Aug. 2022 News

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

 

Aug. 31

Top Headlines

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riot Threats

 

Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

Trump’s Supporters

 

U.S. Elections, Politics, Governance

 

More On Ukraine War

 

Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

U.S. Law, Military, Security, Crime

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 
U.S. Media, Culture, Sports, Education

 

U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

Top Stories

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Authorizes Updated Covid Booster Shots, Targeting Omicron, Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere, Aug. 31, 2022. The agency cleared two options targeting subvariants that are currently dominant. Millions of Americans could receive the doses as soon as next week.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the first redesign of coronavirus vaccines since they were rolled out in late 2020, setting up millions of Americans to receive new booster doses targeting Omicron subvariants as soon as next week.

The agency cleared two options aimed at the BA.5 variant of Omicron that is now dominant: one made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for use in people as young as 12, and the other by Moderna, for those 18 and older.

Biden administration officials have argued that even as researchers work to understand how protective the new shots might be, inoculating Americans again in the coming weeks could help curb the persistently high number of infections and deaths.

“The idea here is not just to increase the antibodies right now, but also to hopefully give us a longer duration of protection” that will hold up through the winter, Dr. Peter Marks, the top vaccine regulator at the F.D.A., said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

An average of about 90,000 infections and 475 deaths are recorded every day around the United States, almost three years into a pandemic that has killed more than a million Americans and driven a historic drop in life expectancy.

But there are also hopeful signs. Even with high case counts, fewer than 40,000 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, a decrease of 10 percent since early August and far fewer than during the Delta-driven surge last summer or the Omicron-fueled wave last winter. Deaths have also remained somewhat flat in recent weeks, a sign that vaccines are helping to prevent the worst outcomes of Covid-19.

 djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump’s cache of stolen classified files resembles those of America’s most notorious spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallintelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 31, 2022.  Trump’s treason may have led to deaths of U.S. informants and intelligence assets in Saudi Arabia and Russia. Trump’s cache of stolen classified wayne madesen report logofiles resembles those of America’s most notorious spies.

Photographic evidence of the classified documents Donald Trump had strewn around Mar-a-Lago presents the U.S. Intelligence Community with the shocking depth and breadth of the compromise by Trump and his associates, Kash Patel and John Solomon, right, of America’s most sensitive intelligence.

aldrich ames mugjohn solomonAs damage assessment teams from across 17 U.S. intelligence agencies conduct in-depth analyses of compromised intelligence sources, technical methods, and relationships with foreign intelligence services, federal law enforcement photographic evidence of unprotected classified documents at Mar-a-Lago will give the most seasoned U.S. counterintelligence professional pause.

The cache of documents resembles those seized from America’s most notorious spies, including Jonathan Pollard, Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, shown far right in a mug shot, and John Walker.

 ap logoAssociated Press, Feds cite efforts to obstruct probe of docs at Trump estate, Eric Tucker, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo, The Justice Department says classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as part of an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into the discovery of the government records.

The FBI also seized boxes and containers holding more than 100 classified records during its Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and found classified documents stashed in Trump’s office, according to a filing that lays out the most detailed chronology to date of months of strained interactions between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives over the discovery of government secrets.

The filing offers yet another indication of the sheer volume of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal probe have focused not just on why the records were improperly stored there but also on the question of whether the Trump team intentionally misled them about the continued, and unlawful, presence of the top secret documents.

The timeline laid out by the Justice Department made clear that the extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago came only after other efforts to retrieve the records had failed and that it resulted from law enforcement suspicion that additional documents remained inside the property despite assurances by Trump representatives that a “diligent search” had accounted for all of the material.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

During a June 3 visit to Mar-a-Lago by FBI and Justice Department officials, the document states, “Counsel for the former President offered no explanation as to why boxes of government records, including 38 documents with classification markings, remained at the Premises nearly five months after the production of the Fifteen Boxes and nearly one-and-a-half years after the end of the Administration.”

That visit, which came weeks after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for the records, receives substantial attention in the document and appears to be a key investigative focus.

Though Trump has said he had declassified all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago, his lawyers did not suggest that during the visit and instead “handled them in a manner that suggested counsel believed that the documents were classified,” according to the document.

 

djt confidential markings

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The photo of classified documents from Trump’s resort, annotated, Philip Bump, Aug. 31, 2022. The Justice Department submitted the photograph as part of a court filing. Here’s what we learned from it.

Now we get to the heart of the matter: what investigators found. Let’s start with that document at the bottom center of the photo. It has a cover sheet indicating that it is classified as “secret.” The government has default cover sheets for various classification levels, ranging from a blue “confidential” classification to an orange “top secret.”

You’ll notice that the documents with the “TOP SECRET/SCI” markings in the photo have a yellow border and not an orange one. Similarly, the document at the bottom center has an orangeish-red-bordered cover sheet (not a purely red one) and is marked “SECRET/SCI.” That “SCI” is important — as are other markings on the cover sheet that provide more information about the document’s classification.

Politico, Trump team makes its 11th hour plea for independent review, Josh Gerstein, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Aug. 31, 2022. The filing argues the ex-president’s team hasn’t had fair insight into what the DOJ is doing. But it’s also notable for what is omitted.

Donald Trump’s lawyers contended Wednesday that the Department of Justice is trampling on his rights and demanded an independent review of materials the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

politico CustomBut the former president’s lawyers sidestepped the most serious obstruction-of-justice claims prosecutors aired against him just hours earlier, and Trump’s legal team notably avoided echoing an assertion their client resurfaced earlier in the day: that he had declassified the documents at issue in the dispute.

In a 19-page court filing, Trump’s attorneys insisted that an outside “special master” should consider whether any of the materials seized from Trump’s estate are subject to executive privilege. They argued that they couldn’t simply accept the Justice Department’s word that it had carefully screened out any attorney-client privileged records, particularly because investigators have not yet provided a detailed inventory of the items seized from Mar-a-Lago.

“There is no guarantee that the ‘limited set’ of potentially privileged materials identified by the Privilege Review Team constitutes all privileged materials among the Seized Materials,” Trump’s attorneys Lindsey Halligan, James Trusty and Evan Corcoran wrote as they pushed U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint an outsider to conduct a review.

 

Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H.W. Bush

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H.W. Bush

washington post logoWashington Post, Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the Soviet Union, is dead, David E. Hoffman, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). He embarked on a path of radical reform that propelled the communist country toward collapse.

Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who embarked on a path of radical reform that brought about the end of the Cold War, reversed the direction of the nuclear arms race and relaxed Communist Party controls in hopes of rescuing the faltering Soviet state but instead propelled it toward collapse, died Aug. 30 in Moscow. He was 91.

His death was announced by Russian news agencies, citing the government hospital where he was being treated, but no further details were immediately available.

mikhail gorbachev white house library 1987For the sheer improbability of his actions and their impact on the late 20th century, Mr. Gorbachev (shown at right in a 1987 photo at the U.S. White House Library) ranks as a towering figure. In 1985, he was chosen to lead a country mired in socialism and stultifying ideology. In six years of cajoling, improvised tactics and increasingly bold risks, Mr. Gorbachev unleashed immense changes that eventually demolished the pillars of the state.

The Soviet collapse was not Mr. Gorbachev’s goal, but it may be his greatest legacy. It brought to an end a seven-decade experiment born of Utopian idealism that led to some of the bloodiest human suffering of the century. A costly global confrontation between East and West abruptly ceased to exist. The division of Europe fell away. The tense superpower hair-trigger nuclear standoff was eased, short of Armageddon.

None of it could have happened but for Mr. Gorbachev. Along the way, he let loose a revolution from above within the Soviet Union, prodding and pushing a stagnant country in hopes of reviving it. In nearly six years of high drama and breathtaking transformation, Mr. Gorbachev pursued ever-larger ambitions for liberalization, battling inertia and a stubborn old guard.

Archie Brown, an emeritus professor of politics at the University of Oxford’s St. Antony’s College and one of the leading authorities on Mr. Gorbachev, has written that openness and pluralism were among the premier’s singular achievements in a country that for hundreds of years had been shackled by authoritarian rule under the czars and Soviet leaders. Mr. Gorbachev introduced the first genuinely competitive elections for a legislature, allowed civil society to take root and encouraged open discussion of dark passages in Soviet history.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Putin and other leaders react to Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, Bryan Pietsch, Aug. 31, 2022. World leaders reacted to the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, in Moscow at the age of 91 on Tuesday, with Western leaders hailing him for opening up the Soviet Union and creating the conditions for the end of the Cold War.

Russian FlagPresident Biden, in a statement, called Gorbachev “a man of remarkable vision.” He also said that the Soviet leader’s policies of “glasnost” and “perestroika,” or openness and restructuring, were the “acts of a rare leader — one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it.”

To say he risked his career is perhaps an understatement — the dislike toward Gorbachev among many Soviet loyalists was so clear that it became the focus of a Pizza Hut commercial in which he starred.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his “deepest condolences,” a spokesman told the Interfax news agency, adding that Putin will “send a telegram of condolences to his family and friends.”

dmitry peskovKremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, right, said Gorbachev “is a statesman who will forever remain in the history of our country. Many argue about the role he played. But the fact that he was an extraordinary person, a unique person, is unequivocal. He is known, remembered and will be remembered all over the world.

“Gorbachev gave impetus to the end of the Cold War, and he sincerely wanted to believe that it would end and that an eternal romantic period would begin between the new Soviet Union and the West,” Peskov continued, and used the occasion to slam the West, which has backed Ukraine in its fight against invading Russia. “This romanticism did not come true … the bloodthirstiness of our opponents showed itself.”

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said he was “deeply saddened” by Gorbachev’s passing. “Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a kind statesman who changed the course of history,” he wrote on Twitter. “The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace.”

 

President Biden talks about his plan to reduce gun crime Tuesday at an event in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque for Reuters.)President Biden talks about his plan to reduce gun crime Tuesday at an event in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque for Reuters.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden slams GOP again as he touts gun control in Pennsylvania, Marisa Iati and Tyler Pager, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Two days before a major address on democracy, Biden criticizes Sen. Lindsey Graham for predicting “riots in the street” if Trump is criminally charged.

President Biden on Tuesday pushed for an assault weapons ban while harshly criticizing Republicans who defend the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, continuing his recent pattern of castigating GOP leaders in advance of the midterm elections.

Two days before he is scheduled to deliver a major speech on the fight for democracy, Biden assailed congressional “MAGA Republicans” who have refused to condemn the insurrection. He took aim at a Republican senator who recently predicted an outbreak of violence if former president Donald Trump is criminally charged, and he condemned recent threats and violence against the FBI as that agency reviews documents seized from Trump’s residence.

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress,” Biden said. “Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened Jan. 6. Can’t do it. For God’s sake, whose side are you on?”

Anchorage Daily News (ADN), Democrat Mary Peltola wins special U.S. House election, will be first Alaska Native elected to Congress

 

Alaska congressional special election winner Mary Peltola, right, with rival Sarah Palin and Nick Begich to her left, answers questions from a reporter prior to a forum for candidates for the U.S. House at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association annual conference at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage on August 31, 2022 (ADN Photo by Marc Lester ADN).

Alaska congressional special election winner Mary Peltola, right, with rival Sarah Palin and Nick Begich to her left, answers questions from a reporter prior to a forum for candidates for the U.S. House at the Alaska Oil and Gas Association annual conference at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage on August 31, 2022 (ADN Photo by Marc Lester ADN).

Anchorage Daily News (ADN), Democrat Mary Peltola wins special U.S. House election, will be first Alaska Native elected to Congress, Iris Samuels, Aug. 31, 2022. Democrat Mary Peltola was the apparent winner of Alaska’s special U.S. House race and is set to become the first Alaska Native in Congress, after votes were tabulated Wednesday in the state’s first ranked choice election.

Peltola led Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin after ballots were tallied and votes for third-place GOP candidate Nick Begich III were redistributed to his supporters’ second choices. Peltola, a Yup’ik former state lawmaker who calls Bethel home, is now slated to be the first woman to hold Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat.

If results are confirmed as expected by the state review board later this week, she will succeed U.S. Rep. Don Young, the Republican who held the office for nearly five decades — since before Peltola was born. The special election was triggered by Young’s death in March.

It is an outcome largely seen as an upset. Peltola would be the first Democrat to join Alaska’s three-person congressional delegation since U.S. Sen. Mark Begich lost reelection in 2014. And she defeated two Republicans to do so. Combined, Palin and Nick Begich III, nephew of Mark Begich and grandson of former U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, commanded nearly 60% of first-place votes.

Begich was the first candidate eliminated, after no other candidate exceeded the 50% threshold needed to win under Alaska’s ranked choice voting system. The second-place votes of Begich’s supporters were then tallied in what is called an instant runoff. Only half of Begich’s voters ranked Palin second — not enough for her to overtake Peltola.

Peltola had 39.7% of the first-place votes to Palin’s 30.9%. In the instant runoff, Peltola ended up with 91,206 votes to Palin’s 85,987, or 51.47% to 48.53%

Peltola ran a largely positive campaign as Begich and Palin traded barbs in the final weeks before the Aug. 16 special election, emerging as the victor with a platform that highlighted her position as the only candidate on the ballot who supports abortion access — an issue that has become important to voters with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision removing federal protections for access to the procedure (the procedure remains protected under the Alaska Constitution).

Peltola has also said she is “pro-fish” and emphasized her plans to protect subsistence fisheries in Alaska as salmon stocks decline in the region where she has fished throughout her life.

Peltola is Yup’ik, was raised in rural villages, and calls Bethel home. She served in the state House between 1999 and 2009, representing the Bethel region. During her time in the Legislature, she led the Bush Caucus, bringing together lawmakers representing communities in Alaska off the road system and building a reputation as someone who can work across party lines.

 While in the Legislature, Peltola’s path overlapped with Palin’s as governor. Both politicians were pregnant while in office. They traded friendly text messages on election day earlier this month.

After leaving the state House, Peltola worked in community relations for Donlin Gold, a mining project on the Kuskokwim River. Before announcing her congressional bid, she worked on fisheries management and rural food security as executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Peltola, a mother of four and grandmother of two, turned 49 on Wednesday.

Peltola emerged as the winner from an original field of 48 primary race candidates, which included several sitting and former lawmakers, Alaska Native leaders and Santa Claus.

Peltola is now set to head to Washington for just four months, serving out the rest of Young’s term. Peltola, Palin and Begich are set to advance to the November election that will determine who will hold the seat for the full two-year term that will begin in January.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine claims to have broken through Russian defenses at multiple points in the Kherson region, Marc Santora, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The Ukrainian military pounded targets across southern Ukraine on Tuesday as it sought to disrupt Russian supply lines, degrade Russia’s combat capabilities and isolate Russian forces, part of what analysts said could be the beginnings of a broad and coordinated counteroffensive.

The military said that its forces had broken through Russia’s first line of defense in multiple points along the front in the occupied Kherson region, but officials offered little detail and their claims could not be independently verified.

ukraine flagWestern military analysts emphasized that Russian forces have had months to reinforce multiple lines of defense across the south, making any Ukrainian advance likely to be tough and bloody.

It remained unclear whether the strikes marked the start of a long-anticipated counteroffensive or were simply an intensification of weeks of Ukrainian counterattacks. The British military intelligence agency said on Tuesday that Ukrainian brigades had “increased the weight of artillery fires in frontline sectors across southern Ukraine” but noted that it was “not yet possible to confirm the extent of Ukrainian advances.”

The southern front stretches across a vast landscape of farms, fields and grassland, and includes territory that Moscow’s forces seized in the initial phase of their invasion in February. Ukraine has staged sporadic counterattacks in the region for months — including using long-range weapons supplied by Western allies to strike behind Russian lines — and Russia has been racing to reinforce its positions.

By early August, military analysts estimated that Russia had as many as 25,000 soldiers west of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, forming three defensive lines. Those forces now seem to be the most vulnerable, as Ukraine appears able to strike all of the major river crossings that Russia needs to supply those troops.

Overnight and into Tuesday morning, witnesses reported explosions at multiple river crossings, including around the Antonivsky Bridge, the main crossing into the city of Kherson, the only regional capital under Russian occupation.

The bridge has come under sustained fire and was already badly damaged. Independent satellite imagery captured over the weekend showed the Russians attempting to build a pontoon ferry to resupply its forces on the western bank of the river. That crossing was damaged by Ukrainian strikes on Tuesday, said Serhiy Khlan, an adviser to the head of the Kherson region’s military administration, who added that another Russian pontoon crossing over the Dnipro, near the village of Lvove, was destroyed overnight.

Ukrainian partisans also continued to claim successful strikes deep behind Russian lines, while also targeting high-ranking leaders of the Russian occupation administration. Russian news reports said that Aleksei Kovalev, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who collaborated with Russian forces and was serving as the deputy head of agriculture for the occupation government, was shot to death in Kherson on Sunday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking in his nightly address, said that while details of military operations must remain secret, Ukraine’s objective was clear.

“The occupiers should know: We will oust them to the border. To our border, the line of which has not changed,” he said. “If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian military to flee.”

 

gannett logo CustomPoynter, After weeks of silence, Gannett revealed that it laid off 400 employees and cut 400 open positions, Angela Fu, Aug. 31, 2022. The round of layoffs, which started Aug. 12, followed a dismal second quarter.

Gannett CEO Mike Reed told staff in a companywide Q&A session Wednesday that Gannett laid off 3% of its U.S. workforce, or roughly 400 employees, in August, according to three people who attended the meeting.

The announcement comes more than two weeks after Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain with more than 200 papers, executed a round of layoffs starting Aug. 12. Though employees and reporters had repeatedly asked Gannett for information about the scope of the layoffs, the company declined to provide that information until now.

CFO Doug Horne, who was also present at the meeting, told staff that in addition to the layoffs, Gannett would not fill 400 open positions. Executives said the company slashed its marketing budget and made other non-payroll cost reductions, according to two people at the meeting. Gannett also reduced its executive team from 10 members to seven as part of a restructuring announced in June.

Spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton confirmed these announcements but declined to comment further on the meeting. She did not answer questions about who was affected by the layoffs or whether Gannett has more cuts planned for the near future.

The August layoffs started just a week after the company announced it had lost $54 million on revenues of $749 million during its second quarter. That day, Gannett Media president Maribel Perez Wadsworth told staff that the company would make “necessary but painful reductions to staffing.”

It remains unclear how many of the 400 layoffs were journalists and which newspapers and departments were affected.

Poynter, which has been tracking the layoffs, has found at least 68 impacted newsrooms, including flagship paper USA Today.

Of the more than 100 layoffs Poynter has tracked, the vast majority affected non-union newsrooms and staff. Unionized newsrooms that are currently bargaining contracts with Gannett were likely protected from layoffs by federal labor law.

A number of executive editors were laid off, as well as journalists who worked with multiple newsrooms. Non-editorial staff were also affected, including employees who worked in administrative positions and customer service. Some of the journalists who were laid off were among the last reporters left in their newsrooms.

Gannett executives at the meeting did not provide detailed information about which positions and publications were hit hardest by the layoffs. Iowa Public Radio previously reported that the regional editor in the Plains Region told her staff that she was instructed to protect larger metro papers, leading to cuts at smaller publications.

Asked if Gannett was committed to its small and medium-sized publications, Wadsworth said at Wednesday’s meeting that local journalism has never been more important and that in order to have strong journalism, the company also had to have a strong business, according to two attendees.

In the days leading up to the layoffs, the Gannett caucus of the NewsGuild, which represents 1,500 journalists across more than 50 newsrooms, called on the company to reduce executive compensation instead of cutting jobs. They drew attention to the fact that Reed had been paid $7.7 million in 2021 while Gannett’s median salary was $48,419. Reed had also bought $1.2 million worth of Gannett stock, or 500,000 shares, immediately before the layoffs.

Executives addressed both of these facts at the Wednesday meeting, according to screenshots of the Q&A transcript reviewed by Poynter.

Horne explained that a large portion of executive compensation is tied to the company’s performance and that the company’s board of directors works with an outside consultant to set executive pay based on market data from comparable companies.

Meanwhile, Reed said that he had bought those shares to show that he believed in Gannett’s mission.

“I believe in what we do every day across the country in our communities,” Reed said. “I believe in our strategy, and I believe our strategy is going to get us to the place we’re trying to go. It’s going to evolve our business, and we’re going to have a long-term, sustainable and growing business. And third, and most important, the reason I made that investment is I believe in you all.”

Those assurances may not be enough for employees. More than a dozen Gannett newsrooms have unionized in recent years. The day before the companywide meeting, journalists at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, announced they were unionizing.

Business Insider, Inside the crisis at ‘Reveal’ and the Center for Investigaive Reporting after a turbelent summer, Steven Perlberg, Aug. 31, 2022. Layoffs, senior executives quitting, a staff no confidence letter leading to the CEO’s departure, and a monthly burn rate of $700k+. It’s been a summer of turmoil at the Center for Investigative Reporting / @reveal.

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

Former Trump lawyer John Eastman testifying (Photo by Susan Walsh of the Associated Press).

Former Trump lawyer John Eastman testifying (Photo by Susan Walsh of the Associated Press).

Politico, Eastman appears before Atlanta-area grand jury probing Trump election scheme, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Aug. 31, 2022. Eastman, along with other Trump-aligned attorneys, pushed state legislatures to appoint pro-Trump presidential electors in a handful of states where Joe Biden was the certified winner.

politico CustomAttorney John Eastman, an architect of former President Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election and remain in office, appeared Wednesday before the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating that effort, his lawyers indicated.

Eastman’s counsel, Charles Burnham and Harvey Silvergate, indicated in a statement that Eastman pleaded the Fifth and asserted attorney-client privilege “where appropriate.”

Eastman is the latest member of Trump’s inner circle in the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 election to face questions from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for his role to overturn the election results in Georgia. Eastman, along with other Trump-aligned attorneys, pushed state legislatures to appoint pro-Trump presidential electors in a handful of states where Joe Biden was the certified winner, creating a conflict that they had hoped then-Vice President Mike Pence would resolve on Jan. 6 in Trump’s favor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s loony rants should remind the GOP his nomination would be disastrous, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 31, 2022. One jennifer rubin new headshotdoes not need a medical degree or a therapist’s license to conclude that defeated former president Donald Trump’s nutty rant insisting that he be made president immediately or the 2020 election be rerun is the sign of an unhinged personality.

Under pressure from the increasingly potent espionage investigation, he might be losing his grip. For a change, you don’t hear Republicans rushing forth to support his latest insane demand.

Trump’s posting of QAnon messages and implicit threats (in increasingly unintelligible syntax) suggests that he is losing the ability or desire to control his impulsive outbursts. This is the guy whom millions of Republicans want to nominate for president.

Since the redacted affidavit was released last week, the only two defenses from Republicans are no defenses at all. The first, courtesy of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), amounts to extortion: Prosecute Trump and there’ll be blood in the streets. The second is the laughable inquiry: Is that all? It’s not “all,” because the affidavit was heavily redacted. Moreover, the notion that we are talking “just” about documents ignores that most espionage cases are about documents (or equivalent material). That’s where the secrets are.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump has unhinged meltdown about “terrible” DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump spent all day bill palmermelting down on his failed social network, making about a hundred increasingly frantic and frazzled posts that were over the top even by his standards. This was presumably because he knew that by the end of the day, the DOJ would drop the hammer on him with a lengthy court filing spelling out just how throughly it has him nailed.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that document became public just before midnight last night, by which time Trump was presumably passed out near a bowl of Jello or something. But now he’s resumed his ranting and raving this morning, and – not shockingly – he thinks it’s all “terrible.”

Trump seems particularly upset about the DOJ’s decision to include a photo of clearly labeled highly classified documents that it found in a box mixed in with Trump’s framed copies of himself on the cover of Time Magazine. The photo helped make clear that Trump took the classified documents and considered them to be his personal property, even though he could tell just by looking at their covers that they were property of the government.

Nonetheless, Trump still thinks it’s “terrible” that the DOJ dared to do this. He’s accusing them of having thrown classified documents “haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!).” Trump is also apparently very upset that the DOJ released photos of these documents, which he says were supposed to be “secret.” He then claims he’s already declassified them, a false claim that even his own legal team has never officially made at any point.

We’re not going to keep sharing every deranged thought that pops out of Trump’s head today. But his initial response this morning does serve to demonstrate where his mindset is now that the DOJ has released this mammoth public court filing. He’s focused on whining like a baby and floating baseless legal defenses that probably hurt him more than help him. By (falsely) claiming he was allowed to be in possession of these documents because he declassified them, he’s admitting that they were indeed in his possession. So much for blaming the coffee boy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump wants to be treated like Hillary Clinton? By all means, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump dana milbank newestand his MAGA mouthpieces say the former president should be treated the same way Hillary Clinton was — and they’re right!

Ever since the FBI found boxes upon boxes of government secrets hoarded at his resort residence, Trump has complained that he’s being held to a different standard from the one applied to Clinton during the probe of her private email server in 2016. “Absolutely nothing has happened to hold her accountable,” Trump claimed when he confirmed the search of Mar-a-Lago.

So, by all means, let’s relitigate. In fact, Trump should be treated exactly the way Clinton was:

The FBI should undertake a sprawling, multiyear investigation into Trump’s conduct, grilling him and his staff, running extensive forensics, and examining whether his actions allowed hostile actors to compromise U.S. security. The FBI should continue to keep him under investigation while he runs for president in 2024.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A ‘filter team’ has completed its review of material possibly covered by attorney-client privilege, the court filing says.

FBI agents have already finished their examination of possibly privileged documents seized in an Aug. 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to a Justice Department court filing Monday that could undercut the former president’s efforts to have a special master appointed to review the files.

Justice Department log circularThe “filter team” used by the Justice Department to sort through the documents and weed out any material that should not be reviewed by criminal investigators has completed its review, the brief filed by Justice Department prosecutors says. The filing came in response to a decision Saturday by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon to hold a hearing this week on Trump’s motion seeking the appointment of a special master.

The filing says prosecutors will provide more information later this week. But it notes that even before the judge’s weekend ruling, the filter team had “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures” spelled out in the search warrant to handle any privilege disputes.

 truth social logo

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Exclusive: Trump left Sarasota media company weeks before federal subpoenas were issued, Chris Anderson, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump removed himself from the board of his Sarasota-based social media company, records show, just weeks before the company was issued federal subpoenas by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan.

Trump, the chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, was one of six board members removed on June 8, state business records show.

Among the board members removed were Kashyap Patel, Trump’s former point man in the White House; Scott Glabe, a former assistant to Trump who was counsel for the media company; and Donald Trump, Jr.

The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27, according to a regulatory filing. Trump’s media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection.

Four days later, on July 1, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York handed the company another federal subpoena, an action that typically means a potential criminal investigation is in progress.

The investigations appear to be related to a proposed merger between Trump’s media company and a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisitions Corp., according to a recent regulatory filing.

Politico, ‘Where the hell are we?’: Biden slams Republicans for encouraging political violence, Myah Ward, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The president’s visit to Pennsylvania on Tuesday is his first of three over the next week to the midterm battleground state.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden on Tuesday lambasted members of the Republican Party for encouraging political violence — including apparently South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“No one expects politics to be patty cake. Hey, sometimes it gets mean as hell. But the idea you turn on a television and see senior senators and congressmen saying, ‘If such and such happens, there’ll be blood in the street.’ Where the hell are we?” Biden said.

The president was speaking at the Marts Center at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., not far from his birthplace of Scranton, where he detailed his $37 billion “Safer America Plan,” aimed at addressing community safety and crime prevention.

Toward the end of his campaign-style, fiery speech, Biden bristled as he talked about members of the Republican Party encouraging political violence. His reference to senior senators on television appeared to be a swipe at Graham, who over the weekend twice said there would be “riots in the street” if the Justice Department prosecutes former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified government documents after leaving the White House.

The president’s visit to Pennsylvania on Tuesday is his first of three over the next week to the midterm battleground state that will play a key role in determining control of Congress and the White House in 2024. He’ll speak on Thursday in Philadelphia about democracy and will return to the state for Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day celebration on Monday.

Biden, who spent much of his speech talking about the need to fund police and take further steps to address gun violence — such as banning assault weapons — pivoted to the need to uphold the rule of law.

“A safer America requires all of us to uphold the rule of law. Not the rule of any one party or any one person,” the president said, telling the crowd that some members of the Republican Party have said political violence is necessary. “[Political violence] is never appropriate. Period. Never. Never. Never.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Naming of special master could complicate Mar-a-Lago documents case, David Nakamura and Amy B Wang, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). If a federal judge appoints a special master to review materials taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, it could complicate matters in the federal government case.

A federal judge’s indication that she is prepared to appoint a special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago by federal agents could present new complications and unresolved legal questions in the federal government’s high-stakes quest to wrest control of the documents from former president Donald Trump.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s two-page order issued on Saturday appeared unusual in that the judge has not yet heard arguments from the Justice Department, said former federal prosecutors and legal analysts on Sunday.

Cannon, right, 41, whom Trump appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Florida in 2020, has also given federal officials until Tuesday to provide the court with a more detailed list of items the FBI had removed from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8.

She asked the government to give a status report of its own review of the materials and set a Thursday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla. That location is about an hour away from the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically hears cases.

Recent Headlines

 

Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds, Chris Mooney, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). New research suggests the massive ice sheet is already set to lose more than 3 percent of its mass, even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today

Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a new study published Monday.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

The findings in Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.

The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions. While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggested much of it can play out between now and the year 2100.

“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surface with his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.

“Every study has bigger numbers than the last. It’s always faster than forecast,” Colgan said.

One reason that new research appears worse than other findings may just be that it is simpler. It tries to calculate how much ice Greenland must lose as it recalibrates to a warmer climate. In contrast, sophisticated computer simulations of how the ice sheet will behave under future scenarios for global emissions have produced less alarming predictions.

A one-foot rise in global sea levels would have severe consequences. If the sea level along the U.S. coasts rose by an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found, the most destructive floods would take place five times as often, and moderate floods would become 10 times as frequent.

‘They are not slowing down’: The rise of billion-dollar disasters

Other countries — low-lying island nations and developing ones, like Bangladesh — are even more vulnerable. These nations, which have done little to fuel the higher temperatures that are now thawing the Greenland ice sheet, lack the billions of dollars it will take to adapt to rising seas.

washington post logoWashington Post, A third of Pakistan is underwater from floods, climate chief says, Andrew Jeong, Aug. 30, 2022. A third of Pakistan is now underwater amid an unprecedented amount of rainfall since June, Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, said Monday.

That would mean an area about the size of Colorado is underwater. Pakistan, home to about 220 million, has a land mass of 307,000 square miles.

Flooding caused by eight consecutive weeks of rainfall has killed more than 1,100 people. “This is a huge humanitarian disaster, and I would call it quite apocalyptic,” Rehman said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News.

Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan leaves families stranded without aid

In one town in the southeastern province of Sindh, about 67 inches fell in one day, Rehman said on Twitter. “Unheard of, anywhere,” she said.

The growing number of extreme weather events around the world is due to the planet’s rising temperatures, weather experts say. Higher temperatures mean more water in the air: For every degree of warmer temperature, the air can hold about 4 percent more water.

 

pakistan floods aug 28 2022 ap zahid hussain

washington post logoWashington Post, Pakistan seeks flood aid, but U.S. has long blocked compensation for climate damages, Shannon Osaka, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The deadly floods Pakistan is suffering raise a difficult question: Who should pay for the damage climate change is causing in the developing world?

Since mid-June, torrential rain has changed the landscape of Pakistan, submerging villages and fields, destroying homes and killing at least 1,000 people. But if the human toll is catastrophic, the financial toll is almost unimaginable: According to Pakistan’s finance minister, the damage so far will likely exceed $10 billion, or a whopping 4 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

“Pakistan was already facing the disastrous effects of climate change,” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister of climate change, said at a news conference on Thursday. “Now the most devastating monsoon rains in a decade are causing incessant destruction across the country.”

But even as Pakistan turns to donors around the world asking for aid, there is one thing that the country will almost certainly not receive: Compensation from the countries — including the United States — that are most responsible for planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

While the two issues may seem unconnected, for decades developing countries have asked richer ones to provide funding for the costs they face from heat waves, floods, droughts, sea-level rise and other climate-related disasters. They argue that the nations that became wealthy from burning fossil fuels such as the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan also heated up the planet, causing “loss and damage” in poorer countries.

The issue has become a flash point in global climate negotiations. In the landmark 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, countries agreed to recognize and “address” the loss and damage caused by those dangerous climate impacts. Last year, at the major U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiators from developing countries hoped that negotiators would finally create a formal institution to funnel cash to the countries most affected by climate disasters.

But the United States, despite being the largest historical emitter of carbon dioxide, has blocked such efforts at every turn. In Glasgow, the Biden administration joined a group of countries in resisting efforts to establish payments to developing countries that have been hit hard by climate change.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mississippi’s Capital Loses Water as Troubled System Faces Fresh Crisis, Rick Rojas, Aug. 30, 2022. In Jackson, residents have long contended with boil-water notices and service disruptions. But officials say the system has been pushed to the brink.

The drinking water system in Mississippi’s capital was nearing collapse on Tuesday, severing access to safe running water for more than 150,000 people as officials scrambled to confront what they described as the “massively complicated task” of distributing bottled water and devising a plan to restore service.

The water system in Jackson, the state’s largest city, has been in crisis for years, crippled by aging and inadequate infrastructure and the lack of resources to bolster it. Residents have long contended with disruptions in service and frequent boil-water notices, including one that had already been in effect for more than a month because of cloudiness found in water samples.

The situation worsened this week as officials said that the city’s largest water treatment plant was failing. Homes and businesses were left with little to no water pressure. And officials warned that whatever did flow from faucets was not safe to consume, as it was probably untreated water that was coming straight from the city’s reservoir.

tate reeves“Until it is fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale,” Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, right, said during an emergency briefing on Monday evening. “It means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.”

And, he added, it was unclear how long it would take to bring that back.

Days of torrential rain have raised the threat of flooding in Jackson and engorged the Pearl River, which snakes through Jackson, and the Ross R. Barnett Reservoir, a 33,000-acre lake northeast of the city. Though the rising water failed to reach the high levels that had been feared, city officials said it rose high enough to affect water treatment operations.

“The water shortage is likely to last the next couple of days,” city officials said in a statement on Monday.

However, state officials offered a more dire outlook, saying the city’s water system appeared to be barreling toward a breaking point even before the floods. “It was a near certainty that Jackson would begin to fail to produce running water sometime in the next several weeks or months if something didn’t materially improve,” Mr. Reeves, a Republican, said on Monday.

Public schools in Jackson switched to virtual learning, and the lack of water disrupted the operations of many businesses.

Yet the situation is exasperatingly familiar for many in Jackson, as the reliability of the city’s water system has been undermined by repeated failures in recent years. In 2021 the system was hobbled for weeks after a powerful winter storm bombarded Mississippi with snow and ice, causing pipes and water mains to burst.

The water system is, in many ways, emblematic of the broader struggles facing Jackson, which is the seat of power for the state government yet has been drained over decades of resources. The city’s tax base shrunk as white residents fled for surrounding suburbs, taking much of their wealth and tax revenue with them. In the wake of that, Jackson, which is now about 82 percent Black, has grappled with chronic issues with crime and faulty infrastructure, and elected officials say the Republican-controlled state Legislature has failed to invest in the city.

 

nasa logo

washington post logoWashington Post, NASA scrubs Artemis I launch as engine problem defies fast fix, Christian Davenport, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The new launch date could be as soon as Friday, but there has been no official decision announced.

NASA’s Space Launch System, which the space agency hopes will take American astronauts back to the moon, has been in development for more than a decade. Today was to be the first time NASA attempted to launch the multibillion-dollar rocket, the most powerful NASA has ever built.

But the effort encountered a series of problems, beginning with a thunderstorm that delayed the start of fueling and ending with an inability to lower the temperature of one of the rockets four R25 engines. That led to a decision to postpone the launch to a future date. That date could be as soon as Friday, but there has been no official decision announced.

The development of the SLS has been controversial. Several inspector general reports have dinged the project for being over budget and criticized NASA for paying performance bonuses to the prime contractor, Boeing, even though the project is years behind schedule.

The controversial history of NASA’s Space Launch System

But despite those setbacks, Congress has continued to fund the program, which has cost $23 billion and counting — far more expensive than the rockets now being used by commercial space companies such as SpaceX. Critics often refer to the SLS as the “Senate Launch System.”

Recent Headlines

 

Trump’s Supporters

 

djt barr conferring headshots

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Made the Decision to Clear Trump, and That Should Still Frighten Us, Neal K. Katyal, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The neal katyal omemo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document.

Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.

But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr (above right) used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.

It raises particular concerns because, as a young Justice Department staff member, I drafted the special counsel regulations in 1999 to prevent the exact problem of having partisan political appointees undermine an investigation. The regulations were put in place to ensure that the counsel would make any determination to charge or not and to force the attorney general to overrule those determinations specifically and before Congress.

The 2019 memo tendentiously argued that Mr. Trump committed no crimes — leaving the final decision on the matter to Republican-aligned robert mueller testifying flickrappointees instead of to the independent special counsel, left.

The challenge in devising the regulations was to develop a framework for the prosecution of high-level executive branch officials — which is harder than it sounds, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions. So we are left with one of the oldest philosophical problems: Who will guard the guardians?

The solution we landed on was to have a special counsel take over the investigative and prosecutorial functions. That counsel was vested with day-to-day independence in an investigation, but the attorney general would still be able to overrule the special counsel — but, crucially, if the attorney general overruled, to report to Congress, to ensure accountability.

The regulations were written with an untrustworthy president in mind, more so than the problem that Mr. Barr presented, which is an untrustworthy attorney general. Unlike presidents, attorneys general are confirmed by the Senate, with a 60-vote threshold — so we assumed they would be reasonably nonpartisan. And we also knew there was no way around the attorney general being the ultimate decider, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions.

We created the role of special counsel to fill a void — to concentrate in one person responsibility and ultimate blame so that investigations would not be covered up from the get-go and to give that person independence from political pressure.

It is outrageous that Mr. Barr acted so brazenly in the face of this framework. The point of requiring a special counsel was to provide for an independent determination of any potential criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

But the political appointees in his Justice Department took what was the most important part of that inquiry — the decision of whether he committed crimes — and grabbed it for themselves. This was a fundamental betrayal of the special counsel guidelines not for some principle but because it protected their boss, Mr. Trump. It is the precise problem that the regulations were designed to avoid and why the regulations give the counsel “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.”

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

 

anthony ornato djtUSA Today, Anthony Ornato, Secret Service and Trump official named in explosive Jan. 6 testimony, retires, Bart Jansen, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.).  Ornato, shown above in sunglasses, was expected to testify to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, after another witness described him talking about a clash between Trump and his security detail. A former White House aide to Donald Trump who was a central figure in explosive testimony about the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, retired Monday from the Secret Service.

usa today logo 5Anthony Ornato, who served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations while also a top Secret Service official, retired after 25 years with the agency, according to agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” Ornato, the former assistant director for the office of training, said in a statement to Politico.

Ornato’s retirement comes as the House committee awaits his additional testimony about an incident involving Trump before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Members of the Secret Service, including Tony Ornato, right, stand guard as then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before departing, Sept. 9, 2019.
A former Trump aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Ornato told her after Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, that the president tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle and lunged for the chief of his Secret Service security, Robert Engel, in order to join the mob at the Capitol rather than return to the White House.

Hutchinson said Ornato described the incident while Engel was in the room with them and Engel didn’t correct the story.

“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your arm off the steering wheel,’” Hutchinson testified. “’We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”

Ornato and Engel, who each cooperated with the committee before the June hearing, reportedly wanted to testify again to clear up potential disputes with Hutchinson’s testimony.

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the January 6th commission.
Guglielmi said the Secret Service has cooperated with the investigation and made officials available for testimony. It will be up to Ornato to decide whether to testify.

“Certainly when he was an employee of the service, he had all intentions of testifying,” Guglielmi said. “Now that he’s a private citizen working for another organization, you’re going to have to check with him on if that still stands.”

A committee spokesman declined comment on Ornato’s retirement.

Ornato joined the Secret Service in 1997 and served under five presidential administrations. Before joining the White House in 2019, Ornato served as deputy assistant director of the Secret Service’s office of investigations. He previously served in the presidential protective division during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s attorneys Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran may have to flip on him after this DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. bill palmer31, 2022. We kept seeing it in major media reports, and now we’re seeing it in a public DOJ court filing. Back in May, Donald Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb signed a letter, authored by Evan Corcoran, asserting to the DOJ that all classified documents in Trump’s possession had been returned. This letter obviously turned out to be a false claim, and is felony obstruction of justice on someone’s part.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two possible explanations here. The first would be that one or both of Trump’s lawyers knew the letter was a lie when they wrote and signed it. In such case, the attorney(s) would be charged for obstruction, and their only hope of getting off the hook would be to cut a plea deal or immunity deal against Trump.

The second scenario would be that Trump lied to his lawyers about the documents, tricking them into writing and signing this letter. In such case his lawyers would be innocent, but would still be material witnesses who would be compelled to testify against him – and refusing to testify could make them guilty of obstruction.

In either scenario, Trump’s lawyers would need to withdraw from their representation of him in order to cooperate against him. And if they’re looking for full immunity, they’d probably need to convince the DOJ that they were indeed misled, as opposed to being in on the plot. As so often ends up being the case, Trump’s newest lawyers already need their own lawyers.

 

alina habba

Politico, Days before Mar-a-Lago subpoena, Trump lawyer claimed she scoured Trump’s office, closets and drawers, Kyle Cheney, Aug. 31, 2022. A filing by Alina Habba, above, in the case over Trump’s business empire could create exposure in the matter of classified information being stored at the ex-president’s home.

An entranceway to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The DOJ came to believe that Trump’s team had withheld and concealed many additional classified documents, which led to the Aug. 8 search warrant executed by the FBI.

Just six days before the Justice Department subpoenaed to recover highly sensitive documents housed at Mar-a-Lago, one of Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys scoured the estate searching for records in response to a separate legal matter.

The attorney, Alina Habba, told a New York State court that on May 5, she conducted a search of Trump’s private residence and office at Mar-a-Lago that was so “diligent” it included “all desks, drawers, nightstands, dressers, closets, etc.” She was looking for records in response to a subpoena issued by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating matters related to the Trump Organization.

The same filing also includes an affidavit from Trump himself, indicating that he “authorized Alina Habba to search my private residence and personal office located at The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida for any and all documents responsive to the Subpoena.” Habba indicated she conducted similar searches at Trump’s residences and office at his Bedminster estate.

The filing submitted to the New York AG’s office raises key questions in relation to the separate Mar-a-Lago probe, chiefly, whether Habba ended up handling any of the documents that DOJ later discovered at Trump’s club; and, if so, whether she has the clearance to have done so. In her sworn affidavit, Habba said that she searched many of the locations that would later be scrutinized by the FBI during its Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago — and where investigators say they uncovered a significant volume of highly classified government secrets. The documents, those investigators stated, “had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status” making clear their significance.

“Classified documents were found in both the Storage Room and in the former President’s office,” DOJ revealed in a court filing Tuesday night, also noting, “Three classified documents that were not located in boxes, but rather were located in the desks in the ‘45 Office.’”

Habba did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Press aides and attorneys for Trump also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But experts in the field predicted that her statement to James’ office would generate interest from investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The next scary matter for Trump’s lawyers: The crime-fraud exception, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 30, 2022. Even jennifer rubin new headshotoccasional “Law & Order” viewers know that the conversations between a criminal defendant and his lawyer are normally protected from prosecutors.

However, when any lawyer becomes a co-conspirator, such attorney-client privilege evaporates because of what is known as the “crime-fraud exception.” If you’re participating in a crime rather than defending a criminal, you and your client don’t get the benefit of the attorney-client privilege.

In the case of former president Donald Trump, we may soon get a treatise on the crime-fraud exception, as the matter is poised to come up in a shockingly large number of instances.

Recent Headlines

 

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to deliver prime-time address Thursday on ‘the continued battle for the soul of the nation,’ Mariana Alfaro and Tyler Pager, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The speech, one of Biden’s few in prime time, reaffirms his rhetorical shift to a greater stress on the threat to democratic values.

joe biden twitterPresident Biden will deliver a prime-time address Thursday on the fight for democracy in America and “the continued battle for the soul of the nation,” a White House official said Monday, an address that is likely to confirm his growing rhetorical emphasis on the anti-democratic forces he sees as capturing much of the Republican Party.

Speaking at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, the president is expected to highlight his administration’s achievements and argue that the country’s democratic values will be at stake during the midterm elections.

“He will talk about the progress we have made as a nation to protect our democracy, but how our rights and freedoms are still under attack,” the official said. “He will make clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms, and fighting for our democracy.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the content of the speech.

Democrats see the once unthinkable: A narrow path to keeping the House

Biden in recent days has adopted a message for the midterm elections that includes fiery denunciations of what he calls the authoritarian strains in the Republican Party, notably during a speech last Thursday saying many in the GOP had turned toward “semi-fascism.” He added that the “MAGA Republicans,” as he called them, “embrace political violence. They don’t believe in America.”

Politico, ‘There’s enormous frustration’: Trump forces Republicans off-script… again, Meridith McGraw, Andrew Desiderio, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Having once decried the search of Mar-a-Lago, defenders of the ex-president are now warning of civil unrest if the investigation leads to prosecution.

The investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified national security records is forcing Republicans into a strained defense during a pre-midterm sprint in which they’d much rather be talking about Joe Biden.

politico CustomAfter having decried the FBI’s search of the ex-president’s home, many Trump defenders went silent upon the release on Friday of the probable-cause affidavit that revealed the extent of Trump’s efforts to hold onto the top-secret documents. GOP worries about the developments of the case and Trump announcing a 2024 run before November are giving way to a subtle, broader warning about putting the former president too much on the ballot this fall.

“Republicans should focus on defeating Democrats, and every Democrat should have the word Biden in front of their name,” said Trump ally and former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. “The Republican focus should be to win the election in November. Trump will do a fine job defending himself. He’ll be fine.”

Some top Republicans acknowledge the growing angst and concern, as it’s become clearer that Trump may have been warehousing some of America’s most sensitive secrets in an unsecured basement — and even refused to turn them over when the National Archives and Justice Department tried to recover them. One top Republican fundraiser asked to describe the mood among donors, said, “There is enormous frustration.”

“The question is, is there willingness to express that frustration,” the fundraiser added. “I don’t know the answer to that. But there is real frustration, and with the exception of people who are too stupid to understand the need to be frustrated, it is nearly universal.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Surprisingly Competitive Senate Race Emerges in Colorado, Carl Hulse, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Joe O’Dea, a novice Republican emphasizing more moderate positions in a break with his party.

It was a bit tense for a groundbreaking ceremony.

michael bennetAgainst the striking backdrop of the enveloping Rocky Mountains, Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat seeking a third full term, symbolically shoveled dirt to start a $30 million Colorado River restoration project for which he had helped secure nearly half the funding.

Watching from a respectable distance was Joe O’Dea, a Republican political novice who is trying to come out of nowhere to upset Mr. Bennet — and whose Denver construction company is coincidentally the lead contractor on the job. Their confluence on a recent Tuesday at the Windy Gap Reservoir in the heart of rugged Grand County had the crowd of environmentalists, government officials, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts buzzing.

Mr. Bennet (shown at right in a file photo) eschewed a hard hat, aware of the risk of being photographed in ill-fitting headwear during a political campaign, à la Michael Dukakis. Mr. O’Dea donned a well-worn round-brimmed version and an orange construction vest. The two did not interact, but each had something to say about the other.

Mr. Bennet noted his rival’s usual distaste for government spending, which the Republican has blamed for inflation.

“I hear he hates federal spending, except for the $14 million that built this thing,” said the incumbent, who was a surprise appointee to a Senate vacancy in 2009 before winning election for the first time in a difficult environment the next year.

Mr. O’Dea, standing near the heavy equipment his workers will employ to return a stretch of the imperiled river to its natural flow, was not impressed by the praise heaped upon Mr. Bennet by the assembled backers of the project.

“That’s what politicians do,” Mr. O’Dea said, making clear that he did not consider himself part of that cohort. “I’m into building things, and we will do our job here.”

Colorado was not expected to be part of the Senate battleground landscape this year. While not yet in the solid blue column, the state has been trending Democratic, and Mr. Bennet seemed a good bet for another term as Republicans invested their resources in what they saw as riper opportunities elsewhere.

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U.S. Governance, Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. to clear another $1.5B in debt for Westwood College students, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The move will grant full, automatic federal student loan forgiveness to 79,000 people.

The Education Department said Tuesday it will grant full, automatic cancellation of $1.5 billion in education debt held by former students of the defunct for-profit chain Westwood College.

The move covers 79,000 people who were enrolled at Westwood from Jan. 1, 2002, to Nov. 17, 2015, when it ceased enrolling new borrowers in advance of its 2016 closure. Former students are not required to submit an application and will receive a letter from the Education Department informing them of the pending discharge.

“Westwood College’s exploitation of students and abuse of federal financial aid place it in the same circle of infamy occupied by Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute,” said Undersecretary of Education James Kvaal. “Westwood operated on a culture of false promises, lies, and manipulation in order to profit off student debt that burdened borrowers long after Westwood closed.”

The Biden administration has been working through scores of petitions from former students of for-profit schools requesting the department cancel their debt under a statute known as “borrower defense to repayment.” Applications piled up at the department amid a series of college closures and the Trump administration’s efforts to delay and limit loan cancellation.

What started as a trickle of approvals in the early months of the Biden administration turned into a deluge this summer, with widespread cancellation of the debt held by former students of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech. With this latest announcement, the administration has now approved $14.5 billion in discharges for nearly 1.1 million borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges.

In the case of Westwood, the department said the institution routinely lied about graduates’ job prospects, promising prospective students employment in their field within six months after completion. Westwood inflated earnings outcomes in its marketing materials and falsely guaranteed students that it would pay their bills if they failed to find work.

The move will grant full, automatic federal student loan forgiveness to 79,000 people

ny times logoNew York Times, Penn Station Plan Makes a High-Stakes Bet on the Future of Office Work, Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan, Photographs by Andres Kudacki, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Despite New York City’s near record-high office vacancies, Gov. Kathy Hochul has backed a massive real estate project at the transit hub.

kathy hochul 2017In a bid to reshape Midtown Manhattan, Gov. Kathy Hochul, right, and New York State officials are pushing ahead with one of the largest real estate development projects in American history: 10 towers of mostly offices around Penn Station, the busiest transit center in the country.

The buildings would help pay for the renovation of the dreary underground station, the reason officials have said they are seeking the additions to the skyline. But the plan is moving forward amid severe uncertainty gripping the office market: Many companies are trying to reduce their real estate footprint as workers continue to clock in from home.

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More On Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, A Draft for Russia’s Army? Putin Opts for Domestic Stability Instead, Anton Troianovski, Aug. 31, 2022. Western officials are puzzled by President Vladimir Putin’s decision to avoid conscription. But analysts say he is trying to prevent a public backlash.

President Vladimir V. Putin says Russia is fighting for its very existence in Ukraine, taking on a country that is conspiring with the West to destroy his nation. In high-octane talk shows on state television, the war is presented as a continuation of the Soviet Union’s fight for survival against Nazi Germany.

But if the battle is existential, the Kremlin’s actions do not bear that out. Six months into the biggest land war in Europe since World War II, Russia continues to wage it with a military that is essentially at peacetime strength — even as the invasion’s loudest cheerleaders increasingly clamor for Mr. Putin to declare a draft and put his nation on a war footing.

The debate over a draft has grown more urgent in recent weeks as Ukraine has gained momentum on the southern front and the killing of an ultranationalist commentator in a car bombing outside Moscow has magnified the voices of Russia’s most radical hawks. To those hawks, the Kremlin — which continues to refer to the war as a “special military operation” and insists it is going “according to plan” — is underestimating the enemy and lulling Russian society into a false sense of security.

CNN, Russia warns EU of consequences over visa agreement suspension, state media says, Uliana Pavlova and Chris Liakos, Aug. 31, 2022. Russian on Wednesday warned the European Union of consequences over the bloc moving to fully suspend the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Russia, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

“Violation, circumvention or withdrawal by the EU from the visa facilitation agreement with Russia won’t be left without consequences. We will decide for ourselves whether the measures will be symmetrical, asymmetric or something that the EU does not expect,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the news agency.

“If Brussels decides to shoot itself in the foot again, then it is their choice,” he said.

Following a two day informal meeting in Prague, EU’s foreign ministers on Wednesday reached political consensus to fully suspend the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Russia.

EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the decision “will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states” given that the process would become more difficult and take longer.

Visas were already restricted to some categories of Russian nationals. Borrell said that this is not a legal text but only a political agreement at this point.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: U.N. Inspectors Are Expected to Visit Embattled Nuclear Plant on Thursday, Andrew E. Kramer, Marc Santora and Lynsey Addario , Aug. 31, 2022. As the convoy headed toward an active battlefield, Russia backed a permanent presence of inspectors at the Zaporizhzhia complex in Ukraine.

Experts from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency are expected to visit the imperiled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Thursday, a day after they embarked on one of the most complicated missions in the agency’s history.

ukraine flagThe group, which includes 14 experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency, left Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, early Wednesday morning in a convoy of armored S.U.V. vehicles and traveled south. Hours after they departed Kyiv, a Russian official said Moscow would support plans for the inspectors to set up a permanent presence at the facility.

The plant, which is controlled by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian engineers, is in the middle of an active battlefield where frequent shelling has raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

On Wednesday afternoon, the nuclear inspectors reached the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, which lies across the Dnipro River from the plant, and they were expected to cross into Russian-held territory on Thursday morning.

“As you know, we have a very, very important task there to perform, to assess the real situation there, to help stabilize the situation as much as we can,” the I.A.E.A. director general, Rafael M. Grossi, told reporters in Kyiv before departing.

Mr. Grossi said the mission had secured safety guarantees from both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries, though dangers lingered. “We are going to a war zone,” he said, “we are going to occupied territory.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: With War in Ukraine, Putin Tries to Unravel Gorbachev’s Legacy, Anton Troianovski, Aug. 31, 2022. President Vladimir V. Putin calls the end of the Soviet Union a “genuine tragedy” for Russia, and he blamed Mikhail S. Gorbachev for bending to the demands of a treacherous and duplicitous West.

The day that Russia invaded Ukraine, Feb. 24, the legacy of Mikhail S. Gorbachev loomed over President Vladimir V. Putin’s predawn speech.

“The paralysis of power and will is the first step toward complete degradation and oblivion,” Mr. Putin intoned, referring to the Soviet Union’s collapse. “We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world.”

For Mr. Putin, the end of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” a “genuine tragedy” for millions of Russians because it left them scattered across newly formed national borders. The disaster was caused, in Mr. Putin’s telling, by the weak nerves of a leader too willing to bend to the demands of a treacherous and duplicitous West — a mistake, the Kremlin’s televised propaganda now often reminds viewers, that Mr. Putin is determined not to repeat.

In Ukraine, Mr. Putin is fighting in the shadows of the empire whose end Mr. Gorbachev presided over, having started a war that has killed thousands in the name of restoring Moscow’s dominance over what it claims to be Russian lands. But Mr. Putin’s battle to reverse Mr. Gorbachev’s legacy extends beyond territorial control to the personal and political freedoms that the last Soviet president ushered in — and that the Kremlin is now fast unraveling.

“All of Gorbachev’s reforms are now zero, in ashes, in smoke,” a friend of Mr. Gorbachev’s, the radio journalist Aleksei A. Venediktov, said in a July interview. “This was his life’s work.”

President Vladimir Putin has called the end of the Soviet Union a “genuine tragedy” for Russia, and blamed Mikhail Gorbachev for bending to the West’s demands.

washington post logoWashington Post, Full Russian tourist ban in E.U. topic of fierce debate, Emily Rauhala and Beatriz Ríos, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). With fighting raging in eastern Ukraine and Europe bracing for a war-induced recession, should Russians be allowed to enjoy the end of summer in southern France? Shop for luxury goods in Italy? Visit family in Finland?

european union logo rectangleThose questions will be part of a debate this week among European Union foreign ministers gathering for an informal meeting in Prague. And while E.U. countries were united in banning Russian flights from their airspace and placing more than 1,200 individuals on their sanctions list, a blanket ban on Russian tourists is proving far more divisive.

volodymyr zelenski t shirt siegeUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, is pushing for one. “Let them live in their own world until they change their philosophy,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post this month. “This is the only way to influence Putin.”

Calls grow to ban E.U. visas for Russians, but not all Ukrainians agree

He has support from E.U. countries that share a border with Russia — the Baltics and Finland — as well as from Poland and the Czech Republic.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Vatican Criticizes Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine for the First Time, Elisabetta Povoledo, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The Vatican on Tuesday for the first time said that Russia was the aggressor in the Ukraine war, condemning Moscow’s invasion in strong terms after earlier comments by Pope Francis prompted criticism from Kyiv.

“As for the large-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, the interventions of the Holy Father Pope Francis are clear and unequivocal in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious,” the Vatican said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Vatican experts said it was the first time that Francis has explicitly blamed Russia in the conflict.

pope francis 2013 SmallSince Russia’s invasion in February, critics have said that Francis, shown in a 2013 photo, has risked his moral authority by failing to criticize President Vladimir V. Putin by name, upholding longstanding Vatican policy not to pick sides in a conflict to better preserve the church’s chances of playing a constructive role in potential peace talks.

Last week, Ukrainian officials were dismayed when Francis referred to Daria Dugina, a 29-year-old Russian ultranationalist who spoke out in favor of the invasion of Ukraine, and was killed by a car bomb, as an “innocent” victim.

“The madness of war,” Francis said at his weekly general audience. “The innocent pay for war — the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other, ‘War is madness.’”

Afterward, Ukraine’s foreign minister summoned the Vatican’s ambassador to Ukraine to express “profound disappointment” in Francis’ words.

Francis had been hoping to meet with Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, during a gathering of religious leaders in Kazakhstan in mid-September. But the Russian state agency reported last week that the Russian Orthodox Church would be represented by an official delegation and that Kirill would not attend the gathering or hold a meeting with the pope on the sidelines.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Ukraine Steps Up Strikes Against Russia in the South, Marc Santora, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Kyiv is seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines and isolate its forces, part of what analysts said could be the beginnings of a broad counteroffensive.

The Ukrainian military continued to pound targets across southern Ukraine on Tuesday as it sought to disrupt Russian supply lines, degrade Russia’s combat capabilities and isolate Russian forces, part of what analysts said could be the beginnings of a broad and coordinated counteroffensive.

The military said that its forces had broken through Russia’s first line of defense in multiple points along the front in the occupied Kherson region, but officials offered little detail and their claims could not be independently verified.

Western military analysts emphasized that Russian forces have had months to reinforce multiple lines of defense across the south, making any Ukrainian advance likely to be tough and bloody.

It remained unclear whether the strikes marked the start of a long-anticipated counteroffensive or were simply an intensification of weeks of Ukrainian counterattacks. The British military intelligence agency said on Tuesday that Ukrainian brigades had “increased the weight of artillery fires in frontline sectors across southern Ukraine” but noted that it was “not yet possible to confirm the extent of Ukrainian advances.”

The southern front stretches across a vast landscape of farms, fields and grassland, and includes territory that Moscow’s forces seized in the initial phase of their invasion in February. Ukraine has staged sporadic counterattacks in the region for months — including using long-range weapons supplied by Western allies to strike behind Russian lines — and Russia has been racing to reinforce its positions.

By early August, military analysts estimated that Russia had as many as 25,000 soldiers west of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, forming three defensive lines. Those forces now seem to be the most vulnerable, as Ukraine appears able to strike all of the major river crossings that Russia needs to supply those troops.

Overnight and into Tuesday morning, witnesses reported explosions at multiple river crossings, including around the Antonivsky Bridge, the main crossing into the city of Kherson, the only regional capital under Russian occupation.

The bridge has come under sustained fire and was already badly damaged. Independent satellite imagery captured over the weekend showed the Russians attempting to build a pontoon ferry to resupply its forces on the western bank of the river.

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U.S. Law, Military, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Death in Navy SEAL Training Exposes Culture of Brutality, Cheating and Drugs, Dave Philipps (For this article, Dave Philipps interviewed, among others, 17 active-duty Navy personnel, including senior leaders, active-duty SEALs and current and former trainees and instructors), Aug. 30, 2022.

Hell Week, the elite force’s selection course, is so punishing that at least 11 men have died since 1953, drawing accusations of neglect and recklessness. One recent death has compounded criticism and shed light on allegations of widespread cheating and the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

kyle mullinThe course began with 210 men. By the middle of Hell Week, 189 had quit or been brought down by injury. But Seaman Mullen kept on slogging for days, spitting blood all the while. The instructors and medics conducting the course, perhaps out of admiration for his grit, did not stop him.

And he made it. When he struggled out of the cold ocean at the end of Hell Week, SEAL leaders shook his hand, gave him a pizza and told him to get some rest. Then he went back to his barracks and lay down on the floor. A few hours later, his heart stopped beating and he died.

Kyle Mullen when he joined the Navy after being captain of the Yale football team.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Absolute Warfare’: Cartels Terrorize Mexico as Security Forces Fall Short, Maria Abi-Habib and Oscar Lopez, Photographs by Alejandro Cegarra, Aug. 31, 2022. The president put a transformative security strategy in place to tackle soaring violence, but three years later, criminal cartels have expanded their reach. The president disbanded the Federal Police and created the National Guard to tackle soaring violence, but three years later, criminal cartels have expanded their reach.

 

muqtada al sadr

ny times logoNew York Times, Iraqi Shiite Cleric Tells Supporters to Go Home After Clashes Kill 24, Jane Arraf, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Muqtada al-Sadr, shown above in a file photo, called for protesters to leave Baghdad’s Green Zone, after two days of violence that left many fearing a new phase of political chaos.

The influential Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr tried on Tuesday to defuse an eruption of violence in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, calling on his followers to stand down after at least 24 people were killed in two days of clashes with security forces.

The violence, after three years of relative stability in Baghdad, began on Monday shortly after Mr. Sadr declared on Twitter that he was quitting politics for good. His supporters went out to protest and stormed the heavily protected Green Zone in Baghdad, home to Iraqi government offices, the United Nations and diplomatic missions including the U.S. Embassy.

After coming under fire from government security forces, who included members of Iran-backed militias, fighters loyal to Mr. Sadr armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades emerged to take on the security forces.

Although political turmoil and street protests are common in Iraq, this round of violence laid bare the risk of an even more dangerous and unstable phase, fueled by political paralysis, the breaching of state institutions and divisions among the country’s Shiite majority.

Some in Iraq have feared the country could descend into another cycle of violence after two decades of frequent warfare. Following the U.S. invasion in 2003, a sectarian civil war between Shiite Muslim and Sunni Muslim factions broke out. Then there was a yearslong battle to drive out Islamic State after the terrorist group took over large parts of the country.

In recent years, rivalries among Shiites have become the main driver of Iraqi political instability. Iran-backed Shiite militias formed in 2014 to fight the Sunni Islamic State group have become a permanent part of Iraqi government security forces, with some more answerable to Shiite Iran than the Iraqi government.

Mr. Sadr, in contrast, is seen as an Iraqi nationalist and a thorn in the side of Iran and its continuing influence in neighboring Iraq.

Elections last year in October were seen as a fresh start for the country — a response to massive protests against a corrupt and dysfunctional government. Instead they led to the current political deadlock.

Mr. Sadr, appearing at a news conference on Tuesday in Najaf, a southern city holy to Shiite Muslims worldwide, called on his supporters to withdraw immediately from the Green Zone, where the fighting over the past two days has been focused. He said he was sorry about what had happened.

“Regardless of who started the sedition yesterday,” he said, referring to the violent clashes, “I say that my head is down and I apologize to the Iraqi people.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel sentences Gaza aid worker convicted of funding Hamas to 12 years, Shira Rubin and Hazem Balousha, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). An Israeli court sentenced a former Gaza aid chief from a major international organization to 12 years in prison on Tuesday after convicting him of siphoning millions of agency dollars to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the enclave.

Independent audits and investigations carried out in recent years found no evidence of wrongdoing, said World Vision International, which employed Mohammed al-Halabi as the head of its Gaza operation from 2014 until his arrest in 2016.

The Beersheba district court in southern Israel ruled in June that Halabi was guilty of funneling $50 million and tons of steel to Hamas, which the United States and European Union classify as a terrorist organization.

Israel says Gaza World Vision director diverted millions to Hamas’s military wing

Kevin Jenkins, president of World Vision International, said in a statement on the organization’s website that it was difficult to “reconcile” the allegations because the organization’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past 10 years was only around $22.5 million.

In June 2016, Israeli security forces arrested Halabi at the Erez Crossing Point between Gaza and Israel, and he was indicted in August of that year. He has been in prison for the past six years while awaiting a resolution to the legal proceedings.

“The arrest, six-year trial, unjust verdict and this sentence are emblematic of actions that hinder humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank,” World Vision said Tuesday in a statement on its website. “It adds to the chilling impact on World Vision and other aid or development groups working to assist Palestinians.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Endangered giant tortoises being killed for meat in Galápagos, officials fear, Rachel Pannett, Aug. 31, 2022. Authorities in Ecuador are investigating the deaths of four giant tortoises in the Galápagos, a South American archipelago that is a haven for all kinds of rare wildlife, amid fears they were killed by poachers for their meat.

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Media, Culture, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge thwarts Va. Republicans’ effort to limit book sales at Barnes & Noble, Hannah Natanson, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). A Virginia judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by two Republicans that sought to limit how bookstores and public school libraries could distribute two books to minors, closing — at least temporarily — an unusual commercial strategy in the campaign to protect students from literature conservatives say is not age-appropriate.

The two books being challenged in the lawsuit are Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, a memoir about identifying as nonbinary, and Sarah J. Maas’s republican elephant logofantasy novel A Court of Mist and Fury.

Both have drawn objections for their sexual material. The suit, filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court by Del. Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) and congressional candidate Tommy Altman, aimed to prevent the Virginia Beach school system and locations of the private bookseller Barnes & Noble from selling the books to children without first obtaining parental consent.

 

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon accounts have found a home, and Donald Trump’s support, on Truth Social, Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.

Dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts decamped to Truth Social this year after they were banned by other social networks and have found support from the platform’s creator, former President Donald J. Trump, according to a report released on Monday.

FBI logoNewsGuard, a media watchdog that analyzes the credibility of news outlets, found 88 users promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social, each to more than 10,000 followers. Of those accounts, 32 were previously banned by Twitter.

Twitter barred Mr. Trump over fears that he might incite violence after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He started Truth Social as an alternative in February 2022. He has amplified content from 30 of the QAnon accounts to his more than 3.9 million Truth Social followers, reposting their messages 65 times since he became active on the platform in April, according to the report.

djt golf shirt bloated“He’s not simply President Trump the political leader here — he’s the proprietor of a platform,” said Steven Brill, co-chief executive of NewsGuard and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer. “That would be the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg reposting content from supporters of QAnon.”

Millions of QAnon followers believe that an imaginary cabal of sex-trafficking, Satan-worshiping liberals is controlling the government and that Mr. Trump is leading the fight against it. Fantastical QAnon ideas have taken root in mainstream Republican politics, although some supporters have struggled at the polls.

The movement has been viewed by law enforcement as a potential domestic terror threat and was linked to the Capitol riot. Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch have cracked down on QAnon content.

“The other platforms have taken some steps to deal with QAnon and other similar types of misinformation, but here, it’s pretty clear that they’re not,” Mr. Brill said of Truth Social.

Truth Social did not respond to questions about NewsGuard’s findings. Instead, in a statement sent through a representative, the social media platform said that it had “reopened the internet and given the American people their voice back.”

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U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy, #MeToo, Trafficking

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans in key races scrap online references to Trump, abortion, Colby Itkowitz, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Attempts by Republicans in competitive contests to pivot away from these issues have emboldened Democrats to mount an aggressive offense. Yesli Vega, a Republican running for the U.S. House in a competitive Virginia district, no longer mentions her connection to former president Donald Trump in the bio section at the top of her Twitter page.

republican elephant logoColorado state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, also running in a battleground House race, has stopped promoting language defending the “Sanctity of Life” on her campaign website. Now, there is no mention of abortion at all, a review of the website showed.

And the campaign of Blake Masters, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Arizona, has removed from his campaign website references to strict antiabortion positions he once championed, along with references to false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

At least nine Republican congressional candidates have scrubbed or amended references to Trump or abortion from their online profiles in recent months, distancing themselves from divisive subjects that some GOP strategists say are two of the biggest liabilities for the party ahead of the post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The great Republican abortion backtrack has begun, Paul Waldman, right, Aug. 29, 2022. Do you want to know paul waldmanhow frightened Republicans are by the sweeping turn abortion politics has taken since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in late June? Just look at what their candidates in swing states and districts are doing.

It amounts to a collective assertion that, well, maybe they didn’t really mean what they said.

A number of Republicans in tough races seem to have hit upon the same strategy to put them on the right side of public opinion.

Here are the new rules: First, stop saying you’re “100 percent pro-life.” That might be what Republican primary voters once wanted to hear, but now it’s radioactive.

Next, make the absurd and unsupportable claim that nothing has really changed when it comes to abortion. Instead, say that the realization of a decades-long Republican goal is less a legal revolution than an opportunity for some heartfelt, respectful conversation.

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U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

washington post logoWashington Post, Safeway employee saved lives by confronting Oregon gunman, police say, Jonathan Edwards, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Surrett Jr., an Army veteran turned grocery store employee, died Sunday trying to disarm a 20-year-old shooter in Bend, Ore.

Donald Surrett Jr. could have run away Sunday when a man armed with an AR-style rifle started shooting inside the Bend, Ore., grocery store where Surrett worked. He could have hidden.

Instead, the 66-year-old Safeway employee tried to disarm the shooter.

Surrett “may very well have prevented further deaths,” Bend police spokeswoman Sheila Miller said Monday, choking up as she spoke of Surrett during a news conference. “Mr. Surrett acted heroically during this terrible incident.”

Surrett was one of two people killed Sunday evening during a shooting that erupted as the weekend waned and people tried to squeeze in some shopping before the start of the workweek. The “heinous attack” disrupted life in Bend, a small central Oregon city known for the Deschutes River, outdoor recreation and craft breweries. On Monday, Mayor Pro-Tem Anthony Broadman said he refused to become accustomed to such shootings.

“We need to guard against the cynicism of thinking of these attacks … as regular, unavoidable things,” Broadman said. “I won’t accept that. I know the community of Bend won’t accept that. We have to stand together. We will.”

Shootings at grocery stores are occurring more often, twisting an unremarkable errand into an unforgettable nightmare. Guns Down America, a nonprofit organization promoting gun control, counted 448 such incidents in which 137 people were killed during the 16½-month span between Jan. 1, 2020, and May 14, the day a gunman massacred 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo. Included in the data: 10 people were killed during a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo. Three months later, one person was killed at a supermarket in Decatur, Ga. Three months after that, someone was fatally shot at a Kroger market in the Memphis area.

Sunday’s attack at the Safeway in Bend started around 7 p.m. when Ethan Blair Miller left his apartment armed with the AR-style rifle and a shotgun and almost immediately started shooting, Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said Monday at the news conference. Miller then went south to the Forum Shopping Center where, he continued to fire while in the parking lot of Costco and Big Lots, according to a department news release.

Miller, 20, entered the Safeway using the store’s west entrance, where he shot and killed Glenn Edward Bennett, an 84-year-old Bend resident, police said in the release. He kept firing as he roved through the store, until Surrett confronted and tried to disarm him in the produce section, police said.

Surrett was fatally shot. Officers swarmed the store from the back and the front about three minutes after the first 911 call and, at 7:08 p.m., found Miller with a self-inflicted gunshot wound next to a rifle and a shotgun, according to the release.

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Killed in Shooting at Oregon Shopping Center, Police Say, Eduardo Medina and Tim Neville, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The gunman, who fired multiple times inside a grocery store, was also found dead. Another person was wounded.

Two people were shot and killed and a third was wounded at a shopping center in Bend, Ore., on Sunday, prompting law enforcement agencies to flood the area and enter a grocery store, where officers found the gunman dead from a gunshot wound, the authorities said.

Officers were still investigating a motive, and they did not release names of the victims or the gunman. Lisa Goodman, a spokeswoman for Saint Charles hospital in Bend, said one injured person had been admitted there and that the individual’s condition was “good.”

The shooting began at about 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time in the parking lot of the Forum Shopping Center in Bend, about 160 miles southeast of Portland. The authorities said one witness told them that there may have been a second shooter, but Chief Mike Krantz of the Bend Police Department said during a news conference on Sunday night that officers had “not found any evidence of a second shooter or additional gunfire in the area.”

The gunman began shooting in the parking lot and then entered a Safeway grocery store, where he shot and killed one person near the front door, Sheila Miller, a spokeswoman for the Bend Police Department, said by phone on Sunday.

He continued walking through the store, firing multiple rounds, the police said. The gunman then fatally shot another person inside the store, Ms. Miller said.

When police officers entered the store, they found the gunman dead, as well as an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun near him, Chief Krantz said. Police officers did not fire at the gunman, he said.

The shooting came a little more than three months after a gunman armed with an assault-style weapon killed 10 people and wounded three others in an attack at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

The shooting also underscored how the grocery store has become another place where frightening gun violence can occur. Last September, a gunman killed one person and injured 14 at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, Tenn. Earlier that year, in March, 10 people were killed in an attack a supermarket in Boulder, Colo

Recent Headlines

 

Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. life expectancy down for second straight year, fueled by covid-19, Akilah Johnson and Sabrina Malhi, Aug. 31, 2022. Life expectancy in the United States fell in 2021 for the second year in a row, reflecting the merciless toll exacted by covid-19 on the nation’s health, according to a federal report released Wednesday.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2This is the biggest continuous decline in life expectancy at birth since the beginning of the Roaring Twenties. Americans can now expect to live as long as they did in 1996, according to provisional data released by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, life expectancy dropped from 77 years in 2020 to 76.1 years in 2021.

The biggest decline was among Native Americans, whose life expectancy in 2021 plummeted to 65, the age of eligibility for Medicare; in a single year, Native Americans forfeited nearly two years of life. White people had the second-biggest drop, losing a full year of life expectancy, while Black people lost 0.7 years.

American Society for Microbiology, Microbiologists study giant viruses in climate-endangered Arctic Epishelf Lake, Staff Report, Aug. 30, 2022. Less than 500 miles from the North Pole, the Milne Fiord Epishelf Lake is a unique freshwater lake that floats atop the Arctic Ocean, held in place only by a coating of ice.

The lake is dominated by single-celled organisms, notably cyanobacteria, that are frequently infected by unusual “giant viruses.” Investigators from Université Laval, Québec, Canada have produced the first assessment of the abundance of the viruses in this lake. The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Viruses are key to understanding polar aquatic ecosystems, as these ecosystems are dominated by single celled microorganisms, which are frequently infected by viruses. These viruses, and their diversity and distribution in the Milne Fiord Lake have seldom been studied. The team is now working to sequence the giant viruses, an effort that will likely lead to understanding how the viruses influence the lake’s ecology via their interactions with the cyanobacteria they infect.

Quickly rising temperatures limit the time remaining to for microbiologists to develop a clear picture of the biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles of these ice-dependent environments, as well as the consequences of the rapid, irreversible changes in temperature. “The ice shelf that holds the lake in place is deteriorating every year, and when it breaks up, the lake will drain into the Arctic Ocean and be lost,” said corresponding author Alexander I. Culley.

The remote lake in the High Arctic could only be reached by helicopter, when weather conditions allowed. The research team collected water samples and sequenced all the DNA in the lake water, allowing them to identify the viruses and microorganisms within it. The study establishes a basis for advancing understanding of viral ecology in diverse global environments, particularly in the High Arctic.

“High bacterial abundance coupled with a possible prevalence of lytic lifestyle at this depth suggests that viruses have an important role in biomass turnover,” said Mary Thaler, Ph.D., a member of Culley’s team at Université Laval. “Lytic lifestyle” refers to the release of daughter virus particles as the host microbial cell is destroyed.

The most dramatic change observed in the Milne Fiord Epishelf Lake was a multiyear decline in the abundance of cyanobacteria. The researchers attributed that drop to the increasing marine influence in the freshwater lake, “since cyanobacteria have very low abundance in the Arctic Ocean,” they wrote.

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Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H.W. Bush

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H.W. Bush

washington post logoWashington Post, Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the Soviet Union, is dead, David E. Hoffman, Aug. 30, 2022. He embarked on a path of radical reform that propelled the communist country toward collapse.

Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who embarked on a path of radical reform that brought about the end of the Cold War, reversed the direction of the nuclear arms race and relaxed Communist Party controls in hopes of rescuing the faltering Soviet state but instead propelled it toward collapse, died Aug. 30 in Moscow. He was 91.

His death was announced by Russian news agencies, citing the government hospital where he was being treated, but no further details were immediately available.

mikhail gorbachev white house library 1987For the sheer improbability of his actions and their impact on the late 20th century, Mr. Gorbachev (shown at right in a 1987 photo at the U.S. White House Library) ranks as a towering figure. In 1985, he was chosen to lead a country mired in socialism and stultifying ideology. In six years of cajoling, improvised tactics and increasingly bold risks, Mr. Gorbachev unleashed immense changes that eventually demolished the pillars of the state.

The Soviet collapse was not Mr. Gorbachev’s goal, but it may be his greatest legacy. It brought to an end a seven-decade experiment born of Utopian idealism that led to some of the bloodiest human suffering of the century. A costly global confrontation between East and West abruptly ceased to exist. The division of Europe fell away. The tense superpower hair-trigger nuclear standoff was eased, short of Armageddon.

None of it could have happened but for Mr. Gorbachev. Along the way, he let loose a revolution from above within the Soviet Union, prodding and pushing a stagnant country in hopes of reviving it. In nearly six years of high drama and breathtaking transformation, Mr. Gorbachev pursued ever-larger ambitions for liberalization, battling inertia and a stubborn old guard.

Archie Brown, an emeritus professor of politics at the University of Oxford’s St. Antony’s College and one of the leading authorities on Mr. Gorbachev, has written that openness and pluralism were among the premier’s singular achievements in a country that for hundreds of years had been shackled by authoritarian rule under the czars and Soviet leaders. Mr. Gorbachev introduced the first genuinely competitive elections for a legislature, allowed civil society to take root and encouraged open discussion of dark passages in Soviet history.

Politico, ‘Where the hell are we?’: Biden slams Republicans for encouraging political violence, Myah Ward, Aug. 30, 2022. The president’s visit to Pennsylvania on Tuesday is his first of three over the next week to the midterm battleground state.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden on Tuesday lambasted members of the Republican Party for encouraging political violence — including apparently South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“No one expects politics to be patty cake. Hey, sometimes it gets mean as hell. But the idea you turn on a television and see senior senators and congressmen saying, ‘If such and such happens, there’ll be blood in the street.’ Where the hell are we?” Biden said.

The president was speaking at the Marts Center at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., not far from his birthplace of Scranton, where he detailed his $37 billion “Safer America Plan,” aimed at addressing community safety and crime prevention.

Toward the end of his campaign-style, fiery speech, Biden bristled as he talked about members of the Republican Party encouraging political violence. His reference to senior senators on television appeared to be a swipe at Graham, who over the weekend twice said there would be “riots in the street” if the Justice Department prosecutes former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified government documents after leaving the White House.

The president’s visit to Pennsylvania on Tuesday is his first of three over the next week to the midterm battleground state that will play a key role in determining control of Congress and the White House in 2024. He’ll speak on Thursday in Philadelphia about democracy and will return to the state for Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day celebration on Monday.

Biden, who spent much of his speech talking about the need to fund police and take further steps to address gun violence — such as banning assault weapons — pivoted to the need to uphold the rule of law.

“A safer America requires all of us to uphold the rule of law. Not the rule of any one party or any one person,” the president said, telling the crowd that some members of the Republican Party have said political violence is necessary. “[Political violence] is never appropriate. Period. Never. Never. Never.”

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A ‘filter team’ has completed its review of material possibly covered by attorney-client privilege, the court filing says.

FBI agents have already finished their examination of possibly privileged documents seized in an Aug. 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to a Justice Department court filing Monday that could undercut the former president’s efforts to have a special master appointed to review the files.

Justice Department log circularThe “filter team” used by the Justice Department to sort through the documents and weed out any material that should not be reviewed by criminal investigators has completed its review, the brief filed by Justice Department prosecutors says. The filing came in response to a decision Saturday by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon to hold a hearing this week on Trump’s motion seeking the appointment of a special master.

The filing says prosecutors will provide more information later this week. But it notes that even before the judge’s weekend ruling, the filter team had “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures” spelled out in the search warrant to handle any privilege disputes.

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left), a Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Trump inner circle, and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Document Inquiry Poses Unparalleled Test for Justice Dept., Katie Benner, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging and complicated criminal investigations in recent memory.

As Justice Department officials haggled for months this year with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers and aides over the return of government documents at his Florida home, federal prosecutors became convinced that they were not being told the whole truth.

That conclusion helped set in motion a decision that would amount to an unparalleled test of the Justice Department’s credibility in a deeply polarized political environment: to seek a search warrant to enter Mar-a-Lago and retrieve what prosecutors suspected would be highly classified materials, beyond the hundreds of pages that Mr. Trump had already returned.

By the government’s account, that gamble paid off, with F.B.I. agents carting off boxloads of sensitive material during the search three weeks ago, including some documents with top secret markings.

merrick garlandBut the matter hardly ended there: What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging, complicated and potentially explosive criminal investigations in recent memory, with tremendous implications for the Justice Department, Mr. Trump and public faith in government.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, right, now faces the prospect of having to decide whether to file criminal charges against a former president and likely 2024 Republican candidate, a step without any historical parallel.

 

anthony ornato djtUSA Today, Anthony Ornato, Secret Service and Trump official named in explosive Jan. 6 testimony, retires, Bart Jansen, Aug. 30, 2022. Ornato, shown above in sunglasses, was expected to testify to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, after another witness described him talking about a clash between Trump and his security detail. A former White House aide to Donald Trump who was a central figure in explosive testimony about the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, retired Monday from the Secret Service.

usa today logo 5Anthony Ornato, who served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations while also a top Secret Service official, retired after 25 years with the agency, according to agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” Ornato, the former assistant director for the office of training, said in a statement to Politico.

Ornato’s retirement comes as the House committee awaits his additional testimony about an incident involving Trump before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Members of the Secret Service, including Tony Ornato, right, stand guard as then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before departing, Sept. 9, 2019.
A former Trump aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Ornato told her after Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, that the president tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle and lunged for the chief of his Secret Service security, Robert Engel, in order to join the mob at the Capitol rather than return to the White House.

Hutchinson said Ornato described the incident while Engel was in the room with them and Engel didn’t correct the story.

“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your arm off the steering wheel,’” Hutchinson testified. “’We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”

Ornato and Engel, who each cooperated with the committee before the June hearing, reportedly wanted to testify again to clear up potential disputes with Hutchinson’s testimony.

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the January 6th commission.
Guglielmi said the Secret Service has cooperated with the investigation and made officials available for testimony. It will be up to Ornato to decide whether to testify.

“Certainly when he was an employee of the service, he had all intentions of testifying,” Guglielmi said. “Now that he’s a private citizen working for another organization, you’re going to have to check with him on if that still stands.”

A committee spokesman declined comment on Ornato’s retirement.

Ornato joined the Secret Service in 1997 and served under five presidential administrations. Before joining the White House in 2019, Ornato served as deputy assistant director of the Secret Service’s office of investigations. He previously served in the presidential protective division during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis’s “Mongoose Gang” of intimidators and cronies, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 29-30, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallFlorida is currently the closest thing to a fascist police state within the borders of the United States.

wayne madesen report logoThat is primarily due to its Republican authoritarian governor, military “stolen valor” practitioner Ron DeSantis, below left, acting like a tinpot caudillo or dictator, the type that frequently plagued the Caribbean and Latin America over the decades. DeSantis has continually abused his authority as governor. This includes his throwing elected Democrats out of office, in one case at gunpoint, and replacing them with far-right Republican cronies.

ron desantis oOne of DeSantis’s victims was the successful elected Democratic State’s Attorney for Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Warren described his ordeal in DeSantis’s banana republic of Florida: “An armed sheriff’s deputy and a governor’s aide showed up on Thursday morning at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, where I was serving as the elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County. They handed me an executive order signed by DeSantis that immediately suspended me from office. Before I could read it, they escorted me out.”

Warren, who is suing DeSantis in federal court for his actions, continued in his op-ed: “This is a blatant abuse of power. I don’t work for DeSantis. I was elected by voters — twice — and I have spent my entire career locking up violent criminals and fraudsters. Without any misdoing on my part or any advance notice, I was forced out of my office, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a DeSantis ally. If this can happen to me, what can DeSantis do to other Floridians?”

Warren’s question would soon be answered. DeSantis did not hesitate to fire other Democratic officials in the state. A few weeks after DeSantis suspended Warren, he struck again by suspending four elected members of the Broward County school board — all registered Democrats — from their non-partisan seats.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Vatican Criticizes Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine for the First Time, Elisabetta Povoledo, Aug. 30, 2022. The Vatican on Tuesday for the first time said that Russia was the aggressor in the Ukraine war, condemning Moscow’s invasion in strong terms after earlier comments by Pope Francis prompted criticism from Kyiv.

“As for the large-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, the interventions of the Holy Father Pope Francis are clear and unequivocal in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious,” the Vatican said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Vatican experts said it was the first time that Francis has explicitly blamed Russia in the conflict.

pope francis 2013 SmallSince Russia’s invasion in February, critics have said that Francis, shown in a 2013 photo, has risked his moral authority by failing to criticize President Vladimir V. Putin by name, upholding longstanding Vatican policy not to pick sides in a conflict to better preserve the church’s chances of playing a constructive role in potential peace talks.

Last week, Ukrainian officials were dismayed when Francis referred to Daria Dugina, a 29-year-old Russian ultranationalist who spoke out in favor of the invasion of Ukraine, and was killed by a car bomb, as an “innocent” victim.

“The madness of war,” Francis said at his weekly general audience. “The innocent pay for war — the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other, ‘War is madness.’”

Afterward, Ukraine’s foreign minister summoned the Vatican’s ambassador to Ukraine to express “profound disappointment” in Francis’ words.

Francis had been hoping to meet with Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, during a gathering of religious leaders in Kazakhstan in mid-September. But the Russian state agency reported last week that the Russian Orthodox Church would be represented by an official delegation and that Kirill would not attend the gathering or hold a meeting with the pope on the sidelines.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine claims to have broken through Russian defenses at multiple points in the Kherson region, Marc Santora, Aug. 30, 2022. The Ukrainian military pounded targets across southern Ukraine on Tuesday as it sought to disrupt Russian supply lines, degrade Russia’s combat capabilities and isolate Russian forces, part of what analysts said could be the beginnings of a broad and coordinated counteroffensive.

The military said that its forces had broken through Russia’s first line of defense in multiple points along the front in the occupied Kherson region, but officials offered little detail and their claims could not be independently verified.

Western military analysts emphasized that Russian forces have had months to reinforce multiple lines of defense across the south, making any Ukrainian advance likely to be tough and bloody.

It remained unclear whether the strikes marked the start of a long-anticipated counteroffensive or were simply an intensification of weeks of Ukrainian counterattacks. The British military intelligence agency said on Tuesday that Ukrainian brigades had “increased the weight of artillery fires in frontline sectors across southern Ukraine” but noted that it was “not yet possible to confirm the extent of Ukrainian advances.”

The southern front stretches across a vast landscape of farms, fields and grassland, and includes territory that Moscow’s forces seized in the initial phase of their invasion in February. Ukraine has staged sporadic counterattacks in the region for months — including using long-range weapons supplied by Western allies to strike behind Russian lines — and Russia has been racing to reinforce its positions.

By early August, military analysts estimated that Russia had as many as 25,000 soldiers west of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, forming three defensive lines. Those forces now seem to be the most vulnerable, as Ukraine appears able to strike all of the major river crossings that Russia needs to supply those troops.

Overnight and into Tuesday morning, witnesses reported explosions at multiple river crossings, including around the Antonivsky Bridge, the main crossing into the city of Kherson, the only regional capital under Russian occupation.

The bridge has come under sustained fire and was already badly damaged. Independent satellite imagery captured over the weekend showed the Russians attempting to build a pontoon ferry to resupply its forces on the western bank of the river. That crossing was damaged by Ukrainian strikes on Tuesday, said Serhiy Khlan, an adviser to the head of the Kherson region’s military administration, who added that another Russian pontoon crossing over the Dnipro, near the village of Lvove, was destroyed overnight.

Ukrainian partisans also continued to claim successful strikes deep behind Russian lines, while also targeting high-ranking leaders of the Russian occupation administration. Russian news reports said that Aleksei Kovalev, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who collaborated with Russian forces and was serving as the deputy head of agriculture for the occupation government, was shot to death in Kherson on Sunday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking in his nightly address, said that while details of military operations must remain secret, Ukraine’s objective was clear.

“The occupiers should know: We will oust them to the border. To our border, the line of which has not changed,” he said. “If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian military to flee.”

 

Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds, Chris Mooney, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). New research suggests the massive ice sheet is already set to lose more than 3 percent of its mass, even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today

Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a new study published Monday.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

The findings in Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.

The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions. While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggested much of it can play out between now and the year 2100.

“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surface with his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.

“Every study has bigger numbers than the last. It’s always faster than forecast,” Colgan said.

One reason that new research appears worse than other findings may just be that it is simpler. It tries to calculate how much ice Greenland must lose as it recalibrates to a warmer climate. In contrast, sophisticated computer simulations of how the ice sheet will behave under future scenarios for global emissions have produced less alarming predictions.

A one-foot rise in global sea levels would have severe consequences. If the sea level along the U.S. coasts rose by an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found, the most destructive floods would take place five times as often, and moderate floods would become 10 times as frequent.

‘They are not slowing down’: The rise of billion-dollar disasters

Other countries — low-lying island nations and developing ones, like Bangladesh — are even more vulnerable. These nations, which have done little to fuel the higher temperatures that are now thawing the Greenland ice sheet, lack the billions of dollars it will take to adapt to rising seas.

washington post logoWashington Post, A third of Pakistan is underwater from floods, climate chief says, Andrew Jeong, Aug. 30, 2022. A third of Pakistan is now underwater amid an unprecedented amount of rainfall since June, Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, said Monday.

That would mean an area about the size of Colorado is underwater. Pakistan, home to about 220 million, has a land mass of 307,000 square miles.

Flooding caused by eight consecutive weeks of rainfall has killed more than 1,100 people. “This is a huge humanitarian disaster, and I would call it quite apocalyptic,” Rehman said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News.

Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan leaves families stranded without aid

In one town in the southeastern province of Sindh, about 67 inches fell in one day, Rehman said on Twitter. “Unheard of, anywhere,” she said.

The growing number of extreme weather events around the world is due to the planet’s rising temperatures, weather experts say. Higher temperatures mean more water in the air: For every degree of warmer temperature, the air can hold about 4 percent more water.

 

pakistan floods aug 28 2022 ap zahid hussain

washington post logoWashington Post, Pakistan seeks flood aid, but U.S. has long blocked compensation for climate damages, Shannon Osaka, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The deadly floods Pakistan is suffering raise a difficult question: Who should pay for the damage climate change is causing in the developing world?

Since mid-June, torrential rain has changed the landscape of Pakistan, submerging villages and fields, destroying homes and killing at least 1,000 people. But if the human toll is catastrophic, the financial toll is almost unimaginable: According to Pakistan’s finance minister, the damage so far will likely exceed $10 billion, or a whopping 4 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

“Pakistan was already facing the disastrous effects of climate change,” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister of climate change, said at a news conference on Thursday. “Now the most devastating monsoon rains in a decade are causing incessant destruction across the country.”

But even as Pakistan turns to donors around the world asking for aid, there is one thing that the country will almost certainly not receive: Compensation from the countries — including the United States — that are most responsible for planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

While the two issues may seem unconnected, for decades developing countries have asked richer ones to provide funding for the costs they face from heat waves, floods, droughts, sea-level rise and other climate-related disasters. They argue that the nations that became wealthy from burning fossil fuels such as the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan also heated up the planet, causing “loss and damage” in poorer countries.

The issue has become a flash point in global climate negotiations. In the landmark 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, countries agreed to recognize and “address” the loss and damage caused by those dangerous climate impacts. Last year, at the major U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiators from developing countries hoped that negotiators would finally create a formal institution to funnel cash to the countries most affected by climate disasters.

But the United States, despite being the largest historical emitter of carbon dioxide, has blocked such efforts at every turn. In Glasgow, the Biden administration joined a group of countries in resisting efforts to establish payments to developing countries that have been hit hard by climate change.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mississippi’s Capital Loses Water as Troubled System Faces Fresh Crisis, Rick Rojas, Aug. 30, 2022. In Jackson, residents have long contended with boil-water notices and service disruptions. But officials say the system has been pushed to the brink.

The drinking water system in Mississippi’s capital was nearing collapse on Tuesday, severing access to safe running water for more than 150,000 people as officials scrambled to confront what they described as the “massively complicated task” of distributing bottled water and devising a plan to restore service.

The water system in Jackson, the state’s largest city, has been in crisis for years, crippled by aging and inadequate infrastructure and the lack of resources to bolster it. Residents have long contended with disruptions in service and frequent boil-water notices, including one that had already been in effect for more than a month because of cloudiness found in water samples.

The situation worsened this week as officials said that the city’s largest water treatment plant was failing. Homes and businesses were left with little to no water pressure. And officials warned that whatever did flow from faucets was not safe to consume, as it was probably untreated water that was coming straight from the city’s reservoir.

tate reeves“Until it is fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale,” Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, right, said during an emergency briefing on Monday evening. “It means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.”

And, he added, it was unclear how long it would take to bring that back.

Days of torrential rain have raised the threat of flooding in Jackson and engorged the Pearl River, which snakes through Jackson, and the Ross R. Barnett Reservoir, a 33,000-acre lake northeast of the city. Though the rising water failed to reach the high levels that had been feared, city officials said it rose high enough to affect water treatment operations.

“The water shortage is likely to last the next couple of days,” city officials said in a statement on Monday.

However, state officials offered a more dire outlook, saying the city’s water system appeared to be barreling toward a breaking point even before the floods. “It was a near certainty that Jackson would begin to fail to produce running water sometime in the next several weeks or months if something didn’t materially improve,” Mr. Reeves, a Republican, said on Monday.

Public schools in Jackson switched to virtual learning, and the lack of water disrupted the operations of many businesses.

Yet the situation is exasperatingly familiar for many in Jackson, as the reliability of the city’s water system has been undermined by repeated failures in recent years. In 2021 the system was hobbled for weeks after a powerful winter storm bombarded Mississippi with snow and ice, causing pipes and water mains to burst.

The water system is, in many ways, emblematic of the broader struggles facing Jackson, which is the seat of power for the state government yet has been drained over decades of resources. The city’s tax base shrunk as white residents fled for surrounding suburbs, taking much of their wealth and tax revenue with them. In the wake of that, Jackson, which is now about 82 percent Black, has grappled with chronic issues with crime and faulty infrastructure, and elected officials say the Republican-controlled state Legislature has failed to invest in the city.

 

nasa logo

washington post logoWashington Post, NASA scrubs Artemis I launch as engine problem defies fast fix, Christian Davenport, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The new launch date could be as soon as Friday, but there has been no official decision announced.

NASA’s Space Launch System, which the space agency hopes will take American astronauts back to the moon, has been in development for more than a decade. Today was to be the first time NASA attempted to launch the multibillion-dollar rocket, the most powerful NASA has ever built.

But the effort encountered a series of problems, beginning with a thunderstorm that delayed the start of fueling and ending with an inability to lower the temperature of one of the rockets four R25 engines. That led to a decision to postpone the launch to a future date. That date could be as soon as Friday, but there has been no official decision announced.

The development of the SLS has been controversial. Several inspector general reports have dinged the project for being over budget and criticized NASA for paying performance bonuses to the prime contractor, Boeing, even though the project is years behind schedule.

The controversial history of NASA’s Space Launch System

But despite those setbacks, Congress has continued to fund the program, which has cost $23 billion and counting — far more expensive than the rockets now being used by commercial space companies such as SpaceX. Critics often refer to the SLS as the “Senate Launch System.”

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

lindsey graham npr

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Lindsey Graham’s prediction of riots reads more like a threat, Editorial Board, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, above, on Sunday said that if the Justice Department prosecutes former president Donald Trump for mishandling classified information, there will be “riots in the street.” A few minutes later, he said it again. There is no excuse for this irresponsible rhetoric, which not only invites violence but also defies democratic norms.

The comments the South Carolina Republican made on Fox News’s “Sunday Night in America” imply that there is no plausible case against Mr. Trump based on his taking sensitive White House documents to store, unsecured, at Mar-a-Lago. This has been a continuing suggestion from the right wing, usually paired with a comparison to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Yet already, differences between these cases are apparent, and more still could emerge: from the number of documents improperly kept, to the intentions behind keeping them, to the harm that holding this material could have done to national security. The possibility of obstructive behavior mentioned in the FBI affidavit unsealed last week can’t be discounted.

Because pursuing the investigation remains worthwhile, Mr. Graham’s comments are especially dangerous. His spokesman defended the interview to The Post as “predicting/forecasting what he thinks will happen.” But some predictions are also threats. And in this case, giving a forecast on national television might make it more likely that this vision of the future comes to pass. Mr. Trump promptly shared the clip on his platform Truth Social, which he has peppered with myriad ravings about the search of his property of late. Meanwhile, menacing messages from angry supporters are inundating the National Archives, and one man attempted to attack an FBI facility. The Jan. 6 insurrection showed the country how readily some voters will interpret a leader’s words as a call to arms — and then action.

Mr. Graham, a former prosecutor who has chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, should understand how his comments could heighten the risk of unrest. He should know that the Justice Department does, too. By talking about the possibility of violence without condemning it, Mr. Trump’s sympathizers play a game of intimidation: daring Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring a case and face the consequences.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump again summons the mob, Ruth Marcus, right, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Richard M. Nixon famously deployed the ruth marcusmadman theory of foreign policy, directing aides to suggest to his counterparts overseas that they might not be able to control a volatile and reckless president.

Now, Donald Trump and his defenders are using a version of that gambit to deter the Justice Department from prosecuting the former president, arguing that going after Trump would dangerously incite his already angry followers.

Trump had his lawyer deliver this sinister message to Attorney General Merrick Garland — wrapped in a purported effort to calm the waters. “President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood, it is ‘angry,’ ” a Trump lawyer told a senior Justice Department official three days after the search at Mar-a-Lago. “The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know.”

Then, on Sunday, Trump acolyte Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) didn’t bother with the disingenuous niceties. He went straight to the threat.

Let’s address that supposed “double standard” between Trump and Hillary Clinton: There isn’t one. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state was, as I said at the time, sloppy and exasperating. She shouldn’t have used her private email address for official business, and she should have been more careful about classified information being on it. This is, as then-FBI Director James B. Comey concluded, a far cry from an indictable offense.

How does Trump’s conduct fit into this rubric? With so much of the evidence under seal, we can’t tell for sure. But we know, based on the redacted affidavit, that there appear to be significant differences between the Clinton and Trump situations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If Republicans take the House, they’re going to impeach Joe Biden, Paul Waldman, right, Aug. 30, 2022. Republicans are paul waldmanalready planning investigations to embarrass the president if they win control of the House, though they have yet to decide whether to impanel a permanent select committee on Hunter Biden or merely spread a dozen Hunter Biden investigations among existing committees.

For a moment there, you weren’t sure if I was joking, were you? The truth is that there will indeed be Hunter Biden investigations if the GOP takes over, since what to do about the president’s pitiable son is clearly the most pressing challenge America faces; only the permanent select committee idea is fanciful.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who would lead the Oversight and Reform Committee in a GOP House, says Hunter Biden would be one of its top targets. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Fox News personality with a side gig as a member of Congress, will be spearheading the effort.

But Hunter probes — along with desk-pounding hearings on other alleged Biden administration misdeeds designed to generate sound bites to be replayed nightly on Fox — will not satisfy the constituency of a GOP majority. Which is why pressure will immediately begin building to impeach President Biden.

For what, you ask? For whatever. It doesn’t matter; what matters is the cycle Republicans will be locked into, in which they both create and respond to the base’s demand for more combativeness, more scandal and, ultimately, a way to strike a fatal blow at the president they loathe.

The loopier House Republicans are already preparing to impeach Biden, as The Hill reports. No fewer than eight impeachment resolutions have been introduced in this Congress by the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). With control of the House, that desire will likely build and expand, to the point where the party leadership could find it impossible to resist.

Politico, Analysis: When an election denier becomes a chief election official, Zach Montellaro, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Trump-aligned secretary of state hopefuls are campaigning against ballot counting machines and could complicate mail voting, among other changes.

politico CustomMany of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.

The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.

Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.

But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.

djt maga hatThe Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.

And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.

That could include things from targeting the use of ballot tabulation machines, which have become the subject of conspiracy theories on the right, to changing forms used for voter registration or absentee ballot requests in ways that make them more difficult to use.

Election officials “are the people who protect our freedom to vote all the way through the process,” said Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States republican elephant logoUnited Action, a bipartisan group that has opposed these candidates. “But all the way through, there are opportunities for mischief, opportunities for election deniers to add barriers to the ballot box, to curtail the freedom to vote.”

Four Republicans on the ballot in major battlegrounds this fall have banded together in what they call the America First Secretary of State Coalition: secretary of state nominees Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Jim Marchant in Nevada, along with Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, who would appoint the state’s chief election official if he wins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to deliver prime-time address Thursday on ‘the continued battle for the soul of the nation,’ Mariana Alfaro and Tyler Pager, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The speech, one of Biden’s few in prime time, reaffirms his rhetorical shift to a greater stress on the threat to democratic values.

joe biden twitterPresident Biden will deliver a prime-time address Thursday on the fight for democracy in America and “the continued battle for the soul of the nation,” a White House official said Monday, an address that is likely to confirm his growing rhetorical emphasis on the anti-democratic forces he sees as capturing much of the Republican Party.

Speaking at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, the president is expected to highlight his administration’s achievements and argue that the country’s democratic values will be at stake during the midterm elections.

“He will talk about the progress we have made as a nation to protect our democracy, but how our rights and freedoms are still under attack,” the official said. “He will make clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms, and fighting for our democracy.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the content of the speech.

Democrats see the once unthinkable: A narrow path to keeping the House

Biden in recent days has adopted a message for the midterm elections that includes fiery denunciations of what he calls the authoritarian strains in the Republican Party, notably during a speech last Thursday saying many in the GOP had turned toward “semi-fascism.” He added that the “MAGA Republicans,” as he called them, “embrace political violence. They don’t believe in America.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Made the Decision to Clear Trump, and That Should Still Frighten Us, Neal K. Katyal, right, Aug. 30, 2022. The neal katyal omemo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document.

Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.

But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.

It raises particular concerns because, as a young Justice Department staff member, I drafted the special counsel regulations in 1999 to prevent the exact problem of having partisan political appointees undermine an investigation. The regulations were put in place to ensure that the counsel would make any determination to charge or not and to force the attorney general to overrule those determinations specifically and before Congress.

The 2019 memo tendentiously argued that Mr. Trump committed no crimes — leaving the final decision on the matter to Republican-aligned appointees instead of to the independent special counsel.

The challenge in devising the regulations was to develop a framework for the prosecution of high-level executive branch officials — which is harder than it sounds, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions. So we are left with one of the oldest philosophical problems: Who will guard the guardians?

The solution we landed on was to have a special counsel take over the investigative and prosecutorial functions. That counsel was vested with day-to-day independence in an investigation, but the attorney general would still be able to overrule the special counsel — but, crucially, if the attorney general overruled, to report to Congress, to ensure accountability.

The regulations were written with an untrustworthy president in mind, more so than the problem that Mr. Barr presented, which is an untrustworthy attorney general. Unlike presidents, attorneys general are confirmed by the Senate, with a 60-vote threshold — so we assumed they would be reasonably nonpartisan. And we also knew there was no way around the attorney general being the ultimate decider, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions.

We created the role of special counsel to fill a void — to concentrate in one person responsibility and ultimate blame so that investigations would not be covered up from the get-go and to give that person independence from political pressure.

It is outrageous that Mr. Barr acted so brazenly in the face of this framework. The point of requiring a special counsel was to provide for an independent determination of any potential criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

But the political appointees in his Justice Department took what was the most important part of that inquiry — the decision of whether he committed crimes — and grabbed it for themselves. This was a fundamental betrayal of the special counsel guidelines not for some principle but because it protected their boss, Mr. Trump. It is the precise problem that the regulations were designed to avoid and why the regulations give the counsel “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.”

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

 

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Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-28, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Politico, Judge rejects bid by Gov. Kemp and Trump attorney Chesebro to quash subpoenas, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve.

The judge overseeing the Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election has rejected an effort by Gov. Brian Kemp to block a subpoena for his testimony.

politico CustomHowever, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve, agreeing to delay his testimony until after the Nov. 8 vote, when Kemp is up for reelection and facing a challenge from Stacey Abrams.

“The Governor is in the midst of a re-election campaign and this criminal grand jury investigation should not be used by the District Attorney, the Governor’s opponent, or the Governor himself to influence the outcome of that election,” McBurney wrote in his six-page order.

In a separate opinion, McBurney also rejected an effort by a Trump-allied attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, to similarly block a subpoena for his testimony. Chesebro had claimed that his potential testimony would be entirely barred by attorney-client privilege, as well as New York state’s rules around attorney confidentiality. However, McBurney noted that, as with many other witnesses, there are plenty of topics that would not be subject to privilege claims.

Among them: “Mr. Chesebro’s background and experience, his knowledge of both Georgia and federal election law, his communications with Republican Party officials in Georgia following the 2020 general election, his interactions with the individuals in Georgia seeking to prepare slate of ‘alternate’ electors weeks after the final vote count showed former President Trump losing by over 10,000 votes in Georgia, etc.”

“Because these are legitimate, relevant, non-protected areas of investigation for the special purpose grand jury, quashal is improper,” McBurney wrote in a three-page order.

The rulings are victories for District Attorney Fani Willis, though the delayed testimony for Kemp is a setback for her investigation’s overall timetable. The DA has argued for the urgency of Kemp’s testimony sooner than November.

Kemp’s office and an attorney for Chesebro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kemp was a target of Trump’s fury during the closing weeks of his presidency, as Trump railed against his decision, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to certify Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Both beat back challenges from Trump-backed candidates in the state’s May Republican primary elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Naming of special master could complicate Mar-a-Lago documents case, David Nakamura and Amy B Wang, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). If a federal judge appoints a special master to review materials taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, it could complicate matters in the federal government case.

A federal judge’s indication that she is prepared to appoint a special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago by federal agents could present new complications and unresolved legal questions in the federal government’s high-stakes quest to wrest control of the documents from former president Donald Trump.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s two-page order issued on Saturday appeared unusual in that the judge has not yet heard arguments from the Justice Department, said former federal prosecutors and legal analysts on Sunday.

Cannon, right, 41, whom Trump appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Florida in 2020, has also given federal officials until Tuesday to provide the court with a more detailed list of items the FBI had removed from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8.

She asked the government to give a status report of its own review of the materials and set a Thursday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla. That location is about an hour away from the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically hears cases.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

Politico, ‘There’s enormous frustration’: Trump forces Republicans off-script… again, Meridith McGraw, Andrew Desiderio, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney,Aug. 30, 2022. Having once decried the search of Mar-a-Lago, defenders of the ex-president are now warning of civil unrest if the investigation leads to prosecution.

The investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified national security records is forcing Republicans into a strained defense during a pre-midterm sprint in which they’d much rather be talking about Joe Biden.

politico CustomAfter having decried the FBI’s search of the ex-president’s home, many Trump defenders went silent upon the release on Friday of the probable-cause affidavit that revealed the extent of Trump’s efforts to hold onto the top-secret documents. GOP worries about the developments of the case and Trump announcing a 2024 run before November are giving way to a subtle, broader warning about putting the former president too much on the ballot this fall.

“Republicans should focus on defeating Democrats, and every Democrat should have the word Biden in front of their name,” said Trump ally and former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. “The Republican focus should be to win the election in November. Trump will do a fine job defending himself. He’ll be fine.”

Some top Republicans acknowledge the growing angst and concern, as it’s become clearer that Trump may have been warehousing some of America’s most sensitive secrets in an unsecured basement — and even refused to turn them over when the National Archives and Justice Department tried to recover them. One top Republican fundraiser asked to describe the mood among donors, said, “There is enormous frustration.”

“The question is, is there willingness to express that frustration,” the fundraiser added. “I don’t know the answer to that. But there is real frustration, and with the exception of people who are too stupid to understand the need to be frustrated, it is nearly universal.”

 

joe biden student debt ed secretary

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens as President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Student Debt Relief Isn’t Elitist, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 30, 2022. Let’s talk about the numbers. The Biden paul krugmanadministration says that its plan will provide relief to as many as 43 million Americans. That’s a lot of people, not a small, cosseted elite. In particular, data from the New York Fed say that more than 12 million Americans in their 30s — more than a quarter of that age group — still have unpaid student debt.

What this means is that even if you subscribe to the Trump diner theory of politics — according to which the only voters who matter are blue-collar guys wearing baseball caps — you should be aware that some of those guys probably took out loans to attend trade schools or community colleges, all too often getting nothing but debt in return. Even among those who didn’t take out student loans, many probably have children, siblings, cousins or friends who did. So the Biden plan will touch many people.

In short, student debt relief isn’t some kind of niche elite concern; it’s a broad, one might even say populist, issue. Initial polling on the Biden plan is somewhat mixed, with an Emerson College survey showing much stronger support than a CBS/YouGov survey. Even the latter survey, however, finds a majority of Americans approving of the plan; it even finds much less opposition among noncollege whites than you might have expected given that group’s general disapproval of all things Biden.

The other prong of the right-wing response involves invoking personal responsibility — in effect, portraying the recipients of debt relief as welfare queens. Republican efforts on that front have, however, been extraordinarily tone-deaf.

Just on general political principles, telling tens of millions of Americans that they’re lazy and irresponsible — that they’re all, as Ted Cruz put it, like a “slacker barista” who wasted years “studying completely useless things” — seems … not smart. To be brutally honest, that sort of caricature may have worked for Republicans when the insults were directed at urban Black people. But it’s likely to backfire when we’re talking about a broad spectrum of Americans who were just trying to move up in the world.

Furthermore, many of the most prominent critics of debt relief are almost comically out of touch, hypocritical, or both. Actually, scratch the “almost.”

For example, Marco Rubio has proudly declared that he paid off all his student debt — after being elected to the Senate and getting a book contract. Why can’t everyone do that?

On the hypocrisy front, the White House is having a field day mocking Republican members of Congress whose businesses received debt forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program. It’s true that debt relief for employers who maintained their work forces in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic was built into that program; it’s also true that later research suggests that only about a quarter of P.P.P. funds supported jobs that would otherwise have disappeared. The rest was, in effect, a giveaway to business owners.

stephen moore twitterMore generally, it’s hard to take lectures on personal responsibility seriously when they come from a movement full of people — from Donald Trump, famous for stiffing his contractors, on down — who have long refused to pay money they owe. It’s hard to beat the spectacle of Stephen Moore, right, who Donald Trump tried to appoint to the Federal Reserve, calling people who don’t pay their debts “deadbeats”; after all, Moore’s nomination failed in part because it turned out that he had refused to pay his ex-wife $300,000 in child support and alimony.

Recent Headlines

ny times logoNew York Times, A Surprisingly Competitive Senate Race Emerges in Colorado, Carl Hulse, Aug. 30, 2022. Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Joe O’Dea, a novice Republican emphasizing more moderate positions in a break with his party.

It was a bit tense for a groundbreaking ceremony.

michael bennetAgainst the striking backdrop of the enveloping Rocky Mountains, Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat seeking a third full term, symbolically shoveled dirt to start a $30 million Colorado River restoration project for which he had helped secure nearly half the funding.

Watching from a respectable distance was Joe O’Dea, a Republican political novice who is trying to come out of nowhere to upset Mr. Bennet — and whose Denver construction company is coincidentally the lead contractor on the job. Their confluence on a recent Tuesday at the Windy Gap Reservoir in the heart of rugged Grand County had the crowd of environmentalists, government officials, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts buzzing.

Mr. Bennet (shown at right in a file photo) eschewed a hard hat, aware of the risk of being photographed in ill-fitting headwear during a political campaign, à la Michael Dukakis. Mr. O’Dea donned a well-worn round-brimmed version and an orange construction vest. The two did not interact, but each had something to say about the other.

Mr. Bennet noted his rival’s usual distaste for government spending, which the Republican has blamed for inflation.

“I hear he hates federal spending, except for the $14 million that built this thing,” said the incumbent, who was a surprise appointee to a Senate vacancy in 2009 before winning election for the first time in a difficult environment the next year.

Mr. O’Dea, standing near the heavy equipment his workers will employ to return a stretch of the imperiled river to its natural flow, was not impressed by the praise heaped upon Mr. Bennet by the assembled backers of the project.

“That’s what politicians do,” Mr. O’Dea said, making clear that he did not consider himself part of that cohort. “I’m into building things, and we will do our job here.”

Colorado was not expected to be part of the Senate battleground landscape this year. While not yet in the solid blue column, the state has been trending Democratic, and Mr. Bennet seemed a good bet for another term as Republicans invested their resources in what they saw as riper opportunities elsewhere.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon accounts have found a home, and Donald Trump’s support, on Truth Social, Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.

Dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts decamped to Truth Social this year after they were banned by other social networks and have found support from the platform’s creator, former President Donald J. Trump, according to a report released on Monday.

FBI logoNewsGuard, a media watchdog that analyzes the credibility of news outlets, found 88 users promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social, each to more than 10,000 followers. Of those accounts, 32 were previously banned by Twitter.

Twitter barred Mr. Trump over fears that he might incite violence after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He started Truth Social as an alternative in February 2022. He has amplified content from 30 of the QAnon accounts to his more than 3.9 million Truth Social followers, reposting their messages 65 times since he became active on the platform in April, according to the report.

djt golf shirt bloated“He’s not simply President Trump the political leader here — he’s the proprietor of a platform,” said Steven Brill, co-chief executive of NewsGuard and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer. “That would be the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg reposting content from supporters of QAnon.”

Millions of QAnon followers believe that an imaginary cabal of sex-trafficking, Satan-worshiping liberals is controlling the government and that Mr. Trump is leading the fight against it. Fantastical QAnon ideas have taken root in mainstream Republican politics, although some supporters have struggled at the polls.

The movement has been viewed by law enforcement as a potential domestic terror threat and was linked to the Capitol riot. Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch have cracked down on QAnon content.

“The other platforms have taken some steps to deal with QAnon and other similar types of misinformation, but here, it’s pretty clear that they’re not,” Mr. Brill said of Truth Social.

Truth Social did not respond to questions about NewsGuard’s findings. Instead, in a statement sent through a representative, the social media platform said that it had “reopened the internet and given the American people their voice back.”

Politico, Same-sex marriage puts Ron Johnson in a bind, Marianne LeVine and Holly Otterbein, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The conservative Wisconsin senator — the chamber’s most vulnerable incumbent this fall — could soon face a very tough vote.

politico CustomThe most endangered Senate Republican incumbent — who’s trailing his reelection foe in one of the most closely divided states in the country — could face a tough vote just weeks out from Election Day on whether to enshrine same-sex marriage into law.

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moves closer to a vote that would put Sen. Ron Johnson on defense in the home stretch of the midterms, the Wisconsin conservative is suddenly under the microscope on a social issue that he’s rarely focused on during his decade-plus in office. But it’s far from clear whether he’ll take that baby step to the center ahead of a November contest against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who’s opened a slight lead in public polls.

Johnson surprised many fellow senators last month when he said he saw “no reason” to oppose what he described as unnecessary House-passed legislation designed to protect same-sex marriage, which could come to the floor as soon as next month. Then, when pressed later, he hedged on whether he’d vote yes or merely present. And he’s now pushing, alongside other Senate Republicans, for the bill to be amended before declaring his support.

 

Former President Donald Trump is seen speaking during the America First Agenda Summit at the Marriott Marquis hotel on July 26 in Washington, D.C. Trump has publicly called for a Former President Donald Trump is seen speaking during the America First Agenda Summit at the Marriott Marquis hotel on July 26 in Washington, D.C. Trump has publicly called for a “new Election” due to what he says was the FBI not properly investigating the content of Hunter Biden’s laptop and reporting on it prior to the 2020 election (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images).

Newsweek, Trump Calls for a ‘New Election’ That Could Reinstate Him as President, Nick Mordowanec, Aug. 29, 2022. Former President Donald Trump says he is using new “conclusive” information regarding President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the FBI’s alleged burying of an investigation into his laptop to challenge the 2020 election and call for a new, impromptu election entirely.

newsweek logo“So now it comes out, conclusively, that the FBI BURIED THE HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP STORY BEFORE THE ELECTION knowing that, if they didn’t, ‘Trump would have easily won the 2020 Presidential Election,'” the former president said Monday in a Truth Social post. “This is massive FRAUD & ELECTION INTERFERENCE at a level never seen before in our Country. REMEDY: Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”

On Thursday, Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Joe Rogan on his podcast that the FBI warned Facebook prior to the 2020 election not to spread alleged Russian disinformation in association with a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. It led to a “meaningful” decrease in the story appearing on users’ news feeds within the final week of the election campaign, according to Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg’s comments aren’t completely new but shed more light into what he testified on October 28, 2020, before the Senate Commerce Committee. Zuckerberg testified that the FBI instructed Facebook to be “on high alert and sensitivity…if a trove of documents appeared, that we should view that with suspicion, that it might be part of a foreign manipulation attempt.”

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has made new allegations about Hunter Biden, saying the “FBI cannot be trusted with the handling of Hunter Biden’s laptop” due to new whistleblower information he allegedly received.

Information from an alleged whistleblower claimed that FBI officials would not look at the contents of the laptop while inside a Wilmington, Delaware, computer store, Johnson wrote in an August 24 letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Johnson also alleged that FBI officials on the scene admitted they were “not going to change the outcome of the election again,” in reference to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her well-publicized emails prior to the 2016 election.

Johnson originally asked Zuckerberg about the laptop at the aforementioned Senate hearing, asking the CEO whether the FBI made contact about the Hunter Biden story. Zuckerberg said the FBI did not mention “that story specifically” and said Facebook “didn’t censor the content.”

“We flagged it for fact-checkers to review, and pending that review, we temporarily constrained its distribution to make sure that it didn’t spread wildly while it was being reviewed,” Zuckerberg said. “But it’s not up to us either to determine whether it’s Russian interference, nor whether it’s true. We rely on the FBI intelligence and fact-checkers to do that.”

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has joined Johnson in calls for federal transparency, with a joint letter from the two requesting a transcribed interview with agency officials.

“FBI officials initiated a scheme to downplay derogatory information on Hunter Biden for the purpose of shutting down investigative activity relating to his potential criminal exposure by labeling it ‘disinformation,'” their letter reads.
Read more

Dave Arnold, spokesperson for Meta, referred Newsweek to a series of tweets responding to the criticism of Zuckerberg—which stated in part that Facebook “lifted the demotion” of the story after seven days when it wasn’t rated false by independent fact-checkers.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Penn Station Plan Makes a High-Stakes Bet on the Future of Office Work, Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan, Photographs by Andres Kudacki, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Despite New York City’s near record-high office vacancies, Gov. Kathy Hochul has backed a massive real estate project at the transit hub.

kathy hochul 2017In a bid to reshape Midtown Manhattan, Gov. Kathy Hochul, right, and New York State officials are pushing ahead with one of the largest real estate development projects in American history: 10 towers of mostly offices around Penn Station, the busiest transit center in the country.

The buildings would help pay for the renovation of the dreary underground station, the reason officials have said they are seeking the additions to the skyline. But the plan is moving forward amid severe uncertainty gripping the office market: Many companies are trying to reduce their real estate footprint as workers continue to clock in from home.

Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Ukraine Steps Up Strikes Against Russia in the South, Marc Santora, Aug. 30, 2022. Kyiv is seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines and isolate its forces, part of what analysts said could be the beginnings of a broad counteroffensive.

The Ukrainian military continued to pound targets across southern Ukraine on Tuesday as it sought to disrupt Russian supply lines, degrade Russia’s combat capabilities and isolate Russian forces, part of what analysts said could be the beginnings of a broad and coordinated counteroffensive.

The military said that its forces had broken through Russia’s first line of defense in multiple points along the front in the occupied Kherson region, but officials offered little detail and their claims could not be independently verified.

Western military analysts emphasized that Russian forces have had months to reinforce multiple lines of defense across the south, making any Ukrainian advance likely to be tough and bloody.

It remained unclear whether the strikes marked the start of a long-anticipated counteroffensive or were simply an intensification of weeks of Ukrainian counterattacks. The British military intelligence agency said on Tuesday that Ukrainian brigades had “increased the weight of artillery fires in frontline sectors across southern Ukraine” but noted that it was “not yet possible to confirm the extent of Ukrainian advances.”

The southern front stretches across a vast landscape of farms, fields and grassland, and includes territory that Moscow’s forces seized in the initial phase of their invasion in February. Ukraine has staged sporadic counterattacks in the region for months — including using long-range weapons supplied by Western allies to strike behind Russian lines — and Russia has been racing to reinforce its positions.

By early August, military analysts estimated that Russia had as many as 25,000 soldiers west of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, forming three defensive lines. Those forces now seem to be the most vulnerable, as Ukraine appears able to strike all of the major river crossings that Russia needs to supply those troops.

Overnight and into Tuesday morning, witnesses reported explosions at multiple river crossings, including around the Antonivsky Bridge, the main crossing into the city of Kherson, the only regional capital under Russian occupation.

The bridge has come under sustained fire and was already badly damaged. Independent satellite imagery captured over the weekend showed the Russians attempting to build a pontoon ferry to resupply its forces on the western bank of the river.

Here’s what we know:

  • Kyiv is seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines and isolate its forces, in what military analysts say could be the start of a broad counteroffensive.
  • Ukraine claims to have broken through Russian defenses at multiple points in the Kherson region.
  • Nuclear inspectors are in Ukraine for a high-stakes visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant.
  • The Vatican, for the first time, calls Russia the aggressor in the war.
  • The E.U. is locked in a contentious debate over visa restrictions for Russians.
  • The first shipment of Iranian military drones arrives in Russia.
  • Dispatching U.N. nuclear inspectors to a war zone brings benefits and risks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Updates: Ukraine Announces Military Push in South; U.N. to Inspect Nuclear Site, Andrew E. Kramer and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Ukrainian military said it had launched offensive operations along the front lines. United Nations experts are headed to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant this week.

The Ukrainian military announced on Monday that it had launched offensive operations in multiple areas along the front line in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, perhaps signaling the start of a broad and long anticipated counteroffensive aimed at retaking territory seized by Russia.

Fighting along a swath of the front line escalated sharply on Monday, according to Ukrainian military and civilian officials, and the Ukrainian government said that its military had “breached the occupiers’ first line of defense near Kherson.”

The Ukrainian military also claimed on Monday to have struck a large Russian military base behind Russian lines in the Kherson region, destroying it. It was not immediately possible to verify the claims.

Across the Kherson region — whose capital was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after President Vladimir V. Putin invaded Ukraine in February — electrical networks blinked out amid the fighting on Monday, and Russian media reported evacuations from towns in the area.

A United States defense official lent support to the idea that Ukraine was escalating its offensive in the south, saying: “The announced offensive shows the Ukrainians’ appetite for progress on the battlefield.” The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters, added that the Pentagon remained cautious about whether Ukraine’s current military capabilities were sufficient to make significant gains.

It remained unclear if this was the start of the southern counteroffensive that Ukraine has telegraphed for months, or a continuation of strikes in the south that Ukraine has been carrying out for the last several weeks.

Junior Sgt. Dmytro Pysanka, a Ukrainian soldier stationed on the Kherson front, said “our offensive is ongoing.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next and how, but so far all goes according to the plan,” he said in a text message.

A local Russian proxy leader in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, told the Russian state news agency Tass on Monday that reports of a possible Ukrainian offensive were “fake.”

The reports of intensifying fighting came as the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that a team of nuclear experts would visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which lies to the north of Kherson.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Ukraine announces offensive operations across the south.
  • U.N. experts head to the Zaporizhzhia facility on a risky mission after weeks of talks.
  • Russia and Ukraine welcome the U.N. nuclear experts, but still accuse each other of courting catastrophe.
  • Residents in the shadow of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant flee as strikes persist.
  • Ukraine says it has recovered the bodies of about 300 fighters killed in the siege of Mariupol’s steel plant.

washington post logoWashington Post, Full Russian tourist ban in E.U. topic of fierce debate, Emily Rauhala and Beatriz Ríos, Aug. 30, 2022. With fighting raging in eastern Ukraine and Europe bracing for a war-induced recession, should Russians be allowed to enjoy the end of summer in southern France? Shop for luxury goods in Italy? Visit family in Finland?

Those questions will be part of a debate this week among European Union foreign ministers gathering for an informal meeting in Prague. And while E.U. countries were united in banning Russian flights from their airspace and placing more than 1,200 individuals on their sanctions list, a blanket ban on Russian tourists is proving far more divisive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pushing for one. “Let them live in their own world until they change their philosophy,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post this month. “This is the only way to influence Putin.”

Calls grow to ban E.U. visas for Russians, but not all Ukrainians agree

He has support from E.U. countries that share a border with Russia — the Baltics and Finland — as well as from Poland and the Czech Republic.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine says it has recovered the bodies of about 300 fighters killed in the siege of Mariupol’s steel plant, Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Months after one of the war’s most intense battles, Ukraine is still negotiating for the return of fallen soldiers who died in the 80-day siege of the southern city of Mariupol.

Oleg Kotenko, who oversees policies in the Ukrainian government for soldiers missing in action, said in a statement on Saturday that the bodies of 428 soldiers killed in Mariupol have been returned through negotiations via the Red Cross. Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security confirmed their return on Sunday.

About 300 of those died in the area of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, where civilians holed up in bomb shelters and badly outgunned defenders held off a Russian onslaught for weeks. The siege ended in mid-May with the surrender of about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who had run low on food and ammunition while cut off from supply lines.

Though it ended in defeat, the fierce defense of the city tied down thousands of Russian troops, giving Ukraine’s army time to muster troops and organize defenses elsewhere. The Azovstal fighters have been lionized by the Ukrainian government, with some commanders’ faces appearing on billboards.

Mr. Kotenko’s remarks came as the Ukrainian government has faced pressure from its citizens to do more to secure the safety of soldiers being held by Russia. Many Ukrainians have questioned the decision to surrender at Azovstal, believing the fighters would not be treated in accordance with international law.

Dozens of captured Azovstal fighters died last month in an explosion at a Russian prison camp that the Ukrainian government blamed on Russia. The Russian military said Ukraine attacked the camp with precision weapons, a claim Ukraine has called absurd.

The first exchange of war dead between Ukraine and Russia took place in June. Mr. Kotenko said a total of 541 bodies had been returned through Red Cross talks. He did not clarify why the talks had stretched for months but said, “negotiations with the aggressor are difficult.”

Ukraine has also repatriated the bodies of soldiers who died in fighting in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine in locations later overrun by Russian forces, he said.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Law, Military, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Aspiring Proud Boy Who Stormed Capitol Gets 55 Months in Prison, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Aug. 30, 2022. During the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Joshua Pruitt, a bartender, personal trainer and aspiring Proud Boys member from Silver Spring, Md., wore a tactical glove and an ankle monitor from a recent offense and climbed a makeshift ladder into the building, according to prosecutors, “seeking to overturn the election.”

joshua pruitt dc policeMr. Pruitt, shown in the forefront at right, now 40, was the ideal Proud Boys recruit, they said: He advertised his desire to participate in the violence; took part in standoffs between the mob and the police and at one point, came face to face with Senator Chuck Schumer’s group after they fled the Senate chamber. According to court documents and widely shared video footage, the senator was ushered quickly in the opposite direction by his security team.

“One look at Pruitt, and the leader of Senator Schumer’s security detail immediately saw the threat,” Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, wrote in the government’s sentencing memorandum.

“This Proud Boys initiate was a one-man symbol of the angry mob at the Capitol that day,” he added. Mr. Graves’s office prosecuted the case together with counterterrorism officials at the Department of Justice.

On Monday, a federal judge sentenced Mr. Pruitt to 55 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release on a felony charge stemming from his actions during the breach. He also must pay $2,000 in restitution.

“There was nothing patriotic about what happened that day, far from it,” Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said Monday in court, NBC News reported. He added, “It was a national disgrace.”

Mr. Pruitt’s lawyer, Robert L. Jenkins Jr., said by phone on Monday that he and his client were disappointed with the outcome.

“He did not possess any weapons; did not assault any law enforcement officers and did not get in any physical altercations with anyone else on that day,” Mr. Jenkins said, adding that his client had received the longest sentence of anyone who had pleaded guilty and was not convicted of assaulting any law enforcement officers.

“He acknowledged that what he did on Jan. 6 was wrong, but in comparison,” Mr. Jenkins added, “his sentence is particularly harsh.”

According to prosecutors, at about 12:30 p.m. on the day of the attack, Mr. Pruitt, who at that time was in the process of joining the Proud Boys, marched toward the Capitol together with the far-right group, wearing a cutoff T-shirt with the logo of the Punisher, an antihero known for enacting violent vigilante justice.

By about 2:10 p.m., he was on a restricted area of the Capitol’s Northwest Lawn, where he saw rioters push through a line of law enforcement officers and go up the stairs to the Upper West Terrace. Mr. Pruitt followed them using a “makeshift ladder,” prosecutors said.

At about 2:14 p.m., he leaped over a railing and then entered the Capitol through the Senate Wing Door. Mr. Pruitt threw a wooden sign, and he was one of the first rioters to enter the Crypt. He then moved to the Capitol Visitor Center, they said, where he “picked up a chair and tossed it.”

It was at this time that Mr. Schumer and his security detail, who had evacuated from the Senate Chamber, were walking up a ramp toward the elevators in the northern part of the visitor center, according to prosecutors. A member of the security detail, they said, saw Pruitt approaching and “reversed course, running away from the elevator and back down the ramp.”

At about 2:52 p.m., Mr. Pruitt climbed out of the building through a window. He was arrested that night for violating a curfew in effect in the city. He was later indicted on several charges, including civil disorder, destruction of government property and acts of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

Mr. Pruitt pleaded guilty in June to a charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. Mr. Jenkins, his lawyer, said that other charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

In an email, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer said the senator “expresses his deepest appreciation for the heroic work of the Capitol Police on Jan. 6 and every day to keep the Capitol and all who work there safe.”

In the government’s sentencing memorandum, prosecutors had argued that Mr. Pruitt should receive a 60-month sentence.

They said that even while wearing an electronic ankle monitor, Mr. Pruitt — who had just days earlier been released on probation after being charged with violating a temporary protective order obtained by a former girlfriend — had advertised his desire to participate in the violent attack.

After his arrest, they added, “the defiant Pruitt doubled down, spreading false information about the riot, claiming he had done nothing wrong and had no regrets.” In a series of social media videos, prosecutors said, Mr. Pruitt “continued to espouse violence and threaten others.”

Mr. Jenkins said that his client had no plans to appeal the decision because he “just wants to move on with his life.” While his client regretted his behavior during the attack, he added, he still believed the claims of election fraud. Those claims have been shown to be baseless.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Death in Navy SEAL Training Exposes Culture of Brutality, Cheating and Drugs, Dave Philipps (For this article, Dave Philipps interviewed, among others, 17 active-duty Navy personnel, including senior leaders, active-duty SEALs and current and former trainees and instructors), Aug. 30, 2022.  Hell Week, the elite force’s selection course, is so punishing that at least 11 men have died since 1953, drawing accusations of neglect and recklessness. One recent death has compounded criticism and shed light on allegations of widespread cheating and the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The course began with 210 men. By the middle of Hell Week, 189 had quit or been brought down by injury. But Seaman Mullen kept on slogging for days, spitting blood all the while. The instructors and medics conducting the course, perhaps out of admiration for his grit, did not stop him.

And he made it. When he struggled out of the cold ocean at the end of Hell Week, SEAL leaders shook his hand, gave him a pizza and told him to get some rest. Then he went back to his barracks and lay down on the floor. A few hours later, his heart stopped beating and he died.

Kyle Mullen when he joined the Navy after being captain of the Yale football team.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden administration urges Supreme Court not to take citizenship case, Robert Barnes, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Advocates disagree, saying the case from American Samoa would give justices a chance to overturn precedents with racist and imperialist rhetoric.

The Biden administration told the Supreme Court Monday that it should not take up a case about citizenship rights for American Samoa even though advocates say it would give justices a chance to upend a series of century-old precedents that have been roundly denounced as racist.

Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar told the Supreme Court in a brief filed Monday that an appeals court had been right to find that Congress should make citizenship decisions about those born in territories, and the case in question, Fitisemanu v. U.S., would make a poor vehicle for reexamining a series of rulings called the Insular Cases.

Last term, justices at both ends of the court’s ideological spectrum — Neil M. Gorsuch on the right and Sonia Sotomayor on the left — criticized the rulings, which employed racist language and imperialist sentiment to find residents of some U.S. territories are not entitled to full constitutional protection, such as birthright citizenship.

“The Insular Cases have no foundation in the Constitution and rest instead on racial stereotypes,” Gorsuch wrote last April in a concurring opinion. He added that “the time has come to recognize that the Insular Cases rest on a rotten foundation. And I hope the day comes soon when the Court squarely overrules them.”

Supreme Court says Puerto Ricans can be excluded from aid program

Gorsuch seemed to have in mind Fitisemanu, a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that upheld a federal law that those born in American Samoa are U.S. nationals but not U.S. citizens. It came in a challenge from three people born in the archipelago but now living in Utah.

Advocates were disappointed that Prelogar asked the high court not to take the case. “It is shocking that the Biden-Harris Administration and the Solicitor General continue to breathe life into the Insular Cases, which were grounded in a vision of white supremacy that has no place in our society, much less briefs filed by the U.S. Justice Department,” said Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, which advocates for equal rights in U.S. territories.

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

muqtada al sadr

ny times logoNew York Times, Iraqi Shiite Cleric Tells Supporters to Go Home After Clashes Kill 24, Jane Arraf, Aug. 30, 2022. Muqtada al-Sadr, shown above in a file photo, called for protesters to leave Baghdad’s Green Zone, after two days of violence that left many fearing a new phase of political chaos.

The influential Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr tried on Tuesday to defuse an eruption of violence in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, calling on his followers to stand down after at least 24 people were killed in two days of clashes with security forces.

The violence, after three years of relative stability in Baghdad, began on Monday shortly after Mr. Sadr declared on Twitter that he was quitting politics for good. His supporters went out to protest and stormed the heavily protected Green Zone in Baghdad, home to Iraqi government offices, the United Nations and diplomatic missions including the U.S. Embassy.

After coming under fire from government security forces, who included members of Iran-backed militias, fighters loyal to Mr. Sadr armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades emerged to take on the security forces.

Although political turmoil and street protests are common in Iraq, this round of violence laid bare the risk of an even more dangerous and unstable phase, fueled by political paralysis, the breaching of state institutions and divisions among the country’s Shiite majority.

Some in Iraq have feared the country could descend into another cycle of violence after two decades of frequent warfare. Following the U.S. invasion in 2003, a sectarian civil war between Shiite Muslim and Sunni Muslim factions broke out. Then there was a yearslong battle to drive out Islamic State after the terrorist group took over large parts of the country.

In recent years, rivalries among Shiites have become the main driver of Iraqi political instability. Iran-backed Shiite militias formed in 2014 to fight the Sunni Islamic State group have become a permanent part of Iraqi government security forces, with some more answerable to Shiite Iran than the Iraqi government.

Mr. Sadr, in contrast, is seen as an Iraqi nationalist and a thorn in the side of Iran and its continuing influence in neighboring Iraq.

Elections last year in October were seen as a fresh start for the country — a response to massive protests against a corrupt and dysfunctional government. Instead they led to the current political deadlock.

Mr. Sadr, appearing at a news conference on Tuesday in Najaf, a southern city holy to Shiite Muslims worldwide, called on his supporters to withdraw immediately from the Green Zone, where the fighting over the past two days has been focused. He said he was sorry about what had happened.

“Regardless of who started the sedition yesterday,” he said, referring to the violent clashes, “I say that my head is down and I apologize to the Iraqi people.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel sentences Gaza aid worker convicted of funding Hamas to 12 years, Shira Rubin and Hazem Balousha, Aug. 30, 2022. An Israeli court sentenced a former Gaza aid chief from a major international organization to 12 years in prison on Tuesday after convicting him of siphoning millions of agency dollars to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the enclave.

Independent audits and investigations carried out in recent years found no evidence of wrongdoing, said World Vision International, which employed Mohammed al-Halabi as the head of its Gaza operation from 2014 until his arrest in 2016.

The Beersheba district court in southern Israel ruled in June that Halabi was guilty of funneling $50 million and tons of steel to Hamas, which the United States and European Union classify as a terrorist organization.

Israel says Gaza World Vision director diverted millions to Hamas’s military wing

Kevin Jenkins, president of World Vision International, said in a statement on the organization’s website that it was difficult to “reconcile” the allegations because the organization’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past 10 years was only around $22.5 million.

In June 2016, Israeli security forces arrested Halabi at the Erez Crossing Point between Gaza and Israel, and he was indicted in August of that year. He has been in prison for the past six years while awaiting a resolution to the legal proceedings.

“The arrest, six-year trial, unjust verdict and this sentence are emblematic of actions that hinder humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank,” World Vision said Tuesday in a statement on its website. “It adds to the chilling impact on World Vision and other aid or development groups working to assist Palestinians.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Xi Jinping’s Vision for Tech Self-Reliance in China Runs Into Reality, Li Yuan, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). After heavy national investment in semiconductors to break a dependence on global chips, China’s leader seems unhappy with the results, our columnist writes. Wearing a laboratory coat, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, inspected a subsidiary of Yangtze Memory Technologies Company, a national semiconductor company based in Wuhan. It was April 2018, shortly after the U.S. government had barred the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with American suppliers.

China FlagThe ban was a Sputnik moment for China’s tech industry and its leaders. Despite the country’s success in building smartphones, e-commerce platforms and high-speed railways, they realized that tech boom had been built largely on top of Western technologies, especially chips that power nearly everything. They had to change that — and fast.

Mr. Xi told the executives of Yangtze Memory, or YMTC, that semiconductors were as important for manufacturing as hearts for humans. “When your heart isn’t strong, no matter how big you are, you’re not really strong,” state media reported him saying. He urged them to hurry and make tech breakthroughs to contribute to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Recent Headlines

 

Media, Culture, Education, Sports News

ap logoAssociated Press, Arizona judge slaps down Finchem, Gosar over defamation suit, Jonathan J. Cooper, Aug. 30, 2022. An Arizona judge has ordered three Republicans, including secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, to pay $75,000 in attorney fees for filing a defamation suit against a former Democratic lawmaker “primarily for purposes of harassment.”

arizona mapThe Republicans filed the lawsuit last year against former Democratic state Rep. Charlene Fernandez after she called for an investigation of their roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The judge dismissed the lawsuit in April, saying Fernandez’s request was protected by the First Amendment’s rights to free speech and to petition the government.

djt maga hatThe lawsuit was “groundless and not made in good faith,” Yuma County Judge Pro Tem Levi Gunderson ruled on Monday, adding that it appeared to have been “written for an audience other than the assigned trial court judge.”

Gunderson said legal filings by the Republicans made irrelevant references to open borders and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The lawsuit “was brought for an improper purpose, having been filed against a political opponent primarily for purposes of harassment,” he added.

Fernandez and 41 other Democratic lawmakers signed a letter on Jan. 12, 2021, urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Finchem, Gosar, then-state Rep. Anthony Kern and U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, all Republicans from Arizona. Finchem and Kern were outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while Gosar and Biggs are under scrutiny for their roles in supporting protests leading up to the counting of electoral votes that day. All have denied wrongdoing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: BYU dallied. The Bills waffled. Then public shame forced them to act, Candace Buckner, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Buffalo Bills and those in charge of BYU athletics did the right thing — only when people outside of their little bubbles started watching.

The adults in Brigham Young University’s athletic department believe in doing the right thing — when everyone’s watching them.

They will post a strongly worded statement against the racist taunts that were directed at Black volleyball players on the visiting Duke women’s team Friday night. They will apologize, reiterate their values and declare they hold a “zero tolerance” policy against the very same ugly behavior they had spent the previous night tolerating.

Their athletic director will then take the floor before BYU volleyball’s next home game, with a microphone in his right hand and small piece of blue paper in his left. He will peek at his notes before reminding the fans in attendance for a second time that he’s the athletic director and, therefore, accountability falls on him.

Then, he’ll point his finger at the crowd, strike the role of a fatherly figure and sternly warn the fans not to cross the line. The video, posted on the team’s Twitter account for all to see, ends there.

Similarly, the Buffalo Bills will place their culture over football — when everyone’s looking.

BYU bans fan, relocates volleyball match after racist slurs, threats

Their general manager will confirm this while addressing reporters following the release of Matt Araiza, the rookie punter who was allowed to compete for and win a roster spot in the weeks after the team learned he had been accused of raping a 17-year-old girl.

The GM, too, will need to glance down at a sheet of paper before remembering to express sympathy for “this whole situation.” Then, without the benefit of prepared notes, his words will trickle out in a low and serious tone as he proclaims what’s important.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Acting AOTUS Appoints 2022–2024 FOIA Advisory Committee Members, Staff Report, Aug. 30, 2022. Acting Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall announced the appointment of 20 individuals to the National Archives and Records Administration’s 2022–2024 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee. The individuals named will serve a two-year term and begin meeting in September 2022.

nara logoThe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) established the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee (Committee) in accordance with the United States Second Open Government National Action Plan, released on December 5, 2013. The Committee operates under the directive in FOIA, 5 U.S.C. §552(h)(2)(C), that the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) within NARA “identify procedures and methods for improving compliance” with FOIA. The Committee is governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App.

NARA initially chartered the Committee on May 20, 2014. The Archivist of the United States renewed the Committee’s charter for a fifth term on April 28, 2022, and certified that renewing the Committee is in the public interest. OGIS provides administrative support along with chairing the Committee in accordance with the charter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Megachurch pastor steps down after messages with woman ‘crossed a line,’ Julian Mark, Aug. 30, 2022. Matt Chandler, the lead pastor at the Village Church in Flower Mound, Tex., appeared to fight back tears as he told his congregation on Sunday that he was taking a leave of absence — a move prompted by what his church’s leaders saw as inappropriate messages between him and a woman who is not his wife.

The leaders determined that the messages were not “romantic or sexual,” Chandler explained. “It was that our conversations were unguarded and unwise.”

Chandler and church officials went into scant detail about the nature of the messages. He said both his wife and the husband of the woman he was messaging knew about their communications. But church leaders thought the messaging was too frequent, familiar and resulted in “coarse and foolish joking,” Chandler said.

The pastor said the messages were called into question “several months ago” when a friend of the woman approached him and voiced her concerns. Chandler, 48, said he brought the concerns to fellow church leaders, who reviewed the messages and recommended he step aside.

Chandler’s abrupt departure is the latest setback for the Village Church, about 30 minutes northwest of Dallas, and the Southern Baptist Convention denomination — the country’s second-largest faith group, of which the Village Church is a member. Earlier this month, the SBC revealed that the Justice Department was investigating several branches of its organization. The probe followed the release of an internal report that found SBC leaders mishandled sexual abuse cases for two decades.

Also this month, the Village Church announced that it had settled a lawsuit alleging that one of its ministers molested an 11-year-old and the church was negligent in handling the situation. The criminal case against the minister was dismissed. The church maintained that it “committed no wrong.”

While the church was vague about the details of Chandler’s misconduct, officials made it clear that its lead pastor was not accused of sexual abuse.

His departure is nonetheless a blow to the church where he’s preached for two decades and become a central, admired figure. The church’s attendance is around 4,500 people, the New York Times reported.

Chandler will also pause his speaking engagements on behalf of Acts 29, an organization dedicated to starting new churches. Chandler serves as Acts 29’s board president and chairman.

In a statement, the church said that Chandler’s “leave of absence is both disciplinary and developmental” and his return will be determined by the “expectations the elders have laid out for his development.”

In front of the congregation on Sunday, Chandler explained that several months ago, a woman approached him in the church’s foyer with concerns about “how I was [direct messaging] on Instagram with a friend of hers.”

He did not think he had done anything wrong, as his spouse and the woman’s spouse were aware of their chats, he said. “Yet there were a couple of things that [the woman’s friend] said that were disorienting to me,” Chandler said without detailing the friend’s comments.

So Chandler brought the issue to a pair of church leaders, who, after looking at the Instagram conversations, determined the communications were too frequent and familiar, Chandler said.

In a statement, the church said that it hired a law firm to review the direct messages, along with Chandler’s entire social media history, including text messages and emails. The lawyers concluded that the pastor had violated the church’s social media policy. They also determined that he failed to meet the church-pastor standard of being “above reproach.” The leaders found that Chandler’s behavior was “a sign of unhealth in his life.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy, #MeToo, Trafficking

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The great Republican abortion backtrack has begun, Paul Waldman, right, Aug. 29, 2022. Do you want to know paul waldmanhow frightened Republicans are by the sweeping turn abortion politics has taken since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in late June? Just look at what their candidates in swing states and districts are doing.

It amounts to a collective assertion that, well, maybe they didn’t really mean what they said.

A number of Republicans in tough races seem to have hit upon the same strategy to put them on the right side of public opinion.

Here are the new rules: First, stop saying you’re “100 percent pro-life.” That might be what Republican primary voters once wanted to hear, but now it’s radioactive.

Next, make the absurd and unsupportable claim that nothing has really changed when it comes to abortion. Instead, say that the realization of a decades-long Republican goal is less a legal revolution than an opportunity for some heartfelt, respectful conversation.

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U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Killed in Shooting at Oregon Shopping Center, Police Say, Eduardo Medina and Tim Neville, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The gunman, who fired multiple times inside a grocery store, was also found dead. Another person was wounded.

Two people were shot and killed and a third was wounded at a shopping center in Bend, Ore., on Sunday, prompting law enforcement agencies to flood the area and enter a grocery store, where officers found the gunman dead from a gunshot wound, the authorities said.

Officers were still investigating a motive, and they did not release names of the victims or the gunman. Lisa Goodman, a spokeswoman for Saint Charles hospital in Bend, said one injured person had been admitted there and that the individual’s condition was “good.”

The shooting began at about 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time in the parking lot of the Forum Shopping Center in Bend, about 160 miles southeast of Portland. The authorities said one witness told them that there may have been a second shooter, but Chief Mike Krantz of the Bend Police Department said during a news conference on Sunday night that officers had “not found any evidence of a second shooter or additional gunfire in the area.”

The gunman began shooting in the parking lot and then entered a Safeway grocery store, where he shot and killed one person near the front door, Sheila Miller, a spokeswoman for the Bend Police Department, said by phone on Sunday.

He continued walking through the store, firing multiple rounds, the police said. The gunman then fatally shot another person inside the store, Ms. Miller said.

When police officers entered the store, they found the gunman dead, as well as an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun near him, Chief Krantz said. Police officers did not fire at the gunman, he said.

The shooting came a little more than three months after a gunman armed with an assault-style weapon killed 10 people and wounded three others in an attack at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

The shooting also underscored how the grocery store has become another place where frightening gun violence can occur. Last September, a gunman killed one person and injured 14 at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, Tenn. Earlier that year, in March, 10 people were killed in an attack a supermarket in Boulder, Colo

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Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Beijing’s stance on covid now makes it a global outlier, Keith B. Richburg, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its covid guidelines, dropping recommendations for quarantining, social distancing and regular daily school testing. Thailand has downgraded the coronavirus to the same category as the flu.

The European Union has ended its emergency phase of the pandemic, and restaurants and bars are packed again. Australia and New Zealand have fully opened to tourists.

The pandemic might not be over, but most of the world is moving on. Yet there is one conspicuous exception: China.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Other countries are shifting to living with the virus, but China’s Communist rulers are sticking to their strict anti-epidemic policy known as “dynamic zero covid.” That means trying to stamp out every identifiable covid outbreak, no matter how small.

In practice, this policy has meant unannounced snap lockdowns of entire cities, keeping millions of people pinned in their homes. It has also stranded thousands of Chinese holidaymakers in local tourist spots, such as Tibet, Xinjiang and the tropical island of Hainan.

Chinese have to line up for multiple rounds of covid tests at designated facilities. In Beijing, more than 20 million people must get an officially sanctioned PCR test every three days to be able to enter almost any premises. Test results are displayed on mobile phone apps.

China has been largely cut off from the outside world for more than two years, with many international flights banned or suspended since the start of the pandemic. Flights to Beijing only resumed this summer. Visas for foreigners remain restricted to work or family visits, and foreign students are only now being allowed back after a two-year hiatus.

Incoming travelers must navigate a myriad of preflight testing requirements and then have to endure forced quarantine at designated hotels — only recently cut to seven days, down from as long as 28 days in some cities. But restrictions still vary widely.

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Aug. 29

Top Headlines

 

Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

 

U.S.  Governance, Economy

 

U.S. Educational, Loan Issues

 

Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

U.S. Law, Security, Immigration, Crime

 

More On Ukraine War

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 
U.S. Media, Culture, Sports

 

U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

Top Stories

Politico, Analysis: When an election denier becomes a chief election official, Zach Montellaro, Aug. 29, 2022. Trump-aligned secretary of state hopefuls are campaigning against ballot counting machines and could complicate mail voting, among other changes.

politico CustomMany of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.

The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.

Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.

But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.

djt maga hatThe Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.

And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.

That could include things from targeting the use of ballot tabulation machines, which have become the subject of conspiracy theories on the right, to changing forms used for voter registration or absentee ballot requests in ways that make them more difficult to use.

Election officials “are the people who protect our freedom to vote all the way through the process,” said Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States republican elephant logoUnited Action, a bipartisan group that has opposed these candidates. “But all the way through, there are opportunities for mischief, opportunities for election deniers to add barriers to the ballot box, to curtail the freedom to vote.”

Four Republicans on the ballot in major battlegrounds this fall have banded together in what they call the America First Secretary of State Coalition: secretary of state nominees Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Jim Marchant in Nevada, along with Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, who would appoint the state’s chief election official if he wins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lindsey Graham’s vile ‘riots’ threat gives away Trump’s game, Greg Sargent, right, Aug. 29, 2022. “If there’s a prosecution greg sargentof Donald Trump for mishandling classified information,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham on Fox News, there will be “riots in the streets.”

The South Carolina Republican’s quote has been relentlessly skewered as a blatant threat of retaliatory political violence ever since he offered it Sunday night. And it is that: Everyone knows the old mob-speak trick of cloaking threats in the guise of faux-innocent “predictions.”

But there’s a more pernicious danger here that shouldn’t escape notice. Underlying Graham’s threat is another attack on the rule of law, one that more Trump propagandists will resort to when their man’s legal perils deepen. It’s an effort to discredit the idea that the law can be applied to the former president at all.

Trump endorsed Graham’s threat by posting video of it on Truth Social. And Trump himself had already unleashed a volley of deranged hints that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago compound is the stuff of banana republics and FBI leadership is riddled with corruption.

All this comes after release of the redacted affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant has deepened our understanding of Trump’s potential crimes and strengthened the case that the search was premised on reasonable law enforcement grounds.

Some Republicans have quietly shifted from objecting to the search to questioning the search’s timing. That’s silly: The timing reflects evidence amassed by federal agents that Trump still had highly sensitive documents as late as June. But this shows how hard defending Trump has become.

Not for Graham, apparently.

“Most Republicans, including me, believe that when it comes to Trump, there is no law,” Graham seethed in that Fox appearance. “It’s all about getting him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Finally, a Sunday anchor puts his foot down on Espionagegate, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 29, 2022. Finally, a Sunday anchor jennifer rubin new headshotputs his foot down on Espionagegate.

Given my fervent criticism of mainstream media interviewers for going soft on Republicans carrying water for defeated former president Donald Trump, who is under investigation for possible violation of the Espionage Act, it’s only fair to point out appropriately tough, take-no-prisoners performances.

On Sunday, that came from George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’s “This Week” in an interview with retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). His upcoming retirement is noteworthy since he should have zero reason to fear Trump’s wrath or prostrate himself in front of the MAGA crowd. And yet he did.

Here’s the exchange:

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Document Inquiry Poses Unparalleled Test for Justice Dept., Katie Benner, Aug. 29, 2022. What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging and complicated criminal investigations in recent memory.

As Justice Department officials haggled for months this year with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers and aides over the return of government documents at his Florida home, federal prosecutors became convinced that they were not being told the whole truth.

That conclusion helped set in motion a decision that would amount to an unparalleled test of the Justice Department’s credibility in a deeply polarized political environment: to seek a search warrant to enter Mar-a-Lago and retrieve what prosecutors suspected would be highly classified materials, beyond the hundreds of pages that Mr. Trump had already returned.

By the government’s account, that gamble paid off, with F.B.I. agents carting off boxloads of sensitive material during the search three weeks ago, including some documents with top secret markings.

merrick garlandBut the matter hardly ended there: What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging, complicated and potentially explosive criminal investigations in recent memory, with tremendous implications for the Justice Department, Mr. Trump and public faith in government.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, right, now faces the prospect of having to decide whether to file criminal charges against a former president and likely 2024 Republican candidate, a step without any historical parallel.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis’s “Mongoose Gang” of intimidators and cronies, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 29, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallFlorida is currently the closest thing to a fascist police state within the borders of the United States.

wayne madesen report logoThat is primarily due to its Republican authoritarian governor, military “stolen valor” practitioner Ron DeSantis, below left, acting like a tinpot caudillo or dictator, the type that frequently plagued the Caribbean and Latin America over the decades. DeSantis has continually abused his authority as governor. This includes his throwing elected Democrats out of office, in one case at gunpoint, and replacing them with far-right Republican cronies.

ron desantis oOne of DeSantis’s victims was the successful elected Democratic State’s Attorney for Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Warren described his ordeal in DeSantis’s banana republic of Florida: “An armed sheriff’s deputy and a governor’s aide showed up on Thursday morning at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, where I was serving as the elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County. They handed me an executive order signed by DeSantis that immediately suspended me from office. Before I could read it, they escorted me out.”

Warren, who is suing DeSantis in federal court for his actions, continued in his op-ed: “This is a blatant abuse of power. I don’t work for DeSantis. I was elected by voters — twice — and I have spent my entire career locking up violent criminals and fraudsters. Without any misdoing on my part or any advance notice, I was forced out of my office, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a DeSantis ally. If this can happen to me, what can DeSantis do to other Floridians?”

Warren’s question would soon be answered. DeSantis did not hesitate to fire other Democratic officials in the state. A few weeks after DeSantis suspended Warren, he struck again by suspending four elected members of the Broward County school board — all registered Democrats — from their non-partisan seats.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Ukraine Announces Military Push in South; U.N. to Inspect Nuclear Site, Andrew E. Kramer and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Aug. 29, 2022. The Ukrainian military said it had launched offensive operations along the front lines. United Nations experts are headed to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant this week.

The Ukrainian military announced on Monday that it had launched offensive operations in multiple areas along the front line in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, perhaps signaling the start of a broad and long anticipated counteroffensive aimed at retaking territory seized by Russia.

Fighting along a swath of the front line escalated sharply on Monday, according to Ukrainian military and civilian officials, and the Ukrainian government said that its military had “breached the occupiers’ first line of defense near Kherson.”

The Ukrainian military also claimed on Monday to have struck a large Russian military base behind Russian lines in the Kherson region, destroying it. It was not immediately possible to verify the claims.

Across the Kherson region — whose capital was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after President Vladimir V. Putin invaded Ukraine in February — electrical networks blinked out amid the fighting on Monday, and Russian media reported evacuations from towns in the area.

A United States defense official lent support to the idea that Ukraine was escalating its offensive in the south, saying: “The announced offensive shows the Ukrainians’ appetite for progress on the battlefield.” The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters, added that the Pentagon remained cautious about whether Ukraine’s current military capabilities were sufficient to make significant gains.

It remained unclear if this was the start of the southern counteroffensive that Ukraine has telegraphed for months, or a continuation of strikes in the south that Ukraine has been carrying out for the last several weeks.

Junior Sgt. Dmytro Pysanka, a Ukrainian soldier stationed on the Kherson front, said “our offensive is ongoing.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next and how, but so far all goes according to the plan,” he said in a text message.

A local Russian proxy leader in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, told the Russian state news agency Tass on Monday that reports of a possible Ukrainian offensive were “fake.”

The reports of intensifying fighting came as the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that a team of nuclear experts would visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which lies to the north of Kherson.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Ukraine announces offensive operations across the south.
  • U.N. experts head to the Zaporizhzhia facility on a risky mission after weeks of talks.
  • Russia and Ukraine welcome the U.N. nuclear experts, but still accuse each other of courting catastrophe.
  • Residents in the shadow of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant flee as strikes persist.
  • Ukraine says it has recovered the bodies of about 300 fighters killed in the siege of Mariupol’s steel plant.

 

Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds, Chris Mooney, Aug. 29, 2022. New research suggests the massive ice sheet is already set to lose more than 3 percent of its mass, even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today

Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a new study published Monday.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

The findings in Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.

The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions. While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggested much of it can play out between now and the year 2100.

“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surface with his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.

“Every study has bigger numbers than the last. It’s always faster than forecast,” Colgan said.

One reason that new research appears worse than other findings may just be that it is simpler. It tries to calculate how much ice Greenland must lose as it recalibrates to a warmer climate. In contrast, sophisticated computer simulations of how the ice sheet will behave under future scenarios for global emissions have produced less alarming predictions.

A one-foot rise in global sea levels would have severe consequences. If the sea level along the U.S. coasts rose by an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found, the most destructive floods would take place five times as often, and moderate floods would become 10 times as frequent.

‘They are not slowing down’: The rise of billion-dollar disasters

Other countries — low-lying island nations and developing ones, like Bangladesh — are even more vulnerable. These nations, which have done little to fuel the higher temperatures that are now thawing the Greenland ice sheet, lack the billions of dollars it will take to adapt to rising seas.

 

nasa logo

washington post logoWashington Post, NASA scrubs Artemis I launch as engine problem defies fast fix, Christian Davenport, Aug. 29, 2022. The new launch date could be as soon as Friday, but there has been no official decision announced.

NASA’s Space Launch System, which the space agency hopes will take American astronauts back to the moon, has been in development for more than a decade. Today was to be the first time NASA attempted to launch the multibillion-dollar rocket, the most powerful NASA has ever built.

But the effort encountered a series of problems, beginning with a thunderstorm that delayed the start of fueling and ending with an inability to lower the temperature of one of the rockets four R25 engines. That led to a decision to postpone the launch to a future date. That date could be as soon as Friday, but there has been no official decision announced.

The development of the SLS has been controversial. Several inspector general reports have dinged the project for being over budget and criticized NASA for paying performance bonuses to the prime contractor, Boeing, even though the project is years behind schedule.

The controversial history of NASA’s Space Launch System

But despite those setbacks, Congress has continued to fund the program, which has cost $23 billion and counting — far more expensive than the rockets now being used by commercial space companies such as SpaceX. Critics often refer to the SLS as the “Senate Launch System.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Cloud Wars: Mideast Rivalries Rise Along a New Front, Alissa J. Rubin, Photographs by Bryan Denton, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). As the region gets hotter and drier, the United Arab Emirates is leading the effort to coax more rain from the sky, and other nations are rushing to keep up. Iranian officials have worried for years that other nations have been depriving them of one of their vital water sources. But it was not an upstream dam that they were worrying about, or an aquifer being bled dry.

In 2018, amid a searing drought and rising temperatures, some senior officials concluded that someone was stealing their water from the clouds.

“Both Israel and another country are working to make Iranian clouds not rain,” said Brig. Gen. Gholan Reza Jalali, a senior official in the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps in a 2018 speech.

The unnamed country was the United Arab Emirates, which had begun an ambitious cloud-seeding program, injecting chemicals into clouds to try to force precipitation. Iran’s suspicions are not surprising, given its tense relations with most Persian Gulf nations, but the real purpose of these efforts is not to steal water, but simply to make it rain on parched lands.

As the Middle East and North Africa dry up, countries in the region have embarked on a race to develop the chemicals and techniques that they hope will enable them to squeeze rain drops out of clouds that would otherwise float fruitlessly overhead.

With 12 of the 19 regional countries averaging less than 10 inches of rainfall a year, a decline of 20 percent over the past 30 years, their governments are desperate for any increment of fresh water, and cloud seeding is seen by many as a quick way to tackle the problem.

And as wealthy countries like the emirates pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort, other nations are joining the race, trying to ensure that they do not miss out on their fair share of rainfall before others drain the heavens dry — despite serious questions about whether the technique generates enough rainfall to be worth the effort and expense.

Morocco and Ethiopia have cloud-seeding programs, as does Iran. Saudi Arabia just started a large-scale program, and a half-dozen other Middle Eastern and North African countries are considering it.

China has the most ambitious program worldwide, with the aim of either stimulating rain or halting hail across half the country. It is trying to force clouds to rain over the Yangtze River, which is running dry in some spots.

While cloud seeding has been around for 75 years, experts say the science has yet to be proven. And they are especially dismissive of worries about one country draining clouds dry at the expense of others downwind.

The life span of a cloud, in particular the type of cumulus clouds most likely to produce rain, is rarely more than a couple of hours, atmospheric scientists say. Occasionally, clouds can last longer, but rarely long enough to reach another country, even in the Persian Gulf, where seven countries are jammed close together.

 

A man looks for salvageable belongings from his flood-hit home surrounded by water, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. Army troops are being deployed in Pakistan's flood affected area for urgent rescue and relief work as flash floods triggered after heavy monsoon rains across most part of the country lashed many districts in all four provinces. (AP Photo/Zahid Hussain)

A man looks for salvageable belongings from his flood-hit home surrounded by water, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. Army troops are being deployed in Pakistan’s flood affected area for urgent rescue and relief work as flash floods triggered after heavy monsoon rains across most part of the country lashed many districts in all four provinces (AP Photo by Zahid Hussain).

 ap logoAssociated Press, Pakistan flooding deaths pass 1,000 in ‘climate catastrophe,’ Zarar Khan, Aug. 28, 2022. Deaths from widespread flooding in Pakistan topped 1,000 since mid-June, officials said Sunday, as the country’s climate minister called the deadly monsoon season “a serious climate catastrophe.”

Flash flooding from the heavy rains has washed away villages and crops as soldiers and rescue workers evacuated stranded residents to the safety of relief camps and provided food to thousands of displaced Pakistanis.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority reported the death toll since the monsoon season began earlier than normal this year — in mid- June — reached 1,033 people after new fatalities were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southern Sindh provinces.

Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani senator and the country’s top climate official, said in a video posted on Twitter that Pakistan is experiencing a “serious climate catastrophe, one of the hardest in the decade.”

“We are at the moment at the ground zero of the front line of extreme weather events, in an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, flood events and now the monster monsoon of the decade is wreaking non-stop havoc throughout the country,” she said. The on-camera statement was retweeted by the country’s ambassador to the European Union.

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U.S. Elections, Politics

 

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon accounts have found a home, and Donald Trump’s support, on Truth Social, Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 29, 2022. Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.

Dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts decamped to Truth Social this year after they were banned by other social networks and have found support from the platform’s creator, former President Donald J. Trump, according to a report released on Monday.

FBI logoNewsGuard, a media watchdog that analyzes the credibility of news outlets, found 88 users promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social, each to more than 10,000 followers. Of those accounts, 32 were previously banned by Twitter.

Twitter barred Mr. Trump over fears that he might incite violence after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He started Truth Social as an alternative in February 2022. He has amplified content from 30 of the QAnon accounts to his more than 3.9 million Truth Social followers, reposting their messages 65 times since he became active on the platform in April, according to the report.

djt golf shirt bloated“He’s not simply President Trump the political leader here — he’s the proprietor of a platform,” said Steven Brill, co-chief executive of NewsGuard and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer. “That would be the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg reposting content from supporters of QAnon.”

Millions of QAnon followers believe that an imaginary cabal of sex-trafficking, Satan-worshiping liberals is controlling the government and that Mr. Trump is leading the fight against it. Fantastical QAnon ideas have taken root in mainstream Republican politics, although some supporters have struggled at the polls.

The movement has been viewed by law enforcement as a potential domestic terror threat and was linked to the Capitol riot. Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch have cracked down on QAnon content.

“The other platforms have taken some steps to deal with QAnon and other similar types of misinformation, but here, it’s pretty clear that they’re not,” Mr. Brill said of Truth Social.

Truth Social did not respond to questions about NewsGuard’s findings. Instead, in a statement sent through a representative, the social media platform said that it had “reopened the internet and given the American people their voice back.”

Politico, Same-sex marriage puts Ron Johnson in a bind, Marianne LeVine and Holly Otterbein, Aug. 29, 2022. The conservative Wisconsin senator — the chamber’s most vulnerable incumbent this fall — could soon face a very tough vote.

politico CustomThe most endangered Senate Republican incumbent — who’s trailing his reelection foe in one of the most closely divided states in the country — could face a tough vote just weeks out from Election Day on whether to enshrine same-sex marriage into law.

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moves closer to a vote that would put Sen. Ron Johnson on defense in the home stretch of the midterms, the Wisconsin conservative is suddenly under the microscope on a social issue that he’s rarely focused on during his decade-plus in office. But it’s far from clear whether he’ll take that baby step to the center ahead of a November contest against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who’s opened a slight lead in public polls.

Johnson surprised many fellow senators last month when he said he saw “no reason” to oppose what he described as unnecessary House-passed legislation designed to protect same-sex marriage, which could come to the floor as soon as next month. Then, when pressed later, he hedged on whether he’d vote yes or merely present. And he’s now pushing, alongside other Senate Republicans, for the bill to be amended before declaring his support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Once unthinkable, Democrats now see narrow path to keeping the House, Annie Linskey and Michael Scherer, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). While Democrats acknowledge they still face major hurdles, there has been an unmistakable mood shift, according to interviews with candidates, strategists and officials.

Democrats are voicing growing confidence about limiting losses in the House and potentially even salvaging their majority in the midterm elections, with candidates and allied groups making moves to capitalize on a backlash to abortion restrictions, signs of improvements in the economy and opposition to Donald Trump.

After months of gloomy predictions, Democrats are investing anew in flipping Republican seats. They are also directing more money to protect a roster of their own endangered incumbents — a list party officials said noticeably shrank since the spring. And they are trying to frame contests around abortion rights, putting Republicans on the defensive for strict opposition to the procedure in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

ny times logoNew York Times, Beto O’Rourke Sidelined With Bacterial Infection Amid Texas Run, Vimal Patel, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The Democrat, who is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, said that although his symptoms had improved, he would be resting at home on doctors’ orders.

Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who is running to unseat Greg Abbott in the tightening race for Texas governor, said on Sunday that he would be sidelined from campaigning because of a bacterial infection.

Mr. O’Rourke, 49, said on Twitter that he had gone to Methodist Hospital, in San Antonio, after feeling ill on Friday.

“While my symptoms have improved, I will be resting at home in El Paso in accordance with the doctors’ recommendations,” he said. “I am sorry to have had to postpone events because of this, but promise to be back on the road with you as soon as I am able.”

Newsweek, Trump Calls for a ‘New Election’ That Could Reinstate Him as President, Nick Mordowanec

 

Former President Donald Trump is seen speaking during the America First Agenda Summit at the Marriott Marquis hotel on July 26 in Washington, D.C. Trump has publicly called for a Former President Donald Trump is seen speaking during the America First Agenda Summit at the Marriott Marquis hotel on July 26 in Washington, D.C. Trump has publicly called for a “new Election” due to what he says was the FBI not properly investigating the content of Hunter Biden’s laptop and reporting on it prior to the 2020 election (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images).

Newsweek, Trump Calls for a ‘New Election’ That Could Reinstate Him as President, Nick Mordowanec, Aug. 29, 2022. Former President Donald Trump says he is using new “conclusive” information regarding President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the FBI’s alleged burying of an investigation into his laptop to challenge the 2020 election and call for a new, impromptu election entirely.

“So now it comes out, conclusively, that the FBI BURIED THE HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP STORY BEFORE THE ELECTION knowing that, if they didn’t, ‘Trump would have easily won the 2020 Presidential Election,'” the former president said Monday in a Truth Social post. “This is massive FRAUD & ELECTION INTERFERENCE at a level never seen before in our Country. REMEDY: Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”

On Thursday, Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Joe Rogan on his podcast that the FBI warned Facebook prior to the 2020 election not to spread alleged Russian disinformation in association with a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. It led to a “meaningful” decrease in the story appearing on users’ news feeds within the final week of the election campaign, according to Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg’s comments aren’t completely new but shed more light into what he testified on October 28, 2020, before the Senate Commerce Committee. Zuckerberg testified that the FBI instructed Facebook to be “on high alert and sensitivity…if a trove of documents appeared, that we should view that with suspicion, that it might be part of a foreign manipulation attempt.”

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has made new allegations about Hunter Biden, saying the “FBI cannot be trusted with the handling of Hunter Biden’s laptop” due to new whistleblower information he allegedly received.

Information from an alleged whistleblower claimed that FBI officials would not look at the contents of the laptop while inside a Wilmington, Delaware, computer store, Johnson wrote in an August 24 letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Johnson also alleged that FBI officials on the scene admitted they were “not going to change the outcome of the election again,” in reference to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her well-publicized emails prior to the 2016 election.

Johnson originally asked Zuckerberg about the laptop at the aforementioned Senate hearing, asking the CEO whether the FBI made contact about the Hunter Biden story. Zuckerberg said the FBI did not mention “that story specifically” and said Facebook “didn’t censor the content.”

“We flagged it for fact-checkers to review, and pending that review, we temporarily constrained its distribution to make sure that it didn’t spread wildly while it was being reviewed,” Zuckerberg said. “But it’s not up to us either to determine whether it’s Russian interference, nor whether it’s true. We rely on the FBI intelligence and fact-checkers to do that.”

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has joined Johnson in calls for federal transparency, with a joint letter from the two requesting a transcribed interview with agency officials.

“FBI officials initiated a scheme to downplay derogatory information on Hunter Biden for the purpose of shutting down investigative activity relating to his potential criminal exposure by labeling it ‘disinformation,'” their letter reads.
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Dave Arnold, spokesperson for Meta, referred Newsweek to a series of tweets responding to the criticism of Zuckerberg—which stated in part that Facebook “lifted the demotion” of the story after seven days when it wasn’t rated false by independent fact-checkers.

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

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Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-28, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Justice Matters Podcast, Commentary: Trump-appointed-judge Aileen Cannon grants Trump’s demand for special master BEFORE DOJ weighs in, Glenn Kirschner, Aug. 28, 2022. There are some fundamental principles and universal rules by which America courts operate. One of those fundamental principles is that a judge does not rule on an issue until hearing from both parties involved in the litigation.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump’s legal team is scrambling to find a defense to hold off the Justice Department, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The lawyers representing the former president in the investigation into his handling of classified documents have tried out an array of defenses as they seek to hold off the Justice Department.

On May 25, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to a top Justice Department official, laying out the argument that his client had done nothing illegal by holding onto a trove of government materials when he left the White House.

The letter, from M. Evan Corcoran, a former federal prosecutor, represented Mr. Trump’s initial defense against the investigation into the presence of highly classified documents in unsecured locations at his members-only club and residence, Mar-a-Lago. It amounted to a three-page hodgepodge of contested legal theories, including Mr. Corcoran’s assertion that Mr. Trump possessed a nearly boundless right as president to declassify materials and an argument that one law governing the handling of classified documents does not apply to a president.

Mr. Corcoran asked the Justice Department to present the letter as “exculpatory” information to the grand jury investigating the case.

Government lawyers found it deeply puzzling. They included it in the affidavit submitted to a federal magistrate in Florida in their request for the search warrant they later used to recover even more classified materials at Mar-a-Lago — to demonstrate their willingness to acknowledge Mr. Corcoran’s arguments, a person with knowledge of the decision said.

As the partial release of the search warrant affidavit on Friday, including the May 25 letter, illustrated, Mr. Trump is going into the battle over the documents with a hastily assembled team. The lawyers have offered up a variety of arguments on his behalf that have yet to do much to fend off a Justice Department that has adopted a determined, focused and so far largely successful legal approach.

“He needs a quarterback who’s a real lawyer,” said David I. Schoen, a lawyer who defended Mr. Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial. Mr. Schoen called it “an honor” to represent Mr. Trump, but said it was problematic to keep lawyers “rotating in and out.”

Often tinged with Mr. Trump’s own bombast and sometimes conflating his powers as president with his role as a private citizen, the legal arguments put forth by his team sometimes strike lawyers not involved in the case as more about setting a political narrative than about dealing with the possibility of a federal prosecution.

“There seems to be a huge disconnect between what’s actually happening — a real live court case surrounding a real live investigation — and what they’re actually doing, which is treating it like they’ve treated everything else, recklessly and thoughtlessly,” Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and F.B.I. official, said of Mr. Trump’s approach. “And for an average defendant on an average case, that would be a disaster.”

Politico, Judge rejects bid by Gov. Kemp and Trump attorney Chesebro to quash subpoenas, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve.

The judge overseeing the Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election has rejected an effort by Gov. Brian Kemp to block a subpoena for his testimony.

However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve, agreeing to delay his testimony until after the Nov. 8 vote, when Kemp is up for reelection and facing a challenge from Stacey Abrams.

“The Governor is in the midst of a re-election campaign and this criminal grand jury investigation should not be used by the District Attorney, the Governor’s opponent, or the Governor himself to influence the outcome of that election,” McBurney wrote in his six-page order.

In a separate opinion, McBurney also rejected an effort by a Trump-allied attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, to similarly block a subpoena for his testimony. Chesebro had claimed that his potential testimony would be entirely barred by attorney-client privilege, as well as New York state’s rules around attorney confidentiality. However, McBurney noted that, as with many other witnesses, there are plenty of topics that would not be subject to privilege claims.

Among them: “Mr. Chesebro’s background and experience, his knowledge of both Georgia and federal election law, his communications with Republican Party officials in Georgia following the 2020 general election, his interactions with the individuals in Georgia seeking to prepare slate of ‘alternate’ electors weeks after the final vote count showed former President Trump losing by over 10,000 votes in Georgia, etc.”

“Because these are legitimate, relevant, non-protected areas of investigation for the special purpose grand jury, quashal is improper,” McBurney wrote in a three-page order.

The rulings are victories for District Attorney Fani Willis, though the delayed testimony for Kemp is a setback for her investigation’s overall timetable. The DA has argued for the urgency of Kemp’s testimony sooner than November.

Kemp’s office and an attorney for Chesebro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kemp was a target of Trump’s fury during the closing weeks of his presidency, as Trump railed against his decision, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to certify Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Both beat back challenges from Trump-backed candidates in the state’s May Republican primary elections.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Naming of special master could complicate Mar-a-Lago documents case, David Nakamura and Amy B Wang, Aug. 29, 2022. If a federal judge appoints a special master to review materials taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, it could complicate matters in the federal government case.

A federal judge’s indication that she is prepared to appoint a special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago by federal agents could present new complications and unresolved legal questions in the federal government’s high-stakes quest to wrest control of the documents from former president Donald Trump.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s two-page order issued on Saturday appeared unusual in that the judge has not yet heard arguments from the Justice Department, said former federal prosecutors and legal analysts on Sunday.

Cannon, right, 41, whom Trump appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Florida in 2020, has also given federal officials until Tuesday to provide the court with a more detailed list of items the FBI had removed from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8.

She asked the government to give a status report of its own review of the materials and set a Thursday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla. That location is about an hour away from the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically hears cases.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s war on the National Archives, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The agency has been hit with a wave of threats and vitriol since the FBI retrieved scores of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

In the nearly three weeks since the FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home to recover classified documents, the National Archives and Records Administration has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol, according to people familiar with the situation. Civil servants tasked by law with preserving and securing the U.S. government’s records were rattled.

nara logoOn Wednesday, the agency’s head sent an email to the staff. Though academic and suffuse with legal references, the message from acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall was simple: Stay above the fray and stick to the mission.

“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’ ” Steidel Wall wrote in the agencywide message, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”

The email capped a year-long saga that has embroiled the Archives — widely known for being featured in the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, “National Treasure” — in a protracted fight with Trump over classified documents and other records that were taken when he left office.

Archives officials have emailed, called and cajoled the former president and his representatives to follow the law and return the documents. When the Archives recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January, agency officials found a mess of disorganized papers lacking any inventory. Highly classified material was mixed in with newspaper clippings and dinner menus. And Archives officials believed more items were still missing.

What happened next was an extraordinary step for America’s record keepers: they referred the matter to the Justice Department, opening a dramatic new chapter in what had been a quietly simmering dispute.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Affidavit to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate says 184 classified files found in January, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The newly public affidavit will help explain why FBI agents wanted to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, with sensitive information blocked out.

The FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month after reviewing 184 classified documents that were kept there since he left the White House, including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them, and interviewing a “significant number” of witnesses, court filings unsealed Friday say.

FBI logoThe details contained in a search-warrant affidavit and related memo crystallize much of what was already known about the criminal probe into whether Trump and his aides took secret government papers and did not return all of the material — despite repeated demands from senior officials. The documents, though heavily redacted, offer the clearest description to date of the rationale for the unprecedented Aug. 8 search and the high-stakes investigation by the Justice Department into a former president who may run again for the White House.

The affidavit suggests that if some of the classified documents voluntarily returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets. Over the spring and summer, the affidavit states, the FBI came to suspect that Trump and his team were hiding the fact that he still had more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, leading agents to want to conduct a search of the property.

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Intelligence Will Assess Security Risks From Mar-a-Lago Documents, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The director of national intelligence said her office would lead a review of the sensitive material retrieved from former President Trump’s Florida home.

U.S. intelligence officials will conduct a review to assess the possible risks to national security from former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents after the F.B.I. retrieved boxes containing sensitive material from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter to lawmakers.

In the letter, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees that her office would lead an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents Mr. Trump took with him to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Haines said her office would work with the Justice Department to ensure that the assessment did not interfere with the department’s criminal investigation concerning the documents. The review will determine what intelligence sources or systems could be identified from the documents and be compromised if they fell into the wrong hands.

 

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this djt nyt aug 27 2022month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

ny times logoNew York Times, A judge signaled her intent to grant Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the seized documents, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The judge, an appointee of President Donald J. Trump, indicated she was prepared to grant Mr. Trump’s request for an arbiter, or special master, to review the documents seized by the F.B.I.

A federal judge in Florida gave notice on Saturday of her “preliminary intent” to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to conduct a review of the highly sensitive documents that were seized by the F.B.I. this month during a search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s club and residence in Palm Beach.

In an unusual action that fell short of a formal order, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, signaled that she was inclined to agree with the former president and his lawyers that a special master should be appointed to review the seized documents.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2020, set a hearing for arguments in the matter for Thursday in the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach — not the one in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically works.

On Friday night, only hours after a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant for the search of Mar-a-Lago was released, Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed court papers to Judge Cannon reiterating their request for a special master to weed out documents taken in the search that could be protected by executive privilege.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had initially asked Judge Cannon on Monday to appoint a special master, but their filing was so confusing and full of bluster that the judge requested clarifications on several basic legal questions. The notice by Judge Cannon on Saturday was seen as something of a victory in Mr. Trump’s circle.

A different federal judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach, ordered the unsealing of the warrant affidavit. The document said, among other things, that the Justice Department wanted to search Mar-a-Lago to ensure the return of highly classified documents that Mr. Trump had removed from the White House, including some that department officials believed could jeopardize “clandestine human sources” who worked undercover gathering intelligence.

Special masters are not uncommon in criminal investigations that include the seizure by the government of disputed materials that could be protected by attorney-client privilege. A special master was appointed, for example, after the F.B.I. raided the office of Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen in 2018 and took away evidence that Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump claimed should have been kept from investigators because of the nature of their professional relationship.

In the case of the search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that some of the documents taken by the F.B.I. could be shielded not by attorney-client privilege, but rather by executive privilege, a vestige of Mr. Trump’s service as president. But legal scholars — and some judges — have expressed skepticism that former presidents can unilaterally assert executive privilege over materials related to their time in office once they leave the White House.

In December, for example, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that, despite his attempts to invoke executive privilege, Mr. Trump had to turn over White House records related to the attack on the Capitol to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

In her notice on Saturday, Judge Cannon gave the Justice Department until Tuesday to file a response to Mr. Trump’s request. The judge also instructed prosecutors to send her under seal “a more detailed receipt” specifying the items that were seized by federal agents during the search of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. As part of their initial request, Mr. Trump’s lawyers had asked for a complete inventory of what was taken, arguing that the receipt the F.B.I. had given them was insufficient.

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald’s inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022 (Continued from above). A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home
    It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle

A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump’s inner circle – and is now being investigated by the FBI and Canadian authorities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed the alleged antics of the faker — whose real name is Inna Yashchyshyn — on Friday.

Yaschyshyn, 33, told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club after bragging of her Monaco property portfolio and family vineyards, it’s claimed.

But the alleged scammer is actually the Ukrainian-born daughter of a truck driver called Oleksandr Yaschysyn, who lives in a neat-but-modest home in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Yaschyshyn is believed to have been taken to the club for the first time by a Trump donor called Elchanan Adamker in 2021 — and posed for a photo with the former president the very next day.

She is accused of obtaining fake IDs — including a US passport and multiple drivers’ licenses – using her fake Rothschild alter ego.

Yaschushyn faces an FBI probe over a charity she was president of called the United Hearts of Mercy. It was founded by a Florida-based Russian businessman called Valery Tarasenko in Canada in 2015, but is alleged to have been used as a front to fundraise for Russian organized crime gangs.

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

Yaschushyn is currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit with Tarasenko, whose daughter she used to babysit, and claims she has been framed by him. She has also been tied to a condo development in Canada, although further details of what cops in Quebec are investigating her for have yet to emerge.

Tarasenko says Yaschushyn cared for his children while he traveled on business, and claims she was keen to make in-roads at Mar-a-Lago to find rich benefactors. It is unclear if Tarasenko himself faces a probe.

Yaschushyn in turn claims she is the victim, and that Tarasenko set her up by producing multiple fake IDs without her knowledge.

The United Hearts of Mercy positioned itself as a nonprofit which helped impoverished children, but the FBI believes it was actually a front to funnel cash to organized crime gangs.

Payment processing firm Stripe suspended donations to the United Hearts of Mercy’s purported COVID appeal.

Emails sent by the Post-Gazette to supposed donors in Hong Kong all bounced back, suggesting those donors may never have existed.

The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home and private club – and highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle.
Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump’s Palm Beach golf club

Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump’s Palm Beach golf club

The Secret Service wouldn’t comment on whether they were investigating Yashchyshyn, nor would the FBI – but several sources said they had been questioned by FBI officials about Yashchyshyn’s behavior.

Canadian law enforcement confirmed Yashchyshyn has been the subject of a major crimes unit investigation in Quebec since February, the Post-Gazette reported.

The United Hearts of Mercy was founded in Canada by Tarasenko, although it’s still unclear whether Yaschyshyn is being probed there over that nonprofit. She was also linked to a condo development in the country.

Yashchyshyn started showing up at Mar-a-Lago last spring. The Post-Gazette reported she was first invited by Trump supporter Elchanan Adamker, who runs a financial services firm, to Mar-a-Lago for the first time in May 2021.

She also managed to take footage of Trump’s speeches inside the club

‘It wasn’t just dropping the family name. She talked about vineyards and family estates and growing up in Monaco,’ recalled LeFevre. ‘It was a near-perfect ruse and she played the part.’

He added that ‘everyone was eating it up’ and Mar-a-Lago members ‘fawned all over her and because of the Rothschild mystique, they never probed and instead tiptoed around her with kid gloves .’

By the next day, Yashchyshyn was rubbing shoulders with Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham at the president’s nearby West Palm Beach golf club.

The report included photographs of Yashchyshyn, Trump and Graham, as well as her in a group shot with Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The Post-Gazette also shared images of Yashchyshyn’s various IDS — passports from the U.S. and Canada, along with a Florida driver’s license, in which she uses the Rothschild name — as well as Ukrainian and Russian passports where she goes by Inna Yashchyshyn and Anna Anisimova, respectively.

When speaking to the Post-Gazette, however, she said, ‘I think there is some misunderstanding.’

Yashchyshyn said any passports or driver’s licenses using the Rothschild name had been fabricated by her former business partner, 44-year-old Valeriy Tarasenko. ‘That’s all fake, and nothing happened,’ Yashchyshyn said.

The various IDs have been turned over to the FBI, the Post-Gazette said. Yashchyshyn also said she was speaking to the FBI on August 19.

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Former U.S. President Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson). He answered only one question during four hours of them in an interview with the New York State attorney general, his lawyer said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Knew the Justice Department Case Was Righteous. This Affidavit Confirms It, Andrew Weissmann (Mr. Weissmann was a senior prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election), Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). We always knew that whatever the information about the Mar-a-Lago search that would be released by a federal court, it would not help Donald Trump.

We know that not just because Judge Bruce Reinhart already concluded, based on seeing the unredacted affidavit used to obtain the search warrant, that there was probable cause to believe three federal crimes had been committed and that evidence of those crimes was at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida club-residence.

Mr. Trump knows the answers to the most important unanswered questions: What material did he take from the White House, why did he take it, what had he done with it, and what was he planning to do with it? There is nothing that prevented him for over a year from publicly answering those questions; he surely has not remained silent because the answers are exculpatory.

Above all, the redacted affidavit (and an accompanying brief explaining the redactions), which was released on Friday, reveals more evidence of a righteous criminal case related to protecting information vital to our nation’s security.

I can assure you, based on my experience as the general counsel of the F.B.I., that although there may be too much information deemed sensitive at the lowest level of classification, that was never the case with top-secret material.

The redacted affidavit is further proof that Mr. Trump’s flouting of criminal statutes persisted for a long time and gives every appearance of being intentional.

The key questions that remain include what precisely is the full scope of what Mr. Trump took from the White House, why he took the documents and did not return them all and what he was doing with them all this time.

The redacted affidavit does not answer those questions, and the usually loquacious Mr. Trump has not addressed them. But we do now know that the Justice Department is one step closer to being able to hold Mr. Trump to account for his actions, if it so chooses.

 

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Truth Social faces financial peril as worry about Trump’s future grows, Drew Harwell, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Payment disputes and a dwindling audience have fueled doubts about the former president’s Twitter clone.

Former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social website is facing financial challenges as its traffic remains puny and the company that is scheduled to acquire it expresses fear that his legal troubles could lead to a decline in his popularity.

Six months after its high-profile launch, the site — a clone of Twitter, which banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021 — still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings from Digital World Acquisition, the company planning to take Trump’s start-up, the Trump Media & Technology Group, public.

The company warned this week that its business could be damaged if Trump “becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility.” The company has seen its stock price plunge nearly 75 percent since its March peak and reported in a filing last week that it had lost $6.5 million in the first half of the year.

djt golf shirt bloatedThe FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate, fueled a burst of Truth Social user activity, and Trump himself (shown in a recent file photo) has increasingly used the site as one of his main online megaphones. “WE GAVE THEM MUCH,” he said, or “truthed,” on Friday in reaction to an FBI affidavit about classified documents kept at his Palm Beach home.

FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website

There are signs that the company’s financial base has begun to erode. The Trump company stopped paying RightForge, a conservative web-hosting service, in March and now owes it more than $1 million, according to Fox Business, which first reported the dispute.

The company also has struggled with some basics of corporate operation. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this month denied its application to trademark “Truth Social,” citing the “likelihood of confusion” to other similarly named companies, including an app, “VERO — True Social,” first released in 2015.

Representatives from Trump’s company and Digital World did not respond to requests for comment.

RightForge has advertised itself as a pillar of the conservative push to build a parallel internet protected from “Big Tech censorship.” Its chief executive Martin Avila declined to comment and said, “We fully stand behind the president and his endeavors.”

But two people familiar with the dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private details, said the lack of payment had fueled anger that Trump could shortchange a champion of his “free speech” mission.

The Trump company and RightForge have been communicating with each other exclusively through attorneys in recent weeks, the people said. Digital World Acquisition’s stock slid Friday about 7 percent.

Trump’s businesses have faced many similar payment battles over the years. In past SEC filings, Digital World has also noted that “a number of companies that were associated with [Trump] have filed for bankruptcy” and that “there can be no assurances that [Trump’s media company] will not also become bankrupt.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 3 big things we learned from the Mar-a-Lago affidavit, Greg Sargent, Aug. 26, 2022. In the Mar-a-Lago saga, Donald Trump has offered several big defenses. First, the former president has reportedly insisted to aides that he primarily took from the White House documents that were “mine.”

Second, he has suggested he always intended to do the right thing and turn over government documents in his possession. Third, he has said in many ways that the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of his Florida estate amounted to illegitimate jackbooted tyranny.

Now that the Justice Department has released a redacted version of the affidavit the FBI filed before getting a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, those arguments look even shakier.

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U.S. Governance, Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Penn Station Plan Makes a High-Stakes Bet on the Future of Office Work, Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan, Photographs by Andres Kudacki, Aug. 29, 2022. Despite New York City’s near record-high office vacancies, Gov. Kathy Hochul has backed a massive real estate project at the transit hub.

In a bid to reshape Midtown Manhattan, Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York State officials are pushing ahead with one of the largest real estate development projects in American history: 10 towers of mostly offices around Penn Station, the busiest transit center in the country.

The buildings would help pay for the renovation of the dreary underground station, the reason officials have said they are seeking the additions to the skyline. But the plan is moving forward amid severe uncertainty gripping the office market: Many companies are trying to reduce their real estate footprint as workers continue to clock in from home.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Who’s Who of Silicon Valley Lawyers Up for the Musk-Twitter Trial, Kate Conger, Aug. 29, 2022. Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter, got a subpoena. So did Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist. Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chairman, and the investors David Sacks and Joe Lonsdale received them, too.

They were all summoned to share what they know about the rancorous, knock-down, drag-out tech spectacle of the year: the fight between Twitter and Elon Musk, the world’s richest man.

Mr. Musk enthusiastically agreed to buy Twitter in April for $44 billion, but has since tried to back out of the blockbuster deal, leading to lawsuits and recriminations. Both sides are set for a showdown in Delaware Chancery Court in October over whether Mr. Musk needs to stick with the acquisition. The torrent of legal demands in the case has forced a who’s who of Silicon Valley to now lawyer up, creating a heyday for top-tier law firms.

So far, lawyers for Twitter and Mr. Musk have issued more than 100 subpoenas in the battle, targeting big-name banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley), high-profile investors (Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia), well-known advisers, prominent companies that employ Twitter’s board members (Salesforce, Mastercard) and members of Mr. Musk’s entourage.

In the scorched earth campaign, the lawyers have even subpoenaed each other.

“Every firm in the Valley is salivating like dogs trying to get in on that action,” said Carol Langford, a professor of legal ethics at the University of San Francisco.

Even for a high-stakes corporate lawsuit, the deluge of paperwork is remarkable, legal experts said. The October trial puts the case on a breakneck timeline, compressing legal work that might normally stretch on for years into just three months. With so much money on the line, both sides have demonstrated a willingness to spend on Hail Mary subpoenas, rather than targeting their requests to just a few insiders.

That helps explain the sheer number of tech VIPs involved.

ny times logoNew York Times, Revenge of the Founders: A Generational Tussle on Wall Street, Roger Cohen, Aug. 29, 2022. The abrupt departure of Kewsong Lee as Carlyle Group’s chief executive followed conflicts over how to run the financial firm. Muqtada al-Sadr speaking in Najaf, Iraq, this month. His followers won the largest number of seats of any single political bloc in elections last year.

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U.S. Educational Issues

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Top Universities Say They Need Affirmative Action After It Was Banned, Stephanie Saul, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). As a Supreme Court case nears, the California and Michigan university systems say their efforts to build diverse classes have fallen abysmally short.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ron DeSantis Suspends 4 Elected School Board Members After Parkland Report, Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). They were found to have engaged in “acts of incompetence and neglect,” but one ousted member called the Florida governor’s move “political retribution.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended four elected members of the Broward County school board on Friday, following the recommendation of a grand jury impaneled to look into school safety and other issues after the mass school shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead in 2018.

In its report, which was released last week, the grand jury found that the four school board members — and a fifth one who no longer holds that position — had “engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty,” in part for what the grand jury described as mismanagement of an $800 million bond issue approved by voters in 2014 that was intended to renovate schools and make them safer.

Mr. DeSantis suspended Patricia Good, Donna P. Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson from the board. Though all nine school board seats are nonpartisan, all four are registered Democrats, which is not unusual in liberal Broward County. Ms. Korn was on the ballot on Tuesday and had made it into a runoff for the November election.

The fifth person recommended for removal from office in the report, Rosalind Osgood, who is also a Democrat, was elected to the State Senate in a special election this year.

Ms. Levinson, hours after being removed from the board she had served for 12 years, declined to comment about the specific accusations in the report, but said they were pretext for “political retribution.” She said that all the suspended board members had won elections since the shooting.

“What country is this?” Ms. Levinson, formerly the board chairwoman, said in an interview Friday. “What Governor DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and he overturned the will of the voters.”

She added that Mr. DeSantis “impaneled this grand jury under the guise of school safety as a pretext to remove school board members who did not fire the former superintendent.”

In the tumultuous year after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a state commission found failures in the police response to the massacre. As a result, Mr. DeSantis suspended the elected sheriff in Broward County, Scott Israel, shortly after being sworn in as governor in 2019.

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Politico, Crist to pick Miami teachers union head as his running mate, Matt Dixon, Aug. 26, 2022. Karla Hernández-Mats has been president of United Teachers of Dade since 2016. Democrat Charlie Crist will pick Karla Hernández-Mats, the head of Miami-Dade County’s largest teachers union, as his running mate as he seeks to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis.

politico CustomCrist is expected to formally announce his pick during a Saturday rally in Miami that he’s holding to officially kick off his general election campaign. Crist trounced Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 59-34 in Tuesday night’s primary and is now preparing for an uphill battle against DeSantis, who is a heavy favorite.

The Hernández-Mats pick, first reported by CBS Miami, was greeted with high praise from Democrats. The Crist campaign declined to comment for this story.

“Love it!” said state Sen. Shev Jones (D-Miami) in a text. “I think it’s a thoughtful and bright move. Karla has ALWAYS had her ear to the ground for people, and she’s a natural galvanizer. Great pick!”

Florida Sen. Jason Pizzo, also a Miami Democrat, described her as “bright, warm and tough.”

Since 2016, Hernández-Mats has served as president of the United Teachers of Dade, which touts itself as the largest teachers union in the southeast. She is also on the governance board of the Florida Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher’s union.

FEA support of Crist played a pivotal role in the primary. The organization not only endorsed him, but pushed for the rest of the state’s labor organization to follow suit with a primary endorsement, even as some did not want to endorse before the general election. It led to a contested fight during the AFL-CIO’s summer convention in Orlando, which Crist ultimately won.

“We’re thrilled by Charlie Crist’s choice for his running mate. Karla Hernández-Mats will be a great lieutenant governor of and for all the people of Florida,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said. “She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities.”

 joe biden student debt ed secretary

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens as President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

 washington post logoWashington Post, Student loan forgiveness application coming in October, White House says, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.

The White House said Friday that student loan borrowers will be able to apply for debt cancellation this fall and receive relief within four to six weeks.

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More On Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia-Ukraine War: More Strikes Reported Near Nuclear Plant as U.N. Experts Plan Visit, James C. McKinley Jr., Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Neither Russia nor Ukraine appeared to be pausing attacks in the area, even as talks continued over allowing inspectors to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant. Artillery barrages along a section of front line near an imperiled nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine struck towns, ammunition dumps and a Russian military base in intense fighting overnight, Ukrainian officials said on Sunday.

Reports of fighting all along the southern front suggested that neither side was pausing hostilities, even amid complex negotiations to allow for a team of scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which has been repeatedly damaged by recent shelling. The plant is controlled by the Russian military but operated by Ukrainian engineers.

Russian forces fired rocket artillery and howitzers overnight at the Ukraine-controlled town of Nikopol, across from the plant on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, which separates the two armies in the area, a local military official, Valentin Reznichenko, said. The strikes damaged several houses and cars and knocked out electricity for 1,500 residents, he said in a post on the Telegram social networking site.

In a separate assault on the town, Russian helicopters fired rockets, according to the Ukrainian military, which reported damage to a house but no casualties.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its Air Force had hit Ukrainian workshops where helicopters were being repaired in the surrounding Zaporizka region, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The claim could not be independently verified.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Artillery strikes continue near the troubled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
  • Putin offers incentives to Ukrainians to come to Russia and stay there.
  • Putin’s army expansion may not help Russia much, U.S. and British officials say.
  • Western officials criticize Russia for blocking a joint U.N. document on nuclear disarmament.
  • W.N.B.A. stars to head overseas despite Griner’s arrest in Russia.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine says it has recovered the bodies of about 300 fighters killed in the siege of Mariupol’s steel plant, Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 29, 2022. Months after one of the war’s most intense battles, Ukraine is still negotiating for the return of fallen soldiers who died in the 80-day siege of the southern city of Mariupol.

Oleg Kotenko, who oversees policies in the Ukrainian government for soldiers missing in action, said in a statement on Saturday that the bodies of 428 soldiers killed in Mariupol have been returned through negotiations via the Red Cross. Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security confirmed their return on Sunday.

About 300 of those died in the area of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, where civilians holed up in bomb shelters and badly outgunned defenders held off a Russian onslaught for weeks. The siege ended in mid-May with the surrender of about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who had run low on food and ammunition while cut off from supply lines.

Though it ended in defeat, the fierce defense of the city tied down thousands of Russian troops, giving Ukraine’s army time to muster troops and organize defenses elsewhere. The Azovstal fighters have been lionized by the Ukrainian government, with some commanders’ faces appearing on billboards.

Mr. Kotenko’s remarks came as the Ukrainian government has faced pressure from its citizens to do more to secure the safety of soldiers being held by Russia. Many Ukrainians have questioned the decision to surrender at Azovstal, believing the fighters would not be treated in accordance with international law.

Dozens of captured Azovstal fighters died last month in an explosion at a Russian prison camp that the Ukrainian government blamed on Russia. The Russian military said Ukraine attacked the camp with precision weapons, a claim Ukraine has called absurd.

The first exchange of war dead between Ukraine and Russia took place in June. Mr. Kotenko said a total of 541 bodies had been returned through Red Cross talks. He did not clarify why the talks had stretched for months but said, “negotiations with the aggressor are difficult.”

Ukraine has also repatriated the bodies of soldiers who died in fighting in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine in locations later overrun by Russian forces, he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, The ‘MacGyvered’ Weapons in Ukraine’s Arsenal, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, Aug. 29, 2022. The Ukrainian military has scored big successes against Russia with retrofitted equipment, including rocket systems mounted on vehicles, experts say. The billions of dollars in military aid the United States has sent Ukraine includes some of the most advanced and lethal weapons systems in the world. But Ukraine has also scored big successes in the war by employing the weapons and equipment in unexpected ways, and jury-rigging some on the fly.

From the sinking of the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea flagship, in April, to the attack on a Russian air base in Crimea this month, Ukrainian troops have used American and other weapons in ways one former U.S. Army official likened to the 1980s TV character MacGyver.

By mounting missiles onto trucks, for instance, Ukrainian forces have moved them more quickly into firing range. By putting rocket systems on speedboats, they have increased their naval warfare ability. And to the astonishment of weapons experts, Ukraine has continued to destroy Russian targets with slow-moving Turkish-made Bayraktar attack drones and inexpensive, plastic aircraft modified to drop grenades and other munitions.

“With the Moskva, they MacGyvered a very effective anti-ship system that they put on the back of a truck to make it mobile and move it around, said Frederick B. Hodges, a former top U.S. Army commander in Europe.

Ukrainian forces also put American-supplied HARM missiles — designed to seek and destroy Russian air defense radar — on Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets, an adaption that General Hodges said demonstrated the depth of technological know-how in Ukraine’s military.

  • New York Times, Ukraine’s railroads have been used to flee, to return and to keep the country going, Aug. 29, 2022.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Inspectors Set to Visit Besieged Ukrainian Nuclear Plant, Marc Santora, Andrew Higgins and Tomas Dapkus, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant, where shelling has raised concerns of a nuclear accident.

Russia and Ukraine again accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team of experts to visit the facility amid concerns about a possible nuclear accident.

Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant came under renewed shelling on Saturday as fraught negotiations to allow for a team of scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the facility took on added urgency.

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team of experts to visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Ukraine — Europe’s largest nuclear power station — as early as next week.

A list of the team’s members seen by The New York Times includes the nuclear agency’s chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, and 13 other experts from mostly neutral countries. Neither the United States nor Britain, countries that Russia scorns as unfairly biased because of their strong support for Ukraine, is represented.

The I.A.E.A. headquarters in Vienna declined to comment on the planned mission. A spokesman confirmed that the agency was “in active consultations for an imminent I.A.E.A. mission” to the plant.

But even as the details of a possible visit to the plant took shape, Russia and Ukraine on Saturday again blamed each other for shelling the facility.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an address to the nation late Friday that the episode had brought it perilously close to disaster, making the need for a visit by international inspectors even more urgent.

Despite mounting international anxiety over a possible catastrophe at the sprawling plant, in the middle of a war zone, Russia and Ukraine have for weeks failed to agree on a plan that would allow inspectors to visit. The shelling is complicating those discussions.

The warring nations have haggled over the composition of an inspection team and whether it would travel to the plant through territory occupied by Russian forces or controlled by the government in Kyiv.

Ukraine has insisted that the inspectors start out from government-controlled territory, to avoid giving legitimacy to the Russian occupation. That means the inspectors would have to pass through frontline positions where shelling is frequent and would probably use a crossing point already crowded with civilians fleeing the fighting and nuclear dangers. Any deal is likely to require a cease-fire along the route.

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U.S. Law, Security, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan G.O.P. Lining Up Behind Conspiracy Theorist for Attorney General, Alexandra Berzon and Nick Corasaniti, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Matthew DePerno’s political rise has been tied to a debunked election report. Some see parallels between his dive into 2020 conspiracies theories and his legal career.

Bolstered by his association with the former president, Mr. DePerno is poised to be nominated as the G.O.P. candidate for attorney general, the top legal official in the state, at a state party convention on Saturday. He is among a coterie of election deniers running for offices that have significant authority over elections, worrying some election experts, Democrats and some Republicans across the country.

This month, the Michigan attorney general’s office released documents that suggest Mr. DePerno was a key orchestrator of a separate plot to gain improper access to voting machines in three other Michigan counties. The attorney general, Dana Nessel, the Democrat Mr. DePerno is challenging for the office, requested that a special prosecutor be appointed to pursue the investigation into the scheme and weigh criminal charges. Mr. DePerno denies the allegations and called them politically motivated.

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Xi Jinping’s Vision for Tech Self-Reliance in China Runs Into Reality, Li Yuan, Aug. 29, 2022. After heavy national investment in semiconductors to break a dependence on global chips, China’s leader seems unhappy with the results, our columnist writes. Wearing a laboratory coat, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, inspected a subsidiary of Yangtze Memory Technologies Company, a national semiconductor company based in Wuhan. It was April 2018, shortly after the U.S. government had barred the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with American suppliers.

China FlagThe ban was a Sputnik moment for China’s tech industry and its leaders. Despite the country’s success in building smartphones, e-commerce platforms and high-speed railways, they realized that tech boom had been built largely on top of Western technologies, especially chips that power nearly everything. They had to change that — and fast.

Mr. Xi told the executives of Yangtze Memory, or YMTC, that semiconductors were as important for manufacturing as hearts for humans. “When your heart isn’t strong, no matter how big you are, you’re not really strong,” state media reported him saying. He urged them to hurry and make tech breakthroughs to contribute to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Warships Sail Taiwan Strait, Defying China, Austin Ramzy, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Two guided-missile cruisers were the first to visit since China began extensive military drills after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

The guided-missile cruisers Antietam and Chancellorsville were conducting what the Navy’s Seventh Fleet called “a routine Taiwan Strait transit.” American officials said this month that the Navy would continue to operate around Taiwan, despite China’s claims to control the waterway.

hong kong flagChina has warned the United States against sailing warships in the Taiwan Strait and said that it would respond to what it considers threats to its sovereignty. The Chinese military said on Sunday in a statement that it had monitored the ships’ passage but did not indicate any additional response.

“Eastern theater forces remain on high alert, ready to thwart any provocation,” it said.

After Ms. Pelosi visited Taiwan on Aug. 2-3, China launched missiles into waters that are part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone and carried out 72 hours of live fire exercises around Taiwan that simulated a potential blockade of the island. China considers self-governed Taiwan to be part of its territory, although the Communist Party has never controlled the island.

ny times logoNew York Times, Political Chaos Grips Iraq, With 12 Killed in Street Clashes, Jane Arraf, Aug. 29, 2022. The violence erupted after the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he is leaving politics. Protesters supporting Mr. Sadr took to the streets of the capital, Baghdad, and security forces opened fire.

Iraq sank deeper into political chaos on Monday after the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he was retiring from politics and at least 12 of his supporters were shot and killed by government security forces while protesting in the capital, Baghdad.

Mr. Sadr’s pronouncement on Twitter sent hundreds of his followers into the streets of Baghdad, where they breached concrete barriers guarding the so-called Green Zone, the site of Parliament, Iraqi government offices and diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy.

At least 12 protesters were killed and more than 100 were injured when security forces fired on them, according to two Iraqi officials who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. Baghdad and most provinces were under curfew by Monday evening.

ny times logoNew York Times, Over Caves and Over Budget, Mexico’s Train Project Barrels Toward Disaster, Maria Abi-Habib, Photographs by Alejandro Cegarra, Updated Aug. 29, 2022. Pitched as a way to develop the country’s poorest region, the Maya Train is threatened by a ballooning budget and rushed construction over fragile terrain. But Mexico’s president has refused to slow it down.

ny times logoNew York Times, Macron Seeks to Reshape Algeria’s Traumatic Relationship With France, Roger Cohen, Aug. 29, 2022. On a three-day visit, the French president Emmanuel Macron said he was seeking “truth and acknowledgment” over the war and colonialism.

Past the graves and elaborate Christian mausoleums of Saint Eugene Cemetery, President Emmanuel Macron of France made his way, before laying a wreath at a monument to those “who died for France.” For a moment, France in Algeria, most painful of subjects, was palpable in the ghosts of those who populated “that France on the other side of the Mediterranean,” as Mr. Macron called it this year.

Looking on under the palms and pines, as a loud chorus of cicadas competed with “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, Gilles Kepel, a historian of the Middle East and a special envoy for Mr. Macron in the region, said, “It reminds me of a cemetery in the French provinces.” He paused for a moment. “Which, in fact, is just what it was.”

For 132 years, before a brutal eight-year war put an end to French control in 1962, Algeria was more than a colony. It was officially a province of France, woven so deeply into the national psyche that 60 years of Algerian independence have not laid the trauma of separation to rest. Mr. Macron, 44, who is given to transformative projects, is intent on changing that.

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Media, Culture, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, In 1884, a cantankerous millionaire gave D.C. a fancy water fountain, John Kelly, Aug 29, 2022 (print ed.). Henry D. Cogswell wanted Americans to spit out their booze and sip his water.

Henry D. Cogswell was one of those guys who got rich then decided the world should notice him. And it did, though perhaps not in the way he intended.

Here in Washington we know the name Cogswell because of the elaborate drinking fountain he forced upon the city in 1884. It stands at Seventh Street NW and Indiana Avenue, just off Pennsylvania Avenue, where it represents, according to the Historic American Buildings Survey, “a rather obvious and expressive symbolic monument to one aspect of social reform.”

That aspect of social reform was the eradication of intoxicating beverages. Among Cogswell’s obsessions was teetotalism. His sculptural gift is known as the Temperance Fountain.

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U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy, #MeToo, Trafficking

washington post logoWashington Post, New restrictions from major abortion funder could further limit access, Caroline Kitchener, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Abortion providers say the restrictions from The National Abortion Federation are unnecessary and burdensome for patients already facing steep obstacles to abortion care. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

New restrictions from one of the country’s largest abortion funding organizations could add new obstacles for many patients in antiabortion states seeking the procedure elsewhere.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, patients have flooded clinics in states where abortion is legal — with many driving long distances to receive a medication abortion, a two-part regimen that includes mifepristone and misoprostol. These patients usually take the mifepristone in the clinic before driving home with the misoprostol, to be taken between 24 and 48 hours later.

The National Abortion Federation and its NAF Hotline Fund will now require patients who receive their funding to take both abortion pills in a state where abortion is legal, according to emails sent on Aug. 22 and obtained by The Washington Post. The nonprofit, which is backed largely by billionaire Warren Buffett, helped fund at least 10 percent of all abortions in the United States in 2020. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

Patients in need of abortion funding can either call the NAF’s hotline or request financial help at a clinic authorized to offer support. Under NAF’s new regulations, which go into effect on Aug. 29, patients whose procedures are funded by the NAF will now need to affirm to clinic staff that they will not take their second pill in a state where abortion is illegal.

Clinics need only impose the NAF’s new restrictions on patients who receive NAF funding, according to an email to abortion providers from NAF Hotline Fund Operations Director Chloe Hanson Hebert. The restrictions will disproportionately impact poor women and women of color, several providers said.

These new restrictions go beyond what is explicitly required by abortion bans enacted since Roe was reversed. The various bans in antiabortion states prohibit providers from performing abortions within the state’s borders, but don’t bar providers elsewhere from prescribing pills to out-of-state patients they know will be returning home.

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U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Killed in Shooting at Oregon Shopping Center, Police Say, Eduardo Medina and Tim Neville, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). The gunman, who fired multiple times inside a grocery store, was also found dead. Another person was wounded.

Two people were shot and killed and a third was wounded at a shopping center in Bend, Ore., on Sunday, prompting law enforcement agencies to flood the area and enter a grocery store, where officers found the gunman dead from a gunshot wound, the authorities said.

Officers were still investigating a motive, and they did not release names of the victims or the gunman. Lisa Goodman, a spokeswoman for Saint Charles hospital in Bend, said one injured person had been admitted there and that the individual’s condition was “good.”

The shooting began at about 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time in the parking lot of the Forum Shopping Center in Bend, about 160 miles southeast of Portland. The authorities said one witness told them that there may have been a second shooter, but Chief Mike Krantz of the Bend Police Department said during a news conference on Sunday night that officers had “not found any evidence of a second shooter or additional gunfire in the area.”

The gunman began shooting in the parking lot and then entered a Safeway grocery store, where he shot and killed one person near the front door, Sheila Miller, a spokeswoman for the Bend Police Department, said by phone on Sunday.

He continued walking through the store, firing multiple rounds, the police said. The gunman then fatally shot another person inside the store, Ms. Miller said.

When police officers entered the store, they found the gunman dead, as well as an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun near him, Chief Krantz said. Police officers did not fire at the gunman, he said.

The shooting came a little more than three months after a gunman armed with an assault-style weapon killed 10 people and wounded three others in an attack at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

The shooting also underscored how the grocery store has become another place where frightening gun violence can occur. Last September, a gunman killed one person and injured 14 at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, Tenn. Earlier that year, in March, 10 people were killed in an attack a supermarket in Boulder, Colo.

 

uvalde shooting victims 5 25 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Uvalde Fires Its School Police Chief in Response to Shooting, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The chief, Pete Arredondo, has been criticized for waiting too long to rescue students and teachers (shown above) trapped in two classrooms with the gunman.

pete arredondoFacing intense pressure from parents, the school board in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday terminated its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, right, who directed the district’s police response to a mass shooting at an elementary school in which the gunman was allowed to remain in a pair of classrooms for more than 75 minutes.

The unanimous vote, which Mr. Arredondo, through his lawyer, called “an unconstitutional public lynching,” represented the first direct accountability over what has been widely seen as a deeply flawed police response, one that left trapped and wounded students and teachers to wait for rescue as police officers delayed their entry into the two adjoining classrooms where the gunman was holed up.

Cheers broke out in the room as one of the board members, Laura Perez, made a motion: “I move that good cause exists to terminate the noncertified contract of Pete Arredondo, effective immediately,” she said.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: Why Outlawing Ghost Guns Didn’t Stop America’s Largest Maker of Ghost Gun Parts, Anjeanette Damon, Aug. 24, 2022. Unregistered, unserialized weapons produced with Polymer80 parts have turned up at crime scenes across the country, but state-level efforts to close ghost gun loopholes continue to fall short.

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Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Beijing’s stance on covid now makes it a global outlier, Keith B. Richburg, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its covid guidelines, dropping recommendations for quarantining, social distancing and regular daily school testing. Thailand has downgraded the coronavirus to the same category as the flu.

The European Union has ended its emergency phase of the pandemic, and restaurants and bars are packed again. Australia and New Zealand have fully opened to tourists.

The pandemic might not be over, but most of the world is moving on. Yet there is one conspicuous exception: China.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Other countries are shifting to living with the virus, but China’s Communist rulers are sticking to their strict anti-epidemic policy known as “dynamic zero covid.” That means trying to stamp out every identifiable covid outbreak, no matter how small.

In practice, this policy has meant unannounced snap lockdowns of entire cities, keeping millions of people pinned in their homes. It has also stranded thousands of Chinese holidaymakers in local tourist spots, such as Tibet, Xinjiang and the tropical island of Hainan.

Chinese have to line up for multiple rounds of covid tests at designated facilities. In Beijing, more than 20 million people must get an officially sanctioned PCR test every three days to be able to enter almost any premises. Test results are displayed on mobile phone apps.

China has been largely cut off from the outside world for more than two years, with many international flights banned or suspended since the start of the pandemic. Flights to Beijing only resumed this summer. Visas for foreigners remain restricted to work or family visits, and foreign students are only now being allowed back after a two-year hiatus.

Incoming travelers must navigate a myriad of preflight testing requirements and then have to endure forced quarantine at designated hotels — only recently cut to seven days, down from as long as 28 days in some cities. But restrictions still vary widely.

washington post logoWashington Post, The world is moving on from the pandemic. Hear from five covid long-haulers who can’t, Staff Reports, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Five readers share their bouts with chronic fatigue and other symptoms of long covid.

ny times logoNew York Times, This Teen Was Prescribed 10 Psychiatric Drugs. She Was Far From Alone, Matt Richtel, Photographs by Annie Flanagan, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Increasingly, anxious and depressed teens are using multiple, powerful psychiatric drugs. Many are untested in adolescents or for use in tandem. Clinicians say that the drugs can be vital if properly prescribed. But they caution that such medications are too readily doled out.

One morning in the fall of 2017, Renae Smith, a high school freshman on Long Island, N.Y., could not get out of bed, overwhelmed at the prospect of going to school. In the following days, her anxiety mounted into despair.

“I should have been happy,” she later wrote. “But I cried, screamed and begged the universe or whatever godly power to take away the pain of a thousand men that was trapped inside my head.”

Intervention for her depression and anxiety came not from the divine but from the pharmaceutical industry. The following spring, a psychiatrist prescribed Prozac. The medication offered a reprieve from her suffering, but the effect dissipated, so she was prescribed an additional antidepressant, Effexor.

A medication cascade had begun. During 2021, the year she graduated, she was prescribed seven drugs. These included one for seizures and migraines — she experienced neither, but the drug can be also used to stabilize mood — and another to dull the side effects of the other medications, although it is used mainly for schizophrenia. She felt better some days but deeply sad on others.

Her senior yearbook photo shows her smiling broadly, “but I felt terrible that day,” said Ms. Smith, who is now 19 and attends a local community college. “I’ve gotten good at wearing a mask.”

She had come to exemplify a medical practice common among her generation: the simultaneous use of multiple heavy-duty psychiatric drugs.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens, Matt Richtel, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Studies indicate that dialectical behavior therapy offers greater benefits than more generalized therapy. But treatment is intensive, and expensive.

Parents seeking therapy for teenagers who self-harm or suffer from anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts face an imposing thicket of treatment options and acronyms: cognitive behavioral therapy (C.B.T.), parent management training (P.M.T.), collaborative assessment and management of suicidality (CAMS), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and others.

Each approach can benefit a particular subset of people. But for teenagers at acute risk for self-harm and suicide, health experts and researchers increasingly point to dialectical behavior therapy, or D.B.T., as an effective treatment.

“As of this moment, it’s probably the best tool we have,” said Michele Berk, a child and adolescent psychologist at Stanford University.

“There’s no medication for suicidal behavior,” said Michele Berk, a psychologist at Stanford University. “The patient needs to learn other behavioral skills that the medication does not teach you.”

Politico, Hackers have laid siege to U.S. health care and a tiny HHS office is buckling under the pressure, Ben Leonard, Aug. 29, 2022 (print ed.). With a dearth of resources, the Office for Civil Rights is struggling with an overflowing caseload. 

politico CustomCyber crooks steal medical information of tens of millions of people in the U.S. every year, a number that is rising fast as health care undergoes its digital transformation.

It leads to millions of dollars in losses for hospitals, insurers and other health care organizations, threatens care delivery and exposes patients to identity theft.

But the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which is tasked with investigating breaches, helping health care organizations bolster their defenses, and fining them for lax security, is poorly positioned to help. That’s because it has a dual mission — both to enforce the federal health privacy law known as HIPAA and to help the organizations protect themselves — and Congress has given it few resources to do the job.

“They’re a fish out of water … They were given the role of enforcement under HIPAA but weren’t given the resources to support that role,” said Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek, a Texas firm that helps health care organizations improve their cybersecurity.

Due to its shoestring budget, the Office for Civil Rights has fewer investigators than many local police departments, and its investigators have to deal with more than a hundred cases at a time. The office had a budget of $38 million in 2022 — the cost of about 20 MRI machines that can cost $1 million to $3 million a pop.

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Aug. 28

Top Headlines

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Water, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

 

U.S. Ultra-MAGAs, Election-Deniers, Responses

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S.  Governance, Economy

 

U.S. Educational, Loan Issues

 

Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

U.S. Law, Security, Immigration, Crime

 

More On Ukraine War

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 
U.S. Media, Education, Sports, Culture

 

U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Intelligence Will Assess Security Risks From Mar-a-Lago Documents, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The director of national intelligence said her office would lead a review of the sensitive material retrieved from former President Trump’s Florida home.

U.S. intelligence officials will conduct a review to assess the possible risks to national security from former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents after the F.B.I. retrieved boxes containing sensitive material from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter to lawmakers.

In the letter, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees that her office would lead an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents Mr. Trump took with him to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Haines said her office would work with the Justice Department to ensure that the assessment did not interfere with the department’s criminal investigation concerning the documents. The review will determine what intelligence sources or systems could be identified from the documents and be compromised if they fell into the wrong hands.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-28, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald’s inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022. A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home
  • It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle

Story excerpted at greater length below.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s war on the National Archives, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The agency has been hit with a wave of threats and vitriol since the FBI retrieved scores of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

In the nearly three weeks since the FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home to recover classified documents, the National Archives and Records Administration has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol, according to people familiar with the situation. Civil servants tasked by law with preserving and securing the U.S. government’s records were rattled.

nara logoOn Wednesday, the agency’s head sent an email to the staff. Though academic and suffuse with legal references, the message from acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall was simple: Stay above the fray and stick to the mission.

“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’ ” Steidel Wall wrote in the agencywide message, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”

The email capped a year-long saga that has embroiled the Archives — widely known for being featured in the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, “National Treasure” — in a protracted fight with Trump over classified documents and other records that were taken when he left office.

Archives officials have emailed, called and cajoled the former president and his representatives to follow the law and return the documents. When the Archives recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January, agency officials found a mess of disorganized papers lacking any inventory. Highly classified material was mixed in with newspaper clippings and dinner menus. And Archives officials believed more items were still missing.

What happened next was an extraordinary step for America’s record keepers: they referred the matter to the Justice Department, opening a dramatic new chapter in what had been a quietly simmering dispute.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Affidavit to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate says 184 classified files found in January, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The newly public affidavit will help explain why FBI agents wanted to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, with sensitive information blocked out.

The FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month after reviewing 184 classified documents that were kept there since he left the White House, including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them, and interviewing a “significant number” of witnesses, court filings unsealed Friday say.

FBI logoThe details contained in a search-warrant affidavit and related memo crystallize much of what was already known about the criminal probe into whether Trump and his aides took secret government papers and did not return all of the material — despite repeated demands from senior officials. The documents, though heavily redacted, offer the clearest description to date of the rationale for the unprecedented Aug. 8 search and the high-stakes investigation by the Justice Department into a former president who may run again for the White House.

The affidavit suggests that if some of the classified documents voluntarily returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets. Over the spring and summer, the affidavit states, the FBI came to suspect that Trump and his team were hiding the fact that he still had more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, leading agents to want to conduct a search of the property.

 

A man looks for salvageable belongings from his flood-hit home surrounded by water, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. Army troops are being deployed in Pakistan's flood affected area for urgent rescue and relief work as flash floods triggered after heavy monsoon rains across most part of the country lashed many districts in all four provinces. (AP Photo/Zahid Hussain)

A man looks for salvageable belongings from his flood-hit home surrounded by water, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. Army troops are being deployed in Pakistan’s flood affected area for urgent rescue and relief work as flash floods triggered after heavy monsoon rains across most part of the country lashed many districts in all four provinces (AP Photo by Zahid Hussain).

 ap logoAssociated Press, Pakistan flooding deaths pass 1,000 in ‘climate catastrophe,’ Zarar Khan, Aug. 28, 2022. Deaths from widespread flooding in Pakistan topped 1,000 since mid-June, officials said Sunday, as the country’s climate minister called the deadly monsoon season “a serious climate catastrophe.”

Flash flooding from the heavy rains has washed away villages and crops as soldiers and rescue workers evacuated stranded residents to the safety of relief camps and provided food to thousands of displaced Pakistanis.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority reported the death toll since the monsoon season began earlier than normal this year — in mid- June — reached 1,033 people after new fatalities were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southern Sindh provinces.

Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani senator and the country’s top climate official, said in a video posted on Twitter that Pakistan is experiencing a “serious climate catastrophe, one of the hardest in the decade.”

“We are at the moment at the ground zero of the front line of extreme weather events, in an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, flood events and now the monster monsoon of the decade is wreaking non-stop havoc throughout the country,” she said. The on-camera statement was retweeted by the country’s ambassador to the European Union.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia-Ukraine War: More Strikes Reported Near Nuclear Plant as U.N. Experts Plan Visit, James C. McKinley Jr., Aug. 28, 2022. Neither Russia nor Ukraine appeared to be pausing attacks in the area, even as talks continued over allowing inspectors to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant. Artillery barrages along a section of front line near an imperiled nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine struck towns, ammunition dumps and a Russian military base in intense fighting overnight, Ukrainian officials said on Sunday.

Reports of fighting all along the southern front suggested that neither side was pausing hostilities, even amid complex negotiations to allow for a team of scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which has been repeatedly damaged by recent shelling. The plant is controlled by the Russian military but operated by Ukrainian engineers.

Russian forces fired rocket artillery and howitzers overnight at the Ukraine-controlled town of Nikopol, across from the plant on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, which separates the two armies in the area, a local military official, Valentin Reznichenko, said. The strikes damaged several houses and cars and knocked out electricity for 1,500 residents, he said in a post on the Telegram social networking site.

In a separate assault on the town, Russian helicopters fired rockets, according to the Ukrainian military, which reported damage to a house but no casualties.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its Air Force had hit Ukrainian workshops where helicopters were being repaired in the surrounding Zaporizka region, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The claim could not be independently verified.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Artillery strikes continue near the troubled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
  • Putin offers incentives to Ukrainians to come to Russia and stay there.
  • Putin’s army expansion may not help Russia much, U.S. and British officials say.
  • Western officials criticize Russia for blocking a joint U.N. document on nuclear disarmament.
  • W.N.B.A. stars to head overseas despite Griner’s arrest in Russia.

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Once unthinkable, Democrats now see narrow path to keeping the House, Annie Linskey and Michael Scherer, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). While Democrats acknowledge they still face major hurdles, there has been an unmistakable mood shift, according to interviews with candidates, strategists and officials.

Democrats are voicing growing confidence about limiting losses in the House and potentially even salvaging their majority in the midterm elections, with candidates and allied groups making moves to capitalize on a backlash to abortion restrictions, signs of improvements in the economy and opposition to Donald Trump.

After months of gloomy predictions, Democrats are investing anew in flipping Republican seats. They are also directing more money to protect a roster of their own endangered incumbents — a list party officials said noticeably shrank since the spring. And they are trying to frame contests around abortion rights, putting Republicans on the defensive for strict opposition to the procedure in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump is turning the midterms from a referendum into a choice, Dan Balz, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Republicans could pay a price in November as the former president’s dominance of the party changes the equation for midterm campaigns.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Has the political environment shifted? Alums of 2010, 2018 wave midterms urge caution, Paul Kane, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Midterms rarely deliver big political surprises, but recent elections have made Democrats more confident. Still, alumni of huge wave elections in 2010 and 2018 know it isn’t that simple.

Alumni of those 2010 and 2018 midterm elections now find themselves looking at the 2022 campaign and considering how much things have changed from just a couple of months ago when there was bipartisan consensus that Democrats were going to be wiped out in November.

Instead, mass shootings in New York and Texas made gun violence a top issue for voters, followed by a Supreme Court ruling overturning a nearly 50-year precedent on abortion rights and then a late-summer flurry of federal legislation that energized liberals who previously felt let down by the Democratic legislative majority.

Buyer’s remorse could be creeping in for GOP on abortion

All this while gas prices fell by more than $1 a gallon throughout the summer. And then came Tuesday’s upset victory by Democrat Pat Ryan in a congressional swing district in Upstate New York after Republicans had held a big early lead.

 

U.S. Ultra-MAGAs, Election-Deniers, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Giuliani had ‘no fear gene.’ That led to his predicament, Andrew Kirtzman, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Fearlessness has a flip side, which is recklessness. It may have consequences for America’s Mayor.

On Aug. 17, Rudy Giuliani stepped out of a black SUV outside the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta and pushed his way through a mass of reporters shouting the same question: What did he plan to tell a grand jury about his efforts to sabotage the 2020 election results on behalf of Donald Trump? Would he take the Fifth? “They ask the questions and we’ll see,” he said. When he made it to the front door it was locked — he’d arrived before business hours. For 30 awkward seconds, he was cornered, laughing nervously as he waited for someone to open the door.

For anyone who has followed his long career, Giuliani’s courthouse appearance was a riveting spectacle. For much of the 1980s and ’90s, the prosecutor-turned-mayor swept into government buildings like this with an almost cinematic boldness, the most feared man in town heading into the next big battle with his entourage of dark-suited aides and plainclothes detectives. Now he is a diminished figure, angling to persuade jurors and prosecutors to keep him off the path to prison. Even if he escapes indictment in Georgia, there are two Justice Department inquiries he must survive.

It is a moment of reckoning for a man whose gleeful flirtation with danger over the decades has led him to this crucible. Perhaps none of his troubles would have emerged if he had never met Trump. Or maybe his character flaws made them inevitable.

Andrew Kirtzman is the author of “Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor,” which will be published Sept. 13. It is his second biography of the former New York City mayor.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Biden launches powerful kickoff for Democrats’ fall campaign under watchword that MAGA Republicans represent “SEMI-FASCISM”! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 27-28, 2022 (109 mins.). President provides intellectual clarity and leadership far superior to timid and vacillating academic historians in diagnosing the scourge of fascism in contemporary US; 

Democrat Pat Ryan wins NY-19 House seat with campaign based on abortion rights and tax relief; GOP opponent outspent him by 3:1 in campaign stressing inflation and crime, but still succumbed by almost 4% in classic bellwether swing district, showing impotence of main lines of GOP demagogy;

Search affidavit exposes Trump’s betrayal of US interests, resulting in 20 months of above top secret documents being exposed to Russia, China, and other enemy states – or worse; flagrant contempt for security procedures is evident; New York Times breaks with appeasement to demand criminal prosecution of former tenant of White House, joining growing chorus for accountability; Draconian punishment is imperative;

Mar a Lago timelines show that Department of Justice was far too soft on Trump; Archives strove for months to pry loose documents; Affidavit specifies that “significant numbers” of witnesses/informants helped FBI locate papers;

Trump poses incalculable threat to United States, starting with his notorious association with aggressor Putin; Republican pols go silent, run for cover as guilt becomes irrefutable; Maryland GOP gubernatorial hopeful Cox purges website of MAGA references;

Shared features of fascist regimes during interwar period in cases of Horthy in Hungary, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Franco in Spain, and Petain in Vichy France are all relevant to MAGA phenomenon.

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Retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for governor, poses at left in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-14 faculty photo at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 9, 2014. The photo was released by the Army War College to Reuters on August 26, 2022 under the Freedom of Information Act. Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017. (Army War College Photo Handout via Reuters.)

  

Water, Energy, Climate, Disasters, Environment

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The future of America’s water cannot be won without changing America’s farms, David Von Drehle, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). I optimistically predict a great leap forward in water conservation strategies arising from the parched American West.

Such metropolitan areas as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas, along with some of the world’s most productive farmlands, face strangulation at the end of an empty water hose.

The seven states watered by the mighty Colorado River long ago overtaxed the channel’s annual supply. Years of runaway growth, persistent drought and wasteful misuse of water have relentlessly drawn down the reservoirs that store the region’s lifeblood and power its electricity generating stations.

Now is the moment for concentrated minds. The water crisis predicted for decades in the booming West has arrived. Despite past efforts at conservation, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, built at opposite ends of the Grand Canyon, are at their lowest levels since they were originally filled in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively. They are perilously close to becoming “dead pools” — a term used in the hydropower business to describe reservoirs too empty to push water through the turbines.

Hard as it is to imagine Las Vegas without lights, that’s nothing compared with imagining Phoenix without air conditioning. The river that fills the reservoirs that power the dams that electrify the Southwest cannot be allowed to go dead.

The Post’s View: The Colorado River is in crisis. There are no painless solutions.

So the Interior Department has stepped in to focus some thinking. The Colorado River states must reduce overall water use by as much as 4.1 million acre-feet per year. That’s enough to submerge the state of Connecticut under 15 inches of water. Interior immediately began closing the tap for Arizona, Nevada and the nation of Mexico. Arizona will lose an astonishing, and painful, 21 percent of its water allocation under the new regulations.

People can argue about how much of this disaster is caused by climate change and how much stems from a long-ago miscalculation of the average flow of the Colorado River. But no one can look at the lakes draining away like bathtubs with the plugs pulled and deny that more water is leaving for downstream uses than arriving from the alpine snows that feed the Colorado headwaters.

Will the prospect of disaster concentrate minds on solutions?

I see reasons to be hopeful. Between the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year and the climate change initiative passed this year, some $12 billion in new federal funds has been targeted at the Colorado River water crisis. Careful use of that money can spur a lot of experiments in water conservation.

With concentrated minds, the United States could race ahead of the world in terms of smart water use. We should aim to outdo Singapore on water recycling, outdo Israel on desalination and outdo China on water conservation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Cloud Wars: Mideast Rivalries Rise Along a New Front, Alissa J. Rubin, Photographs by Bryan Denton, Aug. 28, 2022. As the region gets hotter and drier, the United Arab Emirates is leading the effort to coax more rain from the sky, and other nations are rushing to keep up. Iranian officials have worried for years that other nations have been depriving them of one of their vital water sources. But it was not an upstream dam that they were worrying about, or an aquifer being bled dry.

In 2018, amid a searing drought and rising temperatures, some senior officials concluded that someone was stealing their water from the clouds.

“Both Israel and another country are working to make Iranian clouds not rain,” said Brig. Gen. Gholan Reza Jalali, a senior official in the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps in a 2018 speech.

The unnamed country was the United Arab Emirates, which had begun an ambitious cloud-seeding program, injecting chemicals into clouds to try to force precipitation. Iran’s suspicions are not surprising, given its tense relations with most Persian Gulf nations, but the real purpose of these efforts is not to steal water, but simply to make it rain on parched lands.

As the Middle East and North Africa dry up, countries in the region have embarked on a race to develop the chemicals and techniques that they hope will enable them to squeeze rain drops out of clouds that would otherwise float fruitlessly overhead.

With 12 of the 19 regional countries averaging less than 10 inches of rainfall a year, a decline of 20 percent over the past 30 years, their governments are desperate for any increment of fresh water, and cloud seeding is seen by many as a quick way to tackle the problem.

And as wealthy countries like the emirates pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort, other nations are joining the race, trying to ensure that they do not miss out on their fair share of rainfall before others drain the heavens dry — despite serious questions about whether the technique generates enough rainfall to be worth the effort and expense.

Morocco and Ethiopia have cloud-seeding programs, as does Iran. Saudi Arabia just started a large-scale program, and a half-dozen other Middle Eastern and North African countries are considering it.

China has the most ambitious program worldwide, with the aim of either stimulating rain or halting hail across half the country. It is trying to force clouds to rain over the Yangtze River, which is running dry in some spots.

While cloud seeding has been around for 75 years, experts say the science has yet to be proven. And they are especially dismissive of worries about one country draining clouds dry at the expense of others downwind.

The life span of a cloud, in particular the type of cumulus clouds most likely to produce rain, is rarely more than a couple of hours, atmospheric scientists say. Occasionally, clouds can last longer, but rarely long enough to reach another country, even in the Persian Gulf, where seven countries are jammed close together.

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

djt handwave file

 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this djt nyt aug 27 2022month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

ny times logoNew York Times, A judge signaled her intent to grant Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the seized documents, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The judge, an appointee of President Donald J. Trump, indicated she was prepared to grant Mr. Trump’s request for an arbiter, or special master, to review the documents seized by the F.B.I.

A federal judge in Florida gave notice on Saturday of her “preliminary intent” to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to conduct a review of the highly sensitive documents that were seized by the F.B.I. this month during a search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s club and residence in Palm Beach.

In an unusual action that fell short of a formal order, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, signaled that she was inclined to agree with the former president and his lawyers that a special master should be appointed to review the seized documents.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2020, set a hearing for arguments in the matter for Thursday in the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach — not the one in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically works.

On Friday night, only hours after a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant for the search of Mar-a-Lago was released, Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed court papers to Judge Cannon reiterating their request for a special master to weed out documents taken in the search that could be protected by executive privilege.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had initially asked Judge Cannon on Monday to appoint a special master, but their filing was so confusing and full of bluster that the judge requested clarifications on several basic legal questions. The notice by Judge Cannon on Saturday was seen as something of a victory in Mr. Trump’s circle.

A different federal judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach, ordered the unsealing of the warrant affidavit. The document said, among other things, that the Justice Department wanted to search Mar-a-Lago to ensure the return of highly classified documents that Mr. Trump had removed from the White House, including some that department officials believed could jeopardize “clandestine human sources” who worked undercover gathering intelligence.

Special masters are not uncommon in criminal investigations that include the seizure by the government of disputed materials that could be protected by attorney-client privilege. A special master was appointed, for example, after the F.B.I. raided the office of Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen in 2018 and took away evidence that Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump claimed should have been kept from investigators because of the nature of their professional relationship.

In the case of the search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that some of the documents taken by the F.B.I. could be shielded not by attorney-client privilege, but rather by executive privilege, a vestige of Mr. Trump’s service as president. But legal scholars — and some judges — have expressed skepticism that former presidents can unilaterally assert executive privilege over materials related to their time in office once they leave the White House.

In December, for example, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that, despite his attempts to invoke executive privilege, Mr. Trump had to turn over White House records related to the attack on the Capitol to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

In her notice on Saturday, Judge Cannon gave the Justice Department until Tuesday to file a response to Mr. Trump’s request. The judge also instructed prosecutors to send her under seal “a more detailed receipt” specifying the items that were seized by federal agents during the search of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. As part of their initial request, Mr. Trump’s lawyers had asked for a complete inventory of what was taken, arguing that the receipt the F.B.I. had given them was insufficient.

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left), a Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty and infiltrate3d Mar-a-Lago and the Trump inner circle, and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald’s inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022 (Continued from above). A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home
    It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle

A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump’s inner circle – and is now being investigated by the FBI and Canadian authorities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed the alleged antics of the faker — whose real name is Inna Yashchyshyn — on Friday.

Yaschyshyn, 33, told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club after bragging of her Monaco property portfolio and family vineyards, it’s claimed.

But the alleged scammer is actually the Ukrainian-born daughter of a truck driver called Oleksandr Yaschysyn, who lives in a neat-but-modest home in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Yaschyshyn is believed to have been taken to the club for the first time by a Trump donor called Elchanan Adamker in 2021 — and posed for a photo with the former president the very next day.

She is accused of obtaining fake IDs — including a US passport and multiple drivers’ licenses – using her fake Rothschild alter ego.

Yaschushyn faces an FBI probe over a charity she was president of called the United Hearts of Mercy. It was founded by a Florida-based Russian businessman called Valery Tarasenko in Canada in 2015, but is alleged to have been used as a front to fundraise for Russian organized crime gangs.

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

Yaschushyn is currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit with Tarasenko, whose daughter she used to babysit, and claims she has been framed by him. She has also been tied to a condo development in Canada, although further details of what cops in Quebec are investigating her for have yet to emerge.

Tarasenko says Yaschushyn cared for his children while he traveled on business, and claims she was keen to make in-roads at Mar-a-Lago to find rich benefactors. It is unclear if Tarasenko himself faces a probe.

Yaschushyn in turn claims she is the victim, and that Tarasenko set her up by producing multiple fake IDs without her knowledge.

The United Hearts of Mercy positioned itself as a nonprofit which helped impoverished children, but the FBI believes it was actually a front to funnel cash to organized crime gangs.

Payment processing firm Stripe suspended donations to the United Hearts of Mercy’s purported COVID appeal.

Emails sent by the Post-Gazette to supposed donors in Hong Kong all bounced back, suggesting those donors may never have existed.

The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home and private club – and highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle.
Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump’s Palm Beach golf club

Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump’s Palm Beach golf club

The Secret Service wouldn’t comment on whether they were investigating Yashchyshyn, nor would the FBI – but several sources said they had been questioned by FBI officials about Yashchyshyn’s behavior.

Canadian law enforcement confirmed Yashchyshyn has been the subject of a major crimes unit investigation in Quebec since February, the Post-Gazette reported.

The United Hearts of Mercy was founded in Canada by Tarasenko, although it’s still unclear whether Yaschyshyn is being probed there over that nonprofit. She was also linked to a condo development in the country.

Yashchyshyn started showing up at Mar-a-Lago last spring. The Post-Gazette reported she was first invited by Trump supporter Elchanan Adamker, who runs a financial services firm, to Mar-a-Lago for the first time in May 2021.

She also managed to take footage of Trump’s speeches inside the club

‘It wasn’t just dropping the family name. She talked about vineyards and family estates and growing up in Monaco,’ recalled LeFevre. ‘It was a near-perfect ruse and she played the part.’

He added that ‘everyone was eating it up’ and Mar-a-Lago members ‘fawned all over her and because of the Rothschild mystique, they never probed and instead tiptoed around her with kid gloves .’

By the next day, Yashchyshyn was rubbing shoulders with Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham at the president’s nearby West Palm Beach golf club.

The report included photographs of Yashchyshyn, Trump and Graham, as well as her in a group shot with Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The Post-Gazette also shared images of Yashchyshyn’s various IDS — passports from the U.S. and Canada, along with a Florida driver’s license, in which she uses the Rothschild name — as well as Ukrainian and Russian passports where she goes by Inna Yashchyshyn and Anna Anisimova, respectively.

When speaking to the Post-Gazette, however, she said, ‘I think there is some misunderstanding.’

Yashchyshyn said any passports or driver’s licenses using the Rothschild name had been fabricated by her former business partner, 44-year-old Valeriy Tarasenko. ‘That’s all fake, and nothing happened,’ Yashchyshyn said.

The various IDs have been turned over to the FBI, the Post-Gazette said. Yashchyshyn also said she was speaking to the FBI on August 19.

Politico, Trump lawyers renew plea for outside supervision of Mar-a-Lago search trove

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Former U.S. President Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson). He answered only one question during four hours of them in an interview with the New York State attorney general, his lawyer said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Knew the Justice Department Case Was Righteous. This Affidavit Confirms It, Andrew Weissmann (Mr. Weissmann was a senior prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election), Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). We always knew that whatever the information about the Mar-a-Lago search that would be released by a federal court, it would not help Donald Trump.

We know that not just because Judge Bruce Reinhart already concluded, based on seeing the unredacted affidavit used to obtain the search warrant, that there was probable cause to believe three federal crimes had been committed and that evidence of those crimes was at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida club-residence.

Mr. Trump knows the answers to the most important unanswered questions: What material did he take from the White House, why did he take it, what had he done with it, and what was he planning to do with it? There is nothing that prevented him for over a year from publicly answering those questions; he surely has not remained silent because the answers are exculpatory.

Above all, the redacted affidavit (and an accompanying brief explaining the redactions), which was released on Friday, reveals more evidence of a righteous criminal case related to protecting information vital to our nation’s security.

I can assure you, based on my experience as the general counsel of the F.B.I., that although there may be too much information deemed sensitive at the lowest level of classification, that was never the case with top-secret material.

The redacted affidavit is further proof that Mr. Trump’s flouting of criminal statutes persisted for a long time and gives every appearance of being intentional.

The key questions that remain include what precisely is the full scope of what Mr. Trump took from the White House, why he took the documents and did not return them all and what he was doing with them all this time.

The redacted affidavit does not answer those questions, and the usually loquacious Mr. Trump has not addressed them. But we do now know that the Justice Department is one step closer to being able to hold Mr. Trump to account for his actions, if it so chooses.

 

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Truth Social faces financial peril as worry about Trump’s future grows, Drew Harwell, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Payment disputes and a dwindling audience have fueled doubts about the former president’s Twitter clone.

Former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social website is facing financial challenges as its traffic remains puny and the company that is scheduled to acquire it expresses fear that his legal troubles could lead to a decline in his popularity.

Six months after its high-profile launch, the site — a clone of Twitter, which banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021 — still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings from Digital World Acquisition, the company planning to take Trump’s start-up, the Trump Media & Technology Group, public.

The company warned this week that its business could be damaged if Trump “becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility.” The company has seen its stock price plunge nearly 75 percent since its March peak and reported in a filing last week that it had lost $6.5 million in the first half of the year.

djt golf shirt bloatedThe FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate, fueled a burst of Truth Social user activity, and Trump himself (shown in a recent file photo) has increasingly used the site as one of his main online megaphones. “WE GAVE THEM MUCH,” he said, or “truthed,” on Friday in reaction to an FBI affidavit about classified documents kept at his Palm Beach home.

FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website

There are signs that the company’s financial base has begun to erode. The Trump company stopped paying RightForge, a conservative web-hosting service, in March and now owes it more than $1 million, according to Fox Business, which first reported the dispute.

The company also has struggled with some basics of corporate operation. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this month denied its application to trademark “Truth Social,” citing the “likelihood of confusion” to other similarly named companies, including an app, “VERO — True Social,” first released in 2015.

Representatives from Trump’s company and Digital World did not respond to requests for comment.

RightForge has advertised itself as a pillar of the conservative push to build a parallel internet protected from “Big Tech censorship.” Its chief executive Martin Avila declined to comment and said, “We fully stand behind the president and his endeavors.”

But two people familiar with the dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private details, said the lack of payment had fueled anger that Trump could shortchange a champion of his “free speech” mission.

The Trump company and RightForge have been communicating with each other exclusively through attorneys in recent weeks, the people said. Digital World Acquisition’s stock slid Friday about 7 percent.

Trump’s businesses have faced many similar payment battles over the years. In past SEC filings, Digital World has also noted that “a number of companies that were associated with [Trump] have filed for bankruptcy” and that “there can be no assurances that [Trump’s media company] will not also become bankrupt.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 3 big things we learned from the Mar-a-Lago affidavit, Greg Sargent, Aug. 26, 2022. In the Mar-a-Lago saga, Donald Trump has offered several big defenses. First, the former president has reportedly insisted to aides that he primarily took from the White House documents that were “mine.”

Second, he has suggested he always intended to do the right thing and turn over government documents in his possession. Third, he has said in many ways that the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of his Florida estate amounted to illegitimate jackbooted tyranny.

Now that the Justice Department has released a redacted version of the affidavit the FBI filed before getting a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, those arguments look even shakier.

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U.S. Politics, Governance Analysis

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican super PAC cuts ad buy in Arizona Senate race, Isaac Arnsdorf, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The pullback from one of the most contested states suggested concern about GOP nominee Blake Masters, who’s trailing Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly in the polls and in spending.

The main super PAC supporting Republican Senate candidates slashed airtime in Arizona, signaling trouble for nominee Blake Masters’s bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly.

The Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said it canceled about $8 million worth of TV, radio and digital ads in Arizona, delaying its entry into the race until October. The cuts were first reported by Politico.

The move comes a week after the super PAC announced an additional $28 million in Ohio to prop up Republican hopeful J.D. Vance.

“We’re leaving the door wide open in Arizona but we want to move additional resources to other offensive opportunities that have become increasingly competitive, as well as an unexpected expense in Ohio,” SLF President Steven Law said in a statement. “We think the fundamentals of this election strongly favor Republicans, we see multiple paths to winning the majority, and we are going to invest heavily and strategically to achieve that goal.”

Both Masters and Vance won their primaries as first-time candidates boosted by former president Donald Trump’s endorsement and a combined more than $20 million from conservative technology billionaire Peter Thiel. But they both emerged battered from primary attack ads and with depleted cash reserves.

McConnell allies approached Thiel for more funding for the general but didn’t receive it, and it’s not clear whether Thiel will re-up, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private donor conversations.

During the primary, Masters called for McConnell to be replaced as GOP leader, expressing his support for Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Masters complained that McConnell was an obstacle to enacting Trump’s agenda even though the former majority leader delivered on a tax cut in 2017.

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U.S. Educational Issues

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Top Universities Say They Need Affirmative Action After It Was Banned, Stephanie Saul, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). As a Supreme Court case nears, the California and Michigan university systems say their efforts to build diverse classes have fallen abysmally short.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ron DeSantis Suspends 4 Elected School Board Members After Parkland Report, Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). They were found to have engaged in “acts of incompetence and neglect,” but one ousted member called the Florida governor’s move “political retribution.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended four elected members of the Broward County school board on Friday, following the recommendation of a grand jury impaneled to look into school safety and other issues after the mass school shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead in 2018.

In its report, which was released last week, the grand jury found that the four school board members — and a fifth one who no longer holds that position — had “engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty,” in part for what the grand jury described as mismanagement of an $800 million bond issue approved by voters in 2014 that was intended to renovate schools and make them safer.

Mr. DeSantis suspended Patricia Good, Donna P. Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson from the board. Though all nine school board seats are nonpartisan, all four are registered Democrats, which is not unusual in liberal Broward County. Ms. Korn was on the ballot on Tuesday and had made it into a runoff for the November election.

The fifth person recommended for removal from office in the report, Rosalind Osgood, who is also a Democrat, was elected to the State Senate in a special election this year.

Ms. Levinson, hours after being removed from the board she had served for 12 years, declined to comment about the specific accusations in the report, but said they were pretext for “political retribution.” She said that all the suspended board members had won elections since the shooting.

“What country is this?” Ms. Levinson, formerly the board chairwoman, said in an interview Friday. “What Governor DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and he overturned the will of the voters.”

She added that Mr. DeSantis “impaneled this grand jury under the guise of school safety as a pretext to remove school board members who did not fire the former superintendent.”

In the tumultuous year after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a state commission found failures in the police response to the massacre. As a result, Mr. DeSantis suspended the elected sheriff in Broward County, Scott Israel, shortly after being sworn in as governor in 2019.

washington post logo

Politico, Crist to pick Miami teachers union head as his running mate, Matt Dixon, Aug. 26, 2022. Karla Hernández-Mats has been president of United Teachers of Dade since 2016. Democrat Charlie Crist will pick Karla Hernández-Mats, the head of Miami-Dade County’s largest teachers union, as his running mate as he seeks to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis.

politico CustomCrist is expected to formally announce his pick during a Saturday rally in Miami that he’s holding to officially kick off his general election campaign. Crist trounced Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 59-34 in Tuesday night’s primary and is now preparing for an uphill battle against DeSantis, who is a heavy favorite.

The Hernández-Mats pick, first reported by CBS Miami, was greeted with high praise from Democrats. The Crist campaign declined to comment for this story.

“Love it!” said state Sen. Shev Jones (D-Miami) in a text. “I think it’s a thoughtful and bright move. Karla has ALWAYS had her ear to the ground for people, and she’s a natural galvanizer. Great pick!”

Florida Sen. Jason Pizzo, also a Miami Democrat, described her as “bright, warm and tough.”

Since 2016, Hernández-Mats has served as president of the United Teachers of Dade, which touts itself as the largest teachers union in the southeast. She is also on the governance board of the Florida Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher’s union.

FEA support of Crist played a pivotal role in the primary. The organization not only endorsed him, but pushed for the rest of the state’s labor organization to follow suit with a primary endorsement, even as some did not want to endorse before the general election. It led to a contested fight during the AFL-CIO’s summer convention in Orlando, which Crist ultimately won.

“We’re thrilled by Charlie Crist’s choice for his running mate. Karla Hernández-Mats will be a great lieutenant governor of and for all the people of Florida,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said. “She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities.”

 joe biden student debt ed secretary

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens as President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

 washington post logoWashington Post, Student loan forgiveness application coming in October, White House says, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.

The White House said Friday that student loan borrowers will be able to apply for debt cancellation this fall and receive relief within four to six weeks.

Speaking to reporters, White House National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti said the Education Department will release the application for President Biden’s loan forgiveness program in early October. After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.

The announcement arrives days after Biden said he would cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year, or less than $250,000 for married couples. Those who received Pell Grants, federal aid for lower-income students, could see up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

How President Biden decided to go big on student loan forgiveness

In the wake of the news, borrowers have been clamoring for more information, peppering student loan servicers with questions and crashing the Education Department’s website. Details of the plan continue to emerge from the Biden administration, giving borrowers a clearer understanding of how relief will work.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Two Big Questions About Student Debt Relief, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). On Wednesday, President Biden paul krugmanannounced a plan to reduce most students’ debt by $10,000, with lower-income students eligible for twice that amount. The debt forgiveness was much less generous than many progressives wanted but more generous than many expected. Assuming it survives legal challenges, it will be a big deal for millions of Americans, although the overall economic impact will, as I’ll explain, be limited.

There are two big questions about this plan. First, will it, as critics claim, significantly increase inflation? The answer, if you do the math, is a clear no. Second, is it a good policy? The answer should be: Compared with what?

About the math: What you need to have is a sense of scale. If you’re worried about inflation, the relevant number here isn’t the eventual cost to taxpayers, which might be several hundred billion dollars. It is, rather, the effect on private spending. And I just don’t see any way to claim that this effect will be large.

But is it a good program?

The right is inveighing against debt relief on moral grounds. “If you take out a loan, you pay it back. Period,” tweeted the House Judiciary G.O.P. On which planet? America has had regularized bankruptcy procedures, which take debt off the books, since the 19th century; the idea has been to give individuals and businesses with crippling debts a second chance.

And many people have taken advantage of those procedures. For example, businesses owned by a real estate mogul named Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy on six occasions. During the pandemic, many business owners received government loans that were subsequently forgiven.

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More On Ukraine War

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Takeaways from the redacted affidavit in the Mar-a-Lago search, Amber Phillips, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The largest piece of the puzzle about why FBI agents searched former president Donald Trump’s residence is out: the affidavit submitted to warrant the search. In its full form, this usually sealed document spells out exactly what FBI agents thought was hidden at Mar-a-Lago and what crimes may have been committed. But the version the Justice Department released to the public Friday is heavily redacted.

Here’s what we were able to glean about the investigation — and still have to learn.

1. 184 classified documents, including some top secret, were once at Mar-a-Lago. This affidavit, by definition, was written before FBI agents searched Trump’s clubhouse and took away more boxes of suspected classified information. They are likely sifting through that now. But when National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of official material in January from Mar-a-Lago, they found “a lot of classified records,” according to the affidavit, and flagged the FBI.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: Inspectors Set to Visit Besieged Ukrainian Nuclear Plant, Marc Santora, Andrew Higgins and Tomas Dapkus, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant, where shelling has raised concerns of a nuclear accident.

Russia and Ukraine again accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team of experts to visit the facility amid concerns about a possible nuclear accident.

Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant came under renewed shelling on Saturday as fraught negotiations to allow for a team of scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the facility took on added urgency.

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team of experts to visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Ukraine — Europe’s largest nuclear power station — as early as next week.

A list of the team’s members seen by The New York Times includes the nuclear agency’s chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, and 13 other experts from mostly neutral countries. Neither the United States nor Britain, countries that Russia scorns as unfairly biased because of their strong support for Ukraine, is represented.

The I.A.E.A. headquarters in Vienna declined to comment on the planned mission. A spokesman confirmed that the agency was “in active consultations for an imminent I.A.E.A. mission” to the plant.

But even as the details of a possible visit to the plant took shape, Russia and Ukraine on Saturday again blamed each other for shelling the facility.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an address to the nation late Friday that the episode had brought it perilously close to disaster, making the need for a visit by international inspectors even more urgent.

Despite mounting international anxiety over a possible catastrophe at the sprawling plant, in the middle of a war zone, Russia and Ukraine have for weeks failed to agree on a plan that would allow inspectors to visit. The shelling is complicating those discussions.

The warring nations have haggled over the composition of an inspection team and whether it would travel to the plant through territory occupied by Russian forces or controlled by the government in Kyiv.

Ukraine has insisted that the inspectors start out from government-controlled territory, to avoid giving legitimacy to the Russian occupation. That means the inspectors would have to pass through frontline positions where shelling is frequent and would probably use a crossing point already crowded with civilians fleeing the fighting and nuclear dangers. Any deal is likely to require a cease-fire along the route.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Ukraine steps up disaster planning amid turmoil at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
  • Western officials criticize Russia for blocking a joint U.N. document on nuclear disarmament.
  • For Ukraine’s women, war brings new roles and new dangers.
  • Ukraine regularly aims taunts and mockery at Russia, defying a longstanding diplomatic maxim.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Law, Security, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan G.O.P. Lining Up Behind Conspiracy Theorist for Attorney General, Alexandra Berzon and Nick Corasaniti, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Matthew DePerno’s political rise has been tied to a debunked election report. Some see parallels between his dive into 2020 conspiracies theories and his legal career.

Bolstered by his association with the former president, Mr. DePerno is poised to be nominated as the G.O.P. candidate for attorney general, the top legal official in the state, at a state party convention on Saturday. He is among a coterie of election deniers running for offices that have significant authority over elections, worrying some election experts, Democrats and some Republicans across the country.

This month, the Michigan attorney general’s office released documents that suggest Mr. DePerno was a key orchestrator of a separate plot to gain improper access to voting machines in three other Michigan counties. The attorney general, Dana Nessel, the Democrat Mr. DePerno is challenging for the office, requested that a special prosecutor be appointed to pursue the investigation into the scheme and weigh criminal charges. Mr. DePerno denies the allegations and called them politically motivated.

 

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Warships Sail Taiwan Strait, Defying China, Austin Ramzy, Aug. 28, 2022. Two guided-missile cruisers were the first to visit since China began extensive military drills after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

The guided-missile cruisers Antietam and Chancellorsville were conducting what the Navy’s Seventh Fleet called “a routine Taiwan Strait transit.” American officials said this month that the Navy would continue to operate around Taiwan, despite China’s claims to control the waterway.

China has warned the United States against sailing warships in the Taiwan Strait and said that it would respond to what it considers threats to its sovereignty. The Chinese military said on Sunday in a statement that it had monitored the ships’ passage but did not indicate any additional response.

“Eastern theater forces remain on high alert, ready to thwart any provocation,” it said.

After Ms. Pelosi visited Taiwan on Aug. 2-3, China launched missiles into waters that are part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone and carried out 72 hours of live fire exercises around Taiwan that simulated a potential blockade of the island. China considers self-governed Taiwan to be part of its territory, although the Communist Party has never controlled the island.

ny times logoNew York Times, How China Could Choke Taiwan With a Blockade, Chris Buckley, Pablo Robles, Marco Hernandez and Amy Chang Chien, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). News China is honing its ability to blockade Taiwan, giving Beijing the option of cutting off the self-ruled island in its campaign to take control of it.

Recent Headlines

 

Media, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Project Veritas, Ashley Biden and the First Amendment, Erik Wemple, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). In November 2021, FBI agents conducted an early-morning search at the home of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe as part of an investigation into Ashley Biden’s stolen diary. In the intervening months, O’Keefe and his lawyers have criticized the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly heavy-handed investigative measures.

The Justice Department on Thursday delivered a response of sorts, and the particulars don’t look favorable to Project Veritas, a group popular among conservatives for its undercover “sting” videos seeking to expose liberal bias in the media, government and tech worlds.

The upshot: If the government’s version of events is true — its claims have not been tested in court — Project Veritas appears to have a shaky case that all of its activities in the diary saga are protected by the First Amendment.

According to Thursday’s announcement, two Florida residents — Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander — pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to transport stolen property, which included a diary purportedly kept by Ashley Biden. “Harris and Kurlander stole personal property from an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. According to a court document filed by prosecutors in connection with the plea, Harris and Kurlander engaged in extensive discussions with an “organization” — known to be Project Veritas — to sell the material.

The disclosures in Thursday’s plea documents bear on the legal arguments that Project Veritas asserted at the time of the O’Keefe raid. Back then, lawyers for the organization maintained that O’Keefe & Co. were practicing journalism — and the feds were overreaching. “What the DOJ has done in this case … they have blown federal law, they’ve blown the Constitution, they’ve blown due process and civil rights. … So this is a scandal of epic proportions,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon told host Tucker Carlson at the time. “Every journalist who isn’t worried and concerned about this should hang up their journalism card — ditto all First Amendment lawyers as well.”

As it turns out, no — this was not a scandal of epic proportions.

As for the group’s claim that the First Amendment shields its activities, that’s a complicated question. As this blog has noted before, the Supreme Court has extended First Amendment protections to the publication of information that had been obtained illegally — provided that the news outlet didn’t participate in those illegal activities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Buffalo Bills Cut Matt Araiza Amid Rape Lawsuit, Ken Belson and Jenny Vrentas, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The team said it had released the rookie punter after he was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl with two San Diego State teammates.

The Buffalo Bills cut Matt Araiza on Saturday, two days after the rookie punter was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 17-year-old girl last October with two of his teammates at San Diego State.

“We don’t know all the facts, and that’s what makes it hard, but at this time we think it is the best move for everyone to move on from Matt and let him take care of this situation,” Brandon Beane, the team’s general manager, said in a news conference on Saturday night after a team practice.

Beane said that the team learned about the accusations in late July, about three months after Araiza was drafted. “We tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment,” he said. “It’s not easy.”

“We just decided that the most important thing is this is not about football, it’s about letting Matt go handle this,” Beane added.

Araiza traveled with the team on Friday to Charlotte for the team’s last preseason game but was not in uniform. He was not at the team’s practice on Saturday.

Araiza denied the accusations in a statement released through his agent on Friday night. “The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” he said, adding that he looked forward to “quickly setting the record straight.”

In the lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court on Thursday, the teen said that she was “observably intoxicated” at a house party last October in San Diego and that Araiza, who was 21 at the time, knew that she was in high school. She said that Araiza led her to a side yard, where he raped her orally and vaginally. According to the civil complaint, Araiza then took her to a bedroom inside the house, where a group of men, including the two San Diego State teammates named in her lawsuit, “took turns having sex with her” while she went in and out of consciousness.

The San Diego police began an investigation last year, and a public affairs officer for the San Diego County district attorney’s office confirmed on Friday that it was reviewing the police investigation to consider criminal charges.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy, #MeToo, Trafficking

washington post logoWashington Post, New restrictions from major abortion funder could further limit access, Caroline Kitchener, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Abortion providers say the restrictions from The National Abortion Federation are unnecessary and burdensome for patients already facing steep obstacles to abortion care. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

New restrictions from one of the country’s largest abortion funding organizations could add new obstacles for many patients in antiabortion states seeking the procedure elsewhere.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, patients have flooded clinics in states where abortion is legal — with many driving long distances to receive a medication abortion, a two-part regimen that includes mifepristone and misoprostol. These patients usually take the mifepristone in the clinic before driving home with the misoprostol, to be taken between 24 and 48 hours later.

The National Abortion Federation and its NAF Hotline Fund will now require patients who receive their funding to take both abortion pills in a state where abortion is legal, according to emails sent on Aug. 22 and obtained by The Washington Post. The nonprofit, which is backed largely by billionaire Warren Buffett, helped fund at least 10 percent of all abortions in the United States in 2020. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

Patients in need of abortion funding can either call the NAF’s hotline or request financial help at a clinic authorized to offer support. Under NAF’s new regulations, which go into effect on Aug. 29, patients whose procedures are funded by the NAF will now need to affirm to clinic staff that they will not take their second pill in a state where abortion is illegal.

Clinics need only impose the NAF’s new restrictions on patients who receive NAF funding, according to an email to abortion providers from NAF Hotline Fund Operations Director Chloe Hanson Hebert. The restrictions will disproportionately impact poor women and women of color, several providers said.

These new restrictions go beyond what is explicitly required by abortion bans enacted since Roe was reversed. The various bans in antiabortion states prohibit providers from performing abortions within the state’s borders, but don’t bar providers elsewhere from prescribing pills to out-of-state patients they know will be returning home.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Justice Department wins one of two challenges to abortion bans, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 25, 2022. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Justice Department does not have many options for challenging state abortion bans.

There aren’t many federal judicial circuits where right-wing judges don’t dominate the courts of appeal. So the department must take its opportunities when it spots them.

 ap logoAssociated Press, Michigan panel recommends abortion proposal for ballot, Joey Cappelletti, Aug. 25, 2022. Michigan’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that the state’s election board give final approval to a potential ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

Michigan’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that the state’s election board give final approval to a potential ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

michigan mapThe Bureau of Elections said in a staff report that after examining petition sheets and a random sample of signatures, state officials determined that the petition contains 596,379 valid signatures –- close to 150,000 more than was required.

The report came after the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign turned in 753,759 signatures last month, a record-breaking number of signatures for a ballot initiative in the state. The Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative would affirm into Michigan’s Constitution the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interference.

The Bureau of Election’s report also addressed an anti-abortion group’s challenge to the proposed amendment last week, which claimed that lack of spacing in the amendment’s text created “strings of gibberish” and made the amendment “impossible to understand.”

 

luke bowen texas right to life

 

luke bowen right to life panel

Crooks & Liars from Current Revolt, Commentary: Texas Right To Life Political Director Arrested for Solicitation of a Minor, Conover Kennard, Aug. 25, 2022. Luke Bowen is the Political Director for Texas Right to Life. (Shown above, center, and in promo for Pro-Life panel not associated with charges.)

Lucas (Luke) Dane Bowen, right, Political Director of Texas Right to Life, was arrested on 8/3/2022 for alleged solitication of a minor. According to TransparencyUSA.org, Bowen was actively working with/for Texas right to life this year. Update: Texas Right to Life has informed Current Revolt that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd.

luke bowen mugshotWhen Republicans claim that Democrats are doing something evil, it’s just a matter of projection. I’m sure QAnon will be all over this, right? According to Current Revolt, Texas Right to Life told the outlet that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd — the very day he was arrested for alleged solicitation of a minor.

Again, again, again, right to life people aren’t taking away women’s rights to help children. It’s never been about children. It’s about control. They will force 10-year-olds to give birth. They are forcing a woman to give birth to a headless baby. Women’s lives mean nothing to them. Children’s lives are irrelevant to these “pro-life” soul-sucking conservatives. Don’t forget to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Halts Part of Idaho’s Abortion Ban, Saying It Violates Health Law, Glenn Thrush, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department sued Idaho this month, but its ability to influence policies in Republican states with so-called trigger laws is limited.

A federal judge in Idaho blocked part of the state’s strict abortion ban on Wednesday, delivering a limited but significant victory to the Biden administration, which has tried to use its limited power to protect reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

This month, the Justice Department sued Idaho, one of the most conservative states in the country, arguing that the law would prevent emergency room doctors from performing abortions necessary to stabilize the health of women facing medical emergencies.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the Federal District Court in Idaho wrote that doctors in the state could not be punished for acting to protect the health of endangered mothers, in a preliminary injunction issued a day before the ban was to be enacted.

New York State civil inquiry. Letitia James, the New York attorney general, has been conducting a civil investigation into Mr. Trump and his family business. The case is focused on whether Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets were part of a pattern of fraud or were simply Trumpian showmanship.

Manhattan criminal case. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been investigating whether Mr. Trump or his family business intentionally submitted false property values to potential lenders. But the inquiry faded from view after signs emerged suggesting that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be indicted.

The memo to Mr. Barr never mentioned the word “pardon,” instead characterizing that and similar episodes as Mr. Trump merely praising or condemning witnesses based on whether they cooperated with investigators. The memo argues that this could be interpreted as Mr. Trump merely not wanting the witnesses to lie and make up false claims against him.

To back up its assessments, the memo repeatedly stresses that Mr. Mueller’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence to charge any Trump campaign associate in a conspiracy with Russia.

“Once again, this conclusion is buttressed by the absence of any clear evidence that these witnesses had information that would prove the president had committed a crime,” Mr. Engel and Mr. O’Callaghan wrote.

Ryan Goodman, a New York University law professor, called the memo a “get out of jail free” card, adding: “It’s hard to stomach a memo that amounts to saying someone is not guilty of obstruction for deliberately trying to induce witnesses not to cooperate with law enforcement in a major criminal investigation.”

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

uvalde shooting victims 5 25 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Uvalde Fires Its School Police Chief in Response to Shooting, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The chief, Pete Arredondo, has been criticized for waiting too long to rescue students and teachers (shown above) trapped in two classrooms with the gunman.

pete arredondoFacing intense pressure from parents, the school board in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday terminated its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, right, who directed the district’s police response to a mass shooting at an elementary school in which the gunman was allowed to remain in a pair of classrooms for more than 75 minutes.

The unanimous vote, which Mr. Arredondo, through his lawyer, called “an unconstitutional public lynching,” represented the first direct accountability over what has been widely seen as a deeply flawed police response, one that left trapped and wounded students and teachers to wait for rescue as police officers delayed their entry into the two adjoining classrooms where the gunman was holed up.

Cheers broke out in the room as one of the board members, Laura Perez, made a motion: “I move that good cause exists to terminate the noncertified contract of Pete Arredondo, effective immediately,” she said.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: Why Outlawing Ghost Guns Didn’t Stop America’s Largest Maker of Ghost Gun Parts, Anjeanette Damon, Aug. 24, 2022. Unregistered, unserialized weapons produced with Polymer80 parts have turned up at crime scenes across the country, but state-level efforts to close ghost gun loopholes continue to fall short.

Recent Headlines

 

Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Beijing’s stance on covid now makes it a global outlier, Keith B. Richburg, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its covid guidelines, dropping recommendations for quarantining, social distancing and regular daily school testing. Thailand has downgraded the coronavirus to the same category as the flu.

The European Union has ended its emergency phase of the pandemic, and restaurants and bars are packed again. Australia and New Zealand have fully opened to tourists.

The pandemic might not be over, but most of the world is moving on. Yet there is one conspicuous exception: China.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Other countries are shifting to living with the virus, but China’s Communist rulers are sticking to their strict anti-epidemic policy known as “dynamic zero covid.” That means trying to stamp out every identifiable covid outbreak, no matter how small.

In practice, this policy has meant unannounced snap lockdowns of entire cities, keeping millions of people pinned in their homes. It has also stranded thousands of Chinese holidaymakers in local tourist spots, such as Tibet, Xinjiang and the tropical island of Hainan.

Chinese have to line up for multiple rounds of covid tests at designated facilities. In Beijing, more than 20 million people must get an officially sanctioned PCR test every three days to be able to enter almost any premises. Test results are displayed on mobile phone apps.

China has been largely cut off from the outside world for more than two years, with many international flights banned or suspended since the start of the pandemic. Flights to Beijing only resumed this summer. Visas for foreigners remain restricted to work or family visits, and foreign students are only now being allowed back after a two-year hiatus.

Incoming travelers must navigate a myriad of preflight testing requirements and then have to endure forced quarantine at designated hotels — only recently cut to seven days, down from as long as 28 days in some cities. But restrictions still vary widely.

washington post logoWashington Post, The world is moving on from the pandemic. Hear from five covid long-haulers who can’t, Staff Reports, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Five readers share their bouts with chronic fatigue and other symptoms of long covid.

ny times logoNew York Times, This Teen Was Prescribed 10 Psychiatric Drugs. She Was Far From Alone, Matt Richtel, Photographs by Annie Flanagan, Aug. 28, 2022. Increasingly, anxious and depressed teens are using multiple, powerful psychiatric drugs. Many are untested in adolescents or for use in tandem. Clinicians say that the drugs can be vital if properly prescribed. But they caution that such medications are too readily doled out.

One morning in the fall of 2017, Renae Smith, a high school freshman on Long Island, N.Y., could not get out of bed, overwhelmed at the prospect of going to school. In the following days, her anxiety mounted into despair.

“I should have been happy,” she later wrote. “But I cried, screamed and begged the universe or whatever godly power to take away the pain of a thousand men that was trapped inside my head.”

Intervention for her depression and anxiety came not from the divine but from the pharmaceutical industry. The following spring, a psychiatrist prescribed Prozac. The medication offered a reprieve from her suffering, but the effect dissipated, so she was prescribed an additional antidepressant, Effexor.

A medication cascade had begun. During 2021, the year she graduated, she was prescribed seven drugs. These included one for seizures and migraines — she experienced neither, but the drug can be also used to stabilize mood — and another to dull the side effects of the other medications, although it is used mainly for schizophrenia. She felt better some days but deeply sad on others.

Her senior yearbook photo shows her smiling broadly, “but I felt terrible that day,” said Ms. Smith, who is now 19 and attends a local community college. “I’ve gotten good at wearing a mask.”

She had come to exemplify a medical practice common among her generation: the simultaneous use of multiple heavy-duty psychiatric drugs.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens, Matt Richtel, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Studies indicate that dialectical behavior therapy offers greater benefits than more generalized therapy. But treatment is intensive, and expensive.

Parents seeking therapy for teenagers who self-harm or suffer from anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts face an imposing thicket of treatment options and acronyms: cognitive behavioral therapy (C.B.T.), parent management training (P.M.T.), collaborative assessment and management of suicidality (CAMS), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and others.

Each approach can benefit a particular subset of people. But for teenagers at acute risk for self-harm and suicide, health experts and researchers increasingly point to dialectical behavior therapy, or D.B.T., as an effective treatment.

“As of this moment, it’s probably the best tool we have,” said Michele Berk, a child and adolescent psychologist at Stanford University.

“There’s no medication for suicidal behavior,” said Michele Berk, a psychologist at Stanford University. “The patient needs to learn other behavioral skills that the medication does not teach you.”

Politico, Hackers have laid siege to U.S. health care and a tiny HHS office is buckling under the pressure, Ben Leonard, Aug. 28, 2022. With a dearth of resources, the Office for Civil Rights is struggling with an overflowing caseload. 

politico CustomCyber crooks steal medical information of tens of millions of people in the U.S. every year, a number that is rising fast as health care undergoes its digital transformation.

It leads to millions of dollars in losses for hospitals, insurers and other health care organizations, threatens care delivery and exposes patients to identity theft.

But the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which is tasked with investigating breaches, helping health care organizations bolster their defenses, and fining them for lax security, is poorly positioned to help. That’s because it has a dual mission — both to enforce the federal health privacy law known as HIPAA and to help the organizations protect themselves — and Congress has given it few resources to do the job.

“They’re a fish out of water … They were given the role of enforcement under HIPAA but weren’t given the resources to support that role,” said Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek, a Texas firm that helps health care organizations improve their cybersecurity.

Due to its shoestring budget, the Office for Civil Rights has fewer investigators than many local police departments, and its investigators have to deal with more than a hundred cases at a time. The office had a budget of $38 million in 2022 — the cost of about 20 MRI machines that can cost $1 million to $3 million a pop.

Recent Headlines

Aug. 27

Top Headlines

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

 

U.S. Ultra-MAGAs, Election-Deniers, Responses

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S. Politics, Governance, Economy

 

U.S. Educational, Loan Issues

 

Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

U.S. Law, Security, Immigration, Crime

 

More On Ukraine War

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 
U.S. Media, Education, Sports, Culture

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

Top Stories

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Affidavit to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate says 184 classified files found in January, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The newly public affidavit will help explain why FBI agents wanted to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, with sensitive information blocked out.

The FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month after reviewing 184 classified documents that were kept there since he left the White House, including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them, and interviewing a “significant number” of witnesses, court filings unsealed Friday say.

FBI logoThe details contained in a search-warrant affidavit and related memo crystallize much of what was already known about the criminal probe into whether Trump and his aides took secret government papers and did not return all of the material — despite repeated demands from senior officials. The documents, though heavily redacted, offer the clearest description to date of the rationale for the unprecedented Aug. 8 search and the high-stakes investigation by the Justice Department into a former president who may run again for the White House.

The affidavit suggests that if some of the classified documents voluntarily returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets. Over the spring and summer, the affidavit states, the FBI came to suspect that Trump and his team were hiding the fact that he still had more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, leading agents to want to conduct a search of the property.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-27, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald’s inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022. A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home
  • It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle

Story excerpted below.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Takeaways from the redacted affidavit in the Mar-a-Lago search, Amber Phillips, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The largest piece of the puzzle about why FBI agents searched former president Donald Trump’s residence is out: the affidavit submitted to warrant the search. In its full form, this usually sealed document spells out exactly what FBI agents thought was hidden at Mar-a-Lago and what crimes may have been committed. But the version the Justice Department released to the public Friday is heavily redacted.

Here’s what we were able to glean about the investigation — and still have to learn.

1. 184 classified documents, including some top secret, were once at Mar-a-Lago. This affidavit, by definition, was written before FBI agents searched Trump’s clubhouse and took away more boxes of suspected classified information. They are likely sifting through that now. But when National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of official material in January from Mar-a-Lago, they found “a lot of classified records,” according to the affidavit, and flagged the FBI.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Weighs a Risky Offensive to Break Out of a Stalemate, Andrew E. Kramer, Anton Troianovski and Helene Cooper, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Both Russia and Ukraine are preparing for a protracted standoff, but Ukraine has a greater incentive to try to avoid one.

For months Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have waged a brutal war across a 1,500-mile front line, inflicting casualties, fighting to the point of exhaustion and making slow gains in territory when they were not suffering costly setbacks.

After beginning with the Russian seizure of part of southern Ukraine and a failed strike at the capital, Kyiv, and then pivoting to a bloody artillery battle in the country’s east, the war is entering a third chapter. A battlefield stalemate prevails, with hostilities at a simmer, amid anxious uncertainty over whether — and when — Ukraine will launch a counteroffensive to try to break the deadlock.

The timing for any such attack has emerged as a pivotal decision for Ukraine’s government. Both sides are preparing for a protracted war, but Ukraine has greater incentive to try to avoid it with potentially risky maneuvers as early as this fall — before the rainy season turns the countryside into impassable bogs, or energy shortages and soaring costs undermine European support.

“An offensive is risky,” said Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at C.N.A., a research institute in Arlington, Va., assessing Ukraine’s options.

“If it fails, the outcome could affect external support,’’ he said. “On the other hand, Kyiv likely sees this as a window of opportunity, beyond which lies the uncertainty of a protracted war against a Russian army that has had time to entrench.”

From the Ukrainian perspective, the mostly static trench fighting cannot go on indefinitely. Leaving Russia in control of much of the southern coastline would cripple Ukraine’s economy, already cratering from the war and propped up by Western aid. It would also give space to Russia to solidify control in areas it has captured, blanketing news media and school curriculum with its propaganda, arresting or driving out opponents, and potentially declaring the land part of Russia after staging sham referendums.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Inspectors Set to Visit Besieged Ukrainian Nuclear Plant, Marc Santora, Andrew Higgins and Tomas Dapkus, Aug. 27, 2022. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant, where shelling has raised concerns of a nuclear accident.

Russia and Ukraine again accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team of experts to visit the facility amid concerns about a possible nuclear accident.

Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant came under renewed shelling on Saturday as fraught negotiations to allow for a team of scientists from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the facility took on added urgency.

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog has assembled a team of experts to visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Ukraine — Europe’s largest nuclear power station — as early as next week.

A list of the team’s members seen by The New York Times includes the nuclear agency’s chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, and 13 other experts from mostly neutral countries. Neither the United States nor Britain, countries that Russia scorns as unfairly biased because of their strong support for Ukraine, is represented.

The I.A.E.A. headquarters in Vienna declined to comment on the planned mission. A spokesman confirmed that the agency was “in active consultations for an imminent I.A.E.A. mission” to the plant.

But even as the details of a possible visit to the plant took shape, Russia and Ukraine on Saturday again blamed each other for shelling the facility.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an address to the nation late Friday that the episode had brought it perilously close to disaster, making the need for a visit by international inspectors even more urgent.

Despite mounting international anxiety over a possible catastrophe at the sprawling plant, in the middle of a war zone, Russia and Ukraine have for weeks failed to agree on a plan that would allow inspectors to visit. The shelling is complicating those discussions.

The warring nations have haggled over the composition of an inspection team and whether it would travel to the plant through territory occupied by Russian forces or controlled by the government in Kyiv.

Ukraine has insisted that the inspectors start out from government-controlled territory, to avoid giving legitimacy to the Russian occupation. That means the inspectors would have to pass through frontline positions where shelling is frequent and would probably use a crossing point already crowded with civilians fleeing the fighting and nuclear dangers. Any deal is likely to require a cease-fire along the route.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Ukraine steps up disaster planning amid turmoil at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
  • Western officials criticize Russia for blocking a joint U.N. document on nuclear disarmament.
  • For Ukraine’s women, war brings new roles and new dangers.
  • Ukraine regularly aims taunts and mockery at Russia, defying a longstanding diplomatic maxim.

 

U.S. Ultra-MAGAs, Election-Deniers, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Normally quiet and unassuming, Biden White House gets feisty on Twitter, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). In a series of tweets, the White House targeted Republicans who criticized President Biden’s student loan decision, reminding Americans that those lawmakers had had sizable loans forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Semi-fascism’: Rhetoric reflects newly aggressive Biden strategy, Matt Viser, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). With sharp attacks on the GOP and individual Republicans, Biden and the White House signal they will not rely solely on touting the president’s accomplishments during the midterm campaign.

Throughout his presidency, Joe Biden has been cautious with his rhetoric, often avoiding any deep discussion of his predecessor — whom he initially would not even call by name, referring to him as “the former guy” — and generally skirting around the kinds of broad denunciations of the Republican Party that other Democrats gladly participated in.

But that Joe Biden has faded.

On Thursday night, he used newly ramped-up rhetoric in ways that the White House and Biden’s political advisers are signaling will be part of a no-holds-barred strategy for the midterms. The president accused the GOP of “semi-fascism” and said he doesn’t respect, and can’t work with, “MAGA Republicans” who he said “embrace political violence.” He hardened his assertion that democracy is under threat, and said the country could be facing the sort of test that comes every few generations, “one of the moments that changes everything.”

From a high school auditorium in Rockville, Md., Biden also mocked Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) for touting a local project he had voted against. White House aides spent the late afternoon using the official Twitter account — normally reserved for policy charts, press releases and fact sheets — to go on the attack. They went viral by naming Republicans, like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, who had criticized student loan forgiveness while benefiting from their own business loan forgiveness. The tweets had more engagements and retweets than almost any other from Biden’s White House, or previous ones.

It all amounted to a clear sign that Biden and the Democrats will not rely solely on touting his legislation and other accomplishments, as some Democrats feared he would do, but will directly accuse Republicans of fascism and violence in an attempt to raise the stakes of the midterms to the survival of democracy itself.

“It’s not hyperbole,” Biden said. “Now you need to vote to literally save democracy again.”

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Biden launches powerful kickoff for Democrats’ fall campaign under watchword that MAGA Republicans represent “SEMI-FASCISM”! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 27, 2022 (109 mins.). President provides intellectual clarity and leadership far superior to timid and vacillating academic historians in diagnosing the scourge of fascism in contemporary US;

Democrat Pat Ryan wins NY-19 House seat with campaign based on abortion rights and tax relief; GOP opponent outspent him by 3:1 in campaign stressing inflation and crime, but still succumbed by almost 4% in classic bellwether swing district, showing impotence of main lines of GOP demagogy;

Search affidavit exposes Trump’s betrayal of US interests, resulting in 20 months of above top secret documents being exposed to Russia, China, and other enemy states – or worse; flagrant contempt for security procedures is evident; New York Times breaks with appeasement to demand criminal prosecution of former tenant of White House, joining growing chorus for accountability; Draconian punishment is imperative;

Mar a Lago timelines show that Department of Justice was far too soft on Trump; Archives strove for months to pry loose documents; Affidavit specifies that “significant numbers” of witnesses/informants helped FBI locate papers;

Trump poses incalculable threat to United States, starting with his notorious association with aggressor Putin; Republican pols go silent, run for cover as guilt becomes irrefutable; Maryland GOP gubernatorial hopeful Cox purges website of MAGA references;

Shared features of fascist regimes during interwar period in cases of Horthy in Hungary, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Franco in Spain, and Petain in Vichy France are all relevant to MAGA phenomenon.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s war on the National Archives, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 27, 2022. The agency has been hit with a wave of threats and vitriol since the FBI retrieved scores of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

In the nearly three weeks since the FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home to recover classified documents, the National Archives and Records Administration has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol, according to people familiar with the situation. Civil servants tasked by law with preserving and securing the U.S. government’s records were rattled.

nara logoOn Wednesday, the agency’s head sent an email to the staff. Though academic and suffuse with legal references, the message from acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall was simple: Stay above the fray and stick to the mission.

“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’ ” Steidel Wall wrote in the agencywide message, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”

The email capped a year-long saga that has embroiled the Archives — widely known for being featured in the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, “National Treasure” — in a protracted fight with Trump over classified documents and other records that were taken when he left office.

Archives officials have emailed, called and cajoled the former president and his representatives to follow the law and return the documents. When the Archives recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January, agency officials found a mess of disorganized papers lacking any inventory. Highly classified material was mixed in with newspaper clippings and dinner menus. And Archives officials believed more items were still missing.

What happened next was an extraordinary step for America’s record keepers: they referred the matter to the Justice Department, opening a dramatic new chapter in what had been a quietly simmering dispute.

 

Retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for governor, poses at left in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-14 faculty photo at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 9, 2014. The photo was released by the Army War College to Reuters on August 26, 2022 under the Freedom of Information Act. Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017. (Army War College Photo Handout via Reuters.)

Retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for governor, poses at left in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-14 faculty photo at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 9, 2014. The photo was released by the Army War College to Reuters on August 26, 2022 under the Freedom of Information Act. Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017. (Army War College Photo Handout via Reuters.)

Reuters via U.S. News & World Report, Exclusive: Pennsylvania Candidate Mastriano Posed in Confederate Uniform at Army War College, Phil Stewart and Jarrett Renshaw, Aug. 26, 2022. Three years before retiring from the U.S. Army in 2017, Donald Trump-backed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano posed in Confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College, according to a copy of the photo obtained by Reuters.

reuters logoThe previously unreported photo, released by the War College to Reuters after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, showed Mastriano in a 2013-14 portrait for the Department of Military Strategy, Plans, and Operations, where he worked.

Faculty at the time had been given the option of dressing as a historical figure, people familiar with the photo said. At least 15 of the 21 faculty in the photo opted to appear in regular attire. Although one man wears a trench coat and sunglasses and another carries an aviator’s helmet, Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.

Mastriano did not immediately respond to requests for comment made by email and phone. A Reuters reporter attended a Mastriano event on Wednesday to seek comment, but the candidate did not make himself available for questions.

Displays of Confederate symbols can be seen as insensitive to those who view them as painful reminders of racial oppression and the Civil War that saw 11 rebelling Confederate states fight to keep Black people enslaved.

The U.S. military issued a de facto ban on displaying the Confederate flag and has sought to remove segregationist symbols from bases and academic institutions following the murder in May 2020 of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis triggered protests worldwide.

After Reuters made its formal request for the photo, it was removed from the War College wall where it had hung alongside other annual portraits of faculty groups.

The Army War College (AWC), a premier military higher education institution in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, told Reuters a team had reviewed all art, text, and other images displayed at Carlisle Barracks in 2020, but missed the faculty photo.

“The faculty photo did not get the team’s attention; the photo has since been removed because it does not meet AWC values,” the college said in a statement.

Asked about the War College photo, a spokesperson at U.S. Army headquarters said: “The Army supports commanders who remove symbols or images that do not comport with Army values.”

Confederate symbols and dress have been embraced by white supremacists in the United States, and monuments and flags honoring the Confederacy have been removed from many public areas in recent years.

Pennsylvania plays an outsized role in U.S. politics as a so-called swing state in presidential elections, and Republican Mastriano, who has embraced Trump’s stolen election lies, is trailing his Democratic opponent in the governor’s race ahead of the November ballot.

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

djt handwave file

 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this djt nyt aug 27 2022month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald’s inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022 (Continued from above). A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home
    It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle

A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump’s inner circle – and is now being investigated by the FBI and Canadian authorities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed the alleged antics of the faker — whose real name is Inna Yashchyshyn — on Friday.

Yaschyshyn, 33, told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was ‘fawned all over’ by guests at Trump’s private club after bragging of her Monaco property portfolio and family vineyards, it’s claimed.

But the alleged scammer is actually the Ukrainian-born daughter of a truck driver called Oleksandr Yaschysyn, who lives in a neat-but-modest home in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Yaschyshyn is believed to have been taken to the club for the first time by a Trump donor called Elchanan Adamker in 2021 — and posed for a photo with the former president the very next day.

She is accused of obtaining fake IDs — including a US passport and multiple drivers’ licenses – using her fake Rothschild alter ego.

Yaschushyn faces an FBI probe over a charity she was president of called the United Hearts of Mercy. It was founded by a Florida-based Russian businessman called Valery Tarasenko in Canada in 2015, but is alleged to have been used as a front to fundraise for Russian organized crime gangs.

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

Yaschushyn is currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit with Tarasenko, whose daughter she used to babysit, and claims she has been framed by him. She has also been tied to a condo development in Canada, although further details of what cops in Quebec are investigating her for have yet to emerge.

Tarasenko says Yaschushyn cared for his children while he traveled on business, and claims she was keen to make in-roads at Mar-a-Lago to find rich benefactors. It is unclear if Tarasenko himself faces a probe.

Yaschushyn in turn claims she is the victim, and that Tarasenko set her up by producing multiple fake IDs without her knowledge.

The United Hearts of Mercy positioned itself as a nonprofit which helped impoverished children, but the FBI believes it was actually a front to funnel cash to organized crime gangs.

Payment processing firm Stripe suspended donations to the United Hearts of Mercy’s purported COVID appeal.

Emails sent by the Post-Gazette to supposed donors in Hong Kong all bounced back, suggesting those donors may never have existed.

The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president’s home and private club – and highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump’s social circle.
Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump’s Palm Beach golf club

Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump’s Palm Beach golf club

The Secret Service wouldn’t comment on whether they were investigating Yashchyshyn, nor would the FBI – but several sources said they had been questioned by FBI officials about Yashchyshyn’s behavior.

Canadian law enforcement confirmed Yashchyshyn has been the subject of a major crimes unit investigation in Quebec since February, the Post-Gazette reported.

The United Hearts of Mercy was founded in Canada by Tarasenko, although it’s still unclear whether Yaschyshyn is being probed there over that nonprofit. She was also linked to a condo development in the country.

Yashchyshyn started showing up at Mar-a-Lago last spring. The Post-Gazette reported she was first invited by Trump supporter Elchanan Adamker, who runs a financial services firm, to Mar-a-Lago for the first time in May 2021.

She also managed to take footage of Trump’s speeches inside the club

‘It wasn’t just dropping the family name. She talked about vineyards and family estates and growing up in Monaco,’ recalled LeFevre. ‘It was a near-perfect ruse and she played the part.’

He added that ‘everyone was eating it up’ and Mar-a-Lago members ‘fawned all over her and because of the Rothschild mystique, they never probed and instead tiptoed around her with kid gloves .’

By the next day, Yashchyshyn was rubbing shoulders with Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham at the president’s nearby West Palm Beach golf club.

The report included photographs of Yashchyshyn, Trump and Graham, as well as her in a group shot with Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The Post-Gazette also shared images of Yashchyshyn’s various IDS — passports from the U.S. and Canada, along with a Florida driver’s license, in which she uses the Rothschild name — as well as Ukrainian and Russian passports where she goes by Inna Yashchyshyn and Anna Anisimova, respectively.

When speaking to the Post-Gazette, however, she said, ‘I think there is some misunderstanding.’

Yashchyshyn said any passports or driver’s licenses using the Rothschild name had been fabricated by her former business partner, 44-year-old Valeriy Tarasenko. ‘That’s all fake, and nothing happened,’ Yashchyshyn said.

The various IDs have been turned over to the FBI, the Post-Gazette said. Yashchyshyn also said she was speaking to the FBI on August 19.

Politico, Trump lawyers renew plea for outside supervision of Mar-a-Lago search trove, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Aug. 27, 2022. The latest filing, however, may be more noteworthy for what’s not in it.

Donald Trump’s attorneys late Friday made a new pitch for an independent review of the materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

In a 12-page filing, they urged a federal judge to appoint a “special master” to prevent the Justice Department from continuing to comb through dozens of boxes taken by FBI agents earlier this month.

The filing, which was billed as a “supplement” to Trump’s meandering initial bid on Monday, was notable, however, for what it didn’t include. It makes no mention of the hundreds of pages of classified documents recovered during the Aug. 8 search and in previous visits by investigators. It also makes no mention of Trump’s claims to have declassified the material. It also eschews the heated criticism Trump has leveled at Bruce Reinhart, the magistrate judge who authorized the search.

Instead, Trump lawyers suggest in the filing that the search may have been improper or even illegal because of indications that investigators were concerned that records covered by the Presidential Records Act were at his Palm Beach home.

The late-night Friday filing was a coda to a frantic week for the former president’s legal team, which found itself struggling with basic administrative requirements and facing pointed questions from a Fort Pierce, Fla.-based federal judge, Aileen Cannon, about what precisely they were asking her to do.

Among the questions Cannon has asked Trump’s lawyers is whether her court even has the jurisdiction to consider his demands. Trump’s team argued that she did, focusing narrowly on the authority of district court judges to appoint special masters. Left unaddressed is a provision of the Presidential Records Act requiring any legal disputes by a former president under that statute to be filed in the federal district court in Washington D.C.

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Former U.S. President Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson). He answered only one question during four hours of them in an interview with the New York State attorney general, his lawyer said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Knew the Justice Department Case Was Righteous. This Affidavit Confirms It, Andrew Weissmann (Mr. Weissmann was a senior prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election), Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). We always knew that whatever the information about the Mar-a-Lago search that would be released by a federal court, it would not help Donald Trump.

We know that not just because Judge Bruce Reinhart already concluded, based on seeing the unredacted affidavit used to obtain the search warrant, that there was probable cause to believe three federal crimes had been committed and that evidence of those crimes was at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida club-residence.

Mr. Trump knows the answers to the most important unanswered questions: What material did he take from the White House, why did he take it, what had he done with it, and what was he planning to do with it? There is nothing that prevented him for over a year from publicly answering those questions; he surely has not remained silent because the answers are exculpatory.

Above all, the redacted affidavit (and an accompanying brief explaining the redactions), which was released on Friday, reveals more evidence of a righteous criminal case related to protecting information vital to our nation’s security.

I can assure you, based on my experience as the general counsel of the F.B.I., that although there may be too much information deemed sensitive at the lowest level of classification, that was never the case with top-secret material.

The redacted affidavit is further proof that Mr. Trump’s flouting of criminal statutes persisted for a long time and gives every appearance of being intentional.

The key questions that remain include what precisely is the full scope of what Mr. Trump took from the White House, why he took the documents and did not return them all and what he was doing with them all this time.

The redacted affidavit does not answer those questions, and the usually loquacious Mr. Trump has not addressed them. But we do now know that the Justice Department is one step closer to being able to hold Mr. Trump to account for his actions, if it so chooses.

 

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Truth Social faces financial peril as worry about Trump’s future grows, Drew Harwell, Aug. 27, 2022. Payment disputes and a dwindling audience have fueled doubts about the former president’s Twitter clone.

Former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social website is facing financial challenges as its traffic remains puny and the company that is scheduled to acquire it expresses fear that his legal troubles could lead to a decline in his popularity.

Six months after its high-profile launch, the site — a clone of Twitter, which banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021 — still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings from Digital World Acquisition, the company planning to take Trump’s start-up, the Trump Media & Technology Group, public.

The company warned this week that its business could be damaged if Trump “becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility.” The company has seen its stock price plunge nearly 75 percent since its March peak and reported in a filing last week that it had lost $6.5 million in the first half of the year.

djt golf shirt bloatedThe FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate, fueled a burst of Truth Social user activity, and Trump himself (shown in a recent file photo) has increasingly used the site as one of his main online megaphones. “WE GAVE THEM MUCH,” he said, or “truthed,” on Friday in reaction to an FBI affidavit about classified documents kept at his Palm Beach home.

FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website

There are signs that the company’s financial base has begun to erode. The Trump company stopped paying RightForge, a conservative web-hosting service, in March and now owes it more than $1 million, according to Fox Business, which first reported the dispute.

The company also has struggled with some basics of corporate operation. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this month denied its application to trademark “Truth Social,” citing the “likelihood of confusion” to other similarly named companies, including an app, “VERO — True Social,” first released in 2015.

Representatives from Trump’s company and Digital World did not respond to requests for comment.

RightForge has advertised itself as a pillar of the conservative push to build a parallel internet protected from “Big Tech censorship.” Its chief executive Martin Avila declined to comment and said, “We fully stand behind the president and his endeavors.”

But two people familiar with the dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private details, said the lack of payment had fueled anger that Trump could shortchange a champion of his “free speech” mission.

The Trump company and RightForge have been communicating with each other exclusively through attorneys in recent weeks, the people said. Digital World Acquisition’s stock slid Friday about 7 percent.

Trump’s businesses have faced many similar payment battles over the years. In past SEC filings, Digital World has also noted that “a number of companies that were associated with [Trump] have filed for bankruptcy” and that “there can be no assurances that [Trump’s media company] will not also become bankrupt.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 3 big things we learned from the Mar-a-Lago affidavit, Greg Sargent, Aug. 26, 2022. In the Mar-a-Lago saga, Donald Trump has offered several big defenses. First, the former president has reportedly insisted to aides that he primarily took from the White House documents that were “mine.”

Second, he has suggested he always intended to do the right thing and turn over government documents in his possession. Third, he has said in many ways that the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of his Florida estate amounted to illegitimate jackbooted tyranny.

Now that the Justice Department has released a redacted version of the affidavit the FBI filed before getting a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, those arguments look even shakier.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Politics, Governance Analysis

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican super PAC cuts ad buy in Arizona Senate race, Isaac Arnsdorf, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The pullback from one of the most contested states suggested concern about GOP nominee Blake Masters, who’s trailing Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly in the polls and in spending.

The main super PAC supporting Republican Senate candidates slashed airtime in Arizona, signaling trouble for nominee Blake Masters’s bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly.

The Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said it canceled about $8 million worth of TV, radio and digital ads in Arizona, delaying its entry into the race until October. The cuts were first reported by Politico.

The move comes a week after the super PAC announced an additional $28 million in Ohio to prop up Republican hopeful J.D. Vance.

“We’re leaving the door wide open in Arizona but we want to move additional resources to other offensive opportunities that have become increasingly competitive, as well as an unexpected expense in Ohio,” SLF President Steven Law said in a statement. “We think the fundamentals of this election strongly favor Republicans, we see multiple paths to winning the majority, and we are going to invest heavily and strategically to achieve that goal.”

Both Masters and Vance won their primaries as first-time candidates boosted by former president Donald Trump’s endorsement and a combined more than $20 million from conservative technology billionaire Peter Thiel. But they both emerged battered from primary attack ads and with depleted cash reserves.

McConnell allies approached Thiel for more funding for the general but didn’t receive it, and it’s not clear whether Thiel will re-up, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private donor conversations.

During the primary, Masters called for McConnell to be replaced as GOP leader, expressing his support for Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Masters complained that McConnell was an obstacle to enacting Trump’s agenda even though the former majority leader delivered on a tax cut in 2017.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Educational Issues

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Top Universities Say They Need Affirmative Action After It Was Banned, Stephanie Saul, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). As a Supreme Court case nears, the California and Michigan university systems say their efforts to build diverse classes have fallen abysmally short.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ron DeSantis Suspends 4 Elected School Board Members After Parkland Report, Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). They were found to have engaged in “acts of incompetence and neglect,” but one ousted member called the Florida governor’s move “political retribution.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended four elected members of the Broward County school board on Friday, following the recommendation of a grand jury impaneled to look into school safety and other issues after the mass school shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead in 2018.

In its report, which was released last week, the grand jury found that the four school board members — and a fifth one who no longer holds that position — had “engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty,” in part for what the grand jury described as mismanagement of an $800 million bond issue approved by voters in 2014 that was intended to renovate schools and make them safer.

Mr. DeSantis suspended Patricia Good, Donna P. Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson from the board. Though all nine school board seats are nonpartisan, all four are registered Democrats, which is not unusual in liberal Broward County. Ms. Korn was on the ballot on Tuesday and had made it into a runoff for the November election.

The fifth person recommended for removal from office in the report, Rosalind Osgood, who is also a Democrat, was elected to the State Senate in a special election this year.

Ms. Levinson, hours after being removed from the board she had served for 12 years, declined to comment about the specific accusations in the report, but said they were pretext for “political retribution.” She said that all the suspended board members had won elections since the shooting.

“What country is this?” Ms. Levinson, formerly the board chairwoman, said in an interview Friday. “What Governor DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and he overturned the will of the voters.”

She added that Mr. DeSantis “impaneled this grand jury under the guise of school safety as a pretext to remove school board members who did not fire the former superintendent.”

In the tumultuous year after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a state commission found failures in the police response to the massacre. As a result, Mr. DeSantis suspended the elected sheriff in Broward County, Scott Israel, shortly after being sworn in as governor in 2019.

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Politico, Crist to pick Miami teachers union head as his running mate, Matt Dixon, Aug. 26, 2022. Karla Hernández-Mats has been president of United Teachers of Dade since 2016. Democrat Charlie Crist will pick Karla Hernández-Mats, the head of Miami-Dade County’s largest teachers union, as his running mate as he seeks to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis.

politico CustomCrist is expected to formally announce his pick during a Saturday rally in Miami that he’s holding to officially kick off his general election campaign. Crist trounced Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 59-34 in Tuesday night’s primary and is now preparing for an uphill battle against DeSantis, who is a heavy favorite.

The Hernández-Mats pick, first reported by CBS Miami, was greeted with high praise from Democrats. The Crist campaign declined to comment for this story.

“Love it!” said state Sen. Shev Jones (D-Miami) in a text. “I think it’s a thoughtful and bright move. Karla has ALWAYS had her ear to the ground for people, and she’s a natural galvanizer. Great pick!”

Florida Sen. Jason Pizzo, also a Miami Democrat, described her as “bright, warm and tough.”

Since 2016, Hernández-Mats has served as president of the United Teachers of Dade, which touts itself as the largest teachers union in the southeast. She is also on the governance board of the Florida Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher’s union.

FEA support of Crist played a pivotal role in the primary. The organization not only endorsed him, but pushed for the rest of the state’s labor organization to follow suit with a primary endorsement, even as some did not want to endorse before the general election. It led to a contested fight during the AFL-CIO’s summer convention in Orlando, which Crist ultimately won.

“We’re thrilled by Charlie Crist’s choice for his running mate. Karla Hernández-Mats will be a great lieutenant governor of and for all the people of Florida,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said. “She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities.”

 joe biden student debt ed secretary

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens as President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

 washington post logoWashington Post, Student loan forgiveness application coming in October, White House says, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.

The White House said Friday that student loan borrowers will be able to apply for debt cancellation this fall and receive relief within four to six weeks.

Speaking to reporters, White House National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti said the Education Department will release the application for President Biden’s loan forgiveness program in early October. After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.

The announcement arrives days after Biden said he would cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year, or less than $250,000 for married couples. Those who received Pell Grants, federal aid for lower-income students, could see up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

How President Biden decided to go big on student loan forgiveness

In the wake of the news, borrowers have been clamoring for more information, peppering student loan servicers with questions and crashing the Education Department’s website. Details of the plan continue to emerge from the Biden administration, giving borrowers a clearer understanding of how relief will work.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Two Big Questions About Student Debt Relief, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). On Wednesday, President Biden paul krugmanannounced a plan to reduce most students’ debt by $10,000, with lower-income students eligible for twice that amount. The debt forgiveness was much less generous than many progressives wanted but more generous than many expected. Assuming it survives legal challenges, it will be a big deal for millions of Americans, although the overall economic impact will, as I’ll explain, be limited.

There are two big questions about this plan. First, will it, as critics claim, significantly increase inflation? The answer, if you do the math, is a clear no. Second, is it a good policy? The answer should be: Compared with what?

About the math: What you need to have is a sense of scale. If you’re worried about inflation, the relevant number here isn’t the eventual cost to taxpayers, which might be several hundred billion dollars. It is, rather, the effect on private spending. And I just don’t see any way to claim that this effect will be large.

But is it a good program?

The right is inveighing against debt relief on moral grounds. “If you take out a loan, you pay it back. Period,” tweeted the House Judiciary G.O.P. On which planet? America has had regularized bankruptcy procedures, which take debt off the books, since the 19th century; the idea has been to give individuals and businesses with crippling debts a second chance.

And many people have taken advantage of those procedures. For example, businesses owned by a real estate mogul named Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy on six occasions. During the pandemic, many business owners received government loans that were subsequently forgiven.

Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: As Russia Seeks More Troops, Both Sides Dig In for War of Attrition, Anton Troianovski, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). There has been little movement on the front line in recent weeks, even as the leaders of Ukraine and Russia face pressure to show battlefield results.

President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision this week to expand the size of his military offered further evidence for a conviction taking hold in both Russia and Ukraine: The two sides are settling in for the long haul in a war that could last another year, or longer.

Mr. Putin, secure in his power and having silenced dissent, appears to have little incentive to stop the war, which he has now waged for more than six months without declaring a nationwide draft that could have provoked domestic discontent.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, warning his nation on Friday that the coming winter would be “the most difficult in our history,” is being bolstered by a largely unified West and a defiant populace in his insistence that there will be no compromise with an invading army.

The conflict has settled into a war of attrition, with little movement along the front line in recent weeks, even as both Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Putin face growing political pressure to show results on the battlefield.

Ukraine has held off from mounting a large-scale counteroffensive despite claiming for months that one was coming, and Russia has avoided sharply escalating its assault despite warning that it would retaliate against Ukrainian attacks in the Russian-controlled peninsula of Crimea.

“Expectations that this will end by Christmas or that this will end by next spring” are misguided, said Ruslan Pukhov, a defense analyst who runs the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a privately-owned think tank in Moscow.

Ukraine, benefiting from a continuing flow of Western weapons like the $3 billion package that President Biden pledged this week, has the resources and morale to continue to resist the Russian assault. Russia, fighting the war at peacetime strength without mass call-ups of military-age men, appears to have the resources to keep waging a brutal war of attrition — but not to mount a decisive new offensive.

The largely static period on the battlefield coincides with increasing expectations — fueled by Ukraine itself — that Mr. Zelensky’s military will mount some kind of significant offensive, to show that it can make good use of Western-provided weapons and reassure allies that the economic sacrifices they are making will pay off.

Mr. Putin, as well, faces domestic pressure from far-right nationalists who want stepped-up aggression in Ukraine, particularly after recent strikes on Crimea and the killing of the ultranationalist commentator Daria Dugina in a car bombing last weekend. But the Russian leader, in control of the state media and the political system, is well-situated to ignore such calls, analysts say.

Instead, Mr. Putin insists that his forces are advancing in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region “step by step.”

However, Russia has failed to capture a single major population center since early July. And for Mr. Putin, who justified the invasion by falsely claiming that Ukraine was committing a “genocide” of Russian speakers in the Donbas, anything short of full control of the region would be seen as a major defeat.

Here’s what we know:

  • There has been little movement on the front line in recent weeks, even as Zelensky and Putin face pressure to show battlefield results.
  • Russia and Ukraine brace for a war of attrition.
  • Zelensky is under pressure over when and how to launch a long-anticipated counteroffensive.
  • The Zaporizhzhia plant is back online, but humanitarian woes and nuclear fears persist.
  • Britain braces for a surge in energy prices as the war in Ukraine further stretches markets.
  • Russian news media covers the war with ‘blatant lies and demagogy.’
  • Russia’s plans for ‘sham’ referendums in occupied territories brings back bad memories in Ukraine.
  • Cluster munitions have killed nearly 700 in Ukraine, a study reports.

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin Calls for Sharp Expansion of Russian Army, Ivan Nechepurenko and Anton Troianovski, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Signals Kremlin Is Bracing for Long War in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s decree raises the target number of service members by about 137,000. Military leaders tried to prepare Ukraine for a difficult fight ahead.

President Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday ordered a sharp increase in the size of his armed forces, a reversal of years of efforts by the Kremlin to slim down a bloated military and the latest sign that the Russian president, despite heavy battlefield losses, is bracing for a long war in Ukraine.

The decree, released by Mr. Putin’s office and posted on the Kremlin website, raised the target number of active-duty service members by about 137,000, to 1.15 million, as of January of next year, and ordered the government to set aside money to pay for the increase. Military analysts puzzled over how such a sharp increase could be managed.

It was the first time in five years that Mr. Putin had issued an order changing the overall head count of the Russian armed forces. Officials offered no explanation for the move, and there was little mention of it on state television. U.S. military officials estimate that Russia has suffered up to 80,000 casualties — including both deaths and injuries — during Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some analysts described the move as a clear signal that, after a full six months of fighting, Mr. Putin had no plans to relent.

“This is not a move that you make when you are anticipating a rapid end to your war,” said Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. “This is something you do when you are making some kind of plan for a protracted conflict.”

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Law, Security, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan G.O.P. Lining Up Behind Conspiracy Theorist for Attorney General, Alexandra Berzon and Nick Corasaniti, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Matthew DePerno’s political rise has been tied to a debunked election report. Some see parallels between his dive into 2020 conspiracies theories and his legal career.

Bolstered by his association with the former president, Mr. DePerno is poised to be nominated as the G.O.P. candidate for attorney general, the top legal official in the state, at a state party convention on Saturday. He is among a coterie of election deniers running for offices that have significant authority over elections, worrying some election experts, Democrats and some Republicans across the country.

This month, the Michigan attorney general’s office released documents that suggest Mr. DePerno was a key orchestrator of a separate plot to gain improper access to voting machines in three other Michigan counties. The attorney general, Dana Nessel, the Democrat Mr. DePerno is challenging for the office, requested that a special prosecutor be appointed to pursue the investigation into the scheme and weigh criminal charges. Mr. DePerno denies the allegations and called them politically motivated.

 

lloyd austin o

ny times logoNew York Times, Austin Orders Overhaul to Protect Civilians During U.S. Combat Operations, Eric Schmitt, Charlie Savage and Azmat Khan, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). A Pentagon plan directs changes to military doctrine, planning and training. Secretary Lloyd Austin, shown above in a file photo, said the agency must prioritize protecting noncombatants.

The Pentagon on Thursday announced sweeping changes aimed at reducing risks to civilians in U.S. military operations by fostering a culture in which those in the field view preventing such harm as a core part of their missions.

A 36-page action plan directs broad changes at every level of military planning, doctrine, training and policy in not only counterterrorism drone strikes but also in any future major conflict. It includes emerging war-fighting tactics like attacks on satellites and computer systems.

The directive contains 11 major objectives aimed at helping commanders and operators better understand the presence of noncombatants before any operations begin. It requires them to consider potential consequences for civilians in any airstrike, raid or other combat action.

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, How a Corporate Law Firm Led a Political Revolution, David Enrich, Aug. 25, 2022. The untold story of Jones Day’s push to move the American government and courts to the right.

For much of its history, Jones Day was a juggernaut in the field of corporate litigation. A global goliath with more than 40 offices and about 2,500 lawyers, it raked in billions a year in fees from tobacco, opioid, gun and oil companies, among many other giant corporations in need of a state-of-the-art defense.

More than most of its competitors, the firm had an army of litigators who had perfected the art of exploiting tiny legal wrinkles, of burying outmatched opponents in paperwork and venue changes and procedural minutiae. But over the past two decades, Jones Day has been building a different kind of legal practice, one dedicated not just to helping Republicans win elections but to helping them achieve their political aims once in office. Chief among those aims was dismantling what Don McGahn — the Jones Day partner who helped run Trump’s campaign and then became his White House counsel — disparagingly referred to as the “administrative state.” To do that, the firm was bringing all the ruthless energy and creativity of corporate law to the political realm.

 

djt melania epstein maxwell headshot

From left: American real estate developer Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000. Getty Images.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell’s Own Lawyers Are Now Suing Her, Colin Moynihan, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The law firm Haddon, Morgan and Foreman has accused Ms. Maxwell and her brother of failing to pay nearly $900,000 in legal fees related to her sex abuse defense.

As Ghislaine Maxwell’s conspiracy and sex trafficking trial drew to a close last year, one of her lawyers rose to provide what would be the defense’s final word.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is an innocent woman wrongfully accused of crimes she did not commit,” the lawyer, Laura Menninger, told jurors.

Ms. Menninger’s Colorado law firm is now suing Ms. Maxwell and her brother, Kevin Maxwell, for nearly $900,000 in legal fees. The firm, Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, is also suing a man named Scott Borgerson, whom it describes as having married Ms. Maxwell, saying that he has attempted to shelter her assets from creditors.

In a lawsuit filed in Denver, the firm said that it had concerns long before Ms. Maxwell’s criminal trial began in Federal District Court in Manhattan about her “willingness and ability to meet her financial obligations.” The suit said the firm was persuaded to stick with the case and Mr. Maxwell personally guaranteed payment.

But, the firm added, he had failed to make payments despite repeated promises, even as its lawyers continued to “devote all necessary resources to Ms. Maxwell’s defense.”

On Nov. 29, the day that Ms. Maxwell’s trial opened, the suit said, Mr. Maxwell guaranteed one of the firm’s shareholders that he would pay outstanding fees and provide a trial retainer.

“In reality,” the suit said, “Mr. Maxwell had no present intention of doing so.”

In a statement, Ian Maxwell, a brother of Ghislaine and Kevin Maxwell, said: “Given this matter is now the subject of civil proceedings neither Kevin nor Ghislaine Maxwell nor any other member of the Maxwell family will be commenting on it.”

huffington post logoHuffPost, Former Jeffrey Epstein Associate Steven Hoffenberg Found Dead In His Home, Marco Margaritoff, Aug 26, 2022. Hoffenberg and Epstein ran a Ponzi scheme together and tried to take over Pan Am Airlines. Hoffenberg was convicted, while Epstein never faced charges.

Convicted in 1997 of a Ponzi scheme he accused Jeffrey Epstein of participating in, Steven Hoffenberg was found dead Tuesday in his Derby, Connecticut, home, according to Rolling Stone. The cause and manner of death remain unknown, as Hoffenberg’s body was badly decomposed. He was 77 years old.

The Derby Police Department told Rolling Stone in a statement that officers responded to a welfare check around 8 p.m. Tuesday when they found “the body of a white male… in a state where a visual identification could not be made.”
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An initial autopsy yielded no signs of trauma.

The welfare check was requested by an artist named Maria Farmer, who claimed she was sexually abused by Epstein decades ago. She told Rolling Stone she was in daily contact with Hoffenberg and reached out to the police when her repeated calls to Hoffenberg weren’t returned.

Hoffenberg hired Epstein as a consultant for his debt-collection agency Towers Financial in 1983, according to The New York Times. He allegedly paid Epstein $25,000 monthly for Epstein’s business connections, which the pair used to lure investors in an unsuccessful 1987 attempt to take over Pan Am Airlines.

Towers Financial reportedly sold more than $460 million in fraudulent bonds and notes and used that money to pay interest owed to previous investors. Hoffenberg was arrested in 1994.

Prosecutors at the time said it was one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history.
Hoffenberg, who called Epstein the “architect” of their Ponzi scheme, spent 18 years in prison.
Hoffenberg, who called Epstein the “architect” of their Ponzi scheme, spent 18 years in prison.via Associated Press
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Hoffenberg pleaded guilty to mail fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice and admitted having moved money between companies to fool investors that they were making a profit. He exposed Epstein as the “architect” of the scheme, only for the multimillionaire financier’s name to mysteriously vanish from the record.

“I thought Jeffrey was the best hustler on two feet,” Hoffenberg told The Washington Post in 2019. “Talent, charisma, genius, a criminal mastermind. We had a thing that could make a lot of money. We called it Ponzi.”

Hoffenberg, who owned a private jet, limousine, yacht, Long Island mansion and New York City apartment, pleaded guilty to the charges. He was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Epstein freely groomed, raped and trafficked girls and young women in the meantime, only to be arrested in 2019. He was found dead in his New York City jail cell in August 2019. His accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested by the FBI in 2020. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June.

Hoffenberg, who briefly served as the court-appointed manager of the New York Post in 1993, apparently spent much of his later years helping victims of sex abuse. Farmer told Rolling Stone she wanted “people to know how kind this gentleman was to survivors while asking for nothing.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Oklahoma Executes Man Despite Clemency Recommendation, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). James Coddington, who was convicted of murdering a co-worker with a hammer, is the first of 25 men the state is aiming to execute over the next 28 months.
Oklahoma executed a man on Thursday for killing a co-worker in 1997, rejecting the recommendation of a state pardon board as it carried out the first in a series of 25 executions scheduled over the next 28 months.

James Coddington, 50, who admitted killing 73-year-old Albert Hale with a hammer, was executed by lethal injection at a state prison in McAlester, Okla.

Oklahoma resumed carrying out some executions in October 2021 after a pause of nearly seven years that followed a series of botched executions. But most of the state’s capital sentences remained on hold while a lawsuit over the use of a sedative in executions went to trial. When a judge upheld the use of the drug, Oklahoma scheduled 25 executions through December 2024, beginning with the one on Thursday.

Politico, Two plead guilty to trafficking Ashley Biden’s diary, property, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). These are the first charges in a federal probe of how the journal of the president’s daughter was sold to the conservative Project Veritas outlet.

Two Florida residents pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to trafficking in stolen goods for selling a diary and other personal effects of President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden, the Justice Department said.

The criminal charges are the first to emerge from a federal investigation into how, prior to the 2020 presidential election, the journal reached the conservative video outlet Project Veritas. The group has said it paid for rights to publish the diary, but never did so because it couldn’t authenticate it. Contents from the diary later emerged on a more obscure conservative site.

Last November, the FBI carried out search warrants at the home of the founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, and those of two of his colleagues, in connection with the investigation. None of those individuals have been charged, but O’Keefe has denounced the raids as an attack on press freedom.

In a Manhattan federal court hearing on Thursday, Aimee Harris, 40, of Palm Beach and Robert Kurlander, 58, of Jupiter each pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge stemming from their involvement in selling the journal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said in a statement.

The charging document filed on Thursday says that after Harris told Kurlander what she had discovered, he texted her that they could “make a SHIT TON of money” off of the journal. The pair tried to offer the diary to the Trump campaign, but an unidentified representative of the campaign turned them down and suggested they give the materials to the FBI.

Both defendants pleaded guilty as part of agreements with prosecutors. Kurlander has agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of his deal, Williams’ office said. Details of the plea agreement were not immediately available.

O’Keefe has said his group was told that the diary and Ashley Biden’s other effects were abandoned by her when she left a Delray Beach, Fla., home where she’d been staying. The group eventually turned the materials over to police.

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, How China Could Choke Taiwan With a Blockade, Chris Buckley, Pablo Robles, Marco Hernandez and Amy Chang Chien, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). News China is honing its ability to blockade Taiwan, giving Beijing the option of cutting off the self-ruled island in its campaign to take control of it.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. responds to Iran’s latest demands on reviving nuclear deal, Karen DeYoung, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration has completed its review of the proposed “final” text of a revived Iran nuclear deal, and of Iran’s response to the proposal, and sent its answer to European Union negotiation coordinators, the State Department said Wednesday.

Iran said it has begun its own “detailed review” of the U.S. reply, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani.

The trading of response documents marked the latest step in an apparent endgame after nearly a year and a half of negotiations over a return to the 2015 agreement — lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for its submission to strict curbs on its nuclear program and international monitoring — with no guarantee that a new deal will be reached.

“We are closer now than we were just a couple of weeks ago,” National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby told reporters. “Gaps remain. We’re not there yet.”

The U.S. move came as Israel, whose national security adviser has been consulting in Washington this week, renewed its opposition to the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, speaking to reporters Wednesday in Jerusalem, said his government was “not against any agreement. We are against this agreement, because it is a bad one. Because it cannot be accepted as it is written right now.”

U.S. officials have said the terms of the new text are largely an update of the original agreement. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, reimposing lifted sanctions and adding many more. In response, Iran resumed its pre-deal nuclear program and speeded it up, increasing the quantity and quality of its uranium enrichment far beyond the prescribed limits that it had previously adhered to and blocking some inspection measures.

Experts urge return to Iran nuclear deal as prospects dim

Israel, and opponents of a new deal in Congress, have said that the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions will provide Iran with hundreds of billions of dollars to finance terrorist activities, and the early expiration of some of its provisions will quickly allow Iran to revive plans to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Administration officials dispute the dollar calculations and say that the reinstatement of limits on the Iranian nuclear program, even with some expiration dates, will provide several years’ relief from an imminent nuclear threat and room for further negotiations.

Recent Headlines

 

Media, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Project Veritas, Ashley Biden and the First Amendment, Erik Wemple, Aug. 27, 2022. In November 2021, FBI agents conducted an early-morning search at the home of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe as part of an investigation into Ashley Biden’s stolen diary. In the intervening months, O’Keefe and his lawyers have criticized the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly heavy-handed investigative measures.

The Justice Department on Thursday delivered a response of sorts, and the particulars don’t look favorable to Project Veritas, a group popular among conservatives for its undercover “sting” videos seeking to expose liberal bias in the media, government and tech worlds.

The upshot: If the government’s version of events is true — its claims have not been tested in court — Project Veritas appears to have a shaky case that all of its activities in the diary saga are protected by the First Amendment.

According to Thursday’s announcement, two Florida residents — Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander — pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to transport stolen property, which included a diary purportedly kept by Ashley Biden. “Harris and Kurlander stole personal property from an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. According to a court document filed by prosecutors in connection with the plea, Harris and Kurlander engaged in extensive discussions with an “organization” — known to be Project Veritas — to sell the material.

The disclosures in Thursday’s plea documents bear on the legal arguments that Project Veritas asserted at the time of the O’Keefe raid. Back then, lawyers for the organization maintained that O’Keefe & Co. were practicing journalism — and the feds were overreaching. “What the DOJ has done in this case … they have blown federal law, they’ve blown the Constitution, they’ve blown due process and civil rights. … So this is a scandal of epic proportions,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon told host Tucker Carlson at the time. “Every journalist who isn’t worried and concerned about this should hang up their journalism card — ditto all First Amendment lawyers as well.”

As it turns out, no — this was not a scandal of epic proportions.

As for the group’s claim that the First Amendment shields its activities, that’s a complicated question. As this blog has noted before, the Supreme Court has extended First Amendment protections to the publication of information that had been obtained illegally — provided that the news outlet didn’t participate in those illegal activities.

Science, White House requires immediate public access to all U.S.-funded research papers by 2025, Jeffrey Brainard and Jocelyn Kaiser, Aug. 26, 2022. Policy is a blow to journal paywalls, but its impact on publishing is unclear.

A decades-long battle over how best to provide public access to the fruits of research funded by the U.S. government has taken a major turn.

President Joe Biden’s administration announced yesterday that, by the end of 2025, federal agencies must make papers that describe taxpayer-funded work freely available to the public as soon as the final peer-reviewed manuscript is published. Data underlying those publications must also be made freely available “without delay.”

Many details of the new policy, including exactly how the government will fund immediate public access, remain to be decided. But it significantly reshapes and expands existing—and fiercely contested—U.S. access rules that have been in place since 2013. Most notably, the White House has substantially weakened, but not formally eliminated, the ability of journals to keep final versions of federally funded papers behind a subscription paywall for up to 1 year.

Many commercial publishers and nonprofit scientific societies have long fought to maintain that 1-year embargo, saying it is critical to protecting subscription revenues that cover editing and production costs and fund society activities. But critics of paywalls argue that they obstruct the free flow of information, have enabled price gouging by some publishers, and force U.S. taxpayers to “pay twice”—once to fund the research and again to see the results. Since the late 1990s, the critics have lobbied Congress and the White House to require free and immediate “open access” to government-funded research.

The Biden administration has heeded those pleas, although the new policy does not expressly embrace the term open access—it uses the words “public access.” It is “de facto an open-access mandate,” says Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which publishes 16 journals. And many open-access advocates are applauding it.

The embargo and related policies “were pure sellouts of the public interest,” tweeted molecular biologist Michael Eisen of the University of California, Berkeley, a prominent critic of U.S. access policies and co-founder of the PLOS journals, which have helped pioneer an open-access business model in which authors pay a fee to make their papers immediately free to all. “The best thing I can say about this new policy is that publishers will hate it.”

Many publishers say they support a transition to immediate public access but criticized the new U.S. policy. “We would have preferred to chart our own course to open access without a government mandate,” Bertuzzi says. Six of ASM’s journals are already fully open access, with the rest to follow by 2027.

The impact of the new requirement could vary depending on which of the more than 20 U.S. funding agencies underwrite the author’s research. Each agency must finalize its policy by the end of 2024 and implement it by the end of 2025.

The new policy reflects the profound changes that have rocked academic publishing since the U.S. public access debate began in earnest more than 25 years ago. Then, subscription-based print journals were the primary means of disseminating research results, and publishers fiercely resisted any policy change that threatened an often highly profitable business model. But pressure from university libraries tired of paying rising subscription fees, and patient groups angry about having to pay to read taxpayer-funded biomedical studies, helped catalyze serious discussion of policy change. At the same time, the rise of the internet fueled publishing experiments, such as open-access journals and the posting of freely accessible “preprints” that have not been peer reviewed.

ny times logoNew York Times, NBC Discusses Ending Prime-Time Lineup at 10 p.m. as Viewership Declines, John Koblin, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). NBC executives have had discussions about ending the network’s prime-time lineup at 10 p.m. and turning the hour over to local stations, according to two people with knowledge of the talks.

Though no decision has been made, and NBC officials may eventually decide against making the move, the fact that it is even a consideration reflects the declining influence and viewership totals for the major broadcast networks as streaming entertainment has become ascendant.

In a statement, the network said: “We are always looking at strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible. As a company, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable and streaming.”

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the discussions.

If NBC, the broadcaster that placed landmark dramas like “ER” and “Law & Order” at 10 p.m., forfeited the hour, it would be a largely symbolic yet significant change to the American television landscape. For the fall, NBC has nine hours of new scripted dramas in its lineup. Six of those hours, consisting of the entire prime-time lineup on Wednesday and Thursday nights, are from the superproducer Dick Wolf.

NBC’s most successful unscripted show, “The Voice,” as well as shows from its newsmagazine franchise, “Dateline,” occupy six hours of the fall lineup. Sunday night is dedicated entirely to the National Football League.

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Energy, Climate, Disasters, Environment

 

climate change photo

 

washington post logoWashington Post, EPA finally moves to label some ‘forever chemicals’ found in everyday products hazardous, Dino Grandoni, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The compounds continue to turn up in drinking water, cosmetics, fabrics and food packaging used by millions of Americans.

The long-awaited move from the Environmental Protection Agency is meant to spark the cleanup of scores of sites defiled by industrial compounds and make the public more aware of their presence. Used to make everyday products such as nonstick cookware, cosmetics, fabrics and food packaging, these types of chemicals pervade drinking water used by millions of Americans — and they’ve been linked to an array of illnesses, including cardiovascular problems and low birth weights.

washington post logoWashington Post, Record rain is hitting drought-stricken areas. That’s not good news, Matthew Cappucci and Kasha Patel, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). A warmer climate is driving precipitation to higher extremes in both flooding and drought.

On Monday morning, the Dallas-Fort Worth area awoke to disaster. Rain was pouring down at the rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Highways became lethal lagoons, brooks became basins, and thousands of people scrambled to higher ground.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

Just a day earlier, the city had been facing one of its worst droughts on record, with farmers forced to thin their herds as reservoirs rapidly shrank. Twenty-nine percent of the Lone Star State was encapsulated within a top-tier level 4 out of 4 “exceptional” drought. Very dry conditions took a heavy toll on crops and forced widespread water restrictions.

The extreme case of atmospheric caprice highlighted a growing issue plaguing communities across the United States and the world: weather whiplash.

This summer, several locations around the United States have experienced these wild, rapid swings from one weather extreme to another. About half of the country has undergone at least a moderate drought this summer. Parts of the West, the Midwest and Texas have experienced exceptional and historic drought conditions.

ap logoAssociated Press, Britain to see 80% spike in energy bills as crisis deepens, Sylvia Hui, Aug. 26, 2022. U.K. residents will see an 80% increase in their annual household energy bills, the country’s energy regulator announced Friday, following a record 54% spike in April. That will bring costs for the average customer from 1,971 pounds ($2,332) a year to 3,549 pounds.

The latest price cap — the maximum amount that gas suppliers can charge customers per unit of energy — will take effect Oct. 1, just as the cold months set in. And bills are expected to rise again in January to 4,000 pounds.

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy, #MeToo, Trafficking

washington post logoWashington Post, New restrictions from major abortion funder could further limit access, Caroline Kitchener, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Abortion providers say the restrictions from The National Abortion Federation are unnecessary and burdensome for patients already facing steep obstacles to abortion care. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

New restrictions from one of the country’s largest abortion funding organizations could add new obstacles for many patients in antiabortion states seeking the procedure elsewhere.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, patients have flooded clinics in states where abortion is legal — with many driving long distances to receive a medication abortion, a two-part regimen that includes mifepristone and misoprostol. These patients usually take the mifepristone in the clinic before driving home with the misoprostol, to be taken between 24 and 48 hours later.

The National Abortion Federation and its NAF Hotline Fund will now require patients who receive their funding to take both abortion pills in a state where abortion is legal, according to emails sent on Aug. 22 and obtained by The Washington Post. The nonprofit, which is backed largely by billionaire Warren Buffett, helped fund at least 10 percent of all abortions in the United States in 2020. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

Patients in need of abortion funding can either call the NAF’s hotline or request financial help at a clinic authorized to offer support. Under NAF’s new regulations, which go into effect on Aug. 29, patients whose procedures are funded by the NAF will now need to affirm to clinic staff that they will not take their second pill in a state where abortion is illegal.

Clinics need only impose the NAF’s new restrictions on patients who receive NAF funding, according to an email to abortion providers from NAF Hotline Fund Operations Director Chloe Hanson Hebert. The restrictions will disproportionately impact poor women and women of color, several providers said.

These new restrictions go beyond what is explicitly required by abortion bans enacted since Roe was reversed. The various bans in antiabortion states prohibit providers from performing abortions within the state’s borders, but don’t bar providers elsewhere from prescribing pills to out-of-state patients they know will be returning home.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Justice Department wins one of two challenges to abortion bans, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 25, 2022. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Justice Department does not have many options for challenging state abortion bans.

There aren’t many federal judicial circuits where right-wing judges don’t dominate the courts of appeal. So the department must take its opportunities when it spots them.

 ap logoAssociated Press, Michigan panel recommends abortion proposal for ballot, Joey Cappelletti, Aug. 25, 2022. Michigan’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that the state’s election board give final approval to a potential ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

Michigan’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that the state’s election board give final approval to a potential ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

michigan mapThe Bureau of Elections said in a staff report that after examining petition sheets and a random sample of signatures, state officials determined that the petition contains 596,379 valid signatures –- close to 150,000 more than was required.

The report came after the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign turned in 753,759 signatures last month, a record-breaking number of signatures for a ballot initiative in the state. The Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative would affirm into Michigan’s Constitution the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interference.

The Bureau of Election’s report also addressed an anti-abortion group’s challenge to the proposed amendment last week, which claimed that lack of spacing in the amendment’s text created “strings of gibberish” and made the amendment “impossible to understand.”

 

luke bowen texas right to life

 

luke bowen right to life panel

Crooks & Liars from Current Revolt, Commentary: Texas Right To Life Political Director Arrested for Solicitation of a Minor, Conover Kennard, Aug. 25, 2022. Luke Bowen is the Political Director for Texas Right to Life. (Shown above, center, and in promo for Pro-Life panel not associated with charges.)

Lucas (Luke) Dane Bowen, right, Political Director of Texas Right to Life, was arrested on 8/3/2022 for alleged solitication of a minor. According to TransparencyUSA.org, Bowen was actively working with/for Texas right to life this year. Update: Texas Right to Life has informed Current Revolt that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd.

luke bowen mugshotWhen Republicans claim that Democrats are doing something evil, it’s just a matter of projection. I’m sure QAnon will be all over this, right? According to Current Revolt, Texas Right to Life told the outlet that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd — the very day he was arrested for alleged solicitation of a minor.

Again, again, again, right to life people aren’t taking away women’s rights to help children. It’s never been about children. It’s about control. They will force 10-year-olds to give birth. They are forcing a woman to give birth to a headless baby. Women’s lives mean nothing to them. Children’s lives are irrelevant to these “pro-life” soul-sucking conservatives. Don’t forget to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Halts Part of Idaho’s Abortion Ban, Saying It Violates Health Law, Glenn Thrush, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department sued Idaho this month, but its ability to influence policies in Republican states with so-called trigger laws is limited.

A federal judge in Idaho blocked part of the state’s strict abortion ban on Wednesday, delivering a limited but significant victory to the Biden administration, which has tried to use its limited power to protect reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

This month, the Justice Department sued Idaho, one of the most conservative states in the country, arguing that the law would prevent emergency room doctors from performing abortions necessary to stabilize the health of women facing medical emergencies.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the Federal District Court in Idaho wrote that doctors in the state could not be punished for acting to protect the health of endangered mothers, in a preliminary injunction issued a day before the ban was to be enacted.

New York State civil inquiry. Letitia James, the New York attorney general, has been conducting a civil investigation into Mr. Trump and his family business. The case is focused on whether Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets were part of a pattern of fraud or were simply Trumpian showmanship.

Manhattan criminal case. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been investigating whether Mr. Trump or his family business intentionally submitted false property values to potential lenders. But the inquiry faded from view after signs emerged suggesting that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be indicted.

The memo to Mr. Barr never mentioned the word “pardon,” instead characterizing that and similar episodes as Mr. Trump merely praising or condemning witnesses based on whether they cooperated with investigators. The memo argues that this could be interpreted as Mr. Trump merely not wanting the witnesses to lie and make up false claims against him.

To back up its assessments, the memo repeatedly stresses that Mr. Mueller’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence to charge any Trump campaign associate in a conspiracy with Russia.

“Once again, this conclusion is buttressed by the absence of any clear evidence that these witnesses had information that would prove the president had committed a crime,” Mr. Engel and Mr. O’Callaghan wrote.

Ryan Goodman, a New York University law professor, called the memo a “get out of jail free” card, adding: “It’s hard to stomach a memo that amounts to saying someone is not guilty of obstruction for deliberately trying to induce witnesses not to cooperate with law enforcement in a major criminal investigation.”

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U.S. Mass Shootings, Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

uvalde shooting victims 5 25 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Uvalde Fires Its School Police Chief in Response to Shooting, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The chief, Pete Arredondo, has been criticized for waiting too long to rescue students and teachers (shown above) trapped in two classrooms with the gunman.

pete arredondoFacing intense pressure from parents, the school board in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday terminated its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, right, who directed the district’s police response to a mass shooting at an elementary school in which the gunman was allowed to remain in a pair of classrooms for more than 75 minutes.

The unanimous vote, which Mr. Arredondo, through his lawyer, called “an unconstitutional public lynching,” represented the first direct accountability over what has been widely seen as a deeply flawed police response, one that left trapped and wounded students and teachers to wait for rescue as police officers delayed their entry into the two adjoining classrooms where the gunman was holed up.

Cheers broke out in the room as one of the board members, Laura Perez, made a motion: “I move that good cause exists to terminate the noncertified contract of Pete Arredondo, effective immediately,” she said.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: Why Outlawing Ghost Guns Didn’t Stop America’s Largest Maker of Ghost Gun Parts, Anjeanette Damon, Aug. 24, 2022. Unregistered, unserialized weapons produced with Polymer80 parts have turned up at crime scenes across the country, but state-level efforts to close ghost gun loopholes continue to fall short.

Recent Headlines

 

Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Officials ‘cautiously optimistic’ about falling monkeypox cases, Dan Diamond, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The worldwide monkeypox outbreak may have peaked, amid evidence that gay men are curbing risky sexual behaviors and more people are getting vaccinated. 

After three months of surging monkeypox cases, the worldwide outbreak may have peaked, amid evidence that gay men are curbing risky sexual behaviors and more people are getting vaccinated against a virus that spreads by close contact and has overwhelmingly affected men who have sex with men.

New U.S. cases of monkeypox have fallen by about 25 percent in the past two weeks, from 444 cases a day on Aug. 10 to 337 on Aug. 24, according to The Washington Post’s rolling seven-day average. Nearly 17,000 Americans have been diagnosed with monkeypox since the virus emerged in mid-May.

Globally, new cases fell by 21 percent from last week, the World Health Organization reported Thursday.

Even as public health experts cheered the slowdown in new infections, they cautioned that the virus continues to pose a risk — especially in smaller communities outside U.S. urban centers and in developing countries amid vaccine shortages, limited surveillance and insufficient testing — and could increasingly spill beyond the gay and bisexual community. Epidemiologists and health officials also report ongoing challenges with the White House’s new vaccine strategy to stretch the number of doses available.

ny times logoNew York Times, Amazon Says It Will Shut Down Amazon Care, Karen Weise, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Amazon told employees in an email on Wednesday that it is shutting down Amazon Care, its in-house foray into providing primary and urgent health care. The move comes a month after Amazon announced plans to buy a much larger competitor, One Medical, in a $3.9 billion deal.

Amazon for years has wanted to find its own ways to enter the health care industry, which company executives think provides a big opportunity for expansion.

ny times logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2New York Times, Jill Biden Tests Positive for Coronavirus Again in ‘Rebound’ Case, Zach Montague, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Her experience mirrors that of President Biden, who was forced to return to isolation last month after his initial bout with Covid-19

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Aug. 26

Top Headlines

 

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S. Political Violence, Gun Laws, Dirty Tricks

 

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