May 2022 News, Views

 

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

 

 

May 2

Top Headlines

 

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

 

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

 

Investigations: Challenges To Democratic Norms

 

Pro-Trump Capitol Insurrection, Elections Claims

 

More On Ukraine Battlefronts

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

 

U.S. Politics, Governance, Economy

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

More On Ukraine War

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

Musk Twitter Purchase

More On U.S. Media, Education, Sports, Religion

 

Top Stories

 

 

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

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

Politico, Exclusive, Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows, Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, May 2, 2022. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Alito writes in an initial majority draft circulated inside the court.

samuel alito oThe Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, left, circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.

politico CustomThe draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

MSNBC, Politico Reporter On Obtaining Leaked SCOTUS Draft Opinion Overturning ‘Roe V. Wade,’ May 2, 2022. Rachel Maddow interviews Josh Gerstein, senior legal affairs reporter for Politico, about his reporting that he has obtained a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that shows the court has voted to overturn abortion rights in the United States.

 War

Speaking at a news conference in Poland after a trip to Ukraine, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said while accompanied by several other high-ranking Democratic House colleagues that the West cannot back down in the face of Russian threats (Agence France-Presse photo by Wojtek Radwanski via Getty Images on May 1, 2022).

Speaking at a news conference in Poland after a trip to Ukraine, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said while accompanied by several other high-ranking Democratic House colleagues that the West cannot back down in the face of Russian threats (Agence France-Presse photo by Wojtek Radwanski via Getty Images on May 1, 2022).

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Desperate Civilians Gather for Evacuation From Mariupol, Marc Santora and Shashank Bengali. May 2, 2022. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who pledged to support Ukraine “until victory is won,” met with President Andrzej Duda of Poland, a key ally. Here’s the latest.

Reports of renewed Russian shelling threatened an effort to rescue civilians sheltering under a steel plant. A British intelligence assessment pointed to huge military losses for Moscow.

Ukrainian officials vowed on Monday to carry out a large-scale evacuation from the ruined city of Mariupol despite early-morning shelling that threatened to derail the best and possibly last hope for hundreds of civilians trapped for weeks in bunkers beneath the wreckage of what was once one of Europe’s largest steel plants.

Russian forces also pummeled targets in eastern and southern Ukraine on Monday, continuing a two-week offensive that has struggled to claim much new ground even as they suffer heavy casualties. A British intelligence agency said on Monday that the Russian losses in the war have been staggering, and that one in four of the invasion units deployed to Ukraine have been “rendered combat ineffective.”

Life, such as it is in Mariupol right now, revolves around a big-box supermarket called the Metro, one of the few places in the city not destroyed, said Yelena Gibert, a psychologist. She arrived in Zaporizhzhia, in southeastern Ukraine, with her teenage son on Monday and offered a glimpse of what residents have endured in Mariupol over two months of Russian bombardment and occupation.

Every morning at about 6 a.m., Ms. Gibert said, residents lined up for rations handed out by Russian soldiers. First, though, they must listen to the Russian national anthem and then the anthem of the separatist Ukrainian region known as the Donetsk People’s Republic, she added.

 

ukraine safe image

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Russia-Ukraine war live updates Nancy Pelosi met Zelensky in Kyiv; Mariupol evacuation push resumes, Adam Taylor, Bryan Pietsch, Jennifer Hassan, Rachel Pannett and Annabelle Timsit, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). Pope Francis calls for safe evacuations, says Russia’s war makes him cry; Ukrainian official says Russian strikes have slowed in Kharkiv; ‘You cannot fold to a bully,’ Pelosi says of Russian aggression; British ambassador to Ukraine says war could last ‘through next year;’ Mariupol residents urged to evacuate in ‘one of last real chances to leave city;’ Russian-occupied Kherson cut off from Internet, switches to ruble.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a surprise trip to Kyiv, telling embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that “our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.”

Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, led a congressional delegation to the Ukrainian capital before heading to Poland to meet with President Andrzej Duda.

ukraine flagThe delegation met with Zelensky on Saturday evening local time, and Pelosi walked the streets of Kyiv with several House Democratic lawmakers, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.) and Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.). Zelensky awarded Pelosi with the Order of Princess Olga, a decoration bestowed upon women who have made outstanding contributions to Ukraine.

In southeastern Ukraine, Mariupol civilians were urged to flee on Sunday, a day after a small group of women and children were allowed to leave a steel plant in Mariupol that has been the last base for Ukrainian fighters in the besieged port city. Ukrainian officials think up to 1,000 people have taken shelter at the complex, which has been pummeled by Russian strikes in the Kremlin’s bid to secure Mariupol, an industrial center on the Sea of Azov that is seen as a strategic prize for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s what else to know

  • Fighting continues in the embattled eastern city of Kharkiv, with local officials suggesting that Russia may be finally reducing the intensity of airstrikes and artillery that had deeply damaged the city after a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Moscow’s recent actions in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson — where civilians are facing an Internet blackout and the implementation of a plan to use Russian currency in place of Ukrainian money — “are likely indicative of Russian intent to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term,” British officials said.
  • Europe is scrambling to respond to the energy crisis prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after Putin cut off natural gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for refusing to pay in rubles.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.

 

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: After Ukraine Visit, Pelosi Pledges U.S. Support ‘Until Victory Is Won,’ Marc Santora and Ivan Nechepurenko, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). In a sign of the United States’ deepening commitment to Ukraine, Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the most senior American official to visit Kyiv, announcing on Sunday that she had met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and had pledged “to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world.”

Nancy Pelosi The visit on Saturday by Ms. Pelosi, right, and a few fellow Democratic lawmakers was kept secret until they returned to Poland, where they held a news conference on Sunday morning and vowed to back Ukraine “until victory is won.”

Drawing parallels with the American Revolution, the comments by Ms. Pelosi — who led a small delegation of Democratic lawmakers to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, on Saturday — reflected the remarkable evolution of American policy toward Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression, as the war shows signs of turning into a prolonged conflict.

U.S. House logoThe House speaker insisted that the United States would not be deterred by threats from the Kremlin — “Do not be bullied by bullies,” Ms. Pelosi said — as the Biden administration increasingly casts aside fears expressed by some early in the war that too much American assistance to Ukraine risked a direct conflict with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Her visit came just one week after Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III visited Kyiv, after which Mr. Austin said that the United States wanted to see the Russian military not only defeated in Ukraine, but weakened to such a way that it no longer posed a threat to its neighbors.

On Thursday, President Biden called on Congress to provide $33 billion in additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine, a significant escalation in support from the United States.

Ms. Pelosi and the congressional leaders who traveled with her signaled their support for the White House proposal and more. Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the United States would work with allies to refine and expand sanctions to put more pressure on Moscow. “Nothing is going to decrease,” he said, “everything is going to increase.”

adam schiff squareRepresentative Adam B. Schiff of California, right, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said that he was “in awe of what the Ukrainians have been able to achieve” in beating back Russia’s attempts to seize Kyiv and denying Moscow’s better equipped forces an easy victory.

Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said that Russia was waging war not just against the people of Ukraine, but against the world’s most vulnerable. Ukraine is considered Europe’s breadbasket, and the war, he said, was “exacerbating hunger all around the world.”

Ms. Pelosi appeared moved by her encounter with Ukraine’s wartime president, saying Mr. Zelensky was “dazzling.” She described their three-hour meeting as “a remarkable master class of leadership.”

She said that she began her meeting with Mr. Zelensky by quoting Thomas Paine, the American revolutionary. “The times have found us,” he wrote in 1776. “We believe that the time is now for Ukraine,” she said. This fight, she added, will help preserve democracy around the world.

Representative Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger, said he went to Ukraine with three areas of focus. “Weapons, weapons and weapons,” he said. “We have to make sure the Ukrainians have what is necessary to win.” Mr. Crow said the visit was meant to send a clear message that the United States was not interested in stalemates or going back to the status quo.

Pelosi became the most senior American official to visit since the war began, meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. Heavy artillery fire pounded Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland as Russia’s two-week-old offensive in the region continued.

ny times logoNew York Times, The West Works to Put Its Ukraine Pledges Into Action, Marc Santora, Shashank Bengali and Matina Stevis-Gridneff, May 2, 2022. Europe was discussing moving away from Russian energy sources, while in Washington, the Senate was expected to take up an aid package for Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials vowed to continue a large-scale evacuation from Mariupol, despite early-morning shelling. Here’s the latest.

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine.

As the first large-scale evacuation of civilians continued from the ruined, Russian-controlled city of Mariupol, Western leaders were working on Monday to put their increasingly aggressive promises of aid to Ukraine into action.

In Brussels, European Union energy ministers were discussing how to help their countries switch away from Russian energy sources urgently, as the bloc prepares this week to impose an embargo on Russian oil. Despite some reservations within Europe, countries such as Hungary appear ready to accept an embargo, a once-unthinkable step for a bloc whose members have long depended on Russian energy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll: Majority of Americans back Russia sanctions, aid to Ukraine, Ashley Parker, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement, May 2, 2022. A Washington Post-ABC News poll also finds strong opposition to any direct military conflict with Moscow.

Two months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Americans are stalwart in their support of the embattled country, with a large, bipartisan majority supporting increased sanctions against Russia and most also backing military and humanitarian support for Ukrainians, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

In all, 73 percent say the United States is doing either the right amount or too little to support Ukraine.

 

volodymyr zelenski t shirt siege

washington post logoWashington Post, Evacuations begin from Mariupol plant as shelling in east continues, Rachel Siegel, Andrew Jeong, David L. Stern and Julian Duplain, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (shown above in a file photo) said there was a high chance of negotiations with Russia breaking down.

Some civilians were finally evacuated from a vast Mariupol steel plant after a cease-fire on Saturday allowed a small group to leave the besieged complex, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discounted much progress on broader negotiations.

  • Officials believe up to 1,000 people have sought refuge at the large Azovstal complex, which has been pummeled for days amid Russian strikes. New satellite images show many buildings in the complex flattened and roofs destroyed.
  • On Saturday, a group of 20 to 25 women and children had been evacuated, according to the deputy commander of a Ukrainian regiment and Russia’s official Tass news agency. But it’s unclear whether hundreds more civilians and soldiers will be able to get out as talks between Russia and Ukraine appeared even more fraught.
  • Vladimir Yermakov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s head of nuclear nonproliferation, told Tass that a “return to dialogue with the United States on strategic stability will only be possible after finishing the work of the Russian special operation in Ukraine,” using Moscow’s term for its invasion of Ukraine. He described the dialogue as “frozen.”
  • He also accused the U.S. of using the “Kyiv regime as a one-off disposable tool for its own ends against Russia.”
  • American officials, however, don’t see much of a change in the status quo. They have said that they find it difficult to see a clear road ahead to resume diplomatic talks with Russia over a range of issues, especially after the invasion began.
  • On Friday, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby told reporters that the United States was comfortable with the strategic nuclear deterrent posture in place. But the administration was closely monitoring Russia’s messaging and actions given the seriousness of the issue.
  • “We urge Russia to stop escalating the rhetoric with respect to nuclear weapons and do the right thing. End the war today. Have your troops leave Ukraine, sit down in good faith with President Zelensky and do the right thing,” Kirby said.

 

joe biden oil ban march 8 2022

washington post logoWashington Post, Post-ABC poll: Biden ticks up, but GOP holds advantage on economy, Dan Balz, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). Republicans lose ground when it comes to which party voters see themselves casting ballots for in November and the parties are now at rough parity.

President Biden’s standing with Americans has improved slightly over the past two months, but he remains in negative territory in most assessments of his performance in office and Republicans hold substantial advantages over Democrats on key economic indicators that are shaping the midterm election year, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The new survey, while better for the president and his party than his low point two months ago, nonetheless underscores the head winds Democratic candidates are facing ahead of the November balloting. With a 42 percent approval rating overall, Biden gets low marks on his handling of the economy and inflation and Republicans are significantly more trusted than Democrats on both measures.

 

Investigations: Challenges To Democratic Norms

 

tucker carlson fox horizontal

ny times logoNew York Times, Part 1: Tucker Carlson, once a failed pundit, stoked white fear to conquer cable, Nicholas Confessore, April 30, 2022. A New York Times investigative analysis in three parts of 1,100 episodes of the apocalyptic worldview of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the top-rated 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Fox News.

Tucker Carlson burst through the doors of Charlie Palmer Steak, enfolded in an entourage of producers and assistants, cellphone pressed to his ear. On the other end was Lachlan Murdoch, chairman of the Fox empire and his de facto boss.

fox news logo SmallMost of Fox’s Washington bureau, along with the cable network’s top executives, had gathered at the power-class steakhouse, a few blocks from the office, for their annual holiday party. Days earlier, Mr. Carlson had set off an uproar, claiming on air that mass immigration made America “poor and dirtier.” Blue-chip advertisers were fleeing. Within Fox, Mr. Carlson was widely viewed to have finally crossed some kind of line. Many wondered what price he might pay.

The answer became clear that night in December 2018: absolutely none.

When “Tucker Carlson Tonight” aired, Mr. Carlson doubled down, playing video of his earlier comments and citing a report from an Arizona government agency that said each illegal border crossing left up to eight pounds of litter in the desert. Afterward, on the way to the Christmas party, Mr. Carlson spoke directly with Mr. Murdoch, who praised his counterattack, according to a former Fox employee told of the exchange.

“We’re good,” Mr. Carlson said, grinning triumphantly, as he walked into the restaurant.

In the years since, Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful.

 

sean hannity uncredited

ny times logoNew York Times, Part 2: How Tucker Carlson reshaped Fox News — and became Trump’s heir, Nicholas Confessore, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). A New York Times investigative analysis in three parts of 1,100 episodes of the apocalyptic worldview of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the top-rated 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Fox News.

Tucker Carlson had a problem.

tucker carlsonAfter years in the cable wilderness, he had made a triumphant return to prime time. And his new show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” had leapfrogged to the heart of Fox News’s evening lineup just months after Donald J. Trump’s upset victory shattered the boundaries of conventional politics.

But as Mr. Trump thrashed through his first months in office, Mr. Carlson, right, found himself with an unexpected programming challenge: Fox was too pro-Trump. The new president watched his favorite network religiously, and often tweeted about what he saw there, while Fox broadcasts reliably parroted White House messaging. No one was more on message than Sean Hannity, shown above, then Fox’s highest-rated star, who frequently devoted his show to Mr. Trump’s daily battles with Washington Democrats and the media.

Newly planted in Fox’s newly vacated 8 p.m. time slot — previously held by the disgraced star Bill O’Reilly — Mr. Carlson told friends and co-workers that he needed to find a way to reach the Trump faithful, but without imitating Mr. Hannity. He didn’t want to get sucked into apologizing for Mr. Trump every day, he told one colleague, because the fickle, undisciplined new president would constantly need apologizing for.

The solution would not just propel Mr. Carlson toward the summit of cable news. It would ultimately thrust him to the forefront of the nationalist forces reshaping American conservatism. “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the host and his producers decided, would embrace Trumpism, not Mr. Trump. The show would grasp the emotional core of Mr. Trump’s allure — white panic over the country’s changing ethnic composition — while keeping a carefully measured distance from the president himself. For years, as his television career sputtered, Mr. Carlson had adopted increasingly catastrophic views of immigration and the country’s shifting demographics. Now, as Mr. Trump took unvarnished nativism from the right-wing fringe to the Oval Office, Mr. Carlson made it the centerpiece of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

ny times logoNew York Times, American Nationalist: Part 3, Nicholas Confessore, April 30, 2022 (print edition upcoming). A New York Times investigative analysis in three parts of 1,100 episodes of the apocalyptic worldview of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the top-rated 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Fox News.

The nightly message to audience about the audience’s domestic enemies in the media and among Democratic leaders and Left activists: “They don’t care what you think. They want to control what you do.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, Russian femmes fatales and Republican Party politics haunt Florida Panhandle race, Wayne Madsen, left, sydicated columnist, author of 21 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, May wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2, 2022. Buried in the bowels of the Moscow headquarters of the Sluzhba vneshney razvedkic PR – the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service’s PR Directorate – is a branch dedicated to the running of American politicians who are sympathetic to Russia and the policies of its neo-Cold War president, Vladimir Putin.

wayne madesen report logoThe files of the branch are likely as flush with dossiers on pro-Russian U.S. politicians as those of its counterpart branches that are responsible for “running” politicians in the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Hungary, Poland, and other democratic countries under assault by the forces of autocracy.

The dossier of one of the SVR’s prized American politicians would be incomplete without the newspaper column that appeared in the July 22, 2018 issue of the Pensacola News Journal, the home district newspaper for then-U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz. Gaetz was facing a Republican primary race against a U.S. Marine Corps veteran named Chris Dosev.

Why would Gaetz be called “Moscow Matt” in a newspaper that serves a very conservative solid “red” Republican district of Florida?

 

Pro-Trump Capitol Insurrection, Election Claims

 

thomas webster dc police

washington post logoWashington Post, Former NYPD officer Thomas Webster guilty in first Jan. 6 police assault trial, Spencer S. Hsu, May 2, 2022. The first person tried on charges of assaulting a police officer in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob was convicted on all counts Monday, after a federal jury deliberated about three hours and found retired New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster guilty of six counts.

Webster, 56, of Goshen, N.Y., assaulted D.C. police Officer Noah Rathbun with metal aluminum Marine Corps flagpole, jurors found. The panel of eight women and four men also found Webster guilty of interfering with police in a riot and trespassing, disorderly and violent conduct while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds.

thomas webster resized headshotWebster, (shown above and at a right in police and trial photos), who previously served on the protective security detail of former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, was the first of about 150 defendants charged with assaulting an officer to take his case to a jury and the first to argue self-defense.

Federal juries in Washington have now found all four defendants who have gone to trial on felony charges guilty in the rioting that began after then-president Donald Trump urged supporters to go to the Capitol where Congress was confirming President Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Politico, Jan. 6 committee asks three pro-Trump GOP lawmakers for testimony, Nicholas Wu and Betsy Woodruff Swan, May 2, 2022. Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) all voted to object to certifying the former president’s loss to Joe Biden.

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Jury to Consider Whether Trump Illegally Interfered in 2020 Election, Richard Fausset, May 2, 2022. The panel will have up to a year to recommend whether the prosecutor should pursue criminal charges against the former President Trump and his allies.

As the criminal investigation of Donald J. Trump by Manhattan prosecutors appears to be stalling out, the separate investigation into whether the former president and his allies illegally interfered with Georgia’s 2020 election results took a significant step forward on Monday, as 23 people were chosen to serve on a special investigative grand jury.

The panel will focus exclusively on “whether there were unlawful attempts to disrupt the administration of the 2020 elections here in Georgia,” Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of the Fulton County Superior Court told 200 potential jurors who had been called to a downtown Atlanta courthouse swarming with law enforcement agents.

The ability of the special grand jury to subpoena witnesses and documents will help prosecutors, who have encountered resistance from some potential witnesses who have declined to testify voluntarily. The panel will have up to a year to issue a report advising District Attorney Fani T. Willis on whether to pursue criminal charges.

Some legal experts have said the inquiry could be perilous for Mr. Trump, who, in a January 2021 phone call, asked Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to put Mr. Trump ahead of his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in Georgia’s presidential election tally.

The seating of the Georgia grand jury comes as a criminal inquiry in Manhattan has come to an apparent standstill. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, is said to be concerned about the strength of the New York case, which focuses on whether Mr. Trump exaggerated the value of assets in annual financial statements. People close to the investigation have told The New York Times that the inquiry may lose steam if other witnesses do not step up to cooperate.

In the Georgia case, a group of legal experts, in an analysis published last year by the Brookings Institution, wrote that the call to Mr. Raffensperger, and other postelection moves by Mr. Trump, put the former president at “substantial risk” of criminal charges in Georgia, including racketeering, election fraud solicitation, intentional interference with performance of election duties and conspiracy to commit election fraud.

The investigation is also likely to look at Trump allies who inserted themselves into election administration matters in Georgia, including Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani; Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff. The investigation is within the purview of the Fulton County district attorney because many of the actions in question took place in or involved phone calls to officials in Fulton County, which includes the State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta and numerous government offices.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump, Matt Zapotosky, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). Probes of the ex-president’s business and political conduct are underway in multiple places.

Justice Department log circularDonald Trump is facing historic legal and legislative scrutiny for a former president, under investigation by U.S. lawmakers, local district attorneys, a state attorney general and the FBI. Authorities are looking into Trump and his family business for a medley of possible wrongdoing, including his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and how he valued his various assets for loan and tax purposes.

Though one probe — by the district attorney in Manhattan — appears to be winding down, others remain active, threatening Trump with criminal or financial penalties, or plain old public embarrassment, as he weighs a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Here’s a list of the key investigations and where they stand.

  • Trump business practices, Manhattan DA’s criminal probe
  • Trump business practices, New York AG’s civil probe
  • Georgia election results investigation
  • The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation
  • Criminal probes of Jan. 6
  • The Mar-a-Lago boxes investigation
  • Westchester, N.Y., golf club

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Congress must act to prevent an election coup in 2024, Editorial Board, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). A group of senators met last week to try to prevent anyone from stealing the 2024 presidential election or from once again inciting an armed mob to attack the Capitol.

The bipartisan band, led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), aims to update the 1887 Electoral Count Act, the archaic law that governs how Congress counts electoral votes that became a focus of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

The fate of the nation’s democracy might rest on whether these senators strike a deal, and soon: If Republicans take the House after November’s elections, a radicalized House GOP caucus will likely refuse to do anything that could be construed as hostile to Mr. Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rejects RNC bid to block fundraising, email data from Jan. 6 panel, Spencer S. Hsu, May 2, 2022. House probes whether Trump, RNC profited from and stoked violence through false, inflammatory claims of election fraud

ap logoAssociated Press via HuffPost, Evidence Mounts Of GOP Involvement In Trump Election Schemes, Farnoush Amiri, May 1, 2022. Since launching its investigation last summer, the Jan. 6 panel has been slowly gaining new details about what lawmakers said and did in the weeks before the insurrection.

Rioters who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, succeeded — at least temporarily — in delaying the certification of Joe Biden’s election to the White House.

huffington post logoHours before, Rep. Jim Jordan had been trying to achieve the same thing. 

Texting with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a close ally and friend, at nearly midnight on Jan. 5, Jordan offered a legal rationale for what President Donald Trump was publicly demanding — that Vice President Mike Pence, in his ceremonial role presiding over the electoral count, somehow assert the authority to reject electors from Biden-won states.

Pence “should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,” Jordan wrote.

“I have pushed for this,” Meadows replied. “Not sure it is going to happen.”

The text exchange, in an April 22 court filing from the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot, is in a batch of startling evidence that shows the deep involvement of some House Republicans in Trump’s desperate attempt to stay in power. A review of the evidence finds new details about how, long before the attack on the Capitol unfolded, several GOP lawmakers were participating directly in Trump’s campaign to reverse the results of a free and fair election.

 Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine Battlefronts

ny times logoNew York Times, More Ukraine Updates: Russia’s Top Officer Visited the Front Line in Ukraine’s East, Michael Schwirtz, Eric Schmitt and Ron DePasquale, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Ukraine and pledged U.S. support ‘until victory is won.’

An evacuation of civilians from Mariupol was underway. The chief of the general staff of the Russian military, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the country’s highest ranking uniformed officer, made a visit to dangerous front-line positions in eastern Ukraine late last week in an effort to “change the course” of Russia’s flagging offensive there, according to a senior Ukrainian official. Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the visit also backed that assessment.

Ukrainian officials learned of the visit, the Ukrainian official said, but not in time to catch General Gerasimov. When Ukrainian forces launched an attack on one position visited by General Gerasimov, at School No. 12 in the Russian-controlled city of Izium on Saturday evening, he had already departed for Russia. Still, some 200 soldiers, including at least one general, were killed, the Ukrainian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive military operation.

The rare front-line visit of such a high-ranking military official comes as analysts say Russian forces remain beset with logistical problems and disarray.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Ukraine and pledged U.S. support “until victory is won.” Civilians were being evacuated from Mariupol. Follow updates.

 

Ukraine Pilot unnamed

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The True Story of the “Ghost of Kyiv, Seth Abramson, left, May 1-2, 2022. One of the most confusing and controversial news stories of seth abramson graphicRussia’s ten-week-long invasion of Ukraine is the story of a Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot whose identity—and even reality—has been hotly debated.

The Ukrainian Air Force (UAF), which is comparatively small and has comparatively old equipment, has now shot down a startling number of Russian fighter jets and attack helicopters—far more than U.S. intelligence expected would be the case, but in any case at a clip now confirmed by intelligence agencies from across the Western world. And these combat victories began very early on—even before the phrase “the Ghost of Kyiv” had been coined (let alone heard) by anybody.

seth abramson proof logoNeedless to say, almost none of these now-confirmed Ukrainian ground-to-air and air-to-air kills were recorded, for the obvious reason that all potential soldier-filmmakers were too busy fighting, and everyone else was too busy hiding. And it took several days for Western-media camera crews to get into position to get significant footage—or even to know where to go to get that footage—and even once they had that capacity, they were often prohibited from getting such footage either by safety concerns or the reasonable request of the Ukrainian armed forces that its positions not be broadcast.

But for all that, someone was downing a lot of Russian aircraft. That much is now clear.

To date, 189 Russian aircraft—at a bare minimum—have been downed by Ukrainians.

Were these 189 Russian aircraft downed by 189 different Ukrainian soldiers, wielding 189 different Stinger missile delivery systems and/or flying 189 different MiG-29s? No one knew, as February slipped into March and March into April.

So is it possible, given the miniscule size of Ukraine’s air force, the limited number of missions it runs daily (about ten, per major media reports) and the more-than-likely fact that many of the Russian aircraft lost so far have been jets that a single Ukrainian pilot managed, by March 13 of 2022—19 days into the war—to down enough Russian aircraft (five) to be officially named a “flying ace” under the conventions of modern warfare? Of course it’s possible. Frankly, in a certain view it doesn’t even seem unlikely.

Who Decides If—or When—the “Ghost of Kyiv” Exists?

Given the fog of war, the identity of any individual Ukrainian pilot who shot down any individual Russian jet or helicopter was always going to be a piece of news revealed to the world by the Ukrainian military—and almost certainly by members of Ukraine’s military speaking to members of Ukraine’s press corps.

It goes without saying that the Kremlin has never once been honest with the world or even its own people about the cost it is paying for Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine; and it’s equally clear there are far more Ukrainian journalists on the ground in Ukraine (particularly in the hottest hot spots for shelling and live small arms fire) than there are U.S. or other Western journalists. So if it were to come to pass that one Ukrainian were responsible for five of 189 downed Russian aircraft—a not unimaginable outcome—that intelligence was almost certain to come from a Ukrainian source and be given to, in turn, a Ukrainian source.

Indeed, given that we know which Ukrainian news sources are the most respected and have the most journalists on the ground in Ukraine, we could probably have predicted in advance that if it came to pass that one Ukrainian had been responsible for just five of the 189 downed Russian aircraft in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’d likely hear about it from the Kyiv Post.

But there were other things about a scenario of this sort that we could’ve predicted in advance:

  • The Ukrainians would give any such “flying ace” a nickname—because such aces always get nicknames;
  • The Ukrainians would use a nickname first created outside Ukraine if it seemed more to the Ukrainian military’s advantage to do so;
  • The Ukrainians wouldn’t hesitate to issue a nickname to such a flying ace after the fact, because nicknames for such persons are often given after the fact;
  • No matter what had actually happened with respect to such a Ukrainian ace, the Kremlin—and its far-right allies in the United States—would insist that it had not happened, if they felt it to be to their benefit to falsely say so;
  • The young white men on 4chan and Reddit would be annoyed if they felt that the Ukrainians had used for their new ace a nickname that they (the young white men) created, as irrespective of the politics of these young men—whether they’re white supremacists, alt-right, Trumpists, old-school Republican Party adherents, libertarians, apolitical, or anarchists—they do not like the idea of “meme magic” being used by anyone but them, and (if they hail from any of the first three political philosophies above) they especially do not want Ukraine using their digital work-product to the detriment of their heroes in the Kremlin.
  • And yet the core facts remained: the Ukrainian military was always going to control the identification of a Ukrainian “ace” in the first instance; it was always going to be almost impossible to confirm or deny such a claim by Ukraine’s military; Ukrainian journalists would likely be first to report such a claim being made by the Ukrainian military; and the Ukrainian military was going to use whatever name for its ace best served the purposes of the Ukrainian military, regardless of from where that name had originated.

washington post logoWashington Post, The ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ was never alive, Ukrainian air force says, Lateshia Beachum, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). The “Ghost of Kyiv.” That’s what admirers called a Ukrainian fighter pilot who was said to have shot down 40 enemy planes.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian officials admitted that the ghost, in fact, never existed. “Ghost of Kyiv is a superhero-legend whose character was created by Ukrainians,” Ukraine’s air force said Saturday, confirming that it was all a bit of mythmaking.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Ukraine says Russian assault in Donbas ‘not succeeding,’ Adam Taylor, Amy Cheng and Andrew Jeong, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Poland sent more than 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine, report says; Updates from key Ukrainian cities and regions; Ukraine continues striking Russian territory, Russian officials say.

Russian forces failed to take three key areas in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk despite heavy shelling, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in a daily update Saturday, adding that the Russians were “not succeeding” and that the “fighting continues.” The announcement comes amid Western assessments that despite a new focus on the eastern region of Donbas, Moscow is still struggling amid morale and supply concerns, with the Pentagon describing only “plodding progress” after fierce Ukrainian resistance.

ukraine flagThe slow advance gives little sign that the conflict will end soon. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was a high chance of negotiations breaking down because of “Moscow’s playbook on murdering people.” Meanwhile, Western governments continue to funnel weapons to Ukrainian forces. More than 12 flights carrying weapons and equipment, including artillery and drones, will make their way from the United States through Friday and Saturday, according to the Pentagon.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday there no need for the international community to establish evacuation corridors out of Mariupol, days after the United Nations said Moscow had agreed “in principle” to allow such assistance. Lavrov also walked back recent comments about nuclear war, telling a Saudi-owned news channel that Russia does not consider itself to be at war with NATO. However, on Saturday, Russian nonproliferation official Vladimir Yermakov said that strategic dialogue with the United States had been formally “frozen” until after the conflict in Ukraine is over.

Here’s what else to know

  • Ukrainian forces continue to strike inside Russia, with Russian news agencies saying on Saturday that shelling had hit an oil terminal in the Bryansk region.
  • The Russian central bank projected that the economy would shrink by 8 to 10 percent this year, as the country grapples with Western sanctions.
  • Cities near the front line, such as Kramatorsk in the eastern region of Donetsk, have been largely abandoned. Officials in Kramatorsk told The Washington Post that the population has fallen from 200,000 to 40,000, with mostly elderly people remaining.
  • The White House said it has urged Indonesia in private and public not to include Russia in November’s Group of 20 summit. Moscow accepted the host nation’s invitation on Friday.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary WMR, Russian TV pundits threaten nuclear war on western Europe, Wayne Madsen, left, April 29-May 1, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallRussian state television, the commentary programs that emulate the chattering pundit shows of Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN, is currently pushing a line that calls for the firing of nuclear-armed missiles from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on to cities in western Europe.

wayne madesen report logoWhat is alarming about the calls for such actions is that there has been no push back on the idea from any Russian government official, which indicates that the TV commentators are expressing the wishes of those like Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in addition to Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov, who has served in his post since 2004, has surprised the world with his defense of the Russian invasion of Ukraine based on bizarre conspiracy theories about fighting Nazis, uncovering secret biological warfare laboratories, and stopping organ harvesting.

 

andrei simonov public domain

Kyiv Post, Ukraine Tenth Russian General Reportedly Killed in Ukraine, Staff Report, May 1, 2022. A Ukrainian authorities say that Russian Maj. Gen. Andrei Simonov, above, was killed near the city of Izyum of the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

National Guard units reported on April 30 that they spotted a field command post of the Russian 2nd Army in the area and passed the coordinates on to the military whose artillery fired on the positions. More than 30 Russian armored vehicles, including tanks, were reportedly struck in the rocket salvos.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in an interview published on YouTube that some 100 Russian servicemen were killed, including Simonov.

Russian FlagPublic domain data available on what is the U.S. equivalent of a brigadier general, says that Simonov was a senior leader of electronic warfare units. According to open-source data followed by the Kyiv Post, his death would be the tenth among Russia’s corps of generals in Ukraine since Feb. 24.

Video posted on social media showed the alleged command post being struck by what appeared to be Grad rockets fired from a multiple-launch rocket system or systems.

Two Russian generals were reportedly killed, according to Ukrainian authorities, in the last week of April in the occupied part of Kherson region. A command post was also reportedly was struck there.

The Kyiv Post hasn’t been able to independently confirm any of the reported deaths.

Izyum is near the administrative borders of the easternmost Luhansk and Donetsk regions along the Siversky Donets River. Russian forces are trying to make a thrust deeper into that area known as the Donbas toward the city of Slovyansk. British intelligence reports that Russia is trying envelop Ukrainian forces in the area.

On the same day, Ukraine’s military announced that Ukrainian counterattacks resulted in the liberation of four villages outside of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. They are Ruska Lozova, Slobidske, Prelesne and Verkhnya Rohanka. The previous day on April 29, the Ukrainian military said invading Russian forces were pushed out of the village of Momotove in the same region.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Supreme Court rules against Boston in Christian flag case, Staff Report, May 2, 2022. A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that Boston violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist when it refused his request to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole outside City Hall.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the city discriminated against the activist, Harold Shurtleff, because of his “religious viewpoint,” even though it had routinely approved applications for the use of one of the three flagpoles outside City Hall that fly the U.S., Massachusetts and Boston flags.

Occasionally, the city takes down its own pennant and temporarily hoists another flag.

Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution wanted to fly a white banner with a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner, called the Christian flag, to mark Constitution Day, Sept. 17, in 2017.

The city had approved 284 consecutive applications to fly flags, usually those of other nations, before it rejected Shurtleff’s because it was a Christian flag. The city said he could fly a different banner, but Shurtleff refused, and lower courts upheld the city’s decision.

But the high court said the lower courts and the city were wrong. The case hinged on whether the flag-flying is an act of the government, in which case Boston can do whatever it wants, or private parties like Shurtleff, Breyer wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kathy Boudin (1943–2022): Weather Underground outlaw dies at 78, Paul W. Valentine, May 2, 2022. The explosion left three Weathermen dead and the townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in ruins, and Ms. Boudin staggered naked out of the rubble, along with another uninjured woman. A neighbor gave clothes to Ms. Boudin, who fled amid the chaos.

Ms. Boudin — a descendant of prominent leftist intellectuals and five years out of the elite women’s college Bryn Mawr — became one of the country’s most-wanted outlaws. She spent the next 11 years in hiding with other militants, by then calling themselves the Weather Underground, in urban safe houses and remote farmsteads.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sex worker gets 30 years for fatally drugging men for ‘a few quick dollars,’ Andrea Salcedo, May 2, 2022. Between July and August 2019, sex worker Angelina Barini met with her clients at motels in New York City before giving them dangerous doses of drugs that incapacitated them. Then, she would rob the men and leave with their personal belongings.

Four of them, including a prominent Italian chef, died of overdoses from the drugs, court records state.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Where did all the conservative hand-wringing over judicial restraint go? Ruth Marcus, right, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Something different is ruth marcus twitter Customgoing on here.

The shift is built on a phenomenon that took off during the Trump administration but has persisted during the Biden presidency: the use of nationwide injunctions — orders issued by a single district court, often strategically chosen for the likelihood of finding a sympathetic judge, that apply beyond the immediate parties in the case to completely block an administration policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, The border wall Trump called unclimbable is taking a grim toll, Nick Miroff, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The journal JAMA Surgery offers one of the first attempts to measure injuries and deaths resulting from falls along new sections of the wall.

republican elephant logoThe patients have fallen from new 30-foot segments of President Donald Trump’s border wall, a structure he touted as a “Rolls-Royce” that “can’t be climbed.”

Since 2019, when the barrier’s height was raised to 30 feet along much of the border in California, the number of patients arriving at the UC San Diego Medical Center’s trauma ward after falling off the structure has jumped fivefold, to 375, the physicians found. Falling deaths at the barrier went from zero to 16 during that time, according to the report, citing records maintained by the San Diego county medical examiner.

washington post logoWashington Post, A stolen-mail scheme is targeting a wealthy D.C. suburb, Alisa Tang and Razzan Nakhlawi, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The theft of checks from U.S. Postal Service mailboxes has spiked across the country, and the D.C. region is a new hot spot, officials and researchers say.

A Post review of Telegram channels dedicated to check fraud found posts advertising thousands of checks for sale across the United States. The payment amounts ranged from $8 to a business check written out in the amount of more than $36,000, while the checks themselves were on offer to potential buyers for upward of $100, topping out at $400 for business checks.

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U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 ICE logo

 ny times logoNew York Times, Abbott Threatens to Declare an ‘Invasion’ as Migrant Numbers Rise in Texas, J. David Goodman and Edgar Sandoval, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, right,Greg Abbott Custom has pursued an expensive and unusual effort to harden the border. But after a year, there is little to show for it.

For the past year, Mr. Abbott has transformed an unceasing flow of migrants over the border into a potent political message, seizing the role of defending the country from unauthorized migration as he runs for a third term in November. His aggressive posture has done little to stem the tide and also exposed him to fierce criticism that he is using his authority to meddle in a policy area that belongs to the federal government. Still, his efforts to tighten border security and harden Texas’s 1,254-mile frontier have helped Mr. Abbott, a Republican, hold off challenges from his right and made the lawyerly governor into a regular on Fox News.

texas mapNow Mr. Abbott is weighing whether to invoke actual war powers to seize much broader state authority on the border. He could do so, advocates inside and outside his administration argue, by officially declaring an “invasion” to comply with a clause in the U.S. Constitution that says states cannot engage in war except when “actually invaded.”

republican elephant logoTop lawyers for Mr. Abbott and for the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, met this month to debate the move, which would put the state in a head-on collision with the federal government by allowing state police to arrest and deport migrants, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Abbott says he remains open to the approach, but he has expressed concern about unintended consequences.

“If we do use this strategy, it could expose law enforcement in the state of Texas to being prosecuted,” Mr. Abbott said during a recent news conference. But, he added: “Is it something we’re looking into? Yes.”

Already, the governor has mobilized thousands of National Guard troops to sit at border posts, and ordered safety inspections of trucks coming from Mexico, disrupting international trade. He has overseen construction of 20 miles of new border fencing, repurposed certain state prisons to hold migrants charged with trespassing, poured money into border towns for law enforcement and paid for buses to take willing migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House officials weigh income limits for student loan forgiveness, Jeff Stein, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Senior aides have examined limiting the relief to people who earned less than $125,000 or $150,000 as individual filers for the previous year.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Soft-Spoken, Ohio Conservatives Embrace the Bombast, Jonathan Weisman and Trip Gabriel, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The slugfest for the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat has buried the state’s hallmark of good-natured, country-club conservatism.

Republicans running for the seat of Ohio’s retiring senator, Rob Portman, appear determined to bury the soft-spoken country-club bonhomie that was once a hallmark of the party in this state, and replace it with the pugilistic brand of conservatism owned by Donald J. Trump and now amplified by the new band of Buckeye bomb throwers.

The race descended into a brutal slugfest as the leading candidates, the author-turned-venture capitalist J.D. Vance, the former state treasurer Josh Mandel and a self-funded businessman, Mike Gibbons, entered the final weekend before Tuesday’s primaries accusing one another of being insufficiently right-wing or disloyal to the man in Mar-a-Lago.

Ohio used to be known for the quiet conservatism of the state’s celebrated former senator George Voinovich and its current governor, Mike DeWine; for the Merlot-swilling happy-warrior days of the former House speaker John A. Boehner; for the moderation of John Kasich, a two-term governor; and for the free-trade, free-market ideology of Mr. Portman himself.

Instead, affections for such Ohio leaders are now being weaponized — in broadsides from the candidates and advertisements by their allies — as evidence that rivals are paying only lip service to Mr. Trump and his angry populism.

 

madison cawthorn resized hunting amazon

ny times logoNew York Times, Pressure Mounts on Madison Cawthorn as Scandals Pile Up, Jonathan Weisman and Annie Karni, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The North Carolina representative, once a young star in the conservative firmament, finds himself besieged by accusations.

Besieged by multiplying scandals and salacious accusations, Representative Madison Cawthorn, Republican of North Carolina, is under mounting pressure from both parties to end his short career in Congress.

In rapid succession, Mr. Cawthorn, who entered Congress as a rising star of the party’s far right, has been accused of falsely suggesting that his Republican colleagues routinely throw cocaine-fueled orgies, insider trading and an inappropriate relationship with a male aide. This week, he was detained at an airport, where police said he tried to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane, the second time he has attempted that.

That came just days after pictures surfaced of him wearing women’s lingerie as part of a cruise ship game, imagery that might not go over well in the conservative stretches of his Western North Carolina district. And last month he was charged with driving with a revoked license for the second time since 2017.

The deluge of revelations and charges have left him on an island even within his own party. A political group supporting Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, has been pouring money into an ad campaign accusing Mr. Cawthorn of being a fame-seeking liar. The group is supporting the campaign of a more mainstream Republican, State Senator Chuck Edwards, who is running against Mr. Cawthorn. And the far-right, anti-establishment wing of the party now views the first-term congressman with similar skepticism, as someone who is falsely selling himself as a gatekeeper in his state to former President Donald J. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Flawed Vetting That Led Gov. Kathy Hochul to Brian Benjamin, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Nicholas Fandos and Jeffery C. Mays, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). A 63-page background check revealed two red flags in the New York lieutenant governor’s past but didn’t turn up a subpoena issued to his brian benjamin state senatepolitical campaign.

The first warnings about Brian A. Benjamin, right, came early, just three days after Kathy Hochul learned she would become governor of New York and began a hurried search for her second-in-command.

new york map citiesAt the top of a 63-page vetting report, two flags drew attention to potential legal concerns about Mr. Benjamin’s use of campaign funds, according to three people familiar with the document. Among them were news accounts of dozens of potentially fraudulent contributions steered to Mr. Benjamin’s failed campaign for New York City comptroller.

gretchen whitmer o horizontal CustomWhen Ms. Hochul, right, and her team pressed for answers, Mr. Benjamin, then a state senator from Harlem, suggested he had made innocent mistakes and gave the impression that all outstanding issues were being resolved. But he failed to disclose something far more troubling: Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office had already served a subpoena to his comptroller campaign, inquiring about the suspicious donations, according to two people familiar with the subpoena.

On Aug. 26, after just a two-week search, Ms. Hochul named Mr. Benjamin as her lieutenant governor. Less than a year later, that decision and the hasty vetting process that led to it have come to haunt Ms. Hochul’s young administration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes closing pitch for Neb. candidate accused of groping, David Weigel, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). The former president is campaigning for Charles Herbster for governor with less than two weeks until the primary.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Governments Tighten Grip on Food Supplies, Sending Prices Higher, Ana Swanson, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Dozens of countries have thrown up trade barriers in the past two months to protect scarce supplies of food and commodities, but experts say the policies will only exacerbate a global food crisis.

Ukraine has limited exports of sunflower oil, wheat, oats and cattle in an attempt to protect its war-torn economy. Russia has banned sales of fertilizer, sugar and grains to other nations.

Indonesia, which produces more than half the world’s palm oil, has halted outgoing shipments. Turkey has stopped exports of butter, beef, lamb, goats, maize and vegetable oils.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unleashed a new wave of protectionism as governments, desperate to secure food and other commodities for their citizens amid shortages and rising prices, erect new barriers to stop exports at their borders.

The measures are often well intended. But like the panic-buying that stripped grocery store shelves at various moments of the pandemic, the current wave of protectionism will only compound the problems that governments are trying to mitigate, trade experts warn.

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More on Ukraine War

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia struggles under unprecedented wave of hacking, puncturing myth of its cyber-superiority, Joseph Menn, May 2, 2022 (print ed.).  Experts anticipated a Moscow-led cyber assault; instead, attacks by hacktivists and criminals have wreaked havoc in Russia.

 

marina ovsyannikova afp via getty

Marina Ovsyannikova, above, a 43-year-old editor from Russia’s state-run propagandist Channel One TV network, crashed the set of Russia’s top evening newscast, brandishing an anti-war poster.

Politico Magazine, The Mysterious Case of Marina O., Zoya Sheftalovich, May 1, 2022. Her anti-war protest on live Russian TV was seen by millions. But is she a Kremlin stooge? 

In a non-descript room in a secret police station deep within a sprawling Moscow exhibition center, a Russian police officer offered Marina Ovsyannikova a cup of tea.

“For some reason, I wasn’t afraid,” Ovsyannikova told me over the phone a few days ago. “In that moment I wasn’t afraid. Now — I would think twice.”

politico CustomBy that point, Ovsyannikova, a 43-year-old editor from Russia’s state-run propagandist Channel One TV network had already answered the same questions for hours; she was tired, hungry and thirsty. The previous night, on March 14 at 9:30 p.m., she had crashed the set of Russia’s top evening newscast Vremya wearing a necklace in the colors of the Ukrainian and Russian flags and brandishing an anti-war poster. “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here,” she had written in Russian. “No war” and “Russians against war,” she’d scrawled in English. “Stop the war, no to war, stop the war, no to war,” she shouted.

For a few moments, Ovsyannikova’s protest was beamed into homes around Moscow and central Russia. Then, the camera cut away. Ovsyannikova was detained, taken to a large police station within the state television studio complex known as Ostankino, before being moved half a mile to the secret police department within Moscow’s Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, a large park with exhibition halls known by its acronym VDNKh, where she was held for the next 14 hours.

It was after what seemed like endless questioning, in the wee hours of the morning, that her interrogator said: “Let’s drink a cup of tea. Let’s eat some blini. Everyone’s hungry,” Ovsyannikova recounted.

As any foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin would have warned Ovsyannikova, were they still alive to do so: When a Russian security officer offers you an Earl Grey and a snack, don’t say yes. But Ovsyannikova was new to the dissident game and unprepared for what lay ahead of her.

She drank the tea.

washington post logoWashington Post, Western artillery surging to Ukraine will reshape war, Dan Lamothe, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Western artillery flooding into Ukraine will alter the war with Russia, setting off a bloody battle of wits backed by long-range weapons and forcing both sides to grow more nimble if they hope to avoid significant fatalities as fighting intensifies in the east, U.S. officials and military analysts predict.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine pushed Finland toward NATO, Emily Rauhala, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Any day now, Finland and Sweden — European Union countries that remain militarily nonaligned — are expected to apply to join the 30-member alliance. NATO and U.S. officials have said they would be welcomed.

ny times logoNew York Times, West’s Resolve to Block Russia Grows Amid Fears of a Protracted War, Marc Santora, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). As the United States and its allies rush to supply weapons to Ukraine, Britain’s military said on Friday it would deploy 8,000 soldiers to Europe to join tens of thousands of troops from NATO countries in exercises meant to deter further Russian aggression.

The British announcement comes a day after President Biden’s request to Congress for $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s arsenal and economy as fighting across eastern Ukraine yielded more suffering but little movement.

Three foreigners, an American, a Briton and a Dane fighting with the Ukrainian army’s International Legion, have been killed in battle, according to an official in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. The official asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

Bolstered by the ruble’s rebound and the end of panic buying that spurred inflation, Russia’s Central Bank on Friday lowered the key interest rate by three percentage points, to 14 percent.

“With price and financial stability risks no longer on the rise, conditions have allowed for the key rate reduction,” the bank said in a statement.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo confirmed that he has invited President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to November’s Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. He also said that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has confirmed he will attend the summit.

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Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Scientists in South Africa are closely watching the spread of two newly discovered subvariants of the virus, Alexandra E. Petri, May 2, 2022. Coronavirus cases are surging again in South Africa, and public health experts are monitoring the situation, eager to know what’s driving the spike, what it says about immunity from previous infections and what its implications are globally.

South Africa experienced a decline in cases after hitting an Omicron-fueled, pandemic peak in December. But in the past week, cases have tripled, positivity rates are up and hospitalizations have also increased, health officials said. The surge has the country facing a possible fifth wave.

The spike is linked to BA.4 And BA.5, two subvariants that are part of the Omicron family.

ny times logoNew York Times, New York City Enters Higher Coronavirus Risk Level as Case Numbers Rise, Sharon Otterman and Emma G. Fitzsimmons, May 2, 2022. The city moved into the medium risk level, known as yellow, as it sees a troubling increase in cases and the mayor weighs bringing back some restrictions.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated May 2, 2022), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2totals ere and some experts saying the numbers are far higher:

World Cases: 513,670,947, Deaths: 6,262,112
U.S. Cases:     83,083,425, Deaths: 1,020,854
Indian Cases:   43,082,502, Deaths:    523,869
Brazil Cases:   30,454,490, Deaths:    663,567

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Musk Twitter Purchase

washington post logotwitter bird CustomWashington Post, Opinion: The real problem with Twitter under Musk may be privacy, Jacob Silverman (staff writer at the New Republic and the author of “Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection”), May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Twitter already has serious issues around the globe. Musk is unlikely to fix them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Three steps for Elon Musk if he’s serious about free speech at Twitter, Margaret Sullivan, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). But first, a primer for a somewhat confused billionaire on what the First Amendment actually entails.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Twitter’s Board Went From Fighting Elon Musk to Accepting Him, Lauren Hirsch and Mike Isaac, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). It’s highly unusual to move from a “poison pill” to a $44 billion deal in under two weeks. But Twitter’s board ran out of options.

Twitter’s board had reached the end of the road.

elon musk 2015It was April 24. Ten days earlier, Elon Musk, right, the world’s richest man, had made an unsolicited bid to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share. Alarmed by the out-of-the-blue proposal and uncertain if the offer was for real, the social media company had adopted a “poison pill,” a defensive maneuver to stop Mr. Musk from accumulating more of its shares.

But by that Sunday, Twitter was running out of choices. Mr. Musk had lined up financing for his offer and was needling the company with his tweets. And after hours of discussions and reviewing Twitter’s plans and finances, the questions the 11 board members were wrestling with — could the company be worth more than $54.20 a share? would any other bidder emerge? — were all leading to one dissatisfying answer: No.

Less than 24 hours later, the blockbuster $44 billion deal was announced.

“What I’ll tell you is that based on the analysis and the perception of risk, certainty and value, the board unanimously decided the offer from Elon represented the best value for our shareholders,” Bret Taylor, Twitter’s chairman, told the company’s more than 7,000 employees on Monday in a call that The New York Times listened to.

A central mystery of Mr. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is how the company’s board went from installing a poison pill to agreeing to sell to him in just 11 days. In most megadeals, the adoption of a poison pill leads to a protracted fight. The tactic is a clear signal that a company intends to battle. Negotiations then drag out. Sometimes buyers walk away.

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More On Media, Entertainment, Religion News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: All jokes aside: Biden grasps what the media’s obligation should be, Jennifer Rubin, May 2, 2022. President Biden, despite the risks inherent in going unmasked at a crowded indoor event, chose to appear at the White House correspondents’ dinner on Saturday.

Yes, some understandably wondered why in the world he would risk getting sick for that. But Americans should be pleased he showed up. And they should hope the journalists in the room took the president’s words to heart.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pent-up partying before — and long after — the White House Correspondents’ dinner, Jada Yuan, May 2, 2022 (print ed.).  Behold the centrifugal force of a Kim Kardashian-Pete Davidson sighting — and other scenes from Washington’s wild weekend.

washington post logoWashington Post, As gala returns, Biden jokes about return to near-normal, Paul Farhi, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). After a two-year pandemic delay, the dinner returned with a comedy routine from Trevor Noah and celebrity cameos by Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson.

Washington’s media and political elite partied like it was 2019 on Saturday at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, the traditionally glitzy spring gala that staggered back to life after a pandemic-induced two-year hiatus.

Despite the continuing specter of the coronavirus, the event once again had all its usual trappings and excesses: a tuxedoed-and-begowned throng of insiders, a smattering of celebrities, an appearance by the president and a big-name comedian to make fun of them and it.

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ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

 

Pro-Trump Capitol Insurrection, Elections Claims

 

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 War

Speaking at a news conference in Poland after a trip to Ukraine, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said while accompanied by several other high-ranking Democratic House colleagues that the West cannot back down in the face of Russian threats (Agence France-Presse photo by Wojtek Radwanski via Getty Images on May 1, 2022).

Speaking at a news conference in Poland after a trip to Ukraine, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said while accompanied by several other high-ranking Democratic House colleagues that the West cannot back down in the face of Russian threats (Agence France-Presse photo by Wojtek Radwanski via Getty Images on May 1, 2022).

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine war live updates Nancy Pelosi met Zelensky in Kyiv; Mariupol evacuation push resumes, Adam Taylor, Bryan Pietsch, Jennifer Hassan, Rachel Pannett and Annabelle Timsit, May 1, 2022. Pope Francis calls for safe evacuations, says Russia’s war makes him cry; Ukrainian official says Russian strikes have slowed in Kharkiv; ‘You cannot fold to a bully,’ Pelosi says of Russian aggression; British ambassador to Ukraine says war could last ‘through next year;’ Mariupol residents urged to evacuate in ‘one of last real chances to leave city;’ Russian-occupied Kherson cut off from Internet, switches to ruble.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a surprise trip to Kyiv, telling embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that “our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.”

Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, led a congressional delegation to the Ukrainian capital before heading to Poland to meet with President Andrzej Duda.

ukraine flagThe delegation met with Zelensky on Saturday evening local time, and Pelosi walked the streets of Kyiv with several House Democratic lawmakers, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.) and Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.). Zelensky awarded Pelosi with the Order of Princess Olga, a decoration bestowed upon women who have made outstanding contributions to Ukraine.

In southeastern Ukraine, Mariupol civilians were urged to flee on Sunday, a day after a small group of women and children were allowed to leave a steel plant in Mariupol that has been the last base for Ukrainian fighters in the besieged port city. Ukrainian officials think up to 1,000 people have taken shelter at the complex, which has been pummeled by Russian strikes in the Kremlin’s bid to secure Mariupol, an industrial center on the Sea of Azov that is seen as a strategic prize for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s what else to know

  • Fighting continues in the embattled eastern city of Kharkiv, with local officials suggesting that Russia may be finally reducing the intensity of airstrikes and artillery that had deeply damaged the city after a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Moscow’s recent actions in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson — where civilians are facing an Internet blackout and the implementation of a plan to use Russian currency in place of Ukrainian money — “are likely indicative of Russian intent to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term,” British officials said.
  • Europe is scrambling to respond to the energy crisis prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after Putin cut off natural gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for refusing to pay in rubles.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.

 

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: After Ukraine Visit, Pelosi Pledges U.S. Support ‘Until Victory Is Won,’ Marc Santora and Ivan Nechepurenko, May 1, 2022. In a sign of the United States’ deepening commitment to Ukraine, Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the most senior American official to visit Kyiv, announcing on Sunday that she had met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and had pledged “to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world.”

Nancy Pelosi The visit on Saturday by Ms. Pelosi, right, and a few fellow Democratic lawmakers was kept secret until they returned to Poland, where they held a news conference on Sunday morning and vowed to back Ukraine “until victory is won.”

Drawing parallels with the American Revolution, the comments by Ms. Pelosi — who led a small delegation of Democratic lawmakers to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, on Saturday — reflected the remarkable evolution of American policy toward Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression, as the war shows signs of turning into a prolonged conflict.

U.S. House logoThe House speaker insisted that the United States would not be deterred by threats from the Kremlin — “Do not be bullied by bullies,” Ms. Pelosi said — as the Biden administration increasingly casts aside fears expressed by some early in the war that too much American assistance to Ukraine risked a direct conflict with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Her visit came just one week after Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III visited Kyiv, after which Mr. Austin said that the United States wanted to see the Russian military not only defeated in Ukraine, but weakened to such a way that it no longer posed a threat to its neighbors.

On Thursday, President Biden called on Congress to provide $33 billion in additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine, a significant escalation in support from the United States.

Ms. Pelosi and the congressional leaders who traveled with her signaled their support for the White House proposal and more. Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the United States would work with allies to refine and expand sanctions to put more pressure on Moscow. “Nothing is going to decrease,” he said, “everything is going to increase.”

adam schiff squareRepresentative Adam B. Schiff of California, right, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said that he was “in awe of what the Ukrainians have been able to achieve” in beating back Russia’s attempts to seize Kyiv and denying Moscow’s better equipped forces an easy victory.

Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said that Russia was waging war not just against the people of Ukraine, but against the world’s most vulnerable. Ukraine is considered Europe’s breadbasket, and the war, he said, was “exacerbating hunger all around the world.”

Ms. Pelosi appeared moved by her encounter with Ukraine’s wartime president, saying Mr. Zelensky was “dazzling.” She described their three-hour meeting as “a remarkable master class of leadership.”

She said that she began her meeting with Mr. Zelensky by quoting Thomas Paine, the American revolutionary. “The times have found us,” he wrote in 1776. “We believe that the time is now for Ukraine,” she said. This fight, she added, will help preserve democracy around the world.

Representative Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger, said he went to Ukraine with three areas of focus. “Weapons, weapons and weapons,” he said. “We have to make sure the Ukrainians have what is necessary to win.” Mr. Crow said the visit was meant to send a clear message that the United States was not interested in stalemates or going back to the status quo.

Pelosi became the most senior American official to visit since the war began, meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. Heavy artillery fire pounded Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland as Russia’s two-week-old offensive in the region continued. Here’s the latest.

 

volodymyr zelenski t shirt siege

washington post logoWashington Post, Evacuations begin from Mariupol plant as shelling in east continues, Rachel Siegel, Andrew Jeong, David L. Stern and Julian Duplain, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (shown above in a file photo) said there was a high chance of negotiations with Russia breaking down.

Some civilians were finally evacuated from a vast Mariupol steel plant after a cease-fire on Saturday allowed a small group to leave the besieged complex, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discounted much progress on broader negotiations.

  • Officials believe up to 1,000 people have sought refuge at the large Azovstal complex, which has been pummeled for days amid Russian strikes. New satellite images show many buildings in the complex flattened and roofs destroyed.
  • On Saturday, a group of 20 to 25 women and children had been evacuated, according to the deputy commander of a Ukrainian regiment and Russia’s official Tass news agency. But it’s unclear whether hundreds more civilians and soldiers will be able to get out as talks between Russia and Ukraine appeared even more fraught.
  • Vladimir Yermakov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s head of nuclear nonproliferation, told Tass that a “return to dialogue with the United States on strategic stability will only be possible after finishing the work of the Russian special operation in Ukraine,” using Moscow’s term for its invasion of Ukraine. He described the dialogue as “frozen.”
  • He also accused the U.S. of using the “Kyiv regime as a one-off disposable tool for its own ends against Russia.”
  • American officials, however, don’t see much of a change in the status quo. They have said that they find it difficult to see a clear road ahead to resume diplomatic talks with Russia over a range of issues, especially after the invasion began.
  • On Friday, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby told reporters that the United States was comfortable with the strategic nuclear deterrent posture in place. But the administration was closely monitoring Russia’s messaging and actions given the seriousness of the issue.
  • “We urge Russia to stop escalating the rhetoric with respect to nuclear weapons and do the right thing. End the war today. Have your troops leave Ukraine, sit down in good faith with President Zelensky and do the right thing,” Kirby said.

 

joe biden oil ban march 8 2022

washington post logoWashington Post, Post-ABC poll: Biden ticks up, but GOP holds advantage on economy, Dan Balz, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement, May 1, 2022. Republicans lose ground when it comes to which party voters see themselves casting ballots for in November and the parties are now at rough parity.

President Biden’s standing with Americans has improved slightly over the past two months, but he remains in negative territory in most assessments of his performance in office and Republicans hold substantial advantages over Democrats on key economic indicators that are shaping the midterm election year, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The new survey, while better for the president and his party than his low point two months ago, nonetheless underscores the head winds Democratic candidates are facing ahead of the November balloting. With a 42 percent approval rating overall, Biden gets low marks on his handling of the economy and inflation and Republicans are significantly more trusted than Democrats on both measures.

 

Pro-Trump Capitol Insurrection, Election Claims

 

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump, Matt Zapotosky, May. 1, 2022. Probes of the ex-president’s business and political conduct are underway in multiple places.

Justice Department log circularDonald Trump is facing historic legal and legislative scrutiny for a former president, under investigation by U.S. lawmakers, local district attorneys, a state attorney general and the FBI. Authorities are looking into Trump and his family business for a medley of possible wrongdoing, including his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and how he valued his various assets for loan and tax purposes.

Though one probe — by the district attorney in Manhattan — appears to be winding down, others remain active, threatening Trump with criminal or financial penalties, or plain old public embarrassment, as he weighs a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Here’s a list of the key investigations and where they stand.

  • Trump business practices, Manhattan DA’s criminal probe
  • Trump business practices, New York AG’s civil probe
  • Georgia election results investigation
  • The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation
  • Criminal probes of Jan. 6
  • The Mar-a-Lago boxes investigation
  • Westchester, N.Y., golf club

ap logoAssociated Press via HuffPost, Evidence Mounts Of GOP Involvement In Trump Election Schemes, Farnoush Amiri, May. 1, 2022. Since launching its investigation last summer, the Jan. 6 panel has been slowly gaining new details about what lawmakers said and did in the weeks before the insurrection.

Rioters who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, succeeded — at least temporarily — in delaying the certification of Joe Biden’s election to the White House.

huffington post logoHours before, Rep. Jim Jordan had been trying to achieve the same thing. 

Texting with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a close ally and friend, at nearly midnight on Jan. 5, Jordan offered a legal rationale for what President Donald Trump was publicly demanding — that Vice President Mike Pence, in his ceremonial role presiding over the electoral count, somehow assert the authority to reject electors from Biden-won states.

Pence “should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,” Jordan wrote.

“I have pushed for this,” Meadows replied. “Not sure it is going to happen.”

The text exchange, in an April 22 court filing from the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot, is in a batch of startling evidence that shows the deep involvement of some House Republicans in Trump’s desperate attempt to stay in power. A review of the evidence finds new details about how, long before the attack on the Capitol unfolded, several GOP lawmakers were participating directly in Trump’s campaign to reverse the results of a free and fair election.

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More On Ukraine Battlefronts

ny times logoNew York Times, More Ukraine Live Updates: Russia’s Top Officer Visited the Front Line in Ukraine’s East, Michael Schwirtz, Eric Schmitt and Ron DePasquale, May. 1, 2022. Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Ukraine and pledged U.S. support ‘until victory is won.’

An evacuation of civilians from Mariupol was underway. The chief of the general staff of the Russian military, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the country’s highest ranking uniformed officer, made a visit to dangerous front-line positions in eastern Ukraine late last week in an effort to “change the course” of Russia’s flagging offensive there, according to a senior Ukrainian official. Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the visit also backed that assessment.

Ukrainian officials learned of the visit, the Ukrainian official said, but not in time to catch General Gerasimov. When Ukrainian forces launched an attack on one position visited by General Gerasimov, at School No. 12 in the Russian-controlled city of Izium on Saturday evening, he had already departed for Russia. Still, some 200 soldiers, including at least one general, were killed, the Ukrainian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive military operation.

The rare front-line visit of such a high-ranking military official comes as analysts say Russian forces remain beset with logistical problems and disarray.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Ukraine and pledged U.S. support “until victory is won.” Civilians were being evacuated from Mariupol. Follow updates.

 

Ukraine Pilot unnamed

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The True Story of the “Ghost of Kyiv, Seth Abramson, left, May. 1, 2022. One of the most confusing and controversial news stories of seth abramson graphicRussia’s ten-week-long invasion of Ukraine is the story of a Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot whose identity—and even reality—has been hotly debated.

The Ukrainian Air Force (UAF), which is comparatively small and has comparatively old equipment, has now shot down a startling number of Russian fighter jets and attack helicopters—far more than U.S. intelligence expected would be the case, but in any case at a clip now confirmed by intelligence agencies from across the Western world. And these combat victories began very early on—even before the phrase “the Ghost of Kyiv” had been coined (let alone heard) by anybody.

seth abramson proof logoNeedless to say, almost none of these now-confirmed Ukrainian ground-to-air and air-to-air kills were recorded, for the obvious reason that all potential soldier-filmmakers were too busy fighting, and everyone else was too busy hiding. And it took several days for Western-media camera crews to get into position to get significant footage—or even to know where to go to get that footage—and even once they had that capacity, they were often prohibited from getting such footage either by safety concerns or the reasonable request of the Ukrainian armed forces that its positions not be broadcast.

But for all that, someone was downing a lot of Russian aircraft. That much is now clear.

To date, 189 Russian aircraft—at a bare minimum—have been downed by Ukrainians.

Were these 189 Russian aircraft downed by 189 different Ukrainian soldiers, wielding 189 different Stinger missile delivery systems and/or flying 189 different MiG-29s? No one knew, as February slipped into March and March into April.

So is it possible, given the miniscule size of Ukraine’s air force, the limited number of missions it runs daily (about ten, per major media reports) and the more-than-likely fact that many of the Russian aircraft lost so far have been jets that a single Ukrainian pilot managed, by March 13 of 2022—19 days into the war—to down enough Russian aircraft (five) to be officially named a “flying ace” under the conventions of modern warfare? Of course it’s possible. Frankly, in a certain view it doesn’t even seem unlikely.

Who Decides If—or When—the “Ghost of Kyiv” Exists?

Given the fog of war, the identity of any individual Ukrainian pilot who shot down any individual Russian jet or helicopter was always going to be a piece of news revealed to the world by the Ukrainian military—and almost certainly by members of Ukraine’s military speaking to members of Ukraine’s press corps.

It goes without saying that the Kremlin has never once been honest with the world or even its own people about the cost it is paying for Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine; and it’s equally clear there are far more Ukrainian journalists on the ground in Ukraine (particularly in the hottest hot spots for shelling and live small arms fire) than there are U.S. or other Western journalists. So if it were to come to pass that one Ukrainian were responsible for five of 189 downed Russian aircraft—a not unimaginable outcome—that intelligence was almost certain to come from a Ukrainian source and be given to, in turn, a Ukrainian source.

Indeed, given that we know which Ukrainian news sources are the most respected and have the most journalists on the ground in Ukraine, we could probably have predicted in advance that if it came to pass that one Ukrainian had been responsible for just five of the 189 downed Russian aircraft in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’d likely hear about it from the Kyiv Post.

But there were other things about a scenario of this sort that we could’ve predicted in advance:

  • The Ukrainians would give any such “flying ace” a nickname—because such aces always get nicknames;
  • The Ukrainians would use a nickname first created outside Ukraine if it seemed more to the Ukrainian military’s advantage to do so;
  • The Ukrainians wouldn’t hesitate to issue a nickname to such a flying ace after the fact, because nicknames for such persons are often given after the fact;
  • No matter what had actually happened with respect to such a Ukrainian ace, the Kremlin—and its far-right allies in the United States—would insist that it had not happened, if they felt it to be to their benefit to falsely say so;
  • The young white men on 4chan and Reddit would be annoyed if they felt that the Ukrainians had used for their new ace a nickname that they (the young white men) created, as irrespective of the politics of these young men—whether they’re white supremacists, alt-right, Trumpists, old-school Republican Party adherents, libertarians, apolitical, or anarchists—they do not like the idea of “meme magic” being used by anyone but them, and (if they hail from any of the first three political philosophies above) they especially do not want Ukraine using their digital work-product to the detriment of their heroes in the Kremlin.
  • And yet the core facts remained: the Ukrainian military was always going to control the identification of a Ukrainian “ace” in the first instance; it was always going to be almost impossible to confirm or deny such a claim by Ukraine’s military; Ukrainian journalists would likely be first to report such a claim being made by the Ukrainian military; and the Ukrainian military was going to use whatever name for its ace best served the purposes of the Ukrainian military, regardless of from where that name had originated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Ukraine says Russian assault in Donbas ‘not succeeding,’ Adam Taylor, Amy Cheng and Andrew Jeong, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Poland sent more than 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine, report says; Updates from key Ukrainian cities and regions; Ukraine continues striking Russian territory, Russian officials say.

Russian forces failed to take three key areas in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk despite heavy shelling, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in a daily update Saturday, adding that the Russians were “not succeeding” and that the “fighting continues.” The announcement comes amid Western assessments that despite a new focus on the eastern region of Donbas, Moscow is still struggling amid morale and supply concerns, with the Pentagon describing only “plodding progress” after fierce Ukrainian resistance.

ukraine flagThe slow advance gives little sign that the conflict will end soon. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was a high chance of negotiations breaking down because of “Moscow’s playbook on murdering people.” Meanwhile, Western governments continue to funnel weapons to Ukrainian forces. More than 12 flights carrying weapons and equipment, including artillery and drones, will make their way from the United States through Friday and Saturday, according to the Pentagon.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday there no need for the international community to establish evacuation corridors out of Mariupol, days after the United Nations said Moscow had agreed “in principle” to allow such assistance. Lavrov also walked back recent comments about nuclear war, telling a Saudi-owned news channel that Russia does not consider itself to be at war with NATO. However, on Saturday, Russian nonproliferation official Vladimir Yermakov said that strategic dialogue with the United States had been formally “frozen” until after the conflict in Ukraine is over.

Here’s what else to know

  • Ukrainian forces continue to strike inside Russia, with Russian news agencies saying on Saturday that shelling had hit an oil terminal in the Bryansk region.
  • The Russian central bank projected that the economy would shrink by 8 to 10 percent this year, as the country grapples with Western sanctions.
  • Cities near the front line, such as Kramatorsk in the eastern region of Donetsk, have been largely abandoned. Officials in Kramatorsk told The Washington Post that the population has fallen from 200,000 to 40,000, with mostly elderly people remaining.
  • The White House said it has urged Indonesia in private and public not to include Russia in November’s Group of 20 summit. Moscow accepted the host nation’s invitation on Friday.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.

 

andrei simonov public domain

Kyiv Post, Ukraine Tenth Russian General Reportedly Killed in Ukraine, Staff Report, May 1, 2022. A Ukrainian authorities say that Russian Maj. Gen. Andrei Simonov, above, was killed near the city of Izyum of the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

National Guard units reported on April 30 that they spotted a field command post of the Russian 2nd Army in the area and passed the coordinates on to the military whose artillery fired on the positions. More than 30 Russian armored vehicles, including tanks, were reportedly struck in the rocket salvos.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in an interview published on YouTube that some 100 Russian servicemen were killed, including Simonov.

Russian FlagPublic domain data available on what is the U.S. equivalent of a brigadier general, says that Simonov was a senior leader of electronic warfare units. According to open-source data followed by the Kyiv Post, his death would be the tenth among Russia’s corps of generals in Ukraine since Feb. 24.

Video posted on social media showed the alleged command post being struck by what appeared to be Grad rockets fired from a multiple-launch rocket system or systems.

Two Russian generals were reportedly killed, according to Ukrainian authorities, in the last week of April in the occupied part of Kherson region. A command post was also reportedly was struck there.

The Kyiv Post hasn’t been able to independently confirm any of the reported deaths.

Izyum is near the administrative borders of the easternmost Luhansk and Donetsk regions along the Siversky Donets River. Russian forces are trying to make a thrust deeper into that area known as the Donbas toward the city of Slovyansk. British intelligence reports that Russia is trying envelop Ukrainian forces in the area.

On the same day, Ukraine’s military announced that Ukrainian counterattacks resulted in the liberation of four villages outside of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. They are Ruska Lozova, Slobidske, Prelesne and Verkhnya Rohanka. The previous day on April 29, the Ukrainian military said invading Russian forces were pushed out of the village of Momotove in the same region.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Security

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Where did all the conservative hand-wringing over judicial restraint go? Ruth Marcus, right, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Something different is ruth marcus twitter Customgoing on here.

The shift is built on a phenomenon that took off during the Trump administration but has persisted during the Biden presidency: the use of nationwide injunctions — orders issued by a single district court, often strategically chosen for the likelihood of finding a sympathetic judge, that apply beyond the immediate parties in the case to completely block an administration policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, The border wall Trump called unclimbable is taking a grim toll, Nick Miroff, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The journal JAMA Surgery offers one of the first attempts to measure injuries and deaths resulting from falls along new sections of the wall.

republican elephant logoThe patients have fallen from new 30-foot segments of President Donald Trump’s border wall, a structure he touted as a “Rolls-Royce” that “can’t be climbed.”

Since 2019, when the barrier’s height was raised to 30 feet along much of the border in California, the number of patients arriving at the UC San Diego Medical Center’s trauma ward after falling off the structure has jumped fivefold, to 375, the physicians found. Falling deaths at the barrier went from zero to 16 during that time, according to the report, citing records maintained by the San Diego county medical examiner.

washington post logoWashington Post, A stolen-mail scheme is targeting a wealthy D.C. suburb, Alisa Tang and Razzan Nakhlawi, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The theft of checks from U.S. Postal Service mailboxes has spiked across the country, and the D.C. region is a new hot spot, officials and researchers say.

A Post review of Telegram channels dedicated to check fraud found posts advertising thousands of checks for sale across the United States. The payment amounts ranged from $8 to a business check written out in the amount of more than $36,000, while the checks themselves were on offer to potential buyers for upward of $100, topping out at $400 for business checks.

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U.S. Politics, Elections, Governance

 ICE logo

 ny times logoNew York Times, Abbott Threatens to Declare an ‘Invasion’ as Migrant Numbers Rise in Texas, J. David Goodman and Edgar Sandoval, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, right,Greg Abbott Custom has pursued an expensive and unusual effort to harden the border. But after a year, there is little to show for it.

For the past year, Mr. Abbott has transformed an unceasing flow of migrants over the border into a potent political message, seizing the role of defending the country from unauthorized migration as he runs for a third term in November. His aggressive posture has done little to stem the tide and also exposed him to fierce criticism that he is using his authority to meddle in a policy area that belongs to the federal government. Still, his efforts to tighten border security and harden Texas’s 1,254-mile frontier have helped Mr. Abbott, a Republican, hold off challenges from his right and made the lawyerly governor into a regular on Fox News.

texas mapNow Mr. Abbott is weighing whether to invoke actual war powers to seize much broader state authority on the border. He could do so, advocates inside and outside his administration argue, by officially declaring an “invasion” to comply with a clause in the U.S. Constitution that says states cannot engage in war except when “actually invaded.”

republican elephant logoTop lawyers for Mr. Abbott and for the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, met this month to debate the move, which would put the state in a head-on collision with the federal government by allowing state police to arrest and deport migrants, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Abbott says he remains open to the approach, but he has expressed concern about unintended consequences.

“If we do use this strategy, it could expose law enforcement in the state of Texas to being prosecuted,” Mr. Abbott said during a recent news conference. But, he added: “Is it something we’re looking into? Yes.”

Already, the governor has mobilized thousands of National Guard troops to sit at border posts, and ordered safety inspections of trucks coming from Mexico, disrupting international trade. He has overseen construction of 20 miles of new border fencing, repurposed certain state prisons to hold migrants charged with trespassing, poured money into border towns for law enforcement and paid for buses to take willing migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House officials weigh income limits for student loan forgiveness, Jeff Stein, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Senior aides have examined limiting the relief to people who earned less than $125,000 or $150,000 as individual filers for the previous year.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Soft-Spoken, Ohio Conservatives Embrace the Bombast, Jonathan Weisman and Trip Gabriel, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The slugfest for the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat has buried the state’s hallmark of good-natured, country-club conservatism.

Republicans running for the seat of Ohio’s retiring senator, Rob Portman, appear determined to bury the soft-spoken country-club bonhomie that was once a hallmark of the party in this state, and replace it with the pugilistic brand of conservatism owned by Donald J. Trump and now amplified by the new band of Buckeye bomb throwers.

The race descended into a brutal slugfest as the leading candidates, the author-turned-venture capitalist J.D. Vance, the former state treasurer Josh Mandel and a self-funded businessman, Mike Gibbons, entered the final weekend before Tuesday’s primaries accusing one another of being insufficiently right-wing or disloyal to the man in Mar-a-Lago.

Ohio used to be known for the quiet conservatism of the state’s celebrated former senator George Voinovich and its current governor, Mike DeWine; for the Merlot-swilling happy-warrior days of the former House speaker John A. Boehner; for the moderation of John Kasich, a two-term governor; and for the free-trade, free-market ideology of Mr. Portman himself.

Instead, affections for such Ohio leaders are now being weaponized — in broadsides from the candidates and advertisements by their allies — as evidence that rivals are paying only lip service to Mr. Trump and his angry populism.

 

madison cawthorn resized hunting amazon

ny times logoNew York Times, Pressure Mounts on Madison Cawthorn as Scandals Pile Up, Jonathan Weisman and Annie Karni, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The North Carolina representative, once a young star in the conservative firmament, finds himself besieged by accusations.

Besieged by multiplying scandals and salacious accusations, Representative Madison Cawthorn, Republican of North Carolina, is under mounting pressure from both parties to end his short career in Congress.

In rapid succession, Mr. Cawthorn, who entered Congress as a rising star of the party’s far right, has been accused of falsely suggesting that his Republican colleagues routinely throw cocaine-fueled orgies, insider trading and an inappropriate relationship with a male aide. This week, he was detained at an airport, where police said he tried to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane, the second time he has attempted that.

That came just days after pictures surfaced of him wearing women’s lingerie as part of a cruise ship game, imagery that might not go over well in the conservative stretches of his Western North Carolina district. And last month he was charged with driving with a revoked license for the second time since 2017.

The deluge of revelations and charges have left him on an island even within his own party. A political group supporting Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, has been pouring money into an ad campaign accusing Mr. Cawthorn of being a fame-seeking liar. The group is supporting the campaign of a more mainstream Republican, State Senator Chuck Edwards, who is running against Mr. Cawthorn. And the far-right, anti-establishment wing of the party now views the first-term congressman with similar skepticism, as someone who is falsely selling himself as a gatekeeper in his state to former President Donald J. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Flawed Vetting That Led Gov. Kathy Hochul to Brian Benjamin, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Nicholas Fandos and Jeffery C. Mays, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). A 63-page background check revealed two red flags in the New York lieutenant governor’s past but didn’t turn up a subpoena issued to his brian benjamin state senatepolitical campaign.

The first warnings about Brian A. Benjamin, right, came early, just three days after Kathy Hochul learned she would become governor of New York and began a hurried search for her second-in-command.

new york map citiesAt the top of a 63-page vetting report, two flags drew attention to potential legal concerns about Mr. Benjamin’s use of campaign funds, according to three people familiar with the document. Among them were news accounts of dozens of potentially fraudulent contributions steered to Mr. Benjamin’s failed campaign for New York City comptroller.

gretchen whitmer o horizontal CustomWhen Ms. Hochul, right, and her team pressed for answers, Mr. Benjamin, then a state senator from Harlem, suggested he had made innocent mistakes and gave the impression that all outstanding issues were being resolved. But he failed to disclose something far more troubling: Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office had already served a subpoena to his comptroller campaign, inquiring about the suspicious donations, according to two people familiar with the subpoena.

On Aug. 26, after just a two-week search, Ms. Hochul named Mr. Benjamin as her lieutenant governor. Less than a year later, that decision and the hasty vetting process that led to it have come to haunt Ms. Hochul’s young administration.

 

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, “Anything Can Happen in New Jersey,” Vicky Ward, author and investigative report, shown above, April 29-30, 2022. A Former State Senator Wonders if Charles Kushner Was Involved in the Sex Scandal that Brought Down Governor Jim McGreevey.

My eye was caught by a Vanity Fair headline a few days ago: “Did Jared Kushner’s Father Set Up Former N.J. Governor Jim McGreevey?”

This was far from the first time I had heard rumors about Charles Kushner being involved in the McGreevey scandal. In fact, in Kushner, Inc., I wrote about the strange synchronicity of the simultaneous downfall of two major figures in Jersey politics:

vicky ward kushner bookIt’s a view held by many close to the case that Charlie would have beaten all the other charges were it not for setting up Billy Schulder with a prostitute. “I think [the sting] put him in prison,” said Alan Hammer. “He gave up the moral high ground. [He] couldn’t stand before a jury and tell them what a good person he is after that.”

But there may have been another reason Charlie did not fight the charges. Within weeks of his arrest on July 13, a one-page document from Chris Christie’s office sputtered out of Charlie’s fax machine.

The facsimile made for astonishing reading, according to one person who saw it. It contained a reference to Charlie’s alleged alias, John Hess, and to claims that Charlie was bisexual. (Benjamin Brafman, Charlie’s criminal attorney at the time, said he had seen everything Christie’s office sent about the case and had no recollection of the fax. He also disputed the allegations. “We carefully investigated these matters fifteen years ago and found zero credible evidence to support them,” Brafman said.)

Such allegations would not be devastating for many people, but for Charlie, at the apex of a closed society predicated on the importance of family and of regenerating the blood line, it would have been a disaster. “The social stigma would be enormous,” said Michael Berenbaum, the Jewish studies scholar, who did not know Charlie and had never heard these allegations. “Culturally, that would be something that at that point in time, in that generation, would be very difficult to accept . . . and with lots of consequences.” …

Six days later, and just over a month after he’d been arrested, Charlie pleaded guilty to eighteen counts of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, retaliating against a cooperating witness (Esther), and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

The byline of the Vanity Fair piece caught my eye: It was an excerpt from Cultivating Justice in the Garden State: My Life in the Colorful World of New Jersey Politics, a new book by longtime New Jersey politician Ray Lesniak, who served in the N.J. State Senate from 1983 to 2018.

I had spoken with Lesniak back when I was reporting my book. After such a long career in Jersey politics, there were few who knew that world—and the complicated dynamics between Kushner, McGreevey, and Chris Christie—better than him.

Now, with the recent news of Jared Kushner’s $2 billion investment by MBS—against the advice of a panel of advisors, no less—and my own work to uncover the reasons behind that decision (see Part One, Part Two, and Part Three), I thought it was the perfect time to ask Lesniak about what he makes of the deal and the current state of the Kushner family legacy.

Here is our conversation, edited and condensed for clarity…..

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Governments Tighten Grip on Food Supplies, Sending Prices Higher, Ana Swanson, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Dozens of countries have thrown up trade barriers in the past two months to protect scarce supplies of food and commodities, but experts say the policies will only exacerbate a global food crisis.

Ukraine has limited exports of sunflower oil, wheat, oats and cattle in an attempt to protect its war-torn economy. Russia has banned sales of fertilizer, sugar and grains to other nations.

Indonesia, which produces more than half the world’s palm oil, has halted outgoing shipments. Turkey has stopped exports of butter, beef, lamb, goats, maize and vegetable oils.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unleashed a new wave of protectionism as governments, desperate to secure food and other commodities for their citizens amid shortages and rising prices, erect new barriers to stop exports at their borders.

The measures are often well intended. But like the panic-buying that stripped grocery store shelves at various moments of the pandemic, the current wave of protectionism will only compound the problems that governments are trying to mitigate, trade experts warn.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I Lost Everything’: Pakistani Airstrikes Escalate Conflict on Afghan Border, Christina Goldbaum and Safiullah Padshah, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The airstrikes killed at least 45 people, stoking fears of a violent resurgence of the conflict in eastern Afghanistan, which has become a base for Pakistani militants.

It was nearly 3 a.m. in the mountainous borderlands of eastern Afghanistan when a deafening thud jolted Qudratullah awake. Confused, he staggered to the doorway of his mud brick home, looked outside and froze.

Thick plumes of black smoke and dust filled the air. The front of the modest house where his relatives lived was a pile of rubble. His 3-year-old nephew stood in the yard, sobbing. Behind him, four more children were sprawled across the pale earth, their lifeless frames soaked in blood.

Qudratullah ran toward them, he said. Then another blast struck.

His village, Mandatah, was one of four in eastern Afghanistan hit this month by Pakistani airstrikes, Afghan officials said, killing at least 45 people, including 20 children.

Among them were 27 of Qudratullah’s relatives — an almost incomprehensible loss. Qudratullah, 18, who like many in Afghanistan goes by only one name, lost his 16-year-old wife, who was crushed beneath a pile of rubble in the second airstrike. His older brother, who survived, lost all four of his daughters, all under 11.

The pre-dawn airstrikes in Khost and Kunar Provinces two weeks ago marked a serious escalation of the cross-border conflict in this remote, wild and rocky stretch of Afghanistan, and exacerbated tensions between the two countries that have navigated a delicate relationship since the Taliban seized power last year.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Northern Ireland, Divided Unionists Leave an Opening for Nationalists, Mark Landler, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). But Sinn Fein, which is leading in polls ahead of next week’s elections, hasn’t focused its campaign on unification with Ireland.

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Becker Sentenced to Two and a Half Years for Hiding Assets in Bankruptcy, Aina J. Khan, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The former tennis champion was found guilty by a London court on charges related to his 2017 insolvency.

Boris Becker, the six-time Grand Slam tennis champion, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Friday in his bankruptcy case, after he was found guilty by a London court of hiding millions of dollars’ worth of assets and loans to avoid paying his debts.

The sentence punctuated a startling fall from grace for Mr. Becker, 54, who parlayed his tennis skill, ebullient personality and business ambitions into a personal fortune before he was found guilty this month at Southwark Crown Court of four charges related to his June 2017 bankruptcy.

In announcing the sentence, the judge told Mr. Becker, who was previously convicted of tax evasion two decades ago, that “while I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility,” news agencies reported.

Mr. Becker failed to disclose a property he owned in his home country of Germany, concealed a loan of €825,000 (around $872,000) and assets valued at €426,930.90, and did not disclose shares owned in a gambling tech firm, according to Britain’s Insolvency Service.

 Recent Headlines

 

More on Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, Updates: Russia Moving More Troops to Front as Offensive Appears to Falter, Marc Santora, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Russian forces normally based in the far-eastern reaches of the vast nation are being deployed to the main battle front in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military high command said on Saturday, a potential sign of the strain on Moscow’s military as it sustains heavy losses in the face of an increasingly well-armed resistance.

Moscow is trying to gain momentum in what the Pentagon has described as a “plodding” offensive in eastern Ukraine, as more powerful weapons from the West reach Ukrainian forces on the front lines. The Ukrainians did not say how many new troops were being deployed.

The Russian soldiers who are being moved are being deployed first to the Russian city of Belgorod, near the Ukraine border, and then to an area around the northeastern Ukrainian city of Izium, the Ukrainian military said. The Russians have been trying to push south from the strategic city, but have met fierce resistance.

The British military’s defense intelligence agency said on Saturday that in Russia’s attempts to bolster its offensive, it had already “been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units” defeated in their push to take Kyiv to the eastern front, adding to “weakened morale” in their ranks.

While the Russian advance may be slow, the fighting remains fierce, with each side claiming to have destroyed scores of tanks, armored vehicles and other military hardware in battles and attacks along the eastern front. The continued bombardments of infrastructure are taking their toll. After the Kremenchuk oil refinery, Ukraine’s main fuel producer, was destroyed this week in a Russian airstrike, gas stations across the country started experiencing shortages.

“The occupiers are deliberately destroying the infrastructure for the production, supply and storage of fuel,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told the nation in his nightly address. “Russia has also blocked our ports, so there are no immediate solutions to replenish the deficit.”

In other developments:

  • Russian forces continued to rain destruction on civilians trapped in Mariupol, some of whom were sheltering at the Azovstal steel plant. The city’s mayor warned that people at the plant would be without water and medicine in “a matter of hours.”
  • Family members of a United States citizen confirmed on Friday that he had died fighting alongside Ukrainians. He is believed to be the first American killed in action in the war. Britain’s Foreign Office also confirmed the death of a British national, said to be a former soldier who had been fighting as a volunteer.
  • President Biden wants Congress to expedite visas for Russian scientists eager to leave their country by temporarily suspending the requirement of a sponsoring employer. That would eliminate one of the biggest obstacles for many scientists seeking to come to the United States and accelerate a brain drain already underway in Russia.
  • Russian troops occupying Mariupol have plundered more than 2,000 items from its museums and taken them to the city of Donetsk, the capital of an eastern region controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, the Mariupol City Council said.
  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, accused the United States and the European Union of using the war to take on Russia without regard to the cost in civilian lives, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency. Western allies are supplying Ukraine with arms not to support the country’s sovereignty, but to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian,” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Defeating Putin will require larger risks and commitments, Editorial Board, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Russian war on Ukraine that many experts expected to last less than a week has entered its third month — a good time to take stock of both the results so far and the plans of the United States and its allies for what comes next. On the first point, there is much that is positive.

And yet a longer, more costly military struggle looms. Russia’s aim is to push westward from its redoubts in Crimea and Donbas, eventually breaking through and encircling Ukrainian forces. Stopping this is the reason Ukraine needed an immediate infusion of heavy weaponry; actually enabling Ukraine to go on the counteroffensive later this spring and summer is the reason it will need still more in the coming weeks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia struggles under unprecedented wave of hacking, puncturing myth of its cyber-superiority, Joseph Menn, May 1, 2022. Experts anticipated a Moscow-led cyber assault; instead, attacks by hacktivists and criminals have wreaked havoc in Russia.

 

 

marina ovsyannikova afp via getty

Marina Ovsyannikova, above, a 43-year-old editor from Russia’s state-run propagandist Channel One TV network, crashed the set of Russia’s top evening newscast, brandishing an anti-war poster.

Politico Magazine, The Mysterious Case of Marina O., Zoya Sheftalovich, May 1, 2022. Her anti-war protest on live Russian TV was seen by millions. But is she a Kremlin stooge? 

In a non-descript room in a secret police station deep within a sprawling Moscow exhibition center, a Russian police officer offered Marina Ovsyannikova a cup of tea.

“For some reason, I wasn’t afraid,” Ovsyannikova told me over the phone a few days ago. “In that moment I wasn’t afraid. Now — I would think twice.”

politico CustomBy that point, Ovsyannikova, a 43-year-old editor from Russia’s state-run propagandist Channel One TV network had already answered the same questions for hours; she was tired, hungry and thirsty. The previous night, on March 14 at 9:30 p.m., she had crashed the set of Russia’s top evening newscast Vremya wearing a necklace in the colors of the Ukrainian and Russian flags and brandishing an anti-war poster. “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here,” she had written in Russian. “No war” and “Russians against war,” she’d scrawled in English. “Stop the war, no to war, stop the war, no to war,” she shouted.

For a few moments, Ovsyannikova’s protest was beamed into homes around Moscow and central Russia. Then, the camera cut away. Ovsyannikova was detained, taken to a large police station within the state television studio complex known as Ostankino, before being moved half a mile to the secret police department within Moscow’s Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, a large park with exhibition halls known by its acronym VDNKh, where she was held for the next 14 hours.

It was after what seemed like endless questioning, in the wee hours of the morning, that her interrogator said: “Let’s drink a cup of tea. Let’s eat some blini. Everyone’s hungry,” Ovsyannikova recounted.

As any foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin would have warned Ovsyannikova, were they still alive to do so: When a Russian security officer offers you an Earl Grey and a snack, don’t say yes. But Ovsyannikova was new to the dissident game and unprepared for what lay ahead of her.

She drank the tea.

washington post logoWashington Post, Western artillery surging to Ukraine will reshape war, Dan Lamothe, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Western artillery flooding into Ukraine will alter the war with Russia, setting off a bloody battle of wits backed by long-range weapons and forcing both sides to grow more nimble if they hope to avoid significant fatalities as fighting intensifies in the east, U.S. officials and military analysts predict.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine pushed Finland toward NATO, Emily Rauhala, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Any day now, Finland and Sweden — European Union countries that remain militarily nonaligned — are expected to apply to join the 30-member alliance. NATO and U.S. officials have said they would be welcomed.

ny times logoNew York Times, West’s Resolve to Block Russia Grows Amid Fears of a Protracted War, Marc Santora, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). As the United States and its allies rush to supply weapons to Ukraine, Britain’s military said on Friday it would deploy 8,000 soldiers to Europe to join tens of thousands of troops from NATO countries in exercises meant to deter further Russian aggression.

The British announcement comes a day after President Biden’s request to Congress for $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s arsenal and economy as fighting across eastern Ukraine yielded more suffering but little movement.

Three foreigners, an American, a Briton and a Dane fighting with the Ukrainian army’s International Legion, have been killed in battle, according to an official in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. The official asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

Bolstered by the ruble’s rebound and the end of panic buying that spurred inflation, Russia’s Central Bank on Friday lowered the key interest rate by three percentage points, to 14 percent.

“With price and financial stability risks no longer on the rise, conditions have allowed for the key rate reduction,” the bank said in a statement.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo confirmed that he has invited President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to November’s Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. He also said that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has confirmed he will attend the summit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Kyiv rocked by missiles as U.N. chief visits, Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng, Julian Mark and Julian Duplain, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). NATO will seek to bolster security for Sweden, Finland as they apply to join; Updates from key Ukrainian cities and regions: More shelling in the east, brazen attack on Kyiv.

Ukraine said five Russian missiles rocked its capital during a visit by U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russia, confirming it struck the city, said Friday it had destroyed an arms factory. But Kyiv’s mayor said a residential building was hit, and the U.S.-funded RFE said one of its journalists was killed in the attack.

As NATO warns the war could drag on for years, senior U.S. officials are laying the groundwork for a different global security order. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told U.S. lawmakers the world had changed dramatically and declared support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO, while President Biden asked Congress for an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine.

In the battle for eastern Ukraine, Russian forces are making “slow and uneven” advances, hampered by logistical challenges, according to the Pentagon. Moscow has shifted a significant number of troops from Mariupol to other combat zones, the Pentagon also said, while some Ukrainian forces are still holding out in the southern port city under heavy fire.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukrainian fighters trapped inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are sharing desperate videos to plead for help, Valerie Hopkins, Sarah Kerr and Ainara Tiefenthäler, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The footage shows a child wearing a makeshift diaper crafted out of tape and plastic bags, asleep in a dank and moldy room. An elderly woman with a bandaged head is seen dressed in a uniform jacket, once worn by steel plant workers, as she shakes uncontrollably. And small children make plaintive requests. “We want to go home,” a girl says. “We want to see the sunshine.”

These scenes are from videos shared online in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military, which says they were taken in the mazelike bunkers beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. Russian soldiers control the rest of the city, and fighting continues around the plant. The plant has become the last refuge for thousands of trapped Ukrainian fighters and civilians. There is no escape, and little chance of rescue.

The independent journalists who chronicled the siege of Mariupol for Western news media left a month and a half ago because the security risks were too great. The warring parties have stepped in to fill the vacuum of firsthand coverage, sharing content from the ground and, in Azov’s case, pleading for help to their hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

With almost no cellphone service, electricity or access to the internet, Azov’s videos provide what could be some of the only glimpses into life at the steel plant.

Early Thursday, Azov fighters said Russian forces had bombed a field hospital within the plant, reportedly killing wounded soldiers and burying people in the rubble. Reports of the attack prompted renewed calls from Ukrainian officials and the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, for a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians.

Supplies within the plant are said to be running extremely low. “It is not a matter of days, it’s a matter of hours,” Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko, told a news conference on Friday.

“If Mariupol is hell, Azovstal is worse.”

Russia views capturing the port city as crucial to its aim of securing a land bridge along Ukraine’s south to connect Crimea to the Donbas, and its forces have been shelling the plant relentlessly. The devastation there — city officials have said that tens of thousands of residents have been killed — stands as one of the largest humanitarian crises of the war.

“We are filming these videos to draw attention to the fact that they are at the plant, so that the enemy does not say there are no civilians here,” Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment based at the factory, told The New York Times in a text message.

“So that they can be evacuated.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine’s top human rights official is determined to track war crimes and make sure Russians are held to account, Carlotta Gall, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). When Lyudmyla Denisova became Ukraine’s human rights commissioner four years ago, a job that she thought would round out a career in public service, it rekindled a youthful ambition. “I really wanted to become a prosecutor,” she said.

With no idea of the horrors to come, she could hardly have imagined how well life had prepared her to meet this moment, with a lawyer’s mind, a prosecutor’s zeal, a politician’s skill at communicating and organizing, and personal insight into the workings of Russia.

She has been working in overdrive since Russian troops invaded in February, identifying, documenting and bearing witness to human rights violations. In parallel to the police and prosecutors, she interviews prisoners and traces missing persons, while also mobilizing teams countrywide to coordinate assistance to victims of the war.

“I myself was in Bucha and saw everything with my own eyes,” she said of the suburb of Kyiv where she said 360 unlawful killings had already been recorded. “I saw all these graves myself. It’s scary when you find a size 33 sneaker there” — a child’s size in Ukraine.

On a conference table she spread the papers of her daily report and read out some of the cases that had come to her office in the last 24 hours. They included separate cases of a 45-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl, both suicidal after being sexually assaulted on the street by Russian soldiers and blaming themselves for what happened, she said.

“Even if a person died in the bombing, this is also a war crime,” she said in one of two recent interviews. “The very fact that the Russian Federation invaded and began bombing is already a war crime of aggression.”

She is also tracing reports of sexual violence and gang rape by Russian soldiers, as well as the fate of 400 Ukrainians, including children, who she says were taken against their will to a camp in Penza in central Russia. And she is pushing to bring charges of genocide against Russia’s leaders.

 

nato logo flags name

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Republican drift away from supporting the NATO alliance, Ashley Parker, Marianna Sotomayor and Isaac Stanley-Becker, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The isolationist posture of some Republicans is in line with the “America First” ethos of Donald Trump, who has railed against NATO.

In early 2019, several months after President Donald Trump threatened to upend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during a trip to Brussels for the alliance’s annual summit, House lawmakers passed the NATO Support Act amid overwhelming bipartisan support, with only 22 Republicans voting against the measure.

But this month, when a similar bill in support of NATO during the Russian invasion of Ukraine again faced a vote in the House, the support was far more polarized, with 63 Republicans — more than 30 percent of the party’s conference — voting against it.

The vote underscores the Republican Party’s remarkable drift away from NATO in recent years, as positions once considered part of a libertarian fringe have become doctrine for a growing portion of the party.

The isolationist posture of some Republicans is in line with the “America First” ethos of Trump, the GOP’s de facto leader, who has long railed against NATO. Last week, speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in Florida, Trump implied that as president he had threatened not to defend NATO allies from Russian attacks as a negotiating tactic to pressure them to contribute more money toward the organization’s shared defense.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukrainian attacks bring war home to Russia, fraying civilian nerves, Michael Birnbaum and Mary Ilyushina, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Kremlin has sought to minimize discussion of Russian war losses inside Ukraine. But apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil in the past week highlight how the conflict has spilled across the border, unsettling residents of regions near the border and threatening to upend President Vladimir Putin’s effort to insulate his citizens from the fighting he started.

Russian FlagIn the wake of the shellings and strikes, local authorities are sounding alarms — as well as calling for revenge and in some cases evacuations — as they contend with the growing peril.

The attacks, which Ukrainian leaders have neither confirmed nor denied but which one senior adviser winkingly described as “karma” on Wednesday, suggest that Kyiv is increasingly able to reach into Russian territory as the war continues. Empowered by NATO’s military aid, ukraine flagUkrainian troops are hitting infrastructure, military targets and, Russian authorities say, at least some villages. Russian citizens are now waking to the same explosions that Ukrainians have faced for more than two months, making the conflict far more immediate and dangerous.

At least 11 hits appear to have occurred since the fighting began Feb. 24, most of them since late last week. Most seem to have involved shelling or triggered Russian antiaircraft weaponry. A handful were suspicious explosions at Russian military facilities near the border.

They have drawn Russian fury.

ny times logoNew York Times, Officials are rushing resources to Ukraine to help prosecute sex crimes that have occurred during the war, Lara Jakes, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The rape happened in the hours after midnight on March 14, in a classroom of a school outside Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. Two days later, Yulia Gorbunova interviewed the victim and helped persuade her to report the attack, which could ultimately be prosecuted as a war crime committed by invading Russian forces.

Ms. Gorbunova, an investigator with Human Rights Watch, spoke with the victim several more times by phone and later in person to document her trauma and obtain photos of bruises and cuts that the woman said had been inflicted by a Russian soldier who had raped her repeatedly. The victim — mother to a 5-year-old daughter — submitted at least some of the evidence to local authorities in Kharkiv.

But this week, Ms. Gorbunova also brought the attack to the attention of Ukrainian war crimes prosecutors in Kyiv, the capital.

“They were very interested, because they said that it has been difficult to get survivors of sexual violence to come forward,” Ms. Gorbunova said in a telephone interview from Kyiv on Wednesday. She has been documenting human rights abuses in Ukraine since 2014, when Russia began supporting separatists in the eastern part of the country, and was alerted to the rape near Kharkiv by local activists.

She added: “I am not aware of any successful prosecution of cases of rape in the context of armed conflict, specifically in Ukraine.”

In the first two weeks of April, about 400 cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers were reported to Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisova. A U.N. mission has received at least 75 allegations of sexual violence against Ukrainians, including children, by Russian troops in Kyiv alone since Feb. 24, the start of Moscow’s invasion.

Recent Headlines:

 

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Covid deaths no longer overwhelmingly among unvaccinated as toll on elderly grows, Fenit Nirappil and Dan Keating, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). Experts say numbers show importance of boosters — and the risks the most vulnerable still face

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials muzzled CDC on church covid guidance, emails confirm, Dan Diamond, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). The documents offer new details about how the White House delivered on the priorities of religious communities that were key to the president’s base.

cdc logo CustomTrump White House officials in May 2020 overrode public health advice urging churches to consider virtual religious services as the coronavirus spread, delivering a messaging change sought by the president’s supporters, according to emails from former top officials released by a House panel on Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent its planned public health guidance for religious communities to the White House on May 21, 2020, seeking approval to publish it. The agency had days earlier released reports saying that the virus had killed three and infected dozens at church events in Arkansas and infected 87 percent of attendees at a choir practice in Washington state, and health experts had warned that houses of worship had become hot spots for virus transmission.

But Trump officials wrote that they were frustrated by “problematic” advice the CDC had already posted, such as recommendations that houses of worship consider conducting virtual or drive-in religious services, according to emails released Friday by the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated May 1, 2022), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2totals ere and some experts saying the numbers are far higher:

World Cases: 513,387,526, Deaths: 6,261,059
U.S. Cases:     83,066,907, Deaths: 1,020,833
Indian Cases:   43,079,188, Deaths:    523,843
Brazil Cases:   30,448,236, Deaths:    663,551

Related Recent Headlines:

 

Climate, Environment, Green Technology

 

llewellyn king photo logoWhite House Chronicle, Commentary: Dark Clouds on the Horizon for Electric Vehicle Batteries, Llewellyn King, April 30, 2022. The move to renewable energy sources and electrified transportation constitutes a megatrend, a global seismic shift in energy production, storage and consumption.

But there are dark clouds forming, clouds reminiscent of another time.

The United States has handed over the supply chain for this future to offshore suppliers of the critical materials used in the workhorse of the megatrend, the lithium-ion battery. These include lithium from South America and Australia; cobalt, primarily from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; nickel, copper, phosphate and manganese from countries where relations could sour overnight. Nickel from Russia, for example, is off the market because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

An additional concern is the role of China in processing these materials, many of which end up in Chinese-made batteries. Australian mines produce just under half of the global lithium supply, but most of that is exported directly to China for processing.

Another concern is that many mines producing critical materials have been bought by the Chinese. The Chinese role in the global supply of essential commodities is ubiquitous. Whether these come from Africa, South America or elsewhere in Asia, China has a presence.

As attendees of a virtual press briefing, which I organized and hosted last month for the United States Energy Association, heard, the relentless growth in demand for the lithium-ion battery has put the supply chain under severe pressure. Lithium-ion batteries owe their huge demand to their light weight. At present, there is no alternative in transportation that offers the portability of these batteries.

But when it comes to utility storage of electricity, where weight is not an impediment, quite a few technologies are in the wings. One, iron flow, is held up only by domestic supply chain issues, according to Eric Dresselhuys, president of ESS Inc., a leading supplier of long-duration energy storage. This technology has additional advantages, because the drawdown time is longer than the two to four hours for a lithium-ion battery. The drawdown is eight to 10 hours, and all the components are sourced domestically, according to Dresselhuys.

Recent Climate Headlines

 

climate change photo

 

Musk Twitter Purchase

washington post logotwitter bird CustomWashington Post, Opinion: The real problem with Twitter under Musk may be privacy, Jacob Silverman (staff writer at the New Republic and the author of “Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection”), May 1, 2022 (print ed.). Twitter already has serious issues around the globe. Musk is unlikely to fix them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Three steps for Elon Musk if he’s serious about free speech at Twitter, Margaret Sullivan, May 1, 2022. But first, a primer for a somewhat confused billionaire on what the First Amendment actually entails.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Twitter’s Board Went From Fighting Elon Musk to Accepting Him, Lauren Hirsch and Mike Isaac, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). It’s highly unusual to move from a “poison pill” to a $44 billion deal in under two weeks. But Twitter’s board ran out of options.

Twitter’s board had reached the end of the road.

elon musk 2015It was April 24. Ten days earlier, Elon Musk, right, the world’s richest man, had made an unsolicited bid to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share. Alarmed by the out-of-the-blue proposal and uncertain if the offer was for real, the social media company had adopted a “poison pill,” a defensive maneuver to stop Mr. Musk from accumulating more of its shares.

But by that Sunday, Twitter was running out of choices. Mr. Musk had lined up financing for his offer and was needling the company with his tweets. And after hours of discussions and reviewing Twitter’s plans and finances, the questions the 11 board members were wrestling with — could the company be worth more than $54.20 a share? would any other bidder emerge? — were all leading to one dissatisfying answer: No.

Less than 24 hours later, the blockbuster $44 billion deal was announced.

“What I’ll tell you is that based on the analysis and the perception of risk, certainty and value, the board unanimously decided the offer from Elon represented the best value for our shareholders,” Bret Taylor, Twitter’s chairman, told the company’s more than 7,000 employees on Monday in a call that The New York Times listened to.

A central mystery of Mr. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is how the company’s board went from installing a poison pill to agreeing to sell to him in just 11 days. In most megadeals, the adoption of a poison pill leads to a protracted fight. The tactic is a clear signal that a company intends to battle. Negotiations then drag out. Sometimes buyers walk away.

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter Isn’t for Quitters, Jeremy W. Peters, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). One thing that unites conservatives and liberals? No matter how loudly they denounce the social media platform, they don’t actually leave it.

It was the moment conservative Twitter tried to cancel itself.

twitter bird CustomMajor social media networks were moving aggressively to crack down on serial spreaders of false and potentially inciting information, as myths about Covid and voter fraud swirled around the 2020 election. Right-wing commentators and activists vowed en masse to delete their dan bonginoaccounts.

They included political figures like the former White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, and popular media personalities like Dan Bongino, right, who made a chest-thumping, expletive-flecked rant urging fans to follow him to the alt-social media universe of platforms — they now include Parler, Rumble, Gettr, Gab and the Trump-branded Truth Social — where he said they would be free from the “tech tyrants” of Twitter, Google and Facebook.

It didn’t take.

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More On Media, Entertainment, Religion News

washington post logoWashington Post, As gala returns, Biden jokes about return to near-normal, Paul Farhi, April 30, 2022. After a two-year pandemic delay, the dinner returned with a comedy routine from Trevor Noah and celebrity cameos by Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson.

Washington’s media and political elite partied like it was 2019 on Saturday at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, the traditionally glitzy spring gala that staggered back to life after a pandemic-induced two-year hiatus.

Despite the continuing specter of the coronavirus, the event once again had all its usual trappings and excesses: a tuxedoed-and-begowned throng of insiders, a smattering of celebrities, an appearance by the president and a big-name comedian to make fun of them and it.

ny times logoNew York Times, How ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Took On Murder and the Mormon Church, Austin Considine, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). A new FX mini-series adapts the investigative book by Jon Krakauer. He and the creator, Dustin Lance Black, talked about their efforts to get at the truth.

Dustin Lance Black still gets emotional when he talks about the time he left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, around three decades ago. It was hard, he said, because he loved the church. But his Mormon father had run off to marry his own first cousin, leaving behind a wife and three children. And when his stepfather became physically violent, local church leaders circled the wagons and told his mother, who was paralyzed from polio, to leave the police out of it.

So he had questions. And eventually, doubts.

He also still recalls when he first read Under the Banner of Heaven (2003), a book of investigative journalism by Jon Krakauer that is now the basis of an FX mini-series on Hulu, which Black created. Black had come out as gay by then and was trying to make it as a young screenwriter. “Banner” shined a clarifying light into corners of church practice and history that had always been hidden to him.

“It felt so true to me and then had all of these layers that I hadn’t yet examined about my childhood faith — my family’s faith still — and how I had grown up in it,” Black, 47, said in a three-way video call earlier this month. “It was formative for me.”

Krakauer, who was also on the call, had just seen the first several episodes of Black’s series, which debuts on Thursday. His knowledge of Black’s script was minimal; he had no official role in the series. He could tell, he said, that the show’s depictions of how church leaders encouraged women to stay in abusive relationships was rooted in experience.

washington post logoWashington Post, As MLB suspends Bauer, a new accuser speaks out, Gus Garcia-Roberts, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). In interviews with The Washington Post, the Columbus woman said she decided to share her story after Bauer denied similar allegations made by two other women and accused them of lying for potential financial gain. The Columbus woman asked not to be named, and The Post typically does not name alleged victims of domestic violence unless they ask to be identified.

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