July 2022 News, Views

 

 

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

 

 

 

July 2

Top Headlines

 

More On U.S. Courts’ Radical Activism

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

 

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

World News, Global Human Rights

 

U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

U.S. Politics, Education, Governance, Economy

 

More On Ukraine War

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Pandemic, Public Health, Disasters 

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

Media, Religion, Sports News

 

Top Stories

 

Shown above are the six partisan Republicans, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, shown at top left, who are undertaking radical changes in laws governing all Americans. All but Clarence Thomas, top center, were named by presidents who lost the popular vote for presidency but were installed via the Electoral College rules. Shown above are the six partisan Republicans, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, shown at top left, who are undertaking radical changes in laws governing all Americans. All but Clarence Thomas, top center, were named by presidents who lost the popular vote for presidency but were installed via the Electoral College system. 

washington post logoWashington Post, With sweep and speed, Supreme Court’s conservatives ignite new era, Robert Barnes, July 2, 2022. Observers say this term should be seen as much as the beginning of an era at the court as the culmination of years of work to solidify a conservative majority.

The avalanche of change achieved by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority this term spans the breadth of American life, and its work draws comparisons to the most momentous decisions in the court’s history.

Its signature moment — erasing the constitutional right to abortion extended by the court nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade — would have been enough to highlight the term. The court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was the rare decision whose impact was felt within hours, as Republican-led states began prohibiting elective abortions, and will play out over years.

But the justices of what scholars say is one of the most conservative courts in decades did far more than that.

They continued a string of victories for conservative religious groups that dismantle the old rules regarding the role of religion in public life. After a decade of Supreme Court inaction, they expanded Second Amendment jurisprudence to bless the right to carry a weapon outside the home. And in a final flourish, the court’s dominant six-justice bloc limited the ability of government agencies to issue sweeping protections of health, safety and the environment without specific authorization from Congress.

With Justice Clarence Thomas, 74, the oldest member of the coalition and Amy Coney Barrett the youngest at 50, the term should be seen as much as the beginning of an era at the court as the culmination of years of work to solidify a conservative majority.

 

scotus democracy docket state legs

washington post logoWashington Post, Democracy advocates raise alarm after Supreme Court takes election case, Colby Itkowitz and Isaac Stanley-Becker, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). The justices will consider “independent legislature theory,” which some legal theorists describe as a literal reading of the Constitution. Voting rights advocates fear it could let state lawmakers twist election laws to favor one party.

Voting rights advocates expressed alarm Friday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court said it will consider a conservative legal theory giving state legislatures virtually unchecked power over federal elections, warning that it could erode basic tenets of American democracy.

The idea, known as the “independent legislature theory,” represents to some theorists a literal reading of the Constitution.

But in its most far-reaching interpretation, it could cut governors and state courts out of the decision-making process on election laws while giving state lawmakers free rein to change rules to favor their own party. The impact could extend to presidential elections in 2024 and beyond, experts say, making it easier for a legislature to disregard the will of its state’s citizens.

This immense power would go to legislative bodies that are themselves undemocratic, many advocates say, because they have been gerrymandered to create partisan districts, virtually ensuring the party-in-power’s candidates cannot be beaten. Republicans control both legislative chambers in 30 states and have been at the forefront of pushing the theory.

ny times logoNew York Times, Spurred by the Supreme Court, a Nation Divides Along a Red-Blue Axis, Jonathan Weisman, July 2, 2022. Two Americas — one liberal, one conservative — are moving in opposite directions, pressed by recent court decisions. The most immediate breaking point is on abortion. But the fault lines extend to climate change, gun control, voting rights and L.G.B.T.Q. issues.

Pressed by Supreme Court decisions diminishing rights that liberals hold dear and expanding those cherished by conservatives, the United States appears to be drifting apart into separate nations, with diametrically opposed social, environmental and health policies.

Call these the Disunited States.

The most immediate breaking point is on abortion, as about half the country will soon limit or ban the procedure while the other half expands or reinforces access to reproductive rights. But the ideological fault lines extend far beyond that one topic, to climate change, gun control and L.G.B.T.Q. and voting rights.

On each of those issues, the country’s Northeast and West Coast are moving in the opposite direction from its midsection and Southeast — with a few exceptions, like the islands of liberalism in Illinois and Colorado, and New Hampshire’s streak of conservatism.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: We can no longer avoid a criminal investigation into Donald Trump, Editorial Board, July 1, 2022. After another week of riveting testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee, it is natural to wonder: How many laws were broken, by whom, and will there be prosecutions?

The public needs more information. That requires the committee to hear from more witnesses, which in turn requires the Justice Department to prosecute those, such as Mr. Meadows, who have defied committee subpoenas. It also means the department should examine seriously concerns that Trump allies are trying to influence Jan. 6 committee witnesses.

And, yes, the department should conduct a criminal investigation of Mr. Trump himself. Attorney General Merrick Garland appears to be treating this prospect with a high degree of care, and appropriately so.

On the other hand, if Mr. Trump is clearly, unquestionably guilty of committing a serious crime — not just arguably so — the department might have little choice. Central to our system of justice is the principle that no one is above the law.

The Justice Department has investigative powers that the Jan. 6 committee does not, and there are critical questions that remain unanswered. Mr. Garland should have no higher priority than using these powers to investigate all of those involved in one of the darkest days in American history.

 

From left: Cassidy Hutchinson; Michael Cohen; Randy Credico (Washington Post Photos by Demetrius Freeman; Jahi Chikwendiu; and Astrid Riecken).

From left: Cassidy Hutchinson; Michael Cohen; Randy Credico (Washington Post Photos by Demetrius Freeman; Jahi Chikwendiu; and Astrid Riecken).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: How Trump World pressures witnesses to deny his possible wrongdoing, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump and his allies shower potential witnesses with private flattery while publicly blasting those who cross him.

As rumors flew in the spring of 2018 that Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was preparing to flip on his former boss and offer potentially damaging testimony to federal prosecutors, Cohen received an email.

“You are ‘loved,’ ” read the email, which indicated it was relaying comments from former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and was quoted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 2019 report. “Sleep well tonight … you have friends in high places.”

It was one of a number of times messages of cajoling support or bullying encouragement were delivered to potentially important Mueller witnesses.

And it was strikingly similar to the communications Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said on Tuesday had been received by witnesses who have testified for the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Evidence across multiple state, federal and congressional investigations points to a similar pattern: Trump and his close allies privately shower potential witnesses with flattery and attention, extending vague assurances that staying loyal to Trump would be better than crossing him.

Meanwhile, Trump publicly blasts those who offer testimony against him in bluntly personal terms, offering a clear example to others of the consequences of stepping out of line.

“Donald Trump never changes his playbook,” Cohen said in an interview. “He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.”

A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Cheney recounted that committee members have asked each witness connected to Trump’s administration or campaign whether they have been contacted by former colleagues or others who have “attempted to influence or impact their testimony.”

She described two responses that she said raised “significant concern.”

A witness, Cheney said, told the committee about receiving phone calls indicating that Trump reads transcripts and “to keep that in mind” during interviews with the committee.

“What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect. You know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World,” Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, said the witness testified.

Cheney described another call received by a witness. “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” she said, quoting the witness.

Cheney did not identify the witnesses who had been contacted. But a person familiar with the committee’s work said both quotes came from Cassidy Hutchinson, the 25-year-old former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. Her explosive testimony Tuesday that Trump knew the rioters were armed when he urged them to march on the Capitol has become a signature moment in the committee’s investigation.

Related stories below:

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Take me up to the Capitol now’: How close Trump came to joining rioters, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Trump’s demands to lead a march to Capitol Hill sheds new light on his mindset as the siege began.

Toward the end of 2020, then-President Donald Trump began raising a new idea with aides: that he would personally lead a march to the Capitol on the following Jan. 6.

secret service logoTrump brought it up repeatedly with key advisers in the Oval Office, according to a person who talked with him about it. The president told others he wanted a dramatic, made-for-TV moment that could pressure Republican lawmakers to support his demand to throw out the electoral college results showing that Joe Biden had defeated him, the person said.

The excursion that almost happened came into clearer focus this week, as the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 presented explosive testimony and records detailing Trump’s fervent demands to lead his supporters mobbing the seat of government. Though Trump’s trip was ultimately thwarted by his own security officers, the new evidence cuts closer to the critical question of what he knew about the violence in store for that day.

Trump has acknowledged his foiled effort to reach the Capitol. “Secret Service wouldn’t let me,” he told The Washington Post in April. “I wanted to go. I wanted to go so badly. Secret Service says you can’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.”

But as Trump repeatedly floated the idea in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, several of his advisers doubted he meant it or didn’t take the suggestion seriously. One senior administration official said Trump raised the prospect repeatedly but in a “joking manner.”

As a result, the White House staff never turned Trump’s stated desires into concrete plans. Press officers made no preparations for a detour to the Capitol, such as scheduling an additional stop for the motorcade and the pool of reporters who follow the president’s movements. There was no operational advance plan drafted for the visit. No speech was written for him to deliver on the Hill, and it wasn’t clear exactly what Trump would do when he got there, said the person who talked with Trump about the idea.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Kyiv accuses Moscow of ‘deliberate terror,’ asks Turkey to detain grain ship, David L. Stern, Ellen Francis, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, Julian Duplain and Marisa Iati, July 2, 2022. Ukraine celebrated at Pride march in London; Ukrainian borscht gets a spot on U.N. protection list; Russia and India hope for improved trade;

President Volodymyr Zelensky decried “purposeful Russian terror” late Friday after missile strikes killed at least 21 people near the port of Odessa and hit the southern city of Mykolaiv, where the mayor reported more explosions early Saturday.

A Ukrainian security chief cast the attack near Odessa as retaliation for Russia’s retreat from the small but strategic Snake Island. “The occupiers cannot win on the battlefield, so they resort to vile killing of civilians,” he told reporters. While the Kremlin denied targeting civilians, Kyiv said a 12-year-old boy was killed in the strike that hit an apartment block and a recreation center.

Ukraine called on Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship, loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain, that it said had sailed from the Russian-controlled Berdyansk port bound for Turkey’s Black Sea coast. Millions of metric tons of grain await export from Ukraine, as Russia blockades shipping lanes and poorer countries bear the brunt of shortages and rising prices.

Here’s what else to know

  • U.S. officials say Ukraine is dispersing weapons delivered by its Western allies around the country to avoid losses as the Russian military targets arms depots.
  • Moscow-backed separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine have charged British nationals Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill with fighting as mercenaries for Ukrainian forces, according to Russian state media.
  • Russian media suggested that arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in Illinois, may be exchanged for detained WNBA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

ny times logoNew York Times, Advanced U.S. Arms Make a Mark in Ukraine War, Officials Say, Eric Schmitt and John Ismay, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). The powerful and highly mobile weapons systems, which can fire guided rockets with a range of 40 miles, are desperately needed in the battle for eastern Ukraine.

The most advanced weapons that the United States has so far supplied Ukraine are making an impact in their first several days on the battlefield, destroying Russian ammunition depots and command centers, American and Ukrainian officials say.

Ukraine’s military had eagerly awaited the arrival of the first batch of truck-mounted, multiple-rocket launchers, whose satellite-guided rockets have a range of more than 40 miles, greater than anything Ukraine had possessed. The weapons have even won grudging respect from some Russians for their accuracy and power, analysts said.

Still, only four of the launchers, called High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS, and their U.S.-trained crews are in the fight, though four more are expected this month. Ukrainian officials say they need as many as 300 multiple-rocket launchers to combat Russia, which is firing several times as many rounds as Ukraine’s forces in the artillery-driven war of attrition in the country’s east.

Ukrainian soldiers are using their new weapon judiciously, firing one or two guided rockets at ammunition depots or command posts, often at night, and keeping them well away from the front lines to protect them, Pentagon officials and military analysts say.

“So far they seem to be a quite useful addition,” Rob Lee, a Russian military specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a former U.S. Marine officer, said of the systems. “They will help hinder further Russian advances, but they won’t necessarily mean Ukraine will be able to take back territory.”

The HIMARS are the centerpiece of a raft of new Western long-range weapons that the outgunned Ukrainian military is switching over to as its arsenal of Soviet-era howitzer and rocket ammunition dwindles.

The Western weapons are more accurate and highly mobile, but it takes weeks to deploy them from the United States and Europe and to train soldiers to use them. In the meantime, Russia’s military is making slow but methodical gains in the eastern region of Donbas, where both sides have taken heavy losses.

 

More On U.S. Supreme Court’s Radical Activism

washington post logoWashington Post, Voting patterns in major rulings of 2022 reflect conservative ascendance, Ann E. Marimow, Aadit Tambe and Adrian Blanco, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). An emboldened 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court rolled backed abortion rights, expanded the rights of gun owners and strengthened the role of religion in public life.

The unprecedented leak of a draft majority opinion to overturn Roe in May rocked a court already grappling with highly controversial cases and facing intense public pressure. Protesters demonstrate at the justices’ homes, while the courthouse is closed to the public and surrounded by a high security fence. A California man was charged with planning to kill Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is seeking to interview the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the nationwide right to abortion dominated one of the court’s most consequential terms. The emboldened 6-3 conservative majority, with three nominees of President Donald Trump, wasted little time expanding the rights of gun owners to carry firearms in public, strengthening the role of religion in public life and sharply curtailing the Biden administration’s power to combat climate change.

seen as much as the beginning of an era at the court as the culmination of years of work to solidify a conservative majority.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: All-out political warfare in US as Supreme Court reactionary majority goes berserk with a barrage of webster tarpley 2007decisions attacking traditional American freedoms, Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, July 2, 2022. New outrages by the Junta involve Roe v. Wade, the New York State gun law on concealed weapons, Miranda rights, deregulating the Environmental Protection Agency’s measures vs carbon emissions, and other cases; Precedents trampled, suggesting perjury in confirmation pledges of stare decisis fidelity to precedent.

Trump faction now be vulnerable to charges for obstructing the Electoral Vote count, defrauding the United States, seditious conspiracy, incitement to riot, fomenting armed violence, assaulting a Secret Service officer, damaging federal property, threatening Congressional witnesses; and attempting the violent overthrow of the US government;

Garland’s plodding Department of Justice bureaucrats must act on an emergency basis to establish accountability, with fascist dictatorship at the gates: Arrest the top perps for simpler crimes, then supplement that with superseding indictments for more complex offenses during pre-trial phase; The implacable timetable of November elections and the possible fascist takeover of Congress; No time for Comeyism!

Biden presides over revivified G-7 and NATO; Finland and Sweden joining Atlantic Alliance; 300,000 troops go to higher readiness as deterrent; US readies over $800 million in aid for Ukraine;

Worse for Putin than the sinking of the Moskva: Ukraine repossesses Snake Island in Black Sea, opening possible convoy route for grain ship convoys; US HIMARS rockets may have been involved; NASAMS coming soon;

Barr creature Cipollone must obey subpoena to testify next week or be disbarred; Federal law enforcement must not enable oppression of women;

Generic ballot jumps 10 points for Dems; Trump losing backing from Murdoch press and TV empire; Cheney lionized at Reagan Library;

Breaking: 2 Secret Service sources confirm Cassie Hutchinson’s account of Trump’s episode in the SUV when he demanded to join mayhem on Capitol Hill!

ny times logoNew York Times, As Federal Climate-Fighting Tools Are Taken Away, Cities and States Step Up, Maggie Astor, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). This week, the Supreme Court curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The efforts of local governments, in some cases bridging partisan divides, will become increasingly important as the national strategy weakens.

During the Trump administration, which aggressively weakened environmental and climate protections, local efforts gained importance. Now, experts say, local action is even more critical for the United States — which is second only to China in emissions — to have a chance at helping the world avert the worst effects of global warming.

Recent Headlines

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: As abortion rights collapse, Black and Brown women will suffer most, Karen Attiah, July 2, 2022. The statistics speak for themselves. The triumph of the more than 40-year evangelical crusade against abortion will mean that women will suffer, and Black women disproportionally.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are more than four times as likely to have had abortions as White women.

Nationwide, Black women are also more likely to miscarry or have stillbirths — suddenly, in addition to being a personal tragedy, a moment of grave legal peril in many places — than White women. In Texas, which already has a higher maternal mortality rate than the national average, Black women died at a rate of 37.1 per 100,000 births. The comparable number for White women is 14.7.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas Supreme Court blocks order that allowed abortions to resume, Adela Suliman, July 2, 2022. With Justice Clarence Thomas, 74, the oldest member of the coalition and Amy Coney Barrett the youngest at 50, the term should be seen as much as the beginning of an era at the court as the culmination of years of work to solidify a conservative majority.

texas mapLegal wrangling over abortions in Texas took a further twist late Friday, after the state Supreme Court blocked a lower court order issued just days earlier that had temporarily allowed the procedures to resume.

The Texas Supreme Court in Austin granted an “emergency motion for temporary relief” that was filed Wednesday by the state’s attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, staying a temporary restraining order that had been granted earlier this week by a judge in Harris County. A further state Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for later this month.

Texas has left a nearly century-old abortion ban on the statute books for the past 50 years while Roe v. Wade was in place. With Roe struck down, Paxton had advised that prosecutors could now enforce the 1925 law, which he called a “100% good law” on Twitter. However, the claimants have argued that it should be interpreted as repealed and unenforceable.

On Tuesday, a Harris County judge granted a temporary restraining order until at least July 12 to allow clinics to offer abortions for at least two weeks without criminal prosecution, days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade to end a constitutional right to abortion.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Extreme Effort to Punish Women for Abortion, Elizabeth Dias July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Abortion “abolitionists” view the procedure as homicide and seek to hold women responsible. Once a radical fringe, they are now picking up support.

Hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, a man with a wiry, squared-off beard and a metal cross around his neck celebrated with his team at a Brazilian steakhouse. He pulled out his phone to livestream to his followers.

“We have delivered a huge blow to the enemy and to this industry,” the man, Jeff Durbin, said. But, he explained, “our work has just really begun.”

“Even the states that have trigger laws,” which ban abortion at conception without exceptions for rape or incest, did not go far enough, Mr. Durbin, a pastor in the greater Phoenix area, said. “They do not believe that the woman should ever be punished.”

Resistance to “the question of whether or not people who murder their children in the wombs are guilty,” he said, “is going to have to be something we have to overcome, because women are still going to be killing their children in the womb.”

Even as those in the anti-abortion movement celebrate their nation-changing Supreme Court victory, there are divisions over where to go next. The most extreme, like Mr. Durbin, want to pursue what they call “abortion abolition,” a move to criminalize abortion from conception as homicide, and hold women who have the procedure responsible — a position that in some states could make those women eligible for the death penalty. That position is at odds with the anti-abortion mainstream, which opposes criminalizing women and focuses on prosecuting providers.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Et tu, Alito? Murder of stare decisis creates legal circus maximus, Dana Milbank, July 3, 2022 (print ed.). dana milbank newestNow begins the era of ‘stare indecisis.’

Respect for precedent — known by the Latin stare decisis, “to stand by things decided” — had been a centuries-old cornerstone of the rule of law, necessary so “the scale of justice” doesn’t “waver with every new judge’s opinion,” as the 18th-century legal philosopher William Blackstone wrote.

But — et tu, Alito? — the Supreme Court’s radical right put the knife in stare decisis in its decision overturning Roe v. Wade and destroying 50 years of precedent upon precedent.

The dissenting justices wrote that “the majority abandons stare decisis,” an act that “threatens to upend bedrock legal doctrines,” “creates profound legal instability” and “calls into question this Court’s commitment to legal principle.”

The majority protested that it didn’t abandon stare decisis — then explained why it did: “Stare decisis is not an inexorable command. … Stare decisis is not a straitjacket.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas lunges into center of battles over personal freedom, starting with abortion and sodomy, Annie Gowen, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The state passed an early abortion ban, and state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) indicated he may move against gay rights.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade, Texas appears poised to cement its place at the center of the battle over personal freedoms that have been guaranteed by law for decades.

Leaders in the Republican-dominated state have already enacted one of the most restrictive abortion policies in the nation and been in the forefront of devising measures that would criminalize parents’ efforts to seek medical treatment for their transgender children. Now, the state’s conservative attorney general, Ken Paxton, has signaled that he is willing to revisit the state’s anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003 to protect intimacy between same-sex partners.

“People are still reeling from Roe, and we’re in an incredibly toxic political environment right now,” said Oni Blair, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “But we need to recognize that nothing is off the table at this moment. All of our rights and liberties — from LGBTQ equality, voting and even contraception — could be at risk.”

The group has trained hundreds of abortion rights advocates in recent months as part of its Texas Abortion Access Network. It has also prevailed, for now, in a lawsuit in which a judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday that will allow doctors to continue performing abortion procedures in some Texas clinics until a hearing July 12.

In an interview on the NewsNation cable channel soon after the overturning of Roe last week, Paxton told anchor Leland Vittert that he would be “willing and able” to defend any state law prohibiting sodomy brought as a test case before the Supreme Court. The question came up because, in his concurring opinion in the abortion case, Justice Clarence Thomas questioned high court rulings establishing same-sex marriage and the right of married couples to use contraception and, in the Texas case, outlawing criminalization of gay intimacy.

Recent Headlines

  

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, Liz Cheney says Republicans face a choice: Trump or the Constitution, Julian Mark, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Wyoming Republican, shown above in a file photo, called Trump ‘a domestic threat that we have never faced before.’ Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) rattled off a list Wednesday night of what she considers the biggest threats facing the country, ranging from government regulation to inflation. But one threat looms above all others, she warned: former president Donald Trump.

liz cheney quote 6 9 2022“At this moment we’re confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before — and that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic,” Cheney said from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

An outspoken Trump critic, Cheney chided GOP members she said have made themselves “willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.” Now, she said, they face a choice.

“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said.

The statement was met with applause.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Witness Anthony Ornato Is at the Center of a Battle Over Credibility, Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Ornato, who was Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations, has become a key figure in a dispute over testimony from the Jan. 6 committee’s star witness.

Anthony M. Ornato had left his role as the Secret Service agent in charge of President Donald J. Trump’s protective detail in late 2019 when the culture of internal strife that Mr. Trump fostered throughout his term left the president’s top advisers frantically searching for a candidate to fill a key role: deputy White House chief of staff for operations.

The title does not fully capture the significance of the job, which entails ensuring the continuity of government and overseeing the logistics of the president’s movements outside the White House, security and the military office.

Intent on ensuring it went to someone qualified and with few options available, the person leaving the role, Dan Walsh, and Lindsay Reynolds, the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, quickly settled on Mr. Ornato, who was well known to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Ornato did not want the job, according to three former White House officials. By that point he was happily working at Secret Service headquarters. Like many agents, he had served previous administrations across party lines, first protecting President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara and later working on President Barack Obama’s detail. And in any case, it would be highly unusual for an official from an avowedly apolitical agency to take a high-ranking job inside the White House.

But when Mr. Trump called to tell him he was putting him in the job, he believed he had no choice but to take it, according to those officials. For the remainder of Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Ornato was at the heart of the West Wing, occupying an office steps down the hall from the Oval Office and adjacent to the office of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Now, Mr. Ornato is at the center of a dispute over events during the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He is both a witness to key developments and a figure in what is either a legitimate battle over credibility or, in the view of some critics, an attempt to muddy the devastating account of the actions of Mr. Trump and his aides provided to the House Jan. 6 committee this week by Cassidy Hutchinson, another former White House aide.

In her public testimony, Ms. Hutchinson said she learned from Mr. Ornato of a stunning scene in the back of the presidential vehicle on Jan. 6, soon after a speech by Mr. Trump at the Ellipse outside the White House ended.

She testified that Mr. Ornato told her that Mr. Trump tried to force the Secret Service to drive him to the Capitol to join his supporters. In her recounting, Mr. Ornato said Mr. Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the armored vehicle.

Ms. Hutchinson also said Mr. Ornato told her the president “lunged” at his lead Secret Service agent, Robert Engel. Mr. Engel, Ms. Hutchinson testified, was present as Mr. Ornato related the story to her and did not correct Mr. Ornato’s account.

Secret Service officials have said Mr. Ornato, Mr. Engel and the driver of the vehicle are prepared to testify that such an incident did not happen. (The committee already had interviewed Mr. Ornato and Mr. Engel, before Ms. Hutchinson’s appearance this week.)

The officials do not dispute that Mr. Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol. On the day of the riot, Trump administration officials told The New York Times that the president was in a fury while he was at the rally.

One Secret Service official, asking that his name not be used to describe the potential testimony, acknowledged a conversation took place with Ms. Hutchinson but said it played out differently than she described.

Officials with the Jan. 6 committee have sought to bolster Ms. Hutchinson’s credibility, saying they found inconsistencies in Mr. Ornato’s testimony, although they did not release the transcripts in question. A former colleague, Alyssa Farah Griffin, accused him on Twitter of lying about an encounter they had during the 2020 protests in Lafayette Square outside the White House.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the committee, wrote on the social media site, “There seems to be a major thread here… Tony Ornato likes to lie.”

A native of a town outside New Haven, Conn., Mr. Ornato’s family owned a tavern in the city that was a generational haunt for local police officers and firefighters. He worked in the New Haven Secret Service office in 2000 as Mr. Bush was running for president. When Mr. Bush won, Mr. Ornato joined his daughter’s protective detail. He stayed on under Mr. Obama, and was promoted a handful of times.

People who worked with Mr. Ornato in the Trump White House said they had never seen him talking about his political opinions, even when the former president sought his views, as Mr. Trump was prone to do with almost everyone around him.

But some officials were uncomfortable with the decision to name a member of the Secret Service, which has long tried to maintain the image of nonpartisanship, to deputy chief of staff of operations at the White House.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Prosecuting Trump could do more harm than good, Andrew C. McCarthy (right, former federal prosecutor and a andrew mccarthycontributing editor at National Review), July 2, 2022 (print ed.). I have long been opposed to the idea of prosecuting Donald Trump, fearing that such a step would polarize the country and set a dangerous precedent. I worry about the implications of having the current administration go after its predecessor and chief political opponent.

But the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has caused me to rethink that premise and at least consider whether prosecution may be warranted.

Before Hutchinson’s testimony, there was a dearth of public evidence that Trump was actively complicit in the violence on Jan. 6, 2021, as opposed to being recklessly indifferent to the potential for it. But according to Hutchinson, Trump was fully aware that the Jan. 6 mob was well armed yet willfully encouraged it to march on the Capitol.

This portrayal casts a more damning light on the former president’s profound dereliction of duty and, as I see it, may change the calculus Attorney General Merrick Garland will need to make.

When prosecutors are presented with potentially incriminating evidence, there are always two questions: Do we have enough proof to charge crimes? And, should we exercise our discretion to do so?

Here, the answer to the first question seems straightforward. A rational jury could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump aided and abetted the forcible intimidation and assault of government officials, and that he corruptly obstructed a congressional proceeding (namely, the constitutionally required count of electoral votes).

The second question is much tougher. Prosecutorial discretion is unreviewable. It is an executive branch call. The chief executive’s responsibility is to do what is in the best interest of the United States, not merely to seek a proper law enforcement outcome.

To be sure, no one is above the law, even the president; but neither do we prosecute every provable crime. Other considerations often apply, such as preserving domestic tranquility and institutional integrity. The past eight years of politically fraught investigations — including criminal and national-security probes of Trump and Hillary Clinton, both major-party presidential nominees — should teach us that the intrusion of prosecutors into electoral politics has a corrupting effect on the democratic process and the Justice Department itself.

The Justice Department should have a higher standard for prosecuting political cases, staying its hand unless there is an offense that is both serious and easy for the public to grasp. That is especially so when the department, which ultimately answers to the president, is investigating the president’s top political rival — who, in this instance, seems poised to seek the presidency again.

There should be no place in political cases for charges involving vague offenses based on abstruse legal theories — such as an obstruction charge based on Trump’s promotion of the bogus theory seeking to derail Congress’s counting of state-certified electoral votes. If there is not a public consensus, cutting across ideological and partisan lines, that Trump has committed grave crimes deserving of prosecution and likely imprisonment, an indictment would be perceived as invidiously selective prosecution by much of our deeply divided country. It would encourage payback: politicized prosecutions once Republicans retake power, as they inevitably will at some point.

Violence is the bright line. It is why those of us opposed to Trump’s prosecution should at least recheck our premises in light of Hutchinson’s testimony. We’re no longer just talking about a president’s irresponsible use of incendiary rhetoric that can be credibly portrayed as constitutionally protected speech.

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World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, China’s Leader Hails a Hong Kong ‘Reborn From Ashes’ Amid Crackdown, Alexandra Stevenson, Zixu Wang and Austin Ramzy, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Before Xi Jinping’s tightly controlled appearance, Hong Kong sent officials, diplomats and others to hotels for days of isolation and Covid tests.

Since the pandemic erupted in 2020, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has been hunkered down in a virus-free bubble within his country’s closed borders. On Thursday, he left the safe confines of the mainland for the first time, arriving in Hong Kong for a tightly scripted visit aimed at reinforcing his authority over the city.

Mr. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by schoolchildren and supporters who waved flower bouquets and small Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they stepped off a high-speed train at the sealed-off West Kowloon station to begin a two-day visit. Lion dancers performed as the neatly ordered rows of greeters chanted, “Warmly welcome, warmly welcome.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel’s Parliament Dissolves, Paving Way for Another Election, Patrick Kingsley, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The decision brought down the coalition government and installed Yair Lapid, a centrist, as interim prime minister. Exhausted and exasperated Israelis will be asked to vote again in November.

washington post logoWashington Post, Griner’s trial on Russian drug charges set to open in Moscow courtroom, Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, July 1, 2022.  WNBA star could face 10 years in prison. U.S. says she’s being wrongfully held.

American WNBA star Brittney Griner is scheduled to stand trial Friday on drug charges in a Moscow court after customs officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage at a Moscow airport in February, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Griner could face 10 years in jail if convicted of possessing a “significant amount” of hashish. She has been in custody since February and has been remanded in custody until December pending the outcome of her trial.

Her case has been complicated by the severe downturn in relations between Washington and Moscow. Griner’s supporters in the United States say she is a hostage and political pawn.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed these claims last week, saying that drug offenses are treated seriously in Russia and many other countries. “We cannot call her a hostage. Why should we call her a hostage?” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Brazil, a 10-year-old rape victim sought an abortion. A judge urged: Stay pregnant, Marina Lopes, July 2, 2022. The 10-year-old rape victim was pregnant, and asking a court to authorize an abortion.

She found herself sitting under a crucifix in the courtroom in Southern Brazil, across from a judge and prosecutor who repeatedly urged her to continue the pregnancy.

Could the girl stand to be pregnant “a little while longer?” Brazilian Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer asked. Did she “want to name the baby?”

When those entreaties failed, the prosecutor jumped in. Would the girl consider adoption “instead of letting him die — because it is already a baby, a child — instead of letting him die in agony?”

Ribeiro Zimmer ordered the girl taken from her family — to protect the fetus, she said.

Leaked video of the hearing, published in June by the Intercept Brazil, has shaken Latin America’s largest country, which maintains tight restrictions on abortion.

The procedure is legal in Brazil only in cases of rape, incest or severe fetal abnormality. But advocates for abortion rights say the case of the 10-year-old shows how even women with a permissible reason face resistance from hospital policies, red tape and an often hostile judiciary.

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U.S. Politics, Governance, Education, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Eyes Early 2024 Announcement as Jan. 6 Scrutiny Intensifies, Michael C. Bender, Reid J. Epstein and Maggie Haberman, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Trump has accelerated his campaign planning, hoping a White House bid will blunt damaging revelations. Some Republicans are worried.

Republicans are bracing for Donald J. Trump to announce an unusually early bid for the White House, a move designed in part to shield the former president from a stream of damaging revelations emerging from investigations into his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election.

djt maga hatWhile many Republicans would welcome Mr. Trump’s entry into the race, his move would also exacerbate persistent divisions over whether the former president is the party’s best hope to win back the White House. The party is also divided over whether his candidacy would be an unnecessary distraction from midterm elections or even a direct threat to democracy.

Mr. Trump has long hinted at a third consecutive White House bid and has campaigned for much of the past year. He has accelerated his planning in recent weeks just as a pair of investigations have intensified and congressional testimony has revealed new details about Mr. Trump’s indifference to the threat of violence on Jan. 6 and his refusal to act to stop an insurrection.

djt hands up mouth open CustomMr. Trump has also watched as some of his preferred candidates have lost recent primary elections, raising hopes among his potential Republican competitors that voters may be drifting from a politician long thought to have an iron grip on the party.

Rather than humble Mr. Trump, the developments have emboldened him to try to reassert himself as the head of the party, eclipse damaging headlines and steal attention from potential rivals, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a rising favorite of donors and voters. Republicans close to Mr. Trump have said he believes a formal announcement would bolster his claims that the investigations are politically motivated.

 

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Media Is Subpoenaed in Federal Inquiry of Truth Social Deal, Matthew Goldstein July 2, 2022 (print ed.). The investigation threatens to delay a merger that would provide Trump Media and its platform, Truth Social, with up to $1.3 billion. The investigation by federal prosecutors and securities regulators into a proposed merger between a cash-rich blank check company and former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company has gotten closer to Mr. Trump’s end of the deal.

republican elephant logoFederal prosecutors served grand jury subpoenas on Trump Media & Technology Group and “certain current and former TMTG personnel,” according to a regulatory filing on Friday by Digital World Acquisition, the special purpose acquisition company that has a tentative deal to merge with Trump Media.

Grand jury subpoenas are typically issued in connection with a potential criminal investigation. The filing said the Securities and Exchange Commission also served a subpoena on Trump Media this week.

securities exchange commission sealJust days earlier, Digital World revealed that it, too, had received a grand jury subpoena from federal prosecutors in Manhattan along with similar subpoenas served on its board of directors.

The grand jury subpoenas appear related to earlier S.E.C. subpoenas on Digital World that sought communications concerning potential merger talks with representatives of Trump Media before Digital World’s initial public offering in September.

The regulatory filing on Friday said the grand jury subpoenas served on Trump Media were “seeking a subset of the same or similar documents demanded in subpoenas to Digital World and its directors.”

The expanding investigation threatens to delay the completion of the merger, which would provide Mr. Trump’s company and its social media platform, Truth Social, with up to $1.3 billion in capital, in addition to a stock market listing.

The S.E.C. investigation has focused on whether there were serious discussions between the leadership of Digital World and Trump Media before the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, went public in September and, if so, why those talks were not disclosed in regulatory filings. SPACs, which raise money to go public in the hopes of finding a merger candidate, are not supposed to have an acquisition target in mind when they raise money from investors.

washington post logoWashington Post, In trainings, Florida tells teachers that religion belongs in public life, Lori Rozsa, July 2, 2022. New civics training for Florida public school teachers comes with a dose of Christian dogma, some teachers say, and they worry that it also sanitizes history and promotes inaccuracies.

Included in the training is the statement that it is a “misconception” that “the Founders desired strict separation of church and state.”

Other materials included fragments of statements that were “cherry-picked” to present a more conservative view of American history, some attendees said. In a possible effort to inoculate some Founding Fathers against contemporary political complaints, some slides in a presentation pointed out that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson repudiated slavery; unsaid is that both men held enslaved people and helped worked toward a Constitution that enshrined the practice.

“My takeaway from the training is that civics education in the state of Florida right now is geared toward pushing some particular points of view,” said Broward County teacher Richard Judd, who attended the three-day training. “The thesis they ran with is that there is no real separation of church and state.”

The First Amendment prevents the government from “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” which scholars widely interpret to require a separation of church and state.

washington post logoWashington Post, DeSantis’s plans for colleges rattle some academics,.Susan Svrluga and Lori Rozsa, July 2, 2022. In his efforts to remake higher education in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed laws that alter the tenure system, remove Florida universities from commonly accepted accreditation practices, and mandate annual “viewpoint diversity surveys” from students and faculty.

DeSantis (R) also pushed through legislation he dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” that regulates what schools, including universities, and workplaces can teach about race and identity. The legislation — which went into effect Friday — already faces a legal challenge.

The lawsuit argues that the act violates constitutional rights and would have a dangerous chilling effect on academic freedom. A judge is expected to rule soon on a request by University of Central Florida associate professor Robert Cassanello to block the law. This week, the judge denied similar requests from other plaintiffs, saying they lacked standing. The state has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Cassanello, who teaches classes in civil rights movements, Jim Crow America, and emancipation and Reconstruction argued that the law “restricts his ability to accurately and fully teach these subjects.”

Meanwhile, the board of governors for Florida’s public university system took initial steps Thursday to approve regulations for enforcing the law, with potential penalties including discipline and termination for employees who do not comply. The law also ties some university funding to compliance.

DeSantis has said he wants to prevent the state’s colleges and universities from becoming “hotbeds for stale ideologies” and from developing “intellectually repressive environments.”

Some welcome his plans. But the measures have other faculty and academic leaders concerned. They also worry that Republicans intend to go even further to exert political control over public higher education — and that the conflicts roiling Florida signal fights to come in other states.

Critics of DeSantis’s efforts pointed to draft legislation that would have given to political appointees the power to hire and fire, and to veto school budgets. The proposals for the most part never made it into bills but were disclosed for a public-records request and published in the newsletter Seeking Rents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to award Medal of Freedom to Biles, John McCain, Denzel Washington, July 2, 2022 (print ed.).  President Biden will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 17 people in a wide variety of endeavors, including gymnast Simone Biles, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington and, posthumously, inventor Steve Jobs and the late Sen. John McCain.

Joe Biden portrait 2Biden’s list of recipients, his first as president, include stalwarts of politics, sports, entertainment, civil rights and the military. He will present the awards at the White House on July 7.

“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation — hard work, perseverance, and faith,” the White House said in a statement.

The honorees range from Biles, 25, the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history who has advocated for sexual assault victims, to former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), 90, the sharp-tongued ex-governor who served 18 years in the Senate and was outspoken on the issue of fiscal responsibility.

Other honorees include Sister Simone Campbell, former director of Network, a Catholic social justice organization, who was instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. Biden once joined her “Nuns on the Bus” tour.

The president also is recognizing Washington, actor, director and producer who has served as the national spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 25 years; and Megan Rapinoe, a member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team since 2006 who has won one Olympic gold medal and two World Cup championships. She is also captain of OL Reign, a Seattle-based pro team in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Rapinoe’s exploits on the soccer field are matched by her activism off it. She has played prominent roles in pushing for equal pay for the women’s national team and spoken out on social justice and LGBTQ issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Wonking Out: Taking the ‘Flation’ Out of Stagflation, Paul Krugman, July 1, 2022. A funny thing happened on the way to the Federal Reserve’s latest rate hike. The Fed went big on June 15, raising the interest rates it controls by 75 basis points, or 0.75 percentage points — a sharp rise for an institution that usually tries to move gradually.

Why the urgency? As Jerome Powell, the Fed chairman, made clear, he and his colleagues were afraid that expectations of inflation were becoming “unanchored,” which some economists argue could lead to inflation becoming “entrenched.” (The trench is losing its anchor? Time to call in the mixed-metaphor police? Never mind.)

According to Powell, one factor in the decision was a jump in the University of Michigan’s measure of long-term inflation expectations, which he described as “eye catching.” I and others warned about making too much of one month’s number, especially because other measures of expected inflation weren’t telling the same story — and to be fair, Powell acknowledged that this was a preliminary number that might be revised. Sure enough, the number was revised down; apparently, inflation expectations aren’t losing their anchor after all. Oopsies.

In fact, the big story right now seems to be a quite sharp decline in market expectations of inflation over the medium term.

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U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 showed two identities of Secret Service: Gutsy heroes vs. Trump yes-men, Carol D. Leonnig, July 2, 2022. 
Testimony by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson put a spotlight on agents tasked with protecting then-President Trump.

A drumbeat of revelations from the House Jan. 6 committee has revealed two dueling identities of the Secret Service under former president Donald Trump — gutsy heroes who blocked the president from a dangerous plan to accompany rioters at the Capitol and political yes-men who were willing to enable his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

secret service logoThe new depiction of the Secret Service — which has endured a decade of controversy from a prostitution scandal and White House security missteps during the Obama years to allegations of politicization under Trump — has cast new doubt on the independence and credibility of the legendary presidential protective agency.

On one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump unsuccessfully cajoled his agents to drive him to Capitol Hill, where he would have joined a mob of his supporters descending violently on the grand symbol of democracy. Some 45 minutes later on the other end, Vice President Mike Pence refused a request of his security detail to get into an armored car — concerned, according to testimony, that his protectors would take him away from the Capitol and prevent him from carrying out his duty to oversee the final count of electoral college votes.

Earlier that day, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Trump had complained that the Secret Service’s “mags,” used to screen people for weapons, were preventing armed supporters from entering his “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse.

“Here you have the Service thrown into a day that was crazy Banana Republic stuff,” said Bill Gage, a former counterassault agent in the Secret Service who protected presidents George W. Bush and Obama. “My God. What would have happened if the agents had let Trump go to the Capitol?”

At the center of the current storm is one key agent — Tony Ornato — who held a highly unusual role in Trump’s orbit. The onetime head of the president’s security detail temporarily left his Secret Service job to work as deputy White House chief of staff. The political assignment was unprecedented in the Secret Service, as Ornato effectively crossed over from civil servant to become a key part of Trump’s effort to get reelected.

Through an agency spokesperson, Ornato has denied Hutchinson’s blockbuster claims given under oath Tuesday that he told her that Trump had lunged at the steering wheel of the Secret Service vehicle carrying the president away from his Jan. 6 rally and that he had reached toward the head of his detail, Robert Engel, in a fit of rage over not being taken to the Capitol.

Ornato and Engel were previously questioned by the committee about that day, and both had confirmed that Trump demanded to be taken to the Capitol and was furious about being told they would not do so, according to people familiar with their testimony. Neither had been asked about Trump’s alleged physical altercation in the car, according to two people briefed on their testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Georgetown tennis coach sentenced to 2.5 years in admissions scandal, Susan Svrluga, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Gordon Ernst helped secure admissions to Georgetown University in exchange for bribes.

The former head tennis coach at Georgetown University was sentenced Friday to more than two years in prison for taking over $3 million in bribes to help wealthy families game admissions to the school.

The sentence for Gordon Ernst — who pleaded guilty last fall to conspiracy and bribery charges — is the harshest punishment yet administered in a sweeping national college-admissions scandal that exposed the intense anxiety families feel about access to elite universities, and how vulnerable the system could be to corruption.

Federal prosecutors described a scheme in which a college consultant in California, William “Rick” Singer, offered wealthy parents, including some celebrities, ways into schools that decline most applicants — helping students to cheat on admissions tests, and bribing coaches and others to label applicants as coveted recruits, even if they had no particular athletic talent.

More than 50 people, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, coaches, business executives and others have pleaded guilty or been convicted in the scandal nicknamed “Varsity Blues” by federal prosecutors.

Ernst, the former head coach of men and women’s tennis at Georgetown, was so well-regarded that he had coached Michelle and Malia Obama. But for more than a decade, federal officials said, Ernst helped at least 22 students get into Georgetown as purported tennis recruits in exchange for nearly $3.5 million in bribes. He did not report all the income on tax returns, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins for the district of Massachusetts.

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More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

National Bureau of Economic Research, More Guns, More Unintended Consequences: The Effects of Right-to-Carry on Criminal Behavior and Policing in US Cities, John J. Donohue, Samuel V. Cai, Matthew V. Bondy and Philip J. Cook (the authors of this working paper are professors at Stanford and Sanford Universities), June 2022.

We analyze a sample of 47 major US cities to illuminate the mechanisms that lead Right-to-Carry concealed handgun laws to increase crime.

The altered behavior of permit holders, career criminals, and the police combine to generate 29 and 32 percent increases in firearm violent crime and firearm robbery respectively.

The increasing firearm violence is facilitated by a massive 35 percent increase in gun theft (p=0.06), with further crime stimulus flowing from diminished police effectiveness, as reflected in a 13 percent decline in violent crime clearance rates (p=0.03).

Any crime-inhibiting benefits from increased gun carrying are swamped by the crime-stimulating impacts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun owners sue D.C., demanding to carry firearms on Metro, Paul Duggan, July 1, 2022 (print ed.).  The plaintiffs say a recent Supreme Court ruling opens the door for guns on buses and Metro trains and that the Metro system is “not populated with individuals who would be high-value targets to a terrorist or active killer.”

Four men with permits to carry concealed handguns in the District sued the city on Thursday, arguing that the ban on carrying firearms in the Metro transit system is unconstitutional under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, cites the Supreme Court’s June 23 decision that makes it harder for governments to restrict the carrying of pistols outside the home. Writing for the court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that to ban concealed handguns in a particular place, “the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The District prohibits people with concealed-carry permits to carry weapons in more than a dozen locations designated “sensitive areas,” including schools, government buildings, polling places, medical offices and businesses serving alcohol, in addition to the transit system. In the lawsuit filed Thursday, the plaintiffs argue that Metro should be removed from the list.

Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine War

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: A Confident Vladimir Putin Shifts Out of Wartime Crisis Mode, Anton Troianovski, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Cloistered and spouting grievances at the start of the war on Ukraine, the Russian leader now appears publicly, projecting the aura of a calm, paternalistic leader shielding his people from the dangers of the world.

Early in his war against Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia (shown in a May 13 photo via CBS News) appeared tense, angry and even disoriented. He spent days out of the public eye, threatened the West with nuclear strikes, and lashed out at antiwar Russians as “scum.”

But in June, a new Putin has emerged, very much resembling his prewar image: relaxed, patient and self-confident.

Holding court with young people, he compared himself casually to Peter the Great, Russia’s first emperor. Addressing an economic conference, he dismissed the notion that sanctions could isolate Russia and crowed that they were harming the West even more. And on Wednesday, he strode, smiling, across a sun-baked airport tarmac in Turkmenistan, slinging off his suit jacket before ducking into his Russian-made armored limousine to head for a five-country summit meeting.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: At least 18 dead in Odessa region after Russian attack, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng, Ellen Francis and Julian Duplain, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). At least 18 people were killed and 31 injured when a Russian strike hit a residential building and a recreation center in the Odessa region, Ukrainian officials said early Friday. Two children were among the dead, they added.

Russia more than doubled the rate of its missile strikes in the last two weeks, according to a Ukrainian general, who said many of the Russian munitions date back to the Soviet era and are inaccurate, resulting in high civilian casualties.

Ukrainian forces, while outgunned, this week retook the strategically important Snake Island. But Russia continued to make minimal advances around the eastern city of Lysychansk and had “partial success” trying to seize the city’s oil refinery, according to Ukraine. Footage from Russian state media appeared to show some fighters inside the plant, one of the largest in Ukraine.

American WNBA star Brittney Griner is scheduled to stand trial Friday on drug charges in a Moscow court after customs officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage at a Moscow airport in February, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials and experts on Russia’s legal system expect the proceedings to be a show trial, with a guilty verdict all but certain.

Here’s what else to know

  • President Biden pledged to help defend “every inch” of NATO territory, as a summit that sought to reinvigorate the transatlantic alliance in the face of an expansionist Russia ended Thursday.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a stark Cold War reference the same day, telling reporters that a new iron curtain was descending between Moscow and the West.
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukraine has started exporting electricity to Europe, in an effort to help the continent reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

ny times logoNew York Times, Gridlock in Congress Has Amplified the Power of the Supreme Court, Adam Liptak, July 2, 2022. Dialogue between the branches has become almost entirely one-sided, with the justices accumulating clout at lawmakers’ expense.

On the last day of a turbulent term that included rulings on what the Constitution has to say about abortion, guns and religion, the Supreme Court issued another sort of decision, one that turned on the words of the Clean Air Act.

Without “clear congressional authorization,” the court said, the Environmental Protection Agency was powerless to aggressively address climate change. In years past, that might have been the start of a dialogue with Congress, which after all has the last word on what statutes mean, because it can always pass new ones.

But thanks to legislative gridlock, Congress very seldom responds these days to Supreme Court decisions interpreting its statutes — and that means the balance of power between the branches has shifted, with the justices ascendant.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine War, July 2, 2022. Ill Prepared for Combat, Volunteers Die in Battles Far From Home, Megan Specia, July 2, 2022. Many Ukrainians in western territorial defense units were assigned benign tasks when they first joined. Then they were called to the front to fight.

Yurii Brukhal, an electrician by trade, did not have a very dangerous role when he volunteered for Ukraine’s territorial defense forces at the start of the war. He was assigned to make deliveries and staff a checkpoint in the relative safety of his sleepy village.

Weeks later, his unit deployed from his home in the west to a frontline battle in eastern Ukraine, the center of the fiercest fighting against Russian forces. He was killed on June 10.

Andrii Verteev, who worked in a grocery store in the village, spent the first months of the war guarding a small overpass after work and returning home to his wife and daughter at night. Then he, too, volunteered to head east. He died in battle in Luhansk, only weeks before Mr. Brukhal.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Russian Media Spread False Claims About Ukrainian Nazis, Charlie Smart, July 2, 2022. An analysis of nearly eight million articles about Ukraine from Russian websites shows that references to Nazism have spiked to unprecedented levels.

A data set of nearly eight million articles about Ukraine collected from more than 8,000 Russian websites since 2014 shows that references to Nazism were relatively flat for eight years and then spiked to unprecedented levels on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. They have remained high ever since.

The data, provided by Semantic Visions, a defense analytics company, includes major Russian state media outlets in addition to thousands of smaller Russian websites and blogs. It gives a view of Russia’s attempts to justify its attack on Ukraine and maintain domestic support for the ongoing war by falsely portraying Ukraine as being overrun by far-right extremists.

News stories have falsely claimed that Ukrainian Nazis are using noncombatants as human shields, killing Ukrainian civilians and planning a genocide of Russians.

The strategy was most likely intended to justify what the Kremlin hoped would be a quick ouster of the Ukrainian government, said Larissa Doroshenko, a researcher at Northeastern University who studies disinformation. “It would help to explain why they’re establishing this new country in a sense,” Dr. Doroshenko said. “Because the previous government were Nazis, therefore they had to be replaced.”

Multiple experts on the region said the claim that Ukraine is corrupted by Nazis is false. President Volodymyr Zelensky, who received 73 percent of the vote when he was elected in 2019, is Jewish, and all far-right parties combined received only about 2 percent of parliamentary votes in 2019 — short of the 5 percent threshold for representation.

“We tolerate in most Western democracies significantly higher rates of far-right extremism,” said Monika Richter, head of research and analysis at Semantic Visions and a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.

The common Russian understanding of Nazism hinges on the notion of Nazi Germany as the antithesis of the Soviet Union rather than on the persecution of Jews specifically said Jeffrey Veidlinger, a professor of history and Judaic studies at the University of Michigan. “That’s why they can call a state that has a Jewish president a Nazi state and it doesn’t seem all that discordant to them,” he said.

 

 More on War

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.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Russian forces withdraw from Snake Island; Biden speaks at NATO summit, David Walker, Jennifer Hassan, Bryan Pietsch and Amy Cheng, July 1, 2022 (print ed.).  Analysis: Did Putin inadvertently create a stronger NATO? Finland, Sweden to sign NATO accession protocol Tuesday; Zelensky thanks Britain for additional $1.2 billion to Ukraine.

Russia’s defense ministry says its forces have withdrawn from Snake Island, a highly contested island in the Black Sea that Russia occupied soon after its February invasion. Moscow framed the move as an effort to create a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from Ukraine. Officials in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, however, said Russian troops had evacuated following missile and artillery strikes.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded 144 prisoners each in an exchange that saw the return of some Ukrainian fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant during a brutal siege before Russia seized control of Mariupol. Meanwhile, Russian forces are continuing their offensive operations around Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, where regional governor Serhiy Haidai said 15,000 civilians remain as evacuation efforts continue. “The city itself is under constant fire,” Haidai said.

NATO leaders are meeting Thursday in Madrid for a third and final day. President Biden announced at the gathering Wednesday that the United States will increase its military presence in Europe, citing Russia’s invasion. The new deployments will include a permanent headquarters for the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland.

Here’s what else to know

  • Finland and Sweden are expected to formally sign the NATO accession protocol on Tuesday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin still intends to capture most of Ukraine and the war is likely to grind on, top U.S. intelligence official Avril Haines said.
  • Syria said it will recognize the independence of two self-declared breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine that are aligned with Russia.

Recent Headlines

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

climate change photo

 washington post logoWashington Post, San Antonio had 17 days of triple digit heat in June. There’s usually two, Ian Livingston, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Numerous Texas cities observed a siege of 100-degree days in June amid extreme drought.

Blazing hot and bone-dry Texas is in the midst of a vicious, reinforcing climate cycle. It keeps getting drier as relentless heat saps moisture from the ground. And it keeps getting hotter as the parched soil loses moisture that would help hold the heat in check.

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. is ditching coal. The Supreme Court ruling won’t change that, Steven Mufson, July 1, 2022. When conservative environmental lawyer Jeffrey Holmstead joined the Bracewell firm in late 2006, it represented the whole range of electric power companies, including coal-fired utilities and coal mining firms. Not anymore.

The chief executives of electric utilities, wary of the perils of climate change, are marching away from coal, as well as other fossil fuels.

“Over time it’s clear for reasons largely unrelated to regulations that the U.S. power sector is moving away from coal,” Holmstead said. “In my world it is astonishing.”

That shift in the outlook among top electric utility executives could mute the impact of Thursday’s Supreme Court decision declaring that the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped the authority Congress gave it to limit carbon dioxide emissions at power plants.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden plan could allow more offshore drilling, despite his climate vow, Dino Grandoni, Tyler Pager and Maxine Joselow, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). The proposal, aimed in part to win over Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), falls short of President Biden’s campaign pledge to end fossil fuel leasing for good.

President Biden’s administration opened the door Friday to more offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters over the next five years, setting a potential course for future U.S. fossil fuel extraction just a day after suffering a major climate setback at the Supreme Court.

The proposed program for offshore drilling between 2023 and 2028 would ban exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. But by leaving the possibility for new drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, the announcement falls short of Biden’s campaign promise to end federal fossil fuel leasing for good.

The plan may move the country further from its pledge to slash the nation’s planet-warming pollution in half by 2030 compared with 2005 levels and help avert even fiercer fires, storms and drought driven by rising temperatures. Biden’s climate agenda now hinges on whether Democrats can pass a reconciliation package in the Senate that includes robust environmental policies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The planet is baking. But what’s reality to this Supreme Court? Eugene Robinson, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Another day, another utterly catastrophic ruling from the activist hard-right majority on the Supreme Court. This new decision does even wider damage than taking away the reproductive rights of women in this country. It potentially imperils the future of every human being on Earth.

What the court did Thursday, essentially, puts a stranglehold on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to fight climate change. You might think an existential threat to the planet, already manifest in soaring temperatures and rising seas, would lead even this benighted cadre of conservative justices to step back from the brink. You would be wrong.

washington post logoWashington Post, Think U.S. gas prices are high? Here’s how far $40 goes around the world, Alexa Juliana Ard, Ruby Mellen, Steven Rich and Júlia Ledur, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). U.S. costs remain lower than those in other countries with large economies. The Washington Post spoke to people around the world to see how high fuel expenses affect their lives and what governments are doing — if anything — to cushion the impact. France: Cost of gas: $8.11/gallon.

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.’s Authority on Emissions, Adam Liptak, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.

epa general logoThe vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent, saying that the majority had stripped the E.P.A. of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

The decision appeared to rule out approaches to regulation like a cap-and-trade system at a time when experts are issuing dire warnings on climate change.

The ruling further signals that the court’s conservative majority is deeply skeptical of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues.

The “major questions doctrine” requires Congress to authorize in plain and direct language any sweeping actions by administrative agencies that could transform the economy.

The doctrine, a judicially created principle of statutory interpretation, follows from the premise that Congress, as the Supreme Court put it in a 2001 decision, “does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions — it does not, one might say, hide elephants in mouse holes.”

 joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden chastises court, backs setting aside filibuster to codify abortion rights, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Today, President Biden chastised the Supreme Court for “outrageous behavior” and said he would support an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it easier to write abortion protections into law.

Biden, speaking on the world stage in Madrid, called the court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade “destabilizing” and said an exception should be made to a Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.

Meanwhile, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is poised Thursday to make history, becoming the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is scheduled to be sworn in during a ceremony at the court at noon Eastern time, just minutes after Justice Stephen G. Breyer makes his retirement official. Biden’s nominee was confirmed by the Senate in April but has been waiting for Breyer to conclude his tenure.

Before the ceremony, the court is expected to issue its final two opinions of a highly significant term. The remaining cases concern the “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy enacted under President Donald Trump and the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

scotus gop six

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court lets N.Y. vaccine mandate stand without religious exemption, Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Three conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, objected to their colleagues’ refusal to review the state’s requirement.

Over the objection of three justices, the Supreme Court on Thursday left in place New York’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for health-care workers that does not include a religious exemption.

The court’s action came on the final day of the term, as the justices also announced which cases they will review when the court reconvenes in October. Notably, they declined to take additional cases concerning significant rulings this month to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion and expand the right to carry firearms in public. Instead, the justices returned to lower courts more than a half-dozen related matters and instructed those judges to look again at their rulings on the basis of the Supreme Court’s new guidance.

In the New York vaccination case, the court had rejected in December an emergency request from doctors, nurses and other medical workers who said they were being forced to choose between their livelihoods and their faith. They said they should receive a religious exemption because the state’s rule allows one for those who decline the vaccine for medical reasons.

 

scotus democracy docket state legs

washington post logoWashington Post, A radical change in how federal elections are conducted will be reviewed in court’s next term, Robert Barnes, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The justices will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map rejected by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider what would be a radical change in the way federal elections are conducted, giving state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for contests even if their actions violated state constitutions and resulted in extreme partisan gerrymandering for congressional seats.

The court will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map that was drawn by the GOP-led legislature but rejected as a violation of the state constitution by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court in March let the North Carolina high court ruling stand for the upcoming fall elections. But three of the court’s conservative justices at the time said they were skeptical state courts had a role in refereeing the rules for federal elections, and a fourth said the issue was ripe for consideration.

Supreme Court rejects GOP request to overturn congressional maps in NC, Pennyslvania

State courts have played an influential role in the congressional redistricting battles following the 2020 Census. Judges have reined in Republican gerrymanders in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, for instance, and rejected maps drawn by Democratic-led legislatures in New York and Maryland.

But the effort to have the Supreme Court examine what is called the independent state legislature doctrine has been a Republican-led effort. The GOP controls both houses of the legislature in 30 states.

The doctrine comes from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” While most often invoked in the redistricting process, the independent state legislature doctrine would also give lawmakers control over issues such as voter qualification, voting by mail and other election procedures.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Politico, Analysis:The conservative Supreme Court is just getting warmed up, Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Affirmative action, voting rights and state power over elections are on the line next.

The massive jolt the new conservative Supreme Court supermajority delivered to the political system last week by overturning Roe v. Wade could just be the beginning.

politico CustomThe next targets could include voting rights, state courts’ power over elections, affirmative action and laws banning discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Even as the justices wrapped up their work and began their summer break Thursday following an unusually rocky term, the court signaled that its poor standing with the public won’t deter justices from taking up ideologically-charged disputes that could sow havoc in American politics.

In addition to overturning a nearly half-century-long federal right to an abortion, the court struck down gun-licensing laws in the most populous states, expanded state funding for religious schools, broadened the rights of public-school employees to pray publicly at work and halted lower court orders requiring two states to redraw congressional boundaries to give minority voters a better chance of electing candidates of their choice.

“What the court did just on abortion, guns and congressional power in the last eight days—that alone is momentous [but] if these justices stay together over the next few years, I don’t even think the first shoe has dropped,” University of California at Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen said. “There’s so much more the Supreme Court could do to change American society.”

On Thursday, minutes after dealing a severe blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce power-plant emissions to combat climate change, the high court announced it will take up a case from North Carolina next term that could give state legislatures vast power to draw district lines and set election rules even if state courts, commissions or executive officials disagree.

The so-called independent state legislature theory has lingered at the fringes of election-law debates for years, but was seized upon by former President Donald Trump in 2020 in his unsuccessful efforts to overturn Biden’s win.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory,” Hasen said. “It could have some far-reaching and unintended consequences.”

Recent Headlines

 

Pandemic Public Health, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: How one doctor wrecked the pandemic response, Editorial Board, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). In the very early days of the pandemic, a health policy expert and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Scott Atlas, below right, wrote to a high-level government official in Washington that lockdowns and other measures were wrong.

“The panic needs to be stopped both about the need for lockdown and even a frantic need for urgent testing,” he said on March 21, 2020. This set the tone for a strategy known as herd immunity that he advocated at the White House starting in July as an aide to President Donald Trump. It was misguided, costly and wrong.

scott atlas resized The full extent of his advice and influence is disclosed in the majority staff report of the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, published on June 21. Through emails and other documents, as well as interviews with participants, including Dr. Atlas, it provides a disturbing examination of the Trump pandemic response in that ill-fated election year before vaccines were available. According to the report, the administration embraced “a dangerous and discredited herd immunity via mass infection strategy,” which “likely resulted in many deaths that would have been prevented by an effective national mitigation strategy.” The House report underscores the role in this effort of Dr. Atlas, who attended meetings in the Oval Office, huddled with other White House advisers, edited the president’s prepared remarks, and altered guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The herd immunity idea advanced by Dr. Atlas and others called for protecting the most vulnerable, primarily the elderly, but allowing the virus to spread through the rest of the population to create natural immunity. The approach discouraged masks, lockdowns and testing. For example, in August, according to the report, Dr. Atlas provided extensive comments on draft testing guidance by the CDC, repeatedly inserting language to narrow testing recommendations. He also was against face masks, writing to other White House aides on Oct. 4, “In fact, there is vanishingly little hard evidence that masks actually work to block transmission of the virus.”

It’s true that natural immunity exists, and must be considered in any pandemic response. But in the Trump administration, herd immunity was too often an excuse for inaction. Masks did work. Testing is important. A strategy of mass infection risked exposing untold numbers to long covid. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, wrote in August that she could not join a meeting on herd immunity with people “who believe we are fine with only protecting the 1.5M Americans” in long-term care facilities “and not the 80M+ with co-morbidities.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Vladimir Zelenko, 48, Dies; Promoted an Unfounded Covid Treatment, Clay Risen, July 2, 2022 (print ed.).  self-described “simple country doctor,” he won national attention in 2020 when the White House embraced his hydroxychloroquine regimen.

Vladimir Zelenko, a self-described “simple country doctor” from upstate New York who rocketed to prominence in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic when his controversial treatment for the coronavirus gained White House support, died on Thursday in Dallas. He was 48.

His wife, Rinat Zelenko, said he died of lung cancer at a hospital where he was receiving treatment.

Until early 2020, Dr. Zelenko, who was also known by his Hebrew name, Zev, spent his days caring for patients in and around Kiryas Joel, a village of about 35,000 Hasidic Jews roughly an hour northwest of New York City.

Like many health care providers, he scrambled when the coronavirus began to appear in his community. Within weeks he had landed on what he insisted was an effective cure: a three-drug cocktail of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc sulfate.

He was not the first physician to promote hydroxychloroquine. But he began to draw national attention on March 21 — two days after President Donald J. Trump first mentioned the drug in a press briefing — when Dr. Zelenko posted a video to YouTube and Facebook in which he claimed a 100 percent success rate with the treatment. He implored Mr. Trump to adopt it.

A day later, Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, reached out to Dr. Zelenko for more information. So did talk-show bookers. Over the next week Dr. Zelenko made the rounds on conservative media, speaking on podcasts hosted by Steve Bannon and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Sean Hannity of Fox News touted his research during an interview with Vice President Mike Pence.

“At the time, it was a brand-new finding, and I viewed it like a commander in the battlefield,” Dr. Zelenko told The New York Times. “I realized I needed to speak to the five-star general.”

On March 28, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and another antimalarial drug, chloroquine, to treat Covid. Mr. Trump called the treatment “very effective” and possibly “the biggest game changer in the history of medicine.”

But, as fellow medical professionals began to point out, Dr. Zelenko had only his own anecdotal evidence to support his case, and what little research had been done painted a mixed picture.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis, Chris Hamby and Michael Forsythe (The reporters pored over a trove of more than 100,000 documents to investigate McKinsey’s unknown work for opioid makers), June 30, 2022 (print ed.). A trove of documents revealed how the consulting firm helped clients target doctors, drive up sales and market pills twice as potent as OxyContin.

In patches of rural Appalachia and the Rust Belt, the health authorities were sounding alarms that a powerful painkiller called Opana had become the drug of choice among people abusing prescription pills.

It was twice as potent as OxyContin, the painkiller widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, and was relatively easy to dissolve and inject. By 2015, government investigations and scientific publications had linked its misuse to clusters of disease, including a rare and life-threatening blood disorder and an H.I.V. outbreak in Indiana.

Opana’s manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Endo, had scaled back promotion of the drug. But months later, the company abruptly changed course, refocusing resources on the drug by assigning more sales representatives.

The push was known internally as the Sales Force Blitz — and it was conducted with consultants at McKinsey & Company, who had been hired by Endo to provide marketing advice about its chronic-pain medicines and other products.

The untold story of McKinsey’s work for Endo was among the revelations found by The New York Times in a repository of more than 100,000 documents obtained by a coalition of state attorneys general in a legal settlement related to McKinsey’s opioid work.

Much has been disclosed over the years about McKinsey’s relationship with Purdue Pharma, including the consulting firm’s recommendation that the drug maker “turbocharge” its sales of OxyContin. But The Times found that the firm played a far deeper and broader role in advising clients involved in the opioid crisis than was publicly disclosed.

The newly released McKinsey records include more than 15 years of emails, slide presentations, spreadsheets, proposals and other documents. They provide a sweeping and detailed depiction of a firm that became a trusted adviser to companies at the core of an epidemic that has claimed half a million American lives.

Recent Headlines

 

Media, Religion, Education, Sports News

 

martin cooper ap 1973Cellphone inventor Marty Cooper is seen holding up his Motorola DynaTAC in 2003 — 30 years after he made the first-ever cell phone call in front of stunned newspaper reporters (Associated Press Photo).

New York Post, Inventor of world’s first cellphone: Put down your devices and ‘get a life,’ Andrew Court, July 1, 2022. Inventor of world’s first cellphone: Put down your devices and ‘get a life.’

The inventor of the world’s first cellphone says he’s stunned by how much time people now waste on their devices, telling users to “get a life.”

Martin Cooper, 92, made the declaration during an interview with “BBC Breakfast” on Thursday, responding to a co-host who claimed she whiled away upwards of five hours per day on her phone.

“‘Do you really? You really spend five hours a day? Get a life!” he stated, before bursting into laughter.

Chicago-based Cooper invented the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X — the world’s first cellphone — back in 1973.

The engineer had been working at Motorola for more than two decades and was frustrated by the growing popularity of car phones.

“People had been wired to their desks and their kitchens for over 100 years, and now they’re gonna wire us to our cars, where we spend 5% of our time?” Cooper recalled thinking in a recent interview with CBS News.

He subsequently came up with the idea to make a portable phone that people could bring with them into their car, but also take out of the vehicle and use while they were out and about running errands.

Before he focused on the mechanics of the cellphone, he envisioned what the device would look like, saying he wanted it to be “small enough to put in your pocket, but big enough so that it could go between your ears and your mouth.”

Cooper wanted each person to have their own phone number — which he now calls his “greatest accomplishment.” Until that time, phone numbers had been associated with places, such as a home, car or desk.

Motorola subsequently poured millions into Cooper’s project and it took the engineer and his team just three months to make the phone, given they had used similar technology to previously put together police radios.

Once the device was completed, it was named the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. It weighed 2½ pounds and was 10 inches long. It lasted just 25 minutes before it ran out of battery and took a whopping 10 hours to recharge.
Cooper is seen holding the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X in Manhattan on April 4, 1873 — the day after he made the first ever cell phone call.

Cooper is seen holding the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X in Manhattan on April 4, 1973 — the day after he made the first-ever cellphone call.

On April 3, 1973, Cooper made the first-ever cellphone call using the device, deciding to ring his competitor, Joel Engel, who was working as a head engineer at AT&T.

The event took place outdoors in front of reporters in Midtown Manhattan, with Cooper dialing Engel’s landline.

“Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cellphone, a real handheld portable cellphone,” he stated, as the reporters watched on in amazement.

washington post logoWashington Post, LAPD confirms Miles Bridges’s domestic violence arrest; wife details injuries, Matt Bonesteel, July 2, 2022. Miles Bridges, one of the bigger names of this summer’s NBA free agency period, was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The L.A. Police Department confirmed the details in a statement Friday, saying that Bridges was arrested for “intimate partner violence with injury” following an incident Monday in West Los Angeles.

According to online records, Bridges was booked and released on $130,000 bond Wednesday evening. His arraignment is July 20.

Bridges’s wife, Mychelle Johnson, shared photos of various injuries Friday on Instagram, as well as an apparent medical report. Dated Tuesday, the report listed her diagnosis as: “Adult victim of physical abuse by male partner; assault by strangulation; brain concussion; closed fracture of nasal bone; contusion of rib; multiple bruises; strain of neck muscle.”

“I hate that it has come to this but I can’t be silent anymore,” Johnson wrote on Instagram. “I’ve allowed someone to destroy my home, abuse me in every way possible and traumatize our kids for life. … I won’t allow the people around him to continue to silence me and continue to lie to protect this person.”

Johnson also said she suffered “torn muscles in my neck from being choked until I went to sleep.”

Bridges, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged a career-best 20.2 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Charlotte Hornets last season, his fourth in the NBA after he was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Michigan State. He is a restricted free agent and the Hornets have given him a qualifying offer, meaning they can match offers from other teams. Before his arrest, he was expected to draw sizable offers from a number of teams, including the Detroit Pistons (Bridges hails from Flint, Mich.) and Indiana Pacers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: As Watergate simmered, Nixon buckled down on a sportswriting project, Frederic J. Frommer, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). In the early days of Watergate, President Richard M. Nixon was asked to assemble a list of his all-time greatest baseball players. His nearly 3,000-word opus appeared in newspapers across the country 50 years ago today.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two more newspapers close every week — and ‘news deserts’ grow larger, Margaret Sullivan, right, June 30, 2022 (print ed.).  In margaret sullivan 2015 photopoorer, less-wired parts of the U.S., it’s harder to find credible news about your local community. That has dire implications for democracy. Penelope Muse Abernathy may be the nation’s foremost expert on what media researchers call “news deserts”— and she’s worried.

News deserts are communities lacking a news source that provides meaningful and trustworthy local reporting on issues such as health, government and the environment. It’s a vacuum that leaves residents ignorant of what’s going on in their world, incapable of fully participating as informed citizens. What’s their local government up to? northwestern logoWho deserves their vote? How are their tax dollars being spent? All are questions that go unanswered in a news desert.

Local newspapers are hardly the only news sources that can do the job, but they are the ones that have traditionally filled that role. And they are disappearing.

One-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public Wednesday from Northwestern University’s Medill School, where Abernathy is a visiting professor.

 

July 1

Top Headlines

 

More On U.S. Courts’ Radical Activism

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

 

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

World News, Global Human Rights

 

U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

 

More On Ukraine War

 

More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

 

Pandemic, Public Health, Disasters 

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

Media, Religion, Education, Sports News

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Two more newspapers close every week — and ‘news deserts’ grow larger, Margaret Sullivan

 

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.’s Authority on Emissions, Adam Liptak, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.

epa general logoThe vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent, saying that the majority had stripped the E.P.A. of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

The decision appeared to rule out approaches to regulation like a cap-and-trade system at a time when experts are issuing dire warnings on climate change.

The ruling further signals that the court’s conservative majority is deeply skeptical of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues.

The “major questions doctrine” requires Congress to authorize in plain and direct language any sweeping actions by administrative agencies that could transform the economy.

The doctrine, a judicially created principle of statutory interpretation, follows from the premise that Congress, as the Supreme Court put it in a 2001 decision, “does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions — it does not, one might say, hide elephants in mouse holes.”

 joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden chastises court, backs setting aside filibuster to codify abortion rights, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Today, President Biden chastised the Supreme Court for “outrageous behavior” and said he would support an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it easier to write abortion protections into law.

Biden, speaking on the world stage in Madrid, called the court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade “destabilizing” and said an exception should be made to a Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.

Meanwhile, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is poised Thursday to make history, becoming the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is scheduled to be sworn in during a ceremony at the court at noon Eastern time, just minutes after Justice Stephen G. Breyer makes his retirement official. Biden’s nominee was confirmed by the Senate in April but has been waiting for Breyer to conclude his tenure.

Before the ceremony, the court is expected to issue its final two opinions of a highly significant term. The remaining cases concern the “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy enacted under President Donald Trump and the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

scotus gop six

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court lets N.Y. vaccine mandate stand without religious exemption, Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Three conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, objected to their colleagues’ refusal to review the state’s requirement.

Over the objection of three justices, the Supreme Court on Thursday left in place New York’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for health-care workers that does not include a religious exemption.

The court’s action came on the final day of the term, as the justices also announced which cases they will review when the court reconvenes in October. Notably, they declined to take additional cases concerning significant rulings this month to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion and expand the right to carry firearms in public. Instead, the justices returned to lower courts more than a half-dozen related matters and instructed those judges to look again at their rulings on the basis of the Supreme Court’s new guidance.

In the New York vaccination case, the court had rejected in December an emergency request from doctors, nurses and other medical workers who said they were being forced to choose between their livelihoods and their faith. They said they should receive a religious exemption because the state’s rule allows one for those who decline the vaccine for medical reasons.

 

scotus democracy docket state legs

washington post logoWashington Post, A radical change in how federal elections are conducted will be reviewed in court’s next term, Robert Barnes, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The justices will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map rejected by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider what would be a radical change in the way federal elections are conducted, giving state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for contests even if their actions violated state constitutions and resulted in extreme partisan gerrymandering for congressional seats.

The court will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map that was drawn by the GOP-led legislature but rejected as a violation of the state constitution by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court in March let the North Carolina high court ruling stand for the upcoming fall elections. But three of the court’s conservative justices at the time said they were skeptical state courts had a role in refereeing the rules for federal elections, and a fourth said the issue was ripe for consideration.

Supreme Court rejects GOP request to overturn congressional maps in NC, Pennyslvania

State courts have played an influential role in the congressional redistricting battles following the 2020 Census. Judges have reined in Republican gerrymanders in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, for instance, and rejected maps drawn by Democratic-led legislatures in New York and Maryland.

But the effort to have the Supreme Court examine what is called the independent state legislature doctrine has been a Republican-led effort. The GOP controls both houses of the legislature in 30 states.

The doctrine comes from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” While most often invoked in the redistricting process, the independent state legislature doctrine would also give lawmakers control over issues such as voter qualification, voting by mail and other election procedures.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Politico, Analysis:The conservative Supreme Court is just getting warmed up, Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Affirmative action, voting rights and state power over elections are on the line next.

The massive jolt the new conservative Supreme Court supermajority delivered to the political system last week by overturning Roe v. Wade could just be the beginning.

politico CustomThe next targets could include voting rights, state courts’ power over elections, affirmative action and laws banning discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Even as the justices wrapped up their work and began their summer break Thursday following an unusually rocky term, the court signaled that its poor standing with the public won’t deter justices from taking up ideologically-charged disputes that could sow havoc in American politics.

In addition to overturning a nearly half-century-long federal right to an abortion, the court struck down gun-licensing laws in the most populous states, expanded state funding for religious schools, broadened the rights of public-school employees to pray publicly at work and halted lower court orders requiring two states to redraw congressional boundaries to give minority voters a better chance of electing candidates of their choice.

“What the court did just on abortion, guns and congressional power in the last eight days—that alone is momentous [but] if these justices stay together over the next few years, I don’t even think the first shoe has dropped,” University of California at Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen said. “There’s so much more the Supreme Court could do to change American society.”

On Thursday, minutes after dealing a severe blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce power-plant emissions to combat climate change, the high court announced it will take up a case from North Carolina next term that could give state legislatures vast power to draw district lines and set election rules even if state courts, commissions or executive officials disagree.

The so-called independent state legislature theory has lingered at the fringes of election-law debates for years, but was seized upon by former President Donald Trump in 2020 in his unsuccessful efforts to overturn Biden’s win.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory,” Hasen said. “It could have some far-reaching and unintended consequences.”

 

From left: Cassidy Hutchinson; Michael Cohen; Randy Credico (Washington Post Photos by Demetrius Freeman; Jahi Chikwendiu; and Astrid Riecken).

From left: Cassidy Hutchinson; Michael Cohen; Randy Credico (Washington Post Photos by Demetrius Freeman; Jahi Chikwendiu; and Astrid Riecken).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: How Trump World pressures witnesses to deny his possible wrongdoing, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, July 1, 2022. Donald Trump and his allies shower potential witnesses with private flattery while publicly blasting those who cross him.

As rumors flew in the spring of 2018 that Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was preparing to flip on his former boss and offer potentially damaging testimony to federal prosecutors, Cohen received an email.

“You are ‘loved,’ ” read the email, which indicated it was relaying comments from former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and was quoted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 2019 report. “Sleep well tonight … you have friends in high places.”

It was one of a number of times messages of cajoling support or bullying encouragement were delivered to potentially important Mueller witnesses.

And it was strikingly similar to the communications Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said on Tuesday had been received by witnesses who have testified for the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Evidence across multiple state, federal and congressional investigations points to a similar pattern: Trump and his close allies privately shower potential witnesses with flattery and attention, extending vague assurances that staying loyal to Trump would be better than crossing him.

Meanwhile, Trump publicly blasts those who offer testimony against him in bluntly personal terms, offering a clear example to others of the consequences of stepping out of line.

“Donald Trump never changes his playbook,” Cohen said in an interview. “He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.”

A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Cheney recounted that committee members have asked each witness connected to Trump’s administration or campaign whether they have been contacted by former colleagues or others who have “attempted to influence or impact their testimony.”

She described two responses that she said raised “significant concern.”

A witness, Cheney said, told the committee about receiving phone calls indicating that Trump reads transcripts and “to keep that in mind” during interviews with the committee.

“What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect. You know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World,” Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, said the witness testified.

Cheney described another call received by a witness. “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” she said, quoting the witness.

Cheney did not identify the witnesses who had been contacted. But a person familiar with the committee’s work said both quotes came from Cassidy Hutchinson, the 25-year-old former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. Her explosive testimony Tuesday that Trump knew the rioters were armed when he urged them to march on the Capitol has become a signature moment in the committee’s investigation.

Related stories below:

 

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris introduce at a White House ceremony Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson, center, a judge on the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals (pool photo, Feb. 25, 2022).

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris introduce at a White House ceremony Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson, center, a judge on the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals (pool photo, Feb. 25, 2022). She is shown below at right on June 30 with the retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, whom she replaced.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes First Black Female Supreme Court Justice, Annie Karni, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Ketanji Brown Jackson took the judicial oath just after noon on Thursday, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Justice Jackson, 51, was confirmed in April, when the Senate voted 53 to 47 on her nomination. She is replacing Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 83, who stepped down with the conclusion of the court’s current term.

ketanji brown jackson stephen breyerJustice Jackson took both a constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and a judicial oath, administered by Justice Breyer, making her the nation’s 116th justice and sixth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

The brief swearing-in ceremony took place in the West Conference Room at the Supreme Court, before a small gathering of Judge Jackson’s family, including her two daughters. Her husband, Dr. Patrick G. Jackson, held the two Bibles on which she swore: a family Bible and a King James Version that is the property of the court.

“I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice Roberts said and shook her hand. He added that there would be a formal investiture in the fall, but the oaths would “allow her to undertake her duties, and she’s been anxious to get to them without any further delay.”

Justice Jackson made no statement.

Her rise to the court will not change its ideological balance — the newly expanded conservative wing will retain its 6-to-3 majority.

She joins at a time of sharp polarization about the court, especially in the wake of its ruling striking down Roe v. Wade and ending the constitutional right to abortion, and in the wake of rulings in which the court has shown its deep skepticism of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues facing the country.

Minutes after Justice Jackson’s swearing-in, anti-abortion protesters staging a peaceful sit-in were arrested outside the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration and Justice Jackson have underscored the historic import of her elevation to the nation’s highest court.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Take me up to the Capitol now’: How close Trump came to joining rioters, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, July 1, 2022. Trump’s demands to lead a march to Capitol Hill sheds new light on his mindset as the siege began.

Toward the end of 2020, then-President Donald Trump began raising a new idea with aides: that he would personally lead a march to the Capitol on the following Jan. 6.

Trump brought it up repeatedly with key advisers in the Oval Office, according to a person who talked with him about it. The president told others he wanted a dramatic, made-for-TV moment that could pressure Republican lawmakers to support his demand to throw out the electoral college results showing that Joe Biden had defeated him, the person said.

The excursion that almost happened came into clearer focus this week, as the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 presented explosive testimony and records detailing Trump’s fervent demands to lead his supporters mobbing the seat of government. Though Trump’s trip was ultimately thwarted by his own security officers, the new evidence cuts closer to the critical question of what he knew about the violence in store for that day.

Trump has acknowledged his foiled effort to reach the Capitol. “Secret Service wouldn’t let me,” he told The Washington Post in April. “I wanted to go. I wanted to go so badly. Secret Service says you can’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.”

But as Trump repeatedly floated the idea in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, several of his advisers doubted he meant it or didn’t take the suggestion seriously. One senior administration official said Trump raised the prospect repeatedly but in a “joking manner.”

As a result, the White House staff never turned Trump’s stated desires into concrete plans. Press officers made no preparations for a detour to the Capitol, such as scheduling an additional stop for the motorcade and the pool of reporters who follow the president’s movements. There was no operational advance plan drafted for the visit. No speech was written for him to deliver on the Hill, and it wasn’t clear exactly what Trump would do when he got there, said the person who talked with Trump about the idea.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: At least 18 dead in Odessa region after Russian attack, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng, Ellen Francis and Julian Duplain, July 1, 2022. At least 18 people were killed and 31 injured when a Russian strike hit a residential building and a recreation center in the Odessa region, Ukrainian officials said early Friday. Two children were among the dead, they added.

Russia more than doubled the rate of its missile strikes in the last two weeks, according to a Ukrainian general, who said many of the Russian munitions date back to the Soviet era and are inaccurate, resulting in high civilian casualties.

Ukrainian forces, while outgunned, this week retook the strategically important Snake Island. But Russia continued to make minimal advances around the eastern city of Lysychansk and had “partial success” trying to seize the city’s oil refinery, according to Ukraine. Footage from Russian state media appeared to show some fighters inside the plant, one of the largest in Ukraine.

American WNBA star Brittney Griner is scheduled to stand trial Friday on drug charges in a Moscow court after customs officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage at a Moscow airport in February, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials and experts on Russia’s legal system expect the proceedings to be a show trial, with a guilty verdict all but certain.

Here’s what else to know

  • President Biden pledged to help defend “every inch” of NATO territory, as a summit that sought to reinvigorate the transatlantic alliance in the face of an expansionist Russia ended Thursday.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a stark Cold War reference the same day, telling reporters that a new iron curtain was descending between Moscow and the West.
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukraine has started exporting electricity to Europe, in an effort to help the continent reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

 

More On U.S. Supreme Court’s Radical Activism

washington post logoWashington Post, Voting patterns in major rulings of 2022 reflect conservative ascendance, Ann E. Marimow, Aadit Tambe and Adrian Blanco, July 1, 2022. An emboldened 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court rolled backed abortion rights, expanded the rights of gun owners and strengthened the role of religion in public life.

The unprecedented leak of a draft majority opinion to overturn Roe in May rocked a court already grappling with highly controversial cases and facing intense public pressure. Protesters demonstrate at the justices’ homes, while the courthouse is closed to the public and surrounded by a high security fence. A California man was charged with planning to kill Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is seeking to interview the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the nationwide right to abortion dominated one of the court’s most consequential terms. The emboldened 6-3 conservative majority, with three nominees of President Donald Trump, wasted little time expanding the rights of gun owners to carry firearms in public, strengthening the role of religion in public life and sharply curtailing the Biden administration’s power to combat climate change.

ny times logoNew York Times, The ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency case is the product of a multiyear G.O.P. drive to tilt courts against climate action, Coral Davenport, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The case decided on Thursday, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming.

Coming up through the federal courts are more climate cases, some featuring novel legal arguments, each carefully selected for its potential to reduce the government’s ability to regulate industries and businesses that produce greenhouse gases.

“The West Virginia vs. E.P.A. case is unusual, but it’s emblematic of the bigger picture. A.G.s are willing to use these unusual strategies more,” said Paul Nolette, a professor of political science at Marquette University who has studied state attorneys general.

The plaintiffs say they want to hem in what they call the administrative state, the E.P.A. and other federal agencies that set rules and regulations that affect the American economy. That should be the role of Congress, which is more accountable to voters, said Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general and one of the leaders of the Republican group bringing the lawsuits.

But Congress has barely addressed the issue of climate change. Instead, for decades it has delegated authority to the agencies because it lacks the expertise possessed by the specialists who write the complicated rules and regulations, and who can respond quickly to changes in the science, particularly when Capitol Hill is gridlocked.

West Virginia v. E.P.A. is also notable for the tangle of connections between the plaintiffs and the Supreme Court justices who will decide their case. The Republican plaintiffs share many of the donors who were behind efforts to nominate and confirm five of the Republicans on the bench — John G. Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

“It’s a pincer move,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the progressive watchdog group True North Research and a former senior Justice Department official. “They are teeing up the attorneys to bring the litigation before the same judges that they handpicked.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Supreme Court ends a disastrous term by gutting climate change rules, Editorial Board, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court ended its term Thursday with another controversial ruling — not because the court had to but because the conservative majority wanted to. The result in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is that the EPA is now far more limited in its ability to fight climate change. It also means other federal agencies are on notice that the court might tell them, too, that they suddenly lack the authority to respond to major problems in the areas Congress has tasked them to oversee.

The case revolves around Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which authorizes the EPA to impose limits on pollution sources based on the “best system of emissions reduction.” During the Obama administration, the agency determined the best system to cut emissions from power plants involved shifting away from highly polluting coal-fired electricity to cleaner natural gas and renewables. It was not widely disputed.

But the court declared that the agency overstepped its authority when it wrote a rule that would encourage fuel-switching, because Congress did not clearly task the agency “with balancing the many vital considerations of national policy implicated in the basic regulation of how Americans get their energy.” Reshaping the electricity sector is a “major question” of policy, the court argued, and the EPA must show that Congress clearly delegated to the agency powers of such breadth.

“But that is just what Congress did when it broadly authorized EPA in Section 111 to select the ‘best system of emission reduction’ for power plants,” Justice Elena Kagan countered in a dissent. “The ‘best system’ full stop — no ifs, ands, or buts of any kind relevant here.”

Congress regularly gives agencies flexibility to respond to novel problems. The Clean Air Act gave the EPA broad powers to regulate pollutants, because the agency can leverage scientific expertise to address significant environmental threats with a speed and exactitude that Congress cannot. “The majority today overrides that legislative choice,” Justice Kagan wrote. “In so doing, it deprives EPA of the power needed — and the power granted — to curb the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Going forward, the court did not forbid the EPA from writing a new greenhouse gas rule — just under substantial limits that seem likely to make any resulting regulation ineffective. The decision also raises broader questions about when and how all federal agencies, not just the EPA, can act in the public interest. Some observers said they worried the court would use this case to aggressively rein in the administrative state. The court did not go as far as they had feared, but judges could still use the new precedent to overturn all sorts of rules they dislike.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Federal Climate-Fighting Tools Are Taken Away, Cities and States Step Up, Maggie Astor, July 1, 2022. This week, the Supreme Court curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The efforts of local governments, in some cases bridging partisan divides, will become increasingly important as the national strategy weakens.

During the Trump administration, which aggressively weakened environmental and climate protections, local efforts gained importance. Now, experts say, local action is even more critical for the United States — which is second only to China in emissions — to have a chance at helping the world avert the worst effects of global warming.

ny times logoNew York Times, E.P.A. Ruling Is a Milestone in the Pushback Against Regulating Business, Charlie Savage, June 30, 2022. The decision created more opportunities to challenge regulations, reflecting conservative legal theories developed to rein in administrative agencies.

The ruling widens an opening to attack a government structure that, in the 20th century, became the way American society imposes rules on businesses: Agencies set up by Congress come up with the specific methods of ensuring that the air and water are clean, that food, drugs, vehicles and consumer products are safe, and that financial firms follow the rules.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are the major Supreme Court decisions in 2022 so far, Adam Liptak and Jason Kao, Updated July 1, 2022 (print ed.).  The leak in May of a draft of the decision overruling Roe v. Wade seemed to expose new fault lines at the Supreme Court in the first full term in which it has been dominated by a 6-to-3 conservative supermajority, including three justices appointed by President Donald J. Trump. The court’s public approval ratings have been dropping, and its new configuration has raised questions about whether it is out of step with public opinion.

According to a recent survey from researchers at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Texas, the public is closely divided on how the court should rule in several major cases. In many of them, though, respondents held starkly different views based on their partisan affiliations. Here is a look at the major cases this term.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Dobbs Is Not the Only Reason to Question the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court, Ezra Klein, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Since the Dobbs decision came down, I’ve heard a lot of liberals lamenting the Republican theft of the Supreme Court.

As the story goes, Mitch McConnell stole the majority when he refused to give Merrick Garland so much as a hearing in 2016, holding the vacancy open until Donald Trump took office in 2017. McConnell’s justification was his deep commitment to small-d democracy: No seat should be filled in a presidential election year; the people should be given a chance to weigh in. In 2020, he lit that invented principle aflame when he rushed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The vote on Barrett took place eight days before Election Day.

mitch mcconnellMcConnell, right, gaslit the nation, but he didn’t steal any seats. Nothing he did was against the rules, which was why Democrats found themselves powerless to stop him. Liberals, in their anger, have too often ignored the logic of McConnell’s actions. He understood what too many have ignored: America’s age of norms is over. This is the age of power. And there’s a reason for that.

Let’s start here: The Supreme Court has changed. In the ’50s and ’60s, you would have had a hard time inferring a justice’s political background from his votes, as this analysis by Lee Epstein and Eric Posner shows. In the ’90s, Byron White, a Democratic appointee, had a more conservative voting record than all but two of the Republican-appointed justices — Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist. John Paul Stevens, an anchor of the court’s liberal wing until his retirement in 2010, was appointed by Gerald Ford, a Republican.

But this record of independence was understood, by the parties that produced it, as a record of failure. The vetting process by which nominees are chosen was revamped to all but guarantee ideological predictability. In recent years, “justices have hardly ever voted against the ideology of the president who appointed them,” Epstein and Posner find.

Our political system is not designed for political parties this different, and this antagonistic. It wasn’t designed for political parties at all. The three branches of our system were intended to check each other through competition. Instead, parties compete and cooperate across branches, and power in one can be used to build power in another — as McConnell well understood.

Making matters worse is that the Supreme Court has gone from being undemocratic to being anti-democratic. Lifetime appointments are iffy under the best of circumstances, but the vagaries of retirements and deaths have given Republicans a control that makes a mockery of the public will.

Five of the court’s six Republican justices were appointed by presidents who initially took office after losing the popular vote (and, in the case of George W. Bush, after a direct intercession by five of the court’s conservatives in Bush v. Gore). Donald Trump was able to make more appointments in one term than Barack Obama was able to make in two.

Recent Headlines

 

New Threats To U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas lunges into center of battles over personal freedom, starting with abortion and sodomy, Annie Gowen, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The state passed an early abortion ban, and state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) indicated he may move against gay rights.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade, Texas appears poised to cement its place at the center of the battle over personal freedoms that have been guaranteed by law for decades.

Leaders in the Republican-dominated state have already enacted one of the most restrictive abortion policies in the nation and been in the forefront of devising measures that would criminalize parents’ efforts to seek medical treatment for their transgender children. Now, the state’s conservative attorney general, Ken Paxton, has signaled that he is willing to revisit the state’s anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003 to protect intimacy between same-sex partners.

“People are still reeling from Roe, and we’re in an incredibly toxic political environment right now,” said Oni Blair, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “But we need to recognize that nothing is off the table at this moment. All of our rights and liberties — from LGBTQ equality, voting and even contraception — could be at risk.”

The group has trained hundreds of abortion rights advocates in recent months as part of its Texas Abortion Access Network. It has also prevailed, for now, in a lawsuit in which a judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday that will allow doctors to continue performing abortion procedures in some Texas clinics until a hearing July 12.

In an interview on the NewsNation cable channel soon after the overturning of Roe last week, Paxton told anchor Leland Vittert that he would be “willing and able” to defend any state law prohibiting sodomy brought as a test case before the Supreme Court. The question came up because, in his concurring opinion in the abortion case, Justice Clarence Thomas questioned high court rulings establishing same-sex marriage and the right of married couples to use contraception and, in the Texas case, outlawing criminalization of gay intimacy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Planned Parenthood suspends marketing trackers on abortion search pages, Tatum Hunter, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Planned Parenthood says it is removing some trackers and reevaluating its data-sharing with companies including Google and Facebook.

Planned Parenthood said it will remove the marketing trackers on its search pages related to abortions and that no protected health information has been breached thus far.

The comments came after The Washington Post reported Wednesday findings from Lockdown Privacy, the maker of an app that blocks online trackers, showing that when visitors used the website’s search function to find an abortion provider and begin to schedule an appointment, Planned Parenthood shared data on those actions with third-party tracking companies including Google, Facebook and TikTok.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mississippi House speaker says 12-year-old incest victims should carry pregnancies to term, Timothy Bella, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). On the day that Roe v. Wade was struck down, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) was asked whether the state’s restrictive law banning almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy would apply to 12-year-old girls who are victims of incest.

The Republican leader said Friday that while he was unaware “what the legislature’s appetite” would be for allowing young victims of rape and incest to get an abortion, the law “does not include an exception for incest.” He then emphasized that he did not think the Mississippi government should revisit the matter.

“I believe life begins at conception,” he said at a news conference. “Every life is valuable. And those are my personal beliefs.”

After a journalist asked Gunn again whether a “12-year-old child molested by her family members should carry that pregnancy to term,” the speaker confirmed that’s what he believed was right.

washington post logoWashington Post, A ban, a lawsuit, an election: Abortion firestorm erupts in Wisconsin, Hannah Knowles, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The abortion firestorm in Wisconsin — where a law from 1849 now bans almost all abortions — encapsulates many of the political forces charging an explosive national debate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The End of Roe, the End of Trump, Bonnie Kristian (a journalist and a fellow at Defense Priorities, a foreign policy think tank), July 1, 2022 (print ed.). For many backers of former President Donald Trump, Friday’s Supreme Court decision was a long-awaited vindication.

The court’s 6-to-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the landmark 1973 abortion case Roe v. Wade. It’s an outcome made possible by Mr. Trump’s three appointments to the bench — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — and his supporters were quick to thank him for the win and jeer at Never Trumpers who had doubted the president. Dobbs will be “the enduring legacy of President Donald J. Trump,” tweeted Andrew Giuliani, who this week lost the Republican primary for governor of New York, and who is the son of the former Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Conventional wisdom holds that this praise will translate to votes for Mr. Trump for the next Republican presidential nomination. This ruling “will likely be at the heart of his appeal to conservatives if/when he runs for president again in 2024,” argued CNN’s Chris Cillizza shortly after Dobbs dropped. Mr. Trump promptly took credit for the ruling while potential rivals were conspicuously silent.

Predicting voter behavior is often a fool’s errand, and conventional wisdom might prove correct. But it seems more likely that G.O.P. voters — or at least a critical mass of them — are saying thank you and moving on from Mr. Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 180 arrested at abortion rights protest near Supreme Court, Omari Daniels and Hau Chu, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). More than 180 abortion rights protesters were arrested Thursday after sitting and blocking an intersection near the Supreme Court as they demanded that lawmakers across the country protect and expand access to abortion.

The demonstration, organized by the Center for Popular Democracy Action and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, comes after days of protests over the Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 49-year-old decision that guarantees a person’s constitutional right to abortion.

Recent Headlines

  

More On Jan. 6 Hearings, Riot, Election Probes

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, Liz Cheney says Republicans face a choice: Trump or the Constitution, Julian Mark, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Wyoming Republican, shown above in a file photo, called Trump ‘a domestic threat that we have never faced before.’ Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) rattled off a list Wednesday night of what she considers the biggest threats facing the country, ranging from government regulation to inflation. But one threat looms above all others, she warned: former president Donald Trump.

liz cheney quote 6 9 2022“At this moment we’re confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before — and that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic,” Cheney said from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

An outspoken Trump critic, Cheney chided GOP members she said have made themselves “willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.” Now, she said, they face a choice.

“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said.

The statement was met with applause.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Group Pays for Jan. 6 Lawyers, Raising Concerns of Witness Pressure, Luke Broadwater, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni and Alan Feuer, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Trump’s political organization and allies have paid for witnesses’ legal fees, leading to ethical questions about influencing testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Secret Service’s Anthony Ornato has repeatedly disputed key White House conversations, Aaron Blake, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). It’s now happened publicly at least three times — with at least one former aide saying he lied, but another vouching for him.

Generally speaking, Secret Service agents aren’t supposed to be in the news. But Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive testimony on Tuesday has thrust them into it again. An agent who also served as Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, Anthony M. Ornato, reportedly disputes Hutchinson’s testimony.

The dispute has set up the unusual prospect of Secret Service agents testifying to the Jan. 6 committee. It also could create one of the biggest factual disputes of the Jan. 6 committee’s work, with two (or more) witnesses testifying to something completely different under oath.

And, very notably, this is hardly the first time Ornato has denied an account of a key White House conversation. It’s now happened in at least three high-profile occasions. And that calls his denials into question, say former Trump aides who stand by Hutchinson. One of them flat-out said Ornato lied in one of his previous denials. But another top White House aide involved in a previously disputed conversation is vouching for Ornato.

Let’s break down what happened in each case.

CNN, Accounts of Trump angrily demanding to go to Capitol on January 6 circulated in Secret Service over past year, Noah Gray and Zachary Cohen, July 1, 2022. Then-President Donald Trump angrily demanded to go to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and berated his protective detail when he didn’t get his way, according to two Secret Service sources who say they heard about the incident from multiple agents, including the driver of the presidential SUV where it occurred.

The sources tell CNN that stories circulated about the incident — including details that are similar to how former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson described it to the House select committee investigating January 6 — in the months immediately afterward the US Capitol attack and before she testified this week.

While the details from those who heard the accounts differ, the Secret Service sources say they were told an angry confrontation did occur. And their accounts align with significant parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, which has been attacked as hearsay by Trump and his allies who also have tried to discredit her overall testimony.

Like Hutchinson, one source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that the agents relaying the story described Trump as “demanding” and that the former President said something similar to: “I’m the f**king President of the United States, you can’t tell me what to do.” The source said he originally heard that kind of language was used shortly after the incident.

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Global Human Rights, Disasters

 

xi jinping with flag Custom 2020 09 17 01 14 59 UTC

ny times logoNew York Times, China’s Leader Hails a Hong Kong ‘Reborn From Ashes’ Amid Crackdown, Alexandra Stevenson, Zixu Wang and Austin Ramzy, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Before Xi Jinping’s tightly controlled appearance, Hong Kong sent officials, diplomats and others to hotels for days of isolation and Covid tests.

Since the pandemic erupted in 2020, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has been hunkered down in a virus-free bubble within his country’s closed borders. On Thursday, he left the safe confines of the mainland for the first time, arriving in Hong Kong for a tightly scripted visit aimed at reinforcing his authority over the city.

Mr. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by schoolchildren and supporters who waved flower bouquets and small Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they stepped off a high-speed train at the sealed-off West Kowloon station to begin a two-day visit. Lion dancers performed as the neatly ordered rows of greeters chanted, “Warmly welcome, warmly welcome.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel’s Parliament Dissolves, Paving Way for Another Election, Patrick Kingsley, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The decision brought down the coalition government and installed Yair Lapid, a centrist, as interim prime minister. Exhausted and exasperated Israelis will be asked to vote again in November.

washington post logoWashington Post, Griner’s trial on Russian drug charges set to open in Moscow courtroom, Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, July 1, 2022.  WNBA star could face 10 years in prison. U.S. says she’s being wrongfully held.

American WNBA star Brittney Griner is scheduled to stand trial Friday on drug charges in a Moscow court after customs officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage at a Moscow airport in February, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Griner could face 10 years in jail if convicted of possessing a “significant amount” of hashish. She has been in custody since February and has been remanded in custody until December pending the outcome of her trial.

Her case has been complicated by the severe downturn in relations between Washington and Moscow. Griner’s supporters in the United States say she is a hostage and political pawn.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed these claims last week, saying that drug offenses are treated seriously in Russia and many other countries. “We cannot call her a hostage. Why should we call her a hostage?” he said.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, A West Coast union dockworkers’ contract is ending, Kurtis Lee, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). A failure to reach a new agreement could hurt truckers and retailers, too.

The outcome will be crucial not only for the union dockworkers and port operators, but also for the ecosystem of workers surrounding the ports, and for a global supply chain reeling from coronavirus lockdowns and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Inflation’s surge to the highest rate in more than four decades is due, in part, to supply chain complications.

The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 22,000 workers at 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle, and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing the shipping terminals, is set to expire on Friday. The union members primarily operate machinery like cranes and forklifts that move cargo containers on and off ships.

In a statement this month, representatives of the two sides said that they didn’t expect a deal by the deadline but that they were dedicated to working toward an agreement.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Business: Wall Street closes out its worst first half since 1970, Hamza Shaban and Aaron Gregg, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The S&P 500′s 20.6 percent fall this year follows a record-shattering performance in 2021.

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U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida judge blocks new law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks, Lori Rozsa, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). A Florida judge on Thursday blocked a new law to ban abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy, saying the measure is unconstitutional because it violates the privacy provision of the state’s constitution.

The temporary injunction by Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper is expected to take effect as soon as a written order is signed. The law is slated to take effect Friday. The decision comes nearly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to states to regulate abortion.

The state is expected to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has appointed three of the seven justices.

While 20 years of Republican-led legislatures have chipped away at abortion rights in Florida, overall access to the procedure has been upheld in court cases and on the ballot as part of the state’s constitutional right to privacy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court clears Biden to shut down Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers, Robert Barnes, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). The policy requires some asylum seekers who enter the country illegally, mainly from Central and South America, to return to Mexico while they await a hearing.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled for the Biden administration on a controversial immigration policy, saying it had the authority to reverse a Trump-era initiative that requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are reviewed in U.S. courts.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for himself and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the court’s three liberals, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Roberts said federal immigration law gives the executive discretion: He may return asylum seekers to Mexico, but is not required to do so.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett dissented.

Barrett said that she agreed with the majority on the merits of the decision but that the court should not have decided the case and should have remanded it to lower courts.

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More On Mass Shootings, Gun Control

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun owners sue D.C., demanding to carry firearms on Metro, Paul Duggan, July 1, 2022 (print ed.).  The plaintiffs say a recent Supreme Court ruling opens the door for guns on buses and Metro trains and that the Metro system is “not populated with individuals who would be high-value targets to a terrorist or active killer.”

Four men with permits to carry concealed handguns in the District sued the city on Thursday, arguing that the ban on carrying firearms in the Metro transit system is unconstitutional under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, cites the Supreme Court’s June 23 decision that makes it harder for governments to restrict the carrying of pistols outside the home. Writing for the court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that to ban concealed handguns in a particular place, “the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The District prohibits people with concealed-carry permits to carry weapons in more than a dozen locations designated “sensitive areas,” including schools, government buildings, polling places, medical offices and businesses serving alcohol, in addition to the transit system. In the lawsuit filed Thursday, the plaintiffs argue that Metro should be removed from the list.

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More On Ukraine War

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: A Confident Vladimir Putin Shifts Out of Wartime Crisis Mode, Anton Troianovski, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Cloistered and spouting grievances at the start of the war on Ukraine, the Russian leader now appears publicly, projecting the aura of a calm, paternalistic leader shielding his people from the dangers of the world.

Early in his war against Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia (shown in a May 13 photo via CBS News) appeared tense, angry and even disoriented. He spent days out of the public eye, threatened the West with nuclear strikes, and lashed out at antiwar Russians as “scum.”

But in June, a new Putin has emerged, very much resembling his prewar image: relaxed, patient and self-confident.

Holding court with young people, he compared himself casually to Peter the Great, Russia’s first emperor. Addressing an economic conference, he dismissed the notion that sanctions could isolate Russia and crowed that they were harming the West even more. And on Wednesday, he strode, smiling, across a sun-baked airport tarmac in Turkmenistan, slinging off his suit jacket before ducking into his Russian-made armored limousine to head for a five-country summit meeting.

 More on War

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Russian forces withdraw from Snake Island; Biden speaks at NATO summit, David Walker, Jennifer Hassan, Bryan Pietsch and Amy Cheng, July 1, 2022 (print ed.).  Analysis: Did Putin inadvertently create a stronger NATO? Finland, Sweden to sign NATO accession protocol Tuesday; Zelensky thanks Britain for additional $1.2 billion to Ukraine.

Russia’s defense ministry says its forces have withdrawn from Snake Island, a highly contested island in the Black Sea that Russia occupied soon after its February invasion. Moscow framed the move as an effort to create a humanitarian corridor for the export of agricultural products from Ukraine. Officials in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, however, said Russian troops had evacuated following missile and artillery strikes.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded 144 prisoners each in an exchange that saw the return of some Ukrainian fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant during a brutal siege before Russia seized control of Mariupol. Meanwhile, Russian forces are continuing their offensive operations around Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, where regional governor Serhiy Haidai said 15,000 civilians remain as evacuation efforts continue. “The city itself is under constant fire,” Haidai said.

NATO leaders are meeting Thursday in Madrid for a third and final day. President Biden announced at the gathering Wednesday that the United States will increase its military presence in Europe, citing Russia’s invasion. The new deployments will include a permanent headquarters for the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland.

Here’s what else to know

  • Finland and Sweden are expected to formally sign the NATO accession protocol on Tuesday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin still intends to capture most of Ukraine and the war is likely to grind on, top U.S. intelligence official Avril Haines said.
  • Syria said it will recognize the independence of two self-declared breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine that are aligned with Russia.

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Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

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 washington post logoWashington Post, San Antonio had 17 days of triple digit heat in June. There’s usually two, Ian Livingston, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Numerous Texas cities observed a siege of 100-degree days in June amid extreme drought.

Blazing hot and bone-dry Texas is in the midst of a vicious, reinforcing climate cycle. It keeps getting drier as relentless heat saps moisture from the ground. And it keeps getting hotter as the parched soil loses moisture that would help hold the heat in check.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The planet is baking. But what’s reality to this Supreme Court? Eugene Robinson, July 1, 2022 (print ed.). Another day, another utterly catastrophic ruling from the activist hard-right majority on the Supreme Court. This new decision does even wider damage than taking away the reproductive rights of women in this country. It potentially imperils the future of every human being on Earth.

What the court did Thursday, essentially, puts a stranglehold on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to fight climate change. You might think an existential threat to the planet, already manifest in soaring temperatures and rising seas, would lead even this benighted cadre of conservative justices to step back from the brink. You would be wrong.

washington post logoWashington Post, Think U.S. gas prices are high? Here’s how far $40 goes around the world, Alexa Juliana Ard, Ruby Mellen, Steven Rich and Júlia Ledur, July 1, 2022.  U.S. costs remain lower than those in other countries with large economies. The Washington Post spoke to people around the world to see how high fuel expenses affect their lives and what governments are doing — if anything — to cushion the impact. France: Cost of gas: $8.11/gallon.

Recent Headlines

 

Pandemic Public Health, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis, Chris Hamby and Michael Forsythe (The reporters pored over a trove of more than 100,000 documents to investigate McKinsey’s unknown work for opioid makers), June 30, 2022 (print ed.). A trove of documents revealed how the consulting firm helped clients target doctors, drive up sales and market pills twice as potent as OxyContin.

In patches of rural Appalachia and the Rust Belt, the health authorities were sounding alarms that a powerful painkiller called Opana had become the drug of choice among people abusing prescription pills.

It was twice as potent as OxyContin, the painkiller widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, and was relatively easy to dissolve and inject. By 2015, government investigations and scientific publications had linked its misuse to clusters of disease, including a rare and life-threatening blood disorder and an H.I.V. outbreak in Indiana.

Opana’s manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Endo, had scaled back promotion of the drug. But months later, the company abruptly changed course, refocusing resources on the drug by assigning more sales representatives.

The push was known internally as the Sales Force Blitz — and it was conducted with consultants at McKinsey & Company, who had been hired by Endo to provide marketing advice about its chronic-pain medicines and other products.

The untold story of McKinsey’s work for Endo was among the revelations found by The New York Times in a repository of more than 100,000 documents obtained by a coalition of state attorneys general in a legal settlement related to McKinsey’s opioid work.

Much has been disclosed over the years about McKinsey’s relationship with Purdue Pharma, including the consulting firm’s recommendation that the drug maker “turbocharge” its sales of OxyContin. But The Times found that the firm played a far deeper and broader role in advising clients involved in the opioid crisis than was publicly disclosed.

The newly released McKinsey records include more than 15 years of emails, slide presentations, spreadsheets, proposals and other documents. They provide a sweeping and detailed depiction of a firm that became a trusted adviser to companies at the core of an epidemic that has claimed half a million American lives.

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Media, Religion, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two more newspapers close every week — and ‘news deserts’ grow larger, Margaret Sullivan, right, June 30, 2022 (print ed.).  In margaret sullivan 2015 photopoorer, less-wired parts of the U.S., it’s harder to find credible news about your local community. That has dire implications for democracy. Penelope Muse Abernathy may be the nation’s foremost expert on what media researchers call “news deserts”— and she’s worried.

News deserts are communities lacking a news source that provides meaningful and trustworthy local reporting on issues such as health, government and the environment. It’s a vacuum that leaves residents ignorant of what’s going on in their world, incapable of fully participating as informed citizens. What’s their local government up to? northwestern logoWho deserves their vote? How are their tax dollars being spent? All are questions that go unanswered in a news desert.

Local newspapers are hardly the only news sources that can do the job, but they are the ones that have traditionally filled that role. And they are disappearing.

One-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public Wednesday from Northwestern University’s Medill School, where Abernathy is a visiting professor.

 

 

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