July 2023 News

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative July 2023 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this. 

 

July 1

Top Headlines

 

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.

 

More On U.S. Supreme Court

 

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Budgets, Poiitics

 

Global Stories

 

More On Russia, Ukraine

 

More On Trump Probes, Pro-Trump Rioters, Election Deniers

 

 

More On U.S. Courts, Crime, Civil Rights, Immigration

 

More On 2024 Presidential Race

 

More On U.S. Politics, Governance, Elections

 

Environment, Transportation, Energy, Space, Disasters, Climate

climate change photo

 

More On U.S. Abortion, Child Porn, #MeToo

 

Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy

 

More On U.S. Media, Religion, Education, Arts, Sports, Culture

 

Top Stories

 

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, Supreme Court rejects Biden student loan forgiveness plan, Robert Barnes and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Supreme Court on Friday said President Biden does not have the authority for his nearly half-trillion dollar plan to forgive student loan debt, the latest blow from a Supreme Court that has been dismissive of this administration’s bold claims of power.

The vote was 6 to 3 along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., below left, writing for the court’s dominant conservatives.

john roberts oBiden contended his administration had the authority to forgive student loan debt under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003. The law allows the education secretary to waive or modify loan provisions in response to a national emergency, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

But the challenge brought together controversial issues: an ambitious program aimed at fulfilling a campaign promise for Biden’s political base; heightened suspicion by the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority about the ability of federal agencies to act without specific congressional authorization; and the power of Republican-led states to use the judiciary to stop a president’s priorities before they take effect.

Live updates: Read the latest news and reactions to Friday’s Supreme Court decisions

Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona proposed a plan that would eliminate up to $10,000 of student debt for borrowers earning up to $125,000 annually, or up to $250,000 for married couples. Those who received Pell Grants, a form of financial aid for low- and middle-income students, would be eligible for an additional $10,000 in forgiveness. About 20 million borrowers could see their balances wiped clean.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, who defended the program at oral arguments, said Cardona’s actions are not only justified by the law, but they are also exactly what Congress had in mind when it passed the Heroes Act in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But the Supreme Court majority — Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — disagreed.

“The Secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal. It does not,” Roberts wrote. “We hold today that the Act allows the Secretary to ‘waive or modify’ existing statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to financial assistance programs under the Education Act, not to rewrite that statute from the ground up.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Affirmative Action Ruling May Upend Hiring Policies, Too, Noam Scheiber, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s decision on college admissions could lead companies to alter recruitment and promotion practices to pre-empt legal challenges.

As a legal matter, the Supreme Court’s rejection of race-conscious admissions in higher education does not in itself impede employers from pursuing diversity in the workplace.

That, at least, is the conclusion of lawyers, diversity experts and political activists across the spectrum — from conservatives who say robust affirmative action programs are already illegal to liberals who argue that they are on firm legal ground.

But many experts argue that as a practical matter, the ruling will discourage corporations from putting in place ambitious diversity policies in hiring and promotion — or prompt them to rein in existing policies — by encouraging lawsuits under the existing legal standard.

After the decision on Thursday affecting college admissions, law firms encouraged companies to review their diversity policies.

“I do worry about corporate counsels who see their main job as keeping organizations from getting sued — I do worry about hyper-compliance,” said Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, who advises employers on diversity policies.

Programs to foster the hiring and promotion of African Americans and other minority workers have been prominent in corporate America in recent years, especially in the reckoning over race after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Even before the ruling in the college cases, corporations were feeling legal pressure over their diversity efforts. Over the past two years, a lawyer representing a free-market group has sent letters to American Airlines, McDonald’s and many other corporations demanding that they undo hiring policies that the group says are illegal.

The free-market group, the National Center for Public Policy Research, acknowledged that the outcome on Thursday did not bear directly on its fight against affirmative-action in corporate America. “Today’s decision is not relevant; it dealt with a special carve-out for education,” said Scott Shepard, a fellow at the center.

Mr. Shepard claimed victory nonetheless, arguing that the ruling would help deter employers who might be tempted overstep the law. “It couldn’t be clearer after the decision that fudging it at the edges” is not allowed, he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court protects web designer who won’t do gay wedding websites, Robert Barnes, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian graphic artist from Colorado who does not want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples, despite the state’s protective anti-discrimination law.

The vote split along ideological lines 6 to 3, with the liberals in dissent.

It was the court’s latest examination of the clash between laws requiring equal treatment for the LGBTQ community and those who say their religious beliefs lead them to regard same-sex marriages as “false.”

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the First Amendment protects designer Lorie Smith from creating speech she does not believe.

“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands,” Gorsuch wrote, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. “Colorado seeks to deny that promise.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored the dissent, joined by fellow liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. “Today the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” she wrote. “Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.”

For the second day in a row, Sotomayor read parts of her dissent from the bench to show the depth of her disagreement with the majority. On Thursday, she was dissenting from a historic decision striking down race-based affirmative action in college admissions.

Live updates: Read the latest on Supreme Court decisions today

Friday’s case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, comes five years after the Supreme Court’s narrow 2018 in favor of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. In that decision, the justices avoided declaring a clear winner in the cultural conflict between LGBTQ rights advocates who seek the protections of public accommodations laws and those who say their religious beliefs forbid countenancing same-sex marriage.

Smith’s office is just five miles from Phillips’s Masterpiece Cakeshop. She contended that the same Colorado law Phillips challenged, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, also violates her deeply held religious views and free-speech rights.

Smith wants to expand her business to create wedding websites — but only to tell the stories of brides and grooms “through God’s lens.” And she wants to be able to tell same-sex couples on her 303 Creative LLC website that she will not create such platforms for them.

“Colorado is censoring and compelling my speech and really forcing me to pour my creativity into creating messages that violate my convictions,” Smith said in an interview before her case was argued in December. “There are some messages I cannot create.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Dangerous Temperatures Stretch Across the South, Marie Elizabeth Oliver, Stacey Cato and Livia Albeck-Ripka, Updated July 1, 2023. A dome of high pressure that has baked parts of the region for more than a week will drive the heat index up to 120 degrees, forecasters say.

An oppressive heat wave that baked Texas and Oklahoma last week, contributing to several deaths, is raising the heat index to dangerous levels from Kansas City, Mo., to the Florida Keys.

Temperatures will climb up to 20 degrees above normal for much of the region through at least the weekend, reaching the high 90s or low 100s in many places. The heat index — a measure of how heat and humidity make the air feel — will be even higher.

ny times logoNew York Times, An Early Heat Wave Upsets the Rhythm of Life in the South, Emily Cochrane, Photographs by Bryan Tarnowski, July 1, 2023. Outdoor workers, fishermen and a group of students who waited all year for a band camp are all searching for ways to adapt to the pervasive heat.

This is summer in the South. The heat is pervasive, and demands adaptation. Construction workers, landscapers and delivery drivers wear cooling rags underneath their wide-brimmed hats, and some even turn to Florida water — a citrus-scented, alcohol-based cologne — to help cool their necks. Dog walkers, joggers, farmworkers and almost everybody else know it’s best to venture out in the early mornings or the evenings.

Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, the stifling humidity was set to persist along the Gulf of Mexico, maintaining hazardous and sweltering conditions even as temperatures began to drop a few degrees. And while the humidity should be lower in the West, Central California and places in the desert Southwest will also endure a blast of heat this weekend.

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert Kennedy Jr. Reports Income of $7.8 Million, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, July 1, 2023 (print ed). Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion and prominent vaccine skeptic who is challenging President Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, reported an income of $7.8 million in the year leading up to his entry into the race, including nearly $1.6 million from his consulting work for a personal injury law firm known for litigation against pharmaceutical companies.

The details came in a financial disclosure form filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. It shows that Mr. Kennedy earned $5 million at his environmental law firm, Kennedy & Madonna, and a $516,000 salary and bonus as chairman and chief legal counsel of Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit group he formed that has campaigned against vaccines. (The disclosure says he has been on leave from the organization since April, when he announced his campaign.)

Mr. Kennedy, a leading skeptic of vaccinations and prescription medications, has gained a foothold in the race even as he has contorted facts about vaccine development and public health authorities and increasingly embraced conservative figures and causes.

His support among Democrats has reached as high as 20 percent in polls, although a more recent Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll in June put his Democratic support in New Hampshire at 9 percent. He has also appealed to prospective voters outside the party: A Quinnipiac University poll in June found that 40 percent of Republicans viewed him favorably, compared with 31 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats.

Friday was also the final day of campaign fund-raising for the second quarter for the presidential race. Mr. Kennedy’s campaign sent out solicitations asking donors to help him meet a $5 million goal by the end of the day. His campaign highlighted a $1 million haul in the 24 hours leading up to Friday’s final push.

Official numbers will be available in two weeks, when the campaign files reports with the F.E.C.

On his disclosure form, Mr. Kennedy reported nearly $1.6 million in consulting fees from Wisner Baum, a Los Angeles-based personal injury law firm formerly known as Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. The firm’s website lists him as co-counsel on ongoing litigation over Gardasil — an HPV vaccine manufactured by Merck — as well as lawsuits over Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and California wildfires.

Mr. Kennedy also reported $150,000 in consulting fees from the Marwood Group, which describes itself as a health care advisory firm based in New York. And he reported $125,000 from Skyhorse Publishing, which publishes his books and, according to the disclosure, pays him as a consultant.

Dennis Kucinich, the former congressman and Mr. Kennedy’s campaign manager, said the disclosure “speaks for itself.”

whistleblower summit logoOpEd News, Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival Announces Slate of Films and Screenplays for 11th Annual Film & Writing Competition, Michael McCray, left, Update July 1, 2023. Pentagon Papers Whistleblower to be Remembered During 11th Annual Event Featuring Film Screenings, Screenplay Contest, and a Tribute to Famed michael mccrayWhistleblower Daniel Ellsberg at the National Press Club.

ACORN 8, in collaboration with the Justice Integrity Project, announced feature, documentary, short film, and screenplay selections premiering virtually at the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival (www.WhistleblowerSummit.com). The hybrid event, set for July 22-33 in Washington, DC, will include live events and virtual screenings of featured films and panels. The theme for the annual conference is “Unraveling the Truth: 60 Years after the Assassination of JFK.” The annual festival is a globally recognized platform amplifying free speech, social justice, and civil & human rights advocacy. Festival passes, and single tickets are on sale now.

For more information about the summit hosts and film festival, click here -.whistleblowersummit.com/tickets

The National Whistleblower Day (July 30) feature screenings include The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Additional screenings include District Insiders: Former JFK Secret Service Protector Describes Shocking JFK Assassination and other industry panels (filmmaker and screenwriter). This year’s programming illuminates a wide array of storytelling that showcases the talent of writers and filmmakers alike.

“We are proud to be back live for the 11th year to bring audiences, both in-person and virtually, an inspiring selection of events celebrating free speech in all its forms “film, books, journalism, and advocacy,” said Michael McCray, Managing Director. “We’re thrilled to spotlight transformative storytelling that demonstrates the power of equity in entertainment media.”

“We are honored to recognize Abraham Bolden (African American) an important JFK Secret Service Agent turned whistleblower at this year’s summit,” said Andrew Kreig, Executive Director for the Justice Integrity Project.

“We’re excited to come together for the 11th year running to share unique and untold stories, showcasing diverse and inclusive content to the masses. This year’s filmmakers are unmatched in their refreshing narratives,” Marcel Reid, Festival Director. We are pleased to announce the 2023 Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival lineup.

 

More On U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Affirmative Action Ruling May Upend Hiring Policies, Too, Noam Scheiber, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s decision on college admissions could lead companies to alter recruitment and promotion practices to pre-empt legal challenges.

As a legal matter, the Supreme Court’s rejection of race-conscious admissions in higher education does not in itself impede employers from pursuing diversity in the workplace.

That, at least, is the conclusion of lawyers, diversity experts and political activists across the spectrum — from conservatives who say robust affirmative action programs are already illegal to liberals who argue that they are on firm legal ground.

But many experts argue that as a practical matter, the ruling will discourage corporations from putting in place ambitious diversity policies in hiring and promotion — or prompt them to rein in existing policies — by encouraging lawsuits under the existing legal standard.

After the decision on Thursday affecting college admissions, law firms encouraged companies to review their diversity policies.

“I do worry about corporate counsels who see their main job as keeping organizations from getting sued — I do worry about hyper-compliance,” said Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, who advises employers on diversity policies.

Programs to foster the hiring and promotion of African Americans and other minority workers have been prominent in corporate America in recent years, especially in the reckoning over race after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Even before the ruling in the college cases, corporations were feeling legal pressure over their diversity efforts. Over the past two years, a lawyer representing a free-market group has sent letters to American Airlines, McDonald’s and many other corporations demanding that they undo hiring policies that the group says are illegal.

The free-market group, the National Center for Public Policy Research, acknowledged that the outcome on Thursday did not bear directly on its fight against affirmative-action in corporate America. “Today’s decision is not relevant; it dealt with a special carve-out for education,” said Scott Shepard, a fellow at the center.

Mr. Shepard claimed victory nonetheless, arguing that the ruling would help deter employers who might be tempted overstep the law. “It couldn’t be clearer after the decision that fudging it at the edges” is not allowed, he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, See how the Supreme Court ruled on major cases from this term, Adam Liptak and Eli Murray, Updated July 1, 2023. The Supreme Court term that ended Friday concluded with a series of muscular 6-to-3 decisions divided along partisan lines, with the court’s six Republican appointees in the majority.

Those rulings, on affirmative action, student loans and gay rights, were reminiscent of the transformative conservative decisions issued last June on abortion, guns, religion and climate change. But the latest term as a whole included some notable decisions in which the court’s three Democratic appointees were in the majority, including ones on the Voting Rights Act, the role state legislatures play in federal elections and Native American adoptions.

According to a survey conducted in April by researchers at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Texas, the public is often — but hardly always — divided along partisan lines on how the court should rule in the term’s major cases.

But after a significantly warmer June, and with climate change driving temperatures ever higher, this longstanding patchwork of medical and homemade remedies is becoming increasingly crucial for the preservation of both livelihoods and summer traditions.

ny times logoNew York Times, The ‘Unseen’ Students in the Affirmative Action Debate, Sarah Mervosh and Troy Closson, July 1, 2023. Race-conscious admissions helped only a tiny fraction of Black and Hispanic students. The policy could not address the many obstacles to a degree.

For as long as she remembers, Dolly Ramos hoped to have “the college experience,” she said, and one day become a nurse. But her biggest obstacle wasn’t competing for a spot at the school of her choice — it was attending and affording college at all.

The Supreme Court’s decision striking down affirmative action will very likely have powerful consequences for elite college admissions, potentially limiting the pool of Black and Hispanic students at the most selective universities and affecting the diversity of future leaders in business, government and beyond.

But the effect of race-conscious admissions was always limited to a relatively small number of students. For the vast majority, these schools are not an option — academically or financially.

Many head straight into the work force after high school or attend less selective universities that do not weigh race and ethnicity in admissions. At least a third of all undergraduate students — including half of Hispanic undergraduates — attend community colleges, which typically allow open enrollment.

“Somewhere it switched from ‘I want to be in school’ to ‘I just want to survive,’” said Ms. Ramos, 25, who recently finished her nursing degree. To get there, she cobbled together credits from multiple colleges in New York State, and at times lived in a youth shelter and slept on the floor of a professor’s office.

At Memorial Pathway Academy, a high school for at-risk students and new immigrants in Garland, Texas, more than 80 percent of students get a job after graduation. Nationally, nearly 40 percent of high school graduates do not immediately enroll in college.

“This is the unseen group,” said Josh Tovar, the principal. “Everyone sees the kid that is No. 1 ranked with 110 G.P.A. going to M.I.T. No one sees my boy that doesn’t have parents — that lives with Grandma, that came to me at 17, with five credits, and graduates.”

Fewer than 200 selective universities are thought to practice race-conscious admissions, conferring degrees on about 10,000 to 15,000 students each year who might not otherwise have been accepted, according to a rough estimate by Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford University. That represents about 2 percent of all Black, Hispanic or Native American students in four-year colleges.

The affirmative action decision could still have broader ripple effects. Some experts worry it will send a message to Black and Hispanic students that they are not wanted on college campuses, or push them to more troubled schools, like for-profit institutions. It could also lead to a rollback of groups and programs that center on race.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Supreme Court Decision, College Admissions Could Become More Subjective, Anemona Hartocollis, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). U.S. colleges have a game plan, like emphasizing the personal essay, after a ruling struck down affirmative action programs.

In the Supreme Court decision striking down racial and ethnic preferences in college admissions, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. had harsh words for Harvard and the University of North Carolina, calling their admissions process “elusive,” “opaque” and “imponderable.”

But the court’s ruling against the two universities on Thursday could lead to an admissions system that is even more subjective and mysterious, as colleges try to follow the law but also admit a diverse class of students.

Officials at some universities predicted that there would be less emphasis on standardized metrics like test scores and class rank, and more emphasis on personal qualities, told through recommendations and the application essay — the opposite of what many opponents of affirmative action had hoped for.

“Will it become more opaque? Yes, it will have to,” said Danielle Ren Holley, who is about to take over as president of Mount Holyoke College. “It’s a complex process, and this opinion will make it even more complex.”

In an interview, Edward Blum, the founder and president of Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff, defended what he called “standard measurements” of academic qualifications, citing studies that showed test scores, grades and coursework helped determine which students would thrive at competitive schools.

He promised to enforce the decision, saying that Students for Fair Admissions and its counsel “have been closely monitoring potential changes in admissions procedures.”

“We remain vigilant and intend to initiate litigation should universities defiantly flout this clear ruling,” he wrote in a statement on Thursday.
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ny times logoNew York Times, In Affirmative Action Ruling, Fierce Disagreements Between Black Justices, Abbie VanSickle, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). Justices Clarence Thomas and Ketanji Brown Jackson harshly criticized each other’s perspectives, reflecting deep divisions over the practice.

In an extraordinary exchange that played out among the pages of a landmark decision by the Supreme Court declaring race-conscious admissions at colleges and universities across the nation unlawful, two Black justices battled over the merits of affirmative action.

In sharp rebuttals, Justices Clarence Thomas and Ketanji Brown Jackson harshly criticized each other’s perspectives, reflecting the deep divisions and passions Americans have over the practice. Even as they appeared to agree over the policy’s aim — remedying the longstanding discrimination and segregation of Black Americans — they drew opposite conclusions on how and what to do.

Both justices were raised by Black family members who suffered under Jim Crow and segregation, and both gained admission to elite law schools (Justice Jackson to Harvard, Justice Thomas to Yale) before ascending to the Supreme Court. But their interpretation of the law and their understanding of affirmative action and its role in American life could not be farther apart.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas called out Justice Jackson directly in a lengthy critique, singling out her views on race and leveling broader criticisms of liberal support for affirmative action.

“As she sees things, we are all inexorably trapped in a fundamentally racist society, with the original sin of slavery and the historical subjugation of Black Americans still determining our lives today,” he wrote.

In her dissent, Justice Jackson pointedly pushed back, denouncing his remarks as a “prolonged attack” that responded “to a dissent I did not write in order to assail an admissions program that is not the one U.N.C. has crafted.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Five Ways College Admissions Could Change, Stephanie Saul, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision could upend how students apply to college. Here’s how Students may change what they write about in the college essay. And they may no longer be tortured by the SAT and ACT.

As for children of alumni? The pressure is on to end their advantage in the admissions game.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that ended race-conscious admissions is widely expected to lead to a dramatic drop in the number of Black and Hispanic students at selective colleges.

But the court’s decision could have other, surprising consequences, as colleges try to follow the law but also admit a diverse class of students.
The personal essay becomes more important.

The Supreme Court made a point of noting that students could highlight their racial or ethnic backgrounds in the college essay.

 

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north carolina map

 

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Budgets

washington post logoWashington Post, Embracing ‘Bidenomics,’ president seeks to turn insult into strength, Matt Viser and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., June 29, 2023 (print ed.). Adoption of conservative barb, highlighted in a speech Wednesday, reflects a decision to own the economy — for better or worse.

President Biden was midway through a recent speech at a labor rally when he turned to an explanation of a kitchen-table economic philosophy that he says was formed, literally, at his parents’ kitchen table. “The press has now called [it] ‘Bidenomics,’” he said. “I don’t know what the hell that is.”

joe biden twitterThe crowd laughed as he offered, “But it’s working.”

Two weeks later, the White House has mobilized an entire week around elaborating on, reclaiming and defining just what Bidenomics is — something they have cast expansively as broadening and benefiting the middle class.

On Wednesday, the president delivered a major speech on his economic vision, with an eye toward the 2024 campaign. It followed a four-page memo from senior advisers that highlighted the concept, with subheads including “Bidenomics is working” and “The American people strongly support Bidenomics.”

Relevant Recent Headlines

 

More on Russia, Ukraine 

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine said it was ready for the arrival of Wagner’s Russian mercenaries in Belarus, Megan Specia, July 1, 2023. Ukrainian officials have tried to tamp down concerns while heralding their preparations, with President Volodymyr Zelensky nodding to plans for reinforcing the border.

As Belarus has ratcheted up its messaging about plans to offer refuge — and possibly work — to Wagner group mercenaries after a failed rebellion in Russia, Ukrainian forces say they are ready for any potential threat from their neighbor to the north.

In recent days, Ukrainian officials have tried to tamp down concerns about the Wagner forces, who until recently were fighting for Russia in Ukraine, while heralding preparations for their possible arrival. President Volodymyr Zelensky — who on Saturday was hosting Spain’s prime minister as part of his continuing diplomatic push — nodded to plans for reinforcing the border in his overnight address and top commanders have emphasized that no current threat had been found.

Mr. Zelensky indicated that Ukrainian intelligence was monitoring the situation closely, adding, “We very carefully analyze every fact and any prospects in all directions.” Ukraine’s top generals were “instructed to strengthen the northern direction — to guarantee peace,” he said.

This week, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the Kremlin-aligned autocratic leader of Belarus, invited members of the Wagner group who had participated in a rebellion against Russian forces to relocate to an “abandoned” military base in his country. New satellite imagery from Thursday and Friday, analyzed by The New York Times, shows that more than 250 tents, enough to house thousands of troops, have been erected in the past five days at an unused base.

ny times logoNew York Times, Yevgeny Prigozhin May Be Gone, but Not the Failings He Ranted About, Neil MacFarquhar, June 30, 2023 (print ed.). Russia’s military suffers from poor leadership, but the morale-sapping lack of accountability is even worse, analysts say.

The Russian warlord whose 24-hour mutiny provoked the worst crisis to roil the country in three decades has been packed off to an uncertain exile — along with the foul-mouthed critiques of the Russian military that won him legions of followers, especially within the ranks.

In this handout photo taken from video released by Prigozhin Press Service on Friday, March 3, 2023, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group military company, addresses Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asking him to withdraw the remaining Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut to save their lives, at an unspecified location in Ukraine. Prigozhin's criticism of the top military brass is in stark contrast with more than two decades of rigidly controlled rule by President Vladimir Putin without any sign of infighting among his top lieutenants. (Prigozhin Press Service via AP, File)Yet the problems identified by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, right, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, did not disappear with him, military analysts say, and are likely to continue to fester, enraging troops and further lowering already sickly morale.

These include an overall lack of command and control, rigid hierarchy, corruption, tangled logistics, equipment shortages and the absence of an honest, public assessment of the war in Ukraine. The emergence of several other private military companies like Wagner promises to further complicate matters.

“If Prigozhin is gone, the problems will not go with him,” said Dmitri Kuznets, a military analyst for Meduza, an independent Russian news website. “They are here to stay, this is a bigger problem than Prigozhin himself.”

 

Vladimir Putin, right, in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, recently appointed as Russian commander of Russia's military in Ukraine (Pool Photo by Alexei Druzhinin).

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, right, in a 2017 photo with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who had been appointed and then demoted as Russian commander of Russia’s military in Ukraine. U.S. officials are trying to determine if the general aided Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans to rebel against Russia’s military leadership (Pool Photo by Alexei Druzhinin of Sputnik via Reuters).

ny times logoNew York Times, Top Russian General Appears to Be Detained, U.S. Officials Say, Ivan Nechepurenko and Valerie Hopkins, June 30, 2023 (print ed.). U.S. officials said that Russian authorities appear to have detained Sergei Surovikin under suspicion of his involvement in the mercenaries’ failed rebellion.

U.S. officials, citing early intelligence reports, say that Russian authorities appear to have detained a top general under suspicion that he was involved in or had knowledge of the planning for the Wagner Group’s failed rebellion.

The circumstances surrounding the status of the general, Sergei Surovikin, are still very murky. U.S. officials cautioned that the reports were not conclusive and said they could not provide further details.

American officials would not say — or do not know — if he was formally arrested or just held for questioning.

Focus in Russia on the fate of General Surovikin, the country’s former top commander in Ukraine, has been intense following a New York Times report that U.S. spy agencies believe that he knew ahead of time about the rebellion, led by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, against Russia’s military leadership.

A senior NATO-country diplomat said that firm intelligence was lacking, but that careful comments by Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov on Thursday in which he deflected questions about General Surovikin’s whereabouts seemed to confirm the general’s detention.

News of General Surovikin’s detention was earlier reported by The Financial Times.

There were conflicting reports in the Russian news media about General Surovikin’s fate. Some pro-war bloggers on the popular Telegram social network reported this week that he had been arrested, while others said that was not the case.

One popular account posted a recording of an interview with a woman it said was General Surovikin’s daughter, who denied that her father had been arrested. “Nothing happened to him,” she said. “He’s at his work location.” The account could not be independently verified.

American intelligence agencies have been trying to learn more about the general’s potential role in the rebellion: whether he simply knew about it or helped plan the revolt, which has come to be seen as the most dramatic threat to President Vladimir V. Putin in his 23 years in power.

The question is a critical one for Mr. Putin as well.

For years, Mr. Putin has allowed different factions to exist inside the Russian military. But after the short-lived mutiny, the Kremlin may be more likely to purge at least some of the senior officers who are less supportive of Sergei K. Shoigu, the defense minister.

Mr. Prigozhin had expressed rage against Russian military leadership for months before the revolt, concentrating most of his ire on Mr. Putin’s two senior military advisers: Mr. Shoigu and Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff.

American officials said that Mr. Prigozhin’s failed rebellion could, at least for the time being, have the perverse effect of strengthening Mr. Shoigu’s hold on the top job, since Mr. Putin would not want to be seen as caving to Mr. Prigozhin.

Some Western analysts said the apparent detention of General Surovikin and uncertainty about the fate of other senior officers could hurt Russian troop morale.

“That there has not been a clear signal from the top about these very senior generals’ standing after the Prigozhin mutiny can’t be good for morale,” said Samuel Charap, a Russia analyst at the RAND Corporation.

“Surovikin in particular is known to be popular with the rank and file,” Mr. Charap said. “If he has been arrested and there is no explanation from the top, one can imagine his subordinates might be preoccupied with their own safety not the war.”

Steven Erlanger and Anton Troianovski contributed reporting.

Days after a brief rebellion threatened his leadership, President Vladimir V. Putin made a rare public outing, wading into a crowd of well-wishers to show he still has public support, even as U.S. officials said Thursday that early intelligence reports suggest a top general had been detained in connection with the failed uprising.

In a highly choreographed outing on Wednesday evening, Mr. Putin strode through a cheering crowd of people in southern Russia, shaking hands, kissing supporters and posing for selfies. He cast aside the strict social-distancing protocols he has observed since the Covid pandemic. On Thursday, he attended a technology fair in Moscow where he joked onstage with other panelists.

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More U.S. Politics, Governance, Elections 

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The decisions on affirmative action and student loans give Democrats a way to make a case to voters on class, Jonathan Weisman, July 1, 2023. Ever since President Bill Clinton advised “mend it, don’t end it,” affirmative action has had an uneasy place in the Democratic coalition, as omnipresent as the party’s allegiance to abortion rights and its promises to expand financial aid for higher education — but unpopular with much of the public.

Now, in striking down race-conscious college admissions, the Supreme Court has handed the Democrats a way to shift from a race-based discussion of preference to one tied more to class. The court’s decision could fuel broader outreach to the working-class voters who have drifted away from the party because of what they see as its elitism.

The question is, will the party pivot?

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Democrats to course-correct from identity-based issues,” said Ruy Teixeira, whose upcoming book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?” looks at the bleeding of working-class voters over the last decade. “As I like to say, class is back in session.”

Conservative voters have long been more animated by the Supreme Court’s composition than liberals have. But the last two sessions of a high court remade by Donald J. Trump may have flipped that dynamic. Since the court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, energized Democratic voters have handed Republicans loss after loss in critical elections.

Republicans’ remarkable successes before the new court may have actually deprived them of combative issues to galvanize voters going into 2024. Several Republican presidential hopefuls had centered their campaigns on opposition to affirmative action. And the court’s granting of religious exemptions to people who oppose gay marriage, along with last year’s Dobbs decision, may take the sting out of some social issues for conservatives.

In that sense, the staunchly conservative new Supreme Court is doing the ugly political work for Democrats. Its decision last year to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion elevated an issue that for decades motivated religious conservatives more than it did secular liberals. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats to Use $20 Million Equal Rights Push to Aid 2024 N.Y. House Bids, Dana Rubinstein, June 30, 2023 (print ed.). Numerous left-leaning groups are behind a statewide effort to focus attention on a 2024 equal-rights referendum, hoping to increase voter turnout.

New York Democrats’ substandard performance in the midterm elections last year helped their party lose control of the House of Representatives, threatened its national agenda, and angered national Democrats.

In an effort to avoid repeating the same mistake, New York Democrats on Thursday will announce support for a statewide effort to pass a women’s rights amendment that they hope will also supercharge turnout in 2024, when President Biden and House members will be up for re-election.

Their strategy: Get Democrats to the polls by focusing attention on a 2024 statewide referendum, the New York Equal Rights Amendment, that will explicitly bar New York from using its power and resources to penalize those who have abortions.

The campaign, backed by Gov. Kathy Hochul and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, among others, plans to raise at least $20 million to spend on television ads, direct mail and organizing in support of the initiative. The effort is designed to complement the House Democrats’ main super PAC’s $45 million bid to win six New York swing districts next year, including four that just flipped Republican.

  • New York Times, A Record 100,000 People in New York Homeless Shelters, June 29, 2023.

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U.S. Courts, Crime, Civil Rights, Immigration 

ny times logoNew York Times, Hunter Biden Settles Child-Support Case, Ending a Yearslong Battle, Katie Rogers, June 30, 2023 (print ed.). The child will receive some of Hunter Biden’s paintings as part of a settlement that ended a yearslong court battle.

Hunter Biden settled a child-support dispute with Lunden Roberts, the mother of his fourth child, on Thursday, ending a yearslong saga that had become tinged with partisan politics.

According to court documents, Mr. Biden, 53, agreed to pay a monthly sum, which was not disclosed, to Ms. Roberts, as well as turn over several of his paintings, the net proceeds of which would go to his daughter. Mr. Biden, who is in recovery from a crack cocaine addiction, started a second career as a painter whose works have been listed for $500,000 each.

He also promised to discuss planning for a college education fund with his child’s mother. Ms. Roberts, 32, who had requested to change the girl’s last name to Biden, dropped the request as part of the agreement.

The agreement brings to a close a case that shined a spotlight on Mr. Biden’s personal behavior and finances and was used by critics to attack his father, President Biden.

Hunter Biden had been paying $20,000 a month in child support for several years, for a total of $750,000, according to his attorneys. He had argued that he was not financially able to support the original child-support order. The new amount is lower than had been originally ordered, according to a person familiar with the case.

But Ms. Roberts and her attorneys argued that the girl, 4, was entitled to the same benefits that her four half-siblings receive.

Ms. Roberts and Mr. Biden met in Washington. In mid-2018, Ms. Roberts was working as his personal assistant, according to a person familiar with the case. Their daughter was born later that year, but by then, Mr. Biden had stopped responding to Ms. Roberts’s messages, including one informing him of the child’s birth date, according to a person involved in the case, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Ms. Roberts filed a lawsuit in May 2019, and DNA testing that year established that Mr. Biden was the father of the child. In a motion for custody filing in December 2019, Ms. Roberts said that he had never met their child and “could not identify the child out of a photo lineup.”

A bench trial had been scheduled for mid-July in a court in Arkansas, where Ms. Roberts lives, and her attorneys had enlisted Garrett Ziegler, a conservative activist who had compiled the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop into an online database, as an expert witness with knowledge of Mr. Biden’s finances.

Two weeks ago, when Mr. Biden arrived in Little Rock to deliver a deposition, Ms. Roberts attended. According to a person familiar with the proceedings, Mr. Biden’s attorneys questioned whether Ms. Roberts was saving the money for her child.

They also questioned why she would want the Biden last name, considering the conservative figures involved in the case. Her attorney, Clint Lancaster, had been an attorney for the Trump campaign during an electoral vote recount in Wisconsin after the 2020 election.

Mr. Lancaster said in a text message that Mr. Biden’s attorneys’ claims were “not true.”

“The case settled because, one hour into Hunter’s deposition, he asked to speak to Lunden privately,” Mr. Lancaster continued. “They spoke for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. They emerged with a settlement.”

He added that, going forward, Mr. Biden’s child would be selecting art from her father, and that family was “very important” to his client.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News Agrees to Pay $12 Million to Settle Hostile Workplace Suit, Katie Robertson, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The settlement with a former producer, Abby Grossberg, shown in a file photo, is the latest development in a series of legal battles involving Fox.

abby grossberg johns hopkinsFox News has agreed to pay $12 million to Abby Grossberg, a former Fox News producer who had accused the network of operating a hostile and discriminatory fox news logo Smallworkplace and of coercing her into providing false testimony in a deposition.

Parisis G. Filippatos, a lawyer for Ms. Grossberg, said that the settlement concluded all of Ms. Grossberg’s claims against Fox and the people she had named in her complaints, which included the former host Tucker Carlson and some of his producers.

Ms. Grossberg’s legal team filed a request in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday to dismiss a remaining lawsuit against Fox in light of the settlement.

Ms. Grossberg said in a statement on Friday that she stood by her allegations, but she was “heartened that Fox News has taken me and my legal claims seriously.”

“I am hopeful, based on our discussions with Fox News today, that this resolution represents a positive step by the network regarding its treatment of women and minorities in the workplace,” she said.
Inside the Media Industry

A spokeswoman for Fox said in a statement on Friday: “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter without further litigation.”

Justin Wells, a former senior executive producer for Mr. Carlson, who was named in a complaint, said in a post on Twitter: “We deny Ms. Grossberg’s claims and allegations against Tucker Carlson and his team. Nevertheless, we are glad that Fox has settled this matter and that all sides can move forward.”

The settlement with Ms. Grossberg is the latest development in a series of legal battles involving Fox. In April, the company paid Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million, in what is believed to be the biggest settlement figure in a defamation case. Days later, Fox took Tucker Carlson, its most popular host, off the air after the company’s leadership concluded he was more of a problem than an asset and had to go.

Fox faces a second defamation case by another voting technology company. Smartmatic, like Dominion, says Fox knowingly spread false information about its products, baselessly claiming that they contributed to election fraud in 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, Man Accused in Jan. 6 Riot Is Arrested With Weapons Near Obama’s Home, Luke Broadwater and Aishvarya Kavi, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). 2023. A law enforcement official said that weapons, ammunition and materials that could make explosives were found inside the man’s nearby van.

A man accused of involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol was arrested Thursday afternoon near the Washington home of former President Barack Obama, as police found weapons, ammunition and materials that could make explosives inside the suspect’s van, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case.

Taylor Taranto, 37, of no fixed address, livestreamed his activities before his arrest, including as he drove into the neighborhood and talked briefly with a member of the Secret Service stationed there. On the livestream, he talked about seeking an interview with John Podesta, a Democratic official who has been the focus of far-right conspiracy theories, and also spoke of the neighborhood as containing underground tunnels. He entered a wooded area attempting to take photos of a house.

“I’m outside Barack Obama’s house,” he said at one point on the livestream.

The District of Columbia police, known as the Metropolitan Police Department, said in a statement that Mr. Taranto was charged as a fugitive from justice. The arrest warrant was from the U.S. Capitol Police, but the police did not detail the underlying charges.

Jason Bell, the Capitol Police’s acting assistant chief for protective and intelligence operations, said in a statement that his agency’s officers assisted in the investigation “due to a concern for public safety and the potential for violence against members of Congress.” 

ny times logoNew York Times, Governor Vetoes Louisiana’s Ban on Transition Care for Transgender Minors, Rick Rojas, July 1, 2023. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana vetoed a ban on gender-transition care for transgender minors on Friday, standing in the way of his state becoming the latest to prohibit that kind of care. He also vetoed two other recent bills related to gender expression and sexual orientation in schools and among young people.

The medical measure would forbid hormone treatments, puberty blockers and gender-transition surgery for people under 18.

The other two bills would restrict what teachers can discuss in class on the subject of gender, and limit the ability of transgender and nonbinary students to have school personnel refer to them by pronouns that do not match the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The transition-care ban took a bumpy road to the governor’s desk. One attempt to pass the bill failed in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee because a Republican lawmaker and pharmacist, Fred Mills, voted against it. Proponents tried again in a different committee, where the bill advanced.

 

Scot Peterson, a former school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, during closing arguments in his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Pool photo by Amy Beth Bennett).

 Scot Peterson, a former school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, during closing arguments in his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Pool photo by Amy Beth Bennett)

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Acquits Deputy Who Failed to Confront Parkland Gunman, Patricia Mazzei,.June 30, 2023 (print ed.). Scot Peterson was found not guilty of child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury in a rare trial over police inaction in a school shooting.

A former Florida sheriff’s deputy who failed to confront the gunman at a Parkland high school five years ago, and instead backed away from the building while the students and teachers inside endured a deadly barrage, was found not guilty of child neglect and other crimes on Thursday.

Scot Peterson, a former Broward County sheriff’s deputy, was acquitted of seven counts of child neglect and three counts of culpable negligence for the deaths and injuries of 10 people on the third floor of the building where the shooting occurred. He was also found not guilty of one count of perjury for claiming to the police that he heard only a few gunshots and saw no children fleeing.

When Mr. Peterson’s behavior was revealed after the shooting, critics — including some fellow police officers — painted him as being too scared to face a heavily armed gunman. His actions outraged the Parkland community, and Mr. Peterson was cast as the central character in a morality tale about cowardice and law enforcement’s duty to protect children. One victim’s father told him to “rot in hell,” and he was derided in national media outlets as the “coward in Broward.”

In all, 17 people were killed and 17 were wounded in the shooting, which was carried out by a former student. The gunman was sentenced last year to life in prison. Mr. Peterson was the lone armed resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre.

Patricia Mazzei reported from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and covered the Parkland school shooting in 2018 and the gunman’s sentencing trial last year.

larry householder resized ohio file

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Ohio House Speaker Awaits Sentence on $60 Million Bribery Scheme, Michael Wines, June 30, 2023 (print ed.). A federal jury found Larry L. Householder, above, guilty in March of participating in a racketeering conspiracy that resulted in a $1.3 billion bailout for two struggling nuclear power plants.

It is, federal prosecutors say, perhaps the biggest public corruption scandal in Ohio’s history, a three-year conspiracy in which one of Ohio’s biggest corporations funneled some $60 million to one of the state’s most powerful politicians in exchange for a $1.3 billion bailout.

And those investigators say they are only coming to the end of Act I.

On Thursday, the former Republican speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry L. Householder, will be sentenced in federal court in Cincinnati for violating racketeering and bribery laws.

The outlines of the charges have been known since his arrest, with four other men, three years ago: FirstEnergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 electric utility based in Akron, funneled the $60 million though various nonprofit entities. In return, Mr. Householder rammed a law through the state legislature that gave the company the bailout for two troubled nuclear power plants. Prosecutors have recommended a sentence of up to 20 years.

But, as described early this year in a 26-day trial, the alliance between the utility and Mr. Householder, 64, was far more than a bribery scandal. Among other things, prosecutors and experts say, it was an almost cinematic example of how the dark money that pervades both state and federal politics slithers unseen from donor to beneficiary.

It is also a cautionary tale about how state legislatures — second-rung political bodies that are often run by part-time politicians, but increasingly dealing with issues of national importance — are at least as prone to manipulation by special interests as their Washington counterparts.

David DeVillers, who oversaw the federal investigation as the U.S. attorney in Cincinnati until early 2021, said in an interview that the gusher of dark money was crucial to the plot and an issue well beyond Ohio.

“Any time you have a supermajority, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, and industries that are based on passing laws like marijuana or sports gambling or energy, it’s a formula for corruption,” he said.

Mr. Householder, a onetime insurance agent from an impoverished rural county in southeast Ohio, had been House speaker from 2001 to 2004. He left his legislative seat because of term limits and faced a federal corruption investigation after leaving the post then, but was not charged.

After returning to the legislature in 2016, Mr. Householder secretly spent millions in 2018 to support Republican candidates for 21 seats in the State House — more than a fifth of the 99 seats — who would back his insurgent campaign to again become House speaker. He spent more millions on a media campaign to push the nuclear bailout law to passage, and then tens of millions on a scorched-earth crusade to undermine a ballot initiative that threatened to undo it.

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Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Wagner Uprising Highlights China’s Risks With Russia, David Pierson and Olivia Wang, July 1, 2023. Xi Jinping needs Vladimir Putin to remain in power, and Russia to maintain stability, to uphold their shared interests and to keep challenging the U.S.

Just three months ago, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, was in Moscow clinking glasses with Vladimir V. Putin and expressing his confidence in the “firm support” the Russian president enjoyed among his people.

That confidence is now in question, after the Wagner private military group waged an insurrection in Russia that has shaken Mr. Putin’s image of invulnerability. Close watchers of China say that the mutiny, short-lived as it was, could lead Mr. Xi to hedge a close relationship with Russia that had already exposed Beijing to global criticism and threatened some of its interests abroad.

China views Russia as a necessary partner in challenging the global order dominated by the United States. But Mr. Putin’s appetite for risk — seen in his invasion of Ukraine and his reliance on private armies — has forced Beijing to defend its bond with Russia in the face of Western pressure.

Mr. Xi’s long-term bet will work only if Mr. Putin remains in control to help uphold the shared interests of both countries. But the revolt has raised questions about Mr. Putin’s authority: Wagner soldiers faced little to no resistance from regular Russian forces as they advanced on Moscow. And Mr. Putin’s decision to grant sanctuary in Belarus to Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the leader of the uprising, smacked of a compromise rather than the act of a strongman with consolidated power.

ny times logoNew York Times, Everyone Knew the Migrant Ship Was Doomed. No One Helped, Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Karam Shoumali, July 1, 2023. From air and by sea, using radar, telephone and radio, officials watched and listened for 13 hours as the migrant ship Adriana lost power, then drifted aimlessly off the coast of Greece in a slowly unfolding humanitarian disaster.

As terrified passengers telephoned for help, humanitarian workers assured them that a rescue team was coming. European border officials, watching aerial footage, prepared to witness what was certain to be a heroic operation.

Yet the Adriana capsized and sank in the presence of a single Greek Coast Guard ship last month, killing more than 600 migrants in a maritime tragedy that was shocking even for the world’s deadliest migrant route.

Satellite imagery, sealed court documents, more than 20 interviews with survivors and officials, and a flurry of radio signals transmitted in the final hours suggest that the scale of death was preventable.

Dozens of officials and coast guard crews monitored the ship, yet the Greek government treated the situation like a law enforcement operation, not a rescue. Rather than send a navy hospital ship or rescue specialists, the authorities sent a team that included four masked, armed men from a coast guard special operations unit.

The Greek authorities have repeatedly said that the Adriana was sailing to Italy, and that the migrants did not want to be rescued. But satellite imagery and tracking data obtained by The New York Times show definitively that the Adriana was drifting in a loop for its last six and a half hours. And in sworn testimony, survivors described passengers on the ship’s upper decks calling for help and even trying to jump aboard a commercial tanker that had stopped to provide drinking water.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Why Bolsonaro Was Barred in Brazil but Trump Can Run in the U.S., Jack Nicas, July 1, 2023. In both the U.S. and Brazil, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro made baseless claims of fraud, and their supporters stormed government buildings.

Down in the polls, the far-right president warned of voter fraud, despite no evidence. After losing, he claimed the vote was rigged. Thousands of his supporters — draped in the national flag and misled by conspiracy theories — then stormed Congress in a bid to overturn the results.

That scenario describes the latest elections in the Western Hemisphere’s largest democracies: the United States and Brazil.

But while the behavior of the two former presidents — Donald J. Trump and Jair Bolsonaro — was remarkably similar, the political aftermath has been drastically different.

While Mr. Trump faces federal and state charges that accuse him of paying off a porn star and mishandling classified documents, he remains the most influential figure on the American right. More than two years after leaving the White House, he again appears poised to become the Republican nominee for president, with a wide lead in the polls.

ny times logoNew York Times, Macron Cancels State Visit to Germany Amid Unrest at Home, Isabella Kwai and Aurelien Breeden, July 1, 2023. President Emmanuel Macron’s office said he wished to stay in France “over the next few days” as protests gripped the nation over the police killing of a teenager. More than 1,300 people were arrested overnight as riotous protests again gripped France over the police killing of a 17-year-old, although officials said the violence was less intense than in previous nights.

President Emmanuel Macron of France on Saturday postponed a scheduled state visit to Germany as his government struggled to rein in violent protests over the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old this past week.

Although the Interior Ministry described the violence overnight on Friday as being of “lower intensity” than the previous night, more than 1,300 people were arrested as the turmoil continued to grip major cities like Marseille and Lyon. Hundreds of cars have been set on fire, buildings have been damaged, and stores in some cities have been looted since the protests erupted over the teenager’s death on Tuesday.

Many protesters identify with the teenager, who has been named only as Nahel M. and who was of Algerian and Moroccan descent. Anger over the shooting is rooted in decades-long complaints about police violence and persistent feelings of neglect and racial discrimination in France’s poorer urban suburbs.

A funeral was held for Nahel on Saturday in Nanterre, the suburb outside Paris where he lived and where a police officer killed him during a traffic stop.

New York Times, The Supreme Court Turns ‘Equal Protection’ Upside Down, July 1, 2023.

ny times logoNew York Times, Over 600 Arrested in France After Fresh Night of Unrest, Aurelien Breeden, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). Protesters set cars on fire and looted stores in cities around the country for the third day after the fatal police shooting of a teenage driver.

More than 600 people were arrested in France during a third night of unrest that has rocked cities around the country since a police officer fatally shot a 17-year-old driver this week, the authorities said on Friday.

President Emmanuel Macron convened a crisis meeting for a second successive day on Friday as the government struggled to contain the anger unleashed by the killing, which took place during a traffic stop in Nanterre, west of Paris, on Tuesday.

The officer who fired the shot has been placed under formal investigation and detained on charges of voluntary homicide — a rare step in criminal cases involving police officers. But that appeared to have done little to calm tensions, which have been stoked by decades-long feelings of neglect and racial discrimination among people living in France’s poorer urban suburbs, many of whom identified with the teenager, who has been publicly named only as Nahel M.

Overnight, protesters burned cars, damaged public buildings, looted stores and clashed with riot police officers in dozens of cities around France, according to French news reports.

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More On Trump Probes, Pro-Trump Rioters, Election Deniers

 

djt indicted proof

ny times logoNew York Times, Audio Undercuts Trump’sAssertion He Did Not Have Classified Document, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, June 27, 2023 (print ed.). A recording of a meeting in 2021 in which former President Trump described a sensitive document in front of him appears to contradict his defense.

An audio recording of former President Donald J. Trump in 2021 discussing what he called a “highly confidential” document about Iran that he acknowledged he could not declassify because he was out of office appears to contradict his recent assertion that the material he was referring to was simply news clippings.

President Donald Trump officialPortions of a transcript of the two-minute recording of Mr. Trump were cited by federal prosecutors in the indictment of Mr. Trump on charges that he had put national security secrets at risk by mishandling classified documents after leaving office and then obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them.

The recording captured his conversation in July 2021 with a publisher and writer working on a memoir by Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In it, Mr. Trump discussed what he described as a “secret” plan regarding Iran drawn up by Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Department. Mr. Trump was citing the document in rebutting an account that General Milley feared having to keep him from manufacturing a crisis with Iran in the period after Mr. Trump lost his re-election bid in late 2020.

The audio, which is likely to feature as evidence in Mr. Trump’s trial in the documents case, was played for the first time in public on Monday by CNN and was also obtained by The New York Times.

  • Meidas Touch Network, Michael Popok of Legal AF reports on Jan 6 insurrectionist Marc Anthony Bru failing to appear for two court ordered status conferences, while simultaneously taking to social media to say the government will have to come get him, as the DOJ seeks a warrant for his arrest, June 29, 2023.

washington post logoWashington Post, It’s not just Mar-a-Lago: Trump charges highlight his New Jersey life at Bedminster, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Spencer S. Hsu, June 28, 2023 (print ed.). Two of the most vivid scenes in the former president’s indictment take place at his Bedminster golf club, which has not been searched by the FBI.

The 49-page indictment against Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents and obstructing justice is largely focused on how boxes of sensitive documents ended up crammed into the nooks, crannies and even a chandelier-adorned bathroom of Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.

But two of the indictment’s most vivid scenes took place about 1,200 miles to the north.

Prosecutors accuse Trump of showing off classified documents to employees and others not authorized to see them — not once, but twice at his sprawling golf club on the rural plains of New Jersey.

mark meadows book chief chiefAccording to the indictment, Trump bragged in July 2021 about a sensitive military plan with two of his staffers, as well as the writer and publisher of a forthcoming book, The Chief’s Chief, from his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, during a session at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.

In an audio recording of the session near the club’s pool, Trump can be heard acknowledging the secrecy of the documents to the group — who included communications staffers Liz Harrington and Margo Martin, according to people familiar with the matter, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the criminal case.

“See, as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t,” Trump tells the group on the recording, which was obtained this week by The Washington Post. “Isn’t that interesting? It’s so cool.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Jack Smith has flipped someone who was at the Willard Hotel for January 6th, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2023. One of the key aspects of Donald Trump’s 2020 election overthrow plot was his “command center” ahead of January 6th at the Willard Hotel.

Name any disreputable Trump political adviser, and bill palmer report logo headerthe odds are that they were in that Willard Hotel room. But the whole thing hasn’t gotten a ton of media coverage, mostly because no one who was inside that room has spilled the beans about what was really going on – until now.

The DOJ criminally indicted Owen Shroyer for January 6th-related crimes a year and a half ago, and has been attempting to flip him ever since. Just days ago Shroyer finally cut a cooperating plea deal. This immediately jumped out at us because Shroyer is Alex Jones’ top sidekick. But our friends at MeidasTouch are now pointing out that this runs deeper. Shroyer was at the Willard Hotel ahead of January 6th, meaning he’s given up everything that went on at the “command center” while he was there.

This is bad news for everyone who was in the room at this “command center.” It was a mix of Donald Trump’s top political advisers and actual members of the Oath Keepers, to give you an idea of just how much criminality might have been taking place in that room. Jack Smith and the DOJ now have their “in” when it comes to the Willard Hotel plot. It’s bad news for Donald Trump and any number of his political allies.

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  Jack Smith has been leading an inquiry into Mr. Trump since his appointment in November (Pool photo by Peter Dejong).

Jack Smith has been leading an inquiry into Mr. Trump since his appointment in November (Pool photo by Peter Dejong).

 

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Coalition of the Distrustful, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). Before Covid, Gabe Whitney, a 41-year-michelle goldberg thumbold from West Bath, Maine, didn’t think much about vaccines. He wasn’t very political — he didn’t vote in 2020, he said, because he thought Donald Trump was a “psycho” and Joe Biden was “corrupt.”

It wasn’t until the pandemic that Whitney started regularly watching the news, but as he did, he felt like things weren’t adding up. He doubted what he called “the narrative” and struggled with the hostility his questions about vaccines and other mitigations elicited from those close to him. He described being “blamed and labeled as someone who’s part of the problem because you’re questioning. Like not taking a stance on it, but just questioning. That was the worst.”

Whitney started gravitating toward people who see skepticism of mainstream public health directives as a sign of courage rather than selfishness and delusion. He began following anti-vax figures like Del Bigtree, Robert Malone and, of course, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whom Whitney already admired for his environmental work. Kennedy has long touted an illusory connection between vaccines and autism, and has repeatedly said that pandemic restrictions arose from a C.I.A. plan to “clamp down totalitarian control.” If Kennedy was so wrong, Whitney thought, it didn’t make sense that his critics wouldn’t debate him. “When someone is taking such an unpopular position, and then nobody wants to debate them, that says something to me,” he said.

I met Whitney this month at a rally for Kennedy, now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, at Saint Anselm College, just outside Manchester, N.H. I’d gone because I was curious about who was turning out to see the candidate. Among many Democrats, there’s an assumption that Kennedy’s surprising strength in some polls — an Emerson College survey from April showed him getting 21 percent in a Democratic primary — is mostly attributable to the magic of his name and anxiety about Joe Biden’s age. This is probably at least partly true. As media coverage has made Democrats more aware of Kennedy’s conspiratorial views, his support has fallen; a recent Saint Anselm poll had him at only 9 percent, barely ahead of Marianne Williamson.

At the same time, Kennedy has a sincere and passionate following. When I arrived at the St. Anselm venue, I was surprised by the enormous line snaking out the door. It quickly became clear that many people weren’t going to make it into the 580-seat auditorium. (I requested an interview with Kennedy, but never heard back from the person I was told could schedule it.)

In New Hampshire, I didn’t meet any loyal Democrats who were there just to scope out the alternatives. The 2020 Biden voters I encountered were dead set against voting for him again; some, disenchanted by vaccine mandates and American support for Ukraine, even said they preferred Donald Trump. Like Whitney, several people I spoke to hadn’t voted at all in 2020 because they didn’t like their choices. Some attendees said they leaned right, and others identified with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

What brought them all together was a peculiar combination of cynicism and credulity. The people I encountered believe that they are living under a deeply sinister regime that lies to them about almost everything that matters. And they believe that with the Kennedy campaign, we might be on the cusp of redemption.

In 2021, Charles Eisenstein, an influential New Age writer, described the assassination of John F. Kennedy as the primal wound that brought America to its current lamentable state. “It is like a radioactive pellet lodged inside the body politic,” he wrote, “generating an endlessly metastasizing cancer that no one has been able to trace to its source.”

Eisenstein takes it for granted that J.F.K.’s murder was orchestrated by the national security state, a view also held by R.F.K. Jr., the former president’s nephew. Because the official story “beggars belief,” Eisenstein argued, it engendered in the populace a festering distrust of all official narratives. At the same time, the cover-up led the government to regard the people it’s been continually deceiving with contempt, as “unruly schoolchildren who must be managed, surveilled, tracked, locked up and locked down for their own good.”

A Kennedy restoration, Eisenstein believes, would heal the corrosive injury that separates the people from their putative leaders, putting America back on the confident and optimistic trajectory from which it was diverted in 1963. In May, he joined Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign as a senior adviser working on messaging and strategy.

 

djt ron desantis cnn collage

Washington Post, Twice-indicted Trump dominates GOP race, as support for DeSantis stalls, Hannah Knowles and Maeve Reston, June 29, 2023 (print ed.). On the campaign trail, the former president draws enthusiastic crowds that reflect his wide lead in the polls. Voters seeking an alternative have yet to coalesce behind the Florida governor or anyone else.

President Donald Trump officialThe primary was effectively over for many voters who came out to hear Donald Trump’s speech at a GOP women’s luncheon this week. “It’s Trump all the way — don’t even ask me about anyone else,” said Suzanne Pesaresi, a 62-year-old office manager.

djt maga hatForty miles south, at a town hall with Ron DeSantis, plenty of others were convinced the party should move on from the former president. “I have a non-top choice, and that’s Donald Trump,” declared former Republican state lawmaker Bill Ohm. But like many around him, Ohm wasn’t yet sold on the Florida governor — or anyone else, for that matter.

“I could vote for DeSantis if nobody else got traction,” said Don Hallenbeck, a business owner who identifies as an independent and plans to vote in the Republican primary. He worries the governor would “have a tough time finding his way back to the middle” in a general election.

Facing newly combative opponents, millions of dollars’ worth of competing advertising and two indictments, Trump is in a dominant position in the GOP presidential race halfway through 2023. He has a wide lead on the competition, polls show. He draws enthusiastic crowds. And even some of his rival operatives acknowledge he has an unshakable grip on a sizable part of the electorate.

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Environment, Transportation, Energy, Space, Disasters, Climate

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ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Man Down!’: Surviving the Texas Heat in Prisons Without Air-Conditioning, J. David Goodman, June 30, 2023 (print ed.). The record June heat has been particularly dangerous inside the state’s prisons, where indoor temperatures can top 110 degrees.

On the third day of 100-degree temperatures last week, locked without air-conditioning in a Texas prison north of Houston, Joseph Martire said he began to feel overwhelmed. His breathing grew heavy.

An inmate for nearly 16 years, Mr. Martire was expecting to be released in a few weeks. But it was so hot that day, he recalled, that he wondered if he would make it that long. He was covered in sweat and felt so lightheaded that he had to brace himself against a wall. At some point, he passed out.

“It’s kind of weird getting woken up with fingers in your eyes and not knowing how you got there,” Mr. Martire, 35, said of the efforts to revive him by pressing on pressure points around his eyes. He was eventually moved to an air-conditioned emergency medical area. “They kept me there for two hours, drinking ice water, salt water, taking my temperature, making sure I was still alive,” he said.

The weekslong June heat wave scorching Texas has been particularly brutal and dangerous inside the state’s sprawling prison system, where a majority of those incarcerated, and the guards who watch over them, have been struggling without air-conditioning.

ny times logoNew York Times, Something Was Messing With Earth’s Axis. The Answer Has to Do With Us, Raymond Zhong, June 29, 2023 (print ed.). Scientists knew the planet’s centerline could move. But it took a sharp turn sometime around the start of the 2000s.

Around the turn of the millennium, Earth’s spin started going off-kilter, and nobody could quite say why.

For decades, scientists had been watching the average position of our planet’s rotational axis, the imaginary rod around which it turns, gently wander south, away from the geographic North Pole and toward Canada. Suddenly, though, it made a sharp turn and started heading east.

In time, researchers came to a startling realization about what had happened. Accelerated melting of the polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers had changed the way mass was distributed around the planet enough to influence its spin.

Now, some of the same scientists have identified another factor that’s had the same kind of effect: colossal quantities of water pumped out of the ground for crops and households.

“Wow,” Ki-Weon Seo, who led the research behind the latest discovery, recalled thinking when his calculations showed a strong link between groundwater extraction and the drifting of Earth’s axis. It was a “big surprise,” said Dr. Seo, a geophysicist at Seoul National University.

Water experts have long warned of the consequences of groundwater overuse, particularly as water from underground aquifers becomes an increasingly vital resource in drought-stressed areas like the American West. When water is pumped out of the ground but not replenished, the land can sink, damaging homes and infrastructure and also shrinking the amount of underground space that can hold water thereafter.

ny times logoNew York Times, Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Blankets Large Swaths of the U.S, Anushka Patil and Julie Bosman, June 29, 2023 (print ed.). Thick smoke from the seemingly endless Canadian wildfires has again blanketed large swaths of the United States, prompting warnings for residents to stay indoors with few signs of any immediate respite.

Several major cities, including Detroit and Indianapolis, reported some of the worst air quality in the United States on Wednesday afternoon, with air quality indexes falling well into the “very unhealthy” category..

The wildfires prompted warnings for residents in several major cities to stay indoors with few signs of any immediate respite.

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More On U.S. Abortion, Child Porn, #MeToo

ny times logoNew York Times, A Glimpse of What Life Is Like With Almost No Abortion Access, David W. Chen, Photographs by Noriko Hayashi, June 28, 2023 (print ed.). Guam, a U.S. territory, has no resident doctors who perform abortions. Court decisions could cut access to pills, the only legal option left.

For decades, the Pregnancy Control Clinic, tucked inside a squat, beige building around the corner from a bowling alley, handled most of the abortions on Guam, a tiny U.S. territory 1,600 miles south of Japan.

But the doctor who ran it retired seven years ago, and the clinic now appears abandoned. An old medical exam table stands near a vanity with a dislodged faucet, and a letter from Dr. Edmund A. Griley is taped to the front door: “My last day of seeing patients is November 18, 2016,” he wrote. “I recommend that you begin looking for a new physician as soon as possible.”

Dr. Griley has since died, and his deserted clinic is a dusty snapshot of Guam’s past — and some say, its future.

Though abortion is legal in Guam up to 13 weeks of pregnancy, and later in certain cases, the last doctor who performed abortions left Guam in 2018. The closest abortion clinic on American soil is in Hawaii, an eight-hour flight away. And a pending court case could soon cut off access to abortion pills, the last way for most women on Guam to get legal abortions.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Anthony Fauci Will Join Faculty at Georgetown University, Mike Ives, June 28, 2023 (print ed.). Dr. Fauci was the federal government’s top infectious disease expert for decades, and helped steer the U.S. response to Covid-19.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who served as the federal government’s top infectious disease specialist for nearly 40 years and played a key role in steering the United States through the coronavirus pandemic, will join the faculty of Georgetown University in Washington next month.

Dr. Fauci, 82, retired from the National Institutes of Health last year, having served as the director of its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He was also the top Covid adviser to President Biden, a role he had filled under President Donald J. Trump. Georgetown announced his new job on Monday.

Dr. Fauci will work at Georgetown’s School of Medicine and its McCourt School of Public Policy, the university said. A spokeswoman for Georgetown did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking details about what courses he will teach. The university’s announcement said Dr. Fauci’s role at the School of Medicine will be in an infectious disease division focused on education, research and patient care.

At the N.I.H., Dr. Fauci spent decades overseeing research on established infectious diseases — including H.I.V./AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — and emerging ones like Ebola, Zika and Covid-19. He was also a principal architect of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that has delivered lifesaving treatment to more than 20 million people in 54 countries since its inception 20 years ago under President George W. Bush.

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U.S. Media, Education, Sports, Arts, High Tech

ny times logoNew York Times, The N.F.L.’s Betting Penalties Put ‘Integrity’ to the Test, Santul Nerkar and Emmanuel Morgan, July 1, 2023. The punishments for players caught breaking the N.F.L.’s gambling rules are harsh. The league wants no insinuation that games might be rigged.

When the N.F.L. on Thursday announced that three players had been found to have bet on football, the penalties came down with characteristic harshness: indefinite suspensions that can only be appealed after a full season.

It was the second such set of gambling penalties levied this off-season, after the league in April invoked the same suspension against three players who had bet on N.F.L. games.

The suspensions, punitive by nature, were also a warning to other pros tempted by the pervasive opportunities to bet on football. But, critics say, the harsh punishment is dissonant with the league’s business partnerships with betting companies, which brought the league more than $1 billion in 2022.

On Thursday, the N.F.L. suspended Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry of the Indianapolis Colts and free agent Demetrius Taylor through at least the 2023 season for betting on N.F.L. games. Shortly after the announcement, the Colts released Rodgers and Berry.

  • New York Times, 18 Hasidic Schools Failed to Provide Basic Education, New York City Finds, July 1, 2023.

ny times logoNew York Times, A ‘Cage Match’ Between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg May Be No Joke, Ryan Mac and Mike Isaac, July 1, 2023. Talks over a fight between the two tech billionaires have progressed and the parameters of an event are taking shape.

The day after Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg on social media to “a cage match” this month, Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, received a text.

It was from Mr. Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta. He asked Mr. White, who heads the world’s premier mixed martial arts competition, which is fought in cage-like rings, if Mr. Musk was serious about a fight.

Mr. White called Mr. Musk, who runs Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, and confirmed that he was willing to throw down. Mr. White then relayed that to Mr. Zuckerberg. In response, Mr. Zuckerberg posted on Instagram: “Send Me Location,” a reference to the catchphrase of Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the U.F.C.’s most decorated athletes.

Since then, Mr. White said, he has talked to the tech billionaires separately every night to organize the showdown. On Tuesday, he said, he was “on the phone with those two until 12:45 in the morning.” He added, “They both want to do it.”

  • New York Times, ESPN Announces Layoffs of On-Air Personalities to Cut Costs, July 1, 2023.

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