Aug. 2022 News, Views

 

 JIPLogo

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

 

 

 

Aug. 1

Top Headlines

 

Osama bin Laden, left, sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. In the article, which was published Nov. 10, 2001, in Karachi, bin Laden said he had nuclear and chemical weapons and might use them in response to U.S. attacks (Photo via Visual News and Getty Images).

Jan. 6 Hearings, Radical Violence, Election Probes, Missing DHS Messages

 

Ukraine War

 

Bill Russell Dies

 

U.S. Politics, Governance, Elections

 

Trump Watch

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

 

World News, Human Rights Analysis

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California (Associated Press photo by Scott Applewhite).

U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

 Pandemic, Public Health 

 

U.S. Abortion, Contraception, Privacy, Trafficking

 

U.S. Economic News 

 

U.S. Mass Shootings Fears, Gun Control

 

Media, Education, Sports, Pop Culture

 

Top Stories

 

Osama bin Laden, left, sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. In the article, which was published Nov. 10, 2001, in Karachi, bin Laden said he had nuclear and chemical weapons and might use them in response to U.S. attacks (Photo via Visual News and Getty Images).

Osama bin Laden, left, sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. In the article, which was published Nov. 10, 2001, in Karachi, bin Laden said he had nuclear and chemical weapons and might use them in response to U.S. attacks (Photo via Visual News and Getty Images).

Politico, U.S. kills Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in drone strike, Alexander Ward, Nahal Toosi and Lara Seligman, Aug. 1, 2022. President Joe Biden plans to give a speech about “a successful counterterrorism mission” at 7:30 p.m. (EDT).

The United States killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri in a drone strike over the weekend, two people briefed on the operation told Politico.

politico CustomAl-Zawahri was an Egyptian who took over Al-Qaeda after the U.S. killed its longtime leader, Osama bin Laden, in 2011.

Although he never achieved the household name status of his predecessor, Al-Zawahiri’s killing is nonetheless a major win for the United States in the ongoing struggle against Islamist terrorism, although Al-Qaeda is not as strong a group as it once was and other extremist outfits have gained ground.

In a statement to reporters, a senior Biden administration official said “over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties.”

The announcement comes nearly a year after the United States finished withdrawing from Afghanistan, the country it invaded in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks masterminded by bin Laden.

The Taliban militant group have taken over Afghanistan, and the United States has insisted that they do not allow their soil to be used by terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.

“The strike that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is a major success of US counter-terrorism efforts. A result of countless hours of intelligence collection over many years,” said Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official and retired CIA paramilitary operations officer.

It was not immediately clear who would succeed Al-Zawahiri as the leader of the terrorist group. Al-Zawahiri, a physician, founded Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a militant group that merged with Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s. He had been indicted for his suspected role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

Beginning of Biden’s Address (transcription and photo via C-SPAN):

 

joe biden 8 1 2022 counterterrorismMy fellow Americans, on Saturday at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an airstrike in Afghanistan that killed Ayman Al-Zawahri.

Al-zawahri was Bin Laden’s leader. He was with him the whole time. He was as number two man, the deputy at the time the terrorist attack 9/11. He was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11. One of the most responsible for the attacks and murdered 2977 people on American soil. He was the mastermind on attacks against Americans including the bombing of the USS Cole which killed 17 American sailors and wounded dozens more.

[Snip]

When I ended our military mission in Afghanistan a year ago, I made the decision after 20 years of war the United States  no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to protect Americans from terrorists. I made a promise to the American people that we would continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We have done just that.

washington post logoWashington Post, Major legal fights loom over abortion pills, travel out of state, Ann E. Marimow, Laurie McGinley and Caroline Kitchener, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The overturning of Roe v. Wade after nearly 50 years is expected to trigger a new set of legal challenges for which there is little precedent.

The Supreme Court’s three liberal justices, in denouncing their colleagues’ decision to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion, warned last month that returning this polarizing issue to the states would give rise to greater controversy in the months and years to come.

Among the looming disputes, they noted: Can states ban mail-order medication used to terminate pregnancies or bar their residents from traveling elsewhere to do so?

“Far from removing the court from the abortion issue,” Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote in dissent, “the majority puts the court at the center of the coming ‘interjurisdictional abortion wars.’ ”

ny times logoNew York Times, Russians Use Nuclear Plant as Shield, Complicating Ukraine’s Strategy, Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 1, 2022. Russia has made Europe’s largest nuclear power plant a fortress, unnerving locals who fear shelling and a radiation leak.

Ukraine cannot unleash volleys of shells in return using American-provided advanced rocket systems, which have silenced Russian guns elsewhere on the front line. Doing so would risk striking one of the six pressurized water reactors or highly radioactive waste in storage. And Russia knows it.

“They are hiding there so they cannot be hit,” said Oleksandr Sayuk, the mayor of Nikopol. “Why else would they be at the electrical station? To use such an object as a shield is very dangerous.”

Residents have been fleeing Nikopol because of the dangers of both shelling and of a potential radiation leak. And those who remain feel helpless, as if they are targets in a shooting gallery.

 

senate democrats logo

Politico, Manchin to Sinema: Believe in this bill, Burgess Everett, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). All eyes have now turned to the Arizona Democrat to see if she will support the legislation agreed to last week.

joe manchin kyrsten sinemaAttention Kyrsten Sinema: The deal between Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin reflects your “tremendous input,” doesn’t raise taxes and is altogether an “all-American bill.” That’s, at least, according to Manchin (shown at right in a file photo with the Arizona senator).

politico CustomAs Sinema (D-Ariz.) weighs whether to support the party-line energy, tax, deficit reduction and health care legislation, the West Virginia senator fanned out across all five Sunday shows to make the case for his deal. The moment reflected how intensely Manchin is now pressing to pass a package that only a few weeks ago he was lukewarm on, at best — and why he thinks Sinema should support it.

And Manchin had plenty of work to do during his quintet of appearances, with hosts pressing him whether the bill really fights inflation and how imposing a new minimum tax on large corporations might affect the economy. Faced with those questions, Manchin said simply on “Fox News Sunday”: “We did not raise taxes. We closed loopholes.”

He also made sure to credit Sinema with cajoling Democrats into that tax-skeptic position after many in her party weighed surtaxes on high earners and pushed for rate increases. Though Sinema’s stayed quiet since Manchin and Schumer announced the deal on Wednesday, Manchin said that he “would like to think she’d be favorable to it.”

“Kyrsten Sinema is a friend of mine, and we work very close together. She has a tremendous, tremendous input in this legislation,” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She basically insisted [on] no tax increases, [we’ve] done that. And she was very, very adamant about that, I agree with her. She was also very instrumental” on prescription drug reform.

Manchin and Sinema were aligned for months last year on pushing back against Democrats’ plans to spend as much as $3.5 trillion. Sinema worked on the prescription drug piece and helped shape the revenue package significantly late last year before Manchin rejected what was once called Build Back Better.

Now they are in different places. Manchin negotiated the deal one-on-one with Majority Leader Schumer while Sinema was caught completely off guard by its announcement, particularly the inclusion of a provision narrowing the so-called carried interest loophole, which brings in $14 billion of the bill’s $739 billion in new revenues.

Manchin said he didn’t brief Sinema or anyone else in the Democratic Caucus on his negotiations because of the very real possibility they would fall apart. He said on CNN that when Sinema “looks at the bill and sees the whole spectrum of what we’re doing and all of the energy we’re bringing in, all of the reduction of prices and fighting inflation by bringing prices down, by having more energy, hopefully, she will be positive about it.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, The Wind Is at Biden’s Back for a Change. Will Voters Care? Michael D. Shear, July 31, 2022 (print ed.). Ahead of the midterm elections, President Biden’s challenge is to make sure his successes resonate with Americans who remain skeptical about the future. Recent wins include reduced gas prices and legislation to bolster competition with China. But the economy continues to hurt his approval ratings.

Joe Biden portrait 2President Biden and his top advisers have tried for months to press forward amid a seemingly endless drumbeat of dispiriting news: rising inflation, high gas prices, a crumbling agenda, a dangerously slowing economy and a plummeting approval rating, even among Democrats.

But Mr. Biden has finally caught a series of breaks. Gas prices, which peaked above $5 a gallon, have fallen every day for more than six weeks and are now closer to $4. After a yearlong debate, Democrats and Republicans in Congress passed legislation this past week to invest $280 billion in areas like semiconductor manufacturing and scientific research to bolster competition with China.

And in a surprise turnabout, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a Democrat who had single-handedly held up Mr. Biden’s boldest proposals, agreed to a deal that puts the president in a position to make good on promises to lower drug prices, confront climate change and make corporations pay higher taxes.

“The work of the government can be slow and frustrating and sometimes even infuriating,” Mr. Biden said at the White House on Thursday, reflecting the impatience and anger among his allies and the weariness of his own staff. “Then the hard work of hours and days and months from people who refuse to give up pays off. History is made. Lives are changed.”

Even for a president who has become used to the highs and lows of governing, it was a moment to feel whipsawed. Since taking office 18 months ago, Mr. Biden has celebrated successes like passage of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and slogged through crises like the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Gas prices soared; now they are coming down. Unemployment is at record lows even as there are signs of a looming recession.

The president’s brand of politics is rooted in a slower era, before Twitter, and sometimes it can pay off to have the patience to wait for a deal to finally emerge. But now, with congressional elections coming up in a few months, the challenge for Mr. Biden is to make sure his latest successes resonate with Americans who remain deeply skeptical about the future.

washington post logoWashington Post, Millions will be affected if Inflation Reduction Act becomes a reality. Here’s what it would do, Jeff Stein, Maxine Joselow senate democrats logoand Rachel Roubein, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). The package, if smaller than Democrats’ initial ambitions, would transform huge sectors of the U.S. economy.

Major changes to the Affordable Care Act. The nation’s biggest-ever climate bill. The largest tax hike on corporations in decades. And dozens of lesser-known provisions that will affect millions of Americans.

If enacted, the legislation released Wednesday night in a surprise agreement between Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), above, would represent one of the most consequential pieces of economic policy in recent U.S. history — though still far smaller than the $3 trillion the Biden administration initially sought.

  • $260 billion in clean-energy tax credits
  • $80 billion in new rebates for electric vehicles, green energy at home and more
  • $1.5 billion in rewards for cutting methane emissions
  • $27 billion ‘green bank’
  • Support for fossil fuel projects
  • Agriculture, steel, ports and more
  • $313 billion from a 15 percent corporate minimum tax
  • $124 billion from major enforcement increases at the IRS
  • Dick ShelbyChanging special tax treatment for private equity
  • Lowering prescription drug prices
  • Extending health insurance subsidies
  • What’s missing?

ny times logoNew York Times, As Latin America Shifts Left, Leaders Face a Short Honeymoon, Julie Turkewitz, Mitra Taj and John Bartlett, July 31, 2022. All six of the largest economies in the region could soon be run by leftist presidents. Their challenges? Inflation, poverty and the war in Europe.

andrés lópez obrador wAfter years of tilting rightward, Latin America is hurtling to the left, a watershed moment that began in 2018 with the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, right, in Mexico and could culminate with a victory later this year by a leftist candidate in Brazil, leaving the region’s six largest economies run by leaders elected on leftist platforms.

A combination of forces have thrust this new group into power, including an anti-incumbent fervor driven by anger over mexico flag1chronic poverty and inequality, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and have deepened frustration among voters who have taken out their indignation on establishment candidates.

But just as new leaders settle into office, their campaign pledges have collided with a bleak reality, including a European war that has sent the cost of everyday goods, from fuel to food, soaring, making life more painful for already suffering constituents and evaporating much of the good will presidents once enjoyed.

matt gaetz stone quote graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Hot mic captured Gaetz assuring Stone of pardon, discussing Mueller redactions, Jon Swaine and Dalton Bennett, July 31, 2022 (print ed.). Shortly before Trump confidant Roger Stone’s 2019 trial on charges of obstructing the Mueller investigation, Rep. Matt Gaetz assured him “the boss” would likely grant him clemency.

As Roger Stone prepared to stand trial in 2019, complaining he was under pressure from federal prosecutors to incriminate Donald Trump, a close ally of the president repeatedly assured Stone that “the boss” would likely grant him clemency if he were convicted, a recording shows.

At an event at a Trump property that October, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) predicted that Stone would be found guilty at his trial in Washington the following month but would not “do a day” in prison. Gaetz was apparently unaware they were being recorded by documentary filmmakers following Stone, who special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had charged with obstruction of a congressional investigation.

“The boss still has a very favorable view of you,” said Gaetz, stressing that the president had “said it directly.” He also said, “I don’t think the big guy can let you go down for this.”

Gaetz at one point told Stone he was working on getting him a pardon but was hesitant to say more backstage at the event, in which speakers were being filmed for online broadcast. “Since there are many, many recording devices around right now, I do not feel in a position to speak freely about the work I’ve already done on that subject,” Gaetz said.

The lawmaker also told Stone during their conversation that Stone was mentioned “a lot” in redacted portions of Mueller’s report, appearing to refer to portions that the Justice Department had shown to select members of Congress confidentially in a secure room. “They’re going to do you, because you’re not gonna have a defense,” Gaetz told Stone.

The 25-minute recording was captured by a microphone that Stone was wearing on his lapel for a Danish film crew, which was making a feature-length documentary on the veteran Republican operative. The filmmakers allowed Washington Post reporters to review their footage in advance of the release of their film, “A Storm Foretold,” which is expected later this year.

 

Jan. 6 Hearings, Radical U.S. Riots, Election Probes, Missing DHS Messages

 

guy wesley reffitt via FBI 1

Politico, Texas militia member gets most serious Jan 6. sentence yet: Just over 7 years: Judge rejects terrorism sentencing penalty in Jan. 6 case, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 1, 2022. Federal prosecutors’ first request to draw tougher punishment for a Jan. 6 defendant by classifying his actions as domestic terrorism fell short Monday as a federal judge declined to apply the more severe sentencing guidelines permitted under federal law in such cases.

dabney friedrich nbcU.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, right, said applying the sentencing enhancement to Guy Reffitt, 49, above, would create an “unwarranted politico Customsentencing disparity” with other cases involving similar threats or conduct related to the Capitol riot.

“There are a lot of cases where defendants possessed weapons or committed very violent assaults,” Friedrich noted, highlighting that the most severe sentences handed down in Jan. 6 cases thus far were a little more than five years while prosecutors asked for a 15-year sentence against Reffitt. “The government is asking for a sentence that is three times as long as any other defendant and the defendant did not assault an officer.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. seeks 15-year sentence for Guy Reffitt, citing terrorism, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Aug. 1, 2022. The Three Percenters recruiter, the first Jan. 6 defendant convicted at trial, was found guilty of leading a charge while armed that led to first break-in at the U.S. Capitol and also of threatening his son.

The first U.S. Capitol riot defendant convicted at trial faces sentencing Monday with prosecutors asking a judge for a 15-year-prison term, by far the longest sentence sought to date in a case related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress.

The request for Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the extremist Three Percenters movement who led a mob at the Capitol, is roughly one-third longer than the nine to 11 years recommended under advisory federal guidelines. Prosecutors say the stiff punishment is warranted, following up for the first time on threats to request an enhanced terrorism sentencing penalty for defendants who reject plea deals.

Reffitt was convicted March 8 of five felony offenses, including obstruction of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police and carrying a firearm to a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who turned him in to the FBI.

The defense for Reffitt, a 49-year-old former oil industry rig manager, asked for a below-guidelines sentence of two years in prison. Attorney F. Clinton Broden said in a filing that his client committed no violence and has no criminal history, yet prosecutors are seeking far more time for him than for defendants who have pleaded guilty to assaulting police.

“It makes a mockery of the criminal justice system, the Sixth Amendment right to trial, and the victims assaulted by [others] to argue that Mr. Reffitt should be given a sentence greater than (let alone three times greater than) a defendant who assaulted police officers on at least two separate occasions, spent three hours on the Capitol grounds and who has a past history of violence,” Broden wrote.

But Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Nestler and Risa Berkower said Reffitt’s case is exceptional.

Reffitt “played a central role” at the head of a vigilante mob that challenged and overran police at a key choke point, a stairway leading up from the Lower West Terrace, before the initial breach of windows near the Capitol’s Senate Wing Doors at 2:13 p.m., prosecutors said. After the riot, Reffitt warned his son and 16-year-old daughter that “if you turn me in, you’re a traitor, and traitors get shot,” his son testified at the trial.

Conventional sentencing rules are of “inadequate scope” to account for the range of Reffitt’s obstruction, witness tampering and weapon offenses, prosecutors wrote in a 58-page sentencing memo.

“Reffitt sought not just to stop Congress, but also to physically attack, remove, and replace the legislators who were serving in Congress,” prosecutors wrote.

They called his conduct “a quintessential example of an intent to both influence and retaliate against government conduct through intimidation or coercion” and said it reflected the statutory definition of terrorist violence that is subject to harsher punishment.

A jury found that Reffitt traveled to D.C. from his home in Wylie, Tex., with an AR-style rifle and semiautomatic .40-caliber handgun and repeatedly stated his intention to come armed with a handgun and plastic handcuffs to drag lawmakers out of the building. After returning home from Washington, he threatened his children to ensure they did not to turn him in to authorities.

The request by the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C., which is overseeing prosecutions of roughly 840 Capitol siege defendants federally charged so far, is not binding on U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, who has gone below prosecutors’ recommendation in 22 of 24 Jan. 6 sentencings to date.

Prosecutors may be hoping to send a clear signal to the roughly 330 defendants still awaiting trial on felony charges and who may still be considering whether to accept a plea deal or gamble before a jury. About 70 people have pleaded guilty, and nine, including Reffitt, have been convicted at trial.

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

washington post logoWashington Post, The status of key investigations involving former president Donald Trump, Matt Zapotosky, Matthew Brown, Shayna Jacobs, Devlin Barrett and Jacqueline Alemany, Updated Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Probes of the ex-president’s conduct in politics, government and business are underway in multiple places.

djt march 2020 CustomDonald Trump is facing historic legal and legislative scrutiny for a former president, under investigation by U.S. lawmakers, local district attorneys, a state attorney general and the Justice Department. Authorities are looking into Trump and his family business for a medley of possible wrongdoing, including his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and how he valued his various assets for loan and tax purposes.

The probes threaten Trump with criminal or financial penalties, or plain old public embarrassment, as he remains a dominant presence in his party and weighs a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Here’s a list of the key investigations and where they stand.

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Jan. 6 committee showed Congress how to run a blockbuster hearing, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 1, 2022. jennifer rubin new headshotDefying cynical critics who said no one would learn anything from its Jan. 6 hearings, the House select committee has made sure Americans learned plenty — presenting testimony that Donald Trump knew the crowd was armed when he invited them to march to the Capitol, for instance, and that he desperately wanted to join them. (Trump has disputed these claims.)

But in addition to exploring the depths of Trump and the GOP’s depravity, the committee has taught House and Senate members how to run an effective, interesting and newsworthy hearing.

Let’s hope members of Congress were paying attention.

The Jan. 6 committee had many challenges. It had hundreds of witnesses and tens of thousands of documents; a complicated, multipart conspiracy to explain; and a press corps determined not to be impressed. The committee figured out that the normal style of hearings — five minutes of questioning per member, hours of rambling testimony, the presentation of impenetrable documents — would not accomplish its aims. It had to educate the public, lay out a compelling set of facts that might be the basis of criminal charges and make the case for reforms to prevent the next coup attempt.

You might be thinking: “The reason the hearings were so helpful was that loony Republicans weren’t making a mockery of the whole thing.” Well, yes, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House minority leader, did pull his members out in a fit of pique, leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to appoint the two most — only? — responsible Republicans.

Had the committee failed to also change its format, however, the hearings would not have made such an impression on voters (including Republicans increasingly weary of Trump). And it surely would not have received front-page coverage and top-of-the-show attention even on days there were no hearings.

Recent Headlines

 

Ukraine War

washington post logoWashington Post, First ship carrying grain leaves Odessa in deal to ease global food crisis, Dalton Bennett and Kareem Fahim, Aug. 1, 2022. The first ship carrying grain departed a Ukrainian port early Monday under a United Nations-brokered deal to ease a global food crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The cargo vessel loaded with corn left Odessa amid fears that the deal, signed in Istanbul in late July, would fall apart following a Russian missile strike on the port a day after the signing.

ukraine flagThe wail of a Ukrainian tug boat’s horn marked the departure of the Razoni, a Sierra Leonian-flagged bulk carrier that began the journey at 9:30 a.m. local time. The ship was destined for Lebanon, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry.

Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said in a message on Twitter that the vessel was the first to depart the port of Odessa since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. A Russian naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports halted grain exports, contributing to global food shortages.

Russia and Ukraine agree to release blockaded grain exports

“Thanks to the support of all our partner countries & @UN we were able to full implement the Agreement signed in Istanbul,” Kubrakov tweeted Monday morning.

Sixteen additional vessels are waiting to depart, according to the minister, who noted that the expected resumption of grain shipments would provide at least $1 billion in much-needed foreign currency reserves for cash-strapped Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine were among the world’s top producers and exporters of grain, cooking oil and fertilizers before Moscow’s invasion. Last year, Ukraine accounted for 10 percent of global wheat exports, according to the United Nations.

How will the Ukraine grain deal affect the global food crisis?

With more than 20 million tons of grain from last year’s harvest stuck in storage, the resumption of shipments by sea has been a top priority for the Ukrainian government. But Russia’s blockade has forced grain sellers to use alternatives, including river ports or costly overland routes, that have delayed deliveries.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Black Sea port Mykolaiv hit in ‘brutal’ shelling, Dalton Bennett, Jennifer Hassan, Kareem Fahim and Kendra Nichols, Aug. 1, 2022. The key Black Sea port of Mykolaiv was hit by “one of the most brutal shellings” since the war began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after dozens of Russian rockets destroyed homes, schools and infrastructure.

Among those killed in the city was one of Ukraine’s richest business executives, who founded an agriculture company that helped facilitate the country’s grain exports.

russian flag wavingFinger-pointing continues over an attack on a detention center in Russian-occupied Donetsk that killed 50 Ukrainian prisoners. Russia claimed that it invited international monitors to investigate the Olenivka prison site, but the International Committee of the Red Cross says its request to do so has not been granted. “Granting ICRC access to POWs is an obligation of parties to conflict under the Geneva Conventions,” it tweeted.

The European Commission on Monday announced that 1 billion Euros (of the 9 billion Euro) package promised to Ukraine in financial aid will be delivered by Tuesday.

Battlefield updates

Russia is making slow progress in Donbas, probably a result of redirecting troops to southern Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence update Monday. It added that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces were “probably adjusting” operations after failing to make a significant breakthrough in recent months.

Ukraine reports casualties following a strike by Russian forces in Kharkiv. Governor Oleh Synyehubov confirmed the attack on Telegram, saying that at least two people were injured in shelling that targeted Kharkiv’s Saltivskyi District early Monday.

Global impact

Tensions flared between Kosovo and Serbia over the weekend, raising concerns about the possibility of fresh unrest in the Balkans at a time when Western allies are focused on the war in Ukraine. While Putin has, in recent months, tried to justify his invasion citing the Western Balkans, pointing to the legacy of the 1999 NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo’s president, Vjosa Osmani, sees an altogether different parallel, writes Ishaan Tharoor in Today’s WorldView newsletter.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stirred wider tensions in the region. Analysts say Moscow’s nationalist and revisionist worldview has found a receptive audience in Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, The Washington Post’s Rachel Pannett reports.

From our correspondents

As Putin squeezes gas supplies, Germany is falling back on coal. The last coal pits around Bexbach, Germany, closed a decade ago, leaving the power plant puffing plumes of pollutants as a relic of a dying regional industry. But now plant equipment is being repaired, contractors have come out of retirement, and manager Michael Lux is faced with a novel prospect: expanding the head count, write The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris and Vanessa Guinan-Bank.

The push is part of a pan-European dash to ditch Russian natural gas and escape President Vladimir Putin’s energy chokehold. While the war in Ukraine has simultaneously turbocharged the European Union’s race to renewables, fossil fuels still provide the quickest fix.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Zelensky Urges Mass Evacuation; Red Cross Kept From Prison Blast Site, Marc Santora and Ivan Nechepurenko, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The region has been on the front lines of some of the war’s fiercest fighting. The Red Cross said it was being kept from a prison blast site. Follow updates.

The Red Cross said it had not been granted access to a Russian prison camp where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers were killed, an entitlement under the Geneva Conventions. President Volodymyr Zelensky asked civilians to leave eastern Ukraine, where there is a near complete absence of electricity and gas supply.

Recent Headlines

 

Bill Russell Dies

 

Boston Celtics star Bill Russell, regarded as the top winner in terms of championships in major U.S. sports history, as well as barrier-breaking professional in sports management and related social justice issues (Photo by Dick Raphael for NBAE via Getty Images).

Boston Celtics star Bill Russell was regarded as the top winner in terms of championships in major U.S. sports history, as well as a barrier-breaking professional in sports management and related social justice issues. In 2011, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s top civilian honor (Photo by Dick Raphael for NBAE via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Bill Russell made America better by demanding better from America, Jerry Brewer, Aug. 1, 2022. He was a fully dimensional Black athlete more than a half century before it was okay to be one.

  • Washington Post, Bill Russell, basketball great who also stood tall off the court, dies at 88
  • Washington Post, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson remember NBA’s greatest champion

CelticsBlog, Commentary: Bill Russell dies at 88, Keith P. Smith (Boston Celtics writer for CelticsBlog), July 31-Aug. 1, 2022. Russell was an 11-time champion with the Boston Celtics.

If you’re here on CelticsBlog, you know who Bill Russell was. Many of you reading this can probably rattle off a catalog of stats, facts and figures about the greatest winner in the history of team sports simply from memory.

A lot you probably also know that Bill Russell wasn’t beloved by all in Boston. That some did everything they could to run him out of town. And they didn’t do it because Russell didn’t win enough. Russell won championships in 11 of his 13 years as a player.

Many in Boston hated Russell simply because he was Black. And not only was Bill Russell Black, but he wasn’t a silent Black man either. He spoke up often about injustices he faced, his teammates faced, his family faced, his friends faced and his fellow Black Americans faced.

If you cruise social media today, you’ll see a lot of people talking about Russell’s accolades as a player and a coach. You’ll see even more talking about what an incredible person Russell was in his non-basketball life.

That’s a life well lived.

Russell was synonymous with those early Boston Celtics teams. When Russell showed up in 1956, he was fresh off back-to-back NCAA championships at the University of San Francisco. In the summer between winning the 1956 NCAA title and starting his rookie year with the Celtics, Russell helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics.

In a matter of a year, Russell won an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title.

And then he never really stopped winning.

Russell was never about individual accolades, though. He was always about the team. But the individual accolades came anyway.

12 All-Star nods. 11 All-NBA teams. Five MVP awards. Member of the 25th, 50th and 75th NBA Anniversary teams.

Russell was also the first Black head coach in NBA history. He won two championships for the Celtics in the player-coach role.

Getting to meet Russell just once, very briefly, to tell him that he was my dad’s favorite player was a memory I’ll always have. And his reply of “Your dad was a smart kid then”, followed by that big smile and that unique laugh was the best of all.

The world is a little less full today, but so much fuller for having had you in it.

 

U.S. Politics, Governance, Education, Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump vs. DeVos in Michigan, and a key week for the Senate, Theodoric Meyer, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Tobi Raji, Aug. 1, 2022. Some of the fiercest battles are being fought in the Michigan state legislative primaries, where one of Trump’s former cabinet members, Betsy DeVos, and one of the Republicans who voted to impeach him, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), are trying to defeat michigan mapseveral of the former president’s chosen candidates.

Trump has endorsed 11 state legislative candidates in Michigan ahead of Tuesday’s primary — more than he’s backed in any other state.

Trump sought to overturn the 2020 election results in Michigan despite losing the state to Joe Biden by more than 150,000 votes, and many of Trump’s chosen candidates have embraced his falsehoods about the election and his efforts to audit the results despite no evidence of widespread fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, An Oklahoma city’s first openly gay mayor resigned. Then came the fallout, Danielle Paquette, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.).  Oklahoma lost one of its six LGBTQ elected officials when Adam Graham announced he was stepping down, citing harassment and fear for his safety.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In a normal year, the GOP should sweep. But 2022 isn’t normal, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The ej dionne w open neckconventional wisdom, well-rooted in history and data, suggests the Democrats should be toast this fall. But beware, say the dissenters, because 2022 is not a normal year, and it will not play out in a normal way.

The dissenters may be onto something, even if the case for a Republican sweep is strong.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Trump’s effort to overturn 2020 is sanitized for the general public, Philip Bump, Aug. 1, 2022. “Real America’s Voice” is one of a number of streaming services that aims to gobble up Fox News’s audience from the right.

That there was untapped demand for media that sat closer to the fringe than Fox generally traveled was made clear in the years before 2016, with organizations such as Breitbart News building substantial audiences in that space. This was Donald Trump’s campaign strategy that year, in fact: run as the voice of that further-right space, a strategy that worked well for him.

The region is now fairly crowded. There are fringier outlets competing with Fox on cable itself, notably Newsmax and (for now) One America News. On the internet, even more bespoke “channels” have been created to carve out part of the market: MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s FrankSpeech, for example, or Real America’s Voice — a “network” focused heavily on being the home to Stephen K. Bannon’s conspiratorial daily radio show.

Real America’s Voice also once employed an anchor named Tudor Dixon. And just as Real America’s Voice and networks like Newsmax use the aesthetics and tactics of cable news to mask or muddy the extent of their political activism, Dixon over the weekend demonstrated how Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election gets sanitized for broader public consumption.

This is useful for Dixon as she seeks election as governor of Michigan.

Shortly after receiving Trump’s endorsement in that race, she appeared for an interview with anchor Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday.” Baier — increasingly the network’s most vocal critic of Trump’s post-2020 behavior — asked Dixon whether she thought the election had been stolen.

“Well, it’s certainly a concern to a lot of folks here in Michigan because of the way the election was handled by our secretary of state,” Dixon replied. “She did things that were considered unlawful by a judge. We have to make sure our elections are secure and what happened in 2020 doesn’t happen again.”

There are three things happening here that are worth exploring.

The first is the suggestion that “a lot of folks” are concerned about the election, which serves as a rationale for suggesting that there was something to be concerned about. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) helped pioneer this bit of self-fulfilling rhetoric when he announced his plans to object to the election results prior to Jan. 6, 2021. It’s endlessly useful: Stoke fears and then cite fears as a reason to stoke them further. It’s detached from the reality, which is that Trump lost Michigan by a massive margin (as Baier would soon note).

Politico, Toomey defends delay of veterans health bill, says he will back it if amendment passes, Allie Bice, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). He explained why he blocked the passage of the the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, which aims to expand health care access to veterans exposed to burn pits.

politico CustomSen. Pat Toomey on Sunday defended his decision and that of his Republican colleagues’ last week to block the passage of a bill that aims to expand health care access to veterans exposed to burn pits.

The bill — the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act — was approved in the Senate in June by a vote of 84-14. It went back to the Senate again for a procedural vote last week and was expected to pass with its broad bipartisan support.

pat toomeyIn a surprise effort, Republicans blocked the legislation. Toomey (R-Pa.) said he wanted to amend the bill to make technical changes in terms of the accounting of VA funds. That vote drew criticism from veterans groups as well as comedian Jon Stewart, who has made the passage of the legislation a special cause of his.

Defending his actions Sunday, Toomey said he’s working to amend the bill in a way that would “not change by one penny any spending on any veterans program,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“What I’m trying to do is change a government accounting methodology that is designed to allow our Democratic colleagues to go on an unrelated $400 billion spending spree that has nothing to do with veterans and won’t be in the veterans space,” he said.

“My change, honest people acknowledge, will have no effect on the amount of money or the circumstances under which the money for veterans is being spent,” he said. “What I want to do is treat it for government accounting purposes the way we’ve always treated it for government accounting purposes.”

On the same CNN program, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said Toomey’s delaying action was petty and unnecessary.

us veterans administration sealMcDonough said the accounting changes that Toomey is seeking could harm veterans’ care. “I can’t in good conscience do that, because the outcome of that will be rationing of care for vets, which is something I just can’t sign up for,” he said.

Burn pits have been used by the U.S. military to dispose waste at military sites outside the United States. The smoke from those disposal sites has been seen to cause long-term respiratory illness in the exposed soldiers.

“They don’t have to hear it, they don’t have to see it,” Stewart said after Senate Republicans blocked the legislation. “They don’t have to understand that these are human beings.”

ny times logoNew York Times, In Races for Governor, Democrats See a Silver Lining, Jonathan Martin, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Republican missteps, weak candidates and fund-raising woes are handing Democrats unexpected opportunities in races for governor this year, including in two states with departing Republican chief executives and in a number led by Democrats where G.O.P. contenders now face far longer odds than they had hoped.

The potential to at least limit their statehouse defeats offers Democrats a bright spot in a midterm election in which they’re likely to suffer heavy congressional losses, as President Biden’s approval ratings plunge below 40 percent and the vast majority of voters remain convinced the country is on the wrong track amid fears of a recession.

“I hear all this talk about a wave year,” said Scott Walker, the former Wisconsin governor, a Republican. “Yeah, but $20 to 25 million worth of attack ads can take away whatever advantage we have.”

The more competitive map has alarmed Republican officials, while lifting the spirits of Democrats who’ve been demoralized by Mr. Biden’s unpopularity and nagging questions about his future.

“The governors’ races could be our silver lining,” said former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

The 36 statehouse contests this year loom large, in no small part because of the role many governors play in certifying election results and the opposition of Democratic governors to Republican state legislative efforts to change voting laws, two issues that could prove pivotal should the 2024 presidential results be contested.

As they have for five years, since the first statewide elections following President Trump’s election, Democrats are counting less on their own contenders and more on voter backlash: a strong liberal turnout coupled with the revulsion of moderates toward Mr. Trump and his inflammatory style of politics. That formula has been bolstered by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, a decision particularly significant in races at the state level, where abortion rights will now be determined.

“Never have the rights of Americans depended more on who’s running their states,” said Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, the head of the Democratic Governors Association.

Unlike last year in Virginia, where Mr. McAuliffe’s comeback bid was snuffed out by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who helped underwrite his own campaign and kept Mr. Trump at arm’s length, Republican voters have aided the Democrats’ strategy by elevating problematic nominees in a handful of states.

Still, the overall political environment favors Republicans, and they may pick up governorships in a number of states Mr. Biden carried, including Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and perhaps even Oregon, where a three-way race has made the otherwise liberal bastion a wild card.

ny times logoNew York Times, Midterms Updates: Nancy Pelosi Backs Mondaire Jones in New York Race, Dana Rubinstein, Aug. 1, 2022. The first-term congressman, who moved to Brooklyn to compete in the redrawn 10th Congressional District, faces a highly competitive race.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will on Monday endorse Representative Mondaire Jones, a first-term upstate congressman who is facing a stiff battle in his bid to capture an open seat in New York City.

Following an unusually messy redistricting process, Mr. Jones opted not to run again in his current district, which encompasses Rockland County and parts of Westchester County, or in a neighboring one to the south. Either would have required him to compete against incumbents, one of whom is the powerful chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

When that chair, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, announced he would run in Mr. Jones’s reconstituted 17th District — drawing outcries from Mr. Jones and his allies — Ms. Pelosi supported Mr. Maloney.

With her endorsement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi will be making some amends, hoping that her backing may help Mr. Jones get more traction in a district where he only recently moved.

“Mondaire Jones has gotten real results for New Yorkers,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement provided to The New York Times. The speaker credited Mr. Jones for playing a “vital role in passing life-changing legislation that has lifted up working families, helped deliver expanded access to health care and invested in affordable housing.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Liz Cheney Is Prepared to Lose Power, and It Shows, Katherine Miller, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). What should you do when you know you’re losing?

On the receiving end of Mr. Trump’s attacks and especially the worries from inside the Republican Party about losing, consider Representative Liz Cheney. She seems to know she’s likely to lose her congressional primary on Aug. 16. In a G.O.P. debate earlier this summer in Wyoming, rather than any talk about inflation or local issues, she devoted her closing debate statement to two minutes on the Constitution, the importance of not telling lies, and the option to vote for someone else if people are looking for a lawmaker who will violate their oath of office.

From the outside, how Ms. Cheney has approached the last 18 months might represent the best example of one point of view on the meaning of Jan. 6, 2021, its causes, solutions, the role of the individual and how political figures should face the prospect of losing power.

washington post logoWashington Post, 3 more GOP impeachers face their primary juries, Paul Kane, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Reps. Peter Meijer, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse have not grabbed the same type of headlines that other Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump in January 2021.

The Republican trio have remained steadfast in support of their votes against Trump but have otherwise mostly kept their heads down and tried to work hard on issues they have long focused on.

Meijer, an Army intelligence officer in the Iraq War from Michigan, has been a major critic of the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Herrera Beutler, from a massive rural district in southwestern Washington, just got a bill passed to transfer land from the U.S. Forest Service to a local county government.

And Friday, Newhouse took to the House floor to speak out against Democratic legislation as “bureaucratic red tape” that would fail to combat wildfires, a perennial issue in his vast district in eastern Washington.

On Tuesday, all three will learn their political fate with Republican voters back home, helping determine if there was ever a path to victory for a Republican who so directly rebuked Trump. And it will go a long way to determining whether there will be one, two or more pro-impeachment Republicans left when the new Congress is sworn in next January.

Recent Headlines

 

Trump Watch

 

fox upside down news

washington post logoWashington Post, The Murdochs and Trump aligned for mutual benefit. That may be changing, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). In the frenzied coverage of the Jan. 6 House committee hearings, Fox News has been the outlier. While every other major network carried the first public testimony live in prime time in June, Fox relegated the feed to its little-watched business channel.

fox news logo SmallThe network has aired midday hearings live, but Trump-boosting opinion hosts have tended to downplay revelations. When former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison gave bombshell testimony a month ago, Laura Ingraham called it “bad acting.”

But the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, right, has been watching the hearings with a less dismissive eye. And there are signs that the proceedings have helped convince him that the former president is losing his political rupert murdoch newexpediency.

Speculation over the 91-year-old media executive’s thinking crescendoed after the first set of hearings concluded this month and two of his papers published nearly simultaneous editorials. “Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 is damning,” the New York Post declared. “Character is revealed in a crisis,” the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board concluded. “Mr. Trump utterly failed his.”

new york post logoMurdoch’s support for Donald Trump has been crucial to his political career and at times to his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. But as Trump inches closer to a third presidential run under the glare of criminal, civil and governmental investigations, multiple associates of Murdoch told The Washington Post that it appears he has lost his enthusiasm for Trump.

But Murdoch, who controls a vast swath of the political media world, has spent decades learning to ride the waves of U.S. politics and hedge his bets on candidates. Fox has tried to pull away from the 45th president before, only to return in the face of Trump’s fury.

Recent Headlines

 

Energy, Climate, Disasters, Environment

 

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, When There’s Arsenic in the Water, but ‘We Have Nowhere to Go,’ Ana Facio-Krajcer and Jill Cowan, Photographs by Alex Welsh, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Water at a California mobile home park contained almost 10 times the allowable limit of arsenic. Housing alternatives are hard to find.

The Environmental Protection Agency found that water at a mobile home park that mostly serves agricultural workers contained almost 10 times the allowable limit of arsenic. But housing alternatives are hard to find.

Three times a week, Pascual Campos Ochoa, 26, loads up a duffel bag with a brown fleece blanket and a plastic container of oatmeal. A van picks him up from the dusty trailer park where he lives — where stray dogs wander among the carcasses of old cars and working electricity is not a given — and takes him to a clinic for kidney dialysis.

Mr. Campos Ochoa is the youngest person to require the treatment at the clinic; he has been on dialysis since he was 18 and is waiting for a kidney donor.

Still, it was not until recently, he said, that he considered that his health problems may be tied to the trailer he has shared with his family for 16 years at the Oasis Mobile Home Park — and the water tainted with high levels of arsenic that spewed for years from its aging pipes.

ny times logoNew York Times, More Flooding Is Expected in Kentucky, Christine Hauser, Aug. 1, 2022. Rain was expected to douse parts of eastern Kentucky on Monday, after dozens of people were killed in flash floods.

Heavy rain was expected to produce more flooding across already-saturated eastern Kentucky on Monday, after flash floods in the area killed at least 30 people and left dozens missing.

An onslaught of rainfall since last week has soaked the soil and made it unable to absorb more. The flooding has caused mudslides, and topped up streams, creeks and rivers to overflowing. Bridges have collapsed, isolating communities, and houses have been torn from their foundations. The death toll is expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations resume on Monday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Sunday morning that 37 people were missing.

Forecasters said a cold front would drift over the eastern part of the state, generating more showers that could last into Tuesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fire danger increases in Northern California as McKinney blaze erupts, Diana Leonard, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The western wildfire season is shifting into a higher gear on the heels of a searing and prolonged heat wave in the Pacific Northwest.

The Western wildfire season is poised to shift into a higher gear on the heels of a searing and prolonged heat wave in the Pacific Northwest.

Meteorologists are warning about a fire weather pattern beginning this weekend that could bring abundant lightning and erratic winds to portions of California, Oregon and the Northern Rockies.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

“There’s definitely concern anytime you have a heat wave followed by lightning, especially in midsummer in the Western U.S.,” said Nick Nauslar, a fire meteorologist with the National Interagency Fire Center. “We think that we’ll see ignitions and potentially a number of significant fires as well.”

In an ominous sign of conditions on the ground, a new wildfire — the McKinney Fire — is spreading rapidly near the California-Oregon border after an initial bout of thunderstorms Friday. It grew explosively Friday night and Saturday with extreme fire behavior, forming a towering pyrocumulonimbus cloud, or a fire-generated thunderstorm. Radar detected lightning unleashed by the storm.

Incredibly, the fire had already grown to 30,000 to 40,000 acres by Saturday afternoon, according to the Klamath National Forest.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. solar industry ready for revival, Evan Halper, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). China’s dominance in solar manufacturing leaves the United States vulnerable. The climate package on a path to President Biden’s desk could help U.S. firms. The bill, negotiated in part by Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), would deliver billions of dollars in tax and other incentives to U.S. solar manufacturers, equipping them with government support on a scale of those China used to corner the market.

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Analysis

 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California (Associated Press photo by Scott Applewhite).

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California (Associated Press photo by Scott Applewhite).

ny times logoNew York Times, A Pelosi Trip to Taiwan Would Test China’s Appetite for Confrontation, Chris Buckley, Aug. 1, 2022. Current economic and political forces might make Xi Jinping unlikely to court a crisis if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits the island.

Soon after Beijing’s last big confrontation with Washington over Taiwan, Xi Jinping, then a rising official in a Chinese province that faces the disputed island, joined a reserve artillery division, and later had himself photographed in military greens, cap turned backward as he peered through the sights of an antiaircraft gun.

Looking tough toward the self-ruled island, Mr. Xi learned long before he became China’s top leader, is essential for political survival in the ruling Communist Party.

That lesson hangs over him as he weighs how to react if Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, travels to Taiwan during a tour of Asian nations that began on Monday in Singapore. She would be the most senior U.S. official to visit the island since 1997, when a previous speaker, Newt Gingrich, visited.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Singapore. The White House expects her to proceed with a visit to Taiwan, David E. Sanger and Vivian Wang, Updated Aug. 1, 2022. Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a fraught tour of Asia on Sunday that administration officials say they now expect will include a stop in Taiwan, despite China’s increasingly sharp warnings in recent days that a visit to the self-governing island would provoke a response, perhaps a military one.

Ms. Pelosi arrived in Singapore on Monday, after a weekend stopover in Hawaii to consult with American commanders responsible for the Indo-Pacific. She said in a statement that she was planning to travel on with a congressional delegation for high-level meetings in Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, and did not mention Taiwan.

But it would not be unusual to omit Taiwan from an announcement given security concerns, and President Biden’s aides said she was expected to proceed with the plan for the highest-level visit by an American official to the island in 25 years. Ms. Pelosi could still change her mind about traveling to Taiwan, administration officials said, but added that seemed unlikely.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.N. Peacekeepers Kill 2 and Wound 15 in Congo, Steve Wembi and Abdi Latif Dahir, Aug. 1, 2022. The events on Sunday came amid protests in eastern Congo, with demonstrators accusing the United Nations of foundering in its efforts to protect civilians from a surge in violence.

Local protesters have recently escalated their calls for United Nations forces to leave the region, saying the soldiers have failed to protect civilians against an alarming surge of violence carried out by an array of militant groups. The killings on Sunday come just days after at least 19 people, including three U.N. peacekeepers, were killed and 60 others injured, in demonstrations against the peacekeeping mission in the cities of Butembo and Goma.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nancy Pelosi announces Asia trip itinerary with no mention of Taiwan, Annabelle Timsit and Christian Shepherd, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Reports that the California Democrat was planning to visit the contested, self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own had sparked anger and threats in China, where officials vowed to do what was necessary to “firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Nancy Pelosi Pelosi, left, on Sunday set off for the Indo-Pacific, where she is leading a delegation of five Democratic lawmakers focused on “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance” in the region, according to a news release from her office.

The delegation will visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, according to the release.

Ever since the Financial Times reported earlier this month that the American delegation would visit Taiwan, Pelosi has not confirmed whether she is going, citing security.

washington post logoWashington Post, Guatemalan journalist arrested in growing crackdown on political dissent, Rachel Pannett, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). An award-winning journalist in Guatemala has gone on a hunger strike to protest his arrest by authorities amid growing signs of a crackdown on political dissent in the country.

José Rubén Zamora was arrested at his home in Guatemala City on Friday night as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering, blackmail and influence peddling, according to prosecutors. Zamora denounced the charges against him as a conspiracy, describing his arrest as “political persecution.”

Zamora is president and founder of the newspaper elPeriódico, which has reported on suspected corruption within the administration of President Alejandro Giammattei, including in the prosecutor’s office.

In a video posted on Twitter on Saturday, Zamora said he would begin a hunger strike protesting his detention. Authorities also raided his newspaper’s headquarters.

In a separate post, elPeriódico said it would not be silenced despite what it said were “constant” attacks, persecutions and threats against the paper and its president. “We have always believed in freedom of expression and worked to control power through journalism, against all odds,” the paper wrote.

Zamora’s arrest was condemned by human rights groups and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which gave Zamora its International Press Freedom Award in 1995 for his work advocating for press freedoms and fighting censorship in Guatemala.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fidel Ramos, Philippine President Who Broke With Marcos, Dies at 94, Robert D. McFadden, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Considered a ruthless Marcos henchman, he was later hailed as a national hero for breaking with the dictator, and went on to preside over an economic boom.

philippines flagFidel V. Ramos, a military leader who succeeded Corazon C. Aquino as president of the Philippines, and from 1992 to 1998 presided over robust economic growth, exceptional political stability and reconciliations with Communist insurgents and Muslim separatists, died on Sunday in Manila. He was 94.

The defense ministry confirmed his death in a statement Sunday.

A longtime aide, Norman Legaspi, told The Associated Press that Mr. Ramos died at the Makati Medical Center and that he had suffered from a heart condition and dementia.

In a nation battered by the corrupt dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 1986, Ms. Aquino and Mr. Ramos led a struggle, in back-to-back six-year terms under a banner of “People Power,” to re-establish democracy, reform a prostrate economy and make peace with extremists.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

 

victor pena WBZ

 lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Boston Man Who Kidnapped Woman and Raped Her for Three Days Will Spend Decades Behind Bars, Marisa Sarnoff, Aug. 1, 2022. A Massachusetts man convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman repeatedly while keeping her inside his home for days will spend up to nearly 40 years behind bars.

Victor Pena, 42 (shown above in a courtroom photo via WBZ-TV), was convicted on July 26 on 10 aggravated rape charges and one kidnapping charge stemming from a 2019 incident in which he held Olivia Ambrose, 23, for three days inside his home in Boston.

Local news website MassLive had reported that Pena had abducted Ambrose after she left a bar on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. According to the story, Ambrose appeared highly intoxicated at the time. Prosecutors said that after leaving the bar with a man, who then left with his friends, the victim was walking “alone in the snow.”

The victim reportedly remembered waking up on a bare mattress in a dirty apartment, MassLive reported. She tried to get her things and leave, but according to prosecutors, Peña threatened her and took her phone. He then spent the next three days raping and sexually assaulting the woman, prosecutors say. He also made her drink alcohol, demanded that she read the Bible out loud in Spanish and forced her to take photos with him.

According to WCVB, a digital forensic expert said that more than 300 photos and six explicit videos of the victim were found on Pena’s phone.

Ambrose’s family filed a missing person report on Sunday evening. Using surveillance video, police were able to track Ambrose to Pena’s apartment: the two were seen on camera boarding public transportation and then heading toward the housing development where Pena lived.

Until he took the stand, Pena had stayed out of the courtroom during testimony, WCVB reported. He had apparently had multiple disruptive outbursts, including an incident during jury selection when he appeared naked on a monitor in the courtroom, appearing to be engaging in a lewd act. That jury pool was excused, WCVB reported.

Pena had previously faced charges of indecent assault of two teenagers in New York City, according to MassLive. He was also reportedly subject to three restraining orders from Boston women in the last 15 years.

 

richard sigman anna jonesDaily Beast, Georgia University Prof Accused of Gunning Down 18-Year-Old Student in Parking Lot, Alice Tecotzky, Aug. 1, 2022. University of West Georgia professor Richard Sigman, 47, above left, faces a murder charge in the death of Anna Jones, shown in a file photo.

daily beast logoAccording to police in Carrollton, a college town located about 50 miles west of Atlanta, Sigman threatened to whip out his gun during a verbal fight with another man in the parking lot of a pizza joint at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

The man alerted a security guard and when the guard saw that Sigman was indeed armed, police say they asked him to leave. But Sigman walked away and began to shoot into a vehicle parked in the lot near Adamson Square, a busy nighttime district in downtown Carrollton.

One of the bullets hit Jones, though it’s unclear if she was the intended target or if she knew Sigman. Her friends drove her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said.

The event has, according to Carrollton Police spokeswoman Sgt. Meredith Browning, shocked the town.

In addition to murder, Sigman has been charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, police said. He is scheduled to appear before a judge for the first time on Monday afternoon.

Zoie Whitestone, who was one of Sigman’s students last semester, told The Daily Beast Sigman taught upperclassmen management courses.

The University has since fired Sigman. “On behalf of the university, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to Anna’s family and many friends,” UWG President Dr. Brendan Kelly said in the statement.

 

peter strickland

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Florida Man Preyed on Minor Girls at Group Home, Traded ‘Items of Value’ to Sexually Abuse Victims as Young as 13: Sheriff, Jerry Lambe, Aug. 1, 2022.  A 32-year-old public utilities worker in Florida is behind bars this week after he allegedly admitted to filming himself sexually abusing multiple children as young as 13 from a local a group home in exchange for “items of value,” authorities say. Peter James Strickland was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, a second-degree felony, according to a press release from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation into Strickland began on July 6, 2022, when the sheriff’s office received a delayed sex offense complaint involving multiple minor victims all of whom resided at a group home in Palm Coast. Investigators quickly uncovered evidence that the case involved human trafficking.

Strickland allegedly confessed to “having sexual relations” with the minor victims approximately 15 times over a two-year period. He allegedly said that the victims ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old.

Law&Crime, 3 Girls Found Dead in Pond Near Where They Lived, Texas Authorities Say, Alberto Luperon, Aug 1, 2022. Three young girls — reportedly sisters — were found dead in a pond early Saturday after going missing. Authorities in Texas are now investigating how the lives of Zi’ariel Oliver, 9, Amiyah Hughes, 8, and Temari Oliver, 5, were tragically cut short.

Investigators in Cass County said that the children were reported missing at around 10 p.m. on Friday, according to KSLA. Agencies including Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, and volunteer firefighters responded.

Investigators made the tragic discovery several hours later on a private pond near Highway 77.

“We located items of clothing around a pond and in a pond,” Texas Game Warden Shawn Hervey reportedly said. “So, we centered the search around that small body of water, and with the use of divers we were able to recover three victims at approximately 2 a.m. this morning.”

“A pair of shoes was found at the edge of the pond, leading investigators to search the water,” Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe said, according to The Texarkana Gazette.

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Former Iowa Jailer Had Sex with Inmate Multiple Times in Utility Closet and Recreation Yard: Authorities, Jerry Lambe, Aug. 1, 2022. A former jail employee in Iowa was arrested and charged with multiple crimes for allegedly having a sexual relationship with an inmate that lasted for several months.

Kayla Mae Bergom was taken into custody in April and charged with three counts of sexual misconduct with an offender, an aggravated misdemeanor, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

The 27-year-old Bergom, of Belle Plaine, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 29-year-old inmate at the Tama County Jail while she was still employed at the facility, according to a report from Cedar Rapids ABC affiliate KCRG-TV.

Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera reportedly told The Gazette that Bergom immediately resigned after being charged with the crimes. She had reportedly been employed at the jail for three years prior to her resignation.

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump Nazis Among Us — a WMR video presentation, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 1, 2022 (20:45 mins. video). The Trump Nazis Among Us — a WMR video presentation.

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Convicted Quadruple Murderer Dies After North Dakota Highway Patrol Alerted to ‘Self-Harm’ Incident Behind Bars, Colin Kalmbacher, Aug. 1, 2022. A North Dakota man who was serving four life sentences for murdering four people died in custody over the weekend.

Robert Fakler, 52, Adam Fuehrer, 42, and married couple William Cobb, 50, and Lois Cobb, 45, were stabbed over 100 times. Three of the victims were also gunned down.

The since-deceased defendant maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, insisting that law enforcement had the wrong man and disputing the strength of the evidence against him.

Chad Trolon Isaak, 48, died on the evening of Sunday, July 31, 2022, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP).

Recent Headlines

 

Pandemic Public Health, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, How the U.S. Let 20 Million Doses of Monkeypox Vaccine Expire, Joseph Goldstein, Aug. 1, 2022. At the start of the monkeypox outbreak, the U.S. stockpile contained just 2,400 doses of vaccine, a far cry from the more than 20 million it once held.

Less than a decade ago, the United States had some 20 million doses of a new smallpox vaccine — also effective against monkeypox — sitting in freezers in a national stockpile.

Such vast quantities of the vaccine, known today as Jynneos, could have slowed the spread of monkeypox after it first emerged in the United States in mid-May. Instead, the supply, known as the Strategic National Stockpile, had only some 2,400 usable doses left at that point, enough to fully vaccinate just 1,200 people.

The rest of the doses had expired.

Now, some 10 weeks into the outbreak, many people at high risk who want to get vaccinated have been unable to find a dose and may not be able to find one for months.

The chain of events that led the stockpile of a now-critical vaccine to dwindle to near nothing in the United States is only now emerging.

At several points federal officials chose not to quickly replenish doses as they expired, instead pouring money into developing a freeze-dried version of the vaccine that would have substantially increased its three-year shelf life.

As the wait for a freeze-dried vaccine to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration dragged on over the last decade, the United States purchased vast quantities of raw vaccine product, which has yet to be filled into vials.

The raw, unfinished vaccine remains stored in large plastic bags outside Copenhagen, at the headquarters of the small Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic, which developed Jynneos and remains its sole producer.

For nearly 20 years, the United States government has helped fund the company’s development of the vaccine, clinical trials and manufacturing process, at a cost that passed the $1 billion mark by 2014 and is hurtling toward $2 billion. Despite this, the United States now finds itself unable to procure enough doses to quickly launch a widespread vaccination campaign for those at highest risk: men who have sex with men, and in particular, those who have multiple partners.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: In the I.C.U., Dying Sometimes Feels Like a Choice, Daniela J. Lamas (a contributing Opinion writer and a pulmonary and critical-care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston), Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.).

Was her husband dying?

You might think this is an easy question to answer. And yet here in the intensive care unit, it is not. Our medicines and machines extend the lives of patients who would otherwise have died.

But what happens when it becomes clear that a patient is not actively dying, but not getting better either? How do doctors and family members navigate death when it is not imminent and unavoidable, but is instead a decision?

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Abortion Rights, Privacy, Trafficking

Politico, Opinion: More Republican Women Than You Think Have Had Abortions. Here’s How I Know, Samantha Zaleski, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Sam Zaleski had an abortion in the last few weeks of her senior year at a Catholic school in southeast Michigan. “It took my own pregnancy for me to accept that I was in a controlling relationship,” she writes.

politico CustomWe pretend my story is rare among conservatives. It’s not, and Republicans should stop acting like it.

In the last few weeks of the school year during my senior year at a respected Catholic school in southeast Michigan, our religion teacher had our class watch “Juno.” In my Catholic community, “Juno” was seen as a pro-life story: The main character learns she is pregnant at 16 and ultimately chooses adoption.

It was during that class, watching “Juno,” that I first experienced the nausea. In the next few weeks, that nausea turned into vomiting, and then into dehydration. I was hospitalized, and soon learned the reason for these vomiting spells. I was pregnant.

I ultimately had an abortion, and I don’t regret the decision. It made me a firm believer in the importance of abortion rights — for economic mobility, for autonomy, for mental health. I did choose life when I chose to have an abortion — my own life.

That decision ended up setting me on a path where I’d spend the better part of my career committed to helping Republicans win elections as a pollster, data analyst and strategist. As a result, I know numbers, and I know politics. And I know that statistically, I can’t be that rare; many women who have supported Republicans have had abortions. Many women who agree with various conservative policies, too, have had abortions. There are men and women in the party, too, who might not have personal experience with abortion, but still have complicated feelings about the procedure.

Sam Zaleski has a decade of experience working in political campaigns and advocacy with expertise in media, research, and analytics. In 2018, she was named a rising star by Campaigns & Elections magazine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Indiana’s cruel abortion bill is a warning of post-Roe reality, Ruth Marcus, right, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). On ruth marcusSaturday, the Indiana Senate voted to make abortion illegal in the state. The measure passed with the bare minimum number of votes — not because lawmakers flinched at outlawing abortion but because so many of them believed the bill, with its exceptions for rape and incest, wasn’t strict enough.

Welcome to the new abortion debate, in which no restriction short of an absolute, unyielding ban will satisfy some abortion opponents. So much for the gauzy vision of a European-style consensus in which states would make abortion freely available up to a certain point in pregnancy, say 15 weeks, the limit imposed by the Mississippi law that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority used in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as a vehicle for eliminating abortion rights. The legislative landscape is still unfolding, but the new reality is that abortion is likely to be prohibited or unavailable after the first few weeks of pregnancy in almost half the states.

Abortion is now banned in these states. See where the laws have changed.

Indiana is one of the first to consider abortion legislation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, so the fate of the measure that passed Saturday is instructive. Republicans enjoy a comfortable supermajority in the state legislature, with 39 of 50 Senate seats. But Indiana Republicans were a party divided — 18 voted to eliminate the exceptions for rape and incest — and ultimately just 26 voted for final passage. Now the measure heads to the Republican-dominated House, which has a chance to make it even worse.

To some extent, antiabortion forces are like the dog that caught the car — after all these years of cost-free railing against Roe, they are in the uncomfortable position of having to make real-world, and politically dicey, choices about what restrictions to impose in its absence.

washington post logoWashington Post, States may revive abortion laws from a time when women couldn’t vote, Gillian Brockell, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, it invalidated antiabortion laws in many states. Now that the Supreme Court has struck it down, these states face questions about whether and how the old laws will take effect again.

Some states avoided this confusion by taking preemptive action. In the half-century that the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to abortion, a number of states passed trigger laws automatically restricting abortion if Roe were ever overturned; now those laws are going into effect. Other states passed laws codifying abortion rights in the event Roe was reversed.

But a few states did nothing at all, and now confusion reigns about whether the old laws are kicking in again.

In Arizona, a 15-week abortion ban will go into effect this fall, but the Republican state attorney general is trying to enforce a stricter 1901 law immediately.

In West Virginia, a law from 1849 — before West Virginia was even a state — which makes providing an abortion a felony, is enforceable, according to the Republican state attorney general.

And in Wisconsin, the Democratic attorney general is fighting enforcement of a law, also from 1849, making it a felony to provide an abortion unless it is needed to save the life of the mother. The Democratic governor has said he’ll grant clemency to anyone charged under it.

For many women, it’s jarring to contemplate resurrecting laws from a bygone era when women’s rights were drastically curtailed.

In 1849, West Virginia was still part of Virginia. (The Trans-Allegheny region didn’t break off until the Civil War.) Women of any race or class had difficult lives and few rights.

In 1850, there were about 10,000 enslaved Black women in the counties that became West Virginia. These women had no control over their financial, professional, political or sexual lives. They could not legally marry, and there was no legal protection against sexual assault. Many enslaved women, particularly in Virginia, were subjected to rape and forced breeding. They had no right to travel, so they could not have crossed state lines for an abortion. Some enslaved people brought recipes for abortion-inducing drinks with them from Africa, but access to these would have been inconsistent at best.

washington post logoWashington Post, Some Republicans fear party is too extreme on abortion and gay rights, Hannah Knowles, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). West Virginia legislature inches toward abortion ban with few exceptions. Following the end of Roe v. Wade, many in the GOP have embraced uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric out of step with mainstream public opinion.

Republicans in Congress this month blocked a bill protecting the ability to cross state lines for an abortion, despite strong public support for such a measure.

The Texas attorney general said he would be willing to defend the state’s defunct anti-sodomy law, while a GOP Senate candidate in Arizona has called for a nationwide abortion ban — two positions also out of step with public opinion.

And some of the party’s most vocal members traffic in extreme and inflammatory rhetoric — from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) claiming that heterosexual people will disappear while denouncing “trans terrorist” educators, to Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) calling abortion rights protesters ugly, “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”

Uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric on key social issues are escalating concerns within GOP circles that the party is moving too far out of sync with popular opinion, projecting new hostility to gay people and potentially alienating women voters in high-stakes races. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending a nationwide right to abortion last month has spawned strict new bans and stirred fears that gay rights and access to contraception could be next — shifting the focus from other culture-war battles where Republicans felt they had a winning message.

ny times logoNew York Times, A New Yorker’s Opposition to Abortion Clouds Her House Re-Election Bid, Jesse McKinley, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). As the lone Republican in the New York City congressional delegation, Representative Nicole Malliotakis has adopted certain stances that would make her an understandable outlier in a deeply Democratic city.

Just days after taking office in early 2021, she voted to discard the legitimate 2020 election results, voting for a debunked conspiracy theory that claimed President Donald J. Trump actually won the election. She followed up by voting against Mr. Trump’s second impeachment as a result of the deadly Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021.

nicole malliotakis oBut as she seeks re-election in November, Ms. Malliotakis, right, has tried to tread a finer line around guns and abortion, two polarizing social issues that have taken on added prominence in light of recent Supreme Court decisions. (In June, the court overturned the federal right to abortion, as well as a New York law governing concealed weapons.)

On guns, for example, Ms. Malliotakis has voiced some support for new regulations, even voting for several Democratic gun control bills proffered in the wake of the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. She later, however, voted against the omnibus bill package, contending that it was “constitutionally suspect” and “represented a partisan overreach.”

Ms. Malliotakis opposes abortion rights, favoring restrictions on using taxpayer funding for the procedure and on late-term abortions. But she has said that she believes that abortion should be allowed under certain circumstances, such as when the life of the mother is at risk.

But Ms. Malliotakis has also tried to maintain some distance from the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, saying in a recent interview that she “didn’t weigh in on it.” Yet earlier this month, the congresswoman voted against a pair of bills that would have banned states from restricting abortions and prohibited them from blocking access to out-of-state abortion services.

Republicans, who are expected to fare well in November’s midterm elections, have long fought to overturn Roe. Yet some of the party’s candidates have not rushed to embrace the Dobbs ruling, wary of alienating voters who, according to polls, may be swayed by social issues in ways that help Democrats.

Ms. Malliotakis is a prime example. Her district encompasses Staten Island and a swath of southwest Brooklyn, some of the city’s most conservative areas. Yet New York remains an overwhelmingly Democratic city, and the recent Supreme Court rulings were profoundly unpopular here.

max rose nicole malliotakisMs. Malliotakis is expected to easily win her Republican primary next month against John Matland, a badly underfunded rival, setting her up for a likely rematch against Max Rose, the former Democratic congressman whom she unseated in 2020.

Mr. Rose, (shown in 2018 photos with Ms. Malliotakis) a combat veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan and awarded the Bronze Star, has sought to tie Ms. Malliotakis to the extreme elements of the Republican Party, including Mr. Trump, and to the Capitol riot by the president’s supporters, saying he is running to protect “the soul of America.”

“Everything that our country was built upon wasn’t just spit at: They tried to destroy it,” he said during a campaign walkabout on July 11 in Bay Ridge. “And even after — even after — Nicole, and everyone else in Congress who were almost killed, they still voted to decertify.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Kansas Abortion Vote Tests Political Energy in Post-Roe America, Katie Glueck, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). On Tuesday, Kansans will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that could lead to far-reaching abortion restrictions or an outright ban on the procedure.

In the final days before Kansans decide whether to remove abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, the politically competitive Kansas City suburbs have become hotbeds of activism.

kansas map in usIn neighborhoods where yard signs often tout high school sports teams, dueling abortion-related messages now also dot front lawns. A cafe known for its chocolates and cheese pie has become a haven for abortion rights advocates and a source of ire for opponents. Signs have been stolen, a Catholic church was vandalized earlier this month and tension is palpable on the cusp of the first major vote on the abortion issue since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.

“I’m really sad that that happened,” said Leslie Schmitz, 54, of Olathe, speaking of the abortion access landscape. “And mad. Sad and mad.”

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Economic News

washington post logoWashington Post, Corporations on the front lines of the economy say cracks are forming, Gerrit De Vynck, Rachel Lerman and Caroline O’Donovan, July 31, 2022 (print ed.). Big tech, retail companies and consumer giants painted a mixed picture of a consumer economy where spending is still strong but beginning to wane.

In Silicon Valley, profits at tech companies like Google and Apple generally beat expectations, but executives said there are signs of some niche slowing in consumer spending. Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble said it is expecting a tougher 2023, although it’s still raising prices. Mastercard said spending was steady among the wealthy, but slowing among lower-income customers.

Meanwhile, both Walmart and Best Buy warned that when they report earnings in August, it will be worse than expected — in large part because of changes in consumer habits.

“We’re seeing strong growth,” said Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky. “But we’re cognizant things could change quickly.”

People are still spending their money, but inflation means more of it is going to gas and necessities and less to categories like clothing and electronics. Unemployment remains low, but some companies are slowing hiring and a few are beginning to lay people off outright.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Clash, Manchin and Schumer Rushed to Reset Climate and Tax Deal, Emily Cochrane and Annie Karni, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). The West Virginia Democrat said he had relented and agreed to sign on to a climate, energy and tax package after returning to negotiations to draft a version that would combat inflation.

 

Headquarters of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, designed by Marriner Eccles and located on Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, DC.stem Custom

Headquarters of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, designed by Marriner Eccles and located on Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, DC.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Prices Surged in June, and Pay Growth Struggled to Keep Up, Jeanna Smialek, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). A wage growth measure that the Federal Reserve watches closely climbed swiftly in the three months through June and prices increased sharply last month, fresh economic reports showed on Friday, developments that are likely to keep the central bank on track for future rate increases even as the economy shows some signs of cooling.

Prices climbed by 6.8 percent in the year through June, the fastest for the Personal Consumption Expenditures index since 1982. Inflation also jumped by 4.8 percent over the past year after removing food and fuel — which economists do to get a sense of underlying trends — a slightly larger increase than the 4.7 percent increase that economists in a Bloomberg survey had expected.

At the same time, a separate report showed that wages climbed briskly, albeit not enough to keep up with inflation. The Employment Cost Index climbed by 5.1 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, and the index’s measure of wages and salaries also picked up strongly.

That combination is likely to reinforce the Fed’s determination to cool down the economy and wrestle inflation back under control. Central bank officials on Wednesday made their second supersized rate increase in a row — three-quarters of a percentage point — as they try to slow down the economy by making money more expensive to borrow.

“Wage increases and labor costs are still showing strong upward pressures, and that’s likely to keep the Fed raising interest rates over the next few meetings,” said Alan Detmeister, an economist at UBS who was formerly a central bank researcher. The employment cost number, he said, “was hot.”

Recent Headlines

 

More On U.S. Mass Shootings Fears, Gun Control

ny times logoNew York Times, Trained, Armed and Ready. To Teach Kindergarten, Sarah Mervosh, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). More school employees are carrying guns to defend against school shootings. In Ohio, a contentious new law requires no more than 24 hours of training.

Mandi, a kindergarten teacher in Ohio, had already done what she could to secure her classroom against a gunman.

She positioned a bookcase by the doorway, in case she needed a barricade. In an orange bucket, she kept district-issued emergency supplies: wasp spray, to aim at an attacker, and a tube sock, to hold a heavy object and hurl at an assailant.

But after 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas, she felt a growing desperation. Her school is in an older building, with no automatic locks on classroom doors and no police officer on campus.

“We just feel helpless,” she said. “It’s not enough.”

She decided she needed something far more powerful: a 9 millimeter pistol.

So she signed up for training that would allow her to carry a gun in school. Like others in this article, she asked to be identified by her first name, because of school district rules that restrict information about employees carrying firearms.

A decade ago, it was extremely rare for everyday school employees to carry guns. Today, after a seemingly endless series of mass shootings, the strategy has become a leading solution promoted by Republicans and gun rights advocates, who say that allowing teachers, principals and superintendents to be armed gives schools a fighting chance in case of attack.

Did you know you can share 10 gift articles a month, even with nonsubscribers?

At least 29 states allow individuals other than police or security officials to carry guns on school grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. As of 2018, the last year for which statistics were available, federal survey data estimated that 2.6 percent of public schools had armed faculty. The count has likely grown.

In Florida, more than 1,300 school staff members serve as armed guardians in 45 school districts, out of 74 in the state, according to state officials. The program was created after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

In Texas, at least 402 school districts — about a third in the state — participate in a program that allows designated people, including school staff members, to be armed, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. Another program, which requires more training, is used by a smaller number of districts. Participation in both is up since 2018.

And in the weeks after the Uvalde shooting, lawmakers in Ohio made it easier for teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

The strategy is fiercely opposed by Democrats, police groups, teachers’ unions and gun control advocates, who say that concealed carry programs in schools — far from solving the problem — will only create more risk. Past polling has shown that the vast majority of teachers do not want to be armed.

The law in Ohio has been especially contentious because it requires no more than 24 hours of training, along with eight hours of recertification annually.

Recent Headlines

 

Media, Religion, Education, Sports News

ny times logoNew York Times, Will the Biggest Publisher in the United States Get Even Bigger? Alexandra Alter, Elizabeth A. Harris and David McCabe, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration is suing to block Penguin Random House from buying Simon & Schuster. A federal court will decide if the sale can proceed.

When the largest publisher in the country, Penguin Random House, struck a deal in the fall of 2020 to acquire its rival Simon & Schuster, publishing executives and antitrust experts predicted that the merger would draw intense scrutiny from government regulators.

simon schuster logopenguin books logoThe merger would dramatically alter the literary landscape, shrinking the number of major publishing houses — known in the industry as the Big Five — to four. (Or, as one industry analyst put it, it could create the Big One and the other three.)

Such a shift could ripple through the industry, potentially impacting smaller publishers, authors, and ultimately, the books that reach readers, said in an email the novelist Stephen King, who was called by the government to testify in the trial.

“The more the big publishers consolidate, the harder it is for indie publishers to survive,” King said. “And that is where the good writers are currently starting out and learning their chops.”

Last fall, the Biden administration sued to block the $2.18 billion sale as part of its new and more aggressive stance against corporate consolidation. The trial will start on Monday, with oral arguments at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where Judge Florence Pan will preside.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cell carrier privacy settings to change now, Tatum Hunter, Aug. 1, 2022. Your carrier can use your web history, app use and sometimes even location to help advertisers target you.

Apps and devices aren’t the only tech in your life due for a privacy check. Your cellphone carrier is likely peeking into your personal information, too.

In response to a reader question in April, we examined the privacy policies of the three major carriers in the United States — AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon — and found that all of them can use data such as your web history for targeted advertising.

That in itself was surprising, but worse was that I had no memory of saying “yes” to my carrier’s ad program, and I wasn’t alone. There’s a good chance you were automatically opted in or failed to un-check a consent box during sign-up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deshaun Watson suspended for six games by disciplinary officer, Mark Maske, Aug. 1, 2022. Watson’s suspension comes under the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he was accused of sexual misconduct by women in more than two dozen civil lawsuits.

nfl logo croppedCleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, under a ruling Monday by the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association.

The length of the suspension was confirmed by a person familiar with the ruling by Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. district judge.

The suspension is without pay and comes after more than two dozen women filed civil lawsuits accusing Watson of sexual misconduct. Watson has denied the allegations and has not been charged with a crime. He has reached settlements in 23 of the 24 then-active lawsuits that were filed against him. Anthony Buzbee, the attorney for the women, announced the latest three settlements Monday.

Robinson made the ruling after conducting a three-day hearing in late June in Delaware. The NFL argued to Robinson for an indefinite suspension of at least one full season, requiring Watson to apply for reinstatement, according to a person familiar with the case. The NFLPA is believed to have argued for no suspension. Robinson made her ruling after each side submitted a post-hearing brief.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hollywood ‘nepo babies’ know what you think of them. They have some thoughts, Emily Yahr, Aug. 1, 2022. Nepotism and Hollywood have always gone together. But a younger generation of fans more attuned to privilege have put a different spotlight on “nepo babies.”

Nepotism and Hollywood have been synonymous since the dawn of time, or at least since the 1870s when aspiring actor Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blythe changed his name to Maurice Barrymore and left England, sailed to America, married actress Georgiana Drew and they produced an acting lineage that continues today with our nation’s most chaotic talk-show host, great-granddaughter Drew Barrymore.

Recent Headlines

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top