Aug. 27-31 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. 27

Top Headlines

 

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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.

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.

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.

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 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.

washington post logoWashington Post, America’s first homelessness problem: Knowing who is actually homeless, Kyle Swenson, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Governments nationwide spend billions of dollars to address homelessness. But advocates and academics agree: They’re relying on incomplete data.

At the local, state and federal level, governments rely on annual estimates of the homeless population to direct billions of dollars in spending. But few advocates, academics or public officials believe those estimates are accurate. Compiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), they are technocratic best-guesses, hammered together using a handful of methods many believe are inadequate.

“It gives Congress a false picture of the true magnitude of the problem,” said Donald Whitehead, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “We need to have accurate data if we are going to provide accurate solutions.”

 

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 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.

 

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.

Indeed, the redacted affidavit details some of what was found in a preliminary review of material earlier returned by Mr. Trump at the repeated requests of National Archives officials, including “184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as confidential, 92 documents marked as secret and 25 documents marked as top secret.” An agent who reviewed that earlier material saw documents marked with “the following compartments/dissemination controls: HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN and SI.”

The markings for top-secret and sensitive compartmented information indicate the highest level of security we have. Those levels protect what is rightly described as the crown jewel of the national security community.

Especially with information classified at that level, the government doesn’t get to pick and choose to defend the nation’s top secrets based on politics — it doesn’t matter if the person in question is a Democrat or Republican, a former president, a secretary of state or Edward Snowden. These documents belong to the government, and their having been taken away posed a clear risk to our national security.

The release of the redacted affidavit provides further clarity on why Attorney General Merrick Garland took the extraordinary step of approving the search of certain locations at Mar-a-Lago. The short version is that nothing else had worked and top-secret information was at stake.

In any normal case, in my experience, with a responsible, upstanding citizen who may have inadvertently taken government documents, a simple voluntary request for their return would ordinarily suffice. If that failed, a grand jury subpoena would typically do the trick. In this case, neither approach worked. The attorney general had to resort to the most intrusive method of obtaining the return of the documents, a search warrant approved by a federal court.

We already had some indications as to why the search warrant was required. The head of the National Archives and Records Administration wrote Mr. Trump’s team a letter in May that makes clear that for months the federal archives had beseeched the former president to return the documents and that a partial return, of 15 boxes, included over 700 pages of classified documents. And we knew that Mr. Trump opposed the archives releasing the information to the Justice Department.

The redacted affidavit provides additional evidence that the government exhausted every other avenue to get the rest of the documents. It offers a few more details about that back and forth with the Trump team. Within the Justice Department, there seems to have been concern that the Trump team had not been entirely forthright about having returned all the records and concern about interference with witnesses in the case, contradicting Mr. Trump’s current claims that he has fully cooperated with the department.

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 redacted affidavit also provides reason to believe that the Justice Department acted quickly once it was made aware of the nature of the information that may have remained at Mar-a-Lago. There is no question that some will say it should have acted sooner, given the grave risk to national security posed by the existence of highly classified documents at a place as insecure as a beach resort that had already been the target of suspected foreign infiltration. And supporters of Mr. Trump will continue to contend the Justice Department acted precipitously and that he was fully cooperating — but as the disclosures on Friday demonstrate, the facts increasingly contradict these claims.

That debate is a sideshow. 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.

Under Mr. Garland’s leadership, only the facts, law and precedent will matter. Mr. Trump’s penchant for hyperbole and spin to his base will be ineffective in a forum where the rule of law governs.

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.

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U.S. Politics, Governance Analysis

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.”

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.

 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, Stocks Plunge After Fed Chair Warns of ‘Pain’ From Inflation Fight, Joe Rennison, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The S&P 500 fell 3.4 percent, its worst daily showing since mid-June, after the Federal Reserve chair spoke about the path ahead for monetary policy.

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U.S. Educational Issues

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Top Universities Say They Need Affirmative Action After It Was Banned, Stephanie Saul, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). As a Supreme Court case nears, the California and Michigan university systems say their efforts to build diverse classes have fallen abysmally short.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ron DeSantis Suspends 4 Elected School Board Members After Parkland Report, Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). They were found to have engaged in “acts of incompetence and neglect,” but one ousted member called the Florida governor’s move “political retribution.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended four elected members of the Broward County school board on Friday, following the recommendation of a grand jury impaneled to look into school safety and other issues after the mass school shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead in 2018.

In its report, which was released last week, the grand jury found that the four school board members — and a fifth one who no longer holds that position — had “engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty,” in part for what the grand jury described as mismanagement of an $800 million bond issue approved by voters in 2014 that was intended to renovate schools and make them safer.

Mr. DeSantis suspended Patricia Good, Donna P. Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson from the board. Though all nine school board seats are nonpartisan, all four are registered Democrats, which is not unusual in liberal Broward County. Ms. Korn was on the ballot on Tuesday and had made it into a runoff for the November election.

The fifth person recommended for removal from office in the report, Rosalind Osgood, who is also a Democrat, was elected to the State Senate in a special election this year.

Ms. Levinson, hours after being removed from the board she had served for 12 years, declined to comment about the specific accusations in the report, but said they were pretext for “political retribution.” She said that all the suspended board members had won elections since the shooting.

“What country is this?” Ms. Levinson, formerly the board chairwoman, said in an interview Friday. “What Governor DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and he overturned the will of the voters.”

She added that Mr. DeSantis “impaneled this grand jury under the guise of school safety as a pretext to remove school board members who did not fire the former superintendent.”

In the tumultuous year after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a state commission found failures in the police response to the massacre. As a result, Mr. DeSantis suspended the elected sheriff in Broward County, Scott Israel, shortly after being sworn in as governor in 2019.

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Politico, Crist to pick Miami teachers union head as his running mate, Matt Dixon, Aug. 26, 2022. Karla Hernández-Mats has been president of United Teachers of Dade since 2016. Democrat Charlie Crist will pick Karla Hernández-Mats, the head of Miami-Dade County’s largest teachers union, as his running mate as he seeks to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis.

politico CustomCrist is expected to formally announce his pick during a Saturday rally in Miami that he’s holding to officially kick off his general election campaign. Crist trounced Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 59-34 in Tuesday night’s primary and is now preparing for an uphill battle against DeSantis, who is a heavy favorite.

The Hernández-Mats pick, first reported by CBS Miami, was greeted with high praise from Democrats. The Crist campaign declined to comment for this story.

“Love it!” said state Sen. Shev Jones (D-Miami) in a text. “I think it’s a thoughtful and bright move. Karla has ALWAYS had her ear to the ground for people, and she’s a natural galvanizer. Great pick!”

Florida Sen. Jason Pizzo, also a Miami Democrat, described her as “bright, warm and tough.”

Since 2016, Hernández-Mats has served as president of the United Teachers of Dade, which touts itself as the largest teachers union in the southeast. She is also on the governance board of the Florida Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher’s union.

FEA support of Crist played a pivotal role in the primary. The organization not only endorsed him, but pushed for the rest of the state’s labor organization to follow suit with a primary endorsement, even as some did not want to endorse before the general election. It led to a contested fight during the AFL-CIO’s summer convention in Orlando, which Crist ultimately won.

“We’re thrilled by Charlie Crist’s choice for his running mate. Karla Hernández-Mats will be a great lieutenant governor of and for all the people of Florida,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said. “She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities.”

 joe biden student debt ed secretary

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

 washington post logoWashington Post, Student loan forgiveness application coming in October, White House says, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.

The White House said Friday that student loan borrowers will be able to apply for debt cancellation this fall and receive relief within four to six weeks.

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

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. 27, 2022 (print ed.). 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.”

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. 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.”

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.

Recent Headlines

 

Media, Education, Sports News

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.

 
 

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, EPA finally moves to label some ‘forever chemicals’ found in everyday products hazardous, Dino Grandoni, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The compounds continue to turn up in drinking water, cosmetics, fabrics and food packaging used by millions of Americans.

The long-awaited move from the Environmental Protection Agency is meant to spark the cleanup of scores of sites defiled by industrial compounds and make the public more aware of their presence. Used to make everyday products such as nonstick cookware, cosmetics, fabrics and food packaging, these types of chemicals pervade drinking water used by millions of Americans — and they’ve been linked to an array of illnesses, including cardiovascular problems and low birth weights.

washington post logoWashington Post, Record rain is hitting drought-stricken areas. That’s not good news, Matthew Cappucci and Kasha Patel, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). A warmer climate is driving precipitation to higher extremes in both flooding and drought.

On Monday morning, the Dallas-Fort Worth area awoke to disaster. Rain was pouring down at the rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Highways became lethal lagoons, brooks became basins, and thousands of people scrambled to higher ground.
10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint

Just a day earlier, the city had been facing one of its worst droughts on record, with farmers forced to thin their herds as reservoirs rapidly shrank. Twenty-nine percent of the Lone Star State was encapsulated within a top-tier level 4 out of 4 “exceptional” drought. Very dry conditions took a heavy toll on crops and forced widespread water restrictions.

The extreme case of atmospheric caprice highlighted a growing issue plaguing communities across the United States and the world: weather whiplash.

This summer, several locations around the United States have experienced these wild, rapid swings from one weather extreme to another. About half of the country has undergone at least a moderate drought this summer. Parts of the West, the Midwest and Texas have experienced exceptional and historic drought conditions.

ap logoAssociated Press, Britain to see 80% spike in energy bills as crisis deepens, Sylvia Hui, Aug. 26, 2022. U.K. residents will see an 80% increase in their annual household energy bills, the country’s energy regulator announced Friday, following a record 54% spike in April. That will bring costs for the average customer from 1,971 pounds ($2,332) a year to 3,549 pounds.

The latest price cap — the maximum amount that gas suppliers can charge customers per unit of energy — will take effect Oct. 1, just as the cold months set in. And bills are expected to rise again in January to 4,000 pounds.

Recent Headlines

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, New restrictions from major abortion funder could further limit access, Caroline Kitchener, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Abortion providers say the restrictions from The National Abortion Federation are unnecessary and burdensome for patients already facing steep obstacles to abortion care. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

New restrictions from one of the country’s largest abortion funding organizations could add new obstacles for many patients in antiabortion states seeking the procedure elsewhere.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, patients have flooded clinics in states where abortion is legal — with many driving long distances to receive a medication abortion, a two-part regimen that includes mifepristone and misoprostol. These patients usually take the mifepristone in the clinic before driving home with the misoprostol, to be taken between 24 and 48 hours later.

The National Abortion Federation and its NAF Hotline Fund will now require patients who receive their funding to take both abortion pills in a state where abortion is legal, according to emails sent on Aug. 22 and obtained by The Washington Post. The nonprofit, which is backed largely by billionaire Warren Buffett, helped fund at least 10 percent of all abortions in the United States in 2020. The new rules could impact thousands of patients a year, providers say.

Patients in need of abortion funding can either call the NAF’s hotline or request financial help at a clinic authorized to offer support. Under NAF’s new regulations, which go into effect on Aug. 29, patients whose procedures are funded by the NAF will now need to affirm to clinic staff that they will not take their second pill in a state where abortion is illegal.

Clinics need only impose the NAF’s new restrictions on patients who receive NAF funding, according to an email to abortion providers from NAF Hotline Fund Operations Director Chloe Hanson Hebert. The restrictions will disproportionately impact poor women and women of color, several providers said.

These new restrictions go beyond what is explicitly required by abortion bans enacted since Roe was reversed. The various bans in antiabortion states prohibit providers from performing abortions within the state’s borders, but don’t bar providers elsewhere from prescribing pills to out-of-state patients they know will be returning home.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Justice Department wins one of two challenges to abortion bans, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 25, 2022. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Justice Department does not have many options for challenging state abortion bans.

There aren’t many federal judicial circuits where right-wing judges don’t dominate the courts of appeal. So the department must take its opportunities when it spots them.

 ap logoAssociated Press, Michigan panel recommends abortion proposal for ballot, Joey Cappelletti, Aug. 25, 2022. Michigan’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that the state’s election board give final approval to a potential ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

Michigan’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that the state’s election board give final approval to a potential ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

michigan mapThe Bureau of Elections said in a staff report that after examining petition sheets and a random sample of signatures, state officials determined that the petition contains 596,379 valid signatures –- close to 150,000 more than was required.

The report came after the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign turned in 753,759 signatures last month, a record-breaking number of signatures for a ballot initiative in the state. The Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative would affirm into Michigan’s Constitution the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interference.

The Bureau of Election’s report also addressed an anti-abortion group’s challenge to the proposed amendment last week, which claimed that lack of spacing in the amendment’s text created “strings of gibberish” and made the amendment “impossible to understand.”

 

luke bowen texas right to life

 

luke bowen right to life panel

Crooks & Liars from Current Revolt, Commentary: Texas Right To Life Political Director Arrested for Solicitation of a Minor, Conover Kennard, Aug. 25, 2022. Luke Bowen is the Political Director for Texas Right to Life. (Shown above, center, and in promo for Pro-Life panel not associated with charges.)

Lucas (Luke) Dane Bowen, right, Political Director of Texas Right to Life, was arrested on 8/3/2022 for alleged solitication of a minor. According to TransparencyUSA.org, Bowen was actively working with/for Texas right to life this year. Update: Texas Right to Life has informed Current Revolt that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd.

luke bowen mugshotWhen Republicans claim that Democrats are doing something evil, it’s just a matter of projection. I’m sure QAnon will be all over this, right? According to Current Revolt, Texas Right to Life told the outlet that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd — the very day he was arrested for alleged solicitation of a minor.

Again, again, again, right to life people aren’t taking away women’s rights to help children. It’s never been about children. It’s about control. They will force 10-year-olds to give birth. They are forcing a woman to give birth to a headless baby. Women’s lives mean nothing to them. Children’s lives are irrelevant to these “pro-life” soul-sucking conservatives. Don’t forget to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Halts Part of Idaho’s Abortion Ban, Saying It Violates Health Law, Glenn Thrush, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department sued Idaho this month, but its ability to influence policies in Republican states with so-called trigger laws is limited.

A federal judge in Idaho blocked part of the state’s strict abortion ban on Wednesday, delivering a limited but significant victory to the Biden administration, which has tried to use its limited power to protect reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

This month, the Justice Department sued Idaho, one of the most conservative states in the country, arguing that the law would prevent emergency room doctors from performing abortions necessary to stabilize the health of women facing medical emergencies.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the Federal District Court in Idaho wrote that doctors in the state could not be punished for acting to protect the health of endangered mothers, in a preliminary injunction issued a day before the ban was to be enacted.

New York State civil inquiry. Letitia James, the New York attorney general, has been conducting a civil investigation into Mr. Trump and his family business. The case is focused on whether Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets were part of a pattern of fraud or were simply Trumpian showmanship.

Manhattan criminal case. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been investigating whether Mr. Trump or his family business intentionally submitted false property values to potential lenders. But the inquiry faded from view after signs emerged suggesting that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be indicted.

The memo to Mr. Barr never mentioned the word “pardon,” instead characterizing that and similar episodes as Mr. Trump merely praising or condemning witnesses based on whether they cooperated with investigators. The memo argues that this could be interpreted as Mr. Trump merely not wanting the witnesses to lie and make up false claims against him.

To back up its assessments, the memo repeatedly stresses that Mr. Mueller’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence to charge any Trump campaign associate in a conspiracy with Russia.

“Once again, this conclusion is buttressed by the absence of any clear evidence that these witnesses had information that would prove the president had committed a crime,” Mr. Engel and Mr. O’Callaghan wrote.

Ryan Goodman, a New York University law professor, called the memo a “get out of jail free” card, adding: “It’s hard to stomach a memo that amounts to saying someone is not guilty of obstruction for deliberately trying to induce witnesses not to cooperate with law enforcement in a major criminal investigation.”

Recent Headlines

 

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

 

uvalde shooting victims 5 25 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Uvalde Fires Its School Police Chief in Response to Shooting, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The chief, Pete Arredondo, has been criticized for waiting too long to rescue students and teachers (shown above) trapped in two classrooms with the gunman.

pete arredondoFacing intense pressure from parents, the school board in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday terminated its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, right, who directed the district’s police response to a mass shooting at an elementary school in which the gunman was allowed to remain in a pair of classrooms for more than 75 minutes.

The unanimous vote, which Mr. Arredondo, through his lawyer, called “an unconstitutional public lynching,” represented the first direct accountability over what has been widely seen as a deeply flawed police response, one that left trapped and wounded students and teachers to wait for rescue as police officers delayed their entry into the two adjoining classrooms where the gunman was holed up.

Cheers broke out in the room as one of the board members, Laura Perez, made a motion: “I move that good cause exists to terminate the noncertified contract of Pete Arredondo, effective immediately,” she said.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: Why Outlawing Ghost Guns Didn’t Stop America’s Largest Maker of Ghost Gun Parts, Anjeanette Damon, Aug. 24, 2022. Unregistered, unserialized weapons produced with Polymer80 parts have turned up at crime scenes across the country, but state-level efforts to close ghost gun loopholes continue to fall short.

Recent Headlines

 

Public Health, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, 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

Recent Headlines

 

Aug. 26

Top Headlines

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

 

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

 

Top Stories

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

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.

Recent Headlines

 

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.

Recent Headlines

 

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

 

uvalde shooting victims 5 25 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Uvalde Fires Its School Police Chief in Response to Shooting, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The chief, Pete Arredondo, has been criticized for waiting too long to rescue students and teachers (shown above) trapped in two classrooms with the gunman.

pete arredondoFacing intense pressure from parents, the school board in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday terminated its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, right, who directed the district’s police response to a mass shooting at an elementary school in which the gunman was allowed to remain in a pair of classrooms for more than 75 minutes.

The unanimous vote, which Mr. Arredondo, through his lawyer, called “an unconstitutional public lynching,” represented the first direct accountability over what has been widely seen as a deeply flawed police response, one that left trapped and wounded students and teachers to wait for rescue as police officers delayed their entry into the two adjoining classrooms where the gunman was holed up.

Cheers broke out in the room as one of the board members, Laura Perez, made a motion: “I move that good cause exists to terminate the noncertified contract of Pete Arredondo, effective immediately,” she said.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: Why Outlawing Ghost Guns Didn’t Stop America’s Largest Maker of Ghost Gun Parts, Anjeanette Damon, Aug. 24, 2022. Unregistered, unserialized weapons produced with Polymer80 parts have turned up at crime scenes across the country, but state-level efforts to close ghost gun loopholes continue to fall short.

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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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Aug. 25

Top Headlines

 

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

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

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

 

More On Student Loans

 

More On U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

U.S. Midterm Elections: Florida, New York, Oklahoma Results

 

More On Ukraine War

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

More On U.S. Politics, Governance, Economy

 

More World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 
U.S. Media, Education, Sports, Culture

 

Top Stories

 

joe biden black background resized serious file

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to cancel up to $10,000 in student debt for most borrowers and $20,000 for Pell recipients, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Jeff Stein, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The president is also set to extend a pause on federal student loan payments through Dec. 31.

White House officials are planning to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for recipients of Pell Grants as part of their broader announcement on Wednesday of student debt forgiveness, four people familiar with the matter said.

democratic donkey logoThe extra debt forgiveness for Pell recipients would be in addition to the expected cancellation of up to $10,000 in student debt for most other borrowers. The White House’s plans are only expected to apply to Americans earning under $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per year for married couples who file taxes jointly, the people familiar said.

Roughly 43 million federal student loan borrowers would be eligible for some level of forgiveness, including 20 million who could have their debt completely canceled, according to internal documents shared with The Washington Post. The White House estimates that 90 percent of relief will go to people earning less than $75,000.

USTR seal Custom 2The president is also expected to announce that he will extend a pandemic-era pause on federal student loan payments that was first implemented under the Trump administration. That moratorium will now be extended until Dec. 31, or beyond the midterm elections, the people said.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private White House conversations and cautioned the details could change. President Biden is returning to Washington for the announcement today.

The announcement would put to rest months of deliberation over whether Biden would use his executive authority to forgive a portion of the federal student debt burden. It arrives ahead of congressional midterm elections and could give the Democrats a boost with some voters, but also threaten their standing with those who say the amount is not enough — or too much.

ny times logoNew York Times, Redacted Affidavit Used in Trump Search to Be Unsealed, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Aug. 25, 2022. 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.

ny times logoNew York Times, California to Ban the Sale of New Gasoline Cars, Coral Davenport, Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The decision, to take effect by 2035, will likely speed a wider transition to electric vehicles as many other states often follow California’s standards.

California regulators on Thursday will vote to put in place a sweeping plan to restrict and ultimately ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars, state officials said, a move that the state’s governor described as the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine.

The new policy, detailed Wednesday morning in a news conference, is widely expected to accelerate the global transition toward electric vehicles. Not only is California the largest auto market in the United States, but more than a dozen other states typically follow California’s lead when setting their own auto emissions standards.

If those states follow through, and most are expected to adopt similar rules, the restrictions would apply to about a third of the United States auto market.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Putin Calls for Sharp Expansion of Russian Army, Ivan Nechepurenko and Anton Troianovski, Aug. 25, 2022. 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.”

Here’s what we know:

  • The Russian president signed a decree to add 137,000 service members to the military starting next year.
  • Ukraine is hitting Russian forces behind the front lines, but has a long way to go, a top official cautions.
  • The U.S. State Department and Yale identify 21 detention sites in Russian-controlled territory.
  • The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was briefly cut off from Ukraine’s grid, leading to outages, officials say.
  • Biden and Zelensky reaffirm their alliance as the war enters its seventh month.
  • Russia’s plans for ‘sham’ referendums in occupied territories brings back bad memories in Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Defiant Under Russian Strikes, Ukrainians Celebrate a Nation ‘Reborn,’ Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). At least 22 people were killed in a missile strike, officials said. Celebrating the country’s Independence Day, Ukrainian leaders urged resolve.

Under the blare of air raid sirens, Ukrainians celebrated their Independence Day with a show of defiance against Russia’s invasion on Wednesday, despite the uncertain course of a war that has lasted half a year and brought horror to nearly every part of the country.

In Kyiv, mass gatherings were banned, drones flew a Ukrainian flag above the city and a concert was recorded for the holiday in a bomb shelter, reflecting fears that Russia would launch dramatic strikes on civilian centers to spoil the occasion, which commemorates Ukraine’s 1991 separation from the Soviet Union.

The biggest strike came not in Kyiv but in a small town in eastern Ukraine, where a rail station was hit with a missile strike that crushed passenger cars and set them afire. A least 22 civilians were killed, and 50 were wounded, with the toll expected to rise.

“This is how we live every day,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said after the attack.

But in Kyiv, Ukrainian leaders delivered speeches aimed at rallying foreign backers as much as their citizens at home and the tens of thousands of soldiers huddled in trenches and towns at the front.

In a slickly produced address, prerecorded for security reasons, Mr. Zelensky stood before a column of burned and wrecked Russian tanks on a central avenue in the capital and declared Ukraine a nation “reborn” in conflict. Ukraine, he said, has a renewed sense of cultural and political identity that is now wholly separate from Russia.

 

A photograph by Agence France-Presse showed three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday.Credit...Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A photograph by Agence France-Presse showed three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt Agence France-Presse via Getty Images).

A photograph by Agence France-Presse showed three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt Agence France-Presse via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, As War Hits Milestone, Ukraine and Russia Are Both Reshaped, Anton Troianovski, Andrew E. Kramer and Steven Erlanger, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Half a year after Russian forces first made their move, here is how the conflict appears to the combatants, and to a continent plunged into turmoil. In Ukraine, a delicate sense of normalcy masks a staggering toll. In Russia, new ultranationalist rules have snuffed out any vestiges of dissent.

Russian FlagFor six months, a major land war has sown horror in Europe.

It is a war in which violence and normality coexist — death and destruction at the 1,500-mile front and packed cafes in Kyiv, just a few hundred miles to the west.

ukraine flagIt is a war fought in trenches and artillery duels, but defined in great part by the political whims of Americans and Europeans, whose willingness to endure inflation and energy shortages could shape the next stage of the conflict.

And it is a war of imagery and messaging, fought between two countries whose deep family ties have helped turn social media into a battlefield of its own.

No one knows how it will end. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, having silenced dissent, has proclaimed that “by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest.” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, emboldened by a defiant populace and a mostly united West, has played down the chances of a settlement and urged his people not to bend.

Will Western backing hold as Europe braces for the possibility of a winter with little Russian oil and gas? Will Mr. Putin, after strikes in Crimea and the killing of a nationalist commentator, escalate the war? And will Mr. Zelensky be able to sustain his nation’s determination against a nuclear-armed foe?

 

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. 25, 2022. 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.

 

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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Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

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. 25, 2022. 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.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The point of no return with fascism in America, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 25, 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.

Politico, How Trump has spent his days since the feds searched his home, Meridith McGraw and Daniel Lippman, Aug. 25, 2022. The stakes may be high but the summer schedule goes on.

politico CustomAs he finds himself, once more, in legal jeopardy—standing at the epicenter of a media storm of his own making, his political future changing course in real time—Donald Trump has done what Donald Trump likes to do.

He’s played golf, engaged in a bit of politicking, and mingled with friends and guests at his Bedminster golf club.

washington post logoWashington Post, Archives asked for records in 2021 after Trump lawyer agreed they should be returned, email says, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.).  About two dozen boxes of presidential records stored in then-President Donald Trump’s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in the final days of his term even after Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be given back, according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency.

“It is also our understanding that roughly two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the Residence of the White House over the course of President Trump’s last year in office and have not been transferred to NARA, despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days of the administration that they need to be,” wrote Gary Stern, the agency’s chief counsel, in an email to Trump lawyers in May 2021, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post.

The email shows NARA officials were concerned about Trump keeping dozens of boxes of official records even before he left the White House — concerns that only grew in the coming months as Trump repeatedly declined to return the records. It also showed that Trump’s lawyers had concerns about Trump taking the documents and agreed that the boxes should be returned — at least according to the top Archives officials — while Trump kept the documents.

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

 

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 Student Loans

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. 25, 2022. 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.

New York Times, Analysis: Biden Student Loan Plan Squarely Targets the Middle Class, Jim Tankersley, Aug. 25, 2022. 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.

 

2022 U.S. Midterm Elections: Florida, New York, Oklahoma Results

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s how Democrats can recapture the crime issue, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 25, 2022. Republicans, trapped in their jennifer rubin new headshotown right-wing media chamber and forever in the thrall of defeated former president Donald Trump, apparently thought it was a great idea to attack law enforcement and defend tax cheats ahead of the midterms. Even former vice president Mike Pence recognized that demonizing the FBI was a bad idea.

“Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop,” Pence said last week. “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”

If Democrats are savvy, they can recapture the crime issue that Republicans — increasingly attracted to violence and disorder — seem all too willing to give up. The party can go about this in several ways.

First, Democrats can go directly after Republicans for defending Trump for removing top-secret documents from the White House. The facts are damning, yet the GOP remains willing to regurgitate whatever lame accusations Trump levels at law enforcement. Republicans didn’t bat an eye when he left an implicitly threatening message for the attorney general. Republicans have echoed Trump’s dangerous rhetoric instigating violence against the FBI, as well as his continued defense of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists who assaulted police officers

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Sense a Shift in the Political Winds, but It May Not Be Enough, Jonathan Weisman, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). A series of strong election showings, culminating in a New York win, have buoyed Democratic confidence, but a daunting map may still cost them the House.

Energized abortion-rights voters. Donald J. Trump back in the spotlight. Stronger-than-expected special elections, including a surprising win early Wednesday in New York.

Democratic leaders, once beaten down by the prospect of a brutal midterm election in the fall, are daring to dream that they can maintain control of Congress this November.

An unexpected victory by Pat Ryan, a Democrat, in a special House election to fill a vacancy in New York’s Hudson Valley offered Democrats solid evidence that their voters were willing to come out and that their message was resonating. It followed strong Democratic showings in other special elections, in Nebraska, Minnesota and upstate New York, since the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade. Mr. Ryan placed abortion rights front and center while his Republican opponent, Marc Molinaro, sidestepped the issue to focus on the problems his party still believes will drive voters — inflation, crime, the economy. It didn’t work.

Politico, Analysis: Democrats gain momentum: 5 takeaways from the last big primary night of 2022, David Siders, Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Trump’s candidates are still chalking up wins, but the headwinds facing Democrats appear to have eased.

politico CustomA New York special election seen as the last, best test of the electorate’s midterm leanings confirmed what Democrats hoped and Republicans feared: Predictions of a red wave may be overblown.

To be sure, Donald Trump had a winning night. But so did Ron DeSantis, who demonstrated Trump isn’t the only Republican in Florida with a political machine.

republican elephant logoPrimaries in four more states, including New Hampshire, are yet to come. But Tuesday marked the last of the year’s major, multi-state contests, leaving the shape of the general election landscape all but complete.

Here are five takeaways from a key primary night in Florida and New York:

1) New York’s ‘canary in a coal mine.’ It would have been easy to write Nebraska off as a fluke, after Democrats ran better than expected in a House race there last month. But then came Minnesota, where Democrats again beat expectations. And then, in New York on Tuesday, the dam broke.

“Well, shit,” one Republican strategist texted late Tuesday, as results from a Hudson Valley special election filtered in.

It would have been a victory for Democrats if they’d even kept it close. Instead, Democrat Pat Ryan beat Republican Marc Molinaro in a district that Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, but that would have appeared to favor Republicans in a normal midterm climate.The New York race to succeed Democrat Antonio Delgado in a New York House district is likely a better indicator than the House races in Minnesota or Nebraska. For one thing, it’s the most current data we have. But more than that, it’s a competitive district where both parties spent real money and tested their general election messaging — abortion for Democrats, the economy for Republicans. It was about as close to a November test run as we’re going to get.

“This is a Republican versus a Democrat. They’re not crazy. No one’s off the wall,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist based in New York. “That’s why it’s a good test.”

 

pat ryan

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrat Pat Ryan Wins in New York House Race That Turned on Abortion, Grace Ashford, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Ryan, above, prevailed in the Hudson Valley special election, a contest that was seen as a potential test of the impact abortion might have on the midterms.

Pat Ryan, a Democratic county executive in New York’s Hudson Valley, has won a special House election on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, in a contest that was seen as a potential test of the impact that the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion might have on the midterm elections.

democratic donkey logoThe result in the closely watched race, which was considered a tossup, will keep the swing-district seat, formerly held by Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, under Democratic control.

Mr. Ryan was able to keep his early lead, ultimately winning 52 percent of the vote to his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro’s 48 percent, with nearly 95 percent of votes cast.

Mr. Ryan sought to highlight abortion as the predominant issue in his campaign and contrast his support for protecting abortion access nationwide with the position of Mr. Molinaro, who believes that the decision ought to rest with states.

In speeches and campaign ads, Mr. Ryan, the Ulster County executive and a combat veteran, urged voters in the 19th District to see the election as a crucial opportunity to send a message decrying attacks on abortion access, voting rights and, more broadly, democratic principles.

“Choice was on the ballot. Freedom was on the ballot, and tonight choice and freedom won,” Mr. Ryan said on Twitter early Wednesday. “We voted like our democracy was on the line because it is.”

Though polls show that a majority of voters support some access to abortion, Democrats have been wrestling with how best to translate that into support for the party.

Mr. Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, largely avoided the topic of abortion, focusing instead on day-to-day voter anxieties, from crime and inflation to the price of baby formula.

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: Pro-democracy candidates held their own in primary races in FL and NY, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 24-25, 2022. In two wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallstates that represent a microcosm of American voters — Florida and New York — candidates generally committed to democracy and the rule of law defeated a Republican hodgepodge of Qanon believers, Adolf Hitler admirers, and, in one case, an admirer of Russia and Vladimir Putin.

The election returns also pointed to a collapse in the corporate media’s insistence that the Republicans will score victories at the expense of Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.

wayne madesen report logoIn the race to fill the 23rd congressional seat of sex scandal-plagued Republican Tom Reed, who resigned in May, Joe Sempolinski, a former Reed staffer, edged out Republican Max Della Pia to finish Reed’s term in the U.S. House. Della Pia, a retired Air Force colonel, is on the ballot for the seat in November. Della Pia received a surprising 47 percent of the vote against Sempolinski’s 53 percent in the normally Republican-leaning district.

Sempolinski is not running in the November general election, becoming one of the most short-lived incumbents in Congress. The winner of the Republican primary for the 23rd’s general election is Nick Langworthy, who defeated the racist and Hitler-admiring Carl Paladino in the GOP primary.

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U.S. House candidates Sarah Palin, Mary Peltola and Nick Begick III. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

 

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. 25, 2022. 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.

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More On Ukraine War

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: Live Briefing: War in Ukraine, Adela Suliman, Rachel Pannett, John Hudson, Robyn Dixon, Karina Tsui and Sammy Westfall, Aug. 25, 2022. 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.

 

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a news conference in Kyiv on Thurday. “We have a special people, an extraordinary people,” he said (Photo by Lynsey Addario for The New York Times).

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a news conference in Kyiv this spring. “We have a special people, an extraordinary people,” he said (Photo by Lynsey Addario for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Calculating the war’s human cost: Thousands are dead and over six million have been pushed from their homes, Alan Yuhas, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Six months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the human and financial tolls are incalculable. But the figures that have emerged paint a bleak picture.

  • Day after day for 181 days, the grim ledger of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grows longer with each missile strike, burst of gunfire and report of atrocities.
  • russian flag wavingUkrainian civilians have paid a heavy price: 5,587 are confirmed dead, and the true number is believed to be in the tens of thousands. The number of refugees has surpassed 6.6 million.
  • Military losses have been heavy on both sides, with about 9,000 Ukrainians and as many as 25,000 Russians said to be killed.
  • Ukraine has lost control of 20 percent of its territory to Russian forces and their proxies in recent years.
  • The destruction has already cost Ukraine at least $113.5 billion, and it may need more than $200 billion to rebuild.
  • Donor nations have pledged to give Ukraine more than $83 billion in total.
  • Ukrainian agricultural production and other countries that depend on it have been hit hard. Even with grain ships on the move again, the world hunger crisis is dire.

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More On U.S. Politics, Governance Analysis

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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Public Health, Responses

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 logoNew 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.

ny times logoNew York Times, C.I.A. Begins Compensating Victims of Havana Syndrome, Julian E. Barnes, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Officers and diplomats have reported ailments arising from mysterious incidents since 2016. But lawyers for some say future cases may be harder to adjudicate.

About a dozen people suffering from debilitating symptoms that have become known as Havana syndrome have either received the payments or been approved to receive them, the people familiar with the program said.

Several of the recipients are former C.I.A. officers who were injured while serving in Havana in 2016 and 2017. However, payments are also being processed for current and former officers whose injuries occurred elsewhere.

 

anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Fauci plans to step down in December after half a century in government, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s preeminent infectious-disease expert who achieved unprecedented fame while enduring withering political attacks as the face of the coronavirus pandemic response under two presidents, plans to step down in December after more than a half-century of public service, he announced Monday.

anthony fauci george w bushFauci, 81, shown above in a file photo and at right receiving from then-President George W. Bush one of the physician’s many honors over his long career, has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He joined the parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, in 1968 as a 27-year-old doctor who had just finished medical residency and was quickly identified as a rising star. Most recently, Fauci has also served as President Biden’s chief medical adviser since the start of his administration.

Fauci’s tenure as director of the infectious-diseases institute made him an adviser to seven presidents and put him on the front lines of every modern-day scourge, including AIDS, the 2001 anthrax scares, Ebola, Zika and the coronavirus pandemic. During the nearly four decades Fauci led the agency, it grew from a little-known institute with a $350 million annual budget to a globally recognized powerhouse with a budget exceeding $6 billion.

“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved,” said Biden, who as vice president worked with Fauci on the nation’s response to Ebola and Zika during the Obama administration. “Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work.”

While Fauci is one of the most cited researchers of all time and has been widely known in scientific circles for decades, it was the coronavirus pandemic that catapulted him to worldwide fame — and ignited criticism from some Republican politicians and threats from the public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Administration Plans for New Booster Campaign Soon After Labor Day, Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). A top F.D.A. regulator cited compelling data for redesigned coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The Biden administration plans to offer the next generation of coronavirus booster shots to Americans 12 and older soon after Labor Day, a campaign that federal officials hope will reduce deaths from Covid-19 and protect against an expected winter surge.

Dr. Peter Marks, the top vaccine regulator for the Food and Drug Administration, said in an interview on Tuesday that while he could not discuss timing, his team was close to authorizing updated doses that would target the versions of the virus now circulating.

Even though those formulations have not been tested in humans, he said, the agency has “extremely good” data showing that the shots are safe and will be effective. “How confident am I?” he said. “I’m extremely confident.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Your first brush with coronavirus could affect how a fall booster works, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). It’s a phenomenon known by the forbidding name of original antigenic sin, and, in the case of the coronavirus, it prompts a constellation of questions.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2In the beginning, when the coronavirus was new, the quest for a vaccine was simple. Everyone started out susceptible to the virus. Shots brought spectacular protection.

But the next chapters of life with the virus — and the choice of booster shots for the fall and beyond — will be complicated by the layers of immunity that now ripple through the population, laid down by past infections and vaccinations.

When it comes to viral infections, past is prologue: The version of a virus to which we’re first exposed can dictate how we respond to later variants and, maybe, how well vaccines work.

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U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Oklahoma Executes Man Despite Clemency Recommendation, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 25, 2022. 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. 25, 2022. 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.

 

donald watkinsDonald V. Watkins, Personal Opinion: Watkins Released From Prison! Donald V. Watkins, shown above, Aug. 25, 2022. On August 28, 2019, I walked into the Federal Prison Camp at Talladega as Inmate No. 36223-001. I was the camp’s only political prisoner. Today, I walked out of the Federal Prison Camp at La Tuna in Anthony, New Mexico as a free man.

My experience as Inmate No. 36223-001 was a long and hard one, but it was nothing compared to the hell that George Jones and I experienced when we desegregated the University of Alabama’s law school from 1970 to 1973. The presence of God was with me on both journeys.

I left about 200 fellow inmates at La Tuna who took very good care of me throughout my stay. They came from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. I drew upon their strength as much as they drew upon mine.

As I departed La Tuna, I silently celebrated the 45 inmates I had freed during my three-years in captivity. At least five of these inmates were completely innocent of the criminal charges against them. Each one of the innocent inmates was a living example of the systemic failure of the federal criminal justice system.

In each case involving the innocent defendants, the trial judge, prosecutor, and court-appointed lawyer were all paid from the same source (the U.S. Treasury).. The prosecutors had regular ex parte contact with the federal magistrates and trial judges, prior to and after the defendant’s indictment. From the outset, the outcome in these cases was “rigged” in favor of the prosecution.

These cases highlight the most glaring flaw in the American criminal justice system. Federal judges routinely shower prosecutors with gratuitous favoritism, while cleverly working to gut the constitutional rights of defendants for ideological and partisan reasons.

I believe my “emancipation” work for these 45 prisoners establishes a new record in American jurisprudence for a single lawyer during a three-year period. I also proudly hold the record for defeating 85 felony counts in a single-defendant criminal case (i.e., USA v. Richard Scrushy, 2003-2005).

I use the term “emancipation” to describe my work because state and federal inmates are legally and technically “slaves” under the Slavery Exception Clause of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. If there is any question about the status of prisoners in the United States, it was laid to rest in Ruffin v. Commonwealth, 62 Va. 790 (1871), when the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed their status as “slaves.” Sadly, America is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that authorizes slavery in its constitution and practices it regularly in penal colonies.

My tour of duty in prison passed quickly because I was busy, day and night, helping scores of deserving inmates secure the justice that eluded them from those who pretend to be the official guardians of justice in the federal system. In retrospect, this was my finest hour as a lawyer.

The friendship bonds I formed with fellow inmates and staff members in prison will last a lifetime. My interaction with these inmates and staff members also increased my sphere of knowledge and influence on America’s diverse ethnic, cultural, and political landscape.

The Politicization of Injustice

As an attorney who has been on the frontlines of the fight for the fair administration of justice for 48 years, I have seen case after case where federal judges with lifetime appointments in office have failed to administer fair justice. I have seen them use all of their brainpower to find new and creative ways to administer injustice with pride. The victims of this judicial abuse are usually people of color, poor people, gay people, Muslims, and women.

The politicization of the federal criminal justice system is one of the reasons public respect for and confidence in the federal courts, from the U.S. Supreme Court down to trial courts, is at an all-time low. Today, less than 1 out of 5 Americans respect federal judges. Tragically, the federal judiciary has transformed itself from a revered institution of government into a den of mostly robe-wearing, political hustlers who pretend to be judges and justices. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ vote appears to be “for sale” to any right-wing advocacy group that is willing to hire his wife as a “consultant.”

In the Deep South, many federal judges have become more dangerous to our individual rights and freedoms than the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Ku Klux Klan, and the White Citizens Council. I have seen their brand of injustice on an up-close and personal basis. Today, injustice is the rule of law, and not an exception to the rule.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Detective Admits Misleading Judge Who Approved Breonna Taylor Raid, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Kelly Goodlett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, becoming the first officer to be convicted in the fatal police operation.

A former police detective admitted on Tuesday that she had helped mislead a judge into wrongly authorizing a raid of Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Ky., setting in motion the nighttime operation in which the police fatally shot Ms. Taylor.

The former detective, Kelly Goodlett, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy, admitting that she had worked with another officer to falsify a search warrant application and had later lied to cover up their act. In pleading guilty, Ms. Goodlett became the first police officer to be convicted over the March 2020 raid, during which the police were searching for evidence of drug dealing by Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover.

Inside a courtroom in downtown Louisville, Ms. Goodlett, 35, admitted that she had known there was not enough evidence to support approving the warrant, but had nonetheless failed to object when a fellow detective falsely wrote that the police knew Mr. Glover was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s home.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Mental Illness Not a Useful Means to Predict Gun Violence, Experts Say, Shaila Dewan, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). Blaming mass murder on mental illness is a time-honored impulse, used by law enforcement and politicians alike. But many killers, if not most, had never been diagnosed with a serious psychiatric disorder, and experts prefer to focus on warning signs like a life crisis.

The freshman who walked into the high school cafeteria in Marysville, Wash., in 2014 with his father’s .40-caliber Beretta did not fit anyone’s profile of a mass murderer. He was a crack athlete. He embraced his Native American traditions, wearing a headdress at tribal events and offering freshly killed deer to his grandmother. He was popular, so much so that he had just been elected homecoming prince.

He had no history of mental illness — just what several classmates described as an uncharacteristically bad mood that week. It was only after he killed four fellow students and wounded another that the armchair diagnosis of his mental state began.

Blaming mass murder on mental illness is a time-honored impulse, used by law enforcement and politicians alike. “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” President Donald J. Trump said in 2019 in response to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. After a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period.”

Such explanations satisfy a deep longing to understand the incomprehensible. And they appeal to common sense — how could a person who kills indiscriminately be in their right mind?

Yet America’s mass killers fit no single profile and certainly no pattern of insanity — many, if not most, had never been diagnosed with a serious psychiatric disorder. Background checks can prevent someone with a diagnosis of mental illness from acquiring a gun, but psychologists say there is a wide divide between a clinical diagnosis and the type of emotional disturbance that precedes many mass killings.

The real problem, those experts say, is that mental illness is not a useful means to predict violence. About half of all Americans will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, and the vast majority of people with mental illness do not kill.

“Do you or do you not have a mental health diagnosis?” said Jillian Peterson, a co-founder of the Violence Project, a research center that has compiled a database of mass shootings from 1966 on and studied perpetrators in depth. “In many cases, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not the main driver.”

Instead, many experts have come to focus on warning signs that occur whether or not actual mental illness is present, including marked changes in behavior, demeanor or appearance, uncharacteristic fights or arguments, and telling others of plans for violence, a phenomenon known as “leakage.”

This focus is far from perfect — it can be exceedingly difficult to weed out serious threats from many more that are idle, impetuous or exaggerated. But the warning signs approach has benefits: It can work even when the mental health system does not, and it sidesteps the complaint that blaming mass shootings on mental illness increases negative attitudes and stigma toward those who suffer from it.

Mississippi Free Press, ‘A Wrong Never Righted’: Court Upholds Mississippi’s 1890 Jim Crow Voting Law, Ashton Pittman, Aug. 24, 2022. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold a Jim Crow law that Mississippi’s white-supremacist leaders adopted in 1890 in an attempt to disenfranchise Black residents for life. White lawmakers designated certain crimes that they believed Black people were more likely to commit as lifelong disenfranchising crimes.

The court’s conservative majority admitted that the Jim Crow law was “steeped in racism,” but said the State had made enough changes in the 132 years since to override its white supremacist taint. A 2018 analysis found that the law still disproportionately disenfranchises Black Mississippians compared to white residents.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Mississippi Center For Justice, which filed the lawsuit against the State of Mississippi in 2017, said it will appeal the ruling in Harness v. Watson to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This provision was part of the 1890 plan to take the vote away from Black people who had attained it in the wake of the Civil War,” said Rob McDuff, an attorney with MCJ who argued that the Jim Crow violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection under the law. “Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals is allowing it to remain in place despite its racist origins. Despite this setback, we will continue this battle and seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

‘To Secure The Supremacy of the White Race’

During the Reconstruction era, newly emancipated Black Mississippians made enormous gains as Black men gained the right to vote. But in 1890, white Mississippi lawmakers began drafting a new constitution riddled with Jim Crow laws. The new system instituted an explicitly white-supremacist regime, with its drafters bent on disenfranchising, criminalizing and denying opportunity to the state’s Black residents.

The legislative committee that drafted Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution was initially explicit in its white-supremacist goals. They adopted a resolution declaring that “it is the duty of this Com. to perform its work in such a manner as to secure permanent white rule in all departments of state government and without due violence to the true principles of our republican system of government.”

They later revised the resolution, changing “white rule” to “intelligent rule.” Contrary to popular misconception, Jim Crow laws usually masqueraded as colorblind. But on the floor of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention, lawmakers were open about their intent.

James K. Vardaman, a former Mississippi speaker of the House, governor and U.S. senator, seen here in 1912, was known as “The Great White Chief.” He said he and other Mississippi lawmakers designed the 1890 Mississippi State Constitution to “eliminate” Black voting power. Photo courtesy U.S. Library of Congress.

“I will agree that this is a government by the people and for the people, but what people? When this declaration was made by our forefathers, it was for the Anglo-Saxon people. That is what we are here for today—to secure the supremacy of the white race,” Franklin County delegate J.H. McGehee said to applause from his fellow lawmakers at the 1890 convention as he vowed to strip voting rights from Black residents “even if it does sacrifice some of my white children, or my white neighbors or their children.”

After the state adopted that law as part of its constitution, along with other provisions like poll taxes and literacy tests, James K. Vardaman, one of its drafters, explained the goal: “There is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter … Mississippi’s constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the n–ger from politics. Not the ‘ignorant and vicious’, as some of the apologists would have you believe, but the n–ger.” Supporters hailed Vardaman, who served as a Mississippi governor and U.S. senator, as the state’s “Great White Chief.”

The 1890 provision at issue is Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution, which originally permanently disenfranchised people who committed the following crimes: bribery, burglary theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement and bigamy. In their effort to only include crimes they believed Black people were most likely to commit, the white-supremacist drafters of the 1890 Constitution did not originally include murder and rape as disenfranchising crimes.

“If Section 241 had never been amended, the provision would violate the Equal Protection Clause,” the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ majority said in its ruling Wednesday. “… Critically, however, it has been amended.”

The State amended the Constitution in 1950, removing burglary as a disenfranchising crime. Later, in 1968, the 5th Circuit’s opinion says, the State made additional changes by voter referendum, including by adding “the ‘non-black’ crimes of ‘murder’ and ‘rape’ to the disenfranchising crimes in Section 241.”

“After careful consideration of the record and applicable precedents, we reconfirm that Section 241 in its current form does not violate the Equal Protection Clause,” the court said in an en banc opinion after a vote of all justices in the circuit. “Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of showing that the current version of Section 241 was motivated by discriminatory intent. In addition, Mississippi has conclusively shown that any taint associated with Section 241 has been cured.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Charges to Be Dropped Against Officers in Killing of Rayshard Brooks, Richard Fausset, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Brooks was shot to death in 2020 after two Atlanta officers tried to arrest him. A prosecutor said that the officers “committed no crimes.”

More than two years after Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer in the parking lot of an Atlanta fast-food restaurant, a prosecutor has determined that the officer who fired, as well as another officer on the scene, “committed no crimes” in the incident.

The decision to drop charges against the two Atlanta officers was announced in a news conference on Tuesday by Pete Skandalakis, a veteran former Georgia prosecutor appointed to handle the case by Chris Carr, the Georgia attorney general. Mr. Skandalakis and another former prosecutor, Danny Porter, presided over a multimedia presentation about the June 2020 incident, which showed how Mr. Brooks, after resisting being handcuffed, sparked a violent fight with the officers, during which Mr. Brooks took Officer Devin Brosnan’s Taser and fired it at the officers.

The prosecutors said that these actions gave the other officer, Garrett Rolfe, justification to use deadly force. Mr. Rolfe fired three shots at Mr. Brooks, hitting him twice, in the back and buttocks.

“It is my conclusion that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and that they did not act with criminal intent,” Mr. Porter said.
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Mr. Rolfe was initially charged with 11 counts, including murder, and Mr. Brosnan faced a number of lesser charges. The prosecutors said they would move to vacate those charges. Mr. Rolfe was fired from the Police Department the day after the shooting, but reinstated in May 2021 by the city’s civil service review board. Both men have been on paid administrative leave pending resolution of their case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Man sentenced in scheme to defraud Rep. Gaetz’s father of $25 million, María Luisa Paúl, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Florida businessman to a little over five years in prison for his role in a 2021 plot to defraud the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz matt gaetz official(R-Fla.), right, of $25 million as the congressman found himself under investigation for possible sex crimes.

Stephen M. Alford, below left, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in November. This week, Alford was sentenced to 63 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to court documents.

stephen alfordRandall Lockhart, Alford’s public defender, did not immediately respond to a request from The Washington Post for comment. Gaetz has not been charged with any crime.

The scheme was first made public on March 30, 2021, when Gaetz appeared on Fox News hours after the New York Times first reported that the congressman was under investigation. Gaetz claimed the Times’s story was a “planted leak” meant to distract from the real crime — a shakedown of him and his father.

“What is happening is an extortion of me and my family,” Gaetz said.

According to court records, Alford and another man somehow learned that Gaetz was under a Department of Justice probe before the don gaetzinvestigation was publicly reported. Don Gaetz — the congressman’s father, right, and a former Florida Senate president — received a text message on March 16, 2021, with a request to discuss the investigation into his son, according to the indictment in Alford’s case.

The Justice Department was investigating Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Fla., tax collector and an associate of Gaetz’s. During that probe, investigators uncovered information that could implicate the congressman, The Post previously reported. A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday. The congressman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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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. 25, 2022. 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. 25, 2022. 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. 25, 2022. 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. 25, 2022. 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. 25, 2022. 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.

Washington Post, Novak Djokovic announces he will not play in U.S. Open, Cindy Boren

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.

Recent Headlines

 

Aug. 24

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Midterm Elections: Florida, New York, Oklahoma Results

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

U.S. Political Violence, Gun Laws

 

U.S. Law, Immigration, Crime

 

More On Ukraine War

 

Energy, Climate, Environment, Disasters

More On U.S. Politics, Governance, Economy

 

More World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 
U.S. Media, Education, Sports, Culture

 

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Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Without Presidential Protections, Trump Struggles for a Strategy, Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Facing legal peril in the documents investigation, former President Trump has turned to his old playbook of painting himself as persecuted amid stumbles. An errant court filing by his lawyers offers insight into the confusion and uncertainty the investigation has exposed inside Mr. Trump’s camp.

Justice Department log circularOn Tuesday, a Florida judge informed two lawyers representing former President Donald J. Trump, neither of them licensed in the state, that they had bungled routine paperwork to take part in a suit filed following the F.B.I.’s search this month of Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club.

“A sample motion can be found on the Court’s website,” the judge instructed them in her order.

Mr. Trump has projected his usual bravado, and raised millions of dollars online from outraged supporters, since federal agents descended on the property more than two weeks ago and carted off boxloads of material including highly classified documents. But something is different this time — and the errant court filing offered a glimpse into the confusion and uncertainty the investigation has exposed inside Mr. Trump’s camp.

The documents investigation represents the greatest legal threat Mr. Trump has faced in years, and he is going into the battle shorn of the protective infrastructure and constitutional armor of the presidency. After years of burning through lawyers, he has struggled to hire new ones, and has a small group of lawyers of varying experience.

He is facing a Justice Department he no longer controls, run by a by-the-book attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, who has pursued various investigations into Mr. Trump methodically and quietly.

Mr. Trump is serving as his own communications director and strategic adviser, seeking tactical political and in-the-moment public relations victories, sometimes at the risk of stumbling into substantive legal missteps.

One example came late on Monday, when a conservative writer allied with Mr. Trump made public a letter that the National Archives had sent to Mr. Trump’s legal team in May. Spun by Mr. Trump and his allies as evidence that President Biden had played a role in the case after saying he was not involved, the letter confirmed information damaging to the former president’s case, including that Mr. Trump had retained more than 700 pages of documents with classification markings, including some at the most restricted level.

Then, hours after informing Mr. Trump’s lawyers on Tuesday about one basic mistake they had made, the judge handling their request for the appointment of a special master to review the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago came back with some pointed questions. Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, asked the team to respond by Friday about whether she even had jurisdiction to hear Mr. Trump’s request, and what precisely his motion was asking her to do.

But as has become standard operating practice in Mr. Trump’s world, the primary focus there is not about legal claims, or even political ones, but the state of mind of the man at the center of the crisis. He feels other people’s actions toward him haven’t gotten enough attention, some of his advisers say privately, regardless of whether the facts actually bear out his grievances.

 

joe biden black background resized serious file

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to cancel up to $10,000 in student debt for most borrowers and $20,000 for Pell recipients, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Jeff Stein, Aug. 24, 2022. The president is also set to extend a pause on federal student loan payments through Dec. 31.

White House officials are planning to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for recipients of Pell Grants as part of their broader announcement on Wednesday of student debt forgiveness, four people familiar with the matter said.

democratic donkey logoThe extra debt forgiveness for Pell recipients would be in addition to the expected cancellation of up to $10,000 in student debt for most other borrowers. The White House’s plans are only expected to apply to Americans earning under $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per year for married couples who file taxes jointly, the people familiar said.

Roughly 43 million federal student loan borrowers would be eligible for some level of forgiveness, including 20 million who could have their debt completely canceled, according to internal documents shared with The Washington Post. The White House estimates that 90 percent of relief will go to people earning less than $75,000.

USTR seal Custom 2The president is also expected to announce that he will extend a pandemic-era pause on federal student loan payments that was first implemented under the Trump administration. That moratorium will now be extended until Dec. 31, or beyond the midterm elections, the people said.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private White House conversations and cautioned the details could change. President Biden is returning to Washington for the announcement today.

The announcement would put to rest months of deliberation over whether Biden would use his executive authority to forgive a portion of the federal student debt burden. It arrives ahead of congressional midterm elections and could give the Democrats a boost with some voters, but also threaten their standing with those who say the amount is not enough — or too much.

ny times logoNew York Times, California to Ban the Sale of New Gasoline Cars, Coral Davenport, Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer, Aug. 24, 2022. The decision, to take effect by 2035, will likely speed a wider transition to electric vehicles as many other states often follow California’s standards.

California regulators on Thursday will vote to put in place a sweeping plan to restrict and ultimately ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars, state officials said, a move that the state’s governor described as the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine.

The new policy, detailed Wednesday morning in a news conference, is widely expected to accelerate the global transition toward electric vehicles. Not only is California the largest auto market in the United States, but more than a dozen other states typically follow California’s lead when setting their own auto emissions standards.

If those states follow through, and most are expected to adopt similar rules, the restrictions would apply to about a third of the United States auto market.

ny times logoNew York Times, Defiant Under Russian Strikes, Ukrainians Celebrate a Nation ‘Reborn,’ Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 24, 2022. At least 22 people were killed in a missile strike, officials said. Celebrating the country’s Independence Day, Ukrainian leaders urged resolve.

Under the blare of air raid sirens, Ukrainians celebrated their Independence Day with a show of defiance against Russia’s invasion on Wednesday, despite the uncertain course of a war that has lasted half a year and brought horror to nearly every part of the country.

In Kyiv, mass gatherings were banned, drones flew a Ukrainian flag above the city and a concert was recorded for the holiday in a bomb shelter, reflecting fears that Russia would launch dramatic strikes on civilian centers to spoil the occasion, which commemorates Ukraine’s 1991 separation from the Soviet Union.

The biggest strike came not in Kyiv but in a small town in eastern Ukraine, where a rail station was hit with a missile strike that crushed passenger cars and set them afire. A least 22 civilians were killed, and 50 were wounded, with the toll expected to rise.

“This is how we live every day,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said after the attack.

But in Kyiv, Ukrainian leaders delivered speeches aimed at rallying foreign backers as much as their citizens at home and the tens of thousands of soldiers huddled in trenches and towns at the front.

In a slickly produced address, prerecorded for security reasons, Mr. Zelensky stood before a column of burned and wrecked Russian tanks on a central avenue in the capital and declared Ukraine a nation “reborn” in conflict. Ukraine, he said, has a renewed sense of cultural and political identity that is now wholly separate from Russia.

 

A photograph by Agence France-Presse showed three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday.Credit...Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A photograph by Agence France-Presse showed three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt Agence France-Presse via Getty Images).

A photograph by Agence France-Presse showed three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt Agence France-Presse via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, As War Hits Milestone, Ukraine and Russia Are Both Reshaped, Anton Troianovski, Andrew E. Kramer and Steven Erlanger, Aug. 24, 2022. Half a year after Russian forces first made their move, here is how the conflict appears to the combatants, and to a continent plunged into turmoil. In Ukraine, a delicate sense of normalcy masks a staggering toll. In Russia, new ultranationalist rules have snuffed out any vestiges of dissent.

Russian FlagFor six months, a major land war has sown horror in Europe.

It is a war in which violence and normality coexist — death and destruction at the 1,500-mile front and packed cafes in Kyiv, just a few hundred miles to the west.

ukraine flagIt is a war fought in trenches and artillery duels, but defined in great part by the political whims of Americans and Europeans, whose willingness to endure inflation and energy shortages could shape the next stage of the conflict.

And it is a war of imagery and messaging, fought between two countries whose deep family ties have helped turn social media into a battlefield of its own.

No one knows how it will end. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, having silenced dissent, has proclaimed that “by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest.” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, emboldened by a defiant populace and a mostly united West, has played down the chances of a settlement and urged his people not to bend.

Will Western backing hold as Europe braces for the possibility of a winter with little Russian oil and gas? Will Mr. Putin, after strikes in Crimea and the killing of a nationalist commentator, escalate the war? And will Mr. Zelensky be able to sustain his nation’s determination against a nuclear-armed foe?

 

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a news conference in Kyiv on Thurday. “We have a special people, an extraordinary people,” he said (Photo by Lynsey Addario for The New York Times).

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a news conference in Kyiv this spring. “We have a special people, an extraordinary people,” he said (Photo by Lynsey Addario for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Calculating the war’s human cost: Thousands are dead and over six million have been pushed from their homes, Alan Yuhas, Aug. 24, 2022. Six months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the human and financial tolls are incalculable. But the figures that have emerged paint a bleak picture.

  • Day after day for 181 days, the grim ledger of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grows longer with each missile strike, burst of gunfire and report of atrocities.
  • Ukrainian civilians have paid a heavy price: 5,587 are confirmed dead, and the true number is believed to be in the tens of thousands. The number of refugees has surpassed 6.6 million.
  • Military losses have been heavy on both sides, with about 9,000 Ukrainians and as many as 25,000 Russians said to be killed.
  • Ukraine has lost control of 20 percent of its territory to Russian forces and their proxies in recent years.
  • The destruction has already cost Ukraine at least $113.5 billion, and it may need more than $200 billion to rebuild.
  • Donor nations have pledged to give Ukraine more than $83 billion in total.
  • Ukrainian agricultural production and other countries that depend on it have been hit hard. Even with grain ships on the move again, the world hunger crisis is dire.

 

2022 U.S. Midterm Elections: Florida, New York, Oklahoma Results

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Sense a Shift in the Political Winds, but It May Not Be Enough, Jonathan Weisman, Aug. 24, 2022. A series of strong election showings, culminating in a New York win, have buoyed Democratic confidence, but a daunting map may still cost them the House.

Energized abortion-rights voters. Donald J. Trump back in the spotlight. Stronger-than-expected special elections, including a surprising win early Wednesday in New York.

Democratic leaders, once beaten down by the prospect of a brutal midterm election in the fall, are daring to dream that they can maintain control of Congress this November.

An unexpected victory by Pat Ryan, a Democrat, in a special House election to fill a vacancy in New York’s Hudson Valley offered Democrats solid evidence that their voters were willing to come out and that their message was resonating. It followed strong Democratic showings in other special elections, in Nebraska, Minnesota and upstate New York, since the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade. Mr. Ryan placed abortion rights front and center while his Republican opponent, Marc Molinaro, sidestepped the issue to focus on the problems his party still believes will drive voters — inflation, crime, the economy. It didn’t work.

ny times logoNew York Times, Crist to Face DeSantis in Florida, Staff Reports, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). In Florida, Democrats chose Representative Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor, as their nominee to try to defeat Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Daniel Goldman, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the first impeachment case against Donald J. Trump, captured the Democratic nomination for an open House seat covering parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, according to The Associated Press.

The victory on Tuesday in the heavily Democratic district all but assures Mr. Goldman a seat in Congress come 2023; he will face Benine Hamdan, a little-known Republican candidate, in November.

Nick Langworthy, the New York State Republican Party chairman, defeated Carl Paladino in a primary in New York’s 23rd Congressional District on Tuesday, delivering a win for the party establishment against perhaps its most polarizing figure.

Mr. Langworthy, who has overseen the state party since 2019, was declared the winner by The Associated Press. With an estimated 94 percent of votes reported, he had won 52 percent of the vote to Mr. Paladino’s 48 percent.

Politico, Analysis: Democrats gain momentum: 5 takeaways from the last big primary night of 2022, David Siders, Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon, Aug. 24, 2022. Trump’s candidates are still chalking up wins, but the headwinds facing Democrats appear to have eased.

politico CustomA New York special election seen as the last, best test of the electorate’s midterm leanings confirmed what Democrats hoped and Republicans feared: Predictions of a red wave may be overblown.

To be sure, Donald Trump had a winning night. But so did Ron DeSantis, who demonstrated Trump isn’t the only Republican in Florida with a political machine.

republican elephant logoPrimaries in four more states, including New Hampshire, are yet to come. But Tuesday marked the last of the year’s major, multi-state contests, leaving the shape of the general election landscape all but complete.

Here are five takeaways from a key primary night in Florida and New York:

1) New York’s ‘canary in a coal mine.’ It would have been easy to write Nebraska off as a fluke, after Democrats ran better than expected in a House race there last month. But then came Minnesota, where Democrats again beat expectations. And then, in New York on Tuesday, the dam broke.

“Well, shit,” one Republican strategist texted late Tuesday, as results from a Hudson Valley special election filtered in.

It would have been a victory for Democrats if they’d even kept it close. Instead, Democrat Pat Ryan beat Republican Marc Molinaro in a district that Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, but that would have appeared to favor Republicans in a normal midterm climate.The New York race to succeed Democrat Antonio Delgado in a New York House district is likely a better indicator than the House races in Minnesota or Nebraska. For one thing, it’s the most current data we have. But more than that, it’s a competitive district where both parties spent real money and tested their general election messaging — abortion for Democrats, the economy for Republicans. It was about as close to a November test run as we’re going to get.

“This is a Republican versus a Democrat. They’re not crazy. No one’s off the wall,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist based in New York. “That’s why it’s a good test.”

new york map cities

 ny times logoNew York Times, Democrat Pat Ryan Wins in New York House Race That Turned on Abortion, Grace Ashford, Aug. 24, 2022. Mr. Ryan prevailed in the Hudson Valley special election, a contest that was seen as a potential test of the impact abortion might have on the midterms.

Pat Ryan, a Democratic county executive in New York’s Hudson Valley, has won a special House election on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, in a contest that was seen as a potential test of the impact that the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion might have on the midterm elections.

The result in the closely watched race, which was considered a tossup, will keep the swing-district seat, formerly held by Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, under Democratic control.

Mr. Ryan was able to keep his early lead, ultimately winning 52 percent of the vote to his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro’s 48 percent, with nearly 95 percent of votes cast.

Mr. Ryan sought to highlight abortion as the predominant issue in his campaign and contrast his support for protecting abortion access nationwide with the position of Mr. Molinaro, who believes that the decision ought to rest with states.

In speeches and campaign ads, Mr. Ryan, the Ulster County executive and a combat veteran, urged voters in the 19th District to see the election as a crucial opportunity to send a message decrying attacks on abortion access, voting rights and, more broadly, democratic principles.

“Choice was on the ballot. Freedom was on the ballot, and tonight choice and freedom won,” Mr. Ryan said on Twitter early Wednesday. “We voted like our democracy was on the line because it is.”

Though polls show that a majority of voters support some access to abortion, Democrats have been wrestling with how best to translate that into support for the party.

Mr. Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, largely avoided the topic of abortion, focusing instead on day-to-day voter anxieties, from crime and inflation to the price of baby formula.

ny times logoNew York Times, Nadler Routs Maloney in Marquee Showdown of Bruising New York Primaries, Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, handily defeated his longtime jerry nadler smilecongressional neighbor, Carolyn B. Maloney, in a bruising three-way primary battle on Tuesday that was preordained to end one of the powerful Democrats’ political careers.

The star-crossed skirmish in the heart of Manhattan was unlike any New York City — or the Democratic Party writ large — had seen in recent memory. Though few ideological differences were at stake, it pitted two committee chairs who have served side by side in Washington since the 1990s against each other, and cleaved party faithful into rival factions.

democratic donkey logoAllies had tried to pull Mr. Nadler off the collision course into a neighboring race after the state’s calamitous redistricting process unexpectedly combined their West and East Side districts this spring. But he pushed forward, relying on his reputation as an old-school progressive and leading foil to Donald J. Trump to win over voters in one of the nation’s most liberal districts.

“Here’s the thing: I’m a New Yorker, just like Bella Abzug, Ted Weiss and Bill Fitts Ryan,” Mr. Nadler, 75, told supporters after his victory, referencing liberal lions who represented New York in Congress. “We New Yorkers just don’t know how to surrender.”

He thanked Ms. Maloney, saying that the two had “spent much of our adult life working together to better New York and our nation.”

The victory all but assures Mr. Nadler, the son of a Jewish chicken farmer, a 16th full term in Congress, as well as Ms. Maloney’s political retirement.

He won the contest for New York’s redrawn 12th District with 56 percent of the vote, compared with Ms. Maloney’s 24 percent, with 93 percent of votes counted. A third candidate, Suraj Patel, earned 19 percent, siphoning crucial votes away from Ms. Maloney, whom he nearly beat two years ago.

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: Pro-democracy candidates held their own in primary races in FL and NY, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 24, 2022. In two wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallstates that represent a microcosm of American voters — Florida and New York — candidates generally committed to democracy and the rule of law defeated a Republican hodgepodge of Qanon believers, Adolf Hitler admirers, and, in one case, an admirer of Russia and Vladimir Putin.

The election returns also pointed to a collapse in the corporate media’s insistence that the Republicans will score victories at the expense of Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.

wayne madesen report logoIn the race to fill the 23rd congressional seat of sex scandal-plagued Republican Tom Reed, who resigned in May, Joe Sempolinski, a former Reed staffer, edged out Republican Max Della Pia to finish Reed’s term in the U.S. House. Della Pia, a retired Air Force colonel, is on the ballot for the seat in November. Della Pia received a surprising 47 percent of the vote against Sempolinski’s 53 percent in the normally Republican-leaning district.

Sempolinski is not running in the November general election, becoming one of the most short-lived incumbents in Congress. The winner of the Republican primary for the 23rd’s general election is Nick Langworthy, who defeated the racist and Hitler-admiring Carl Paladino in the GOP primary.

 

U.S. House candidates Sarah Palin, Mary Peltola and Nick Begick III. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. House candidates Sarah Palin, Mary Peltola and Nick Begick III. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Public Media, Peltola gains in Alaska’s updated special U.S. House election results, Liz Ruskin, Aug. 23, 2022. Democrat Mary Peltola has slightly increased her lead in the special U.S. House race.

The Division of Election released an update Tuesday in the three-way contest to see who will serve the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term. With an additional 22,000 votes counted, Peltola gained over Republican rivals Sarah Palin and Nick Begich.

Peltola is now 7.5 percentage points ahead of Palin. She was 6 points ahead last week.

Peltola has 38.9% of the vote, Palin has 31.4% and Begich has 28.2%.

The ballots included in Tuesday’s update are early, absentee and questioned ballots from districts all over the state.

Thousands of ballots remain uncounted. The Division of Elections expects to provide new updates on Friday but the winner won’t be determined until the end of the month. Ballots postmarked on Election Day have until Aug. 31 to arrive. After the deadline is met, the Division of Elections will determine who finished last. That candidate will be eliminated and his or her ballots will be redistributed according to the voter’s second choice, if there is one.

If the current order holds, Palin could win the seat if enough of Begich’s voters chose her as their second.

This is the first election in Alaska to be decided by ranked choice voting. The winner of the special election will take office in September. The term expires in January.

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Politico, Documents recovered at Mar-a-Lago were among government’s most classified, letter shows, Kyle Cheney, Andrew Desiderio and Lara Seligman, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). The National Archives found more than 700 pages of classified material — including “special access program materials,” politico Customsome of the most highly classified secrets in the government — in 15 boxes recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in January, according to correspondence between the National Archivist and his legal team.

The May 10 letter — posted late Monday on the website of John Solomon, a conservative journalist and one of Trump’s authorized liaisons to the National Archives to review papers from his presidency — showed that NARA and federal investigators had grown increasingly alarmed about potential damage to national security caused by the warehousing of these documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as by Trump’s resistance to sharing them with the FBI.

djt hands up mouth open CustomThese records included 700 pages of classified material, according to the letter, sent by National Archivist Debra Wall to Trump’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, and it doesn’t include records recovered by the Justice Department and FBI during a June meeting and the Aug. 11 search of the Mar-a-Lago premises.

Wall’s letter describes earlier correspondence in which Trump’s team objected to disclosing the contents of the 15 boxes to the FBI.

“As you are no doubt aware, NARA had ongoing communications with the former President’s representatives throughout 2021 about what appeared to be missing Presidential records, which resulted in the transfer of 15 boxes of records to NARA in January 2022,” Wall wrote. “In its initial review of materials within those boxes, NARA identified items marked as classified national security information, up to the level of Top Secret and including Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Program materials.”

The letter also revealed that an assessment of threats to national security posed by Trump’s possession of the documents was already underway, well before members of Congress were informed.

Senate Intelligence Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vice Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have already asked the intelligence community to provide such an assessment, and the broader entity on Capitol Hill that’s privy to the most sensitive national security secrets has asked to view the documents themselves.

U.S. officials in the national security community expressed shock and concern at the former president’s cavalier treatment of classified material. One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, said they were astonished at the “recklessness” of the move.

It can take up to a decade to declassify certain information, said one former defense official who still holds a security clearance, so the fact that Trump took hundreds of pages of classified material is “one of the worst things I’ve ever heard.”

“There’s no gray area here. I’m just appalled,” the person said.

The correspondence also shows that even though NARA retrieved the 15 boxes in January, Justice Department and FBI investigators didn’t see their contents until May, after extended negotiations with Trump’s representatives. The letter also shows that in the interim, DOJ asked President Joe Biden to authorize NARA to provide the records to investigators despite an effort by Trump to claim executive privilege over the records. Wall indicated she had rejected Trump’s claim because of the significance of the documents to national security.

Palmer Report, Analysis: January 6th Committee is back in the game with a vengeance, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2022. The January 6th public hearings about Donald Trump’s election overthrow crimes, which were dominating the headlines for weeks on end, have since given way to the DOJ’s moves against Trump in a separate criminal probe over the classified documents he stole.

bill palmer report logo headerBut it’s important to recall that when the January 6th Committee decided to take a break from public hearings, it wasn’t due to a lack of evidence, or public interest. In fact it was the opposite. The committee made such headway, it ended up getting flooded with supplemental evidence and witnesses from all sides, and it decided to spend August working behind the scenes so that it could hold even higher-stakes public hearings in September. It’s just coincidence that the DOJ search warrant has kicked the Trump classified documents into the headlines during that interim stretch.

So just what has the January 6th Committee been doing? We’ve seen the media reports that it obtained Alex Jones’ text messages, and that it obtained voluntary testimony from multiple Trump cabinet members. What will come of that? We don’t know yet. The committee appears to have been intentionally lying low lately, choosing not to give any preliminary findings to the media, so Trump’s other criminal scandal could have the spotlight. But now that’s changing, in a big way.

The January 6th Committee sent investigators all the way to Denmark last week in order to watch January 6th-related documentary footage involving Donald Trump and Roger Stone. More to the point, the committee appears to have decided to tip off the media about it, in order to get it into the headlines.

The only reason for the committee to put something like this out there, is that it’s preparing to retake its share of the spotlight. It looks like the committee has decided to start rattling the cages of people like Roger Stone, and steer the public toward remembering that Trump’s election overthrow plot was just as criminal as his classified documents scandal. In other words, the January 6th Committee is back – and just in time to help finish Trump off.

Rolling Stone, Trump Tells His Lawyers: Get ‘My’ Top Secret Documents Back, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, Aug. 23, 2022. The ex-president is desperate to recover the classified trove taken from Mar-a-Lago — and is pushing his legal team on a long-shot maneuver to return them.

rolling stone logoIn the weeks after the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump repeatedly made a simple-sounding but extraordinary ask: he wanted his lawyers to get “my documents” back from federal law enforcement.

Trump wasn’t merely referring to the alleged trove of attorney-client material that he insists was scooped up by the feds during the raid, two people familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The ex-president has been demanding that his team find a way to recover “all” of the official documents that Trump has long referred to as “mine” — including the highly sensitive and top secret ones.

Sources close to Trump agree with outside legal experts that such a sweeping legal maneuver would be a long-shot, at best. “I hate to break it to the [former] president, but I do not think he is going to get all [the] top-secret documents back,” says one Trump adviser. “That ship has probably sailed.”

Further, several longtime Trump advisers say they want absolutely nothing to do with the now-infamous boxes of documents, fearing that any knowledge of them could invite an unwanted knock on the door from the feds. “Who would want any of that back? … If it is what they say it is, keep them the hell away,” a second adviser says.

Still, the former president’s legal team appears to be working to retrieve at least some of the papers seized during the Aug. 8 federal search. In recent days, the Trump team — led by former federal prosecutor Evan Corcoran — has been quietly prepping additional legal arguments and strategies to try to pry back material that the feds removed from the ex-president’s Florida abode and club, the sources say. Those measures include drafting a so-called “Rule 41(g) motion,” which allows “a person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property” to “move for the property’s return,” according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

This would be a follow-up measure to the lawsuit, filed Monday by Trump and his attorneys, calling for the appointment of a special master to review the Mar-a-Lago materials for potentially privileged materials. It is unclear when the ex-president’s lawyers plan to file a subsequent motion, which people close to Trump expect to be more narrowly tailored than what the former president apparently wants.

“The motion he already filed is so absolutely terrible, that it’s hard to contemplate him filing something even more aggressive and even more unlikely to succeed,” says Ken White, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.

“However,” White added, Trump is “basically trying to litigate the ultimate issue in the case, which is whether he had the right to possess and keep those things, even after he was asked to return them. It’s very unlikely that the court would accept that invitation to litigate that…He would have to prove that those things were illegally taken, and — based on what we know — that is going to be very difficult to prove…He’s going to have to make some very unusual legal arguments, which, if they’re anything like the motion that was just filed, is going to be a very uphill climb.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge in Trump Search Case Issues Written Order Seeking Redactions, Alan Feuer, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). The order was made on the same day former President Trump’s lawyers asked another judge to appoint an independent special master to review the material seized.

The federal magistrate judge in Florida who signed the warrant authorizing the search of former President Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence issued a formal order on Monday directing the government to propose redactions to the sealed affidavit used to justify the search, saying that he remained inclined to make portions of it public.

bruce reinhart wikipediaBut the judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, right, repeated in his order the note of caution he struck in court last week. The government, he added, could still persuade him to keep the whole affidavit sealed, and an extensively redacted version might result in what he described as “a meaningless disclosure.”

Hours after Judge Reinhart issued the order, lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a motion asking another federal judge in Florida — one whom Mr. Trump named to the bench — to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to review the documents seized during the search for any that fell outside the scope of the warrant or that were protected by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The motion, which was filled with bombastic complaints about the search — “The government has long treated President Donald J. Trump unfairly,” it said at one point — also asked the Justice Department to provide an “informative receipt” of what was taken from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s home and club in Florida, on Aug. 8. His lawyers wrote that the inventory left at the property by the agents who conducted the search was “legally deficient” and did “little to identify” the seized material.

If the judge who received the motion, Aileen M. Cannon, appoints a special master in the case, it will almost certainly drag out the process of reviewing the multiple boxes of documents that were seized and slow down the government’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed a federal inquiry and wrongfully retained national defense documents.

Special masters were appointed in other high-profile searches involving Mr. Trump — including the one conducted in 2018 at the office of Michael D. Cohen, the former president’s longtime personal lawyer. In the Cohen case, lawyers for Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen moved quickly to request a special master. This time, it took Mr. Trump’s legal team two weeks to ask for an independent review.

“The department is aware of this evening’s motion,” said Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Justice Department. “The United States will file its response in court.”

Judge Reinhart’s order earlier in the day effectively put in writing a ruling he made from the bench last Thursday, after arguments from news media companies that wanted the entire affidavit unsealed and federal prosecutors who wanted to keep it fully under wraps. In both his written order and his oral ruling, Judge Reinhart instructed the Justice Department to file a redacted version of the affidavit to him under seal by this Thursday at noon, accompanied by a memo explaining its justifications for the proposed redactions.

In his order, Judge Reinhart acknowledged that it was “a foundational principle of American law that judicial proceedings should be open to the public,” but offered three reasons for keeping much of the affidavit under seal, including some that were never fully explored at the hearing last week, in Federal District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He said there was “a significant likelihood” that releasing the full affidavit could harm the safety of witnesses who helped the government’s investigation, leading to “witness intimidation or retaliation.”

“Given the public notoriety and controversy about this search, it is likely that even witnesses who are not expressly named in the affidavit would be quickly and broadly identified over social media and other communication channels, which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated,” Judge Reinhart wrote.

He also expressed concern about revealing the identity of the F.B.I. agent who swore to the affidavit, particularly when there have been “increased threats against F.B.I. personnel since the search.”

Days after the search at Mar-a-Lago, an armed man attacked the F.B.I.’s Cincinnati field office and died in a shootout with the local police. Not long after that, a Pennsylvania man was arrested after posting messages online threatening the F.B.I., including at least one that directly mentioned the attack outside Cincinnati.

Judge Reinhart further noted in his written order that releasing the full affidavit could also put Mr. Trump in danger, given that the document “discusses physical aspects” of Mar-a-Lago, which is “protected by the United States Secret Service.”

“Disclosure of those details,” Judge Reinhart wrote, “could affect the Secret Service’s ability to carry out its protective function.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Files copied from voting systems were shared with Trump supporters, election deniers, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis, Amy Gardner and Emma Brown, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists and right-wing commentators, according to records reviewed by The Washington Post.

A Georgia computer forensics firm, hired by the attorneys, placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. Among the downloaders were accounts associated with a Texas meteorologist who has appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show; a podcaster who suggested political enemies should be executed; a former pro surfer who pushed disproven theories that the 2020 election was manipulated; and a self-described former “seduction and pickup coach” who claims to also have been a hacker.

Plaintiffs in a long-running federal lawsuit over the security of Georgia’s voting systems obtained the new records from the company, Atlanta-based SullivanStrickler, under a subpoena to one of its executives. The records include contracts between the firm and the Trump-allied attorneys, notably Sidney Powell. The data files are described as copies of components from election systems in Coffee County, Ga., and Antrim County, Mich.

A series of data leaks and alleged breaches of local elections offices since 2020 has prompted criminal investigations and fueled concerns among some security experts that public disclosure of information collected from voting systems could be exploited by hackers and other people seeking to manipulate future elections.

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pro publica logoU.S. Political Violence, Gun Laws

Pro 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.

 

 

Defendants Barry Croft, left, and Adam Fox

Defendants Barry Croft, left, and Adam Fox

Detroit Free Press, Jury convicts Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. in Whitmer kidnapping plot, Tresa Baldas and Arpan Lobo, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). In a do-over for the government, a federal jury Tuesday convicted two men charged with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic, ending a dramatic trial that highlighted the growth of violent extremism in America.

The jury deliberated for about eight hours over two days before delivering the guilty verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., who were convicted on all counts and face up to life in prison for crimes they insisted were hatched by the FBI.

The verdicts drew praise from many in law enforcement and the legal community, especially Whitmer, whom prosecutors said was the target of extremists who wanted to settle their differences with violence.

The guilty verdicts came down on Whitmer’s birthday.

gretchen whitmer o horizontal Custom“Today’s verdicts prove that violence and threats have no place in our politics and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable. They will not succeed,” Whitmer (shown in a file photo) said in a statement, adding:

“But we must also take a hard look at the status of our politics. Plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of radicalized domestic terrorism that festers in our nation, threatening the very foundation of our republic,” Whitmer said. “I cannot — I will not — let extremists get in the way of the work we do. They will never break my unwavering faith in the goodness and decency of our people.”

Fox and Croft, who will be sentenced at a later date, were convicted of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to possess weapons of mass destruction. Croft was convicted on an additional weapons charge.

The historic case ends with four men going to prison and two others going free, two years after the FBI arrested all six on federal charges they plotted to kidnap the governor from her vacation home out of anger over her lockdown orders and mask mandates, and blow up a bridge near her home to slow down law enforcement. Five defendants were arrested in an FBI sting outside an Ypsilanti warehouse, where prosecutors said the men thought they were going to make a down payment on explosives, pick up free military gear, and then head to Buffalo Wild Wings for free beer and chicken. But it was all a ruse.Croft was arrested at a gas station in New Jersey. Eight more individuals face state charges in the case.

“This verdict brings important accountability for perpetrators of violence against public officials,” said former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade. “Bringing these plotters to justice will cause others to think twice before engaging in similar conduct in the future.”

McQuade applauded federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids for “having the courage” to retry the case, saying: “It would have been easy for them to simply move on to the next case to avoid the possible embarrassment of a second mistrial or acquittal,” McQuade said. “But instead, they fulfilled their duty to protect the public.”

Defense: ‘We will most certainly appeal’

Neither Fox nor Croft had any discernible reaction as U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker read the verdicts, both staring forward and occasionally leaning over to speak to their attorneys. Fox’s mother, who attended every day of the retrial, shook her head as Jonker read the verdict.

The defense long argued that this was a case of entrapment, that the defendants were merely tough-talking potheads who were venting about their government, and that rogue FBI agents and informants set them up.

“We will most certainly appeal,” Fox’s lawyer, Christopher Gibbons, said after the verdict. “Obviously, there was controversy in the trial.”

The defense raised numerous issues during the trial, creating some tense moments in the courtroom. Defense attorneys accused the judge of favoring the prosecution by repeatedly cutting them off during questioning, calling their arguments “crap,” and setting time limits only on the defense attorneys — telling them they could only take as much time to question witnesses as the prosecution.

The defense also took issue with the judge’s handling of a juror who came under investigation for alleged misconduct on the second day of trial. That juror allegedly told coworkers that his or her mind was made up about the case from the get-go, and was excited to be on the jury.

The judge dealt with the issue privately in his chambers, not allowing either the prosecution or the defense to be part of the proceeding.

“I think justice should happen in public,” Croft’s lawyer, Joshua Blanchard, said while leaving the courthouse Tuesday.

Blanchard had made a filing regarding the potentially problematic juror, and asked the judge to unseal it after the verdict — but Jonker said that will be explored in the future.

FBI vindicated

Throughout the trial, the prosecution argued the men did a lot more than talk — they took action to carry out their plan, including casing Whitmer’s vacation home twice, building explosives, holding secret meetings, and practicing breaking-and-entering drills in shoot-houses they built that mimicked her cottage.

In the end, the jury sided with the government, delivering a major victory not only to the prosecutors, but to the FBI, whose reputation came under assault during both trials, with the defense repeatedly blasting agents and informants, calling them liars and manipulators with overreaching powers.

  • MLive.com, Defense attorneys ‘pursuing all avenues’ for men found guilty in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot

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U.S. Forced Birth Laws, Privacy, Freedoms

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Halts Part of Idaho’s Abortion Ban, Saying It Violates Health Law, Glenn Thrush, Aug. 24, 2022. 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.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Is a Fetus a Person? An Anti-Abortion Strategy Says Yes, Kate Zernike, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). So-called fetal personhood laws would make abortion murder, ruling out all or most of the exceptions for abortion allowed in states that already ban it.

Even as roughly half the states have moved to enact near-total bans on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, anti-abortion activists are pushing for a  long-held and more absolute goal: laws that grant fetuses the same legal rights and protections as any person.

So-called fetal personhood laws would make abortion murder, ruling out all or most of the exceptions for abortion allowed in states that already ban it. So long as Roe established a constitutional right to abortion, such laws remained symbolic in the few states that managed to pass them. Now they are starting to have practical effect. Already in Georgia, a fetus now qualifies for tax credits and child support, and is to be included in population counts and redistricting.

The laws also open up questions well beyond abortion, about immigration and who is entitled to public benefits.

They have the potential to criminalize common health care procedures and limit the rights of a pregnant woman in making health care decisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision returning the regulation of abortion to the states has opened new interest in the laws, and a new legal path for them.

In Indiana, where this month the Republican-controlled legislature banned abortion starting at conception — one of the strictest laws in the nation — some conservative lawmakers objected that the law included exceptions for rape and incest. “This bill justifies the wicked, those murdering babies, and punishes the righteous, the preborn human being,” one lawmaker said, pushing instead for a fetal personhood law with no exceptions.

In Georgia, a law granting fetal personhood to fetuses after around six weeks of pregnancy took effect after the overturning of Roe. But Georgia Right to Life and other conservative groups are petitioning Governor Brian Kemp to call a special legislative session to pass a fetal personhood amendment to the state constitution. It would eliminate any exceptions for abortion allowed in the law, by declaring a “paramount right to life of all human beings as persons at any stage of development from fertilization to natural death.”

washington post logoWashington Post, After Roe, teens are teaching themselves sex ed, because the adults won’t, Hannah Natanson, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). They say it’s crucial to learn about more than abstinence, especially if abortion is unavailable.

Sweating in the sun, two dozen teenagers spread themselves across picnic blankets in a grassy park and prepared to discuss the facts of life they never learned in school.

Behind them on a folding table, bouquets of pamphlets offered information teachers at school would never share — on the difference between medical and surgical abortions, and how to get them. Beside the pamphlets sat items adults at school would never give: pregnancy tests and six-packs of My Way Emergency Contraceptive.

Emma Rose Smith, 17, rose from the blankets, tucked her pale-blonde hair behind her ears and turned off the music on a small, black speaker. She faced the assembled high-schoolers, all members of her newfound group, Teens for Reproductive Rights, and began talking about the nonprofit Abortion Care Tennessee. Her words hitched at first, then tumbled in a rush.

“A little bit about them,” Emma Rose said, “is they’re an organization that funds people’s abortions if they can’t afford it. Also, by the way, there’s another organization that we can also talk about later, when we give you guys, like, resources, that actually does free mail-in abortion pills.”

Twelve days after the teens’ picnic, abortion would become illegal in Tennessee, a measure made possible by the Supreme Court’s June decision, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. The students wouldn’t hear anything about it in school: State law does not require sex education, and it holds that schools in areas with high pregnancy rates must offer “family life education” focused on abstinence.

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Energy, Climate, Disasters, Environment

 

climate change photo

Associated Press, Drought changes landscape in southwest China, Mark Schiefelbein, Aug. 24, 2022. River bottoms partially exposed by drought ap logocreate a rare sight that becomes an urban beach at dusk to escape the withering heat. Farmlands baked by the sun leave rice stalks yellowed, the famed hot pepper plants all but bereft of fruit, the reservoirs reduced to a puddle of water and cracked earth.

The very landscape of Chongqing, a megacity that also takes in surrounding farmland and steep and picturesque mountains, has been transformed by an unusually long and intense heat wave and an accompanying drought.
Full Coverage: Photography

Chinese meteorologists are calling it the nation’s strongest heat wave since record keeping began in 1961, based on its intensity, geographic area and duration. Now into its third month, it has surpassed the previous record of 61 days in 2013. Temperatures are topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in cities and villages across southern China. Chongqing in the southwest has been hit particularly hard.

At Longquan village in the rolling hills south of urban Chongqing, a farmer walks across cracked mud at the bottom of a community reservoir that was once full of water. The reservoir’s retaining wall sprang a leak a few months ago, and with the heat and drought, only a puddle a few meters (yards) across remains.

To the north, Li Siming walks through his fields yellowing rice plants in Mu’er town as the sound of jets landing at a nearby airport echoed off the hillsides. With the supply limited, the communal water that would normally go to his rice crops was diverted to fruit orchards instead.

“We pray to the god, but the god wouldn’t rain. We ask the local government, but the government wouldn’t give us water,” Li said.

He is using expensive tap water to irrigate his fields. He estimates his harvest from 3 hectares (7 acres) of land will be 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of rice — less than a third of his usual one. Farmers have moved forward the harvest by half a month so the crops won’t dry up, but before the grains are fully developed.

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More On Ukraine War

 

United Nations

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia could step up attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, Farnaz Fassihi, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday afternoon at the request of Russia to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, where nearby fighting has raised the risk of a nuclear accident.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for attacks in and around Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, including recent shelling that fell dangerously close to the reactors. The Russian military took control of the site in March but Ukrainian technicians still operate the facility.

As U.S. intelligence agencies warn that Russia may redouble attacks to coincide with the six-month anniversary of its invasion on Wednesday, which is also Ukraine’s Independence Day, the fighting around the nuclear plant looms as one of the gravest risks in the prolonged conflict. Hostilities in the south are intensifying as Russia aims to fortify its defensive positions in lands it has seized, and Ukraine tries to muster a counteroffensive.

António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, has said the situation around the Zaporizhzhia facility is “critical” and warned of a catastrophic nuclear accident if the plant and the area surrounding it are not demilitarized. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has requested secure access for its inspectors since at least June. It remains unclear when or whether Russia or Ukraine would grant access.

In his overnight address, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine accused Russia of “playing around” with international bodies and assailed Moscow for having “the audacity to convene the U.N. Security Council to discuss its own provocations.”

Russia is expected on Tuesday to base its argument on a letter its mission to the United Nations circulated among council members last week. In the letter, Russia claimed without evidence that Ukraine was attacking the Zaporizhzhia plant and that the United States and Ukraine were planning to cause a minor accident there for which they would blame Russia.

Russia has made similar allegations to the Security Council about chemical and biological attacks. The United States and Ukraine have denied those allegations as baseless.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Nuclear Plant Is Held Hostage in Ukraine Amid Warnings of Disaster, Marc Santora and Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). With Russia controlling the Zaporizhzhia plant, Ukrainians working at gunpoint are all that stand in the way of a catastrophe. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of planning attacks on the facility, as the U.S. and its allies call for a demilitarized zone.

Officials from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have called for the creation of a demilitarized zone, as Ukraine and Russia each accuse the other of preparing attacks on the plant — leading many to fear that Zaporizhzhia is in greater peril than ever.

 

Alexander Dugin, a far-right writer and ideologue known as “Putin’s brain,” is seen in 2016 in his studio in Moscow (Photo by Francesca Ebel of the Associated Press).

Alexander Dugin, a far-right writer and ideologue known as “Putin’s brain,” is seen in 2016 in his studio in Moscow (Photo by Francesca Ebel of the Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia blames Ukraine for car explosion that killed Putin ally’s daughter, Mary Ilyushina, Annabelle Timsit and Robyn Dixon, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). The killing of Daria Dugina, below right, daughter of ideologue Alexander Dugin who helped shape the Kremlin’s narrative about Ukraine, has emerged as a flash point for the war.

Image Tweeted by @AlexKokcharovRussia blamed Ukraine for a car explosion that killed the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a Russian nationalist and fervent ideological ally of President Vladimir Putin, prompting Dugin to issue a statement calling for military “victory” as vengeance — an exhortation that could lead to an escalation in the war.

“Our hearts yearn for more than just revenge or retribution,” Dugin said in the statement. “It’s too small, not the Russian style. We only need our Victory. My daughter laid her maiden life on its altar. So win, please!” In the statement, which portrayed Russians as victims rather than the aggressor-invaders perpetrating a war, Dugin called the bombing that killed his daughter, Daria Dugina, “a terrorist attack carried out by the Nazi Ukrainian regime.”

Ukraine has denied involvement in the killing of Dugina, chief editor of a Russian disinformation website who was herself under U.S. sanctions. Kyiv also has warned about a spike in Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities ahead of the country’s Independence Day.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Economic Aid for Americans, Once Plentiful, Falls Off at a Painful Moment, Jim Tankersley, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Food insecurity is rising again, as relief provided by President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package wanes and prices continue to rise.

For the better part of last year, the pandemic eased its grip on Oregon’s economy. Awash in federal assistance, including direct checks to individuals and parents, many of the state’s most vulnerable found it easier to afford food, housing and other daily staples.

Most of that aid, which was designed to be a temporary bridge, has run out at a particularly bad moment. Oregon, like states across the nation, has seen its economy improve, but prices for everything from eggs to gas to rent have spiked. Demand is growing at food banks like William Temple House in Northwest Portland, where the line for necessities like bread, vegetables and toilet paper stretched two dozen people deep on a recent day.

“I’m very worried, like I was in the first month of the pandemic, that we will run out of food,” said Susannah Morgan, who runs the Oregon Food Bank, which helps supply William Temple House and 1,400 other meal assistance sites.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russians at Daria Dugina memorial call for victory over Ukraine, Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). russian flag wavingRussians on Tuesday bade farewell to Daria Dugina, daughter of far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin, as calls grew in Russia for a tougher approach in the war against Ukraine, and the U.S. State Department warned that Moscow was likely to step up attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets and government institutions in coming days.

washington post logoWashington Post, New weapons for Ukraine suggest preparation for closer combat, Alex Horton, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). The Pentagon is sending new weapons and equipment to Ukraine that will better prepare its military to fight Russian troops at closer ranges, potentially signaling that Kyiv and its backers see an opportunity to retake lost ground after weeks of grinding artillery duels along the front lines.

ukraine flagUkrainian officials have been openly discussing an offensive on the Russian-held strategic port city of Kherson, but there is little evidence along the front lines that Ukraine is prepared to execute an operation that would require large numbers of troops, armored vehicles and powerful close-range weapons to overcome the numerically superior Russian military.

The latest package appears to be a first step toward addressing some of the shortfalls in the weaponry Ukrainian forces would need to launch a counterattack, particularly across mined areas in the approach to well-entrenched Russian positions. A successful offensive would include an ability to attack from a variety of distances.

The nearly $800 million in assistance announced Friday will include 40 bomb-resistant vehicles equipped with rollers that help detonate mines, as well as lighter howitzers that are easier to move than the more powerful guns the United States has previously sent. The aid will also include recoilless rifles with a range of few hundred meters and missile launchers limited to less than three miles — much closer than the current distance between Ukrainian and Russian units in many places.

“The mine-clearing is a really good example of how the Ukrainians will need this sort of capability to be able to push their forces forward and retake territory,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday. “These are capabilities that are enhancing the Ukrainians’ mobility as they look at this very challenging environment in southern Ukraine, in particular.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon.

What to know about Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The armored vehicles known as MRAPs, a key vehicle in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, would shield troops from explosions and small-arms fire while triggering mines with rollers that project from the front like lobster antennae.

But the next chapters of life with the virus — and the choice of booster shots for the fall and beyond — will be complicated by the layers of immunity that now ripple through the population, laid down by past infections and vaccinations.

When it comes to viral infections, past is prologue: The version of a virus to which we’re first exposed can dictate how we respond to later variants and, maybe, how well vaccines work.

ny times logoNew York Times, Foes Agree on Nuclear Disaster Risk in Ukraine, but Little Else, Richard Pérez-Peña and Farnaz Fassihi, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). At the U.N. Security Council, Russia and its critics traded barbs over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, with each side accusing the other of courting disaster.

As United Nations officials pleaded for inspection and demilitarization of the battle-scarred nuclear power plant caught in Russia’s war on Ukraine, countries traded harsh words at the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday but moved no closer to resolving the intensifying crisis, which has hung over the war for months.

At the Security Council meeting, the second in two weeks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the United States and its allies accused Russia, which controls the plant, of peddling lies about the situation there and blaming others for its own actions, while Russia leveled similar charges at them. The Council’s member nations emerged from the 80-minute meeting with no evident movement toward inspection or improved security.

Russian forces have held the sprawling Zaporizhzhia complex and Enerhodar, the town encompassing it, since early March, and the remaining residents live under a harrowing occupation, exhausted and fearful as many of them work to keep the plant operating safely.

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More On U.S. Politics, Governance Analysis

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Accused of Misleading Investigators, Maggie Astor, Aug. 24, 2022. 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, 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. 24, 2022. 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.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives, Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). A low-profile Republican financier donated his company to a new group run by the influential operative Leonard A. Leo.

A new conservative nonprofit group scored a $1.6 billion windfall last year via a little-known donor — an extraordinary sum that could give Republicans and their causes a huge financial boost ahead of the midterms, and for years to come.

barre seidThe source of the money was Barre Seid, right, an electronics manufacturing mogul, and the donation is among the largest — if not the largest — single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The beneficiary is a new political group controlled by Leonard A. Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules and climate change policy.

This windfall will help cement Mr. Leo’s status as a kingmaker in conservative big money politics. It could also give conservatives an advantage in a type of difficult-to-trace spending that shapes elections and political fights.

The cash infusion was arranged through an unusual series of transactions that appear to have avoided tax liabilities. It originated with Mr. Seid, a longtime conservative donor who made a fortune as the chairman and chief executive of an electrical device manufacturing company in Chicago now known as Tripp Lite.

Rather than merely giving cash, Mr. Seid donated 100 percent of the shares of Tripp Lite to Mr. Leo’s nonprofit group before the company was sold to an Irish conglomerate for $1.65 billion, according to tax records provided to The New York Times, corporate filings and a person with knowledge of the matter.

The nonprofit, called the Marble Freedom Trust, then received all of the proceeds from the sale, in a transaction that appears to have been structured to allow the nonprofit group and Mr. Seid to avoid paying taxes on the proceeds.

For perspective, the $1.6 billion that the Marble trust reaped from the sale is slightly more than the total of $1.5 billion spent in 2020 by 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with Democrats, according to an analysis by The Times. That spending, which Democrats embraced to aid the campaigns of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his allies in Congress, dwarfed the roughly $900 million spent by a comparable sample of 15 of the most politically active groups aligned with the Republican Party.

The Marble Freedom Trust could help conservatives level the playing field — if not surpass the left — in such nonprofit spending, which is commonly referred to as dark money because the groups involved can raise and spend unlimited sums on politics while revealing little about where they got the money or how they spent it.

In a statement, Mr. Leo cited some of the left’s biggest donors and an advisory firm that helps manage the nonprofit groups they fund.

“It’s high time for the conservative movement to be among the ranks of George Soros, Hansjörg Wyss, Arabella Advisors and other left-wing philanthropists, going toe-to-toe in the fight to defend our constitution and its ideals,” Mr. Leo said. Mr. Seid and an associate did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The funds are difficult to trace through public records. Tripp Lite is a private company that is not subject to corporate disclosure rules for public companies. On its tax filing, Marble indicated that the $1.6 billion came from the “sale of gifted company and subsidiaries,” but indicated that it withheld identifying information “to protect donor confidentiality.”

Ray D. Madoff, a professor of tax law at Boston College who is the director of the school’s Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good, said the structure of the transaction was most likely legal but did appear to allow a donor to avoid federal tax obligations from the sale of the company.

Here is how it works: Marble Freedom Trust is registered under a section of the tax code — 501(c)4 — for organizations that focus primarily on what the Internal Revenue Service calls “social welfare” and as a result are exempt from paying taxes. Such groups are allowed to engage in political advocacy, but their supporters are not entitled to deduct donations from their income taxes. Supporters can, however, donate assets that a nonprofit can sell and avoid capital gains taxes on the sale.

ap logoAssociated Press, AP-NORC poll: Most in US say they want stricter gun laws, Sara  Burnett, Aug. 23, 2022. Most U.S. adults want to see gun laws made stricter and think gun violence is increasing nationwide, according to a new poll that finds broad public support for a variety of gun restrictions, including many that are supported by majorities of Republicans and gun owners.

The poll by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 71% of Americans say gun laws should be stricter, including about half of Republicans, the vast majority of Democrats and a majority of those in gun-owning households.

The poll was conducted between July 28 and Aug. 1, after a string of deadly mass shootings — from a New York grocery store to a school in Texas and a July 4 parade in Illinois — and a 2020 spike in gun killings that have increased attention on the issue of gun violence. Overall, 8 in 10 Americans perceive that gun violence is increasing around the country, and about two-thirds say it’s increasing in their state, though less than half believe it’s increasing in their community, the poll shows.

The question of how to prevent such violence has long divided politicians and many voters, making it difficult to change gun laws. In June, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court expanded gun rights, finding a constitutional right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.

Later that same month, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill. The package, approved in the wake of shootings like the one that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, was both a measured compromise and the most significant bill addressing gun violence to be approved in Congress in decades — an indication of how intractable the issue has become.

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Public Health, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Amazon Says It Will Shut Down Amazon Care, Karen Weise, Aug. 24, 2022. 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 logoNew York Times, Jill Biden Tests Positive for Coronavirus Again in ‘Rebound’ Case, Zach Montague, Aug. 24, 2022. Her experience mirrors that of President Biden, who was forced to return to isolation last month after his initial bout with Covid-19.

ny times logoNew York Times, C.I.A. Begins Compensating Victims of Havana Syndrome, Julian E. Barnes, Aug. 24, 2022. Officers and diplomats have reported ailments arising from mysterious incidents since 2016. But lawyers for some say future cases may be harder to adjudicate.

About a dozen people suffering from debilitating symptoms that have become known as Havana syndrome have either received the payments or been approved to receive them, the people familiar with the program said.

Several of the recipients are former C.I.A. officers who were injured while serving in Havana in 2016 and 2017. However, payments are also being processed for current and former officers whose injuries occurred elsewhere.

 

anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Fauci plans to step down in December after half a century in government, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s preeminent infectious-disease expert who achieved unprecedented fame while enduring withering political attacks as the face of the coronavirus pandemic response under two presidents, plans to step down in December after more than a half-century of public service, he announced Monday.

anthony fauci george w bushFauci, 81, shown above in a file photo and at right receiving from then-President George W. Bush one of the physician’s many honors over his long career, has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He joined the parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, in 1968 as a 27-year-old doctor who had just finished medical residency and was quickly identified as a rising star. Most recently, Fauci has also served as President Biden’s chief medical adviser since the start of his administration.

Fauci’s tenure as director of the infectious-diseases institute made him an adviser to seven presidents and put him on the front lines of every modern-day scourge, including AIDS, the 2001 anthrax scares, Ebola, Zika and the coronavirus pandemic. During the nearly four decades Fauci led the agency, it grew from a little-known institute with a $350 million annual budget to a globally recognized powerhouse with a budget exceeding $6 billion.

“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved,” said Biden, who as vice president worked with Fauci on the nation’s response to Ebola and Zika during the Obama administration. “Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work.”

While Fauci is one of the most cited researchers of all time and has been widely known in scientific circles for decades, it was the coronavirus pandemic that catapulted him to worldwide fame — and ignited criticism from some Republican politicians and threats from the public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Administration Plans for New Booster Campaign Soon After Labor Day, Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). A top F.D.A. regulator cited compelling data for redesigned coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The Biden administration plans to offer the next generation of coronavirus booster shots to Americans 12 and older soon after Labor Day, a campaign that federal officials hope will reduce deaths from Covid-19 and protect against an expected winter surge.

Dr. Peter Marks, the top vaccine regulator for the Food and Drug Administration, said in an interview on Tuesday that while he could not discuss timing, his team was close to authorizing updated doses that would target the versions of the virus now circulating.

Even though those formulations have not been tested in humans, he said, the agency has “extremely good” data showing that the shots are safe and will be effective. “How confident am I?” he said. “I’m extremely confident.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Your first brush with coronavirus could affect how a fall booster works, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). It’s a phenomenon known by the forbidding name of original antigenic sin, and, in the case of the coronavirus, it prompts a constellation of questions.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2In the beginning, when the coronavirus was new, the quest for a vaccine was simple. Everyone started out susceptible to the virus. Shots brought spectacular protection.

But the next chapters of life with the virus — and the choice of booster shots for the fall and beyond — will be complicated by the layers of immunity that now ripple through the population, laid down by past infections and vaccinations.

When it comes to viral infections, past is prologue: The version of a virus to which we’re first exposed can dictate how we respond to later variants and, maybe, how well vaccines work.

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U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, Uvalde Fires Its School Police Chief in Response to Shooting, Edgar Sandoval, Aug. 24, 2022. The chief, Pete Arredondo, has been criticized for waiting too long to rescue students and teachers trapped in two classrooms with the gunman.

Facing intense pressure from parents, the school board in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday terminated its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, 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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Detective Admits Misleading Judge Who Approved Breonna Taylor Raid, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Kelly Goodlett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, becoming the first officer to be convicted in the fatal police operation.

A former police detective admitted on Tuesday that she had helped mislead a judge into wrongly authorizing a raid of Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Ky., setting in motion the nighttime operation in which the police fatally shot Ms. Taylor.

The former detective, Kelly Goodlett, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy, admitting that she had worked with another officer to falsify a search warrant application and had later lied to cover up their act. In pleading guilty, Ms. Goodlett became the first police officer to be convicted over the March 2020 raid, during which the police were searching for evidence of drug dealing by Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover.

Inside a courtroom in downtown Louisville, Ms. Goodlett, 35, admitted that she had known there was not enough evidence to support approving the warrant, but had nonetheless failed to object when a fellow detective falsely wrote that the police knew Mr. Glover was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s home.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Mental Illness Not a Useful Means to Predict Gun Violence, Experts Say, Shaila Dewan, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). Blaming mass murder on mental illness is a time-honored impulse, used by law enforcement and politicians alike. But many killers, if not most, had never been diagnosed with a serious psychiatric disorder, and experts prefer to focus on warning signs like a life crisis.

The freshman who walked into the high school cafeteria in Marysville, Wash., in 2014 with his father’s .40-caliber Beretta did not fit anyone’s profile of a mass murderer. He was a crack athlete. He embraced his Native American traditions, wearing a headdress at tribal events and offering freshly killed deer to his grandmother. He was popular, so much so that he had just been elected homecoming prince.

He had no history of mental illness — just what several classmates described as an uncharacteristically bad mood that week. It was only after he killed four fellow students and wounded another that the armchair diagnosis of his mental state began.

Blaming mass murder on mental illness is a time-honored impulse, used by law enforcement and politicians alike. “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” President Donald J. Trump said in 2019 in response to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. After a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period.”

Such explanations satisfy a deep longing to understand the incomprehensible. And they appeal to common sense — how could a person who kills indiscriminately be in their right mind?

Yet America’s mass killers fit no single profile and certainly no pattern of insanity — many, if not most, had never been diagnosed with a serious psychiatric disorder. Background checks can prevent someone with a diagnosis of mental illness from acquiring a gun, but psychologists say there is a wide divide between a clinical diagnosis and the type of emotional disturbance that precedes many mass killings.

The real problem, those experts say, is that mental illness is not a useful means to predict violence. About half of all Americans will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, and the vast majority of people with mental illness do not kill.

“Do you or do you not have a mental health diagnosis?” said Jillian Peterson, a co-founder of the Violence Project, a research center that has compiled a database of mass shootings from 1966 on and studied perpetrators in depth. “In many cases, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not the main driver.”

Instead, many experts have come to focus on warning signs that occur whether or not actual mental illness is present, including marked changes in behavior, demeanor or appearance, uncharacteristic fights or arguments, and telling others of plans for violence, a phenomenon known as “leakage.”

This focus is far from perfect — it can be exceedingly difficult to weed out serious threats from many more that are idle, impetuous or exaggerated. But the warning signs approach has benefits: It can work even when the mental health system does not, and it sidesteps the complaint that blaming mass shootings on mental illness increases negative attitudes and stigma toward those who suffer from it.

Mississippi Free Press, ‘A Wrong Never Righted’: Court Upholds Mississippi’s 1890 Jim Crow Voting Law, Ashton Pittman, Aug. 24, 2022. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold a Jim Crow law that Mississippi’s white-supremacist leaders adopted in 1890 in an attempt to disenfranchise Black residents for life. White lawmakers designated certain crimes that they believed Black people were more likely to commit as lifelong disenfranchising crimes.

The court’s conservative majority admitted that the Jim Crow law was “steeped in racism,” but said the State had made enough changes in the 132 years since to override its white supremacist taint. A 2018 analysis found that the law still disproportionately disenfranchises Black Mississippians compared to white residents.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Mississippi Center For Justice, which filed the lawsuit against the State of Mississippi in 2017, said it will appeal the ruling in Harness v. Watson to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This provision was part of the 1890 plan to take the vote away from Black people who had attained it in the wake of the Civil War,” said Rob McDuff, an attorney with MCJ who argued that the Jim Crow violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection under the law. “Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals is allowing it to remain in place despite its racist origins. Despite this setback, we will continue this battle and seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

‘To Secure The Supremacy of the White Race’

During the Reconstruction era, newly emancipated Black Mississippians made enormous gains as Black men gained the right to vote. But in 1890, white Mississippi lawmakers began drafting a new constitution riddled with Jim Crow laws. The new system instituted an explicitly white-supremacist regime, with its drafters bent on disenfranchising, criminalizing and denying opportunity to the state’s Black residents.

The legislative committee that drafted Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution was initially explicit in its white-supremacist goals. They adopted a resolution declaring that “it is the duty of this Com. to perform its work in such a manner as to secure permanent white rule in all departments of state government and without due violence to the true principles of our republican system of government.”

They later revised the resolution, changing “white rule” to “intelligent rule.” Contrary to popular misconception, Jim Crow laws usually masqueraded as colorblind. But on the floor of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention, lawmakers were open about their intent.

James K. Vardaman, a former Mississippi speaker of the House, governor and U.S. senator, seen here in 1912, was known as “The Great White Chief.” He said he and other Mississippi lawmakers designed the 1890 Mississippi State Constitution to “eliminate” Black voting power. Photo courtesy U.S. Library of Congress.

“I will agree that this is a government by the people and for the people, but what people? When this declaration was made by our forefathers, it was for the Anglo-Saxon people. That is what we are here for today—to secure the supremacy of the white race,” Franklin County delegate J.H. McGehee said to applause from his fellow lawmakers at the 1890 convention as he vowed to strip voting rights from Black residents “even if it does sacrifice some of my white children, or my white neighbors or their children.”

After the state adopted that law as part of its constitution, along with other provisions like poll taxes and literacy tests, James K. Vardaman, one of its drafters, explained the goal: “There is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter … Mississippi’s constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the n–ger from politics. Not the ‘ignorant and vicious’, as some of the apologists would have you believe, but the n–ger.” Supporters hailed Vardaman, who served as a Mississippi governor and U.S. senator, as the state’s “Great White Chief.”

The 1890 provision at issue is Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution, which originally permanently disenfranchised people who committed the following crimes: bribery, burglary theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement and bigamy. In their effort to only include crimes they believed Black people were most likely to commit, the white-supremacist drafters of the 1890 Constitution did not originally include murder and rape as disenfranchising crimes.

“If Section 241 had never been amended, the provision would violate the Equal Protection Clause,” the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ majority said in its ruling Wednesday. “… Critically, however, it has been amended.”

The State amended the Constitution in 1950, removing burglary as a disenfranchising crime. Later, in 1968, the 5th Circuit’s opinion says, the State made additional changes by voter referendum, including by adding “the ‘non-black’ crimes of ‘murder’ and ‘rape’ to the disenfranchising crimes in Section 241.”

“After careful consideration of the record and applicable precedents, we reconfirm that Section 241 in its current form does not violate the Equal Protection Clause,” the court said in an en banc opinion after a vote of all justices in the circuit. “Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of showing that the current version of Section 241 was motivated by discriminatory intent. In addition, Mississippi has conclusively shown that any taint associated with Section 241 has been cured.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Charges to Be Dropped Against Officers in Killing of Rayshard Brooks, Richard Fausset, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Brooks was shot to death in 2020 after two Atlanta officers tried to arrest him. A prosecutor said that the officers “committed no crimes.”

More than two years after Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer in the parking lot of an Atlanta fast-food restaurant, a prosecutor has determined that the officer who fired, as well as another officer on the scene, “committed no crimes” in the incident.

The decision to drop charges against the two Atlanta officers was announced in a news conference on Tuesday by Pete Skandalakis, a veteran former Georgia prosecutor appointed to handle the case by Chris Carr, the Georgia attorney general. Mr. Skandalakis and another former prosecutor, Danny Porter, presided over a multimedia presentation about the June 2020 incident, which showed how Mr. Brooks, after resisting being handcuffed, sparked a violent fight with the officers, during which Mr. Brooks took Officer Devin Brosnan’s Taser and fired it at the officers.

The prosecutors said that these actions gave the other officer, Garrett Rolfe, justification to use deadly force. Mr. Rolfe fired three shots at Mr. Brooks, hitting him twice, in the back and buttocks.

“It is my conclusion that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and that they did not act with criminal intent,” Mr. Porter said.
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Mr. Rolfe was initially charged with 11 counts, including murder, and Mr. Brosnan faced a number of lesser charges. The prosecutors said they would move to vacate those charges. Mr. Rolfe was fired from the Police Department the day after the shooting, but reinstated in May 2021 by the city’s civil service review board. Both men have been on paid administrative leave pending resolution of their case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Man sentenced in scheme to defraud Rep. Gaetz’s father of $25 million, María Luisa Paúl, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Florida businessman to a little over five years in prison for his role in a 2021 plot to defraud the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz matt gaetz official(R-Fla.), right, of $25 million as the congressman found himself under investigation for possible sex crimes.

Stephen M. Alford, below left, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in November. This week, Alford was sentenced to 63 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to court documents.

stephen alfordRandall Lockhart, Alford’s public defender, did not immediately respond to a request from The Washington Post for comment. Gaetz has not been charged with any crime.

The scheme was first made public on March 30, 2021, when Gaetz appeared on Fox News hours after the New York Times first reported that the congressman was under investigation. Gaetz claimed the Times’s story was a “planted leak” meant to distract from the real crime — a shakedown of him and his father.

“What is happening is an extortion of me and my family,” Gaetz said.

According to court records, Alford and another man somehow learned that Gaetz was under a Department of Justice probe before the don gaetzinvestigation was publicly reported. Don Gaetz — the congressman’s father, right, and a former Florida Senate president — received a text message on March 16, 2021, with a request to discuss the investigation into his son, according to the indictment in Alford’s case.

The Justice Department was investigating Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Fla., tax collector and an associate of Gaetz’s. During that probe, investigators uncovered information that could implicate the congressman, The Post previously reported. A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday. The congressman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 ny times logoNew York Times, Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Former Prime Minister, Is Headed to Prison, Richard C. Paddock, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Najib, convicted in a scandal involving the disappearance of billions from the government investment fund known as 1MDB, has exhausted his avenues of appeal.

malaysia flagMalaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak, who was convicted two years ago of participating in a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal, was headed for prison Tuesday to start serving a 12-year sentence after the nation’s highest court rejected his final appeal.

A five-judge federal court panel, headed by the nation’s chief justice, unanimously upheld Mr. Najib’s conviction on seven corruption counts after finding that his appeal was “devoid of any merits.”

The prospect of Mr. Najib, 69, going to prison concluded a stunning fall for the British-educated son of one prime minister and nephew of another who spent nearly his entire adult life in politics and held numerous cabinet posts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative leadership race is making some Tories miss Boris Johnson, William Booth, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). The Conservative Party rank-and-file who demanded the mop-headed British prime minister resign in July are no longer so sure, now that they’ve had a good sniff at the candidates to replace him.

A few weeks ago, the survey group Opinium Research published a remarkable poll that found that Conservative Party members, overwhelmingly, preferred Johnson to the two candidates now competing to replace him: 63 percent wanted Johnson to remain leader of the party, and therefore prime minister, compared to 22 percent for Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, who appears to be the front-runner for the top job.

washington post logoWashington Post, Video captures 130-foot superyacht sinking off the southern coast of Italy, Annabelle Timsit, Aug. 24, 2022. A superyacht sank off the southern coast of Italy over the weekend in a spectacular capsizing captured on video and shared on Twitter by the Italian coast guard.

The video compilation shows the MY Saga, a roughly 130-foot vessel, struggling against the waves before slowly sinking into the water. The yacht was sailing from Gallipoli to Milazzo, Sicily, on Saturday, local news outlets reported, when it began to take on water and eventually sank some hours later about nine nautical miles off the port of Catanzaro.

All crew members and passengers were rescued and uninjured, the coast guard said on Twitter. It said it launched an investigation to determine what happened.

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Media, Education, Sports News

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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 See August 2022 News for stories news from Aug. 1 to Aug. 17. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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