Oct. 2022 News, Views

 

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative news and views in October 2022.

 

Oct. 3

Top Headlines

More On Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court Opening

 

U.S. Hurricane Coverage

 

More On Ukraine War

 

Trump Probes, Disputes, Rallies, Supporters

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Economy, Governance

 

U.S. Courts, Crime, Immigration, Shootings, Gun Laws

 

Released American Hostages

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 

Abortion, Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

Food, Water, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

Media, Sports, Culture, Education

Sacheen Liittlefeather at the 1973 Academy Awards (Globe Photos via Zuma Press).

 

Top Stories

 

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

This week’s new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, As New Term Starts, Supreme Court Is Poised to Resume Rightward Push, Adam Liptak, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). The justices return to the bench on Monday to hear major cases on affirmative action, voting, race and discrimination against gay couples; The court’s conservative majority seems set to dominate the new term as it did the last one, which ended with bombshell rulings on issues like abortion.

The last Supreme Court term ended with a series of judicial bombshells in June that eliminated the right to abortion, established a right to carry guns outside the home and limited efforts to address climate change. As the justices return to the bench on Monday, there are few signs that the court’s race to the right is slowing.

The new term will feature major disputes on affirmative action, voting, religion, free speech and gay rights. And the court’s six-justice conservative supermajority seems poised to dominate the new term as it did the earlier one.

“On things that matter most,” said Irv Gornstein, the executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law, “get ready for a lot of 6-3s.”

Several of the biggest cases concern race, in settings as varied as education, voting and adoptions.

They include challenges to the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. As in last term’s abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, longstanding precedents are at risk.

The court has repeatedly upheld affirmative-action programs meant to ensure educational diversity at colleges and universities, most recently in 2016. In an interview that year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the issue had been permanently settled.

In that same interview, though, she said she feared what would happen were Donald J. Trump, then on the campaign trail, to become president.

“For the country, it could be four years,” she said. “For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

Mr. Trump went on to name three members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who succeeded Justice Ginsburg after her death in 2020.

Those changes put more than 40 years of affirmative action precedents at risk, including Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 decision in which the Supreme Court endorsed holistic admissions programs, saying it was permissible to consider race as one factor among many to achieve educational diversity. Writing for the majority in that case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said she expected that “25 years from now,” the “use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.”

The court seems poised to say that the time for change has arrived several years early in the two new cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, No. 20-1199, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, No. 21-707. They are set to be argued on Oct. 31.

The role race may play in government decision-making also figures in a voting rights case to be argued on Tuesday, Merrill v. Milligan, No. 21-1086. The case is a challenge under the Voting Rights Act to an Alabama electoral map that a lower court had said diluted the power of Black voters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: They Legitimized the Myth of a Stolen Election — and Reaped the Rewards, Steve Eder, David D. Kirkpatrick and Mike McIntire, Oct. 3, 2022. On the day the Capitol was attacked, 139 Republicans in the House voted to dispute the Electoral College count. This is how they got there.

A majority of House Republicans last year voted to challenge the Electoral College and upend the presidential election. That action, signaled ahead of the vote in signed petitions, would change the direction of the party.

Five days after the attack on the Capitol last year, the Republican members of the House of Representatives braced for a backlash.

Two-thirds of them — 139 in all — had been voting on Jan. 6, 2021, to dispute the Electoral College count that would seal Donald J. Trump’s defeat just as rioters determined to keep the president in power stormed the chamber. Now one lawmaker after another warned during a conference call that unless Republicans demanded accountability, voters would punish them for inflaming the mob.

“I want to know if we are going to look at how we got here, internally, within our own party and hold people responsible,” said Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

When another member implored the party to unite behind a “clarifying message” that Mr. Trump had truly lost, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, emphatically agreed: “We have to.”

More than 20 months later, the opposite has happened. The votes to reject the election results have become a badge of honor within the party, in some cases even a requirement for advancement, as doubts about the election have come to define what it means to be a Trump Republican.

The most far-reaching of Mr. Trump’s ploys to overturn his defeat, the objections to the Electoral College results by so many House Republicans did more than any lawsuit, speech or rally to engrave in party orthodoxy the myth of a stolen election. Their actions that day legitimized Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, gave new life to his claims of conspiracy and fraud and lent institutional weight to doubts about the central ritual of American democracy.

Yet the riot engulfing the Capitol so overshadowed the debate inside that the scrutiny of that day has overlooked how Congress reached that historic vote. A reconstruction by The Times revealed more than simple rubber-stamp loyalty to a larger-than-life leader. Instead, the orchestration of the House objections was a story of shrewd salesmanship and calculated double-talk, set against a backdrop of demographic change across the country that has widened the gulf between the parties.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Prosecutors outline Oath Keepers’ alleged roles in seditious conspiracy case, Rachel Weiner, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 3, 2022. Five members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, face trial. Prosecutors will try to convince jurors that Rhodes and his group intentionally conspired to use force to prevent President Biden’s swearing-in. The trial is an important step in the wider probe, analysts say. Rhodes plans to testify, denies call to Trump: defense lawyer; Rhodes attorney corrected by judge as defense openings begin.

Opening statements went underway in the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and other members of the extremist group who face seditious conspiracy and other charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rhodes and four co-defendants — Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell — have pleaded not guilty to felony charges alleging that they conspired for weeks after the 2020 presidential election to unleash political violence to oppose the lawful transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of Oath Keepers, is charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot. He is accused of guiding a months-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the swearing-in of President Biden. Rhodes is the most high-profile person charged in the investigation so far.

The defendants came from Texas, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and allegedly led a group that traveled to Washington and staged firearms nearby before forcing entry through the Capitol Rotunda doors in combat and tactical gear.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Soccer ‘failed’ women players, report finds, as new abuse claims emerge, Rick Maese, Oct. 3, 2022. An investigation by Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, found that officials failed to respond “when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse.”

Abuse and misconduct were both pervasive and systemic at the highest tiers of women’s professional soccer, and the sport’s governing bodies and team executives repeatedly failed to heed warnings or punish coaches who abused players, according to an investigative report released Monday by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The year-long probe by Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, found that some of the game’s top coaches were the subjects of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including some that have not been previously made public. The coaches also leaned on vicious coaching tactics, Yates found, including “relentless, degrading tirades; manipulation that was about power, not improving performance; and retaliation against those who attempted to come forward.”

“Players described a pattern of sexually charged comments, unwanted sexual advances and sexual touching, and coercive sexual intercourse,” Yates wrote in the executive summary of her report.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukrainian Troops Hunt Demoralized Russian Stragglers in Seized City, Andrew E. Kramer, Michael Schwirtz and Norimitsu Onishi, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). A major Russian newspaper said the Russian troops, facing defeat in Lyman, had fled with “empty eyes” after barely escaping with their lives.

Ukrainian forces on Sunday hunted Russian stragglers in the key city of Lyman, which was taken back from Russia after its demoralized troops, according to a major Russian newspaper, fled with “empty eyes,” and despite Moscow’s baseless claim it had annexed the region surrounding the city.

Two days after President Vladimir V. Putin held a grandiose ceremony to commemorate the incorporation of four Ukrainian territories into Russia, the debacle in the city — Lyman, a strategic railway hub in the eastern region of Donbas — ratcheted up pressure on a Russian leadership already facing withering criticism at home for its handling of the war and its conscription of up to 300,000 men into military service.

Russia’s retreat from Lyman, which sits on a riverbank that has served as a natural division between the Russian and Ukrainian front lines, came after weeks of fierce fighting.

In an unusually candid article published Sunday, the prominent Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that in the last few days of their occupation, Russian forces in Lyman had been plagued by desertion, poor planning and the delayed arrival of reserves.

“The risk of encirclement or shameful imprisonment became too great, and the Russian command made a decision to fall back,” a war correspondent traveling with the fleeing Russian forces wrote, adding that dispirited soldiers with “empty eyes” had barely escaped Lyman with their lives.

The retreat is a significant blow to Russian forces that could further undermine the Kremlin’s position in Donbas, a mineral-rich and fertile part of eastern Ukraine that has been central to Mr. Putin’s war aims.

Mr. Putin’s office made no public comment about the loss of Lyman, even as pro-war commentators and two of his closest allies sharply criticized the Defense Ministry for retreating from the city. Seemingly unfazed by its military setbacks, Moscow pressed ahead with its annexation effort on Sunday, as the country’s rubber-stamp Constitutional Court formally accepted Mr. Putin’s decision to claim the four Ukrainian regions as part of Russia.

But President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine quickly sought to capitalize politically on the retreat, saying it showed that Moscow’s attempt to illegally annex a sizable part of the country was an “absolute farce” and that “now a Ukrainian flag is” in Donbas. But the Ukrainian recoveries in areas Russia now claims have come as Mr. Putin has increasingly hinted at turning to nuclear options in the conflict, alarming American officials.

ny times logoNew York Times, Truss, in Reversal, Drops Plan to Cut U.K. Tax Rate on High Earners, Mark Landler Oct. 3, 2022. The announcement was a major capitulation by Prime Minister Liz Truss and her government after the proposal roiled financial markets and drew widespread criticism.

Facing a mutiny of Conservative Party lawmakers, Prime Minister Liz Truss of Britain on Monday reversed plans to abolish the top income tax rate of 45 percent on high earners, a humiliating about-face that leaves her supply-side economic agenda in tatters and her grip on power uncertain.

The sudden announcement, made as party members gathered for their annual conference in the city of Birmingham, deepened the disarray around a prime minister, in office barely a month, who had made cutting taxes the centerpiece of her successful campaign to replace Boris Johnson as the Conservatives’ leader.

Ms. Truss’s economic proposals, announced 10 days ago, had already roiled financial markets, sending the British pound into a tailspin and leading the Bank of England to intervene to prop up some British government bonds.

Now, Ms. Truss has been forced to act to avert a wholesale rebellion by her own lawmakers in Parliament. Several had signaled in recent days that they would vote against the tax cut, and senior party members predicted that the government would fail to get the measure through the House of Commons.

“We get it, and we have listened,” Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor of the Exchequer, posted on Twitter on Monday, hours before he was to address the annual party conference. The reversal will lift one cloud hanging over Britain’s public finances. The value of the pound plummeted when Mr. Kwarteng unexpectedly announced on Sept. 23 that the government would abolish the income tax rate of 45 percent applied to those earning more than 150,000 pounds, or about $164,000, a year.

ny times logoNew York Times, I Lived in Russia? Annexation Is News to Key City Reclaimed by Ukraine, Andrew E. Kramer, Photographs by Nicole Tung, Oct. 3, 2022. Without electricity or the internet, Lyman residents said they were unaware Russia was moving to annex their city and other land despite international condemnation.

As dusk gathered on Sunday, Elena Kharkovska stood in the courtyard of her apartment block, contemplating what she had just learned: Without ever moving, she had supposedly lived in Russia for one day.

President Vladimir V. Putin decreed on Friday that four regions of Ukraine — including the province of Donetsk, which includes Ms. Kharkovska’s hometown, Lyman — had been annexed into Russia.

But before the news could reach her, Ukrainian soldiers were in control of the city again, as Russian forces retreated.

Without electricity, radios or the internet, residents of the city of Lyman said, they were unaware of the grandiose ceremony Mr. Putin held at the Kremlin on Friday to celebrate an annexation that the world largely condemned as a sham.

“I didn’t hear anything about it,” Ms. Kharkovska said as she watched a kettle of buckwheat simmer on a campfire. The town has been without cooking gas for months.

“I’m in shock,” she said, laughing. “Nobody told us anything” on Friday about how her town had supposedly been grafted onto Russia, or on Saturday, when Ukrainian troops took it back.

“It’s funny to me because it recalls a saying, ‘Without me, they married me,’” she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida death toll at 48 as Ian aftermath reverberates and cleanup begins, Tim Craig, Antonio Olivo, Jeanne Whalen, Karoun Demirjian and Meryl Kornfield, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Florida residents are grappling with widespread destruction and flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland, amid ongoing search efforts and a death toll that has increased to at least 48.

In Iona, a small coastal community between Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach, residents began trying to clean out their homes Sunday as the floodwaters finally receded, leading to towering piles of soggy couches, mattresses and kitchen cabinets.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Bolsonaro, Lula appear headed for runoff in Brazil’s presidential election, Staff Report, Oct. 2, 2022. The runoff would be held Oct. 30.

Brazil’s top two presidential candidates were neck-and-neck late Sunday in a highly polarized election that could determine if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.

politico CustomThe race pits incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro against his political nemesis, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There are nine other candidates, but their support pales to that for Bolsonaro and da Silva.

With 91.6% of votes counted, da Silva had 47.3%, ahead of Bolsonaro with 44.2%, according to the electoral authority.

It appears increasingly likely neither of the top two candidates will receive more than 50% of the valid votes, which exclude spoiled and blank ballots, which would mean a second round vote will be scheduled for Oct. 30.

“We will most likely have a second round,” said Nara Pavão, who teaches political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco. “The probability of ending the election now (in the first round) is too small.”

Recent opinion polls had given da Silva a commanding lead — the last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

The election wound up being far tighter than anticipated, both in the presidential contest and those for governorships and congressional seats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil makes pivotal decision: More Bolsonaro or back to Lula? Terrence McCoy, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). ct. 2, 2022. Millions across Brazil headed to the polls Sunday for the first round of a presidential election that has deepened divisions in Latin America’s most populous country and raised fears of violence at a crucial point in its history.

Polls closed at 5 p.m. local time, but voters who were waiting in line then were still allowed to cast ballots. The Superior Electoral Court was expected to announce a result within hours.

After years of anticipation, the vote came down to a decision between two messianic political giants with enormous followings who are distrusted — if not disdained — by large swaths of the electorate. Each carries extraordinary baggage.

Left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 76, is a charismatic union leader who came from extreme poverty to serve two terms as president but came to typify for many Brazilians the corruption that tarred his party and led to his imprisonment.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, 67, rose to power decrying what he called the political rot of Lula’s party but has polarized the country with his bellicose rhetoric, chaotic leadership during Brazil’s devastating coronavirus outbreak and frequent attacks on civic institutions.

 

More On Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court Opening

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Supreme Court Has a Crisis of Trust, Editorial Board, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

american flag upside down distressBut in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

john roberts oChief Justice John Roberts, right, recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Good on the Supreme Court for keeping live audio. Now it’s time to go further, Editorial Board, Oct. 2, 2022. As the Supreme Court embarks on a new term Monday, there is at least one development that should be welcomed by observers from all ideological backgrounds.

The court announced Wednesday that it will allow the public back into the room for arguments. At the same time, it will maintain its live audio feed, which began during the covid-19 pandemic. Good for the court for embracing transparency and engagement with regular Americans. Now, it’s time to make live broadcasts permanent — and consider going even further with live video.

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A partisan Supreme Court is 2022’s other incumbent, E.J. Dionne, right, Oct. 2, 2022. What makes this midterm ej dionne w open neckelection different from every other? Most midterms are about the party in charge. But in this one, two parties count as incumbents: the Democrats who control the White House and Congress, and the Republicans who control the Supreme Court.

GOP pollster Whit Ayres called my attention to this remarkable structural change. In the typical year, Ayres noted, the policies most relevant to the choice before voters are the work of the White House and Capitol Hill. “But in this case, the most significant policy action taken before the midterms,” he said, referring to the court’s decision overturning the abortion rights protections of Roe v. Wade, “was taken by a conservative-dominated, Republican-appointed Supreme Court.”

How this election turns out will depend in large part on which of the two incumbents draws the most voter anger. As a result, the beginning of the court’s new term on Monday has more electoral significance than usual. The more the court is in the news, the better it is for Democrats.

Recent Headlines

 

More U.S. Hurricanes

ny times logoNew York Times, Knocking on Every Door, Rescuers Search Fort Myers Beach After Ian, Patricia Mazzei. Photographs by Jason Andrew, Oct. 3, 2022. A search-and-rescue team set out to account for every person left on the hurricane-battered island — even if that meant breaking down doors.

On the third day after Hurricane Ian pulverized Fort Myers Beach, the rescuers from Florida Task Force 2 embarked on a laborious new task: to knock on every door that was still standing. It was the only way to make sure they had not missed anyone still waiting to be rescued — or someone who had perished.

“Fire department!” Noel Armas, a rescue squad officer, yelled as he banged on doors at the Mariner’s Boathouse & Beach Resort, on the mangled island’s southern end, which had not been hit as hard as other parts. “Anybody need assistance?”

He put his ear to the window of one unit, fearing that an older person, or someone who was injured or unable to move easily, might be stuck inside and in need of help. Down the hall, Vincent Pangallo, a rescue specialist, clanged on the elevator doors with a huge metal hammer, to make sure no one was stuck.

ny times logoNew York Times, On Sanibel Island, about 200 households did not evacuate. The search for stranded residents slogs on, Patricia Mazzei, Photographs by Johnny Milano, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). About 200 households did not leave ahead of Hurricane Ian. Rescue teams are tracking down the stranded and evacuating them — if they are willing.

Recent Headlines

 The Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier has been reduced to rubble on the island of Fort Myers Beach in Florida via Associated Press

 The Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier has been reduced to rubble on the island of Fort Myers Beach in Florida via Associated Press

 

More On Ukraine War

 

In more peaceful times last year, U.S. President Joe Biden meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva last year as Secretary of State Tony Blinken, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov look on, accompanied by translators (White House photo on June 16, 2021).

In more peaceful times last year, U.S. President Joe Biden meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva last year as Secretary of State Tony Blinken, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov look on, accompanied by translators (White House photo on June 16, 2021).

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Pro-Russia Officials Admit Setbacks as Ukrainian Forces Push Ahead, Andrew E. Kramer and Maria Varenikova, Oct. 3, 2022. Russian-installed officials acknowledged losing ground in both the east and south, as Ukraine’s troops sought to extend a run of battlefield successes. Ukrainian forces were buoyed by their recapture of Lyman, a strategic rail hub and gateway to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Ukrainian Army was on the move on Monday in two theaters, as Kyiv’s forces chased retreating Russian troops outside the reclaimed city of Lyman in the east and Moscow-installed officials acknowledged losing ground in the southern region of Kherson.

ukraine flagBuoyed by their recapture over the weekend of Lyman, a strategic rail hub and gateway to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukrainian officials said that forces pushing east from the city had destroyed a Russian armored column near the village of Torske. The attack left roads in the dense pine forest cluttered with burned tanks and armored vehicles, said Vladyslav Podkich, a Ukrainian military spokesman.

The attack could not be independently verified. But Russian officials admitted setbacks in the east, saying that Ukrainian forces had crossed the administrative border of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, a territory claimed by Moscow-backed rebels, and had set up positions closer to the city of Lysychansk, which Russia claimed over the summer following weeks of bloody fighting.

“Despite casualties, Ukrainian forces managed to cross the L.P.R. administrative border and to secure their positions in the direction of Lysychansk,” a spokesman for the separatist group, Andrei Marochko, told Russia’s Interfax news agency. He said Russian air and ground forces were firing at the advancing Ukrainians.

Hundreds of miles away in the south, where a Ukrainian counteroffensive against dug-in Russians has been slower to advance, there were new signs of progress for Kyiv’s forces. Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged on Monday that Ukrainian tank units had managed to penetrate its line of defense in part of the Kherson region.

A Russian-installed official in the region, Kirill Stremousov, said that Ukrainian troops had advanced along the Dnipro River in the direction of the Russian-held regional capital of Kherson, but insisted that “the situation is completely under control.”

The announcements suggested that Ukrainian forces were attacking Russian forces as they pulled back in both eastern and southern Ukraine. “The successes of our military are not limited only to Lyman,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Sunday.

Ukraine’s ability to advance in the south appeared to be part of a strategy that came into focus in recent weeks, as its forces began to take advantage of their shorter internal resupply lines to quickly shift troops between locations. That has allowed Ukraine to attack Russian forces in two areas at once along the long front line, military experts say.

Analysts have said a risk for the Ukrainian military is that it advances too quickly, stretching its forces too thin and becoming vulnerable to counterattack. Fighting in the east has been so fast-paced, soldiers from several Ukrainian brigades said in interviews, that they do not know where they will be deployed day to day. Some units that had been assigned to mop-up operations in the reclaimed city of Izium last month, for example, were redeployed to villages farther east over the weekend.

ukraine kharkiv 10 1 2022 map

Awful Avalanche, Pro-Russian Commentary: Ukraine War Day #222: More Ukrainian Success; But The Numbers Don’t Lie, Yalensis, Oct. 3, 2022. Over the weekend the Ukrainians continued their multiple counter-offensives and achieved notable success on two major fronts: (1) Continuing from the Liman bridgehead to attack the new Russian defense line at Kremennaya; and then, even scarier, (2) A major push at Kherson, this time from an unexpected direction. Let us discuss.

I have this piece by reporter Alexandra Yudina about the LPR fighting. Continuing with their new mode of maneuver warfare, Ukrainian forces continued on from Liman, rushing through Torskoe, and are now pounding at the door of Kremennaya, which is well within the actual LPR border. Here is the map showing what is where.

Recent Headlines

 

Trump Probes, Disputes, Rallies, Supporters

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives says it’s still missing records from Trump officials, Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The National Archives has told the House Oversight Committee that it has not yet recovered all of the records from Trump administration officials that should have been transferred under the Presidential Records Act.

The Archives will consult with the Department of Justice “on whether ‘to initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed,’ as established under the Federal Records Act,” acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall said in a letter sent on Friday to the committee’s chairwoman, Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.).

joe biden black background resized serious fileSteidel Wall added that the Archives has been unable to obtain federal records related to “non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts.” Presidential advisers are required to forward such messages to their official accounts under the law, she noted.

nara logo“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Steidel Wall wrote, according to the letter provided to The Washington Post.

Steidel Wall cited the ongoing lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the National Archives against former Trump adviser Peter Navarro over failing to turn over private emails involving official White House business during his stint serving in the Trump administration.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the immediate staff of the president, the vice president and anyone who advises the president must preserve records and carolyn maloney ophone calls pertaining to official duties.

Although the latest letter referred to Trump officials, the spotlight on former president Donald Trump and the documents he kept after leaving the White House has increased since a court-approved FBI search of the Mar-a-Lago Club on Aug. 8.

The FBI has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year: 184 in a set of 15 boxes sent to the National Archives and Records Administration in January, 38 more handed over by a Trump lawyer to investigators in June, and more than 100 additional documents found in the Aug. 8 search.

In September, Maloney had asked the Archives to assess whether Trump has surrendered all presidential records or classified materials. In her latest letter, Steidel Wall deferred to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.

Maloney said she found the latest disclosure troubling.

“The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still have not received all presidential records from the Trump White House,” Maloney said in a statement. “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Turns out Donald Trump’s classified documents scandal is even uglier than we knew, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2022. Even bill palmeras Donald Trump’s pet judge Aileen Cannon and the Special Master she appointed keep squabbling with each other, and the DOJ has now appealed the entirety of Cannon’s ruling, that’s just a sideshow.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s important to keep in mind that the main part of the DOJ’s case against Trump – the part involving classified documents – has resumed moving forward ever since the Court of Appeals made its first ruling against Cannon. Now news is breaking which reveals the scandal is even uglier than we knew, but about as ugly as we were expecting.

aileen mercedes cannonThe National Archives has now confirmed to the House Oversight Committee that some documents stolen by Trump still haven’t been recovered. Let’s put this in context. It’s news to us, and it may be news to Congress, but it’s certainly not news to the National Archives or the DOJ. They didn’t suddenly just now discover that some documents are still in the wind. The National Archives and the DOJ have known this all along. It’s just that because Congress is now running its own separate probe into the classified documents scandal, and Congress asked the question, the National Archives is dutifully providing the answer.

So the people on social media who are seeing this news and responding by frantically yelling “the DOJ must search Trump’s other properties right now!!!” don’t really know what they’re talking about. Court filings reveal that the DOJ had confidential informants inside Mar-a-Lago for months before finally going in, meaning it knew what was going on with the classified documents inside. The DOJ surely has confidential informants inside Trump’s other residences as well, and if there were classified documents there for the taking, the DOJ would have taken them by now.

So there is bad news here. But it’s not that Trump has classified documents in his other residences and the DOJ is somehow just too oblivious to go in and get them. The bad news is that these documents are likely not at Trump’s other properties, and instead Trump gave them away or lost them or sold them to bad people. The potential good news is that the DOJ and National Archives have likely known for quite awhile that Trump didn’t have these specific documents in his possession, and have presumably been working to track them down all this time. In fact this seems to fall in line with our original suspicion that the reason the DOJ didn’t immediately go into Trump’s home, and instead spent months cultivating sources around Trump, in an effort to quietly recover some of these wayward documents before potentially spooking anyone with a search of Trump’s home.

In any case, the really bad news here is for Donald Trump. We already know that he tried to trick the Feds by surrendering some classified documents several months ago and then falsely claiming that he’s surrendered all of them. Once the Feds came in and took the rest of the documents that were in his home, he was surely hoping that the Feds didn’t also know about the additional documents that weren’t at his properties. But it turns out the Feds do know which documents are still in the wind.

This means that if Trump did commit the even more serious crime of selling or giving away classified documents, the Feds have already known about it for awhile. At this point Trump’s indictment is a given. The more serious the charges he ends up getting hit with, the greater the odds of his conviction, and the longer his prison sentence will end up being.

  washington post logoWashington Post, One Trump lawyer’s advice to seek an ‘off-ramp’ with Justice Dept. is not being heeded, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Perry Stein, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The former president seems inclined to stick with a more combative approach, those close to him say, potentially placing him on a collision course with the Justice Department.

After attorney Christopher Kise accepted $3 million to represent Donald Trump in the FBI’s investigation of government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, the veteran litigator argued that Trump should adopt a new strategy.

Turn down the temperature with the Department of Justice, Kise — a former Florida solicitor general — counseled his famously combative client, people familiar with the deliberations said.

Federal authorities had searched Trump’s Florida residence and club because they badly wanted to retrieve the classified documents that remained there even after a federal subpoena, Kise argued, according to these people. With that material back in government hands, maybe prosecutors could be persuaded to resolve the whole issue quietly.

But quiet has never been Trump’s style — nor has harmony within his orbit.

Instead, just a few weeks after Kise was brought aboard, he finds himself in a battle, trying to persuade Trump to go along with his legal strategy and fighting with some other advisers who have counseled a more aggressive posture. The dispute has raged for at least a week, Trump advisers say, with the former president listening as various lawyers make their best arguments.

A Wednesday night court filing from Trump’s team was combative, with defense lawyers questioning the Justice Department’s truthfulness and motives. Kise, whose name was listed alongside other lawyers’ in previous filings over the past four weeks, did not sign that one — an absence that underscored the division among the lawyers. He remains part of the team and will continue assisting Trump in dealing with some of his other legal problems, said the people familiar with the conversations, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private talks. But on the Mar-a-Lago issue, he is likely to have a less public role.

It is a pattern that has repeated itself since the National Archives and Records Administration first alerted Trump’s team 16 months ago that it was missing documents from his term as president — and strongly urged their return. Well before the May 11 grand jury subpoena, and the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, multiple sets of lawyers and advisers suggested that Trump simply comply with government requests to return the papers and, in particular, to hand over any documents marked classified.

Trump seems, at least for now, to be heeding advice from those who have indulged his desire to fight.

The approach could leave the former president on a collision course with the Justice Department, as he relies on a legal trust that includes three attorneys facing their own potential legal risks. The first, Christina Bobb, has told other Trump allies that she is willing to be interviewed by the Justice Department about her role in responding to the subpoena, according to people familiar with the conversations. Another, M. Evan Corcoran, has been counseled by colleagues to hire a criminal defense lawyer because of his response to the subpoena, people familiar with those conversations said, but so far has insisted that is not necessary. The third, longtime Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, saw his phone taken as part of the Justice Department’s probe of Trump’s fake elector scheme, and appeared before a Georgia grand jury Thursday.

Kise, Bobb, Corcoran and Epshteyn either declined to comment for this story or did not respond to requests for comment. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich replied to a detailed list of questions about their roles with a statement that did not directly answer the questions. “While the media wants to focus on gossip, the reality is these witch hunts are dividing and destroying our nation,” Budowich said. “And President Trump isn’t going to back down.”

Kise has worked for multiple elected officials in Florida and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in his role as solicitor general and in private practice. He has long been close to Susie Wiles, a Republican political operative from Florida who plays a key role in Trump’s orbit, and Brian Ballard, a high-powered Florida lobbyist who also is close to Trump.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, President Outperforms Polls and Forces Runoff in Brazil’s Election, Jack Nicas, Oct. 3, 2022. President Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Oct. 30 race is seen as a major test for one of the world’s largest democracies.

For months, pollsters and analysts had said that President Jair Bolsonaro was doomed. He faced a wide and unwavering deficit in Brazil’s high-stakes presidential race, and in recent weeks, the polls had suggested he could even lose in the first round, ending his presidency after just one term.

Instead, it was Mr. Bolsonaro who was celebrating. While the challenger, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former leftist president, finished the night ahead, Mr. Bolsonaro far outperformed forecasts and sent the race to a runoff.

Mr. da Silva received 48.4 percent of the votes, and Mr. Bolsonaro 43.23 percent, with 99.87 percent of the ballots counted, according to Brazil’s elections agency. Mr. da Silva needed to exceed 50 percent to be elected president in the first round.

They will face off on Oct. 30 in what is widely regarded as the most important vote in decades for Latin America’s largest nation.

That is partly because of the starkly different visions the two men set forth for this country of 217 million people, and partly because Brazil faces a host of challenges, including environmental threats, rising hunger, a sputtering economy and a deeply polarized population.

ny times logoNew York Times, Indonesia Will Work to Identify Suspects in Stampede Within Days, Dera Menra Sijabat and Austin Ramzy, Oct. 3, 2022. An investigation will focus on police officers suspected of using tear gas to disperse fans in the overcrowded stadium. At least 125 people died.

ndonesia announced on Monday that it would set up a commission to investigate the deaths of at least 125 people at a soccer stadium over the weekend, adding that it hoped to identify the police officers suspected of having had a role in the tragedy within days.

As public anger mounted, Mahfud MD, the chief security minister, said that officers suspected of committing acts of wrongful violence while on duty at the stadium would face criminal charges.

The disaster, which unfolded on Saturday in the city of Malang, where thousands of supporters had gathered to see the home team, Arema, host Persebaya Surabaya, has prompted widespread accusations that police actions contributed to turning minor unrest into one of the deadliest stadium catastrophes in history.

After Arema suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat, some fans ran onto the field. Officers kicked and clubbed them, then fired tear gas into the stands, witnesses said, causing people to flee into narrow exit corridors.

Mohammad Choirul Anam, a member of the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights, said that only two exits were open in the stadium and that the use of tear gas by the police appeared to have been a key factor in the crush at the exits.

The dead included 33 children aged 4 to 17, Nahar, an official at the Indonesian ministry for women’s empowerment and child protection, told The New York Times.

“I’m still thinking: ‘Did all this really happen?’” said Felix Mustikasakti Afoan Tumbaz, a 23-year-old fan whose right leg was injured when a tear-gas canister landed on him in the chaos. “How could such a tragedy occur and kill so many people?”

Listyo Sigit Prabowo, the national police chief, said on Monday that the authorities had opened an internal investigation and interviewed 18 officers who had fired tear gas. Military personnel who were seen hitting fans would also face punishment, Mr. Mahfud said. Ferli Hidayat, the police chief in Malang, was among nine local officers suspended on Monday, a national police spokesman told a news conference.

Mr. Mahfud added that the commission’s investigation would take two to four weeks to complete. He named 10 members to the body, including two academics, two retired military officers, a former police official, a former soccer league official, a former soccer player and a sports journalist.

The investigation would consider national sports policy and the role of anyone who might have contributed to the deaths, and it would not be limited solely to those at the stadium on Saturday, Mr. Mahfud said.

He noted that the authorities would provide compensa

ny times logoNew York Times, A 95-Square-Foot Tokyo Apartment: ‘I Wouldn’t Live Anywhere Else,’ Hikari Hida, Oct. 3, 2022. Meet the young Japanese who have decided to live in a shoe box. With its high property prices and the world’s most populous metropolitan area, Tokyo has long been known for small accommodations. But these new apartments — known as three-tatami rooms, based on how many standard Japanese floor mats would cover the living space — are pushing the boundaries of normal living.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Out-of-Reach Dreams’ in a Sickly Economy Provoke the Rage in Iran, Vivian Yee and Farnaz Fassih, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). The country’s long economic decline has been one of the main forces sending Iranians into the streets over the past two weeks to demand change.

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 174 killed at Indonesia soccer game as police use force against crowds, Aisyah Llewellyn, Adi Renaldi, Rebecca Tan and Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 2, 2022. Police used force to disperse crowds after “mass commotion” erupted at a game between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya in Malang Regency.

A soccer game in Indonesia turned deadly Saturday night as security personnel clashed with soccer fans, prompting a stampede and leaving 125 dead and dozens of others injured, officials and eyewitnesses said.

Fans charged toward the center of the field after Arema FC, the home team, lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, a team that it had defeated for 23 years — and were beaten back by uniformed officers carrying batons and riot shields.

Four people who were at the match told The Washington Post that uniformed security personnel then fired what appeared to be tear gas directly and indiscriminately into the crowd, sending people into a panic. As many as 42,000 people were estimated to be at the event.

Plumes of smoke covered the stands at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang regency, as tens of thousands of people scrambled for the exit doors, trampling — and killing — others who fell. Families were separated amid the chaos and some were never reunited.

 

 

Memorial of UK's Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 19, 2022 (Pool photob by David Ramos via Getty Images). Memorial of UK’s Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 19, 2022 (Pool photob by David Ramos via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Post Elizabeth: Palace video footage demands are an early red flag, Autumn Brewingon, Oct. 2, 2022. Pageantry and spectacle are part of the British crown’s DNA. But the idea that footage of recent events honoring Queen Elizabeth II is not in the public domain might be the most ancient thing about the monarchy.

British broadcasters gave Buckingham Palace veto power over use of footage from the queen’s funeral, the Guardian newspaper reported last week.

Although the unedited broadcast remains online temporarily — through platforms such as BBC iPlayer — what happens to the material in a few weeks is unclear. “Royal staff sent messages to the BBC, ITV News and Sky News during the event with the timestamps of footage they wished to exclude from future news broadcasts and social media clips,” the Guardian reported. Five video clips removed from circulation included members of the royal family.

Then came a bigger palace demand: that broadcasters “produce a 60-minute compilation of clips they would like to keep from ceremonial events held across the 10 days of mourning for the Queen. The royal household will then consider whether to veto any proposed inclusions,” the Guardian reported Sunday.

“Once the process is complete, the vast majority of other footage from ceremonial events will then be taken out of circulation,” media editor Jim Waterson wrote. “Any news outlets wishing to use unapproved pieces of footage would have to apply to the royal family on a case-by-case basis, even for material that has already been broadcast to tens of millions of people.”

bbc news logo2Broadcasting the funeral and procession of the queen’s coffin from London to Windsor was such a massive undertaking that the BBC worked with ITV and Sky News. Some 28 million people in Britain watched the broadcast, along with more than 11 million in the United States.

As Newsweek noted, the location of some televised events are ultimately under royal control, which could have shaped permissions for filming. But the issues here are larger than respectful coverage of a family in mourning and whether footage is replayed of, say, a grandson-in-law of the queen seen checking his watch.

A critical question is who controls the historical record of public events, especially when footage of those events has already been broadcast.

By dictating what video can no longer circulate, the palace might hope to quash unflattering moments such as the new king’s frustration with an inkpot when he signed documents related to his accession. Photos of the stone marking the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II — seen at the top of this page — circulated this week with explicit instructions that they may be published until Oct. 2, after which point royal permission must be requested.

One of the challenges before the new king is how best to showcase the monarchy’s relevance today. It’s hard to think of a less 21st-century approach than a hereditary monarchy dictating what clips of public proceedings are ever seen again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Even as Iranians Rise Up, Protests Worldwide Are Failing at Record Rates, Max Fisher, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Mass protests, once a grave threat to even the fiercest autocrat, have plummeted in effectiveness, our Interpreter columnist writes.

Iran’s widening protests, though challenging that country’s government forcefully and in rising numbers, may also embody a global trend that does not augur well for the Iranian movement.

Mass protests like the ones in Iran, whose participants have cited economic hardships, political repression and corruption, were once considered such a powerful force that even the strongest autocrat might not survive their rise. But their odds of success have plummeted worldwide, research finds.

Such movements are today more likely to fail than they were at any other point since at least the 1930s, according to a data set managed by Harvard University researchers.

The trajectory of Iran’s demonstrations remains far from certain. Citizen uprisings still sometimes force significant change, for example in Sri Lanka, where protests played a role in removing a strongman president this year.

But Iran’s unrest follows scores of popular eruptions in recent months — in Haiti and Indonesia, Russia and China, even Canada and the United States — that, while impactful, have largely fallen short of bringing the sort of change that many protesters sought or was once more common.

This sharp and relatively recent shift may mark the end of a decades-long era when so-called people power represented a major force for democracy’s spread.

Throughout most of the 20th century, mass protests grew both more common and more likely to succeed, in many cases helping to topple autocrats or bring about greater democracy.

By the early 2000s, two in three protest movements demanding systemic change ultimately succeeded, according to the Harvard data. In retrospect, it was a high-water mark.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolsonaro vs. Lula: Brazil Faces Radically Opposed Options in Divisive Election, Jack Nicas, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.).  Brazilians will choose between President Jair Bolsonaro and former luiz Inácio lula da silva first term portraitPresident Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , shown at right in a portrait from his first term, in a contest seen as a major test for democracy.

For the past decade, Brazil has lurched from one crisis to the next: environmental destruction, an economic recession, one president impeached, two presidents imprisoned and a pandemic that killed more people than anywhere else outside the United States.

On Sunday, Brazilians will cast their ballots for their next president, hoping to push Latin America’s largest country toward a more stable and brighter future — by deciding between two men who are deeply tied to its tumultuous past.

The election is widely regarded as the nation’s most important vote in decades, historians in Brazil say, in part because the health of one of the world’s biggest democracies may be at stake.

The incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro, is a far-right populist whose first term has stood out for its turmoil and his constant attacks on the electoral system. He has drawn outrage at home and concern abroad for policies that accelerated deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, for his embrace of unproven drugs over Covid-19 vaccines and for his harsh attacks on political rivals, judges, journalists and health professionals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil’s Indigenous women have had it. A record number are running for office, Paulina Villegas, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). A record number of Indigenous women are running for office in Sunday’s election — for state legislatures, for congress, for the vice presidency — as part of a concerted effort to increase Indigenous representation in government.

They come from different states, speak different languages and are running with different parties. But many share a common goal: To undo policies of President Jair Bolsonaro that they say have removed protections, undermined their rights and encouraged record deforestation in the Amazon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Battered by Floods, Pakistani Farmers Struggle to Survive Debts, Christina Goldbaum and Zia ur-Rehman, Photographs by Kiana Hayeri, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). As extreme weather events have become more common in Pakistan, the cycle has worsened for small farmers in sharecropping arrangements with landlords.

The young woman waded into the waist-deep floodwater that covered her farmland, scouring shriveled stalks of cotton for the few surviving white blooms. Every step she took in the warm water was precarious: Her feet sank into the soft earth. Snakes glided past her. Swarms of mosquitoes whirred in her ears.

But the farmworker — Barmeena, just 14 — had no choice. “It was our only source of livelihood,” she told visiting New York Times journalists.

She is one of the millions of farmworkers whose fields were submerged by the record-shattering floods that have swept across Pakistan. In the hardest-hit regions, where the floods drowned entire villages, the authorities have warned that the floodwater may not fully recede for months.

Still, wherever the water has receded even a bit, farm laborers are scrambling to salvage whatever they can from the battered remains of their cotton and rice harvests. It is desperate work. Many already owe hundreds or thousands of dollars to the landlords whose fields they cultivate each year, as part of a system that has long governed much of rural Pakistan.

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U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 

President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, shows off the solar panels panels he ordered installed at the White House complex in 1979. His successor, Republican Ronald Reagan, ordered their removal.

President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, shows off the solar panels panels he ordered installed at the White House complex in 1979. His successor, Republican Ronald Reagan, ordered their removal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Carter, longest living president, marks 98th birthday in Georgia hometown, Mary Jordan, Oct. 2, 2022. Former president Jimmy Carter celebrated his 98th birthday Saturday by seeing family members, taking calls and greeting well-wishers who came for a parade in Plains, Ga., the small town where he began his improbable campaign for the nation’s highest office nearly half a century ago.

“Friends are calling, and family are around,” Jill Stuckey, the superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park and a family friend, said after visiting the former president Saturday morning. “He is remarkable.”

Later in the day, the hometown hosted a parade, which the former president viewed from a wheelchair, according to a tweet from the Carter Center.

Carter, who left the White House in 1981 after one term, has lived longer than any other U.S. president.

He and his wife, Rosalynn, 95, greeted well-wishers in public last weekend during the annual Peanut Festival in Plains. A Secret Service agent drove the Carters around in a red convertible. The Carter family still owns farmland where peanut grows.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to announce $60 million in storm prep money for Puerto Rico, Matt Viser, Oct. 3, 2022. The money aims to shore up levees, strengthen flood walls and create a new flood warning system for the U.S. territory

washington post logoWashington Post, CPAC backpedals on pro-Russia tweet as some U.S. conservatives back Putin, Isaac Arnsdorf, Oct. 2, 2022. The prominent conservative group decried ‘gift-giving to Ukraine’ while adopting Putin’s view of ‘Ukraine-occupied territories.’

Prominent Republicans are digging in against American support for Ukraine despite Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons and evidence of mass graves and war crimes facilitated by Moscow.

The Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday tweeted — and then hours later deleted — a message that called on Democrats to “end the gift-giving to Ukraine” while featuring a fluttering Russian flag. The tweet also referred to “Ukraine-occupied territories,” appearing to legitimize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims to annex provinces based on a referendum that the U.S. and allies view as illegal.

CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp on Saturday said the tweet did not clear the normal approval process because he was traveling for a conference in Australia. “Due to my travel into a distant time zone it was never approved per usual,” he said in a text message.

In a statement, CPAC expressed support for Ukraine but maintained opposition to American aid for the embattled country.

“We must oppose Putin, but American taxpayers should not be shouldering the vast majority of the cost,” the statement said. “The tweet belittled the plight of the innocent Ukrainian people.”

CPAC has repeatedly flirted with pro-Putin views in recent years, including hosting pro-Russian Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban at a Dallas conference in August.

mitch mcconnell elaine chao

huffington post logoHuffPost, Donald Trump Says Mitch McConnell Has ‘Death Wish’ In Truth Social Rant, Lee Moran, Oct. 1, 2022. The former president also insulted the GOP Senate leader’s wife, Elaine Chao, in the post (shown above in a file photo).

Former President Donald Trump on Friday night resorted to violent rhetoric once more as he suggested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has “a death wish” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

 Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, also racistly referred to McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife Elaine Chao as “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Chao served as Trump’s secretary of transportation but resigned in protest following the Trump-incited 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump did not directly note which bills he was furious at McConnell for voting to approve, but McConnell did this week support a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown and provide $12 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine in its ongoing defense of invasion from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

McConnell has also said he’ll back bipartisan legislation against election subversion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s latest attack on McConnell sets a new standard of despicable, Karen Tumulty, right, Oct. 2, 2022. When karen tumulty resize twitteryou are dealing with someone for whom there is no bottom, it’s not exactly surprising to see him hit a new low. Nonetheless, Donald Trump’s latest social media broadside against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stands out for its odious recklessness.

On Friday, the former president posted on his Truth Social platform that McConnell has a “DEATH WISH” for having supported legislation to keep the government operating through mid-December — language that could easily be read by his highly combustible supporters as inviting violence against the GOP leader who seems to have taken up residence under Trump’s gossamer-thin skin.

Indeed, Trump portrayed the spending legislation, which passed the Senate 72-25, as a personal affront, saying McConnell cut the deal to pass it “because he hates Donald J. Trump, and he knows I am strongly opposed to” its provisions.

Trump then went for a racial smear against McConnell’s Asian American power spouse, Elaine Chao, who served as transportation secretary in his own administration, referring to her as “his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Outrageousness, of course, is Trump’s political brand, and ignoring his rants is usually the best thing to do. His spokesman insisted that his reference to a death wish referred to a political one, rather than literal one.

But to dismiss all of this as just Trump being Trump is to ignore what is really going on here. The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his crazed followers, after a rally in which the then-president urged them to “fight like hell” to overturn the 2020 election result, should have put to rest any doubts that his words can summon violence. (Trump’s beef with Chao is fueled by the fact that she resigned from his Cabinet the next day.)

Knowing all of this, you have to wonder: Where are McConnell’s Republican colleagues in the Senate? Why do they remain silent when Trump does something like this? Is this sort of behavior by their party’s de facto leader acceptable to them, particularly coming fewer than 40 days before an election in which they are trying to pick up the single additional seat that would give them control of the chamber? Their timidity has fostered the free-fire environment in which Trump operates.

Also worth raising is the question of whether the stopgap spending bill was actually what triggered Trump’s eruption. It is probably no coincidence that Trump’s attack came just three days after McConnell threw his weight behind a badly needed piece of bipartisan legislation that would reform the antiquated Electoral Count Act of 1887.

That old law lays out the process for tallying and certifying electoral votes in presidential elections; its language, however, contains ambiguities, which is what Trump and his forces were trying to exploit on Jan. 6 — the day Congress met to certify the tally of the 2020 election. Among other things, Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence, whose role in the exercise was supposed to be ceremonial, to throw out valid votes; Pence, properly, refused.

McConnell’s honorable decision to support reforming the Electoral Count Act, despite the fact that opposing it has become a litmus test of support for Trump, has greatly increased its chances of passing, because it now appears likely to easily muster more than the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

“Congress’s process for counting their presidential electors’ votes was written 135 years ago. The chaos that came to a head on January 6th of last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path.”

The right conclusion, in this case, was that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president of the United States. But by refusing to accept Trump’s lies to the contrary, McConnell has guaranteed himself a continued place in Trump’s crosshairs.

No doubt Trump will escalate his dangerous and vile attacks on McConnell, because that is simply who he is. But let’s be clear that there is plenty of fault to go around. The Republican Party’s refusal to denounce him for it makes them complicit.

 

joe biden march 25 2021

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs bill to fund government, hours before deadline, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacob Bogage, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The measure extends current government funding levels until Dec. 16. It also includes $12.4 billion for Ukraine and $18.8 billion for U.S. disaster recovery.

President Biden signed legislation Friday to continue funding the government for several weeks, averting a partial shutdown hours before a midnight deadline.

The continuing resolution extends current funding levels until Dec. 16, while also approving $12.4 billion in military and diplomatic spending to help Ukraine in its war against Russia. It also contains $18.8 billion for domestic disaster recovery efforts, including Western wildfires, floods in Kentucky and hurricanes in the Southeast.

All House Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to send the bill to Biden’s desk Friday afternoon, 230 to 201. The Senate passed the bill, 72 to 25, on Thursday after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) dropped his proposal that would have overhauled federal rules for environmental permitting for large energy projects after it became evident it would not garner the 60 votes required to attach it to the must-pass legislation.

The president’s request to include coronavirus and monkeypox funding was excluded to ensure both chambers could pass the legislation.

“We need this bill,” Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said on the House floor moments before the vote. “We provide relief to working families, to our schools, our children, small businesses, communities across this nation. We support the people of Ukraine. We support them in what is the fight for their lives, for their democracy and for world democracy against Russian aggression. We protect communities everywhere in need of safe water. We help to rebuild them from crushing natural disasters. This bill will make a very real difference in the lives of Americans everywhere.”

Averting a government shutdown was the final goal for Democrats to complete before leaving Washington for the final sprint to the midterm elections. Failure to pass a funding bill would be an embarrassment for the party that controls both chambers, and the presidency. Democrats have campaigned on their ability to govern as a contrast to Republicans, who oversaw two government shutdowns during the Trump administration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abbott and O’Rourke clash on immigration, guns in only scheduled debate in Texas governor’s race, Annie Linskey, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The fierce exchanges came during a fast-paced televised debate Friday evening — the only such meeting scheduled between the two candidates in the Texas governor’s race.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday defended busing migrants out of state to liberal cities, while his Democratic rival, Beto O’Rourke, called Abbott’s rhetoric on immigration “hateful” and said his conduct in the aftermath of a mass shooting should disqualify him from serving in the state’s top job.

The contentious exchanges came during a fast-paced televised debate Friday evening — the only such scheduled meeting between the two candidates competing in one of the most closely watched contests of the fall. The hour-long exchange, in Edinburg, near the state’s southern border, was dominated by disputes over guns and immigration. It was largely consistent with the competition in recent months, in a state still reeling from a mass shooting in May.

“There should be accountability up and down the ballot, beginning with Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said as he accused the two-term governor of failing to act to prevent the deadly mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Tex., and to take meaningful actions in the aftermath of it to prevent another one. “I think he has lost the right to serve this state in the most important position of public trust.”

Abbott, who is leading in most polls, sought to blame many of the state’s woes on President Biden, invoking his name four times during the first 12 minutes of the debate — largely to blame Biden for the increase in migration across the southern border.

Abbott used a legal argument to push back on a demand from O’Rourke and some of the shooting victims’ families who want the state to raise the age limit for buying certain firearms to 21. Florida passed a similar measure in the aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting.

“No parent should lose a child, we want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Abbott said of the shooting. “We want to end school shootings. But we cannot do that by making false promises.”

He argued that lifting the legal limit for purchasing weapons would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Abbot said law enforcement officers present at the schools should face consequences for their inaction. “There needs to be accountability for law enforcement at every level,” he said.

O’Rourke has centered much of his campaign on gun control since the May massacre at Robb Elementary School left 21 dead, including 19 children. Hours before Friday’s debate, O’Rourke held a news conference with the victims’ families.

In addition to raising the age for firearms purchases, O’Rourke is proposing to require universal background checks and enact red flag rules that allow officials to temporarily confiscate weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Racial Divide Herschel Walker Couldn’t Outrun, John Branch Oct. 2, 2022. As a teenage football prodigy, Mr. Walker was pressed to join a fight for civil rights in his hometown. His decision echoes decades later.

Mr. Walker, who is one of the most famous African Americans in Georgia’s history, a folk hero for legions of football fans, is unpopular with Black voters. And nowhere is the rift more stark than in the rural farm town where he was raised about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Mr. Walker, who is one of the most famous African Americans in Georgia’s history, a folk hero for legions of football fans, is unpopular with Black voters. And nowhere is the rift more stark than in the rural farm town where he was raised about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta.

New York Times, Onetime Haven for Vaccine Skeptics Now Tells Them ‘You’re Not Welcome,’ Oct. 2, 2022. Marin, a wealthy county in California, has one of America’s highest Covid vaccination rates after years of being associated with anti-vaccine parents.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Mass Shootings, Law

ny times logoNew York Times, Kim Kardashian to Pay $1.26 Million to Settle Charges Over Crypto Promotion, Matthew Goldstein, Oct. 3, 2022. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Ms. Kardashian did not disclose she had been paid to promote a crypto token sold by EthereumMax.

Kim Kardashian has found there is a price to be paid when influencers hawk investment opportunities like crypto to their adoring fans without disclosing they are getting paid to do so.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a $1.26 million settlement Monday morning with the celebrity for not disclosing she had been paid $250,000 to promote a crypto token sold by EthereumMax.

Ms. Kardashian had promoted the crypto product as a good investment on her Instagram page in June 2021.

Ms. Kardashian, 41, became famous through her family’s long-running reality TV show that chronicles their daily lives. One of the hallmarks of her brand is promoting the products she uses and wears.

Last year, a number of celebrities began endorsing crypto assets in commercials. The S.E.C. has warned a number of times that investors should not buy any investment simply because it has the backing of a celebrity. Regulators have a long history of going after paid celebrities and others for not disclosing that they have been compensated for promoting an investment product.

During the pandemic, a rush of celebrities and athletes joined forces with promoters of special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. That led the S.E.C. to issue an alert warning investors to be wary of the blank-check company stock offerings.

“Ms. Kardashian’s case also serves as a reminder to celebrities and others that the law requires them to disclose to the public when and how much they are paid to promote investing in securities,” said Gary Gensler, the S.E.C. chair, in a statement announcing the settlement.

Patrick Gibbs, an attorney for Ms. Kardashian, said in a statement that his client was “pleased to have resolved this matter with the S.E.C.,” and that the agreement allowed her to move forward with her business pursuits.

In the Instagram post from June 2021, Ms. Kardashian began by telling her followers: “This is not financial advice but sharing what my friends have just told me about the EthereumMax token!”

The S.E.C. has maintained that crypto tokens are investment products subject to its regulatory oversight.

In the settlement order with Ms. Kardashian, the S.E.C. said she was paid by EthereumMax through an intermediary. The S.E.C. also said that it gave Ms. Kardashian consideration for cooperating with regulators and that she has continued to cooperate with the investigation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tillerson, Ex-Secretary of State, Expected to Testify in Foreign Influence Trial, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Oct. 3, 2022. Prosecutors are calling on him to testify in the case of Thomas Barrack, who is accused of acting as an agent for the United Arab Emirates during the Trump administration.

Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil chief executive who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s first secretary of state, is expected to testify on Monday in the trial of one of Mr. Trump’s closest allies.

Prosecutors are calling Mr. Tillerson as a witness in the case of Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a private-equity investor accused of acting as an illegal agent of the United Arab Emirates while seeking to influence the Trump campaign and administration on behalf of the Emiratis.

The testimony sets up a reunion in federal court in Brooklyn of influential figures from Mr. Trump’s early days in office. Mr. Barrack was a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidential candidacy, served as the chairman of his inaugural committee and helped guide his transition into office; Mr. Tillerson was Mr. Trump’s secretary of state and clashed with the president often until he was fired, via Twitter, in March 2018.

Mr. Tillerson’s appearance was signaled in a court filing over the weekend. Lawyers for Mr. Barrack asked that his testimony be moved from Tuesday to Monday, because Tuesday’s court day will be shortened by the Yom Kippur holiday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Settlement Reached in U.S. Court on Chinese #MeToo Case, Amy Qin and Chang Che, Oct. 3, 2022. The case, involving a billionaire entrepreneur, riveted observers in China, where women alleging sexual wrongdoing by powerful men are often pilloried, silenced or both.

The Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Richard Liu has reached a settlement with Liu Jingyao, a former University of Minnesota student who accused him of rape in a Minneapolis apartment after a night out in 2018, in a case that has riveted China and been held up as a richard liulandmark episode in China’s struggling #MeToo movement.

China FlagThe agreement, which was announced in a joint statement late Saturday, came just two days before a civil trial was to begin in a Minneapolis courtroom. Lawyers from both parties said Mr. Liu, right, and Ms. Liu, who are not related, had agreed to “set aside their differences” in order to avoid further pain and suffering. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

“The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families,” the joint statement read.

The settlement marks the end of a prolonged legal battle for Ms. Liu, who was a 21-year-old undergraduate student at the time of the alleged assault. After her accusations against Mr. Liu first surfaced in 2018, she quickly became one of the most public — and divisive — faces of China’s nascent #MeToo movement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court, dogged by questions of legitimacy, is ready to resume, Robert Barnes, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A new term opens with public approval of the court at historic lows and the justices themselves debating what the court’s rightward turn means for its institutional integrity. The Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, but the nation, its leaders and the justices themselves do not appear to be over the last one.

The court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority quickly moved its jurisprudence sharply to the right, and there is no reason to believe the direction or pace is likely to change. This version of the court seems steadfast on allowing more restrictions on abortion, fewer on guns, shifting a previously strict line separating church and state, and reining in government agencies.

If it is the conservative legal establishment’s dream, it has come at a cost.

Polls show public approval of the court plummeted to historic lows — with a record number of respondents saying the court is too conservative — after the right wing of the court overturned Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of a constitutional right to abortion. President Biden is trying to put the court in the political spotlight, hoping the abortion decision’s shock waves rocked the foundation of this fall’s midterm elections, once thought to be a boon to Republicans.

And the justices themselves are openly debating what the court’s rightward turn has meant for its institutional integrity. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defends his conservative colleagues, with whom he does not always agree, saying unpopular decisions should not call the court’s legitimacy into question.

On the other side, liberal Justice Elena Kagan increasingly is sounding an alarm about the next precedents that could fall and the implications for public perception of the bench.

The court’s new docket offers that potential.

Justices have agreed to revisit whether universities can use race in a limited way when making admission decisions, a practice the court has endorsed since 1978. Two major cases involve voting rights. The court again will consider whether laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation must give way to business owners who do not want to provide wedding services to same-sex couples. And after limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in air pollution cases last term, the court will hear a challenge regarding the Clean Water Act.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Italy and Sweden show why Biden must fix the immigration system, Fareed Zakaria, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Italy and Sweden are about as different as two European countries can get. One is Catholic, Mediterranean, sunny and chaotic; the other Protestant, northern, chilly and ordered. Over the decades, they have had very different political trajectories. But now, both are witnessing the striking rise of parties that have some connections to fascism.

In each country, this rise has coincided with a collapse of support for the center-left. And it all centers on an issue that the Biden administration would do well to take very seriously: immigration.

 

Mark Edward Sheppard, left, and Mike Thomas Sheppard are charged in the shooting of two migrants along a highway in West Texas. One of the migrants was fatally wounded (Photos from El Paso County Sheriff's Office).

Mark Edward Sheppard, left, and Mike Thomas Sheppard are charged in the shooting of two migrants along a highway in West Texas. One of the migrants was fatally wounded (Photos from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jail warden, his twin brother charged in roadside shooting of Mexican migrants, Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Michael Sheppard, 60, is accused of firing two shotgun blasts at a group of migrants who stopped for water in West Texas.

Near sundown one night this week in West Texas, a white-bearded jail warden and his twin brother allegedly drove past a group of migrants trekking through the desert. Then, authorities say, the warden stopped the truck and backed up.

Migrants scrambled to hide in the brush, and later told authorities they could hear a man’s voice cursing at them to “come out.” Then the warden allegedly fired a pair of shotgun blasts in their direction.

“Did you get him?” the warden’s brother allegedly asked him, according to a state affidavit released Friday.

A man from the group was killed, and a woman was shot in the stomach. The brothers allegedly drove away without checking to see if the bullets had hit anyone, investigators said.

The victims’ names have not been released, but a Mexican government official said Friday that they were Mexicans who had recently entered the United States as part of a group of 13 — joining an influx of migrants that has reached record levels this year.

The Mexican consulate in El Paso is assisting the woman, who is recovering at an El Paso hospital, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because that information had not been publicly released.

Authorities identified the alleged shooter as Michael “Mike” Sheppard, the warden of a privately run detention center that for years held immigrants facing deportation. His twin brother, Mark Sheppard, allegedly was with him. The two 60-year-olds are facing manslaughter charges and are jailed in El Paso County.

The Washington Post could not determine on Friday whether the Sheppard brothers had legal representation, or when or where they would appear in court for an arraignment. Attempts to speak with their family members on Friday were not successful.

From border town to ‘border town’, bused migrants seek new lives in D.C. area

The shooting occurred Tuesday evening near the town of Sierra Blanca, about 85 miles southeast of El Paso, on a rural road that Hudspeth County chief Sheriff’s Deputy Lazaro Salgado described as a frequent pickup spot for migrant smugglers. The men are accused of shooting at the migrants as the group stopped on a farm road to drink water, Texas officials said.

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Released American Hostages

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The identity of ‘Perla’ is revealed, creating new woes for DeSantis, Greg Sargent, right, Oct. 3, 2022. The political mystique of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rests greg sargentpartly on the illusion that he wields absolute “own the libs” mastery over the various assorted enemies the right has decided to hate these days.

It’s why he’s seen as a 2024 GOP contender who has the capacity to channel the ugliest of MAGA pathologies even more effectively than Donald Trump did.

But new revelations about DeSantis’s flying of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard — including the unmasking of “Perla,” who allegedly scammed them into getting onto planes — show why this illusion will be increasingly difficult to pull off.

The New York Times has now identified that person as Perla Huerta, describing her as a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent.” This opens the door to a host of new inquiries that could implicate DeSantis more deeply in the scheme’s sordid aspects.

Specifically, lawyers for migrants suing DeSantis tell me they are moving to name Perla Huerta as a defendant in the lawsuit. They say this could pave the way to deposing her for details about the DeSantis administration’s potential involvement in deceiving the migrants.

“Now we will have to fully ascertain her identity, and exercise our right to amend the complaint,” Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, a lawyer for migrants who are suing DeSantis and other Florida officials, told me.

The lawsuit alleges that migrants in San Antonio were targeted with “false promises and false representations” to induce them to board flights, which then traveled to Florida and then on to Massachusetts. Those “false promises” included jobs, housing and other things, the suit alleges, naming “Perla” as a key figure migrants reported encountering.

 

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Alex Drueke, left, and Andy Tai Huynh were freed from captivity Sept. 21. In their first extensive media interview since their release, the Alex Drueke, left, and Andy Tai Huynh were freed from captivity Sept. 21. In their first extensive media interview since their release, the pair say they were interrogated, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and given little food or clean water (Photo by William DeShazer for The Washington Post).pair told The Washington Post that they were interrogated, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and given little food or clean water (Photo by William DeShazer for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Americans captured by Russia detail months of beatings, interrogation, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 2, 2022. In their first extensive interview since being freed, Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh recount the physical and psychological abuse they endured in captivity.

Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh evaded Russian forces for hours, slogging through pine forests and marshes in Ukraine to avoid detection. The U.S. military veterans were left behind — “abandoned,” they said — after their Ukrainian task force was attacked, and determined that their best chance of survival was to hike back to their base in Kharkiv.

What followed was an excruciating, often terrifying 104 days in captivity. They were interrogated, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and given little food or clean water, Drueke and Huynh recalled. Initially, they were taken into Russia, to a detention complex dotted with tents and ringed by barbed wire, they said. Their captors later moved them, first to a “black site” where the beatings worsened, Drueke said, and then to what they called a more traditional prison run by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Drueke, 40, and Huynh, 27, met with The Washington Post for three hours at the home of Huynh’s fiancee, Joy Black, in this rural town of about 2,500 outside Huntsville. It was their first extensive media interview since being freed on Sept. 21 as part of a sprawling prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

Each man lost nearly 30 pounds during the ordeal, they said, suffering injuries most evident in the red and purple welts still present where their wrists were bound. Their account provides disturbing new insight into how Russia and its proxy forces in Ukraine treat those taken off the battlefield.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, American Prisoners Are Released From Venezuela and Iran, Michael D. Shear and Farnaz Fassihi, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Seven Americans who had been held captive in Venezuela for years were on their way home Saturday venezuela prisonersafter President Biden agreed to grant clemency to two nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuela’s first lady, officials said. The men had been sentenced in 2017 to 18 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

venezuela flag waving customAt the same time, Iran on Saturday released Siamak Namazi, a 51-year-old dual-national Iranian American businessman who had been jailed since 2015, on a temporary furlough and lifted the travel ban on his father, Baquer Namazi, an 85-year-old former official for the United Nations, according to the family’s lawyer.

Together, the announcements regarding Venezuela and Iran represented one of the largest mass releases of Americans detained abroad in recent memory, though one American official said the timing was coincidental. For Mr. Biden, freeing seven Americans, some of whom had been held for years in Venezuelan prison, was part of an aggressive push to accelerate such homecomings — an effort that has drawn some criticism for the president’s willingness to exchange convicted criminals.

The releases also come at a time of heightened global tensions that has proved dangerous for Americans traveling abroad. Brittney Griner, the professional basketball player, remains jailed in Russia for bringing hashish oil into the country after the United States denounced its president, Vladimir V. Putin, for invading Ukraine earlier in the year.

 

Public Health, Pandemic, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Polio, Once Eliminated, Is Challenging New York Health Officials, Sharon Otterman, Oct. 3, 2022. They are facing a number of obstacles to containing polio as it continues to circulate in the state and threatens to become endemic.

In the hamlet of Monsey, N.Y., where polio partially paralyzed the legs of a young unvaccinated man in June, only 37 percent of 2-year-olds were up to date with their polio vaccinations as of the beginning of August.

In the Amish farmlands in Cattaraugus County in the Southern Tier of New York State, just 9 percent of young children were up to date with their polio vaccines. And along the Pennsylvania border in nearby Steuben County, and in a small hamlet in the farmlands of Tompkins County, barely a quarter of 2-year-olds were up to date.

Because vaccinations are required to enroll students in public or private school in New York State, most children are caught up by age 5: Statewide, 99 percent of school-aged children are vaccinated for polio. Still, roughly 100 schools reported vaccination rates at or below 90 percent in the 2020-21 school year across the state. Sixty schools did not submit any vaccination data at all, including some tiny rural schoolhouses that serve Amish students.

The specter of polio becoming endemic in America again was once unthinkable. But as state public health officials embark on an urgent campaign to get more people vaccinated, the low rates among preschoolers in some pockets are evidence of both the challenges they face and the threat to the state’s youngest children — the very age group among whom polio is most likely to spread.

ny times logoNew York Times, It’s Time to Take Democrats’ Chances in the House Seriously, Nate Cohn, Oct. 3, 2022. No, they are not favored. But the notion of retaining the chamber is not as far-fetched as it once was.

There were more than a few Democrats who were a little miffed about my Friday newsletter on gerrymandering, which argued that Democrats aren’t at a terribly significant structural disadvantage in the race for the House.

I understand why Democrats don’t love reading that the obstacles they face — especially unjust ones — aren’t so bad. But underneath what some might read as a dismissal of the seriousness of gerrymandering is a kernel of good news for Democratic readers: Republican control of the House is not a foregone conclusion.

No, I’m not saying Democrats are favored. The likeliest scenario is still that Republicans will find the five seats they need to take control. And no one should be surprised if Republicans flip a lot more than that — especially with early signs that the political winds may be starting to shift in ways that might yield some Republican gains in key races (more on this tomorrow).

But the idea that Democrats can hold the House is not as ridiculous, implausible or far-fetched as it seemed before the Dobbs ruling overturned Roe v. Wade. It is a real possibility — not some abstraction in the sense that anything can happen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Known for Vaccine Skeptics, Marin Now Tells Them ‘You’re Not Welcome,’ Soumya Karlamangla, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). The wealthy California county just north of San Francisco has one of the nation’s highest Covid-19 vaccination rates after years of being known for parents who opposed shots for childhood diseases.

For more than a decade, few places in the nation were associated with anti-vaccine movements as much as Marin County, the bluff-lined peninsula of coastal redwoods and stunning views just north of San Francisco.

This corner of the Bay Area had become a prime example of a highly educated, affluent community with low childhood vaccination rates, driven by a contingent of liberal parents skeptical of traditional medicine. Marin was something of a paradox to mainstream Democrats, and often a punching bag. In 2015, during a measles outbreak in California, the comedian Jon Stewart blamed Marin parents for being guilty of a “mindful stupidity.”

But Marin is the anti-vaccine capital no more.

In the pandemic age, getting a Covid-19 shot has become the defining “vax” or “anti-vax” litmus test, and on that account, Marin County has embraced vaccines at rates that surpass the vast majority of communities in the nation. It comes after public health efforts to change parents’ opinions, as well as a strict state mandate that students get vaccinated for childhood diseases.

And as the nation has grown more polarized, Marin residents are less comfortable wearing the “anti-vax” label increasingly associated with conservatives. Americans who identify as Democrats are more than twice as likely to be vaccinated and boosted against Covid — and Marin County is one of the bluest enclaves in America.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Known for Vaccine Skeptics, Marin Now Tells Them ‘You’re Not Welcome,’ Soumya Karlamangla, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). The wealthy California county just north of San Francisco has one of the nation’s highest Covid-19 vaccination rates after years of being known for parents who opposed shots for childhood diseases.

For more than a decade, few places in the nation were associated with anti-vaccine movements as much as Marin County, the bluff-lined peninsula of coastal redwoods and stunning views just north of San Francisco.

This corner of the Bay Area had become a prime example of a highly educated, affluent community with low childhood vaccination rates, driven by a contingent of liberal parents skeptical of traditional medicine. Marin was something of a paradox to mainstream Democrats, and often a punching bag. In 2015, during a measles outbreak in California, the comedian Jon Stewart blamed Marin parents for being guilty of a “mindful stupidity.”

But Marin is the anti-vaccine capital no more.

In the pandemic age, getting a Covid-19 shot has become the defining “vax” or “anti-vax” litmus test, and on that account, Marin County has embraced vaccines at rates that surpass the vast majority of communities in the nation. It comes after public health efforts to change parents’ opinions, as well as a strict state mandate that students get vaccinated for childhood diseases.

And as the nation has grown more polarized, Marin residents are less comfortable wearing the “anti-vax” label increasingly associated with conservatives. Americans who identify as Democrats are more than twice as likely to be vaccinated and boosted against Covid — and Marin County is one of the bluest enclaves in America.

washington post logoWashington Post, Why roll the dice on covid? Get the booster and don’t take the chance, Editorial Board, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Through good science and luck, there is welcome alignment between the prevalent coronavirus strain and the booster shot to combat it. The bivalent boosters available from Pfizer and Moderna have been tweaked to target the BA.4/5 variants, and so far, no major new variants have stormed onto the scene. But the vaccines are useless if the public doesn’t get them.

The new bivalent boosters are off to a slow start. In Minnesota, vaccine uptake is running way behind that of the first booster doses, with fewer than 4 percent of those 12 and older up to date on their shots. In Florida, only about 37,000 out of 20 million eligible people have gotten the bivalent booster dose.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only about 7.6 million Americans in all have rolled up their sleeves for the new dose in the weeks since it became available. The Biden administration ordered 171 million doses. The Pfizer shot is available for those 12 years old and above; the Moderna for 18 years old and more. Both manufacturers have asked for regulatory authorization for shots for younger patients.

Two experts at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign wrote in the Chicago Tribune that many people are “taking a wait-and-see approach.” Waiting might be justified for some people, including those who suffered covid-19 recently. The CDC guidance is to get it sometime between recovery from covid and three months later. The CDC also suggests waiting two months from the last vaccination, but it might be fine to wait longer. Studies have shown previous vaccines began to wane in effectiveness after five or six months. And there is no harm in getting a booster and the flu shot at the same time, but in different arms.

President Biden’s recent declaration that the pandemic is over might have left many people with the mistaken impression they don’t need the booster. The pandemic is not over, and the BA.4/5 variants are still infecting and sickening people. Another reason for reluctance could be that bivalent vaccines are new and were not subjected to large human clinical trials before deployment. But new scientific studies based on humans have been coming out and showing the boosters are stimulating an immune response. Yet another reason for the low uptake is simply fatigue and vaccine hesitancy, much of it based on disinformation and irresponsible anti-vaccine campaigns.

The bivalent boosters are worth getting. They keep people out of hospitals, save lives and combat the pandemic. Had a major new variant arisen, the current bivalent formula might have been overtaken. But luckily, a new threat hasn’t appeared, though the virus is still evolving, and might yet present a new and dangerous variant.

ny times logoNew York Times, In China, Living Not ‘With Covid,’ but With ‘Zero Covid,’ Vivian Wang, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Strict pandemic rules dictate the patterns of daily life, like waiting in line for frequent Covid tests and stocking up on groceries in case of lockdown.

China FlagThe signs of a looming lockdown in Shenzhen, China, had been building for a while. The city had been logging a few coronavirus infections for days. Daily Covid tests were required to go pretty much anywhere. Individual buildings had been sealed off.

So when a hotel employee woke me up a little after 7 a.m. to explain that we were not allowed to step outside for four days, my initial disorientation quickly turned to resignation.

Of course this happened. I live in China.

As the rest of the world sheds more restrictions by the day, China’s rules are becoming more entrenched, along with the patterns of pandemic life under a government insistent on eliminating cases. People schedule lunch breaks around completing mandatory tests. They restructure commutes to minimize the number of health checkpoints along the way.

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Abortion, Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: What It Costs to Get an Abortion Now in America, Allison McCann, Sept. 28, 2022 (interactive). With the procedure banned in 14 states, patients face added expenses for travel, lodging and child care. More of them are turning to charities for help.

L.V. found out she was pregnant on Aug. 7. The next day she called Women’s Health and Family Care in Jackson, Wyo. — the only abortion provider in the state — to schedule an abortion.

She was told the procedure would typically cost $600 at the clinic, but a state law banning abortion might take effect soon. In that case, she would have to travel out of state, setting her back even more.

L.V., who asked to be identified only by her initials, panicked. She had recently been in a car accident and had outstanding medical and car bills to pay.

“When the clinic told me how much, my mouth dropped,” she said. She was told to contact Chelsea’s Fund, a Wyoming nonprofit that is part of a national network of abortion funds, to ask about financial assistance.

Abortion funds have for decades helped cover the cost of the procedure — about $500 in the first trimester and $2,000 or more in the second trimester — for those who cannot afford it. But they are playing a bigger role since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, taking in more donations and disbursing more money to more patients than ever before.

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Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, The Nord Stream pipelines have stopped leaking, the Danish Energy Agency says, Carly Olson, Updated Oct. 3, 2022. Leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have finally stopped after three separate ruptures were discovered in the natural gas lines last week, the Danish Energy Agency said on Sunday.

Nord Stream AG, the company that manages the pipeline, told the agency that “a stable pressure now appears to have been achieved on the two Nord Stream 1 pipelines,” meaning that gas is no longer flowing out of them, the agency said in a statement on Twitter. Several news outlets reported that the company said that pressure from water entering the ruptured pipelines had stopped the gas from leaking, but the claim could not be independently verified.

The two major lines — which were built to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany — ruptured in three separate places last week after explosions under the Baltic Sea.

Although the official cause has not been identified, political leaders in Europe and the United States have suggested that the incident was an act of sabotage, as much of the speculation about responsibility has focused on Russia, whose state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, is the main owner of the pipelines.

A spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Dmitri S. Peskov, dismissed the notion of Russian sabotage as “stupid” and suggested that the United States was behind the attacks.

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U.S. Media, Philanthropy, Education, Sports News

 

Sacheen Liittlefeather at the 1973 Academy Awards (Globe Photos via Zuma Press).

Sacheen Liittlefeather at the 1973 Academy Awards (Globe Photos via Zuma Press).

ny times logoNew York Times, Sacheen Littlefeather, Activist Who Rejected Brando’s Oscar, Dies at 75, Eduardo Medina, Oct. 3, 2022. The actress was booed at the Academy Awards in 1973 after she refused the best actor award on Marlon Brando’s behalf in protest of Hollywood’s depictions of Native Americans.

Sacheen Littlefeather, the Apache activist and actress who refused to accept the best actor award on behalf of Marlon Brando at the 1973 Oscars, drawing jeers onstage in an act that pierced through the facade of the awards show and highlighted her criticism of Hollywood for its depictions of Native Americans, has died. She was 75.

Her death was announced on Sunday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Her death came just weeks after the Academy apologized to Ms. Littlefeather for her treatment during the Oscars. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in August, Ms. Littlefeather said she was “stunned” by the apology. “I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this,” she said.

When Ms. Littlefeather, then 26, held up her right hand that night inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles — clearly signaling to the award presenters, the audience and the millions watching on TV that she had no desire to ceremoniously accept the shiny golden statue — it marked one of the best-known disruptive moments in the history of the Oscars.

At the Academy Awards in 1973, the actress refused the prize on Marlon Brando’s behalf in protest of Hollywood’s depictions of Native Americans.

Donning a glimmering buckskin dress, moccasins and hair ties, her appearance at the 45th Academy Awards, at the age of 26, was the first time a Native American woman had stood onstage at the ceremony. But the backlash and criticism was immediate: The actor John Wayne was so unsettled that a show producer, Marty Pasetta, said security guards had to restrain him so that he would not storm the stage.

Ms. Littlefeather, whose name at birth was Marie Cruz, was born on Nov. 14, 1946, in Salinas, Calif., to a father from the White Mountain Apache and Yaqui tribes in Arizona and a French-German-Dutch mother, according to her website. After high school, she took the name Sacheen Littlefeather to “reflect her natural heritage,” the site states.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Once again, the media fails to press Republicans on Trump’s vile rhetoric, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 3, 2022. jennifer rubin new headshotDonald Trump on Friday issued what can only be described as a threat against Mitch McConnell, declaring that the Senate minority leader’s support for bipartisan bills amounts to a “DEATH WISH.” The former president also added a racist insult against McConnell’s wife, former transportation secretary Elaine Chao, referring to her as “his China-loving wife, Coco Chow.”

Neither McConnell nor other Republican leaders — including Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), head of the Republican National Senatorial Committee — have condemned Trump for the statement. That’s the state of today’s MAGA movement, where decency toward fellow Americans, loyalty to one’s spouse and support for democratic values all take a back seat to cult worship and the unquenchable thirst for power. And once again, the mainstream media is failing to rise to the moment.

One might expect the media to stop treating Republicans like normal politicians after their “big lie” about a stolen election, their ongoing whitewashing of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, their attacks on the FBI and their indifference — if not assent —to racism. Alas, there is little sign that mainstream outlets have dropped their addiction to false equivalence and willful, moral blindness.

Scott, in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, explained Trump’s heinous statement by saying the former president likes to give people “nicknames.” Asked whether Trump’s “nickname” for Chao was racist, Scott added, “It’s never, ever okay to be a racist.” That’s it. Time was up for the interviewer to press him any further.

Making matters worse, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who also appeared on the segment, was not asked about any of this.

CBS News’s Margaret Brennan did a somewhat better job on “Face the Nation,” pressing Scott to comment on Trump’s remarks and on another disgusting statement from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who claimed on Saturday that Democrats “want Republicans dead” and “have already started the killings.” Brennan was able to keep Scott from ducking the question. But she allowed him to falsely claim that Trump was merely raising a concern about government spending and to say he didn’t “see” Greene’s remarks. He then ended the interview with a declaration that “we need to bring people together.” Seriously?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elon Musk’s texts are a weird window into billionaire boys’ club, Monica Hesse, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). One billion dollars for Twitter? Two billion? Whatever you think, man.

On Thursday, a giant cache of Elon Musk’s text messages became public via court documents filed in an ongoing legal dispute over whether the Tesla CEO must make good on his offer to buy Twitter. The texts, which include correspondence with such people as former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Joe Rogan, outline Musk’s shifting thinking on the deal — what he believed the company was worth, and what he would try to do with it.

In one text thread with Musk, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison expressed interest in being part of a Twitter take-private deal.

“Roughly what dollar size?” Musk asked him.

Ellison texted back: “A billion…or whatever you recommend.”

I would like to talk about Larry Ellison’s ellipses.

This ellipsis is a casual piece of grammar. It is used as you might use an ellipsis when haggling with a dude on Craigslist about the price of his used NordicTrack and you’re still 15 bucks apart.

“Whatever works for you,” Musk responded. “I’d recommend maybe $2b or more.”

To which Ellison replied a few days later, “Since you think I should come in for at least $2b…I’m in for $2b.”

Another ellipsis. Three dots that stand in for the amount of time and thought that went into Ellison concluding that, based on Musk’s recommendation, he should offer not $1 billion (the price of a few jets), but $2 billion (the gross national product of a small nation).

The text chains of Elon Musk are a rare view into how the world’s wealthiest communicate among themselves. How they think about money and power — which is definitely different from how you and I might think about money and power.

Politico, Trump startup investors: Give us a better deal or we’ll walk, Declan Harty, Oct. 3, 2022. Ultimately, if Digital World is able to coax the investors to stay in, the company will still need SEC approval before it can close the Trump Media transaction.

Big investors are starting to eye the exits on the $1.3 billion bid to take former President Donald Trump’s new social media startup public.

politico CustomThe hedge funds, trading firms and other major backers are questioning whether the financial riches that first attracted them to the transaction are still strong enough to hold their interest in a deal fraught with troubles, according to four investors who asked not to be named. Negotiations have been ongoing as some investors seek bigger potential profits in exchange for following through on commitments to put hundreds of millions of dollars into the venture, which planned a public stock exchange listing through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

There are no guarantees investors will get what they are pushing for as little headway has been made ahead of a Monday deadline.

The group of more than three dozen investors who had planned to put $1 billion into the company have begun to waver as bad news keeps piling up around the deal, including a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, a lawsuit by a scorned business partner against the company taking Trump’s venture public and reports that the Trump social network at the heart of the planned operation is struggling to pay its bills. Already, investors who had promised $138 million in capital have pulled out, with the SEC yet to OK the public offering nearly a year after its announcement.

“This deal has taken more left turns than a doorknob,” said Kristi Marvin, a former investment banker who runs data and research company SPACInsider. “Now, it’s just got so much hair on it.”

At stake for Trump and his startup — the company behind conservative social media app Truth Social — is hundreds of millions of dollars, marking the latest blow to the former president’s business empire since he left office. New York in September filed a sweeping lawsuit against Trump and his family for alleged fraud at the Trump Organization. While the conduct of his latest startup and its partners are in the spotlight, the type of corporate vehicle for taking the company public — a SPAC — has also broadly soured in the eyes of investors after a boom over the last few years.

Eleven months ago, Trump Media & Technology Group unveiled plans to merge with a company called Digital World Acquisition Corp. in a SPAC deal. The transaction was supposed to revive the Trump empire, starting with the development of Truth Social.

SPACs are effectively skeleton companies that trade on stock exchanges. With no operations or products, the SPAC uses the funds raised in the company’s initial public offering to go out and acquire a private entity that will take over its listing once the deal closes. For the private company, a SPAC merger offers a faster and easier alternative to the IPO, executives say. The SPAC creators, in return, typically benefit from a rich payday through the massive chunks of stock that they hold.

The SPAC market had already gone through a boom and bust when Digital World and Trump Media’s deal became public last October. Regulatory pressures, a shifting economy and market fatigue had squashed — and continue to weigh down — the SPAC fervor. But investors still piled in.

Digital World’s stock quickly became a favorite among individual investors when the deal went live. Soon, the shares were skyrocketing in movements that closely mirrored the ones seen in meme stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment months earlier. Before the deal was announced, the stock was trading at about $10, which is typical for a SPAC still looking to close a deal. Two days later, Digital World shares jumped to as high as $175.

Major trading and investment firms entered the deal later through a so-called private investment in public equity, or PIPE, bringing the potential treasure chest awaiting Trump Media to $1.3 billion. In exchange, the investors would get a discount on the shares so they could sell at a profit once the takeover was completed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden reinstates arts committee that disbanded under Trump, Kelsey Ables, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Biden reinstates arts committee that disbanded under Trump.

On Friday, the president signed an executive order reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and proclaimed October 2022 National Arts and Humanities month.

President Biden signed an executive order on Friday reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The advisory group had been inactive since August 2017, when all committee members resigned in protest of Trump’s delayed condemnation of hate groups at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

In the order, Biden highlighted the broad sociopolitical benefits of supporting arts and culture. “The arts, the humanities and museum and library services are essential to the well-being, health, vitality and democracy of our Nation,” the order reads. “They are the soul of America, reflecting our multicultural and democratic experience.” He also emphasized that the arts “compel us to wrestle with our history.”

The order was announced on the eve of National Arts and Humanities month, which Biden designated for October in a separate proclamation that was also released on Friday.

The move to reestablish the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) continues a kind of cultural repair led by the Biden-Harris administration, which has proposed large increases in funding to federal arts agencies, following the Trump administration’s attempts to eliminate that funding and shut down those agencies. The administration has also overturned Trump-era regulations that controlled the type of art that could hang in government buildings and the style of architecture that could be used in new federal construction. The reinstatement comes after two-and-a-half years of a pandemic that has left arts institutions reeling from decreased ticket sales and prolonged closures.

In the order, Biden recognized the arts’ sweeping impact, from bolstering “efforts to tackle the climate crisis” to advancing the “cause of equity and accessibility.” The president also specifically pointed to underserved communities and veterans as potential beneficiaries of his administration’s cultural efforts.

In the Biden White House, art selections come with a personal touch

The reestablished committee is purely advisory and will guide the president as well as the heads of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS). It will help advance policy goals, promote philanthropic and private engagement in the arts, enhance the effectiveness of federal support and engage the nation’s artists and cultural leaders.

washington post logoWashington Post, She was the No. 1 educator in her school. Now in the U.S., ‘one day teaching here is like a month,’ Eli Saslow, Oct. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Amid a historic U.S. teacher shortage, a ‘Most Outstanding Teacher’ from the Philippines tries to help save a struggling school in rural Arizona

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This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

This week’s new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, As New Term Starts, Supreme Court Is Poised to Resume Rightward Push, Adam Liptak, Oct. 2, 2022. The justices return to the bench on Monday to hear major cases on affirmative action, voting, race and discrimination against gay couples; The court’s conservative majority seems set to dominate the new term as it did the last one, which ended with bombshell rulings on issues like abortion.

The last Supreme Court term ended with a series of judicial bombshells in June that eliminated the right to abortion, established a right to carry guns outside the home and limited efforts to address climate change. As the justices return to the bench on Monday, there are few signs that the court’s race to the right is slowing.

The new term will feature major disputes on affirmative action, voting, religion, free speech and gay rights. And the court’s six-justice conservative supermajority seems poised to dominate the new term as it did the earlier one.

“On things that matter most,” said Irv Gornstein, the executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law, “get ready for a lot of 6-3s.”

Several of the biggest cases concern race, in settings as varied as education, voting and adoptions.

They include challenges to the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. As in last term’s abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, longstanding precedents are at risk.

The court has repeatedly upheld affirmative-action programs meant to ensure educational diversity at colleges and universities, most recently in 2016. In an interview that year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the issue had been permanently settled.

In that same interview, though, she said she feared what would happen were Donald J. Trump, then on the campaign trail, to become president.

“For the country, it could be four years,” she said. “For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

Mr. Trump went on to name three members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who succeeded Justice Ginsburg after her death in 2020.

Those changes put more than 40 years of affirmative action precedents at risk, including Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 decision in which the Supreme Court endorsed holistic admissions programs, saying it was permissible to consider race as one factor among many to achieve educational diversity. Writing for the majority in that case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said she expected that “25 years from now,” the “use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.”

The court seems poised to say that the time for change has arrived several years early in the two new cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, No. 20-1199, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, No. 21-707. They are set to be argued on Oct. 31.

The role race may play in government decision-making also figures in a voting rights case to be argued on Tuesday, Merrill v. Milligan, No. 21-1086. The case is a challenge under the Voting Rights Act to an Alabama electoral map that a lower court had said diluted the power of Black voters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukrainian Troops Hunt Demoralized Russian Stragglers in Seized City, Andrew E. Kramer, Michael Schwirtz and Norimitsu Onishi, Oct. 2, 2022. A major Russian newspaper said the Russian troops, facing defeat in Lyman, had fled with “empty eyes” after barely escaping with their lives.

Ukrainian forces on Sunday hunted Russian stragglers in the key city of Lyman, which was taken back from Russia after its demoralized troops, according to a major Russian newspaper, fled with “empty eyes,” and despite Moscow’s baseless claim it had annexed the region surrounding the city.

Two days after President Vladimir V. Putin held a grandiose ceremony to commemorate the incorporation of four Ukrainian territories into Russia, the debacle in the city — Lyman, a strategic railway hub in the eastern region of Donbas — ratcheted up pressure on a Russian leadership already facing withering criticism at home for its handling of the war and its conscription of up to 300,000 men into military service.

Russia’s retreat from Lyman, which sits on a riverbank that has served as a natural division between the Russian and Ukrainian front lines, came after weeks of fierce fighting.

In an unusually candid article published Sunday, the prominent Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that in the last few days of their occupation, Russian forces in Lyman had been plagued by desertion, poor planning and the delayed arrival of reserves.

“The risk of encirclement or shameful imprisonment became too great, and the Russian command made a decision to fall back,” a war correspondent traveling with the fleeing Russian forces wrote, adding that dispirited soldiers with “empty eyes” had barely escaped Lyman with their lives.

The retreat is a significant blow to Russian forces that could further undermine the Kremlin’s position in Donbas, a mineral-rich and fertile part of eastern Ukraine that has been central to Mr. Putin’s war aims.

Mr. Putin’s office made no public comment about the loss of Lyman, even as pro-war commentators and two of his closest allies sharply criticized the Defense Ministry for retreating from the city. Seemingly unfazed by its military setbacks, Moscow pressed ahead with its annexation effort on Sunday, as the country’s rubber-stamp Constitutional Court formally accepted Mr. Putin’s decision to claim the four Ukrainian regions as part of Russia.

But President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine quickly sought to capitalize politically on the retreat, saying it showed that Moscow’s attempt to illegally annex a sizable part of the country was an “absolute farce” and that “now a Ukrainian flag is” in Donbas. But the Ukrainian recoveries in areas Russia now claims have come as Mr. Putin has increasingly hinted at turning to nuclear options in the conflict, alarming American officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida death toll at 48 as Ian aftermath reverberates and cleanup begins, Tim Craig, Antonio Olivo, Jeanne Whalen, Karoun Demirjian and Meryl Kornfield, Oct. 2, 2022. Florida residents are grappling with widespread destruction and flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland, amid ongoing search efforts and a death toll that has increased to at least 48.

In Iona, a small coastal community between Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach, residents began trying to clean out their homes Sunday as the floodwaters finally receded, leading to towering piles of soggy couches, mattresses and kitchen cabinets.

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Bolsonaro, Lula appear headed for runoff in Brazil’s presidential election, Staff Report, Oct. 2, 2022. The runoff would be held Oct. 30.

Brazil’s top two presidential candidates were neck-and-neck late Sunday in a highly polarized election that could determine if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.

politico CustomThe race pits incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro against his political nemesis, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There are nine other candidates, but their support pales to that for Bolsonaro and da Silva.

With 91.6% of votes counted, da Silva had 47.3%, ahead of Bolsonaro with 44.2%, according to the electoral authority.

It appears increasingly likely neither of the top two candidates will receive more than 50% of the valid votes, which exclude spoiled and blank ballots, which would mean a second round vote will be scheduled for Oct. 30.

“We will most likely have a second round,” said Nara Pavão, who teaches political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco. “The probability of ending the election now (in the first round) is too small.”

Recent opinion polls had given da Silva a commanding lead — the last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50% to 36% advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

The election wound up being far tighter than anticipated, both in the presidential contest and those for governorships and congressional seats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil makes pivotal decision: More Bolsonaro or back to Lula? Terrence McCoy, Paulina Villegas and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Oct. 2, 2022. Millions across Brazil headed to the polls Sunday for the first round of a presidential election that has deepened divisions in Latin America’s most populous country and raised fears of violence at a crucial point in its history.
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Polls closed at 5 p.m. local time, but voters who were waiting in line then were still allowed to cast ballots. The Superior Electoral Court was expected to announce a result within hours.

After years of anticipation, the vote came down to a decision between two messianic political giants with enormous followings who are distrusted — if not disdained — by large swaths of the electorate. Each carries extraordinary baggage.

Left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 76, is a charismatic union leader who came from extreme poverty to serve two terms as president but came to typify for many Brazilians the corruption that tarred his party and led to his imprisonment.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, 67, rose to power decrying what he called the political rot of Lula’s party but has polarized the country with his bellicose rhetoric, chaotic leadership during Brazil’s devastating coronavirus outbreak and frequent attacks on civic institutions.

washington post logoWashington Post, She was the No. 1 educator in her school. Now in the U.S., ‘one day teaching here is like a month,’ Eli Saslow, Oct. 2, 2022. Amid a historic U.S. teacher shortage, a ‘Most Outstanding Teacher’ from the Philippines tries to help save a struggling school in rural Arizona

 

Released American Hostages

 

state dept map logo Small

Alex Drueke, left, and Andy Tai Huynh were freed from captivity Sept. 21. In their first extensive media interview since their release, the Alex Drueke, left, and Andy Tai Huynh were freed from captivity Sept. 21. In their first extensive media interview since their release, the pair say they were interrogated, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and given little food or clean water (Photo by William DeShazer for The Washington Post).pair told The Washington Post that they were interrogated, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and given little food or clean water (Photo by William DeShazer for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Americans captured by Russia detail months of beatings, interrogation, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 2, 2022. In their first extensive interview since being freed, Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh recount the physical and psychological abuse they endured in captivity.

Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh evaded Russian forces for hours, slogging through pine forests and marshes in Ukraine to avoid detection. The U.S. military veterans were left behind — “abandoned,” they said — after their Ukrainian task force was attacked, and determined that their best chance of survival was to hike back to their base in Kharkiv.

What followed was an excruciating, often terrifying 104 days in captivity. They were interrogated, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and given little food or clean water, Drueke and Huynh recalled. Initially, they were taken into Russia, to a detention complex dotted with tents and ringed by barbed wire, they said. Their captors later moved them, first to a “black site” where the beatings worsened, Drueke said, and then to what they called a more traditional prison run by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Drueke, 40, and Huynh, 27, met with The Washington Post for three hours at the home of Huynh’s fiancee, Joy Black, in this rural town of about 2,500 outside Huntsville. It was their first extensive media interview since being freed on Sept. 21 as part of a sprawling prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

Each man lost nearly 30 pounds during the ordeal, they said, suffering injuries most evident in the red and purple welts still present where their wrists were bound. Their account provides disturbing new insight into how Russia and its proxy forces in Ukraine treat those taken off the battlefield.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, American Prisoners Are Released From Venezuela and Iran, Michael D. Shear and Farnaz Fassihi, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Seven Americans who had been held captive in Venezuela for years were on their way home Saturday venezuela prisonersafter President Biden agreed to grant clemency to two nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuela’s first lady, officials said. The men had been sentenced in 2017 to 18 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

venezuela flag waving customAt the same time, Iran on Saturday released Siamak Namazi, a 51-year-old dual-national Iranian American businessman who had been jailed since 2015, on a temporary furlough and lifted the travel ban on his father, Baquer Namazi, an 85-year-old former official for the United Nations, according to the family’s lawyer.

Together, the announcements regarding Venezuela and Iran represented one of the largest mass releases of Americans detained abroad in recent memory, though one American official said the timing was coincidental. For Mr. Biden, freeing seven Americans, some of whom had been held for years in Venezuelan prison, was part of an aggressive push to accelerate such homecomings — an effort that has drawn some criticism for the president’s willingness to exchange convicted criminals.

The releases also come at a time of heightened global tensions that has proved dangerous for Americans traveling abroad. Brittney Griner, the professional basketball player, remains jailed in Russia for bringing hashish oil into the country after the United States denounced its president, Vladimir V. Putin, for invading Ukraine earlier in the year.

 

More  Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court Opening

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Supreme Court Has a Crisis of Trust, Editorial Board, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

american flag upside down distressBut in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

john roberts oChief Justice John Roberts, right, recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories.

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Good on the Supreme Court for keeping live audio. Now it’s time to go further, Editorial Board, Oct. 2, 2022. As the Supreme Court embarks on a new term Monday, there is at least one development that should be welcomed by observers from all ideological backgrounds.

The court announced Wednesday that it will allow the public back into the room for arguments. At the same time, it will maintain its live audio feed, which began during the covid-19 pandemic. Good for the court for embracing transparency and engagement with regular Americans. Now, it’s time to make live broadcasts permanent — and consider going even further with live video.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A partisan Supreme Court is 2022’s other incumbent, E.J. Dionne, right, Oct. 2, 2022. What makes this midterm ej dionne w open neckelection different from every other? Most midterms are about the party in charge. But in this one, two parties count as incumbents: the Democrats who control the White House and Congress, and the Republicans who control the Supreme Court.

GOP pollster Whit Ayres called my attention to this remarkable structural change. In the typical year, Ayres noted, the policies most relevant to the choice before voters are the work of the White House and Capitol Hill. “But in this case, the most significant policy action taken before the midterms,” he said, referring to the court’s decision overturning the abortion rights protections of Roe v. Wade, “was taken by a conservative-dominated, Republican-appointed Supreme Court.”

How this election turns out will depend in large part on which of the two incumbents draws the most voter anger. As a result, the beginning of the court’s new term on Monday has more electoral significance than usual. The more the court is in the news, the better it is for Democrats.

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More U.S. Hurricanes

 

Damage from Hurricane Ian is show in Fort Myers, Florida (New York Times photo by Kinfay Moroti).

Damage from Hurricane Ian is show in Fort Myers, Florida (New York Times photo by Kinfay Moroti).

ny times logoNew York Times, Facing a Dire Storm Forecast in Florida, Officials Delayed Evacuation, Frances Robles, Mike Baker, Serge F. Kovaleski and Lazaro Gamio, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). A day of hesitation in Florida’s hardest-hit county followed warnings of mass flooding. Now, the authorities are encountering mass death.

As Hurricane Ian charged toward the western coast of Florida this week, the warnings from forecasters were growing more urgent. Life-threatening storm surge threatened to deluge the region from Tampa all the way to Fort Myers.

But while officials along much of that coastline responded with orders to evacuate on Monday, emergency managers in Lee County held off, pondering during the day whether to tell people to flee, but then deciding to see how the forecast evolved overnight.

washington post logoWashington Post, Floridians hit by hurricane face gridlock, flooding, extensive damage, Tim Craig, Paul Sonne and Matthew Brown, Oct. 2, 2022. The state medical examiner said the storm had resulted in 44 deaths, most of them due to drowning. The figure is likely to rise.

Search and rescue efforts continued along Florida’s west coast as residents confronted the sweeping devastation and rising death toll wrought by Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall in the continental United States.
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The Florida Medical Examiners Commission said late Saturday that the storm had resulted in 44 deaths, most of them due to drowning. The figure is likely to rise as search and rescue teams continue to comb through the debris. Officials didn’t offer estimates on the number of people still missing three days after the storm first struck the state.

Many of the officially recorded deaths were among senior citizens, reflecting a storm that has wielded an outsize impact on the elderly given the area is popular with retirees. About 33 percent of southwest Florida’s population is over 65, compared with nearly 17 percent of the U.S. population at large, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In North Port, some retirees who evacuated to shelters didn’t have anywhere to go.

  • Biden heading to Puerto Rico and Florida to tour hurricane damage
  • He was vulnerable and sheltered with friends. He was no match for Ian.
  • After hurricane took everything, one hard-hit block banded together

 washington post logoWashington Post, Ian hits South Carolina as Florida reels from earlier assault, Lori Rozsa, Tim Craig, Jason Samenow and Karin Brulliard, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.).  At least 23 deaths in Florida have been attributed to the storm, which will head into the Southeast. The toll is likely to rise, officials said.

Hurricane Ian made landfall for the second time this week on Friday, crashing into coastal South Carolina as a Category 1 storm that brought lashing rains and storm surge but appeared unlikely to wreak the sort of devastation that was still emerging in Florida.

There, the vast parameters of the damage became more evident as emergency crews pulled people and bodies from streets — some still flooded and others dry but strewn with wreckage. About 34,000 Floridians had filed for federal emergency aid, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said. At least 23 people had been determined to be victims of the storm as of Friday evening, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said, but officials cautioned that confirming causes of death was a slow and deliberate process and said the toll was likely to rise as medical examiners completed more autopsies.

“We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction” in Florida, President Biden said Friday. The disaster, he said, was “not just a crisis for Florida, this is an American crisis.” Indeed, the storm, while weakened, was expected to drive north into Virginia and other East Coast states after crossing over the Carolinas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Ian may leave behind a trail of environmental hazards, Steven Mufson, Oct. 2, 2022. The stacks of gypsum in a disposal site in Piney Point, Fla., with 20 to 30 foot walls containing 400 million gallons of phosphorus and nitrogen in open ponds, look like a natural site for a potential disaster as Hurricane Ian pummeled large parts of Florida. In April 2021, the plant pumped polluted water into Tampa Bay, which scientists said contributed to algae blooms.

But this year the lining of the waste pit held, the company says.

“We’ve taken into account additional storm water coming in,” said Herbert Donica, a lawyer and accountant who several months ago was asked by a bankruptcy court to step in and oversee the cleanup and closure of the site.

The fertilizer plant is just more than two dozen such sites in Florida, and while the repairs to Piney Point’s lining appear to have held, there is still a great deal unknown about the wreckage Hurricane Ian has left behind across the state.

Photos: Ian leaves a path of destruction

“We’re talking about an unprecedented level of solid waste and physical debris,” said Jennifer Hecker, executive director of the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership. “An incredible extent of physical debris. There are thousands and thousands of boats and cars. Chemical debris, bacterial nutrients.”

Local governments and agencies will have to gather the wreckage and expand landfills to hold all of it, including asphalt roads. For example, the causeway connecting Sanibel Island with the mainland was severely damaged.

Recent Headlines

 The Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier has been reduced to rubble on the island of Fort Myers Beach in Florida via Associated Press

 The Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier has been reduced to rubble on the island of Fort Myers Beach in Florida via Associated Press

 

More On Ukraine War

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Ukrainian Forces Patrol Strategic City After Russia’s Hasty Retreat, Andrew E. Kramer and Michael Schwirtz, Oct. 2, 2022. President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s withdrawal from Lyman, a key rail hub in the east, showed that Moscow’s annexation claims were a “farce.”

Ukraine continued its show of defiance against Moscow’s illegal annexation claims on Sunday, with soldiers and police officers fanning out to search for Russian stragglers in a key city reclaimed by Kyiv’s forces even as President Vladimir V. Putin declared it part of Russia.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that Lyman, a strategic railway hub in the Donetsk region, had been fully cleared by Sunday afternoon, as Ukrainian forces conducted patrols and delivered aid to residents who had survived months of Russian occupation and weeks of battle as Ukraine fought to retake it. The city now lies largely in ruins, without electricity, water or regular food supplies, according to Stanislav Zagrusky, the Ukrainian police chief responsible for the area.

Still, Mr. Zagrusky said in an interview, the resumption of Ukrainian police patrols late on Saturday — hours after the Ukrainian Army declared the city liberated and Russia’s military conceded that it had retreated — underlined the absurdity of the Kremlin’s grandiose ceremony a day earlier announcing that the territory had been incorporated into Russia.

“We absolutely don’t care what they say, what decrees they issue, what announcements they make,” he said of the Kremlin authorities, deploring the conditions in which Russian troops had left residents of Lyman during the occupation: “They did absolutely nothing for the people all this time.”

“They didn’t try to restore electricity, or water and people lived without regular food supplies,” he went on, adding that many residents needed medical care.

It was unclear how many people remained in the city, which had a prewar population of 20,000. Artillery strikes damaged much of Lyman.

Ukrainian commanders had initially thought that they would retake Lyman quickly, but Russia’s military sent reinforcements. Fierce fighting ensued in dense forests and along the banks of the Siversky Donets River as Ukraine cut off the roads used to move troops and ammunition into the city. Ukrainian forces nearly completed an encirclement of Lyman, even as Mr. Putin claimed the region around the city as part of Russia on Friday.

“In Lyman and around it, there were significantly strong forces,” Col. Sergei Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukrainian troops fighting in the east, said in an interview.

Russian soldiers retreated chaotically, breaking from their units and escaping in smaller groups into the surrounding forests, Colonel Cherevaty said, and many were killed or captured. About 2,000 to 3,000 Russian soldiers remained in Lyman by the time Ukrainian forces arrived at the outskirts of the city on Friday, he said. It was unclear on Sunday how many Russian soldiers had fallen into Ukrainian hands.

In an article published on Sunday in a major Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, a prominent war correspondent traveling with fleeing Russian forces described demoralized troops with “empty eyes” who barely escaped Lyman with their lives.

Here’s what we know:

  • Fresh from reclaiming Lyman, Ukraine’s commanders are considering the next steps in an offensive that has undermined Russia’s illegal annexation claims.
  • Lyman lies in ruins as Ukraine searches for Russian stragglers.
  • Russia’s latest loss further imperils its forces in the Donbas region.
  • Zelensky says Russia’s retreat shows its annexation moves are a ‘farce.’
  • Pope Francis appeals to Putin to end the war and declares the nuclear threat ‘absurd.’
  • The U.N. nuclear agency calls for the release of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant’s director general.
  • Putin’s nuclear threats stir growing alarm in Washington.

ny times logoNew York Times, Panic, Bribes and Ditched Cars: Portraits of Flight From Russia, Ksenia Ivanova and Catherine Porter, Photographs by Ksenia Ivanova, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). A mountain pass into Georgia has become a choke point for fleeing Russians, many of them men who faced being drafted and sent to fight in Ukraine.

They are bus drivers, programmers, photographers, bankers. They have driven for hours, bribed their way through many police checkpoints — spending a month’s wages in some cases — and then waited at the border, most of them for days, in a traffic jam that stretched for miles.

Many grabbed their passports, abandoned their cars and crossed the frontier on foot, fearing that Russia would slam shut one of the last, precious routes to leave the country. The Kremlin dispatched teams to border crossings to weed out draft-eligible men and hand them conscription notices, and rumors spread on social media that it would seal the border.

Most of those who left had no idea when they would return home, if ever.

President Vladimir V. Putin last week ordered a draft of civilians to reinforce the army that has suffered tens of thousands of casualties in the war he launched against Ukraine. Since then, at least 200,000 Russians, mostly young men, have fled, squeezing through the few crossings still open.

  • New York Times, In Washington, Putin’s Nuclear Threats Stir Growing Alarm
  • New York Times, The attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines brought the war closer to Europe, raising anxiety in Germany and beyond
  • New York Times, In a defiant speech, President Vladimir Putin positioned Russia as fighting an existential battle with Western elites, Oct. 1, 2022.
  • New York Times, Opinion: Putin Is Trying to Outcrazy the West, Thomas L. Friedman, Oct. 1, 2022.

Politico, Zelenskyy vows to retake more areas after pushing Russia out of key Donetsk city, Jones Hayden, Oct. 2, 2022. Ukrainian president says there will be ‘more Ukrainian flags’ in eastern areas ‘in a week.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to recapture more territory in eastern Ukraine after Kyiv’s forces pushed Russia out of the key city of Lyman.

politico Custom“Now a Ukrainian flag is there” in Lyman, Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Saturday. “During this week, there were more Ukrainian flags in Donbas. It will be even more in a week.”

Ukraine pushed Moscow’s forces out of Lyman on Saturday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the annexation of Donetsk, which includes the strategic city. The Defense Ministry in Moscow on Saturday cited “a threat of encirclement” in withdrawing its troops from Lyman “to more advantageous lines,” it said in a Telegram post.

The retreat from Lyman represents a big setback for Putin, as Kyiv’s counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion makes further advances in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian push has seen the recapture of a vast amount of Russian-occupied territory as Moscow’s soldiers have abandoned the front lines.

ukraine flag“Operationally, Lyman is important because it commands a key road crossing over the Siversky Donets River, behind which Russia has been attempting to consolidate its defenses,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said on Sunday.

“Russia’s withdrawal from Lyman also represents a significant political setback” after Putin’s proclamation of the annexation of the region on Friday, the ministry said. Putin hailed the annexation of Donetsk and three other regions following referendums that Western countries declared a “sham.”

“Russia has staged a farce in Donbas. An absolute farce, which it wanted to present as an alleged referendum,” Zelenskyy said late Saturday.

“Ukraine will return its own,” the president pledged. “Both in the east and in the south. And what they tried to annex now, and Crimea, which has been called annexed since 2014.”

“Our flag will be everywhere,” he said.

 ukraine kharkiv 10 1 2022 map

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: U.S., U.K. say Russia’s retreat from Lyman is ‘significant,’ Annabelle Timsit, Praveena Somasundaram, Robyn Dixon and Ellen Francis, Oct. 2, 2022. Western countries cast the withdrawal from Lyman, a key supply hub in eastern Ukraine, as a strategic victory that could undermine Russia’s effort to control the Donetsk region.

Western countries cast Russian troops’ withdrawal from Lyman, a key supply hub in eastern Ukraine, as a strategic victory that could undermine Russia’s effort to control the Donetsk region. Donetsk was one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia claimed it annexed after staged referendums, in violation of international law and despite widespread international criticism.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog called for Russian forces to release the director of the Zaporizhzhia power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects around the globe.

Key developments

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hailed Ukraine’s apparent retaking of Lyman as a “significant success.” It could make it “more difficult” for Russia to resupply troops in southern and western Ukraine,” Austin told a news conference, according to Reuters.
  • The Lyman withdrawal “also represents a significant political setback,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday, “given that it is located within… a region Russia supposedly aimed to ‘liberate’ and has attempted to illegally annex.” Within Russia, the Lyman retreat prompted another wave of public criticism of the country’s military leadership, the ministry added, also noting the city “commands a key road crossing … behind which Russia has been attempting to consolidate its defences.”
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said Russian authorities had detained the director of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant for questioning. The Institute for the Study of War think tank called Igor Murashov’s detention a sign that “Russia is likely setting conditions to assume legal responsibility” for the plant, as IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi called for Murashov “to resume his important functions at the plant.”
  • Russia moved along with its orchestrated seizure of Ukrainian territories, with the Constitutional Court ruling that so-called treaties on the annexation of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk were consistent with the Russian constitution. The documents are expected to pass through both houses of Russia’s rubber stamp parliament Monday and Tuesday, after which Russia will consider annexation to be complete. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia’s staged referendums in Donbas an “absolute farce.”
  • Pope Francis appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin directly, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” for the sake of humanity and his own people. At the same time, he urged Zelensky to “be open to serious proposals for peace.” The leader of the Roman Catholic Church said in his Sunday address that the staged referendums and annexation declarations in recent days had increased “the risk of nuclear escalation.”

Spotlight: Russia’s retreat from Lyman

  • Zelensky said Sunday that Lyman is “fully cleared,” a day after Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said that “almost all” of the Russian troops in the city had been killed or captured and suggested that the city was under its control. A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said troops had retreated from the city after it had been encircled.
  • Lyman was likely being defended by “undermanned” Russian forces and volunteers, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. “The force probably experienced heavy casualties as it withdrew along the only road out of the town still in Russian hands,” it tweeted Sunday.
  • Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Putin, called for “more drastic measures” that could include “the use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” after the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had retreated from Lyman. Putin has warned that the annexed territories will be defended with “all military means” at Russia’s disposal. The deputy head of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said Russia could use any weapon, “including strategic nuclear ones,” to defend that land.

Battleground updates

  • A missile struck the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine early Sunday, damaging buildings and injuring at least seven people, the regional governor, Vitaliy Kim, said on Telegram. Separately, Russian forces struck the wider Mykolaiv region overnight, killing two people, Kim added, citing Ukraine’s southern military command.
  • Four missiles struck the Zaporizhzhia area overnight, its regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, wrote on Telegram. There were no casualties, he said.
  • Ukrainian officials said that 24 people were killed when suspected Russian shelling hit a convoy of cars in the northeastern region of Kharkiv last week. Thirteen were children, the Ukrainian Security Service said Saturday. Much of the region came back under Ukrainian control last month after a counteroffensive and Russian retreat, but this shelling struck a zone that neither side fully controls.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday about Russia’s illegal annexations, with Blinken promising that the United States “will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.” Here are three maps that explain Russia’s annexation and losses in Ukraine.

Global impact

  • Latvia’s prime minister said his priority was to solidify support for Ukraine ahead of a difficult winter without Russian gas after preliminary results from Saturday’s parliamentary election showed his party winning with 19 percent of the vote. “I see no chance that any government in Latvia will stop supporting Ukraine — this is not a view of a small group of politicians, this is the view of our society,” Krisjanis Karins told Reuters.
  • U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called the annexations a “moment of peril” and a clear violation of international law that would “further jeopardize the prospects for peace.” Washington imposed new sanctions against Russian military and government officials, and President Biden called the illegal move by Russia a “brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor.”
  • Natural gas supply from Russian energy giant Gazprom to Italy was shut off Saturday, Italian provider Eni said in a statement. Gazprom said it did not complete Italy’s resource request because it was “not possible to supply gas through Austria,” according to Eni. It’s the latest in a string of Gazprom supply cutoffs to European countries, which include Germany, Poland and Bulgaria.

From our correspondents

  • Their loved ones are Ukrainian medics — and Russian prisoners of war: For the relatives of Ukrainian medics captured behind enemy lines, the war has brought a special kind of agony, The Post’s David Stern reports. Though international rules of warfare state that medics should not be treated as prisoners of war, some estimates suggest at least 150 of them were captured as Russian forces and their allies overtook parts of eastern Ukraine in recent months. Now, their families wait anxiously for news, hoping for a prisoner swap.
  • Family members of military medics taken prisoners by Russia demand their release in a protest on Kyiv’s Independence Square on Sept. 24, 2022. (Oksana Parafeniuk/For The Washington Post)

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia’s annexation puts world ‘two or three steps away’ from nuclear war, Liz Sly, Oct. 2, 2022. President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of the annexation of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine signals the onset of a new and highly dangerous phase in the seven-month old war, one that Western officials and analysts fear could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons for the first time in 77 years.

Putin has previously threatened to resort to nuclear weapons if Russia’s goals in Ukraine continue to be thwarted. The annexation brings the use of a nuclear weapon a step closer by giving Putin a potential justification on the grounds that “the territorial integrity of our country is threatened,” as he put it in his speech last week.

He renewed the threat on Friday with an ominous comment that the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a “precedent” for the use of nuclear weapons, echoing references he has made in the past to the U.S. invasion of Iraq as setting a precedent for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. and Western officials say they still think it unlikely that Putin will carry out his threats. Most probably, they say, he is hoping to deter the West from providing ever more sophisticated military assistance to Ukraine while the mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops allows Russia to reverse or at least halt its military setbacks on the battlefield.

Three maps that explain Russia’s annexations and losses in Ukraine

But the threats appear only to have strengthened Western resolve to continue sending weapons to Ukraine and the Ukrainian military is continuing to advance into Russian-occupied territory. On Saturday, the Ukrainian army seized control of the eastern city of Lyman in an area ostensibly annexed by Russia on Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Searching for bodies with the Ukrainian captain collecting Russian corpses, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Oct. 2, 2022. When there’s a Russian corpse that needs collecting, Capt. Anton gets the call. Sometimes, he’ll receive a text with coordinates of where the body is located. Other times, people offer to lead him to the site.

After single-handedly bagging more than 250 dead enemy soldiers, Anton has created something of a reputation in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region. Rather than spending time and energy searching for corpses, he can now work off referrals.

Last weekend, he followed a car of soldiers down a dirt road in Tsyrkuny, a village outside of Kharkiv. At the edge of a field was a decayed body still in its military uniform. Anton hunched over it, snapping on gloves and sliding his hands into all of the dead soldier’s pockets, looking for the man’s documents. He carefully ran his fingers up and down the body before abruptly stopping at the boot.

“Everyone back away,” Anton warned.
Capt. Anton inspects the uniform on the decaying body of a Russian soldier, found in a field near Tsyrkuny, Ukraine, on Sept. 24. (Sasha Maslov for The Washington Post)

Four of the corpses he’s recovered have been booby-trapped with explosives. This was a false alarm. He took off his gloves and put on a new pair.

A member of a small volunteer search unit code-named J9, Anton’s macabre wartime profession is to find the dead Russians scattered around Ukraine after seven months of war. Anton said he often talks to the corpses he collects. Sometimes, he said, he can sense where they’re located, as if they’re calling out to him.

The remains go into a white bag and are then delivered to a morgue, where DNA samples are collected. The plan is to eventually return the bodies to Russia and to retrieve the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers killed in action in an exchange.

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin supporters are enraged by the Russian retreat from Lyman, Anton Troianovski, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Two powerful supporters of President Vladimir V. Putin turned on Russia’s military leadership on Saturday after it ordered a retreat from a key city in eastern Ukraine, a striking sign of dissent within the Russian elite that comes as the Kremlin tries to project an image of strength and unity.

ramzan kadyrov chechnyaRamzan Kadyrov, right, the strongman leader of the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that Russia’s top military brass had “covered for” an “incompetent” general who should now be “sent to the front to wash his shame off with blood.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the business magnate close to Mr. Putin who leads the Wagner Group — an army of mercenaries fighting for Russia in the war — issued a statement an hour later declaring that he agreed with Mr. Kadyrov.

“Send all these pieces of garbage barefoot with machine guns straight to the front,” Mr. Prigozhin said in an apparent reference to Russia’s military leaders.

russian flag wavingThe Kremlin’s military leadership, including Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, a close associate of Mr. Putin, has come under increasingly withering criticism in recent months from some pro-war Russian bloggers, who view them as corrupt bureaucrats failing as military strategists. That criticism expanded after Russia’s stunning retreat in northeastern Ukraine last month.

But the fury on Saturday after Russia lost the city of Lyman, a key rail hub, was extraordinary both in its timing and the fact that it was coming not just from commentators on social media, but from senior allies of Mr. Putin.

It underscored that the retreat marked a major embarrassment for the Kremlin, coming just 24 hours after the festivities in Moscow marking the attempted annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Mr. Putin that Western officials have decried as illegal.

The city of Lyman in the Donetsk region is part of the annexed territory that Mr. Putin described in his speech on Friday as “Novorossiya,” or New Russia, casting it as part of the country’s historical heartland. The fact that his troops there pulled back just a day later shocked Russian pro-war commentators, who interpreted the retreat as a sign that their government’s grand and aggressive rhetoric did not match reality.

After Russia confirmed the withdrawal, Yevgeny Primakov, the head of a government agency managing ties with Russians abroad, wrote on Telegram that “we have given a Russian city to the enemy” for the first time since World War II.

But it was the public criticism by Mr. Kadyrov and Mr. Prigozhin — both of whom have become influential figures in Russia’s war effort operating independently from the Defense Ministry — that carried the most significance. It suggested that Mr. Putin would now face even more pressure from the hawks in his inner circle to escalate the war.

One concern in the West is that Mr. Putin might decide to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, a possibility he has hinted at.

American officials are already gaming out scenarios should Mr. Putin decide to use a tactical nuclear weapon to make up for the recent failings of Russian troops in Ukraine — and have issued stark warnings to the Russian leader about the catastrophic consequences of such a move.

In his post on Saturday, Mr. Kadyrov became one of the first Russian public officials to openly call for the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

“I don’t know what the Russian Ministry of Defense reports to the commander in chief,” Mr. Kadyrov wrote. “But in my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: U.S., U.K. say Russia’s retreat from Lyman is ‘significant,’ Annabelle Timsit, Praveena Somasundaram, Robyn Dixon and Ellen Francis, Oct. 2, 2022. Western countries cast the withdrawal from Lyman, a key supply hub in eastern Ukraine, as a strategic victory that could undermine Russia’s effort to control the Donetsk region.

Western countries cast Russian troops’ withdrawal from Lyman, a key supply hub in eastern Ukraine, as a strategic victory that could undermine Russia’s effort to control the Donetsk region. Donetsk was one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia claimed it annexed after staged referendums, in violation of international law and despite widespread international criticism.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog called for Russian forces to release the director of the Zaporizhzhia power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects around the globe.

 

By calling up roughly 300,000 reservists to fight, and abandoning the objective of demilitarizing and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia acknowledged the reality and growing resistance of a unified Ukraine in a televised address on Sept. 21, 2022 (Pool photo by Gavriil Grigorov via New York Times).By calling up roughly 300,000 reservists to fight, and abandoning the objective of demilitarizing and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia acknowledged the reality and growing resistance of a unified Ukraine in a televised address on Sept. 21, 2022 (Pool photo by Gavriil Grigorov via New York Times).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Putin’s recruits are heading for slaughter, Mark Hertling, Oct. 2, 2022. Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling commanded the 1st Armored Division during the Iraq surge and later commanded U.S. Army Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to activate 300,000 “reservists” — some of whom have previously served, some who have not — to hold the line in Ukraine has led thousands of young Russian men to flee the country. The call-up is an outrage, but not only for the reasons you might imagine. Sending new recruits, poorly trained Russian reservists and untrained civilians into Ukraine is a recipe for slaughter. They will not be prepared for what they will encounter.

Years ago, I was given the command of the organization that oversees all basic training for the Army (what some call “boot camp”) as well as managing the advanced training that follows for every Army trooper. At the time, the United States was recruiting approximately 160,000 soldiers, warrant officers and officers each year.

Most Americans who volunteer to join the Army undergo 10 weeks of basic training, then head to different locations for more training in an assigned specialty. “Basic” is a packed period in which soldiers learn and practice such skills as rifle marksmanship, first aid, map reading, land navigation and grenade throwing. They also learn about working as part of a team, reacting to various kinds of attacks (artillery, chemical, ambush, etc.), drill and ceremony (how to march, salute and other elements of discipline), professional ethos and values, and a variety of other skills. It is intense.

Recent Headlines

 

Trump Probes, Disputes, Rallies, Supporters

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives says it’s still missing records from Trump officials, Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The National Archives has told the House Oversight Committee that it has not yet recovered all of the records from Trump administration officials that should have been transferred under the Presidential Records Act.

The Archives will consult with the Department of Justice “on whether ‘to initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed,’ as established under the Federal Records Act,” acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall said in a letter sent on Friday to the committee’s chairwoman, Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.).

joe biden black background resized serious fileSteidel Wall added that the Archives has been unable to obtain federal records related to “non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts.” Presidential advisers are required to forward such messages to their official accounts under the law, she noted.

nara logo“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Steidel Wall wrote, according to the letter provided to The Washington Post.

Steidel Wall cited the ongoing lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the National Archives against former Trump adviser Peter Navarro over failing to turn over private emails involving official White House business during his stint serving in the Trump administration.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the immediate staff of the president, the vice president and anyone who advises the president must preserve records and carolyn maloney ophone calls pertaining to official duties.

Although the latest letter referred to Trump officials, the spotlight on former president Donald Trump and the documents he kept after leaving the White House has increased since a court-approved FBI search of the Mar-a-Lago Club on Aug. 8.

The FBI has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year: 184 in a set of 15 boxes sent to the National Archives and Records Administration in January, 38 more handed over by a Trump lawyer to investigators in June, and more than 100 additional documents found in the Aug. 8 search.

In September, Maloney had asked the Archives to assess whether Trump has surrendered all presidential records or classified materials. In her latest letter, Steidel Wall deferred to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.

Maloney said she found the latest disclosure troubling.

“The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still have not received all presidential records from the Trump White House,” Maloney said in a statement. “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Turns out Donald Trump’s classified documents scandal is even uglier than we knew, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2022. Even bill palmeras Donald Trump’s pet judge Aileen Cannon and the Special Master she appointed keep squabbling with each other, and the DOJ has now appealed the entirety of Cannon’s ruling, that’s just a sideshow.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s important to keep in mind that the main part of the DOJ’s case against Trump – the part involving classified documents – has resumed moving forward ever since the Court of Appeals made its first ruling against Cannon. Now news is breaking which reveals the scandal is even uglier than we knew, but about as ugly as we were expecting.

aileen mercedes cannonThe National Archives has now confirmed to the House Oversight Committee that some documents stolen by Trump still haven’t been recovered. Let’s put this in context. It’s news to us, and it may be news to Congress, but it’s certainly not news to the National Archives or the DOJ. They didn’t suddenly just now discover that some documents are still in the wind. The National Archives and the DOJ have known this all along. It’s just that because Congress is now running its own separate probe into the classified documents scandal, and Congress asked the question, the National Archives is dutifully providing the answer.

So the people on social media who are seeing this news and responding by frantically yelling “the DOJ must search Trump’s other properties right now!!!” don’t really know what they’re talking about. Court filings reveal that the DOJ had confidential informants inside Mar-a-Lago for months before finally going in, meaning it knew what was going on with the classified documents inside. The DOJ surely has confidential informants inside Trump’s other residences as well, and if there were classified documents there for the taking, the DOJ would have taken them by now.

So there is bad news here. But it’s not that Trump has classified documents in his other residences and the DOJ is somehow just too oblivious to go in and get them. The bad news is that these documents are likely not at Trump’s other properties, and instead Trump gave them away or lost them or sold them to bad people. The potential good news is that the DOJ and National Archives have likely known for quite awhile that Trump didn’t have these specific documents in his possession, and have presumably been working to track them down all this time. In fact this seems to fall in line with our original suspicion that the reason the DOJ didn’t immediately go into Trump’s home, and instead spent months cultivating sources around Trump, in an effort to quietly recover some of these wayward documents before potentially spooking anyone with a search of Trump’s home.

In any case, the really bad news here is for Donald Trump. We already know that he tried to trick the Feds by surrendering some classified documents several months ago and then falsely claiming that he’s surrendered all of them. Once the Feds came in and took the rest of the documents that were in his home, he was surely hoping that the Feds didn’t also know about the additional documents that weren’t at his properties. But it turns out the Feds do know which documents are still in the wind.

This means that if Trump did commit the even more serious crime of selling or giving away classified documents, the Feds have already known about it for awhile. At this point Trump’s indictment is a given. The more serious the charges he ends up getting hit with, the greater the odds of his conviction, and the longer his prison sentence will end up being.

  washington post logoWashington Post, One Trump lawyer’s advice to seek an ‘off-ramp’ with Justice Dept. is not being heeded, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Perry Stein, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The former president seems inclined to stick with a more combative approach, those close to him say, potentially placing him on a collision course with the Justice Department.

After attorney Christopher Kise accepted $3 million to represent Donald Trump in the FBI’s investigation of government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, the veteran litigator argued that Trump should adopt a new strategy.

Turn down the temperature with the Department of Justice, Kise — a former Florida solicitor general — counseled his famously combative client, people familiar with the deliberations said.

Federal authorities had searched Trump’s Florida residence and club because they badly wanted to retrieve the classified documents that remained there even after a federal subpoena, Kise argued, according to these people. With that material back in government hands, maybe prosecutors could be persuaded to resolve the whole issue quietly.

But quiet has never been Trump’s style — nor has harmony within his orbit.

Instead, just a few weeks after Kise was brought aboard, he finds himself in a battle, trying to persuade Trump to go along with his legal strategy and fighting with some other advisers who have counseled a more aggressive posture. The dispute has raged for at least a week, Trump advisers say, with the former president listening as various lawyers make their best arguments.

A Wednesday night court filing from Trump’s team was combative, with defense lawyers questioning the Justice Department’s truthfulness and motives. Kise, whose name was listed alongside other lawyers’ in previous filings over the past four weeks, did not sign that one — an absence that underscored the division among the lawyers. He remains part of the team and will continue assisting Trump in dealing with some of his other legal problems, said the people familiar with the conversations, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private talks. But on the Mar-a-Lago issue, he is likely to have a less public role.

It is a pattern that has repeated itself since the National Archives and Records Administration first alerted Trump’s team 16 months ago that it was missing documents from his term as president — and strongly urged their return. Well before the May 11 grand jury subpoena, and the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, multiple sets of lawyers and advisers suggested that Trump simply comply with government requests to return the papers and, in particular, to hand over any documents marked classified.

Trump seems, at least for now, to be heeding advice from those who have indulged his desire to fight.

The approach could leave the former president on a collision course with the Justice Department, as he relies on a legal trust that includes three attorneys facing their own potential legal risks. The first, Christina Bobb, has told other Trump allies that she is willing to be interviewed by the Justice Department about her role in responding to the subpoena, according to people familiar with the conversations. Another, M. Evan Corcoran, has been counseled by colleagues to hire a criminal defense lawyer because of his response to the subpoena, people familiar with those conversations said, but so far has insisted that is not necessary. The third, longtime Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, saw his phone taken as part of the Justice Department’s probe of Trump’s fake elector scheme, and appeared before a Georgia grand jury Thursday.

Kise, Bobb, Corcoran and Epshteyn either declined to comment for this story or did not respond to requests for comment. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich replied to a detailed list of questions about their roles with a statement that did not directly answer the questions. “While the media wants to focus on gossip, the reality is these witch hunts are dividing and destroying our nation,” Budowich said. “And President Trump isn’t going to back down.”

Kise has worked for multiple elected officials in Florida and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in his role as solicitor general and in private practice. He has long been close to Susie Wiles, a Republican political operative from Florida who plays a key role in Trump’s orbit, and Brian Ballard, a high-powered Florida lobbyist who also is close to Trump.

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World News, Human Rights, Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 174 killed at Indonesia soccer game as police use force against crowds, Aisyah Llewellyn, Adi Renaldi, Rebecca Tan and Bryan Pietsch, Oct. 2, 2022. Police used force to disperse crowds after “mass commotion” erupted at a game between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya in Malang Regency.

A soccer game in Indonesia turned deadly Saturday night as security personnel clashed with soccer fans, prompting a stampede and leaving 125 dead and dozens of others injured, officials and eyewitnesses said.

Fans charged toward the center of the field after Arema FC, the home team, lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, a team that it had defeated for 23 years — and were beaten back by uniformed officers carrying batons and riot shields.

Four people who were at the match told The Washington Post that uniformed security personnel then fired what appeared to be tear gas directly and indiscriminately into the crowd, sending people into a panic. As many as 42,000 people were estimated to be at the event.

Plumes of smoke covered the stands at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang regency, as tens of thousands of people scrambled for the exit doors, trampling — and killing — others who fell. Families were separated amid the chaos and some were never reunited.

 

 

Memorial of UK's Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 19, 2022 (Pool photob by David Ramos via Getty Images). Memorial of UK’s Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 19, 2022 (Pool photob by David Ramos via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Post Elizabeth: Palace video footage demands are an early red flag, Autumn Brewingon, Oct. 2, 2022. Pageantry and spectacle are part of the British crown’s DNA. But the idea that footage of recent events honoring Queen Elizabeth II is not in the public domain might be the most ancient thing about the monarchy.

British broadcasters gave Buckingham Palace veto power over use of footage from the queen’s funeral, the Guardian newspaper reported last week.

Although the unedited broadcast remains online temporarily — through platforms such as BBC iPlayer — what happens to the material in a few weeks is unclear. “Royal staff sent messages to the BBC, ITV News and Sky News during the event with the timestamps of footage they wished to exclude from future news broadcasts and social media clips,” the Guardian reported. Five video clips removed from circulation included members of the royal family.

Then came a bigger palace demand: that broadcasters “produce a 60-minute compilation of clips they would like to keep from ceremonial events held across the 10 days of mourning for the Queen. The royal household will then consider whether to veto any proposed inclusions,” the Guardian reported Sunday.

“Once the process is complete, the vast majority of other footage from ceremonial events will then be taken out of circulation,” media editor Jim Waterson wrote. “Any news outlets wishing to use unapproved pieces of footage would have to apply to the royal family on a case-by-case basis, even for material that has already been broadcast to tens of millions of people.”

bbc news logo2Broadcasting the funeral and procession of the queen’s coffin from London to Windsor was such a massive undertaking that the BBC worked with ITV and Sky News. Some 28 million people in Britain watched the broadcast, along with more than 11 million in the United States.

As Newsweek noted, the location of some televised events are ultimately under royal control, which could have shaped permissions for filming. But the issues here are larger than respectful coverage of a family in mourning and whether footage is replayed of, say, a grandson-in-law of the queen seen checking his watch.

A critical question is who controls the historical record of public events, especially when footage of those events has already been broadcast.

By dictating what video can no longer circulate, the palace might hope to quash unflattering moments such as the new king’s frustration with an inkpot when he signed documents related to his accession. Photos of the stone marking the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II — seen at the top of this page — circulated this week with explicit instructions that they may be published until Oct. 2, after which point royal permission must be requested.

One of the challenges before the new king is how best to showcase the monarchy’s relevance today. It’s hard to think of a less 21st-century approach than a hereditary monarchy dictating what clips of public proceedings are ever seen again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Even as Iranians Rise Up, Protests Worldwide Are Failing at Record Rates, Max Fisher, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Mass protests, once a grave threat to even the fiercest autocrat, have plummeted in effectiveness, our Interpreter columnist writes.

Iran’s widening protests, though challenging that country’s government forcefully and in rising numbers, may also embody a global trend that does not augur well for the Iranian movement.

Mass protests like the ones in Iran, whose participants have cited economic hardships, political repression and corruption, were once considered such a powerful force that even the strongest autocrat might not survive their rise. But their odds of success have plummeted worldwide, research finds.

Such movements are today more likely to fail than they were at any other point since at least the 1930s, according to a data set managed by Harvard University researchers.

The trajectory of Iran’s demonstrations remains far from certain. Citizen uprisings still sometimes force significant change, for example in Sri Lanka, where protests played a role in removing a strongman president this year.

But Iran’s unrest follows scores of popular eruptions in recent months — in Haiti and Indonesia, Russia and China, even Canada and the United States — that, while impactful, have largely fallen short of bringing the sort of change that many protesters sought or was once more common.

This sharp and relatively recent shift may mark the end of a decades-long era when so-called people power represented a major force for democracy’s spread.

Throughout most of the 20th century, mass protests grew both more common and more likely to succeed, in many cases helping to topple autocrats or bring about greater democracy.

By the early 2000s, two in three protest movements demanding systemic change ultimately succeeded, according to the Harvard data. In retrospect, it was a high-water mark.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolsonaro vs. Lula: Brazil Faces Radically Opposed Options in Divisive Election, Jack Nicas, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.).  Brazilians will choose between President Jair Bolsonaro and former luiz Inácio lula da silva first term portraitPresident Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , shown at right in a portrait from his first term, in a contest seen as a major test for democracy.

For the past decade, Brazil has lurched from one crisis to the next: environmental destruction, an economic recession, one president impeached, two presidents imprisoned and a pandemic that killed more people than anywhere else outside the United States.

On Sunday, Brazilians will cast their ballots for their next president, hoping to push Latin America’s largest country toward a more stable and brighter future — by deciding between two men who are deeply tied to its tumultuous past.

The election is widely regarded as the nation’s most important vote in decades, historians in Brazil say, in part because the health of one of the world’s biggest democracies may be at stake.

The incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro, is a far-right populist whose first term has stood out for its turmoil and his constant attacks on the electoral system. He has drawn outrage at home and concern abroad for policies that accelerated deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, for his embrace of unproven drugs over Covid-19 vaccines and for his harsh attacks on political rivals, judges, journalists and health professionals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil’s Indigenous women have had it. A record number are running for office, Paulina Villegas, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). A record number of Indigenous women are running for office in Sunday’s election — for state legislatures, for congress, for the vice presidency — as part of a concerted effort to increase Indigenous representation in government.

They come from different states, speak different languages and are running with different parties. But many share a common goal: To undo policies of President Jair Bolsonaro that they say have removed protections, undermined their rights and encouraged record deforestation in the Amazon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Battered by Floods, Pakistani Farmers Struggle to Survive Debts, Christina Goldbaum and Zia ur-Rehman, Photographs by Kiana Hayeri, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). As extreme weather events have become more common in Pakistan, the cycle has worsened for small farmers in sharecropping arrangements with landlords.

The young woman waded into the waist-deep floodwater that covered her farmland, scouring shriveled stalks of cotton for the few surviving white blooms. Every step she took in the warm water was precarious: Her feet sank into the soft earth. Snakes glided past her. Swarms of mosquitoes whirred in her ears.

But the farmworker — Barmeena, just 14 — had no choice. “It was our only source of livelihood,” she told visiting New York Times journalists.

She is one of the millions of farmworkers whose fields were submerged by the record-shattering floods that have swept across Pakistan. In the hardest-hit regions, where the floods drowned entire villages, the authorities have warned that the floodwater may not fully recede for months.

Still, wherever the water has receded even a bit, farm laborers are scrambling to salvage whatever they can from the battered remains of their cotton and rice harvests. It is desperate work. Many already owe hundreds or thousands of dollars to the landlords whose fields they cultivate each year, as part of a system that has long governed much of rural Pakistan.

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U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

 

President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, shows off the solar panels panels he ordered installed at the White House complex in 1979. His successor, Republican Ronald Reagan, ordered their removal.

President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, shows off the solar panels panels he ordered installed at the White House complex in 1979. His successor, Republican Ronald Reagan, ordered their removal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Carter, longest living president, marks 98th birthday in Georgia hometown, Mary Jordan, Oct. 2, 2022. Former president Jimmy Carter celebrated his 98th birthday Saturday by seeing family members, taking calls and greeting well-wishers who came for a parade in Plains, Ga., the small town where he began his improbable campaign for the nation’s highest office nearly half a century ago.

“Friends are calling, and family are around,” Jill Stuckey, the superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park and a family friend, said after visiting the former president Saturday morning. “He is remarkable.”

Later in the day, the hometown hosted a parade, which the former president viewed from a wheelchair, according to a tweet from the Carter Center.

Carter, who left the White House in 1981 after one term, has lived longer than any other U.S. president.

He and his wife, Rosalynn, 95, greeted well-wishers in public last weekend during the annual Peanut Festival in Plains. A Secret Service agent drove the Carters around in a red convertible. The Carter family still owns farmland where peanut grows.

washington post logoWashington Post, CPAC backpedals on pro-Russia tweet as some U.S. conservatives back Putin, Isaac Arnsdorf, Oct. 2, 2022. The prominent conservative group decried ‘gift-giving to Ukraine’ while adopting Putin’s view of ‘Ukraine-occupied territories.’

Prominent Republicans are digging in against American support for Ukraine despite Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons and evidence of mass graves and war crimes facilitated by Moscow.

The Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday tweeted — and then hours later deleted — a message that called on Democrats to “end the gift-giving to Ukraine” while featuring a fluttering Russian flag. The tweet also referred to “Ukraine-occupied territories,” appearing to legitimize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims to annex provinces based on a referendum that the U.S. and allies view as illegal.

CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp on Saturday said the tweet did not clear the normal approval process because he was traveling for a conference in Australia. “Due to my travel into a distant time zone it was never approved per usual,” he said in a text message.

In a statement, CPAC expressed support for Ukraine but maintained opposition to American aid for the embattled country.

“We must oppose Putin, but American taxpayers should not be shouldering the vast majority of the cost,” the statement said. “The tweet belittled the plight of the innocent Ukrainian people.”

CPAC has repeatedly flirted with pro-Putin views in recent years, including hosting pro-Russian Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban at a Dallas conference in August.

mitch mcconnell elaine chao

huffington post logoHuffPost, Donald Trump Says Mitch McConnell Has ‘Death Wish’ In Truth Social Rant, Lee Moran, Oct. 1, 2022. The former president also insulted the GOP Senate leader’s wife, Elaine Chao, in the post (shown above in a file photo).

Former President Donald Trump on Friday night resorted to violent rhetoric once more as he suggested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has “a death wish” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

 Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, also racistly referred to McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife Elaine Chao as “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Chao served as Trump’s secretary of transportation but resigned in protest following the Trump-incited 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump did not directly note which bills he was furious at McConnell for voting to approve, but McConnell did this week support a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown and provide $12 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine in its ongoing defense of invasion from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

McConnell has also said he’ll back bipartisan legislation against election subversion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s latest attack on McConnell sets a new standard of despicable, Karen Tumulty, right, Oct. 2, 2022. When karen tumulty resize twitteryou are dealing with someone for whom there is no bottom, it’s not exactly surprising to see him hit a new low. Nonetheless, Donald Trump’s latest social media broadside against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stands out for its odious recklessness.

On Friday, the former president posted on his Truth Social platform that McConnell has a “DEATH WISH” for having supported legislation to keep the government operating through mid-December — language that could easily be read by his highly combustible supporters as inviting violence against the GOP leader who seems to have taken up residence under Trump’s gossamer-thin skin.

Indeed, Trump portrayed the spending legislation, which passed the Senate 72-25, as a personal affront, saying McConnell cut the deal to pass it “because he hates Donald J. Trump, and he knows I am strongly opposed to” its provisions.

Trump then went for a racial smear against McConnell’s Asian American power spouse, Elaine Chao, who served as transportation secretary in his own administration, referring to her as “his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Outrageousness, of course, is Trump’s political brand, and ignoring his rants is usually the best thing to do. His spokesman insisted that his reference to a death wish referred to a political one, rather than literal one.

But to dismiss all of this as just Trump being Trump is to ignore what is really going on here. The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his crazed followers, after a rally in which the then-president urged them to “fight like hell” to overturn the 2020 election result, should have put to rest any doubts that his words can summon violence. (Trump’s beef with Chao is fueled by the fact that she resigned from his Cabinet the next day.)

Knowing all of this, you have to wonder: Where are McConnell’s Republican colleagues in the Senate? Why do they remain silent when Trump does something like this? Is this sort of behavior by their party’s de facto leader acceptable to them, particularly coming fewer than 40 days before an election in which they are trying to pick up the single additional seat that would give them control of the chamber? Their timidity has fostered the free-fire environment in which Trump operates.

Also worth raising is the question of whether the stopgap spending bill was actually what triggered Trump’s eruption. It is probably no coincidence that Trump’s attack came just three days after McConnell threw his weight behind a badly needed piece of bipartisan legislation that would reform the antiquated Electoral Count Act of 1887.

That old law lays out the process for tallying and certifying electoral votes in presidential elections; its language, however, contains ambiguities, which is what Trump and his forces were trying to exploit on Jan. 6 — the day Congress met to certify the tally of the 2020 election. Among other things, Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence, whose role in the exercise was supposed to be ceremonial, to throw out valid votes; Pence, properly, refused.

McConnell’s honorable decision to support reforming the Electoral Count Act, despite the fact that opposing it has become a litmus test of support for Trump, has greatly increased its chances of passing, because it now appears likely to easily muster more than the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

“Congress’s process for counting their presidential electors’ votes was written 135 years ago. The chaos that came to a head on January 6th of last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path.”

The right conclusion, in this case, was that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president of the United States. But by refusing to accept Trump’s lies to the contrary, McConnell has guaranteed himself a continued place in Trump’s crosshairs.

No doubt Trump will escalate his dangerous and vile attacks on McConnell, because that is simply who he is. But let’s be clear that there is plenty of fault to go around. The Republican Party’s refusal to denounce him for it makes them complicit.

 

joe biden march 25 2021

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs bill to fund government, hours before deadline, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacob Bogage, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The measure extends current government funding levels until Dec. 16. It also includes $12.4 billion for Ukraine and $18.8 billion for U.S. disaster recovery.

President Biden signed legislation Friday to continue funding the government for several weeks, averting a partial shutdown hours before a midnight deadline.

The continuing resolution extends current funding levels until Dec. 16, while also approving $12.4 billion in military and diplomatic spending to help Ukraine in its war against Russia. It also contains $18.8 billion for domestic disaster recovery efforts, including Western wildfires, floods in Kentucky and hurricanes in the Southeast.

All House Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to send the bill to Biden’s desk Friday afternoon, 230 to 201. The Senate passed the bill, 72 to 25, on Thursday after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) dropped his proposal that would have overhauled federal rules for environmental permitting for large energy projects after it became evident it would not garner the 60 votes required to attach it to the must-pass legislation.

The president’s request to include coronavirus and monkeypox funding was excluded to ensure both chambers could pass the legislation.

“We need this bill,” Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said on the House floor moments before the vote. “We provide relief to working families, to our schools, our children, small businesses, communities across this nation. We support the people of Ukraine. We support them in what is the fight for their lives, for their democracy and for world democracy against Russian aggression. We protect communities everywhere in need of safe water. We help to rebuild them from crushing natural disasters. This bill will make a very real difference in the lives of Americans everywhere.”

Averting a government shutdown was the final goal for Democrats to complete before leaving Washington for the final sprint to the midterm elections. Failure to pass a funding bill would be an embarrassment for the party that controls both chambers, and the presidency. Democrats have campaigned on their ability to govern as a contrast to Republicans, who oversaw two government shutdowns during the Trump administration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abbott and O’Rourke clash on immigration, guns in only scheduled debate in Texas governor’s race, Annie Linskey, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The fierce exchanges came during a fast-paced televised debate Friday evening — the only such meeting scheduled between the two candidates in the Texas governor’s race.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday defended busing migrants out of state to liberal cities, while his Democratic rival, Beto O’Rourke, called Abbott’s rhetoric on immigration “hateful” and said his conduct in the aftermath of a mass shooting should disqualify him from serving in the state’s top job.

The contentious exchanges came during a fast-paced televised debate Friday evening — the only such scheduled meeting between the two candidates competing in one of the most closely watched contests of the fall. The hour-long exchange, in Edinburg, near the state’s southern border, was dominated by disputes over guns and immigration. It was largely consistent with the competition in recent months, in a state still reeling from a mass shooting in May.

“There should be accountability up and down the ballot, beginning with Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said as he accused the two-term governor of failing to act to prevent the deadly mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Tex., and to take meaningful actions in the aftermath of it to prevent another one. “I think he has lost the right to serve this state in the most important position of public trust.”

Abbott, who is leading in most polls, sought to blame many of the state’s woes on President Biden, invoking his name four times during the first 12 minutes of the debate — largely to blame Biden for the increase in migration across the southern border.

Abbott used a legal argument to push back on a demand from O’Rourke and some of the shooting victims’ families who want the state to raise the age limit for buying certain firearms to 21. Florida passed a similar measure in the aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting.

“No parent should lose a child, we want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Abbott said of the shooting. “We want to end school shootings. But we cannot do that by making false promises.”

He argued that lifting the legal limit for purchasing weapons would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Abbot said law enforcement officers present at the schools should face consequences for their inaction. “There needs to be accountability for law enforcement at every level,” he said.

O’Rourke has centered much of his campaign on gun control since the May massacre at Robb Elementary School left 21 dead, including 19 children. Hours before Friday’s debate, O’Rourke held a news conference with the victims’ families.

In addition to raising the age for firearms purchases, O’Rourke is proposing to require universal background checks and enact red flag rules that allow officials to temporarily confiscate weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Racial Divide Herschel Walker Couldn’t Outrun, John Branch Oct. 2, 2022. As a teenage football prodigy, Mr. Walker was pressed to join a fight for civil rights in his hometown. His decision echoes decades later.

Mr. Walker, who is one of the most famous African Americans in Georgia’s history, a folk hero for legions of football fans, is unpopular with Black voters. And nowhere is the rift more stark than in the rural farm town where he was raised about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Mr. Walker, who is one of the most famous African Americans in Georgia’s history, a folk hero for legions of football fans, is unpopular with Black voters. And nowhere is the rift more stark than in the rural farm town where he was raised about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta.

New York Times, Onetime Haven for Vaccine Skeptics Now Tells Them ‘You’re Not Welcome,’ Oct. 2, 2022. Marin, a wealthy county in California, has one of America’s highest Covid vaccination rates after years of being associated with anti-vaccine parents.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Mass Shootings, Law

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court, dogged by questions of legitimacy, is ready to resume, Robert Barnes, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A new term opens with public approval of the court at historic lows and the justices themselves debating what the court’s rightward turn means for its institutional integrity. The Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, but the nation, its leaders and the justices themselves do not appear to be over the last one.

The court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority quickly moved its jurisprudence sharply to the right, and there is no reason to believe the direction or pace is likely to change. This version of the court seems steadfast on allowing more restrictions on abortion, fewer on guns, shifting a previously strict line separating church and state, and reining in government agencies.

If it is the conservative legal establishment’s dream, it has come at a cost.

Polls show public approval of the court plummeted to historic lows — with a record number of respondents saying the court is too conservative — after the right wing of the court overturned Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of a constitutional right to abortion. President Biden is trying to put the court in the political spotlight, hoping the abortion decision’s shock waves rocked the foundation of this fall’s midterm elections, once thought to be a boon to Republicans.

And the justices themselves are openly debating what the court’s rightward turn has meant for its institutional integrity. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defends his conservative colleagues, with whom he does not always agree, saying unpopular decisions should not call the court’s legitimacy into question.

On the other side, liberal Justice Elena Kagan increasingly is sounding an alarm about the next precedents that could fall and the implications for public perception of the bench.

The court’s new docket offers that potential.

Justices have agreed to revisit whether universities can use race in a limited way when making admission decisions, a practice the court has endorsed since 1978. Two major cases involve voting rights. The court again will consider whether laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation must give way to business owners who do not want to provide wedding services to same-sex couples. And after limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in air pollution cases last term, the court will hear a challenge regarding the Clean Water Act.

 

ICE logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Italy and Sweden show why Biden must fix the immigration system, Fareed Zakaria, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Italy and Sweden are about as different as two European countries can get. One is Catholic, Mediterranean, sunny and chaotic; the other Protestant, northern, chilly and ordered. Over the decades, they have had very different political trajectories. But now, both are witnessing the striking rise of parties that have some connections to fascism.

In each country, this rise has coincided with a collapse of support for the center-left. And it all centers on an issue that the Biden administration would do well to take very seriously: immigration.

 

Mark Edward Sheppard, left, and Mike Thomas Sheppard are charged in the shooting of two migrants along a highway in West Texas. One of the migrants was fatally wounded (Photos from El Paso County Sheriff's Office).

Mark Edward Sheppard, left, and Mike Thomas Sheppard are charged in the shooting of two migrants along a highway in West Texas. One of the migrants was fatally wounded (Photos from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jail warden, his twin brother charged in roadside shooting of Mexican migrants, Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Michael Sheppard, 60, is accused of firing two shotgun blasts at a group of migrants who stopped for water in West Texas.

Near sundown one night this week in West Texas, a white-bearded jail warden and his twin brother allegedly drove past a group of migrants trekking through the desert. Then, authorities say, the warden stopped the truck and backed up.

Migrants scrambled to hide in the brush, and later told authorities they could hear a man’s voice cursing at them to “come out.” Then the warden allegedly fired a pair of shotgun blasts in their direction.

“Did you get him?” the warden’s brother allegedly asked him, according to a state affidavit released Friday.

A man from the group was killed, and a woman was shot in the stomach. The brothers allegedly drove away without checking to see if the bullets had hit anyone, investigators said.

The victims’ names have not been released, but a Mexican government official said Friday that they were Mexicans who had recently entered the United States as part of a group of 13 — joining an influx of migrants that has reached record levels this year.

The Mexican consulate in El Paso is assisting the woman, who is recovering at an El Paso hospital, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because that information had not been publicly released.

Authorities identified the alleged shooter as Michael “Mike” Sheppard, the warden of a privately run detention center that for years held immigrants facing deportation. His twin brother, Mark Sheppard, allegedly was with him. The two 60-year-olds are facing manslaughter charges and are jailed in El Paso County.

The Washington Post could not determine on Friday whether the Sheppard brothers had legal representation, or when or where they would appear in court for an arraignment. Attempts to speak with their family members on Friday were not successful.

From border town to ‘border town’, bused migrants seek new lives in D.C. area

The shooting occurred Tuesday evening near the town of Sierra Blanca, about 85 miles southeast of El Paso, on a rural road that Hudspeth County chief Sheriff’s Deputy Lazaro Salgado described as a frequent pickup spot for migrant smugglers. The men are accused of shooting at the migrants as the group stopped on a farm road to drink water, Texas officials said.

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Public Health, Pandemic, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Why roll the dice on covid? Get the booster and don’t take the chance, Editorial Board, Oct. 2, 2022. Through good science and luck, there is welcome alignment between the prevalent coronavirus strain and the booster shot to combat it. The bivalent boosters available from Pfizer and Moderna have been tweaked to target the BA.4/5 variants, and so far, no major new variants have stormed onto the scene. But the vaccines are useless if the public doesn’t get them.

The new bivalent boosters are off to a slow start. In Minnesota, vaccine uptake is running way behind that of the first booster doses, with fewer than 4 percent of those 12 and older up to date on their shots. In Florida, only about 37,000 out of 20 million eligible people have gotten the bivalent booster dose.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only about 7.6 million Americans in all have rolled up their sleeves for the new dose in the weeks since it became available. The Biden administration ordered 171 million doses. The Pfizer shot is available for those 12 years old and above; the Moderna for 18 years old and more. Both manufacturers have asked for regulatory authorization for shots for younger patients.

Two experts at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign wrote in the Chicago Tribune that many people are “taking a wait-and-see approach.” Waiting might be justified for some people, including those who suffered covid-19 recently. The CDC guidance is to get it sometime between recovery from covid and three months later. The CDC also suggests waiting two months from the last vaccination, but it might be fine to wait longer. Studies have shown previous vaccines began to wane in effectiveness after five or six months. And there is no harm in getting a booster and the flu shot at the same time, but in different arms.

President Biden’s recent declaration that the pandemic is over might have left many people with the mistaken impression they don’t need the booster. The pandemic is not over, and the BA.4/5 variants are still infecting and sickening people. Another reason for reluctance could be that bivalent vaccines are new and were not subjected to large human clinical trials before deployment. But new scientific studies based on humans have been coming out and showing the boosters are stimulating an immune response. Yet another reason for the low uptake is simply fatigue and vaccine hesitancy, much of it based on disinformation and irresponsible anti-vaccine campaigns.

The bivalent boosters are worth getting. They keep people out of hospitals, save lives and combat the pandemic. Had a major new variant arisen, the current bivalent formula might have been overtaken. But luckily, a new threat hasn’t appeared, though the virus is still evolving, and might yet present a new and dangerous variant.

ny times logoNew York Times, In China, Living Not ‘With Covid,’ but With ‘Zero Covid,’ Vivian Wang, Oct. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Strict pandemic rules dictate the patterns of daily life, like waiting in line for frequent Covid tests and stocking up on groceries in case of lockdown.

China FlagThe signs of a looming lockdown in Shenzhen, China, had been building for a while. The city had been logging a few coronavirus infections for days. Daily Covid tests were required to go pretty much anywhere. Individual buildings had been sealed off.

So when a hotel employee woke me up a little after 7 a.m. to explain that we were not allowed to step outside for four days, my initial disorientation quickly turned to resignation.

Of course this happened. I live in China.

As the rest of the world sheds more restrictions by the day, China’s rules are becoming more entrenched, along with the patterns of pandemic life under a government insistent on eliminating cases. People schedule lunch breaks around completing mandatory tests. They restructure commutes to minimize the number of health checkpoints along the way.

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Abortion, Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: What It Costs to Get an Abortion Now in America, Allison McCann, Sept. 28, 2022 (interactive). With the procedure banned in 14 states, patients face added expenses for travel, lodging and child care. More of them are turning to charities for help.

L.V. found out she was pregnant on Aug. 7. The next day she called Women’s Health and Family Care in Jackson, Wyo. — the only abortion provider in the state — to schedule an abortion.

She was told the procedure would typically cost $600 at the clinic, but a state law banning abortion might take effect soon. In that case, she would have to travel out of state, setting her back even more.

L.V., who asked to be identified only by her initials, panicked. She had recently been in a car accident and had outstanding medical and car bills to pay.

“When the clinic told me how much, my mouth dropped,” she said. She was told to contact Chelsea’s Fund, a Wyoming nonprofit that is part of a national network of abortion funds, to ask about financial assistance.

Abortion funds have for decades helped cover the cost of the procedure — about $500 in the first trimester and $2,000 or more in the second trimester — for those who cannot afford it. But they are playing a bigger role since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, taking in more donations and disbursing more money to more patients than ever before.

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Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

climate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Nord Stream spill could be biggest methane leak ever but not catastrophic, Meg Kelly, Ellen Francis and Michael Birnbaum, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The two explosions in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea resulted in what could amount to the largest-ever single release of methane gas into the atmosphere, but it may not be enough to have a major effect on climate change, experts say.

While sudden influxes of methane from underwater pipelines are unusual and scientists have little precedent to fall back on, the consensus is that with so much methane spewing into the atmosphere from all around the globe, the several hundred thousand tons from the pipelines will not make a dramatic difference.

“It’s not trivial, but it’s a modest-sized U.S. city, something like that,” said Drew Shindell, a professor of earth science at Duke University. “There are so many sources all around the world. Any single event tends to be small. I think this tends to fall in that category.”

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U.S. Media, Philanthropy, Education, Sports News

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden reinstates arts committee that disbanded under Trump, Kelsey Ables, Oct. 2, 2022. Biden reinstates arts committee that disbanded under Trump.

On Friday, the president signed an executive order reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and proclaimed October 2022 National Arts and Humanities month.

President Biden signed an executive order on Friday reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The advisory group had been inactive since August 2017, when all committee members resigned in protest of Trump’s delayed condemnation of hate groups at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

In the order, Biden highlighted the broad sociopolitical benefits of supporting arts and culture. “The arts, the humanities and museum and library services are essential to the well-being, health, vitality and democracy of our Nation,” the order reads. “They are the soul of America, reflecting our multicultural and democratic experience.” He also emphasized that the arts “compel us to wrestle with our history.”

The order was announced on the eve of National Arts and Humanities month, which Biden designated for October in a separate proclamation that was also released on Friday.

The move to reestablish the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) continues a kind of cultural repair led by the Biden-Harris administration, which has proposed large increases in funding to federal arts agencies, following the Trump administration’s attempts to eliminate that funding and shut down those agencies. The administration has also overturned Trump-era regulations that controlled the type of art that could hang in government buildings and the style of architecture that could be used in new federal construction. The reinstatement comes after two-and-a-half years of a pandemic that has left arts institutions reeling from decreased ticket sales and prolonged closures.

In the order, Biden recognized the arts’ sweeping impact, from bolstering “efforts to tackle the climate crisis” to advancing the “cause of equity and accessibility.” The president also specifically pointed to underserved communities and veterans as potential beneficiaries of his administration’s cultural efforts.

In the Biden White House, art selections come with a personal touch

The reestablished committee is purely advisory and will guide the president as well as the heads of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS). It will help advance policy goals, promote philanthropic and private engagement in the arts, enhance the effectiveness of federal support and engage the nation’s artists and cultural leaders.

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Oct. 1

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More U.S. Hurricane Coverage

 

More On Ukraine War

 

Trump Probes, Disputes, Rallies, Supporters

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

 

U.S. Politics, Elections, Economy, Governance

 

U.S. Courts, Crime, Immigration, Shootings, Gun Laws

 

Pandemic, Public Health

 

Abortion, Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

 

Food, Water, Energy, Climate, Disasters

 

U.S. Media, Sports, Culture, Education

 

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This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

This week’s new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Supreme Court Has a Crisis of Trust, Editorial Board, Oct. 1, 2022. The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

american flag upside down distressBut in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

john roberts oChief Justice John Roberts, right, recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories.

 

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

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

huffington post logoHuffPost, DOJ Seeks Expedited Appeal In Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Documents Battle, Mary Papenfuss, Sept. 30, 2022. The Department of Justice is calling for an expedited appeal concerning its criminal investigation into White House records seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.

DOJ officials are arguing that they must have access to unclassified material confiscated at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and resort by the FBI earlier this month to better assess the classified — including top secret — files they’re examining. They also need to examine all the records for possible clues as to how the documents may have been transported and accessed, officials said.

Justice Department log circularUnclassified material is currently off limits to the Justice Department as the files are first supposed to be examined by former U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who was named special master — at Trump’s request — by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump.

Cannon had initially blocked Department of Justice access to all records seized at Mar-a-Lago. But in a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records, blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

Yet Department of Justice officials argued in a motion filed Friday that the appointment of the special master is still hindering its investigation into what could have dire consequences for national security.

On Thursday, Cannon moved the deadline for Dearie’s completed review from mid-November to mid-December, which would serve Republican interests to put off damaging information until after the midterm elections. The DOJ is pushing to move up the appeal process to mid-November.

Dearie is supposed to be examining the unclassified documents to determine if any are protected by attorney-client — or executive — privilege.

Meanwhile, the “government is … unable to examine [unclassified] records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings, including records that may shed light on … how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them,” said the DOJ filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The records not marked as classified may also constitute evidence of potential [obstruction] and [concealment or removal of government records],” noted the motion, which was first reported by Politico.

The filing also attacked Cannon’s recent rulings against Dearie.

aileen mercedes cannonCannon, shown at right in a graphic widely disseminated on social mediac, ruled Thursday that Trump could ignore Dearie’s demand that his legal team either prove Trump’s apparently baseless claim that the FBI “planted” records at Mar-a-Lago, or drop the claim.

Yet Cannon’s ruling appeared to contradict her own earlier ruling giving Dearie power over his review.

Several legal experts have sharply criticized the logic behind Cannon’s decisions. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on MSNBC Thursday that she should be removed from the bench. “She’s unfit to serve,” he said.
 

mitch mcconnell elaine chao

huffington post logoHuffPost, Donald Trump Says Mitch McConnell Has ‘Death Wish’ In Truth Social Rant, Lee Moran, Oct. 1, 2022. The former president also insulted the GOP Senate leader’s wife, Elaine Chao, in the post (shown above in a file photo).

Former President Donald Trump on Friday night resorted to violent rhetoric once more as he suggested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has “a death wish” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

 Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, also racistly referred to McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife Elaine Chao as “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Chao served as Trump’s secretary of transportation but resigned in protest following the Trump-incited 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump did not directly note which bills he was furious at McConnell for voting to approve, but McConnell did this week support a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown and provide $12 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine in its ongoing defense of invasion from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

McConnell has also said he’ll back bipartisan legislation against election subversion.

 

joe biden march 25 2021

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs bill to fund government, hours before deadline, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacob Bogage, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The measure extends current government funding levels until Dec. 16. It also includes $12.4 billion for Ukraine and $18.8 billion for U.S. disaster recovery.

President Biden signed legislation Friday to continue funding the government for several weeks, averting a partial shutdown hours before a midnight deadline.

The continuing resolution extends current funding levels until Dec. 16, while also approving $12.4 billion in military and diplomatic spending to help Ukraine in its war against Russia. It also contains $18.8 billion for domestic disaster recovery efforts, including Western wildfires, floods in Kentucky and hurricanes in the Southeast.

All House Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to send the bill to Biden’s desk Friday afternoon, 230 to 201. The Senate passed the bill, 72 to 25, on Thursday after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) dropped his proposal that would have overhauled federal rules for environmental permitting for large energy projects after it became evident it would not garner the 60 votes required to attach it to the must-pass legislation.

The president’s request to include coronavirus and monkeypox funding was excluded to ensure both chambers could pass the legislation.

“We need this bill,” Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said on the House floor moments before the vote. “We provide relief to working families, to our schools, our children, small businesses, communities across this nation. We support the people of Ukraine. We support them in what is the fight for their lives, for their democracy and for world democracy against Russian aggression. We protect communities everywhere in need of safe water. We help to rebuild them from crushing natural disasters. This bill will make a very real difference in the lives of Americans everywhere.”

Averting a government shutdown was the final goal for Democrats to complete before leaving Washington for the final sprint to the midterm elections. Failure to pass a funding bill would be an embarrassment for the party that controls both chambers, and the presidency. Democrats have campaigned on their ability to govern as a contrast to Republicans, who oversaw two government shutdowns during the Trump administration.

 The Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier has been reduced to rubble on the island of Fort Myers Beach in Florida via Associated Press

 The Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier has been reduced to rubble on the island of Fort Myers Beach in Florida via Associated Press

 ap logoAssociated Press via HuffPost, Dozens Dead From Ian: One Of The Strongest, Costliest U.S. Storms Ever, Meg Kinnard and Adriana Gomez Licon, Oct. 1, 2022. The powerful storm terrorized millions of people for most of the week. Rescuers searched for survivors among the ruins of Florida’s flooded homes from Hurricane Ian while authorities in South Carolina waited for daylight to assess damage from its strike there as the remnants of one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes to ever hit the U.S. continued to push north.

The powerful storm terrorized millions of people for most of the week, battering western Cuba before raking across Florida from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, where it mustered enough strength for a final assault on South Carolina. Now weakened to a post-tropical cyclone, Ian was expected to move across central North Carolina on Saturday morning and reach south-central Virginia by the afternoon.

huffington post logoAt least 30 people were confirmed dead, including 27 people in Florida mostly from drowning but others from the storm’s tragic aftereffects. An elderly couple died after their oxygen machines shut off when they lost power, authorities said.

Meanwhile, distraught residents waded through knee-high water Friday, salvaging what possessions they could from their flooded homes and loading them onto rafts and canoes.

“I want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do,” Stevie Scuderi said after shuffling through her mostly destroyed Fort Myers apartment, the mud in her kitchen clinging to her purple sandals.
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In South Carolina, Ian’s center came ashore near Georgetown, a small community along the Winyah Bay about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of historic Charleston. The storm washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two connected to the popular tourist town of Myrtle Beach.

The storm’s winds were much weaker Friday than during Ian’s landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier in the week. Authorities and volunteers there were still assessing the damage as shocked residents tried to make sense of what they just lived through.

Anthony Rivera, 25, said he had to climb through the window of his first floor apartment during the storm to carry his grandmother and girlfriend to the second floor. As they hurried to escape the rising water, the storm surge had washed a boat right up next to his apartment.

“That’s the scariest thing in the world because I can’t stop no boat,” he said. “I’m not Superman.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Panic, Bribes and Ditched Cars: Portraits of Flight From Russia, Ksenia Ivanova and Catherine Porter, Photographs by Ksenia Ivanova, Oct. 1, 2022. A mountain pass into Georgia has become a choke point for fleeing Russians, many of them men who faced being drafted and sent to fight in Ukraine.

They are bus drivers, programmers, photographers, bankers. They have driven for hours, bribed their way through many police checkpoints — spending a month’s wages in some cases — and then waited at the border, most of them for days, in a traffic jam that stretched for miles.

Many grabbed their passports, abandoned their cars and crossed the frontier on foot, fearing that Russia would slam shut one of the last, precious routes to leave the country. The Kremlin dispatched teams to border crossings to weed out draft-eligible men and hand them conscription notices, and rumors spread on social media that it would seal the border.

Most of those who left had no idea when they would return home, if ever.

President Vladimir V. Putin last week ordered a draft of civilians to reinforce the army that has suffered tens of thousands of casualties in the war he launched against Ukraine. Since then, at least 200,000 Russians, mostly young men, have fled, squeezing through the few crossings still open.

  • New York Times, In Washington, Putin’s Nuclear Threats Stir Growing Alarm
  • New York Times, The attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines brought the war closer to Europe, raising anxiety in Germany and beyond
  • New York Times, In a defiant speech, President Vladimir Putin positioned Russia as fighting an existential battle with Western elites, Oct. 1, 2022.
  • New York Times, Opinion: Putin Is Trying to Outcrazy the West, Thomas L. Friedman, Oct. 1, 2022.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv claims advance on Lyman, nuclear plant chief reported missing, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Ellen Francis and Erin Cunningham, Updated Oct. 1, 2022. Ukrainian forces said they surrounded Russian forces in the eastern city of Lyman, advancing in one of four regions annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

ukraine flagUkrainian forces say they have surrounded thousands of Russian troops in the eastern city of Lyman, pressing their counterattacks in a region that Moscow now claims as its own. Ukrainian forces moved on the transport hub overnight even as the Kremlin hosted an elaborate ceremony and pop concert celebrating its annexation of Ukrainian territory.

russian flag wavingThe land seizure has drawn forceful rebuke from Western countries and the United Nations. In Zaporizhzhia, another of the four annexed regions, Ukrainian authorities said the head of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was missing.

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

Battle for Lyman

  • Ukrainian troops recaptured villages near Lyman and encircled the city, Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces, told The Washington Post on Saturday. The city sits on the edge of the eastern Donetsk region, one of the four territories now claimed by Russia and where separatists have held territory since 2014. Taking Lyman could help Ukrainian troops break into the Luhansk region nearby.
  • Ukrainian forces appeared to wave the country’s blue and yellow flag at a sign on the outskirts of Lyman, in a video shared by the head of the Ukrainian’s president’s office. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the footage.
  • Pro-Kremlin Telegram channels acknowledged losses around Lyman. A Moscow-backed separatist leader in Donetsk described Kyiv’s gains earlier as “very unpleasant news” and said the city had been “semi-encircled” on Friday.

Key developments

  • Ukrainian state firm Energoatom accused a Russian patrol of detaining the director general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, after he left the facility Friday in his car. “For the time being, there is no information on his fate,” the nuclear operator said early Saturday, appealing to the U.N. atomic energy watchdog to intervene.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said it had asked Russian authorities about the reports. An IAEA official told Reuters the nuclear watchdog, which has some staff on-site, was “requesting clarifications.” Russian forces control the plant in the Zaporizhzhia region of southeast Ukraine, while Ukrainian workers operate it.
  • Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO, President Volodymyr Zelensky said after Russia’s move to absorb swaths of his country. The remarks may be more symbolic than practical: A speedy admittance of Ukraine to the military alliance would require members to immediately send troops to fight Russia, under collective defense obligations.
  • A U.N. resolution calling on “all states” not to recognize Russian annexation failed to pass at the Security Council on Friday after Russia’s veto. Four nations, including China and India, abstained from voting on the resolution, which condemned Russia’s “illegal, so-called referenda” in Ukraine.

Battlefield updates

  • Kharkiv’s governor said suspected Russian shelling hit a convoy of cars in the northeastern region on Saturday. Oleh Synyehubov said preliminary reports indicated 20 people were killed. Much of the northeast region came back under Ukrainian control last month after a lightning counteroffensive and Russian retreat.
  • The regions claimed by Russia are in Ukraine’s east and southeast. Here are three maps that explain Russia’s annexation and losses in Ukraine.
  • A suspected Russian missile strike tore through a convoy in Zaporizhzhia, killing at least 25 people on Friday. The attack left the war’s latest victims lying in body bags on the cold ground.
  • The United States sees no indications Russia is about to use nuclear weapons but is taking the threat “very seriously,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday. “We do not presently see indications about the imminent use of nuclear weapons,” he told reporters. “But this is something that we are attuned to taking very seriously and communicating directly with Russia about.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. imposes new sanctions over Russia’s illegal annexation, Ellen Francis, Louisa Loveluck, Adela Suliman, Erin Cunningham and Karina Tsui, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The move to annex four regions recommits Russia to its war in Ukraine despite military setbacks and escalates its confrontation with the West, which has promised more weapons and money to help Kyiv reclaim its territories.

President Biden issued a strong statement Friday condemning Russia’s attempt at illegally annexing Ukrainian territory. “The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory,” Biden said.

“Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere,” he said, adding that the United States will continue to honor “Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”

Biden’s statement follows announcement a wide swath of new U.S. sanctions, targeting government officials and family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks.

 

ICE logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Italy and Sweden show why Biden must fix the immigration system, Fareed Zakaria, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Italy and Sweden are about as different as two European countries can get. One is Catholic, Mediterranean, sunny and chaotic; the other Protestant, northern, chilly and ordered. Over the decades, they have had very different political trajectories. But now, both are witnessing the striking rise of parties that have some connections to fascism.

In each country, this rise has coincided with a collapse of support for the center-left. And it all centers on an issue that the Biden administration would do well to take very seriously: immigration.

 

Mark Edward Sheppard, left, and Mike Thomas Sheppard are charged in the shooting of two migrants along a highway in West Texas. One of the migrants was fatally wounded (Photos from El Paso County Sheriff's Office).

Mark Edward Sheppard, left, and Mike Thomas Sheppard are charged in the shooting of two migrants along a highway in West Texas. One of the migrants was fatally wounded (Photos from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jail warden, his twin brother charged in roadside shooting of Mexican migrants, Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, Oct. 1, 2022. Michael Sheppard, 60, is accused of firing two shotgun blasts at a group of migrants who stopped for water in West Texas.

Near sundown one night this week in West Texas, a white-bearded jail warden and his twin brother allegedly drove past a group of migrants trekking through the desert. Then, authorities say, the warden stopped the truck and backed up.

Migrants scrambled to hide in the brush, and later told authorities they could hear a man’s voice cursing at them to “come out.” Then the warden allegedly fired a pair of shotgun blasts in their direction.

“Did you get him?” the warden’s brother allegedly asked him, according to a state affidavit released Friday.

A man from the group was killed, and a woman was shot in the stomach. The brothers allegedly drove away without checking to see if the bullets had hit anyone, investigators said.

The victims’ names have not been released, but a Mexican government official said Friday that they were Mexicans who had recently entered the United States as part of a group of 13 — joining an influx of migrants that has reached record levels this year.

The Mexican consulate in El Paso is assisting the woman, who is recovering at an El Paso hospital, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because that information had not been publicly released.

Authorities identified the alleged shooter as Michael “Mike” Sheppard, the warden of a privately run detention center that for years held immigrants facing deportation. His twin brother, Mark Sheppard, allegedly was with him. The two 60-year-olds are facing manslaughter charges and are jailed in El Paso County.

The Washington Post could not determine on Friday whether the Sheppard brothers had legal representation, or when or where they would appear in court for an arraignment. Attempts to speak with their family members on Friday were not successful.

From border town to ‘border town’, bused migrants seek new lives in D.C. area

The shooting occurred Tuesday evening near the town of Sierra Blanca, about 85 miles southeast of El Paso, on a rural road that Hudspeth County chief Sheriff’s Deputy Lazaro Salgado described as a frequent pickup spot for migrant smugglers. The men are accused of shooting at the migrants as the group stopped on a farm road to drink water, Texas officials said.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: With avalanche of psychotic raving, madman Putin attempts illegal annexation of four more Ukrainian provinces, Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian, author and commentator, Oct. 1, 2022 (92:25 webster tarpley 2007mins.). Issuing new nuclear threats to US and NATO, Kremlin dictator defies specific warnings against more aggression from UN Secretary General, carrying out single worst escalation in conflict thus far; He alleges attack on Baltic natural gas pipelines is work ”Anglo-Saxons.”

Putin accuses West of ”outright Satanism,” but Stalin claimed he had devil on his side; Key Russian novel of twentieth century by Bulgakov is obsessed with devil aka Wolland in Moscow; Russian fascist Ivan Illyin quoted prominently in tirade; Russians vote with their feet in massive exodus of draft-age men;

Truss regime in UK embraces moribund doctrines of free market fetishism and radical deregulation, putting pound sterling and gilt markets in danger of imminent collapse;
Salvini demands post of Interior Minister in emerging Meloni cabinet; Prague coup of 1948 shows this is ideal position for illegal seizure of power;

Origins of Italy’s current neofascism in the Italian Social Republic (RSI), Mussolini’s 1943-1945 German puppet state, and in the postwar fascist party MSI of Giorgio Almirante;

Ginni Thomas continues to deny 2020 election; Espionage Act indictments are overdue;

Hypocrite Rep. deSantis voted against federal aid to states stricken by Superstorm Sandy, but now needs federal largesse for hurricane relief; GOP suing to block Biden’s student loan debt relief measures. So, punish them at the polls!

  

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, American Prisoners Are Released From Venezuela and Iran, Michael D. Shear and Farnaz Fassihi, Oct. 1, 2022. Seven Americans who had been held captive in Venezuela for years were on their way home Saturday venezuela prisonersafter President Biden agreed to grant clemency to two nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuela’s first lady, officials said. The men had been sentenced in 2017 to 18 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

venezuela flag waving customAt the same time, Iran on Saturday released Siamak Namazi, a 51-year-old dual-national Iranian American businessman who had been jailed since 2015, on a temporary furlough and lifted the travel ban on his father, Baquer Namazi, an 85-year-old former official for the United Nations, according to the family’s lawyer.

Together, the announcements regarding Venezuela and Iran represented one of the largest mass releases of Americans detained abroad in recent memory, though one American official said the timing was coincidental. For Mr. Biden, freeing seven Americans, some of whom had been held for years in Venezuelan prison, was part of an aggressive push to accelerate such homecomings — an effort that has drawn some criticism for the president’s willingness to exchange convicted criminals.

The releases also come at a time of heightened global tensions that has proved dangerous for Americans traveling abroad. Brittney Griner, the professional basketball player, remains jailed in Russia for bringing hashish oil into the country after the United States denounced its president, Vladimir V. Putin, for invading Ukraine earlier in the year.

 

More U.S. Hurricanes

ny times logoNew York Times, Staggering Scale of Wreckage Becomes Clear, Patricia Mazzei, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Frances Robles and Jack Healy, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The extent of the damage was difficult to comprehend, even for Florida residents who had survived and rebuilt after other significant storms.

The storm’s heavy blow to infrastructure complicated efforts to gauge the damage — early estimates said insured losses could reach up to $40 billion — and to reach hard-hit barrier islands, where homes and businesses were now heaps of wood pulp and broken concrete. Cell service was spotty or nonexistent up and down the coast, another agonizing impediment to residents’ efforts to seek help or reach missing family members.

ny times logoNew York Times, Facing a Dire Storm Forecast in Florida, Officials Delayed Evacuation, Frances Robles, Mike Baker, Serge F. Kovaleski and Lazaro Gamio, Updated Oct. 1, 2022. A day of hesitation in Florida’s hardest-hit county followed warnings of mass flooding. Now, the authorities are encountering mass death.

As Hurricane Ian charged toward the western coast of Florida this week, the warnings from forecasters were growing more urgent. Life-threatening storm surge threatened to deluge the region from Tampa all the way to Fort Myers.

But while officials along much of that coastline responded with orders to evacuate on Monday, emergency managers in Lee County held off, pondering during the day whether to tell people to flee, but then deciding to see how the forecast evolved overnight.

 

Damage from Hurricane Ian is show in Fort Myers, Florida (New York Times photo by Kinfay Moroti).

Damage from Hurricane Ian is show in Fort Myers, Florida (New York Times photo by Kinfay Moroti).

washington post logoWashington Post, Ian hits South Carolina as Florida reels from earlier assault, Lori Rozsa, Tim Craig, Jason Samenow and Karin Brulliard, Oct. 1, 2022. At least 23 deaths in Florida have been attributed to the storm, which will head into the Southeast. The toll is likely to rise, officials said.

Hurricane Ian made landfall for the second time this week on Friday, crashing into coastal South Carolina as a Category 1 storm that brought lashing rains and storm surge but appeared unlikely to wreak the sort of devastation that was still emerging in Florida.

There, the vast parameters of the damage became more evident as emergency crews pulled people and bodies from streets — some still flooded and others dry but strewn with wreckage. About 34,000 Floridians had filed for federal emergency aid, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said. At least 23 people had been determined to be victims of the storm as of Friday evening, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said, but officials cautioned that confirming causes of death was a slow and deliberate process and said the toll was likely to rise as medical examiners completed more autopsies.

“We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction” in Florida, President Biden said Friday. The disaster, he said, was “not just a crisis for Florida, this is an American crisis.” Indeed, the storm, while weakened, was expected to drive north into Virginia and other East Coast states after crossing over the Carolinas.

Recent Headlines

 

More On Ukraine War

By calling up roughly 300,000 reservists to fight, and abandoning the objective of demilitarizing and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia acknowledged the reality and growing resistance of a unified Ukraine in a televised address on Sept. 21, 2022 (Pool photo by Gavriil Grigorov via New York Times).By calling up roughly 300,000 reservists to fight, and abandoning the objective of demilitarizing and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia acknowledged the reality and growing resistance of a unified Ukraine in a televised address on Sept. 21, 2022 (Pool photo by Gavriil Grigorov via New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Updates: In Illegal Annexation, Putin Declares 4 Ukrainian Regions Part of Russia, Anton Troianovski, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). President Vladimir V. Putin on Friday asserted that four Ukrainian regions would become part of Russia and decried the United States for “Satanism” and “neocolonial hegemony” in a speech that marked a new escalation in Moscow’s seven-month war against Ukraine and positioned Russia, in newly stark terms, as fighting an existential battle with the West.

russian flag wavingSpeaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those four regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”

Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly confrontational standards, it was an extraordinary speech, mixing riffs against Western attitudes on gender identity with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power.

“Not only do Western elites deny national sovereignty and international law,” he said in the 37-minute address. “Their hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid.”

Western leaders have condemned Russia’s annexations as illegal, and the “referendums’’ that preceded them — purporting to show local support for joining Russia — as fraudulent. The Biden administration has threatened new sanctions if the Kremlin moved ahead with its claims.

Ukraine’s government has rebuffed Mr. Putin’s claims and vowed to retake territory captured by Russia in the east and south. Even as Mr. Putin spoke, Ukrainian officials said their army had encircled the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin signed decrees to absorb four Ukrainian regions into Russia, despite widespread global condemnation.

Reuters via Yahoo!, Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory, Staff Report, Oct. 1, 2022. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it rejects Russia’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, adding the decision is a “grave violation” of international law.

Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbours. It has also criticised Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.

The Turkish ministry said on Saturday it had not recognised Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, adding that it rejects Russia’s decision to annex the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

“This decision, which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law, cannot be accepted,” the ministry said.

“We reiterate our support to the resolution of this war, the severity of which keeps growing, based on a just peace that will be reached through negotiations,” it added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the regions on Friday, promising Moscow would triumph in its “special military operation” even as he faced a potentially serious new military reversal.

His proclamation came after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

 

ukraine kharkiv 10 1 2022 map

ny times logoNew York Times, Putin supporters are enraged by the Russian retreat from Lyman, Anton Troianovski, Oct. 1, 2022. Two powerful supporters of President Vladimir V. Putin turned on Russia’s military leadership on Saturday after it ordered a retreat from a key city in eastern Ukraine, a striking sign of dissent within the Russian elite that comes as the Kremlin tries to project an image of strength and unity.

ramzan kadyrov chechnyaRamzan Kadyrov, right, the strongman leader of the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that Russia’s top military brass had “covered for” an “incompetent” general who should now be “sent to the front to wash his shame off with blood.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the business magnate close to Mr. Putin who leads the Wagner Group — an army of mercenaries fighting for Russia in the war — issued a statement an hour later declaring that he agreed with Mr. Kadyrov.

“Send all these pieces of garbage barefoot with machine guns straight to the front,” Mr. Prigozhin said in an apparent reference to Russia’s military leaders.

The Kremlin’s military leadership, including Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, a close associate of Mr. Putin, has come under increasingly withering criticism in recent months from some pro-war Russian bloggers, who view them as corrupt bureaucrats failing as military strategists. That criticism expanded after Russia’s stunning retreat in northeastern Ukraine last month.

But the fury on Saturday after Russia lost the city of Lyman, a key rail hub, was extraordinary both in its timing and the fact that it was coming not just from commentators on social media, but from senior allies of Mr. Putin.

It underscored that the retreat marked a major embarrassment for the Kremlin, coming just 24 hours after the festivities in Moscow marking the attempted annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Mr. Putin that Western officials have decried as illegal.

The city of Lyman in the Donetsk region is part of the annexed territory that Mr. Putin described in his speech on Friday as “Novorossiya,” or New Russia, casting it as part of the country’s historical heartland. The fact that his troops there pulled back just a day later shocked Russian pro-war commentators, who interpreted the retreat as a sign that their government’s grand and aggressive rhetoric did not match reality.

After Russia confirmed the withdrawal, Yevgeny Primakov, the head of a government agency managing ties with Russians abroad, wrote on Telegram that “we have given a Russian city to the enemy” for the first time since World War II.

But it was the public criticism by Mr. Kadyrov and Mr. Prigozhin — both of whom have become influential figures in Russia’s war effort operating independently from the Defense Ministry — that carried the most significance. It suggested that Mr. Putin would now face even more pressure from the hawks in his inner circle to escalate the war.

One concern in the West is that Mr. Putin might decide to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, a possibility he has hinted at.

American officials are already gaming out scenarios should Mr. Putin decide to use a tactical nuclear weapon to make up for the recent failings of Russian troops in Ukraine — and have issued stark warnings to the Russian leader about the catastrophic consequences of such a move.

In his post on Saturday, Mr. Kadyrov became one of the first Russian public officials to openly call for the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

“I don’t know what the Russian Ministry of Defense reports to the commander in chief,” Mr. Kadyrov wrote. “But in my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Facts on the ground matter more than rants at the Kremlin, Editorial Board, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratcheted up his aggressiveness to a disturbing and dangerous degree over the past few days, both rhetorically and in terms of policy.

Perhaps the only thing more brazen than his illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions, based on a sham referendum in the territories, was the speech he gave on Friday to justify it.

Mr. Putin rambled widely and tendentiously through world history to depict the West as a sinister force bent — for centuries — on the subjugation of Russia and motivated, today, by “outright Satanism.” He warned the internationally recognized government in Kyiv, and its supporters in the United States and elsewhere, that the people of the purportedly annexed regions are Russian citizens “forever.” Then he alluded to the “precedent” set by U.S. use of atomic weaponry in World War II. Plainly, Mr. Putin, having failed to defeat Ukraine militarily, is attempting to bully both that country and its friends into accepting Russian sovereignty over the 15 percent or so of Ukrainian territory that it has managed to occupy, with Russian nuclear weapons use as the implied “or else.”

Scary stuff — but an appropriate response begins with remembering that facts on the ground matter more than rants at the Kremlin. Indeed, Mr. Putin’s language is escalating precisely because his strategic position is deteriorating. Russia does not even control all of the territory it supposedly annexed and, in fact, Ukrainian forces have recently retaken Russian-held areas equal to more than 3,500 square miles. The “partial” mobilization of some 300,000 reservists Mr. Putin ordered in response to those setbacks is off to a troubled start, with thousands of men crossing Russia’s borders to escape military service; some 100 protests, including 20 or so attacks against recruiting offices, have occurred, according to the Economist. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military was poised on Friday to seize a key transportation hub, Lyman, in Donetsk, which is one of the four regions Mr. Putin claimed to annex. If the town’s Russian garrison falls, it could lead to additional Russian retreats from this supposedly Russian territory, as well as from the neighboring Luhansk region.

The best thing President Biden and his fellow NATO leaders can do is keep up sanctions and arms shipments that weaken Russia’s military and empower Ukraine to fight back. Mr. Biden indicated on Friday he would do so, with another $1.1 billion weapons package in the works. Symbolically and psychologically important as it was for President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce, in response to Mr. Putin’s threats, that Ukraine will seek immediate NATO membership, there is no need for Western leaders to act on that complicated question. Instead, they should finalize and implement their plan for a price cap on Russian crude exports and accelerate preparations to keep European homes and businesses supplied with energy through the winter.

Also on the agenda should be diplomatic outreach to — or pressure on — India, China and Turkey, all of which seem increasingly weary of Mr. Putin’s war and might help persuade him to abandon it. Mr. Putin’s latest escalations, dangerous as they are, show that he senses the endgame approaching — and fears losing it.

nato logo flags name

washington post logoWashington Post, Zelensky pushes ‘accelerated’ application for Ukraine NATO membership, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday, in an apparent answer to Russia’s move to illegally annex four of the country’s partially occupied regions.

ukraine flagThe remarks were more symbolic than practical: The speedy admittance of Ukraine to the alliance would require members to immediately send troops to fight Russia, under collective defense obligations.

Ukraine has long sought NATO membership, but Zelensky conceded in March that Ukraine had to accept that it was not going to be accepted into the Western military alliance, despite receiving security assistance from countries in it.

“De facto, we have already made our way to NATO,” Zelensky said in a Telegram statement. “De facto, we have already proven compatibility with Alliance standards. They are real for Ukraine — real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction. We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other.”

What to know about Russia’s plans to annex territory in Ukraine

In practice, the chances of Ukraine joining NATO have only grown slimmer in the course of the Russian invasion. Member countries, including the United States, have drawn clear lines: They arm Ukraine, but they don’t have their own troops on the ground out of concern for triggering a World War.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Ukrainian officials said that at least 25 people were killed in an attack on a civilian convoy in Zaporizhzhia, Michael Schwirtz and Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Russia launched a flurry of rocket, drone and missile strikes against Ukrainian towns and cities overnight Thursday to Friday, creating scenes of destruction inside Ukraine as the Kremlin planned an elaborate, and widely rejected, annexation ceremony in Moscow.

The most lethal strike hit in Zaporizhzhia, one of the four Ukrainian provinces that Moscow plans to declare part of Russia on Friday as part of an annexation process that has been condemned by the West as a sham and comes after a humiliating battlefield defeat. The attack killed at least 25 civilians who were waiting at a checkpoint and bus stop, and injured about 50, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general — which would make it one of the deadliest single attacks against civilians in recent weeks.

The wave of overnight strikes came as Russia plans to declare regions where battles are raging — in Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk and Donetsk — to be Russian territory. Moscow says it would then be defending rather than attacking the territory, its stated justification to use any means necessary, in a thinly veiled nuclear threat.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine condemned the strike as the work of “terrorists” while Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, called it “horrific news.”

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Trump Probes, Disputes, Rallies, Supporters

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives says it’s still missing records from Trump officials, Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 1, 2022. The National Archives has told the House Oversight Committee that it has not yet recovered all of the records from Trump administration officials that should have been transferred under the Presidential Records Act.

The Archives will consult with the Department of Justice “on whether ‘to initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed,’ as established under the Federal Records Act,” acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall said in a letter sent on Friday to the committee’s chairwoman, Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.).

joe biden black background resized serious fileSteidel Wall added that the Archives has been unable to obtain federal records related to “non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts.” Presidential advisers are required to forward such messages to their official accounts under the law, she noted.

“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Steidel Wall wrote, according to the letter provided to The Washington Post.

Steidel Wall cited the ongoing lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the National Archives against former Trump adviser Peter Navarro over failing to turn over private emails involving official White House business during his stint serving in the Trump administration.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the immediate staff of the president, the vice president and anyone who advises the president must preserve records and carolyn maloney ophone calls pertaining to official duties.

Although the latest letter referred to Trump officials, the spotlight on former president Donald Trump and the documents he kept after leaving the White House has increased since a court-approved FBI search of the Mar-a-Lago Club on Aug. 8.

The FBI has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year: 184 in a set of 15 boxes sent to the National Archives and Records Administration in January, 38 more handed over by a Trump lawyer to investigators in June, and more than 100 additional documents found in the Aug. 8 search.

In September, Maloney had asked the Archives to assess whether Trump has surrendered all presidential records or classified materials. In her latest letter, Steidel Wall deferred to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.

Maloney said she found the latest disclosure troubling.

“The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still have not received all presidential records from the Trump White House,” Maloney said in a statement. “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, One Trump lawyer’s advice to seek an ‘off-ramp’ with Justice Dept. is not being heeded, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Perry Stein, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The former president seems inclined to stick with a more combative approach, those close to him say, potentially placing him on a collision course with the Justice Department.

After attorney Christopher Kise accepted $3 million to represent Donald Trump in the FBI’s investigation of government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, the veteran litigator argued that Trump should adopt a new strategy.

Turn down the temperature with the Department of Justice, Kise — a former Florida solicitor general — counseled his famously combative client, people familiar with the deliberations said.

Federal authorities had searched Trump’s Florida residence and club because they badly wanted to retrieve the classified documents that remained there even after a federal subpoena, Kise argued, according to these people. With that material back in government hands, maybe prosecutors could be persuaded to resolve the whole issue quietly.

But quiet has never been Trump’s style — nor has harmony within his orbit.

Instead, just a few weeks after Kise was brought aboard, he finds himself in a battle, trying to persuade Trump to go along with his legal strategy and fighting with some other advisers who have counseled a more aggressive posture. The dispute has raged for at least a week, Trump advisers say, with the former president listening as various lawyers make their best arguments.

A Wednesday night court filing from Trump’s team was combative, with defense lawyers questioning the Justice Department’s truthfulness and motives. Kise, whose name was listed alongside other lawyers’ in previous filings over the past four weeks, did not sign that one — an absence that underscored the division among the lawyers. He remains part of the team and will continue assisting Trump in dealing with some of his other legal problems, said the people familiar with the conversations, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private talks. But on the Mar-a-Lago issue, he is likely to have a less public role.

It is a pattern that has repeated itself since the National Archives and Records Administration first alerted Trump’s team 16 months ago that it was missing documents from his term as president — and strongly urged their return. Well before the May 11 grand jury subpoena, and the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, multiple sets of lawyers and advisers suggested that Trump simply comply with government requests to return the papers and, in particular, to hand over any documents marked classified.

Trump seems, at least for now, to be heeding advice from those who have indulged his desire to fight.

The approach could leave the former president on a collision course with the Justice Department, as he relies on a legal trust that includes three attorneys facing their own potential legal risks. The first, Christina Bobb, has told other Trump allies that she is willing to be interviewed by the Justice Department about her role in responding to the subpoena, according to people familiar with the conversations. Another, M. Evan Corcoran, has been counseled by colleagues to hire a criminal defense lawyer because of his response to the subpoena, people familiar with those conversations said, but so far has insisted that is not necessary. The third, longtime Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, saw his phone taken as part of the Justice Department’s probe of Trump’s fake elector scheme, and appeared before a Georgia grand jury Thursday.

Kise, Bobb, Corcoran and Epshteyn either declined to comment for this story or did not respond to requests for comment. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich replied to a detailed list of questions about their roles with a statement that did not directly answer the questions. “While the media wants to focus on gossip, the reality is these witch hunts are dividing and destroying our nation,” Budowich said. “And President Trump isn’t going to back down.”

Kise has worked for multiple elected officials in Florida and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in his role as solicitor general and in private practice. He has long been close to Susie Wiles, a Republican political operative from Florida who plays a key role in Trump’s orbit, and Brian Ballard, a high-powered Florida lobbyist who also is close to Trump.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s legal team in disarray, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 1, 2022. Donald Trump has a long and consistent history of bill palmerhiring the worst lawyers he can find, and then pursuing an even dumber legal strategy than whatever dumb thing his lawyers told him to do. bill palmer report logo headerTrump could get away with this when he was sheltered by the office of the presidency. But now that he’s a private citizen on the verge of criminal indictment for stealing nuclear secrets, the chaotic incompetence of his legal team is becoming a problem for him.

Once it became clear that two of his attorneys were in danger of becoming defendants themselves for having told the DOJ that there were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump paid millions of dollars to add Christopher Kise to his legal team. But last david brooksweek we learned that it had taken less than three full Scaramuccis for Trump to demote Kise. Now WaPo is revealing that it’s because Trump is siding with his existing lawyers over Kise when it comes to strategy. Specifically, Trump’s existing lawyers are pushing for a more “aggressive” strategy than what Kise is recommending.

Given that the “aggressive” strategies used by Trump’s legal team thus far have revolved around a failed special master stunt that ended up giving Trump no real advantage at all, we’re guessing that Kise is urging Trump to stop with these laughable “aggressive” tactics and instead get down to the business of preparing reasonable doubt defenses for the inevitable criminal trial. Trump, whose time since leaving office has been marked by hallucinatory delusions that he can somehow magically get back into office, seems more inclined to take the advice of an attorney who falsely tells him he can “aggressively” fight his way out of this, than an attorney who is acknowledging that Trump is in real trouble.

In any case, it’s now clear that Donald Trump’s legal team is in more disarray than ever. This comes at a time when even a sterling legal team firing on all cylinders would have a difficult time saving Trump. Instead he’s betting the last of his chips on an imaginary hand.

 

Aileen Cannon (shown in a screenshot of her confirmation hearing in 2020)

washington post logoWashington Post, Cannon rules Trump lawyers don’t have to clarify claims on Mar-a-Lago documents, Perry Stein, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Special master Raymond Dearie had told Donald Trump’s attorneys lawyers to address whether documents were planted or declassified.

Judge Aileen M. Cannon (shown above in a screenshot of her video confirmation hearing) told Donald Trump’s lawyers Thursday that they did not need to comply with an order from special master Raymond J. Dearie and state in a filing whether they believe FBI agents lied about documents seized from the former president’s Florida residence.

raymond dearieThursday’s ruling was the first clash between Cannon, a Trump appointee who has generally shown the former president deference in litigation over the Mar-a-Lago investigation, and Dearie, right, a federal judge she appointed as an outside expert in the case, who appears to be far more skeptical of Trump.

Justice Department log circularAt the request of Trump’s lawyers, Cannon chose Dearie to review approximately 11,000 documents seized Aug. 8 from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and residence and determine whether any should be shielded from investigators because of attorney-client or executive privilege.

Dearie last week told the former president’s legal team that they couldn’t suggest in court filings that the government’s description of the seized documents — including whether they were classified — was inaccurate without providing any evidence. He ordered them to submit to the court by Oct. 7 any specific inaccuracies they saw in the government’s inventory list of seized items.

djt march 2020 CustomIt would have been a key test of Trump’s legal strategy, as his lawyers decided whether to back up Trump’s controversial public claims that the FBI planted items at his residence and that he had declassified all the classified documents before leaving office — or whether they would take a more conciliatory approach.

But according to Cannon, who is still the ultimate authority in the portion of the case dealing with which of the unclassified documents federal investigators may use, such a decision is not required right now.

 

mar a lago aerial Customwashington post logoNew York Times, Trump Argues for Executive Privilege in Jan. 6 and Mar-a-Lago Inquiries, Charlie Savage and Glenn Thrush, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). In both cases, former President Trump is claiming a novel power to keep information from his time in office secret.

Two high-profile criminal investigations involving Donald J. Trump are converging on a single, highly consequential question: How much residual executive privilege can a former president invoke after leaving office?

As the Justice Department investigates both Mr. Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and his retention of sensitive documents at his Florida residence, his legal team has repeatedly claimed that he has retained power to keep information secret, allowing him to block prosecutors from obtaining evidence about his confidential Oval Office communications.

President Biden is not backing Mr. Trump’s attempt to use that power, and many legal scholars and the Justice Department have argued that he is stretching the narrow executive privilege rights the Supreme Court has said former presidents may invoke. But there are few definitive legal guideposts in this area, and the fights could have significant ramifications.

In the short term, the disputes could determine whether Mr. Trump is able to use the slow pace of litigation to delay or impede the inquiries. They could also establish new precedents clarifying executive secrecy powers in ways that will shape unforeseen clashes involving future presidents and ex-presidents.

“This is tricky stuff,” said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor and author of “Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability.” “That gets to the point where the Trump era changed things and raised these kinds of questions that before were unthinkable to us.”

Executive privilege can protect the confidentiality of internal executive branch information from disclosure. The Supreme Court first recognized it as a presidential power implied by the Constitution during the Watergate era, and only a handful of opinions have sketched out its parameters over the decades, in part because current and former presidents typically work out such issues in private.

The issue under debate in the two Trump cases, presidential communications privilege, can protect a president’s discussions with White House aides — or their interactions with each other — that relate to presidential decision-making.

Such communications may be vital evidence in determining Mr. Trump’s actions in the period between the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the Jan. 6 investigation, the Justice Department has obtained grand jury subpoenas for several former aides to Mr. Trump seeking testimony about his conversations. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have instructed them not to answer questions, based on a broad conception of his residual powers of executive privilege, even though Mr. Biden has rejected the idea as not in the best interests of the United States.

Recent Headlines

 

World News, Human Rights, Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Even as Iranians Rise Up, Protests Worldwide Are Failing at Record Rates, Max Fisher, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Mass protests, once a grave threat to even the fiercest autocrat, have plummeted in effectiveness, our Interpreter columnist writes.

Iran’s widening protests, though challenging that country’s government forcefully and in rising numbers, may also embody a global trend that does not augur well for the Iranian movement.

Mass protests like the ones in Iran, whose participants have cited economic hardships, political repression and corruption, were once considered such a powerful force that even the strongest autocrat might not survive their rise. But their odds of success have plummeted worldwide, research finds.

Such movements are today more likely to fail than they were at any other point since at least the 1930s, according to a data set managed by Harvard University researchers.

The trajectory of Iran’s demonstrations remains far from certain. Citizen uprisings still sometimes force significant change, for example in Sri Lanka, where protests played a role in removing a strongman president this year.

But Iran’s unrest follows scores of popular eruptions in recent months — in Haiti and Indonesia, Russia and China, even Canada and the United States — that, while impactful, have largely fallen short of bringing the sort of change that many protesters sought or was once more common.

This sharp and relatively recent shift may mark the end of a decades-long era when so-called people power represented a major force for democracy’s spread.

Throughout most of the 20th century, mass protests grew both more common and more likely to succeed, in many cases helping to topple autocrats or bring about greater democracy.

By the early 2000s, two in three protest movements demanding systemic change ultimately succeeded, according to the Harvard data. In retrospect, it was a high-water mark.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolsonaro vs. Lula: Brazil Faces Radically Opposed Options in Divisive Election, Jack Nicas, Oct. 1, 2022. Brazilians will choose between President Jair Bolsonaro and former luiz Inácio lula da silva first term portraitPresident Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , shown at right in a portrait from his first term, in a contest seen as a major test for democracy.

For the past decade, Brazil has lurched from one crisis to the next: environmental destruction, an economic recession, one president impeached, two presidents imprisoned and a pandemic that killed more people than anywhere else outside the United States.

On Sunday, Brazilians will cast their ballots for their next president, hoping to push Latin America’s largest country toward a more stable and brighter future — by deciding between two men who are deeply tied to its tumultuous past.

The election is widely regarded as the nation’s most important vote in decades, historians in Brazil say, in part because the health of one of the world’s biggest democracies may be at stake.

The incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro, is a far-right populist whose first term has stood out for its turmoil and his constant attacks on the electoral system. He has drawn outrage at home and concern abroad for policies that accelerated deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, for his embrace of unproven drugs over Covid-19 vaccines and for his harsh attacks on political rivals, judges, journalists and health professionals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil’s Indigenous women have had it. A record number are running for office, Paulina Villegas, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). A record number of Indigenous women are running for office in Sunday’s election — for state legislatures, for congress, for the vice presidency — as part of a concerted effort to increase Indigenous representation in government.

They come from different states, speak different languages and are running with different parties. But many share a common goal: To undo policies of President Jair Bolsonaro that they say have removed protections, undermined their rights and encouraged record deforestation in the Amazon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Battered by Floods, Pakistani Farmers Struggle to Survive Debts, Christina Goldbaum and Zia ur-Rehman, Photographs by Kiana Hayeri, Oct. 1, 2022. As extreme weather events have become more common in Pakistan, the cycle has worsened for small farmers in sharecropping arrangements with landlords.

The young woman waded into the waist-deep floodwater that covered her farmland, scouring shriveled stalks of cotton for the few surviving white blooms. Every step she took in the warm water was precarious: Her feet sank into the soft earth. Snakes glided past her. Swarms of mosquitoes whirred in her ears.

But the farmworker — Barmeena, just 14 — had no choice. “It was our only source of livelihood,” she told visiting New York Times journalists.

She is one of the millions of farmworkers whose fields were submerged by the record-shattering floods that have swept across Pakistan. In the hardest-hit regions, where the floods drowned entire villages, the authorities have warned that the floodwater may not fully recede for months.

Still, wherever the water has receded even a bit, farm laborers are scrambling to salvage whatever they can from the battered remains of their cotton and rice harvests. It is desperate work. Many already owe hundreds or thousands of dollars to the landlords whose fields they cultivate each year, as part of a system that has long governed much of rural Pakistan.

ny times logoNew York Times, A suicide attack at an educational center in Kabul killed at least 19 people, mostly young female students, Yaqoob Akbary and Christina Goldbaum, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). A suicide attack on Friday at an educational center in Afghanistan’s capital killed at least 19 people, mostly young female students, adding to fears among many Afghans, particularly in the ethnic Hazara minority, about whether the new Taliban government can protect them from rising violence by extremist groups.

The blast wounded at least 27 people, Taliban officials said, and was the latest in a string of attacks in recent months on schools and education centers. Reports from medical staff treating the victims in nearby hospitals suggest that final casualty figures could be much higher.

The education center targeted on Friday was in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of the capital, Kabul, an area dominated by Hazaras, a group that under the previous Western-backed government suffered frequent attacks from both the Taliban insurgency and the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K.

Since the Taliban seized power a year ago, ISIS-K has continued to carry out ruthless attacks on Hazaras, a predominantly Shiite Muslim minority, and has even expanded its violence to parts of the country where it had not previously been active.

ny times logoNew York Times, Eurozone Inflation Sets Another Record, Hitting 10 Percent in September, Patricia Cohen and Melissa Eddy, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.).. Jumps in energy and food prices pushed inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro to the highest annual rate recorded since the currency was created.

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U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance, Immigration

washington post logoWashington Post, Congress proves to be productive as Democrats navigate with slim majority, Azi Paybarah, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Funding infrastructure in all 50 states. Billions for U.S.-made semiconductors. Help for U.S. veterans exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. Aid for Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian invasion.

And of course, there is what Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) referred to as the “crowning jewel” of legislation — the sprawling Inflation Reduction Act aimed at lowering prescription drug costs, addressing climate change, raising taxes on some billion-dollar corporations and reducing the federal deficit.

Congress’s two years — which some political observers predicted could be stymied by razor-thin majorities in both houses, and heightened polarization nationwide — has, according to Democrats, been one of the most productive in recent history with passage of several bipartisan bills, such as the infrastructure measure, and significant Democratic-only legislation with far-reaching impact for millions of Americans.

President Biden called the infrastructure legislation “monumental.” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) called the money to subsidize the domestic manufacturing of semiconductors “profound.” And on Friday, shortly before the House passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government operating, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters, “We look back on this session with great pride” as Democrats managed to deliver on several of Biden’s agenda items but not all.

“We put people over politics,” she said, describing the accomplishments in a campaign-style slogan: “People greater than politics.”

Republicans cast the Democratic record as marked by “reckless” and “partisan” spending, contributing to record inflation while failing to address issues such as the influx of migrants at the border or crime in the nation’s cities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Judge Rules Against Fair Fight Action in Georgia Voting Lawsuit, Maya King, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.). A U.S. District Court judge found that the sections of the state’s election law that cover absentee ballots, voter rolls and voter applications “violate neither the constitution nor the Voting Rights Act.”

A federal judge on Friday evening ruled that Georgia’s election law does not violate voters’ constitutional rights, dealing a blow to Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group aligned with the Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams.

U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones ruled against all the claims brought by Fair Fight Action, which had challenged Georgia’s absentee ballot provisions, oversight of voter rolls and the state’s “exact match” law, which mandates that a voter’s name on their voter application be identical to their government identification, even in the case of hyphens or accent marks. A majority of the voter applications flagged for inconsistencies in 2018 belonged to voters of color, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

“Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the Voting Rights Act,” Judge Jones wrote in his 288-page order. The judge, who was nominated by President Barack Obama, added that the “burden on voters is relatively low” and that Fair Fight Action did not provide “direct evidence of a voter who was unable to vote, experienced longer wait times, was confused about voter registration status.”

The plaintiffs, many of whom were Georgia voters, had argued that the 2018 election had been marked by a number of barriers to access to the ballot that had been racially discriminatory. Subsequent research showed that Georgia voters in 2018 saw longer lines in majority-minority precincts, faulty election equipment and undertrained staff.

In a statement, the Fair Fight Action executive director Cianti Stewart-Reid called the ruling a “significant loss for the voting rights community in Georgia and across the country.”

The ruling, which caps a four-year legal battle between the voting rights group and Georgia’s secretary of state, is a blow to Ms. Abrams, who founded Fair Fight in 2018 after losing to now-Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, by less than 60,000 votes in her first run for governor. She has said she believes discriminatory election rules were a factor in her loss.

“Over the past four years, Fair Fight and its allies have exposed a deeply flawed and problematic system,” Ms. Abrams, who is running in a rematch against Mr. Kemp, said in a statement. “As the judge says in his first sentence, ‘This is a voting rights case that resulted in wins and losses for all parties.’ However, the battle for voter empowerment over voter suppression persists, and the cause of voter access endures. I will not stop fighting to ensure every vote can be cast, every ballot is counted and every voice is heard.”

In a statement issued on Friday evening, Mr. Kemp said that the ruling “exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Abbott and O’Rourke clash on immigration, guns in only scheduled debate in Texas governor’s race, Annie Linskey, Oct. 1, 2022. The fierce exchanges came during a fast-paced televised debate Friday evening — the only such meeting scheduled between the two candidates in the Texas governor’s race.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday defended busing migrants out of state to liberal cities, while his Democratic rival, Beto O’Rourke, called Abbott’s rhetoric on immigration “hateful” and said his conduct in the aftermath of a mass shooting should disqualify him from serving in the state’s top job.

The contentious exchanges came during a fast-paced televised debate Friday evening — the only such scheduled meeting between the two candidates competing in one of the most closely watched contests of the fall. The hour-long exchange, in Edinburg, near the state’s southern border, was dominated by disputes over guns and immigration. It was largely consistent with the competition in recent months, in a state still reeling from a mass shooting in May.

“There should be accountability up and down the ballot, beginning with Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said as he accused the two-term governor of failing to act to prevent the deadly mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Tex., and to take meaningful actions in the aftermath of it to prevent another one. “I think he has lost the right to serve this state in the most important position of public trust.”

Abbott, who is leading in most polls, sought to blame many of the state’s woes on President Biden, invoking his name four times during the first 12 minutes of the debate — largely to blame Biden for the increase in migration across the southern border.

Abbott used a legal argument to push back on a demand from O’Rourke and some of the shooting victims’ families who want the state to raise the age limit for buying certain firearms to 21. Florida passed a similar measure in the aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting.

“No parent should lose a child, we want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Abbott said of the shooting. “We want to end school shootings. But we cannot do that by making false promises.”

He argued that lifting the legal limit for purchasing weapons would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Abbot said law enforcement officers present at the schools should face consequences for their inaction. “There needs to be accountability for law enforcement at every level,” he said.

O’Rourke has centered much of his campaign on gun control since the May massacre at Robb Elementary School left 21 dead, including 19 children. Hours before Friday’s debate, O’Rourke held a news conference with the victims’ families.

In addition to raising the age for firearms purchases, O’Rourke is proposing to require universal background checks and enact red flag rules that allow officials to temporarily confiscate weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

O’Rourke evaded a question about his previously stated support for confiscating AR-15-style weapons, though he did not reiterate that position.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seniors are stuck home alone as health aides flee for higher-paying jobs, Christopher Rowland, Sept. 25, 2022.  While more elderly seek home care to age in place, low-wage workers are finding easier jobs with equal or better pay in retail and restaurants.

Racked with nausea and unable to leave the bathroom, Acey Hofflander muttered in confusion. Her husband tried to press a damp washcloth against her neck, his hands trembling and weak from Parkinson’s disease.

“What’s happening? What’s going on?” Acey mumbled.

Their roles had unexpectedly reversed. At 85, Acey is the healthy one, the organized, energetic caregiver for husband, Tom, 88. But when a grueling day of showering, dressing, feeding and transporting him to medical appointments pushed Acey beyond exhaustion in July, she wound up in the emergency room — a health crisis the Hofflanders blame in large part on a lack of professional, in-home care.

Amid a national shortage of home-care workers that deepened during the covid-19 pandemic, the couple spent much of this year on a private agency list waiting to be assigned a professional home-care aide. But over four months, from April to August, no aides were available, leaving Acey to carry the load on her own. Many nights — after an hour-long bedtime routine that included giving Tom his pills and pulling on his Depends before tucking him into his recliner — she lay sleepless in bed.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Mass Shootings, Law

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court, dogged by questions of legitimacy, is ready to resume, Robert Barnes, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A new term opens with public approval of the court at historic lows and the justices themselves debating what the court’s rightward turn means for its institutional integrity. The Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, but the nation, its leaders and the justices themselves do not appear to be over the last one.

The court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority quickly moved its jurisprudence sharply to the right, and there is no reason to believe the direction or pace is likely to change. This version of the court seems steadfast on allowing more restrictions on abortion, fewer on guns, shifting a previously strict line separating church and state, and reining in government agencies.

If it is the conservative legal establishment’s dream, it has come at a cost.

Polls show public approval of the court plummeted to historic lows — with a record number of respondents saying the court is too conservative — after the right wing of the court overturned Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of a constitutional right to abortion. President Biden is trying to put the court in the political spotlight, hoping the abortion decision’s shock waves rocked the foundation of this fall’s midterm elections, once thought to be a boon to Republicans.

And the justices themselves are openly debating what the court’s rightward turn has meant for its institutional integrity. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defends his conservative colleagues, with whom he does not always agree, saying unpopular decisions should not call the court’s legitimacy into question.

On the other side, liberal Justice Elena Kagan increasingly is sounding an alarm about the next precedents that could fall and the implications for public perception of the bench.

The court’s new docket offers that potential.

Justices have agreed to revisit whether universities can use race in a limited way when making admission decisions, a practice the court has endorsed since 1978. Two major cases involve voting rights. The court again will consider whether laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation must give way to business owners who do not want to provide wedding services to same-sex couples. And after limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in air pollution cases last term, the court will hear a challenge regarding the Clean Water Act.

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Public Health, Pandemic, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, In China, Living Not ‘With Covid,’ but With ‘Zero Covid,’ Vivian Wang, Oct. 1, 2022. Strict pandemic rules dictate the patterns of daily life, like waiting in line for frequent Covid tests and stocking up on groceries in case of lockdown.

The signs of a looming lockdown in Shenzhen, China, had been building for a while. The city had been logging a few coronavirus infections for days. Daily Covid tests were required to go pretty much anywhere. Individual buildings had been sealed off.

So when a hotel employee woke me up a little after 7 a.m. to explain that we were not allowed to step outside for four days, my initial disorientation quickly turned to resignation.

Of course this happened. I live in China.

As the rest of the world sheds more restrictions by the day, China’s rules are becoming more entrenched, along with the patterns of pandemic life under a government insistent on eliminating cases. People schedule lunch breaks around completing mandatory tests. They restructure commutes to minimize the number of health checkpoints along the way.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: New Infectious Threats Are Coming. The U.S. Isn’t Ready, Apoorva Mandavilli (Ms. Mandavilli has covered both the Covid pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak. She spoke with more than a dozen health experts about failures in the national response that must be remedied), Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The coronavirus revealed flaws in the nation’s pandemic plans. The spread of monkeypox shows that the problems remain deeply entrenched.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2If it wasn’t clear enough during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become obvious during the monkeypox outbreak: The United States, among the richest, most advanced nations in the world, remains wholly unprepared to combat new pathogens.

The coronavirus was a sly, unexpected adversary. Monkeypox was a familiar foe, and tests, vaccines and treatments were already at hand. But the response to both threats sputtered and stumbled at every step.

“It’s kind of like we’re seeing the tape replayed, except some of the excuses that we were relying on to rationalize what happened back in 2020 don’t apply here,” said Sam Scarpino, who leads pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute.

No single agency or administration is to blame, more than a dozen experts said in interviews, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that it bungled the response to the coronavirus.

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Abortion, Forced Birth Laws, Privacy Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: What It Costs to Get an Abortion Now in America, Allison McCann, Sept. 28, 2022 (interactive). With the procedure banned in 14 states, patients face added expenses for travel, lodging and child care. More of them are turning to charities for help.

L.V. found out she was pregnant on Aug. 7. The next day she called Women’s Health and Family Care in Jackson, Wyo. — the only abortion provider in the state — to schedule an abortion.

She was told the procedure would typically cost $600 at the clinic, but a state law banning abortion might take effect soon. In that case, she would have to travel out of state, setting her back even more.

L.V., who asked to be identified only by her initials, panicked. She had recently been in a car accident and had outstanding medical and car bills to pay.

“When the clinic told me how much, my mouth dropped,” she said. She was told to contact Chelsea’s Fund, a Wyoming nonprofit that is part of a national network of abortion funds, to ask about financial assistance.

Abortion funds have for decades helped cover the cost of the procedure — about $500 in the first trimester and $2,000 or more in the second trimester — for those who cannot afford it. But they are playing a bigger role since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, taking in more donations and disbursing more money to more patients than ever before.

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Water, Space, Energy, Climate, Disasters

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washington post logoWashington Post, Nord Stream spill could be biggest methane leak ever but not catastrophic, Meg Kelly, Ellen Francis and Michael Birnbaum, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The two explosions in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea resulted in what could amount to the largest-ever single release of methane gas into the atmosphere, but it may not be enough to have a major effect on climate change, experts say.

While sudden influxes of methane from underwater pipelines are unusual and scientists have little precedent to fall back on, the consensus is that with so much methane spewing into the atmosphere from all around the globe, the several hundred thousand tons from the pipelines will not make a dramatic difference.

“It’s not trivial, but it’s a modest-sized U.S. city, something like that,” said Drew Shindell, a professor of earth science at Duke University. “There are so many sources all around the world. Any single event tends to be small. I think this tends to fall in that category.”

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U.S. Media, Philanthropy, Education, Sports News

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Tua Tagovailoa’s injury renews debate over how broadcasts handle concussions, Ben Strauss, Oct. 1, 2022 (print ed.).  Amazon, which is paying more than $1 billion to broadcast Thursday night games, was introduced to what is a difficult balancing act for the NFL’s media partners.

Like bruising touchdowns and highflying catches, serious injuries and specifically head injuries are staples of the football experience — and the football broadcast.

So when Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa hit the turf Thursday night, suffering what appeared to be his second head injury in five days, it provided the first test of how Amazon, which is paying more than $1 billion to the NFL to broadcast Thursday night games, would handle what has become a difficult balancing act for the league’s media partners.
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The broadcast was tasked with deciding quickly how to show replays of the injury and how to contextualize it. Tagovailoa had been injured during the previous week’s game against the Bills, wobbling and falling to the ground after a hard hit. He left that game but returned after the Dolphins reported that he cleared the NFL’s concussion protocols. The NFL Players Association launched a review of how that was handled, and it is ongoing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Crisis of Men and Boys, David Brooks, right, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). If you’ve been paying david brooksattention to the social trends, you probably have some inkling that boys and men are struggling, in the U.S. and across the globe.

They are struggling in the classroom. American girls are 14 percentage points more likely to be “school ready” than boys at age 5, controlling for parental characteristics. By high school two-thirds of the students in the top 10 percent of the class, ranked by G.P.A., are girls, while roughly two-thirds of the students at the lowest decile are boys. In 2020, at the 16 top American law schools, not a single one of the flagship law reviews had a man as editor in chief.

Men are struggling in the workplace. One in three American men with only a high school diploma — 10 million men — is now out of the labor force. The biggest drop in employment is among young men aged 25 to 34. Men who entered the work force in 1983 will earn about 10 percent less in real terms in their lifetimes than those who started a generation earlier. Over the same period, women’s lifetime earnings have increased 33 percent. Pretty much all of the income gains that middle-class American families have enjoyed since 1970 are because of increases in women’s earnings.

Men are also struggling physically. Men account for close to three out of every four “deaths of despair” — suicide and drug overdoses. For every 100 middle-aged women who died of Covid up to mid-September 2021, there were 184 middle-aged men who died.

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