Aug. 26-31 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. 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.

 

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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).

 

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, 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. 27-28, 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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

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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.

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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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, 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.

Recent Headlines

 

Aug. 27

Top Headlines

 

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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

 

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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

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S. Political Violence, Gun Laws, Dirty Tricks

 

More On Student Loans

 

Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

U.S. Law, Security, Immigration, Crime

 

More On Ukraine War

 

More 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

 

More On U.S. Politics, Governance, Economy

 

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Politico, Trump Mar–a-Lago affidavit reveals ‘handwritten notes,’ highly classified material led to warrant request, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Aug. 26, 2022. Federal investigators obtained a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month by pointing to a raft of highly classified material they’d already obtained from there, according to a legal affidavit unsealed Friday.

politico CustomRecords the FBI obtained from Trump’s Florida home in advance of the Aug. 8 search bore indications they contained human source intelligence, intercepts under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and signals intelligence, as well as other tags indicating high sensitivity. Several of those tightly-controlled documents contained Trump’s “handwritten notes,” the partially-redacted affidavit detailing the Justice Department investigation says.

FBI logoIn those boxes, agents found 184 unique documents, 25 of which were marked “top secret,” 92 of which were marked “secret,” and 67 of which were marked “confidential”–the lowest level of national security classification.

Prosecutors also added in another court filing unsealed Friday that the ongoing criminal probe into government records stashed at Trump’s Florida home has involved “a significant number of civilian witnesses” whose safety could be jeopardized if their identities were revealed.

 ap logoAssociated Press, Biden rallies for Democrats, slams ‘semi-fascism’ in GOP, Zeke Miller, and Aamer Madhani, Aug. 26, 2022. President Joe Biden called on Democrats Thursday “to vote to literally save democracy once again” — and compared Republican ideology to “semi-fascism” — as he led a kickoff rally and a fundraiser in Maryland 75 days out from the midterm elections.

Addressing an overflow crowd of thousands at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Biden said: “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot, and it’s not hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.”

“You have to choose,” Biden added. “Will we be a country that moves forward or a country that moves backward?”

The events, in the safely Democratic Washington suburbs, were meant to ease Biden into what White House aides say will be an aggressive season of championing his policy victories and aiding his party’s candidates. He is aiming to turn months of accomplishments into political energy as Democrats have seen their hopes rebound amid the legacy-defining burst of action by Biden and Congress.

ap logoAssociated Press, Powell: Fed could keep lifting rates sharply ‘for some time,’ Christopher Rugaber, Aug. 26, 2022. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered a stark message Friday: The Fed will likely impose more large interest rate hikes in coming months and is resolutely focused on taming the highest inflation in four decades.

jerome powellPowell, right, acknowledged that the Fed’s continued tightening of credit will cause pain for many households and businesses as its higher rates further slow the economy and potentially lead to job losses.

“These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation,” Powell said in the written version of a high-profile speech he is giving at the Fed’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole. “But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain.”

federal reserve system CustomPowell’s message may disappoint investors who were hoping for a signal that the Fed might soon moderate its rate increases later this year if inflation were to show further signs of easing.

After hiking its key short term rate by three-quarters of a point at each of its past two meetings — part of the Fed’s fastest pace of rate increases since the early 1980s — Powell said the Fed might ease up on that pace “at some point” — suggesting that any such slowing isn’t near.

The Fed chair made clear that he expects rates to remain at levels that should slow the economy “for some time.”

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.”

ny times logoNew York Times, With Attacks and Mockery, Ukraine Pokes the Russian Bear, Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 26, 2022. Driven by anger at Russia and the need to rally support, Ukraine is regularly goading its much more powerful antagonist.

It was pure performance art, pointedly aimed at irking the Kremlin: a mock parade staged by Ukraine featuring dozens of captured Russian tanks in Kyiv’s central avenue.

More substantively, Ukraine has delivered strikes into the heart of Russian strongholds once considered untouchable, including an explosion at a base in Crimea that destroyed eight warplanes.

And lest their actions go unnoticed, the Ukrainian government’s social media sites went into high gear after these and other episodes, posting a flurry of taunting one-liners that mocked its adversary.

“An unsuccessful attempt to launch Russian tankers into space,” read one post accompanying a video showing a Russian tank blowing up, the turret soaring into the sky. It was posted on the official Facebook site of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In ways big and small, Ukraine’s leadership is goading its much more powerful antagonist, driven by deep anger at Russia, a newfound confidence after battlefield victories, the need to rally support at home and abroad, and a large dose of psychological warfare intended to unnerve the enemy.

In doing so, it is upending the longstanding diplomatic maxim about the need to tread carefully in dealings with the Kremlin.

“There is an axiomatic policy — don’t poke the bear — that’s been around for decades,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk assessment firm in Washington. “The Ukrainians are turning that policy on its head. And the bear has proven remarkably pokable.”

“The question is, how much is too much, and is there too much?” Mr. Kupchan said. “It’s obviously not a question we want to get answered.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: As Russia Seeks More Troops, Both Sides Dig In for War of Attrition, Anton Troianovski, Aug. 26, 2022. 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.

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 26, 2022. 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 month, 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.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Georgia judge skeptical of claims of political bias in 2020 election probe, Matthew Brown, Tom Hamburger and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). With the midterm elections approaching, a new wave of political and legal tensions erupted into public view.

The judge presiding over the grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies expressed skepticism Thursday over arguments from Republicans that the prosecution, led by a Democratic district attorney, was politically motivated.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert C.I. McBurney did not immediately rule on a request from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to toss a subpoena for his testimony from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D).

“It is not my space” to focus on politics, McBurney said as lawyers for Kemp argued that the subpoena had already become a political issue this election season. “I don’t think it is the right forum” to debate the political ramifications of the case, said the judge.

With the midterm elections approaching, the investigation has expanded dramatically, reaching Trump’s inner circle and edging closer to the former president himself. Hours after the hearing ended Thursday, newly filed records showed prosecutors are seeking testimony from Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Sidney Powell and cybersecurity expert Phil Waldron.

In recent days, a new wave of political and legal tensions erupted into public view, with Kemp’s attorney and others accusing prosecutors of politicizing the sensitive case.

The Georgia criminal investigation into Trump and his allies, explained

Kemp, who resisted pressure from Trump to overturn Georgia’s election results, is considered a key witness. Prosecutors said in a filing this week they would like to ask the governor about calls he received from Trump and others pressing him to contest the state’s election results.

Kemp is running for reelection against Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state lawmaker and voting rights advocate whom he narrowly beat in 2018. Last week, Abrams tweeted that the governor’s “refusal to testify shows that he will do anything to win an election. Kemp wants credit for ‘standing up’ to Trump but refuses to testify against the former president and said he would welcome his endorsement.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the governor cited Abrams’ comments as an example of the politicization of the ongoing inquiry.

ny times logoNew York Times, Redacted Affidavit Used in Trump Search to Be Unsealed, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Judge Orders Justice Dept. to Release Document by Friday.

A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered that a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence be unsealed by noon on Friday — paving the way for the disclosure of potentially revelatory details about a search with enormous legal and political implications.

The decision by Judge Bruce E. Reinhart came just hours after the Justice Department submitted its proposal for extensive redactions to the document, in an effort to shield witnesses from intimidation or retribution if it is made public, officials said.

Judge Reinhart appeared to accept the requested cuts and, moving more quickly than government lawyers had expected, directed the department to release the redacted affidavit in a brief two-page order issued from Federal District Court in Southern Florida. The order said that he had found the Justice Department’s proposed redactions to be “narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”

The redactions, he added, were also “the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire affidavit.”

In its most complete form, the document would reveal important details about the government’s justification for taking the extraordinary step of searching Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.

The ruling is a significant legal milepost in an investigation that has swiftly emerged as a major threat to Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have offered a confused and at times stumbling response. But it is also an inflection point for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who is trying to balance protecting the prosecutorial process by keeping secret details of the investigation, and providing enough information to defend his decision to request a search.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The point of no return with fascism in America, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 25-26, 2022. The United States wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsits precariously on the same precipice the Weimar Republic of Germany found itself in 1932.

The parties that generally favored German democracy – the Social Democrats, German People’s Party (DVP), and the Center Party all backed the aging president of the republic, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, in the 1932 presidential election. His opponent that year was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The Nazis made a mockery of anyone who was opposed to Hitler and that included the much-respected Hindenburg.

wayne madesen report logoToday, the United States has politically separated into two camps – one that favors democracy and includes Democrats, the few bona fide independents who hold significant political offices, and a group of Republicans who have been ostracized from their party by those favoring the anti-democratic and fascist policies of Donald Trump’s transformed Republican Party.

 

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.

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More On Student Loans

 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: The Two Big Questions About Student Debt Relief, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 26, 2022. 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.

But, you may argue, student borrowers weren’t struggling to cope with a pandemic. True. But many student borrowers were suckered in by the misleading marketing of for-profit colleges; millions ran up debts but never received a degree. Millions more went into debt only to graduate into a labor market devastated by the global financial crisis, a market that took many years to recover.

So don’t think of this as a random giveaway. Many though not all of those who will benefit from debt forgiveness are, in fact, victims of circumstances beyond their control.

ap logoAssociated Press, Student loan relief highlights burden on Black borrowers, Annie Ma, Aug. 26, 2022. Gabrielle Perry, a 29-year-old epidemiologist in New Orleans, expects $20,000 of her $135,000 student loan debt to be wiped out under the plan announced this week by President Joe Biden. She is happy for the relief, but disappointed he isn’t fully canceling student debt that weighs especially heavy on African Americans.

For her, it’s discouraging that Biden isn’t doing more to help a constituency that played a critical role in his presidential campaign. Perry, who cares for and financially supports her disabled mother, said those obligations act as a societal tax on Black people, preventing the growth of generational wealth.

“You are ensuring that your little brothers and sisters have what they need for school,” Perry said. “You are helping your parents pay off their rent, their house. So your quote-unquote wealth doesn’t even have time to be built because you’re trying to help your family survive.”

Black borrowers on average carry about $40,000 in federal student loan debt, $10,000 more than white borrowers, according to federal education data. The disparity reflects a racial wealth gap in the U.S. — one that some advocates say the debt relief plan does not do enough to narrow.

One in four Black borrowers would see their debt cleared entirely under the administration’s plan, which cancels $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that earn less than $250,000. The plan includes an additional $10,000 in relief for Pell Grant recipients, who are more than twice as likely to be Black.

While white families are more likely to see a transfer of wealth from one generation to the next, the opposite is true of Black families, where children are more likely to have to support a parent once they obtain some level of financial security, said Andre M. Perry, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Biden Student Loan Plan Squarely Targets the Middle Class, Jim Tankersley, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). President Biden is offering what independent analysts suggest would be his most targeted assistance yet to middle-class workers — while trying to repair what he casts as a broken bridge to the middle class.

The big winners from President Biden’s plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans are not rich graduates of Harvard and Yale, as many critics claim.

In fact, the benefits of Mr. Biden’s proposals will fall squarely on the middle class. According to independent analyses, the people eligible for debt relief are disproportionately young and Black. And they are concentrated in the middle band of Americans by income, defined as households earning between $51,000 and $82,000 a year.

The debt relief program, which by some estimates will cost as much as a half-trillion dollars over the course of a decade, will impose a future burden on American taxpayers. It has fueled criticism on several fronts, including that it could encourage colleges to raise tuition costs even faster than they already are. Some conservative and Democratic economists say it could add significantly to what is already the highest inflation rate in four decades, though evidence suggests those claims are overstated.

But in choosing to extend more generous debt relief than even many of his allies had expected, Mr. Biden is offering what independent analysts suggest would be his most targeted assistance yet to middle-class workers, while attempting to repair what he casts as a broken bridge to the middle class for young people across the country.

Nearly 90 percent of affected borrowers earn $75,000 a year or less, the Education Department projects. Ivy League graduates make up less than 1 percent of federal student borrowers nationwide.

“Most of the benefits are going to go to the middle class,” said Constantine Yannelis, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business who co-authored a study on the distributional effects of student debt relief that will soon be published in the Journal of Financial.

Time Magazine, Some of Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Critics Went to College for Less Than $400 per Year, Charlotte Alter, Aug. 25, 2022. When the Biden Administration announced Wednesday that it would cancel $10,000 of federal student loans for Americans making under $125,000 per year, and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients at the same income level, the backlash was predictable. Critics, often older people who had gone to college before the 1980s, called the policy a giveaway to the college educated, and unfair to those who had paid their way through school.

time logo ogWhile I was reporting my book, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For, I spent months researching why the student debt crisis has hit younger generations so hard— and why many older Americans don’t seem to understand the unique financial predicament of millennials and Gen Z. One key reason is that college affordability has radically transformed over the last 50 years. Many of the older conservatives who are angry at the idea that taxpayers might pay for student loan forgiveness went to school at a time when the government was heavily subsidizing higher education, and therefore tuition was far less expensive. For them, working their way through school without debt was feasible; for modern millennials and Gen Z, it’s often financially impossible.

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell called Biden’s loan forgiveness plan “student loan socialism” and said it was a “slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college.” But when McConnell graduated from the University of Louisville in 1964, annual tuition cost $330 (or roughly $2,500 when adjusted for inflation); today, it costs more than $12,000, a 380% increase. When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who called the policy a “debt transfer scam,” graduated from California State University, Bakersfield in 1989, tuition was less than $800; today, it’s more than $7,500, a 400% increase when adjusted for inflation. Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a moderate Democrat who is running for re-election this year, told Axios she disagreed with the policy because “it doesn’t address the root problems” of college affordability; when Cortez Masto graduated from the University of Nevada in 1986, tuition was a little more than $1,000— today, it’s roughly three times as expensive.

And don’t forget Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who called the policy “UNFAIR” on Twitter. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1955, when annual tuition cost roughly $159, or between $40 and $53 per quarter. Today, it costs more than $8,300, a nearly 500% increase even when adjusted for inflation.

ap logoAssociated Press, Legality of student loan plan relies on pandemic, 2003 law, Mark Sherman, Aug. 24, 2022. The Biden administration is tying its authority to cancel student debt. Skeptics of the administration’s ability to act on its own, without new legislation, had once included President Joe Biden himself and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But in a legal opinion released Wednesday, the Justice Department said that the HEROES Act of 2003 gives the administration “sweeping authority” to reduce or eliminate student debt during a national emergency, ”when significant actions with potentially far-reaching consequences are often required.”

The law was adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support at a time when U.S. forces were fighting two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. It gives the Education secretary authority to waive rules relating to student financial aid programs in times or war or national emergency.

Former President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in 2020 because of the pandemic, and it remains in effect.

But neither Trump nor Biden, until the president’s announcement on Wednesday, had tried to wipe out so much student debt at one time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Here’s who qualifies for the student loan forgiveness policy — and other questions about Biden’s plan, answered, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Jeff Stein, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration announced it would cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loans for roughly 43 million borrowers. Here’s what you need to know.

 

U.S. Law, Security, Crime, Immigration

 

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.”

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.

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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.

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Media, Education, Sports News

 

sean hannity uncredited

ny times logoNew York Times, Sean Hannity and Other Fox Stars Face Depositions in Defamation Suit, Jeremy W. Peters, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The depositions are one of the clearest indications yet of how aggressively Dominion is moving forward with its suit against the media company.

Some of the biggest names at Fox News have been questioned, or are scheduled to be questioned in the coming days, by lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems in its $1.6 billion defamation suit against the network, as the election technology company presses ahead with a case that First Amendment scholars say is extraordinary in its scope and significance.

fox news logo SmallSean Hannity became the latest Fox star to be called for a deposition by Dominion’s legal team, according to a new filing in Delaware Superior Court. He is scheduled to appear on Wednesday.

Tucker Carlson is set to face questioning on Friday. Lou Dobbs, whose Fox Business show was canceled last year, is scheduled to appear on Tuesday. Others who have been deposed recently include Jeanine Pirro, Steve Doocy and a number of high-level Fox producers, court records show.

 

alex jones briana sanchez pool

InfoWars radio host Alex Jones on Trial in Austin, TX in a civil trial (Pool photo by Briana Sanchez).

ny times logoNew York Times, Alex Jones Accused of Hiding Assets From Sandy Hook Families, Elizabeth Williamson, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The Infowars fabulist has been funneling millions out of his empire while claiming bankruptcy, the Sandy Hook families suing him say.

News Sandy Hook victims’ families asked a federal bankruptcy court on Thursday to order the Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones to relinquish control over his company, saying he has “systematically transferred millions of dollars” to himself and his relatives while claiming to be broke.

In a filing in the bankruptcy court in Houston, the families of nine Sandy Hook victims said they sought to have a bankruptcy trustee who is already monitoring the case take control of Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Mr. Jones’s misinformation-peddling media outlet. The families are also seeking a court-appointed oversight committee to restrict Mr. Jones’s ability to control Infowars’s finances.

Mr. Jones’s claimed insolvency is at the heart of his efforts to avoid paying for the damage done by his Sandy Hook lies. Earlier this month, a Texas jury ordered him to pay the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting nearly $50 million in compensatory and punitive damages for spreading the falsehood that they helped stage the massacre.

ny times logoNew York Times, George Foreman Is Accused of Sexual Abuse, David W. Chen, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Two women filed lawsuits in Los Angeles County alleging that Foreman, a former boxing champion, forced them to have sex with him as minors in the 1970s. Foreman denied the accusations. David W. Chen

Two women filed lawsuits Wednesday in California alleging that George Foreman, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, sexually abused them when they were teenagers in California in the 1970s.

george foreman twitterAccording to the lawsuits, the women, using the pseudonyms Gwen H. and Denise S. to protect their identities, initially met Foreman, shown on his Twitter portrait, when they were under 10 years old through their fathers. One man was a boxer and sparring partner of Foreman, while the other was a boxing manager and longtime adviser to Foreman.

Foreman then groomed the girls for several years, according to the complaints, before forcing them to have sex with him in places ranging from a San Francisco hotel to an apartment in Beverly Hills. The two women, who are both in their early 60s, filed the complaints in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Representatives for Foreman referred inquiries about the lawsuits — in which he is identified only as “DOE 1” — to a statement he released last month, announcing that he was anticipating a lawsuit.

“Over the past six months, two women have been trying to extort millions of dollars each from me and my family. They are falsely claiming that I sexually abused them over 45 years ago in the 1970s. I adamantly and categorically deny these allegations,” Foreman said.

He added: “I will work with my lawyers to fully and truthfully expose my accusers’ scheme and defend myself in court. I don’t pick fights, but I don’t run away from them either.”

The claims were filed under a California law allowing survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. The law, which went into effect in January 2020 and expires at the end of 2022, has resulted in thousands of claims accusing coaches, teachers, clergy and others of sexual abuse.

While numerous claims have been settled, only a few have gone to trial. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Djokovic, Still Unvaccinated, Says He Will Miss U.S. Open, Matthew Futterman, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Novak Djokovic, who has had Covid-19 at least twice, said he could not travel to New York. The U.S. restricts entry for unvaccinated foreigners.

novak djokovicIn January, Novak Djokovic, right, went before a panel of judges in Australia, seeking special permission to play tennis in the country while being unvaccinated against Covid-19. After a last-ditch hearing, he was turned away.

Since then, countries like France and Britain have relaxed their travel restrictions, which allowed Djokovic, who has had Covid-19 at least twice but has steadfastly refused to get vaccinated, to compete. Yet on Thursday, Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open. Still not vaccinated, he was not allowed to come to New York.

The United States has lifted many of its restrictions related to the coronavirus and travel, but unvaccinated foreigners are still not allowed to enter the country, leaving one of the top stars in men’s tennis unable to play in one of the most important tournaments of the year.

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter’s Former Security Chief Accuses It of ‘Egregious Deficiencies,’ Lauren Hirsch and Kate Conger, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). A whistle-blower’s complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department come at a perilous time for the social network.

twitter bird CustomTwitter’s former head of security has accused the company of “extreme, egregious deficiencies” in its spam- and hacker-fighting practices, according to a whistle-blower complaint.

The complaints by Peiter Zatko, the former executive, said that the shortcomings in enforcing security, privacy and content moderation policies dated to 2011. Mr. Zatko, a well-known hacker who is known in the security community as Mudge, joined Twitter in late 2020 and was terminated by the company in January.

His complaints were sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission on July 6. They were first reported by The Washington Post and CNN.

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Energy, Climate, Disasters, Environment

 

climate change photo

 

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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More On Ukraine War

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Updates: Live Briefing: War in Ukraine, Adela Suliman, Rachel Pannett, John Hudson, Robyn Dixon, Karina Tsui and Sammy Westfall, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Death toll in Chaplyne rail attack rises to 25; Biden to call Zelensky.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, around which international fears of a nuclear accident have centered in recent days amid accusations by both Ukraine and Russia of shelling near the facility, was disconnected from the grid entirely for the first time Thursday, according to its operator, Energoatom, after transmission lines were cut. Russia occupies the plant, but Ukrainian staffers continue to operate it.

The facility in southeastern Ukraine is now being powered from a neighboring geothermal plant and the city of Enerhodar, and is expected to get its power back in a few hours, according to Energoatom, which blamed “the actions of the invaders” for the cutoff.

A Russian proxy official in Zaporizhzhia, Vladimir Rogov, speaking on state TV, blamed the shutdown on Ukrainian shelling. Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-installed leader of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on Telegram that a unit of the power plant has been restored to function after a fire near the plant was extinguished. He said work was underway to restart a second power unit.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to increase the size of the Russian military from 1.9 million to 2.04 million, Russian media outlets reported. The personnel increase of 137,000 is to take effect on Jan. 1. The Kremlin still terms the war in Ukraine a “special military operation.”
  • Victims of a Russian missile attack on Chaplyne include an 11-year-old who died under the rubble of a house and a 6-year-old caught in a car fire, Kirill Timoshenko, a Ukrainian presidential aide, said on Telegram. He said 25 people were killed in total and 31 injured. Russia claimed that it used an Iskander missile to kill 200 Ukrainian service members there and destroy 10 units of military equipment headed to the eastern Donbas region. The claim could not be independently verified. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to make Moscow pay for “everything they have done.” He said in his nightly address that “Chaplyne is our pain today.” The attack came exactly six months into the war and on Ukraine’s Independence Day.
  • Biden is expected to call Zelensky on Thursday to discuss an almost $3 billion U.S. military aid package. Biden said he was “proud to announce our biggest tranche of security assistance to date,” which will include air defense systems, artillery and munitions. Since January 2021, the Pentagon said, the United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron met with Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Paris on Thursday to underline his “grave concern” about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. He also reiterated French support for an IAEA mission to be deployed to Ukraine “as soon as possible,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement.
  • Russian rockets targeted the Vyshgorod area directly north of Kyiv early Thursday, but no casualties were reported, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram. “There were no casualties or injuries among civilians. There were no fires or destruction of residential buildings or infrastructure,” Kuleba said. Russian forces largely avoided Kyiv on Independence Day, despite air raid sirens and warnings of strikes on the capital. Instead, they targeted front lines near cities such as such as Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Dnipro with artillery attacks, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

Battlefield updates

  • Tensions continue to mount around the Zaporizhzhia power plant, with Russia maintaining “an enhanced military presence at the site,” according to a daily intelligence briefing from Britain’s Defense Ministry. It said that while Russia occupies the facility, the principal risks include “disruption to the reactors’ cooling systems, damage to its back-up power supply, or errors by workers operating under pressure.” United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Putin to demilitarize the area around the plant, something Russia has previously rejected.
  • Moscow has “instructed officials to begin preparing” for staged referendums in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine that “could begin in a matter of days or weeks,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Ukrainian officials have warned for months that Moscow is planning to hold rigged elections and use the results as a pretext to illegally annex more of Ukraine’s territory.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu insisted that a slowdown in attacks was all part of a plan. Shoigu said Russia has intentionally slowed its attacks to avoid civilian casualties, an explanation offered repeatedly by Russian officials to explain apparent military setbacks.
  • The Washington Post’s visual forensics team has analyzed and catalogued a database of 251 videos since the war began, exposing the horrors of the conflict. Russia’s invasion is one of the most documented wars ever. Citizens, public officials and soldiers have regularly posted videos that show bodies in neighborhoods, trails of missiles streaking through the skies and smoldering ruins.

Global impact

  • Pope Francis will not meet with the head of the Russian Orthodox church, who supports the war in Ukraine, next month, according to Russian state media. Francis was due to meet Patriarch Kirill, a close Putin ally, on the sidelines of a summit of global religious leaders in Kazakhstan in September.
  • Facebook and Twitter say they have disrupted a web of accounts covertly seeking to promote narratives supporting the interests of the United States and its allies, including on the war in Ukraine, while opposing countries such as Russia, China and Iran. The report from social media analytics firm Graphika and Stanford University showed a rare instance in which a U.S.-sponsored campaign targeting foreign audiences, mostly in Asia and the Middle East, was found to violate the companies’ rules.
  • British front pages Thursday were filled with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Kyiv. Many criticized the lame-duck leader for making his third appearance in the country on its Independence Day, but others praised his consistent support of Ukraine. He also pledged $64 million more in military aid. When asked in Kyiv whether he wished he was as popular in Britain as in Ukraine, Johnson simply answered, “Yes.” He leaves office on Sept. 6.
  • Officials in Riga, Latvia, dismantled a prominent Soviet monument Thursday. In a live-streamed video, onlookers could be seen cheering as the obelisk collapsed.

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U.S. Politics, Governance Analysisn head as his running mate

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.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Accused of Misleading Investigators, Maggie Astor, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). A watchdog report stems from Ryan Zinke’s tenure as interior secretary during the Trump administration. He is now seeking a House seat in Montana.

ryan zinke oRyan Zinke, right, a former interior secretary during the Trump administration, intentionally misled investigators looking into his department’s decision not to act on two Native American tribes’ requests to open a new casino in Connecticut, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded in a report released on Wednesday.

Mr. Zinke, who served as interior secretary from 2017 to 2019, is now the Republican nominee for a congressional seat in Montana. He is widely expected to win the general election this November.

The 44-page report on Wednesday focused not on the casino decision itself — litigation over that was resolved separately — but on whether Mr. Zinke and his former chief of staff had been honest about it.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Lindsey Graham, a Showdown in Georgia, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The senator from South Carolina is fighting efforts to force him to testify before a grand jury investigating election interference by Donald J. Trump and his allies.

Six days after major news organizations declared Donald J. Trump the loser of the 2020 presidential election, his allies were applying a desperate full-court press in an effort to turn his defeat around, particularly in Georgia.

The pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell went on television claiming that there was abundant evidence of foreign election meddling that never ultimately materialized. Another lawyer, L. Lin Wood, filed a lawsuit seeking to block the certification of Georgia’s election results.

That same day, Nov. 13, 2020, Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican and one of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters, made a phone call that left Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, immediately alarmed. Mr. Graham, he said, had asked if there was a legal way, using the state courts, to toss out all mail-in votes from counties with high rates of questionable signatures.

The call would eventually trigger an ethics complaint, demands from the left for Mr. Graham’s resignation and a legal drama that is culminating only now, nearly two years later, as the veteran lawmaker fights to avoid testifying before an Atlanta special grand jury that is investigating election interference by Mr. Trump and his supporters.

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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.

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Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Officials ‘cautiously optimistic’ about falling monkeypox cases, Dan Diamond, Aug. 26, 2022. 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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 See August 2022 News for stories news from Aug. 1 to Aug. 25. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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