian forces attacking from across the border — not just those in the region near Kharkiv, according to U.S. officials.

The subtle shift in messaging — which officials insist is not a change in policy — comes just weeks after the U.S. quietly gave Kyiv the green light to strike inside Russia in response to a cross-border assault on the city of Kharkiv. At the time, U.S. officials stressed that the policy was limited to the Kharkiv region, among other restrictions.

Ukrainian forces have since used American weapons to strike into Russia at least once, destroying targets in the city of Belgorod, and managed to hold back the Russian assault. But Ukrainian and other European officials have pressed the U.S. to loosen its restrictions even further, allowing Ukraine to strike anywhere inside Russia.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS on Tuesday that the agreement with Ukraine about firing American weapons into Russia extends to “anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory.”

Russia has in recent days indicated it may soon move on the northeastern city of Sumy, which is also near the Russian border. If that happens, the policy would apply there as well, Sullivan said.

“This is not about geography. It’s about common sense. If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border,” Sullivan said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia sentences U.S. soldier to almost 4 years in penal colony, Adela Suliman and Natalia Abbakumova, June 19, 2024. Prosecutors accused U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black of stealing 10,000 rubles ($120) from his Russian girlfriend and threatening to kill her. He plans to appeal.

A Russian court sentenced an American soldier Wednesday to three years and nine months in a penal colony after finding him guilty of theft and threatening to kill his Russian girlfriend, state media reported.

Prosecutors said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, stole 10,000 rubles ($120) from his girlfriend Alexandra Vashchuk and grabbed her by the neck, which she considered a threat to her life, Interfax reported. The sentencing took place in at Vladivostok’s Pervomaisky District Court, in Russia’s far east.

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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:

 

Russia-Ukraine War, Russian War Goals.

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin Threatens to Arm North Korea, Escalating Tension With West Over Ukraine, Paul Sonne, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). President Vladimir Putin issued the warning at the end of a trip to Asia, during which he signed a mutual defense pact with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directly warned the United States and its allies that he is willing to arm North Korea if they continue to supply Kyiv with sophisticated weapons that have struck Russian territory, raising the stakes for the Western powers backing Ukraine.

Mr. Putin made the threat in comments to reporters traveling with him late Thursday in Vietnam before he flew home to Russia after a trip there and to North Korea. He had made a similar, though significantly less overt, threat a day earlier in Pyongyang, where he revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pact with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. The pact requires each nation to provide military assistance to the other “with all means at its disposal” in the event of an attack.

Mr. Putin cast his threat to arm Pyongyang, in violation of United Nations sanctions, as a response to decisions by the United States and its allies in recent months to allow Ukraine to make certain strikes on Russian territory with their weapons. The White House made that decision last month, but maintained its prohibition on longer-range attacks deeper in the country with U.S. arms.

 


Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, left, welcoming President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Pyongyang early Wednesday, in an image released by the North’s state media (Photo by Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images).

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, left, welcoming President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to Pyongyang early Wednesday, in an image released by the North’s state media (Photo by Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse and Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin and Kim Sign Pact Pledging Mutual Support Against ‘Aggression,’ Choe Sang-Hun and Paul Sonne, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). A need for munitions to use against Ukraine is pushing Russia’s leader to deepen his ties with North Korea, raising alarms in the West. The text of the agreement was not immediately released.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, revived a Cold War-era mutual defense pledge between their nations on Wednesday, signing a new agreement that calls for them to assist each other in the event of “aggression” against either country.

Russian FlagThe Russian president, in a briefing after the two leaders signed the document, did not clarify whether such assistance would require immediate and full-fledged military intervention in the event of an attack, as the now-defunct 1961 treaty specified. But he said that Russia “does not exclude the development of military-technical cooperation” with North Korea in accordance with the new agreement.

The pact was one of the most visible rewards Mr. Kim has extracted from Moscow in return for the dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 shipping containers of munitions that Washington has said North Korea has provided in recent months to help support Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine.

North Korean flagIt also represented the farthest the Kremlin has gone in throwing its weight behind North Korea, after years of cooperating with the United States at the United Nations in curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program — a change that accelerated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a truly breakthrough document, reflecting the desire of the two countries not to rest on their laurels, but to raise our relations to a new qualitative level,” Mr. Putin added. Neither North Korea nor Russia immediately released the text of the new agreement.

Mr. Putin denounced the United States for expanding military infrastructure in the region and holding drills with South Korea and Japan. He rejected what he called attempts to blame the deteriorating security situation on North Korea, which has carried out six nuclear test explosions since 2006 and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the United States.

ny times logoNew York Times, What weapons is North Korea accused of supplying to Russia? Lara Jakes, June 17, 2024. Moscow needs conventional arms like artillery shells and missiles that North Korea could provide to give it an edge in its war of attrition in Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine-Russia Peace Is as Elusive as Ever. But in 2022 They Were Talking, Anton Troianovski, Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). The warring nations held peace talks in the early weeks of the Russian invasion. They fizzled. Documents show why new negotiations will face major obstacles.

ukraine flagWith Russia and Ukraine locked in their third year of all-out war, there is no clear path to military victory for either side. Nor are there immediate prospects for a ceasefire and an eventual peace plan, with both sides sticking to irreconcilable positions.

Yet the issues that would need to be tackled in any future peace settlement are evident, and in fact were at the center of negotiations two years ago that explored peace terms in remarkable detail.

Documents reviewed by The New York Times shed light on the points of disagreement that would have to be overcome.

Russian FlagThe documents emerged from negotiating sessions that took place in the weeks after the start of the war, from February to April of 2022. It was the only time that Ukrainian and Russian officials are known to have engaged in direct peace talks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia-Ukraine War: Putin Makes Cease-Fire Offer With Sweeping Demands on Ukraine’s Territory, Ivan Nechepurenko, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). Ukraine denounced the offer, saying that Vladimir Putin was “afraid of real peace.” He made the remarks one day before a peace summit organized by Kyiv.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Stalled Russia Near the Border. This Town Has Paid the Price, Maria Varenikova, Photographs and Video by Finbarr O’Reilly, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). Faced with an assault from the northeast, Ukrainian forces made their stand in Vovchansk. The front line is still there, but little else is.

ukraine flagA month into Russia’s push across the border in northern Ukraine, Western weapons and Ukrainian reinforcements have largely stalled the attack. But they came too late to save one town, Vovchansk, where the city hall, a cultural center, countless apartment blocks and several riverside hotels are all now in ruins.

Russian FlagNew York Times, Biden Links Fight for Ukraine With Allied Effort on D-Day, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, June 7, 2024 (print ed.).  Speaking in Normandy, the president argued that similar principles were at stake in both wars: the defense of freedom and a rules-based international order.

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More On Global Elections, Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Slur by Pope Francis Lays Bare the Church’s Contradictions on Homosexuality, Emma Bubola and Elisabetta Povoledo, June 22, 2024. The pope used homophobic slang and cautioned prelates about admitting gay men into seminaries. But ordination has also long been a refuge for gay Catholic men.

When reports spread that Pope Francis had used an offensive anti-gay slur while speaking to Italian bishops at a conference last month, many Catholics were both shocked and baffled. How could a pope known for his openness to and acceptance of L.G.B.T.Q. people use homophobic slang and caution prelates about admitting gay men into seminaries?

But the question, and the apparent inconsistency in Francis’ messaging, reflect the deep contradictions and tensions that underlie the Roman Catholic Church’s and Francis’ relationship to homosexuality.

The church holds that “homosexual tendencies” are “intrinsically disordered.” When it comes to ordination, the church’s guidelines state that people with “deep-seated” gay tendencies should not become priests.

Yet ordination has also long been a refuge of sorts for homosexual Catholic men, according to researchers and priests, who say that at least thousands of clergymen are gay, though only a few are public about their sexual orientation because of the stigma it still carries in the church.

mexico flag1

ny times logoNew York Times, Claudia Sheinbaum’s U.S. Experience Offers Clues to Her Approach to Relations, Natalie Kitroeff, June 22, 2024. Thenext Mexican president’s years of living in California provide insight into how she will handle key issues in Mexico-Washington ties.

In the early 1990s, a young scientist named Claudia Sheinbaum, left, moved with her family from Mexico City to Northern California, where she claudia sheinbaum w 2024studied at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

She lived in housing provided by Stanford University with her two small children and her husband, who was pursuing a Ph.D. there. For four years, Ms. Sheinbaum immersed herself in a new life as an immigrant academic in the United States.

She audited a class taught by a future Mexican foreign minister. She landed on the front page of The Stanford Daily student newspaper for protesting the North American Free Trade Agreement. She found friends who missed Mexico as much as she did. And to people who knew her, she seemed entirely at ease in California, navigating the world of American academia.

“They could have been professors, they could have made their lives here,” said Alma González, a close friend of Ms. Sheinbaum’s in California. “But they decided to return.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Hundreds of Muslim Pilgrims Die in Mecca Heat Wave; Death Toll Expected to Rise, Emad Mekay and Lynsey Chutel, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). At least 450 died during the hajj pilgrimage, one of the most important events of the Muslim calendar. Heat appeared to at least contribute to many of the deaths.

During the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, one of the most important events on the Muslim calendar, at least 450 people died under a scorching sun as they prayed at sacred sites around the holy city of Mecca.

Amid maximum temperatures that ranged from 108 Fahrenheit to 120, according to preliminary data, and throngs of people, many passed out and needed medical care. The pilgrims, some who have saved their whole lives for the hajj, spend days walking and sleeping in tents during their journey to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims. The hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars, and all Muslims who are physically and financially able are obliged to embark on the pilgrimage.

Indonesia has so far reported the most deaths, 199, and India has reported 98. The countries said at this point that they could not be sure that heat was the cause of all the deaths, though, relatives of the missing and dead and tour operators have said the heat was at least a contributing factor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran signals a major boost in nuclear enrichment at key site, Joby Warrick, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). Hundreds of new centrifuges would triple Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity at a deeply buried underground nuclear facility.

A major expansion underway inside Iran’s most heavily protected nuclear facility could soon triple the site’s production of enriched uranium and give Tehran new options for quickly assembling a nuclear arsenal if it chooses to, according to confidential documents and analysis by weapons experts.

iran flag mapInspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed new construction activity inside the Fordow enrichment plant, just days after Tehran formally notified the nuclear watchdog of plans for a substantial upgrade at the underground facility built inside a mountain in north-central Iran.

Iran also disclosed plans for expanding production at its main enrichment plant near the city of Natanz. Both moves are certain to escalate tensions with Western governments and spur fears that Tehran is moving briskly toward becoming a threshold nuclear power, capable of making nuclear bombs rapidly if its leaders decide to do so.

Iran already possesses a stockpile of about 300 pounds of highly enriched uranium that could be further refined into weapons-grade fuel for nuclear bombs within weeks, or perhaps days, U.S. intelligence officials say. Iran also is believed to have accumulated most of the technical know-how for a simple nuclear device, although it would probably take another two years to build a nuclear warhead that could be fitted onto a missile, according to intelligence officials and weapons experts.

 

sudan sudanese flag on the map of africa

ny times logoNew York Times, A Massacre Threatens Darfur, Again, Lauren Leatherby, Declan Walsh, Sanjana Varghese and Christoph Koettl, June 19, 2024 (interactive. Darfur, the region of Sudan once synonymous with genocide, may be on the brink of a new chapter of horror.

A civil war is ripping apart Sudan, one of Africa’s largest countries.

Tens of thousands have been killed, millions scattered and an enormous famine looms, setting off one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.

sudan flagpngThe city of El Fasher, home to 1.8 million people, is now at the center of global alarm. If it falls, officials warn, there may be little to stop a massacre.

Fighters battling Sudan’s military for control of the country have encircled the city. Gunfights rage. Hospitals have closed. Residents are running out of food.

The advancing fighters are known as the Rapid Support Forces — the successors to the notorious Janjaweed militias that slaughtered ethnic African tribes in Darfur in the 2000s. Last week, the U.N. Security Council demanded that they “halt the siege” of the city.

Yet a New York Times examination of satellite imagery and video from El Fasher make one thing clear: The assault is intensifying.

ny times logoNew York Times, French Election Becomes ‘Nightmare’ for Nation’s Jews, Roger Cohen, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The alleged rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl is inflaming an already tense and divisive situation.

The alleged rape last weekend of a 12-year-old Jewish girl by boys who hurled antisemitic abuse at her has ignited simmering tensions in France over attitudes toward the largest Jewish community in Western Europe.

President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist whose decision to call snap elections this month shocked even his closest allies, responded by denouncing the “scourge of antisemitism” in French schools. The prime minister, Gabriel Attal, urged politicians to “refuse the banalization” of hatred toward Jews, a thinly veiled attack on Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the ardently pro-Palestinian leader of the left who on June 2 called antisemitism in France “residual.”

There were more than 360 antisemitic episodes in France in the first three months of this year, or an average of four a day, an increase of 300 percent over the same period last year, the government said. In the most recent one that shocked the country, the three boys are said to have dragged the girl into an abandoned building where she was repeatedly raped and insulted.

The three boys, ages 12 and 13, one of them previously known to the girl, are being investigated for rape, death threats and insults “aggravated by their link to the victim’s religion,” a prosecutor’s statement on Wednesday said. Two of them have been placed in pretrial detention, it added.

The place of Jews in French society has emerged as a prominent theme in the election because the once-antisemitic National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, whose anti-immigrant position lies at the core of its fast-growing popularity, has been one of the most emphatic supporters of Israel and French Jews since the Hamas-led terrorist attack of Oct. 7 on Israel.

Mr. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed, by contrast, has been vehement in its denunciation of Israel’s military operation in Gaza as “genocide.”

This denunciation has often appeared to stray into outright antisemitism, as when Mr. Mélenchon accused Yaël Braun-Pivet, the Jewish president of the National Assembly, of “camping out in Tel Aviv to encourage the massacre,” and described Élisabeth Borne, the former French prime minister and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, as expressing “a foreign point of view.”

Mr. Mélenchon said on Wednesday he was “horrified by this rape in Courbevoie,” the northwestern Paris suburb where the prosecutor said it took place.

The confrontation of an abruptly pro-Israeli National Rally, whose antisemitic founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, described the Holocaust as “a detail” of history, with a far left that Mr. Macron described last week as “guilty of antisemitism” has confronted French Jews and others with an agonizing choice.

Can they really bring themselves to vote for Ms. Le Pen’s party, given its history of antisemitism and its xenophobic determination to seek a ban on the public use of the Muslim head scarf if elected, out of loathing for Mr. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed?

In many constituencies, the standoff in the second round of voting on July 7 will most likely be between the two extreme parties. A lot of previously centrist voters are tired of Mr. Macron and do not want to vote for him again.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.K. Election Winner’s First Problem: Fix a Stagnant Economy, Eshe Nelson, June 20, 2024 (print ed.).After more than a decade of deep budget cuts, slow growth and weak productivity, Britain has struggled to overcome years of uncertainty and underinvestment.

“Our economy has truly turned a corner,” Rishi Sunak, Britain’s prime minister, said last week as he introduced his party’s election manifesto, buoyed by recent data showing that Britain’s economy had exited from a recession more strongly than expected in the beginning of the year and that inflation had slowed substantially.

Justifying the optimism, data released on Wednesday showed that consumer prices rose 2 percent in May from a year earlier, touching the Bank of England’s target for the first time since 2021. That was also way down from 11.1 percent in October 2022, when Mr. Sunak started his premiership.

Many economists argue that it will take more than a few good economic indicators to change Britain’s economic path after more than a decade of slow economic growth, chronically weak productivity, high taxes and struggling public services, with a notably underfunded and overstretched National Health Service.

Polls suggest there is a desire to eject the governing Conservative Party from Downing Street, after 14 years, in next month’s general election. But lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party have already warned that — should they win — they will inherit a hobbled economy with little room for bold changes.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. calls for end to siege of Darfur city amid Sudan civil war, Katharine Houreld and Paul Schemm, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. envoy to the U.N. has called Sudan the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than half of the country’s population needing assistance.

The United Nations Security Council passed a near-unanimous resolution demanding the end of a siege of western Sudan’s El Fashir city to avert a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn nation.

The British-sponsored resolution, which passed with 14 nations in support and Russia abstaining, calls for a cease-fire as well as “rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need.”

For more than a year, Sudan has been engulfed in a civil war between the military dictatorship and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful militia that has seized huge swaths of the country.

El Fashir, in the vast, arid Darfur region of the country, is the final regional capital still in government hands, and it has been under siege for the past month. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have sheltered there, fleeing RSF advances elsewhere in the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Princess Kate attends king’s parade in first public event since cancer news, Karla Adam, William Booth and Victoria BissetI, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). It is the first joint appearance by senior members of the British royal family since the king and the Princess of Wales were diagnosed with cancer.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: In China’s Backyard, America Has Become a Humbler Superpower, Damien Cave, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). The U.S. no longer towers over the Asia-Pacific, dictating terms to its allies. Instead, it’s offering to be a teammate and share responsibilities.

China FlagFar from Ukraine and Gaza, as the Group of 7 wealthy democracies gathers in Italy to discuss a range of old, entrenched challenges, the nature of American power is being transformed across the region that Washington sees as crucial for the century to come: the Asia-Pacific.

washington post logoWashington Post, Philippines turns up heat over disputed sea but confronts formidable foe, Rebecca Tan, Yasmin Coles and Martin San Diego, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). A voyage in the South China Sea revealed the challenge as a flotilla of wooden fishing boats drew an armada of Chinese warships and coast guard vessels.

 

south africa flag after 1994

ny times logojacob zuma 2017New York Times, New Party in South Africa to Boycott Opening of Parliament, June 14, 2024 (print ed.).UMkhonto weSizwe, which is led by Jacob Zuma, the former president, has asserted that the recent election was rigged and the results illegitimate.

 

evan gershkovich ap

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia finalized its indictment of Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. reporter arrested over a year ago on spying charges, Ivan Nechepurenko, June 14, 2024 (print ed.). The Wall Street Journal reporter will be tried on a spying charge in Yekaterinburg, the city where he was arrested more than a year ago.

ny times logoNew York Times, Buoyed by Election, Giorgia Meloni Basks in Spotlight as Italy Hosts G7, Emma Bubola, June 12, 2024 (print ed.). The Italian prime minister’s right-wing party was fortified by the vote for the European Parliament. This week provides a chance to show her influence.

italy decalFive years ago, when her party won 6 percent of the vote in elections for the European Parliament, Giorgia Meloni tried to pop a bottle of sparkling wine, but the cork awkwardly flopped among some supporters.

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World leaders at this year’s G7 meeting, in Savelletri, Italy on June 13, 2024 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

World leaders at this year’s G7 meeting, in Savelletri, Italy on June 13, 2024 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

 

U.S. Supreme Court Rulings, Scandals, Disputes

Politico, Supreme Court rejects bid to preempt wealth tax, Brian Faler, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The case was being closely watched for its overall impact on large swaths of tax law.

politico CustomThe Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative-backed bid to preemptively block Congress from ever adopting a wealth tax.

The justices voted 7-2 to turn aside a complaint from a Washington state couple that a special tax Republicans created in 2017 on irs logobusinesses’ overseas profits amounted to a federal property tax, something that’s restricted by the Constitution.

Charles and Kathleen Moore had hoped their challenge would in turn slam the legal door on any possibility of lawmakers creating a wealth tax, a levy on assets that has become increasingly popular in recent years among progressives.

But the court rejected the premise of the Moores’ lawsuit, ruling the so-called repatriation tax imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a levy on income, not property.

If the plaintiffs had won, the IRS would have also likely had to return hundreds of billions of dollars that companies have already paid under the repatriation levy plus interest.

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden lambasted the Supreme Court. Now he should support court reform, Jennifer Rubin, June jennifer rubin new headshot20, 2024. He should make court reform a key campaign issue. The court is broken, unpopular and in dire need of reform. Biden knows it and should make court reform a key campaign issue.

The White House has been mum on ethics reform, leaving the issue to Senate Democrats, who inexplicably have yet to bring the Supreme Court ethics bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee passed last year to the floor for a full vote. There is no reason Biden should not publicly push for the bill.

Moreover, to the dismay of court reform advocates, Biden has never embraced any further structural reform. During the 2020 campaign, he resisted calls for term limits or court expansion. Once elected, he appointed an all-star, bipartisan commission to study court reform. It published an impressive report, but Biden took no action.

The commission also considered the more controversial proposal to expand the size of the court (perhaps to 13, matching the number of circuits), with the new appointments spread over multiple presidential terms. There is no magic to the current number of nine, which has not always been in place. The size is tiny compared with courts in other Western democracies. Nevertheless, opponents of expansion expressed fear of reaching an unwieldy number of justices and a vague sense that we should not end “an enduring bipartisan norm against Court packing.” (The bipartisan norm against ripping up decades of precedent seems to have gone by the wayside.)

 

djt indicted proof

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Something’s Rotten About the Justices Taking So Long on Trump’s Immunity Case, Leah Litman (a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, a host of the “Strict Scrutiny” podcast and a former clerk to the Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy), June 20, 2024 (print ed.).

For those looking for the hidden hand of politics in what the Supreme Court does, there’s plenty of reason for suspicion on Donald Trump’s as-yet-undecided immunity case given its urgency. There are, of course, explanations that have nothing to do with politics for why a ruling still hasn’t been issued. But the reasons to think something is rotten at the court are impossible to ignore.

supreme court graphicOn Feb. 28, the justices agreed to hear Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to subvert the 2020 election. The court scheduled oral arguments in the case for the end of April. That eight-week interval is much quicker than the ordinary Supreme Court briefing process, which usually extends for at least 10 weeks. But it’s considerably more drawn out than the schedule the court established earlier this year on a challenge from Colorado after that state took Mr. Trump off its presidential primary ballot. The court agreed to hear arguments on the case a mere month after accepting it and issued its decision less than a month after the argument. Mr. Trump prevailed, 9-0.

Nearly two months have passed since the justices heard lawyers for the former president and for the special counsel’s office argue the immunity case. The court is dominated by conservatives nominated by Republican presidents. Every passing day further delays a potential trial on charges related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election and his role in the events that led to the storming of the Capitol; indeed, at this point, even if the court rules that Mr. Trump has limited or no immunity, it is unlikely a verdict will be delivered before the election.

MSNBC, Commentary: Donald Trump is proposing the ‘worst economic policy in U.S. history,’ Lawrence O’Donnell, June 19, 2024. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains why Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the tax code and replace it with tariffs is, as Henry Ford would say, “an economic stupidity.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Major Decisions Still Before the Supreme Court, Adam Liptak, Abbie VanSickle and Alicia Parlapiano, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). As the Supreme Court enters the final weeks of its term, it is poised to issue a series of blockbuster decisions. Some could be released today.

As the Supreme Court enters the final weeks of its term, it is poised to issue a series of blockbuster decisions, including ones on federal criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump, abortion rights and the Second Amendment.

No Supreme Court term in recent memory has featured so many cases with the potential to transform American society.

  • Bump Stocks for Guns 6-3 ruling
  • Abortion Pills 9-0 ruling
  • N.R.A. and the First Amendment 9-0 ruling
  • Racial Gerrymandering 6-3 ruling
  • Agency Funding 7-2 ruling
  • Trump’s Ballot Eligibility 9-0 ruling
  • Immunity for Former Presidents
  • Jan. 6 Obstruction Charges
  • Emergency Abortion Care
  • Gun Rights
  • Restrictions on the Homeless
  • Rights of Social Media Platforms
  • Disinformation on Social Media
  • Opioids Settlement
  • Power of Federal Agencies
  • Administrative Courts
  • Cross-State Air Pollution

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court’s leisurely pace so far will produce a pileup of late June rulings, Adam Liptak, Updated June 19, 2024. Even as the size of its docket has shrunk, the court has deferred a larger share of its decisions to the very end of its term.

The Supreme Court has been moving at a sluggish pace in issuing decisions this term, entering the second half of June with more than 20 left to go. That is not terribly different from the last two terms, when the pace at which the court issued decisions started to slow.

Over the almost two decades in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has led the court, it has on average decided 72 percent of argued cases by this point in the term, according to data compiled by Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at the University of Southern California. The corresponding number for the previous court, led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1986 to 2005, was 78 percent.

But in the last three terms, the court has decided no more than 62 percent of the term’s cases by June 14.

SCOTUSblog, Supreme Court allows ex-council member’s retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward, Amy Howe, June 20, 2024. Supreme Court allows ex-council member’s retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward

The court handed a win to a former-city council member in Texas on Thursday, clearing the way for her federal civil rights claim to move forward. Sylvia Gonzalez contends that her 2019 arrest on charges that she had tampered with government records came in retaliation for her criticism of the city manager in Castle Hills, Tex. In a brief unsigned opinion, the justices reinstated Gonzalez’s claim after a federal appeals court had thrown it out, holding that the lower court had applied an “overly cramped” reading of its caselaw.

Gonzalez, who is 76 years old and the first Hispanic woman elected to the city council in Castle Hills, was charged in 2019 with violating a state law that makes it a crime to intentionally tamper with government records after she placed a petition that she had initiated, criticizing the city manager, in her binder. Gonzalez says that she accidentally picked up the petition after a long meeting. She spent the day in jail and eventually left the council.

The district attorney did not pursue the charges against Gonzalez. But Gonzalez went to federal court in 2020, where she argued that the charges stemmed from the desire of three city officials – the city’s mayor, its police chief, and a detective – to retaliate against her because she had criticized the city’s manager.

Gonzalez’s complaint noted that she was the only person charged in the past 10 years under the state’s government records law for temporarily misplacing government documents. Almost all of the 215 felony indictments under that law, she observed, involved the use or creation of fake government IDs.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether this kind of evidence was enough to allow Gonzalez’s retaliatory arrest claim to go forward. Under the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Nieves v. Bartlett, a plaintiff can generally only bring a federal civil rights claim alleging that she was arrested in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights if she can show that police officers did not have probable cause to arrest her. At the same time, the court also carved out an exemption for plaintiffs who can show that others who were not engaged in the same kind of protected speech were not arrested.

SCOTUSblog, Nine new relists as the court approaches the finish line, John Elwood, June 20, 2024. The Relist Watch column examines cert petitions that the Supreme Court has “relisted” for its upcoming conference. A short explanation of relists is available here.

With just a few weeks left before the Supreme Court’s summer recess, and with only the October and November argument sittings filled, the court has switched into high gear. It granted five of last week’s six new relists on Monday.

The pace is only increasing. There are nine newly relisted cases this week, so I’m going to be even more summary than last time in describing them.

 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his longtime benefactor Harlan Crow,a billionaire who has showered him with millions in gifts, including for the justice's adopted son.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his longtime benefactor Harlan Crow, a billionaire who has showered him with millions in gifts, including for the justice's adopted son.

washington post logoWashington Post, New documents show unreported trips by Justice Clarence Thomas, Justin Jouvenal and Tobi Raji, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). Justice Clarence Thomas took three previously unreported trips paid for by conservative Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, according to documents released by the Senate Judiciary Committee

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took three previously unreported trips paid for by conservative Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, according to new documents released Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

supreme court graphicDetails of the private jet flights between 2017 and 2021 were obtained as part of an investigation the committee has been conducting into reports of lavish undisclosed travel and perks provided to justices by Crow and other wealthy benefactors that have sparked calls for reform.

Crow released the information after the committee issued subpoenas in November for him and conservative activist Leonard Leo to provide information to the body. The subpoenas have never been enforced.

Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the documents provided necessary transparency and the trips should have been reported on financial disclosures.

Business Insider, Clarence Thomas raised him 'as a son.' Now he's facing 25-plus years on weapons and drug charges, Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert, June 12, 2024. Clarence Thomas raised his grandnephew, Mark Martin, like a son. Martin is facing multiple drugs and weapons charges and says he hasn't heard from the Supreme Court justice in years. Getty Images/Jasper County Detention Center

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on bump stock devices, Justin Jouvenal, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). The case focused on whether bump stocks qualify as machine guns under a law that bars civilians from owning such weapons.

A divided Supreme Court on Friday struck down a federal ban on bump stock devices that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire hundreds of bullets a minute, upending one of the few recent efforts by the federal government to address the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

The 6-3 ruling continues the conservative majority’s record of limiting gun restrictions, most notably in a landmark 2022 ruling that has made it easier to challenge modern gun control laws.

In its ruling, the majority said bump stocks do not qualify as machine guns under a 1986 law that barred civilians from owning the weapons. The Trump administration interpreted the law to ban bump stocks in 2018, after a gunman used the devices to open fire on a Las Vegas music festival, ultimately killing 60 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s Bump Stock Decision Will Prove Fatal, David Firestone, June 15, 2024 (print ed.). There was nothing abstract about the 6-to-3 decision issued Friday morning by the Supreme Court to permit bump stocks to be used on semiautomatic rifles.

It is one of the most astonishingly dangerous decisions ever issued by the court, and it will almost surely result in a loss of American lives in another mass shooting.

Bump stocks attach to the back of a rifle and use the gun’s recoil to enable shooting hundreds of bullets at a very rapid pace, far faster than anyone could shoot by pressing the trigger multiple times. The device is the reason the Las Vegas shooter in 2017 was able to kill 60 people and wound more than 400 others so quickly in the nation’s worst mass shooting in modern history.

Bump stock devices were banned the next year, just as all fully automatic machine guns are banned for public use, but the six conservative members of the court seemed entirely unbothered by their deadly potential. The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, parses in a ridiculous level of detail whether bump stocks truly fit the precise mechanical definition of a machine gun. Because the court feels the need to give the greatest possible deference to the ownership of guns, however they might be used, the court concluded that they are not really machine guns, as they do not allow firing multiple rounds “by a single function of the trigger.”

The opinion, full of lovingly detailed close-up drawings of a gun’s innards (provided by the Firearms Policy Foundation, a pro-gun nonprofit group), says nothing about the purpose of a bump stock. Why would someone buy the device and use it? Only to fire a lightning burst of rounds. In the hands of an angry shooter — and there are so many of them — it would produce far more carnage, which is why even the Trump administration banned it.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissent laced with astonishment at what her colleagues had done, didn’t hesitate to explain what was really happening. Skilled shooters using an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle can fire 180 rounds per minute, she wrote, but a bump stock allows them to fire 400 to 800 rounds per minute, which is the ordinary understanding of a fully automatic machine gun.

 

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Speaking at the McConnell Center, named for Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in a file photo). flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Speaking at the McConnell Center, named for Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in a file photo).

Politico, Clarence Thomas belatedly discloses lavish travel expenses paid for by Harlan Crow, Hailey Fuchs and Josh Gerstein, June 7, 2024. The conservative justice has faced scrutiny over his acceptance of vacations from the Republican donor.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Secret Recordings, Alito Endorses Nation of ‘Godliness,’ Abbie VanSickle, June 11, 2024 (print ed.). A woman posing as a Catholic conservative recorded Justice Samuel Alito last week. She also recorded Chief Justice John Roberts, who spoke of pluralism.

ny times logoNew York Times, Alito’s Wife, in Recorded Conversation, Complains About Pride Flag, Abbie VanSickle, June 11, 2024 (print ed.). Secretly recorded at a Supreme Court gala, Martha-Ann Alito pushed back against having to look at a symbol of L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More On Israel-Hamas War, Civilian Deaths

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Live Updates: Deadly Strike Hits Area of Gaza Where Displaced People Were Sheltering, Staff Reports, June 22, 2024. As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike near Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

As many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded on Friday in a strike amid tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a coastal community in the southern Gaza Strip, near the city of Rafah, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials.

The Israeli military said “the incident is under review.”

Al-Mawasi contains a zone where the Israeli military has told people fleeing the fighting in Rafah to go for their safety, though such zones have also come under fire during the war. It was unclear from the accounts of Gazan officials whether the attack was within the zone.

Key Developments

  • An Israeli official described a government bid to cement control of the West Bank, and other news.
  • An influential member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was caught on tape telling settlers in the occupied West Bank that the government is engaged in a stealthy campaign to impose control on the territory for the long term. In a leaked recording, the official, Bezalel Smotrich, can be heard suggesting that the goal was to deter the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state.
  • After months of escalating violence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the chief of the United Nations warned on Friday that “the risk for the conflict in the Middle East to widen is real — and must be avoided.” Secretary General António Guterres said that “one rash move” by Israel or Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group targeting Israel in allegiance with Hamas fighters in Gaza, could trigger a “catastrophe that goes far beyond the border and, frankly, beyond imagination.”
  • Armenia is recognizing a Palestinian state, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, a largely symbolic move that adds to the international pressure on Israel over its war in Gaza. In response, Israel said it had summoned Armenia’s ambassador for a “harsh reprimand.” More than 140 countries and the Holy See have recognized a Palestinian state — including Spain, Norway and Ireland who jointly did so last month — though most Western European countries and the United States have not.
  • The Israeli military said that it struck a missile launch site that belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group in the Gaza Strip, embedded within a shelter for displaced Palestinians of Khan Younis. Before the strike, “various measures were taken in order to mitigate harm to uninvolved civilians,” the military said in a statement on Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Beleaguered aid pier functional again in Gaza; Netanyahu slams U.S, Adela Suliman and Hazem Balousha, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Washington over slow weapons deliveries, drawing a puzzled response from U.S. officials.

Israel FlagA controversial U.S.-built floating pier that has been racked with problems is once again operational and delivered 656 metric tons of much needed aid to Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday. However, the restoration did little to address questions about the ultimate effectiveness of the multimillion-dollar project, or even if it would continue.

palestinian flagThe Centcom statement described it as “the largest single day delivery of aid to date” — about the equivalent 38 truckloads. Aid groups estimate that the battered Gaza Strip requires hundreds of truckloads a day to support the more than 2 million people trapped inside. The Pentagon originally said it would be delivering up to 1,700 tons a day via the pier.

Department of Defense SealThe pier, which Centcom says has been used to deliver 4,160 tons of humanitarian aid to date, is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to get food and other lifesaving necessities to starving Gazans as the humanitarian situation worsens and the enclave remains largely sealed off. But it is challenging to use when waves exceed 2 to 3 feet in height, according to past assessments in military journals.

Critics have argued that instead of constructing the pier, the administration could have delivered aid into Gaza faster and at less cost by pressuring the Israeli government to ease restrictions on aid moving through land routes. Georgios Petropoulos, head of the U.N. humanitarian coordination office in Gaza, told The Post that the pier operation “was a failure.”

“Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s much to do about nothing. Distracted us for three months,” he said, adding that it was not yet serving the interests of people in the Gaza Strip.

The floating pier was first announced by President Biden in his March State of the Union address, and construction was completed in May. The project cost an estimated $230 million.

In late May, the pier was ripped apart by bad weather, causing an estimated $22 million in damage and sidelining the operation for days while it was repaired. Earlier this month, it was again partly dismantled and towed to shelter in the Israeli port of Ashdod to avoid forecast bad weather and to “ensure the structural integrity of the pier and safety of our service members,” Centcom said.

Another issue has been the suspension of operations by the United Nations’ World Food Program, partly responsible for the distribution of aid arriving from the pier, after an Israeli hostage rescue operation on June 8 freed four hostages and left more than 250 Palestinians dead. The WFP is expected to resume work pending a review “to ensure that secure conditions for humanitarian work can be reestablished,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq has said.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for aid delivery to Gaza, reported that 324 truckloads of aid passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south. But aid agencies have said it is difficult to collect because of the ongoing fighting inside Gaza as well as the increased lawlessness of the desperate population.

Israel announced a daily pause in combat operations earlier this week to facilitate the delivery of aid, but WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain told Al-Monitor in an interview Thursday that it made little difference. “We haven’t been able to get in,” she said. “We’ve had to reroute some of our trucks. They’ve been looted. As you know, we’ve been shot at, and we’ve been rocketed. So far as we can tell, there’s no difference at all.”

Aid group Doctors Without Borders said Friday that they may need to “stop or drastically reduce some of its medical activities” in Gaza as it has been unable to bring any medical supplies into the strip since the end of April due to the Israeli closure of the Rafah crossing.
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“We have six trucks filled with 37 tons of supplies — the vast majority of which are essential medical items — that have been waiting since June 14 on the Egyptian side of Kerem Shalom crossing point, unable to cross into Gaza where they are needed to save lives,” Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator with the group, said in a statement.

On the political scene, a war of words appears to have erupted between the United States and Israel this week, as Washington hit back after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the slow delivery of U.S. weapons.

Netanyahu said in a social media video this week that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months the [Biden] administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he was unaware the video was coming and called it “perplexing,” given the volume of U.S. military support to Israel. “It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect,” he said. “There’s no other country that’s done more but will continue to do more than the United States to help Israel defend itself.”
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Characterizing Kirby’s comments as a personal attack, Netanyahu said he was “willing to absorb personal attacks if that is what it takes for Israel to get the arms and ammunition it needs in its war for survival.”

Netanyahu said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Friday that he was “appreciative” of U.S. military aid but that he had tried talking with the president to resolve what he maintained was a slowdown in weapons deliveries. “I felt that airing it was absolutely necessary after months of quiet conversation that did not solve the problem,” he added.

Here’s what to know

  • Armenia has become the latest country to recognize the state of Palestine. In a statement carried by local media outlets Friday, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said the country has “always advocated for a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian issue” and that a two-state solution “is the only way to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can realize their legitimate aspirations.” The news was welcomed by Palestinian politicians, while Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned Armenia’s ambassador “for a reprimand.”
  • Israeli forces continued to push into the city of Rafah on Friday, while also conducting operations in the previously conquered areas of Gaza City and Khan Younis. The army said it engaged in close-quarters combat with Hamas fighters and was conducting operations in the Rafah area. Earlier this week, Israel said it was close to achieving its goals in the southern Gaza city, which it says is Hamas’s final stronghold.
  • The Palestinian Ministry of Health said it has begun rehabilitation work at al-Shifa Hospital, following its closure in March after raids by Israel’s military. Moatasem Salah, head of the Health Ministry’s Emergency Committee, told The Post that the kidney department has been partially restored, increasing its capacity from seven to 17 cases. “We have started renovating the outpatient clinics building to serve as an emergency medical point,” Salah said. “However, we lack essential facilities such as a laboratory, X-ray equipment, an operating room and accommodation for patients.” Salah highlighted the severe shortage of specialized medical staff in northern Gaza, noting that two-thirds of the staff are volunteers. In parallel efforts, a nonprofit, the Patient’s Friends Association, said it has rehabilitated a private hospital in Gaza City to treat children and is planning to expand its capacity to handle maternity cases. There are no functioning hospitals in Rafah.
  • At least 37,431 ​​people have been killed and 85,653 injured in Gaza since the war started, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and it says 312 soldiers have been killed since the launch of its military operations in Gaza.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Dept. expert on Israeli-Palestinian affairs resigns amid Gaza crisis, John Hudson, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Andrew Miller, a senior diplomat, cited family obligations for his departure. He is said to have recognized early on the risks of Biden’s “bear hug” strategy.

Israel FlagA senior State Department official and skeptic of the Biden administration’s “bear hug” approach to the government of Israel resigned this week in a setback for U.S. diplomats pushing for a sharper break with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition, said three people familiar with the matter

Andrew Miller, the deputy assistant secretary for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, told colleagues Friday that he had decided to leave his job. He cited his family, saying he has seen them sparingly as the eight-month war in Gaza has become all-consuming. Miller told colleagues that if not for those responsibilities, he would have preferred to remain in his job and fight for what he believes, including in those areas where he disagreed with administration policy.

Miller’s resignation, which has not been previously reported, comes amid growing frustration inside and outside government over the war’s steep civilian death toll and concerns among some that influence over policy matters has been dominated by a narrow coterie of President Biden’s closest advisers. Miller is the most senior U.S. official to resign to date whose portfolio focuses on Israeli-Palestinian issues.

 

Smoke rising from bombed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 29, 2023 (EPA photo by Hannibal Hanschke via Shutterstock and The New York Times).

Smoke rising from bombed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 29, 2023 (EPA photo by Hannibal Hanschke via Shutterstock and The New York Times). 

ny times logoNew York Times, When the Only Escape From War in Gaza Is to Buy a Way Out, Adam Rasgon, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). For many Palestinians, securing approval to exit the territory is possible only after raising thousands of dollars to pay middlemen or an Egyptian company.

The only way for almost all people in Gaza to escape the horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas is by leaving through neighboring Egypt.

And that is usually a complicated and expensive ordeal, involving the payment of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company that can get Palestinians on an approved travel list to cross the border.

Confronting the company’s stiff fees, as well as the widespread hunger in Gaza where there is no end in sight to Israel’s military campaign, many Palestinians have resorted to trying to raise money with desperate appeals on digital platforms like GoFundMe.

Dr. Salim Ghayyda, a pediatrician in northern Scotland, posted one such plea in January after his sister texted from Gaza to say that their father had suffered seizures.

Their father made it to a hospital and survived, but Dr. Ghayyda, 52, who left Gaza in 2003, said the episode convinced him he had to evacuate his family at any cost.

“I thought I’d go to sleep one night and wake up to the news that my family is gone,” he said. “I felt helpless and hopeless, but I knew I had to do something.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Meet the Egyptian tycoon who is accused of charging Palestinians to escape Gaza, Vivian Yee, Emad Mekay and Adam Rasgon, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Ibrahim al-Organi has close connections with the Egyptian government, diplomats say, and he has multiple business interests in Gaza.

 

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, above left, and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

ny times logoNew York Times, When the Only Escape From War in Gaza Is to Buy a Way Out, Adam Rasgon, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). For many Palestinians, securing approval to exit the territory is possible only after raising thousands of dollars to pay middlemen or an Egyptian company. Continued from above.

The only way for almost all people in Gaza to escape the horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas is by leaving through neighboring Egypt.

And that is usually a complicated and expensive ordeal, involving the payment of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company that can get Palestinians on an approved travel list to cross the border.

Confronting the company’s stiff fees, as well as the widespread hunger in Gaza where there is no end in sight to Israel’s military campaign, many Palestinians have resorted to trying to raise money with desperate appeals on digital platforms like GoFundMe.

Dr. Salim Ghayyda, a pediatrician in northern Scotland, posted one such plea in January after his sister texted from Gaza to say that their father had suffered seizures.

Their father made it to a hospital and survived, but Dr. Ghayyda, 52, who left Gaza in 2003, said the episode convinced him he had to evacuate his family at any cost.

“I thought I’d go to sleep one night and wake up to the news that my family is gone,” he said. “I felt helpless and hopeless, but I knew I had to do something.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Meet the Egyptian tycoon who is accused of charging Palestinians to escape Gaza, Vivian Yee, Emad Mekay and Adam Rasgon, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Ibrahim al-Organi has close connections with the Egyptian government, diplomats say, and he has multiple business interests in Gaza.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: A rift between Israel’s military and government over a plan for postwar Gaza has spilled out into the open, Staff Reports, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The armed forces’ chief spokesman goes public with frustration over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s failure to advance a plan for governing postwar Gaza.

For months, reports had swirled about growing divisions between Israel’s military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the direction of the war in Gaza. This week, that rift spilled into the open.

It began with unusually direct comments from the armed forces’ chief spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who in an apparent rebuttal to Mr. Netanyahu’s repeated promises of “absolute victory” over Hamas, said: “The idea that it is possible to destroy Hamas, to make Hamas vanish — that is throwing sand in the eyes of the public.”

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 that aired Wednesday evening, he added: “If we do not bring something else to Gaza, at the end of the day, we will get Hamas.”

Netanyahu clashes publicly with his coalition partners, and other news.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded on Wednesday that his coalition partners “get a hold of themselves” and “put aside all extraneous interests” to focus on the war, as divisions within Israel’s government become sharper and more public. Mr. Netanyahu has clashed with members of his own party and with far-right and religious party leaders in his coalition. The wide-ranging conflicts include how far to go in requiring military service by ultra-Orthodox Jews, who controls the assignments of rabbis, leaks to the news media and how much of a voice the far right should have in setting war policy.
  • Israel’s use of 2,000-pound bombs and other heavy weapons in densely populated areas of Gaza may have consistently violated international law and could constitute war crimes, the United Nations human rights office said on Wednesday. In a report that focused on six attacks last year, the office said Israeli forces “took an expansive approach to targeting” that apparently considered members of Gaza’s civilian administration and Hamas political structures, who were not directly involved in hostilities, as military targets, possibly violating the laws of war. Israel issued a 12-page rebuttal that said the U.N. report was legally unsound and revealed “numerous biases.”
  • The $230 million temporary pier that the U.S. military built on short notice to rush humanitarian aid to Gaza has largely failed, aid organizations say, and will probably end operations weeks earlier than originally expected.
  • The Israeli military said that it had paused operations during daylight hours in parts of southern Gaza, raising cautious hopes that the new policy would allow more aid to reach desperate civilians.
  • A Biden administration plan to sell $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel is moving forward after two top Democratic holdouts in Congress signed off on the deal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: American Leaders Should Stop Debasing Themselves on Israel, Thomas L. Friedman, right, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). On Nov. 4, 2022,tom friedman twitter just after the current far-right Israeli government coalition won election, I wrote a column with this headline: “The Israel We Knew Is Gone.” It was meant to be a warning flare about just how radical this coalition is. Many people disagreed. I believe events have proved them wrong — and the situation is now even worse: The Israel we knew is gone, and today’s Israel is in existential danger.

Israel is up against a regional superpower, Iran, that has managed to put Israel into a vise grip, using its allies and proxies: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Shiite militias in Iraq. Right now, Israel has no military or diplomatic answer. Worse, it faces the prospect of a war on three fronts — Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank — but with a dangerous new twist: Hezbollah in Lebanon, unlike Hamas, is armed with precision missiles that could destroy vast swaths of Israel’s infrastructure, from its airports to its seaports to its university campuses to its military bases to its power plants.

But Israel is led by a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has to stay in power to avoid potentially being sent to prison on corruption charges. To do so, he sold his soul to form a government with far-right Jewish extremists who insist that Israel must fight in Gaza until it has killed every last Hamasnik — “total victory” — and who reject any partnership with the Palestinian Authority (which has accepted the Oslo peace accords) in governing a post-Hamas Gaza, because they want Israeli control over all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including Gaza.

And now, Netanyahu’s emergency war cabinet has fallen apart over his lack of a plan for ending the war and safely withdrawing from Gaza, and the extremists in his government coalition are eyeing their next moves for power.

They have done so much damage already, and yet President Biden, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and many in Congress have not come to terms with just how radical this government is.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel says Rafah attack near completion, in potential shift for war, Steve Hendrix and Hajar Harb, June 19, 2024 (print ed.). A shift from the widespread ground and air attacks that have leveled much of the enclave would represent a significant milestone in the war.

Six weeks after it defied its allies and attacked Rafah, Israel is close to achieving its goals in the southern Gaza city it says was Hamas’s final stronghold, according to Israeli officials and analysts, raising the possibility that months of major military operations might soon give way to a new, less-intense phase of the conflict.

A shift from the widespread ground and air attacks that have leveled much of the enclave and killed tens of thousands of people, according to Palestinian health officials, would represent a significant milestone in the war. It would offer a possible respite to civilians who have spent months in the line of fire, allow for more humanitarian aid and possibly jolt stalemated diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire deal and free Israeli hostages still held by Hamas.

A complete end to the war is not in sight. The Israel Defense Forces said it has destroyed most of Hamas’s 24 battalions and has severely degraded three of the four remaining battalions in Rafah. But lone fighters and small groups are still launching rockets into Israel and targeting troops, even in areas of the Gaza Strip already largely under Israel’s control.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘A Hellscape’: Dire Conditions in Gaza Leave a Multitude of Amputees, Hiba Yazbek, Bilal Shbair, Cassandra Vinograd and Israel FlagAbu Bakr Bashir, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). Access to medical care and even clean water is limited, and the risk of infection is high, making it difficult for patients to get follow-up surgeries, prosthetics and rehabilitation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Live Updates: Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After 2 Key Members Quit, Patrick Kingsley and Cassandra Vinograd, June 18, 2024 (print ed.). The move by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel came after two moderates resigned Benjamin Netanyahu smile Twitterfrom the cabinet last week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Updates: As War Drags On, Gazans Are More Willing to Speak Out Against Hamas, Raja Abdulrahim and Iyad Abuheweila, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). Gazans are bearing the brunt of Israel’s eight-month military onslaught, and many hold Hamas responsible for starting the war.

 

United Nationsny times logoNew York Times, Middle East Crisis Live Updates: Mountains of trash in Gaza are posing “catastrophic” environmental and health risks, a U.N. agency said, Staff Reports, June 16, 2024 (print ed.). Mountains of trash have accumulated across the Gaza Strip, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned this week, deepening the wartime perils for the vast number of displaced Palestinians sheltering in often squalid encampments or in the crowded homes of relatives.

 Relevant Recent Headlines

 

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

ramin setoodeh collage

ny times logoNew York Times, New Book Paints Trump as Wounded, Forgetful and Hung Up on Hollywood, Shawn McCreesh, June 22, 2024. In the dark months following the Jan. 6 attack, Donald J. Trump opened up to an entertainment journalist, revealing his fixation with celebrity, acceptance and the TV show that made him.

It was May 2021, and Donald J. Trump was wounded. Four months earlier, his supporters had ransacked the Capitol. He had departed Washington, disgraced, defeated and twice impeached. His party had abandoned him, however temporarily, and he’d been kicked off his social media accounts. He holed up inside Trump Tower and stewed.

An entertainment journalist named Ramin Setoodeh came knocking. He told Mr. Trump he wanted to write a book, not about the unpleasantness of the previous four years, but about that prelapsarian period before Mr. Trump entered politics. Then, he was merely the star of “The Apprentice,” the reality TV show that aired on NBC beginning in 2004 and “changed television,” as Mr. Setoodeh put it to the former president.

Mr. Trump was sold. He granted the reporter several long, recorded interviews. “He was at his lowest then,” Mr. Setoodeh, 42, said over lunch in Manhattan’s West Village on Friday. “I think talking about ‘The Apprentice’ allowed him to feel comfort.”

Mr. Trump became so excited about the book that he offered to promote it at his rallies, saying that the merchants who follow his traveling roadshow would help peddle it. “You’ll sell 10,000 books at one rally,” he told Mr. Setoodeh. “Let’s see how this works out.”

 

A promotional photo of Donald J. Trump and his sons standing stern-faced at the head of a table covered in a map of Manhattan, as various celebrities gesture and mug around it with the Season 12 cast of “The Apprentice” in 2012 (NBC Photo by Mitchell Haaseth).

A promotional photo of Donald J. Trump and his sons standing stern-faced at the head of a table covered in a map of Manhattan, as various celebrities gesture and mug around it with the Season 12 cast of “The Apprentice” in 2012 (NBC Photo by Mitchell Haaseth).

Not well, as it turns out — at least for Mr. Trump. “Apprentice in Wonderland,” published Tuesday, depicts its subject as a lonely and sometimes dotty man, longing for the days when he was still accepted by his fellow celebrities, even as he seems to crave political power.

One minute he’s bragging that Joan Rivers voted for him in 2016 (she died in 2014); the next he’s excusing himself to go deal with “the whole thing with the Afghanistan,” as he told Mr. Setoodeh, who happened to be interviewing him the week President Biden was pulling U.S. troops out of the country. It was unclear what Mr. Trump meant.

Mr. Setoodeh spent three afternoons at Trump Tower and one at Mar-a-Lago, and interviewed Mr. Trump twice on the phone. His final visit was in November of last year. He came away believing Mr. Trump, now 78, was declining, he said.

“Trump was certainly much sharper when he was in his 60s hosting ‘The Apprentice,’ and he did struggle with short-term memory,” Mr. Setoodeh said. When the author showed up for his second interview, the former president did not appear to remember giving a first, Mr. Setoodeh said, although just under three months had passed.

“President Trump was aware of who this individual was throughout the interview process, but this ‘writer’ is a nobody and insignificant, so of course he never made an impression,” said Mr. Trump’s spokesperson Steven Cheung, adding that Mr. Setoodeh “has now chosen to allow Trump Derangement Syndrome to rot his brain like so many other losers whose entire existence revolves around President Trump.”

On social media, the campaign has gone on the attack, threatening to release audio clips of Mr. Setoodeh’s interviews with Mr. Trump in which the journalist talked favorably about his legacy as an entertainer.donald trump apprentice color nbc

Mr. Setoodeh said Mr. Trump was much happier discussing “The Apprentice” (shown above in a promotional photo) than anything having to do with his presidency. “He compares himself to Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando, and sees himself in a lot of ways as an actor and a famous person,” said Mr. Setoodeh. The 45th president gossiped about Khloe Kardashian (“I never got along great with Khloe. Khloe was arrested for drunk driving, did you know that?”); the disgraced former head of CBS, Leslie Moonves (“Now he sits at the Bel-Air club and nobody cares”); Bette Midler (“I had her in my apartment and now she says the nastiest things”); Dennis Rodman (“A pretty cool cat in many ways … Kim Jong-un really liked him, legit”); and Taylor Swift (“I find her very beautiful. I think she’s liberal. Probably doesn’t like Trump”).

“I was really surprised by how much he was still fixated on celebrity culture and how much celebrity still means to him,” Mr. Setoodeh said. He noted that Mr. Trump became “most excited” talking about his theory that famous people living in Beverly Hills vote for him but won’t admit it.

“What is the advantage of having secret voters in Beverly Hills?” Mr. Setoodeh wondered. “Wouldn’t you want secret voters in Ohio or Pennsylvania? But he wants secret voters in Beverly Hills because he associates that with show business, and that’s the most important thing for him.”

joe biden benjamin netanyahu split

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Netanyahu Doesn’t Take Biden Seriously, Nicholas Kristof, below left, June 22, 2024. A few months ago, President Biden seemed so fed up as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ignored his calls for restraint in Gaza that he finally sounded tough.

nicolas kristoffIn March, Biden was asked if his calls for Israel not to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah marked a “red line,” meaning that an invasion would lead to serious consequences.

“It is a red line,” Biden said, “but I’m never gonna leave Israel.”

All this seemed to signal Biden’s belated willingness to stand up to Netanyahu and avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah. After being widely urged to do more for Gazans — even by his wife — Biden seemed to condition assistance so as to push Israel to flood the territory with aid, avoid an invasion of Rafah, stop killing aid workers and move toward a cease-fire.

In the period since that stern April phone call, Biden has again allowed Netanyahu to walk all over him.

This war began when Israel suffered a horrendous terrorist attack, and it had every right to strike Hamas — but not to level entire neighborhoods or to starve civilians. Biden has enabled Netanyahu and protected him at the United Nations even as a U.N. commission found Israel responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The paradox is that Biden has generally had a successful foreign policy, especially in knitting together an alliance in Asia to reduce the risk of war with China. Yet he now finds himself mired in a mess in the Middle East that could well worsen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats, Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek, June 22, 2024 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system.

Manhattan prosecutors said Friday that a judge should keep in place major elements of the gag order imposed on Donald J. Trump before his criminal trial, citing dozens of threats that have been made against officials connected to the case.

The gag order, issued before the trial began in mid-April, bars Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and relatives of the judge who presided over the trial, Juan M. Merchan, among others.

Since his conviction late last month on 34 felony counts, Mr. Trump’s calls for the order to be lifted have only grown louder. But in a 19-page filing on Friday, prosecutors argued that while Justice Merchan no longer needed to enforce the portion of the order relating to witnesses, he should leave its other provisions in place ahead of Mr. Trump’s sentencing on July 11.

While the gag order does not prohibit Mr. Trump from criticizing Justice Merchan or Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who brought the case, it does preclude attacks on prosecutors and their relatives, including Mr. Bragg’s.

And on Friday, prosecutors said those protections from Mr. Trump’s public attacks remained necessary to protect the integrity of an ongoing criminal proceeding.

The New York Police Department has logged 56 “actionable threats” against Mr. Bragg, his family, and employees at the district attorney’s office since early April, according to an affidavit provided with the filing.

Such threats, evidently made by supporters of Mr. Trump, included a post disclosing the home address of one of Mr. Bragg’s employees, and bomb threats made on the first day of the trial targeting two people involved in the case.

Prosecutors said the threats were “directly connected to defendant’s dangerous rhetoric,” and cited several examples, including a post that depicted cross hairs “on people involved in this case.”

Others were homicidal messages directed at Mr. Bragg or his employees, including, “We will kill you all,” “You are dead” and “Your life is done.” Four of the threats were referred for further investigation, according to the police affidavit.
The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.”

All told, prosecutors argued that the threats “overwhelmingly outweighed” the “expressive interest” of Mr. Trump, especially considering that he had yet to be sentenced.

During his seven-week trial, Mr. Trump, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee, repeatedly attacked Mr. Bragg and Justice Merchan. He was also cited 10 times for violating his gag order with online postings and comments excoriating jurors or witnesses. The violations led Justice Merchan to impose a $10,000 fine and threaten Mr. Trump with jail time.

Mr. Trump’s vitriol flared again on Friday morning, before the district attorney’s filing, with a post on his Truth Social account.

“I DID NOTHING WRONG on the D.A. Alvin Bragg case, it was only because my name is TRUMP that they went after me,” he wrote, citing an article in The Wall Street Journal.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Insiders: The 3 Men at the Core of Biden’s Brain Trust, Katie Rogers and Michael D. Shear, June 22, 2024. President Biden has a diverse group of advisers, but few have the influence of three men in his inner circle during his final campaign.

Multiple times each day, President Biden dials up Mike Donilon, a close adviser since the 1980s, to chew on the latest polls and headlines.

“What’s your instinct? What do you think?” Mr. Biden will ask Mr. Donilon, who recently left the White House for the campaign’s Delaware headquarters.

Once a week, Mr. Biden summons Ron Klain, his former chief of staff, to workshop the best attacks to use against former President Donald J. Trump as the presidential debate draws closer.

When he leaves for Delaware on weekends, Mr. Biden seeks out Ted Kaufman, a confidant who represents the president’s ties to the state that introduced him to the national stage more than a half-century ago. It was Mr. Kaufman who was brutally direct with Mr. Biden when a plagiarism scandal threatened his first campaign for president in 1987.

“There’s only one way to stop the sharks,” Mr. Kaufman told him at the time, “and that’s pull out.” Mr. Biden did.

Interviews with dozens of people close to the president reveal a truth at the heart of Mr. Biden’s political life: While he is surrounded by a diverse and multigenerational crowd of campaign operatives, policy experts and cabinet secretaries, he reserves his full trust for a small circle of insiders who are the definition of old school.

The three are at the center of the Biden world, part of an echo chamber where dissent is rare. In important moments, each has told the president news he did not want to hear, although not one of them said no when the president was considering whether to run for a second term. They are also decades older than the young voters who could decide the election, which worries many of the president’s allies.

Mr. Klain is the youngest at 62. Mr. Donilon is 65. Mr. Kaufman is 85, four years older than Mr. Biden. Each has earned the president’s trust over not just years but decades. On this last of Mr. Biden’s four presidential campaigns, the three are his political comfort animals on speed dial.

ny times logoNew York Times, Timothy Mellon, Secretive Donor, Gives $50 Million to Pro-Trump Group, Shane Goldmacher and Theodore Schleifer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The cash from Mr. Mellon, who has also been a major donor to a super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is among the largest single disclosed gifts ever.

timothy mellonTimothy Mellon, right, a reclusive heir to a Gilded Age fortune, donated $50 million to a super PAC supporting Donald J. Trump the day after the former president was convicted of 34 felonies, according to new federal filings, an enormous gift that is among the largest single disclosed contributions ever.

The donation’s impact on the 2024 race is expected to be felt almost immediately. Within days of the contribution, the pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., said in a memo that it would begin reserving $100 million in advertising through Labor Day.

The group had only $34.5 million on hand at the end of April, and Mr. Mellon’s contribution accounted for much of the nearly $70 million that the super PAC raised in May. On Wednesday and Thursday, the super PAC began reserving $30 million in ads to air in Georgia and Pennsylvania around the Fourth of July holiday.

Mr. Mellon is now the first donor to give $100 million in disclosed federal contributions in this year’s election. He was already the single largest contributor to super PACs supporting both Mr. Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an independent. Mr. Mellon has previously given $25 million to both.

Democrats have sought to portray Mr. Kennedy as a spoiler supported by Republicans, in part by emphasizing Mr. Mellon’s dual contributions and seemingly split loyalties. The pro-Kennedy super PAC has distributed quotations from the hard-to-reach Mr. Mellon, and for a blurb that appears on the cover of Mr. Mellon’s upcoming book, Mr. Kennedy called the billionaire a “maverick entrepreneur.”

It is not clear what Mr. Mellon’s mega-donation means for his support of Mr. Kennedy going forward. He has so far toggled between giving to support both candidates. His most recent donation to Mr. Kennedy’s super PAC was a $5 million contribution in April.

But Mr. Mellon’s $50 million gift will significantly help pro-Trump forces narrow the financial advantage that President Biden and his allies have enjoyed so far. Miriam Adelson, the casino billionaire and widow of Sheldon G. Adelson, who died in 2021, has also made plans to fund a pro-Trump super PAC with at least as much money as the $90 million that her family gave in the 2020 campaign, although much of the cash has yet to arrive.

Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, the Illinois couple who are among the G.O.P.’s largest donors, each gave $5 million to the Trump super PAC in May. The billionaire energy executive Kelcy Warren also gave $5 million.

But outside groups supporting Mr. Biden have already announced more than $1 billion in planned spending, anchored by a reserved $250 million in advertising from the leading pro-Biden super PAC, Future Forward.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Has Rapidly Eroded Biden’s Edge in 2024 Cash Battle, Shane Goldmacher and Theodore Schleifer, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). Just two months ago, President Biden appeared to have a daunting financial advantage. After Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felonies, Republicans rallied.

Former President Donald J. Trump out-raised President Biden for the second consecutive month in May, outpacing his successor by roughly $81 million in donations over the last two months as he rode a surge of financial support after his felony conviction.

In May, Mr. Biden’s campaign and its joint operation with the Democratic National Committee raised $85 million, compared with $141 million for Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee, according to the two campaigns. In April, the Trump team also brought in $25 million more than the Biden team.

The Biden campaign said it entered June with $212 million on hand combined with the party. The Trump operation and R.N.C. have not released a full tally of their cash on hand since the end of March. A partial count on Thursday, revealed in Federal Election Commission filings, showed that Mr. Trump had amassed a war chest of at least $170 million with the party.

Overall, Mr. Trump was a daunting $100 million behind Mr. Biden at the start of April. In two months, he cut that cash deficit by at least half.

The full accounting of both sides’ finances will be made public in federal filings next month. But the combination of Mr. Trump’s improved fund-raising and Mr. Biden’s heavier spending on advertising this spring appears to put the two sides on a path to enter the summer relatively close to financial parity.

“Yes, Trump is raising a lot more money now, and that should scare people,” said Brian Derrick, a strategist who founded a Democratic fund-raising platform called Oath. “But at the end of the day, Biden has the funds that he needs to run a really strong campaign.”

Mr. Trump has narrowed the gap by bringing in a deluge of online donations after his criminal conviction in New York on May 30. In the minutes after the verdict, guilty on 34 felony counts, contributions came in so fast that they briefly overwhelmed the Republican Party’s online donation portal, WinRed.

The Trump campaign has said it raised $53 million online in the first 24 hours and $70 million in the first 48 hours after the verdict. The conviction uncorked a gusher of mega-donations, too, including a $50 million contribution from the reclusive billionaire Timothy Mellon to a pro-Trump super PAC the day after the verdict.

Money alone is rarely determinative in big races, like for the presidency, because voters are already well-informed about the candidates. But some of the most important voters this year appear to be those who have tuned out — and breaking through to them can cost considerable money.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bloomberg Backs Biden With $20 Million Donation, Chris Cameron, June 21, 2024 (print ed.).  Michael Bloomberg, the Democratic megadonor and former New York City mayor, became a significant backer of President Biden’s in 2020 after his own bid failed.

michael bloombergMichael R. Bloomberg, right, who is the former mayor of New York City and a Democratic megadonor, has donated nearly $20 million to support President Biden’s re-election campaign, a Bloomberg representative said.

Mr. Bloomberg gave $19 million to Future Forward, the main Democratic super PAC supporting Mr. Biden, and $929,600 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising committee between Mr. Biden and the Democratic National Committee, said Howard Wolfson, the Education program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Mr. Bloomberg’s donation was first reported by The Washington Post.

“I stood with Joe Biden in 2020, and I am proud to do so again,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.

Mr. Bloomberg, who spent $1 billion of his own money on his failed presidential campaign in 2020, ultimately backed Mr. Biden in the Democratic primary that year and was a significant financial supporter of his campaign. He spent tens of millions of dollars through his political action committee on television ads supporting Mr. Biden and vowed to spend heavily in Florida, which then-President Donald J. Trump ultimately won by about three percentage points.

Mr. Bloomberg’s $19 million donation to Future Forward is significant, but pales in comparison to the super PAC’s spending ambitions for the election. The group has reserved a $250 million ad campaign in seven battleground states, starting in August and running through Election Day.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: "Unfair"— Trump Lashes Out Against Fox News Poll Showing Biden Ahead, J.D. Wolf, June 20, 2024.  Poll numbers obsessed Trump warns against Fox News.

mtn meidas touch networkTrump took to Truth Social Thursday in reaction to a Fox News poll showing him losing to President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. Trump complained: "FoxNews Polls are always the worst for me. They have been from the beginning, and always will be!"

fox news logo SmallThe Fox News poll shows Biden at 50% and Trump at 48% nationally. The poll also shows Biden up by 1 point against Trump when factoring in 3rd party candidates.

Trump is telling his voters to ignore the Fox News polls which show him slipping. His post also signals that future Fox News polls could also be negative for him.

Trump recently told Fox News to fire board member Paul Ryan. Unhinged Trump is willing to publicly attack companies and interfere in their employment decisions.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Confused Trump Told Author He Had to Deal With 'The Afghanistan' After Leaving Office, Troy Matthews, June 19, 2024. Donald Trump continued to believe he had foreign policy authority even after leaving office, according to Variety Co-Editor-in-djt apprenticeChief Ramin Setoodeh who interviewed the disgraced ex-President several times for his Book, Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass, after he left office. (Trump is shown at right in a promo for the hit show of nearly two decades ago.)

mtn meidas touch networkTrump "seemed to think that he still had some foreign policy powers," Setoodeh told CNN's Kaitlin Collins on Tuesday. "There was one day, where he told me he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan even though he clearly didn't," Setoodeh continued.

"While you were interviewing him at Trump Tower, he told you he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan," Collins asked Setoodeh.

"With 'the Afghanistan' is how he referred to it," Setoodeh replied.

Setoodeh interviewed Trump six times after he left office in 2021, primarily about his experiences as the host the reality TV show The Apprentice. Setoodeh said Trump's memory issues were so bad he couldn't even remember that he was being interviewed from one session to the next.

Trump's campaign claimed in a statement he couldn't remember Setoodeh because he was "a nobody," despite Trump approaching Setoodeh to be interviewed when he learned the book was being written.

"There was some cognitive questions about where he was and what he was thinking and he would he would from time to time become confused," Setoodeh said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Election updates: Donald Trump will get the last word at the debate, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. failed to qualify, Neil Vigdor, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). A coin flip won by President Biden gave him the option of picking which podium he will use or choosing the order of closing statements. 

June 20, 2024 Former President Donald J. Trump will get the final word in CNN’s presidential debate next week, after losing a coin toss to President Biden’s campaign.

The coin flip gave Mr. Biden the option between picking which podium he wants or deciding the order of closing statements. Mr. Biden opted for the podium: he will appear on the right side of viewers’ screens.

In their two debates during the 2020 election, Mr. Biden appeared in the same position — to the left of Mr. Trump, and on viewers’ right.

Mr. Biden’s campaign did not immediately provide a comment about why he wanted to choose podium placement over speaking order, or why he prefers that placement.

During two vice-presidential debates in 2008 and 2012, Mr. Biden was in the opposite position, on the left side of viewers’ screens, and to the right of Sarah Palin, then Alaska’s Republican governor, and Paul Ryan, who later became House speaker.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump will be standing for the entire 90-minute debate, which will be begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time and will include two commercial breaks. The network’s rules bar them from interacting with campaign staff during those breaks.

Their microphones will only be turned on when it is their turn to speak, a condition that was sought by Mr. Biden’s team.

In their first debate in 2020, Mr. Biden uttered one of the more memorable lines after Mr. Trump repeatedly interrupted him. “Will you shut up, man?” he said.

There will be no in-person audience for next week’s debate, something Mr. Biden’s campaign had sought from the outset. As of Thursday, CNN confirmed that Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump would meet one-on-one, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent candidate, failing to meet the requirements for participation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Stands on the Issues, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Katie Glueck and Chris Cameron, June 21, 2024 (print ed.). The independent candidate, though still a long shot, has found support for his blend of populist economic rhetoric, isolationist foreign policy leanings and government skepticism.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, prides himself on changing his mind.

If “I’m wrong about something, tell me the facts and I’m going to change my position,” he said in a radio appearance on “Good Morning New Hampshire” in June.

On many occasions, these shifts have made it difficult to pin down the specifics of his views on many of the major policy matters and issues animating American public life, and how he would seek to reshape the country if elected.

But while Mr. Kennedy, the anti-vaccine activist who often promotes conspiracy theories, is a long shot to win the White House, his blend of populist economic rhetoric, isolationist foreign policy leanings and government skepticism has seemed to find a real base of support. He also appears to be benefiting from Americans’ discontent with the choice between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.

He initially ran against Mr. Biden as a Democrat, but broke with the party last year. Recent polls suggest he would pull votes from both candidates in a general election.

Here’s what we know about where Mr. Kennedy, 70, stands on key issues.

 

djt biden resized smiles

Hopium Chronicles, Commentary: Biden Gains 3 And Takes Lead in Fox Poll, New With Dems Presentation (Video), Simon Rosenberg, right, June 20-21, 2024. simon rosenberg twitterLast night Fox dropped a bombshell poll that found Biden gaining 3 points in the past month, 7 points since fox news logo SmallMarch and taking the lead in the Presidential race, 50%-48%. Here’s the opening of their article: President Joe Biden is the frontrunner in a hypothetical matchup against [Trump] for the first time since October, as positive views of the economy inch up - hitting their highest level in the Biden presidency.

Yes, heads are exploding all over MAGA land today. As I’ve been writing over the past few weeks, there are now many serious, credible polls showing recent movement to Biden. Like the Fox poll, many also now have Biden now leading:

• Fox News - 3 pt Biden gain, 50%-48% (7 pts since March)
• Echelon - 4 pt Biden gain, 48%-47% (prominent GOP pollster)
• CBS/YouGov - 3 pt Biden gain, 49%-50%
• Morning Consult - 2 pt Biden gain, 44%-43%
• Yahoo/YouGov - 2 pt Biden gain, 46%-44%
• NYT - 2 pt Biden gain, 46%-47%

new york post logoAnother Murdoch outlet, the NYPost, released a poll last night also showing Biden up 2, 41%-39%. Redfield & Wilton’s monthly track also has Biden gaining 3 points since early May and now leading 41%-40%. A new Navigator poll has Biden up 4, 48%-44%. All of this new data is very encouraging. While we don’t have good new polling in the battlegrounds, we should expect to see better numbers for us there in the weeks ahead too.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosOn Tuesday, I wrote about a new Politico/Ipsos poll showing the 34 felony convictions could loosen a meaningful number of independents and Republicans from Trump, and weaken his candidacy.

None of this should be surprising. We’ve seen many polls this year suggesting Trump, a candidate who lost the last election leading a party that’s been losing elections across the country since Dobbs, could be wounded by a guilty conviction.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: "Unfair"— Trump Lashes Out Against Fox News Poll Showing Biden Ahead, J.D. Wolf, June 20, 2024.  Poll numbers obsessed Trump warns against Fox News.

mtn meidas touch networkTrump took to Truth Social Thursday in reaction to a Fox News poll showing him losing to President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. Trump complained: "FoxNews Polls are always the worst for me. They have been from the beginning, and always will be!"

fox news logo SmallThe Fox News poll shows Biden at 50% and Trump at 48% nationally. The poll also shows Biden up by 1 point against Trump when factoring in 3rd party candidates.

Trump is telling his voters to ignore the Fox News polls which show him slipping. His post also signals that future Fox News polls could also be negative for him.

Trump recently told Fox News to fire board member Paul Ryan. Unhinged Trump is willing to publicly attack companies and interfere in their employment decisions.

Meidas Touch Network, Commentary: Confused Trump Told Author He Had to Deal With 'The Afghanistan' After Leaving Office, Troy Matthews, June 19, 2024. Donald Trump continued to believe he had foreign policy authority even after leaving office, according to Variety Co-Editor-in-djt apprenticeChief Ramin Setoodeh who interviewed the disgraced ex-President several times for his Book, Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass, after he left office. (Trump is shown at right in a promo for the hit show of nearly two decades ago.)

mtn meidas touch networkTrump "seemed to think that he still had some foreign policy powers," Setoodeh told CNN's Kaitlin Collins on Tuesday. "There was one day, where he told me he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan even though he clearly didn't," Setoodeh continued.

"While you were interviewing him at Trump Tower, he told you he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan," Collins asked Setoodeh.

"With 'the Afghanistan' is how he referred to it," Setoodeh replied.

Setoodeh interviewed Trump six times after he left office in 2021, primarily about his experiences as the host the reality TV show The Apprentice. Setoodeh said Trump's memory issues were so bad he couldn't even remember that he was being interviewed from one session to the next.

Trump's campaign claimed in a statement he couldn't remember Setoodeh because he was "a nobody," despite Trump approaching Setoodeh to be interviewed when he learned the book was being written.

"There was some cognitive questions about where he was and what he was thinking and he would he would from time to time become confused," Setoodeh said.

 

djt biden resized smiles

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tries to Set Expectations, and Floats Excuses, for His Debate With Biden, Shawn McCreesh, June 20, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump has set a low bar for President Biden’s performance at next week’s matchup. Now, he is preparing supporters for the possibility that Mr. Biden clears it.

A few minutes into his speech at a campaign rally on Tuesday, Donald J. Trump asked a question of the few thousand who’d turned up to hear him speak. “Is anybody going to watch the debate?”

cnn logoMr. Trump was in Racine, Wis., but it was clear his mind was in Atlanta, the site of his matchup against President Biden next week. He repeatedly mused about the potential scenarios, lowering expectations that he would dominate Mr. Biden and then, as if he couldn’t help himself, raising them again.

The expectations game is a particular challenge for the Trump campaign. Mr. Trump, 78, has spent months casting the 81-year-old Mr. Biden as a husk of a man who can barely walk or formulate complete sentences. Republicans have pumped out a stream of videos of Mr. Biden walking stiffly — some deceptively edited — that are meant to be proof of Mr. Biden’s decline.

Mr. Trump’s supporters in Racine showed they have been marinating in this content. “Biden can’t stand up!” one woman yelled during Mr. Trump’s speech. She stood near another woman who wore a T-shirt with a picture of Mr. Biden that read, “Impeach me. I won’t remember.”

But Mr. Trump was also preparing for his caricature of Mr. Biden to be punctured next week. He openly wrestled with the obvious question: What if Mr. Biden clears the very low bar that Mr. Trump has now set for him?

He had answers: If that should happen, it’s only because Mr. Biden will be “pumped up,” he told his followers, suggesting that the president would hoover up a pile of cocaine beforehand, since the narcotic was recently found in the White House by the Secret Service, though investigators never did figure out how it got there and it was not linked to the president or anyone in his family. (Still, it was an acutely cutting notion, coming a week after the Delaware trial that publicly aired the first family’s struggle with Hunter Biden’s addiction.)

Mr. Trump also told his followers to be suspicious of the whole debate enterprise, although his campaign negotiated the terms of his participation. They should keep in mind, he said, that he’ll be up against multiple adversaries at once — not just Mr. Biden but both of CNN’s moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, who, Mr. Trump added, were constitutionally incapable of treating him fairly. “I’ll be debating three people instead of one half of a person,” he said.