Dec. 2023 News

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

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

Dec. 1

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 Heads of state and government will be speaking at the COP28 summit in Dubai on Friday and Saturday (Photo by Sean Gallup via Getty Images).

Destroying Democracies

Mississippi 'Goon Squad' Suspects: Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. All pleaded guilty this year to federal and state charges (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via Associated Press ).

More On Israel’s War With Hamas

More On Trump Battles, Crimes, Claims, Allies

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 U.S. Military, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy, JFK Death

China's President Xi Jinping, right, listens to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 17, 2015. The death Wednesday of Mr. Kissinger — a centenarian, former secretary of state and figurehead of American power on the world stage — has sparked a wave of reaction across the globe to his polarizing legacy. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)

China’s President Xi Jinping, right, listens to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 17, 2015. The death Wednesday of Mr. Kissinger — a centenarian, former secretary of state and figurehead of American power on the world stage — has sparked a wave of reaction across the globe to his polarizing legacy. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)

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U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

More On U.S. National Politics

Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

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

More On Disasters, Climate Change, Environment, Transportation

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More On Ukraine-Russian War, Russian Leadership

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Strikes, High Tech

U.S. Abortion, Family Planning, #MeToo

Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy

Media, High Tech, Sports, Education, Free Speech, Culture

Top Stories

Heads of state and government will be speaking at the COP28 summit in Dubai on Friday and Saturday (Photo by Sean Gallup via Getty Images).

Heads of state and government will be speaking at the COP28 summit in Dubai on Friday and Saturday (Photo by Sean Gallup via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Global Warming Talks Begin Amid Deep Tensions, David Gelles, Dec. 1, 2023. World leaders are speaking in Dubai against a backdrop of rising temperatures and two major wars.

World leaders called on Friday for urgent action to slow global warming as the annual United Nations climate summit kicked into gear against a backdrop of two major wars and rising global temperatures.

King Charles III challenged the gathering in Dubai to take “genuine transformational action” to slow the spiral of greenhouse gas emissions, and the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, called for the total phase-out of fossil fuels, on the second day of the meeting, known as COP28.

Other heads of state and government will speak on Saturday and the event will continue for 10 days as negotiators from nearly every nation try find common cause in the fight against climate change.

The meeting comes toward the end of what will almost certainly be the hottest year in recorded history. Greenhouse gas emissions, mainly driven by the burning of fossil fuels, have now warmed the planet by about 1.2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Floods, fires, droughts and storms made worse by climate change are unleashing destruction around the world.

The leaders calling for swift action to reduce emissions face a daunting task. While many developed countries are installing more wind and solar power, global greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel demand continue to rise.

Any final agreement must be ratified by every country in attendance. The need for unanimous consent means that each word in the final document will be scrutinized. In previous years, representatives from oil producing nations have vetoed language calling for a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels.

Here’s what else to know:

  • The summit officially opened Thursday with delegates reaching an agreement in principle on a fund that will help poor countries cope with climate disasters. Another big issue on the table at the meeting is an international effort to limit emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Speaking Friday, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, rebuked developed nations for “indiscriminately” exploiting the planet and pledged to redouble his nation’s shift away from fossil fuels.
  • The meeting has drawn criticism for the heavy presence of oil and gas executives. The oil-rich host nation, the United Arab Emirates, has been accused of trying to strike oil deals on the sidelines of the summit. The president of the proceedings, Sultan Al Jaber, is the head of the Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc. In his opening remarks on Thursday, Mr. Al Jaber defended the presence of fossil fuel interests at COP28, saying: “Let history reflect the fact that this is the presidency that made a bold choice to proactively engage with oil and gas companies.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Reports: Israel Resumes Strikes on Gaza After Truce Expires, Patrick Kingsley, Victoria Kim, Michael Crowley and Ben Hubbard, Dec. 1, 2023. Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the collapse of a weeklong cease-fire that had allowed for the exchange of hostages and detainees.

Israel FlagA weeklong cease-fire in the Gaza Strip collapsed on Friday morning, with both Israel and Hamas blaming the other for the breakdown of the fragile truce that had allowed for the exchange of scores of hostages and prisoners, and had briefly raised hopes for a more lasting halt to the fighting.

Hostilities resumed almost immediately: Shortly before the truce expired at 7 a.m. local time (midnight Eastern), Israel said it had intercepted a projectile fired from Gaza. Moments after the deadline passed, Israel announced that it was restarting military operations, and Israeli airstrikes soon thundered again across the battered coastal strip.

International mediators said talks were continuing in the hopes of quickly reviving the truce, although Israeli officials expressed determination to carry on with their campaign to eradicate Hamas, the armed group that controls most of Gaza.

“With the return to fighting, we emphasize: The government of Israel is committed to achieving the war aims — freeing our hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to the residents of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a statement released by his office.

Hamas said in a statement that it had offered to release more hostages, including older people, but that Israel had made “a prior decision to resume the criminal aggression.” Israel, for its part, said that Hamas had failed to release as many hostages as it had promised. Hamas released eight hostages on Thursday, two fewer than expected, after releasing at least 94 since the truce began.

The foreign ministry of Qatar, which has led the cease-fire talks, said in a statement after the truce expired that negotiations between the two sides were continuing even amid the fighting. The resumption of airstrikes “complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the strip,” the ministry said.

Under the truce that went into effect last Friday, more than 100 Israeli and dual-national hostages — mostly Israelis abducted in Hamas-led attacks — were freed from Gaza in exchange for Israel’s release of 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails.

On both sides, the trade focused on women and children. Officials from both Israel and Hamas said the armed group had few hostages remaining in those categories. The negotiations over further exchanges were likely to become more complicated, in part because Hamas has said that it would demand a higher price for releasing Israeli men or soldiers of either sex.

Early Friday, shortly before the truce was set to end, Israel’s military said on the social media site X that it had intercepted a projectile fired from Gaza. Automated rocket alert systems reported that air-raid sirens had sounded in several areas of southern Israel, indicating rockets or shells had been fired from the territory.

Then, just after the 7 a.m. deadline passed, both the Israeli military and Gaza’s Interior Ministry reported that Israel was carrying out strikes across Gaza. Air-raid sirens sounded in several parts of southern Israel, indicating that Hamas or allied armed groups in Gaza had fired toward Israel.

Gaza health officials swiftly began reporting casualties. By midmorning, at least 32 people had been killed in Gaza since the resumption of fighting, according to Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Gazan health ministry.

The halt in fighting since last Friday had given Gaza’s 2.2 million civilians a brief reprieve from withering Israeli strikes. Since Oct. 7, when Hamas led terrorist attacks on Israel that the Israeli government says killed about 1,200 people and resulted in about 240 hostages being taken, Israel has waged a devastating military campaign that Gazan health authorities say has killed more than 13,000 people.

Most of Gaza’s people have been displaced and are experiencing acute shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel amid widespread destruction. The weeklong pause allowed more aid to reach the battered enclave than the trickle that had made it in before the truce. Nonetheless, the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office said that the aid was still “completely inadequate.”

“I deeply regret that military operations have started again in Gaza,” the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said in a statement on Friday. “The return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian cease-fire,” he added.

The foreign ministry of Qatar, which has led the cease-fire talks, said in a statement after the truce expired that negotiations between the two sides were continuing even amid the fighting. The resumption of airstrikes “complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the strip,” the ministry said.

Under the truce that went into effect last Friday, more than 100 Israeli and dual-national hostages — mostly Israelis abducted in Hamas-led attacks — were freed from Gaza in exchange for Israel’s release of 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails.

On both sides, the trade focused on women and children. Officials from both Israel and Hamas said the armed group had few hostages remaining in those categories. The negotiations over further exchanges were likely to become more complicated, in part because Hamas has said that it would demand a higher price for releasing Israeli men or soldiers of either sex.

Early Friday, shortly before the truce was set to end, Israel’s military said on the social media site X that it had intercepted a projectile fired from Gaza. Automated rocket alert systems reported that air-raid sirens had sounded in several areas of southern Israel, indicating rockets or shells had been fired from the territory.

Then, just after the 7 a.m. deadline passed, both the Israeli military and Gaza’s Interior Ministry reported that Israel was carrying out strikes across Gaza. Air-raid sirens sounded in several parts of southern Israel, indicating that Hamas or allied armed groups in Gaza had fired toward Israel.

Gaza health officials swiftly began reporting casualties. By midmorning, at least 32 people had been killed in Gaza since the resumption of fighting, according to Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Gazan health ministry.

The halt in fighting since last Friday had given Gaza’s 2.2 million civilians a brief reprieve from withering Israeli strikes. Since Oct. 7, when Hamas led terrorist attacks on Israel that the Israeli government says killed about 1,200 people and resulted in about 240 hostages being taken, Israel has waged a devastating military campaign that Gazan health authorities say has killed more than 13,000 people.

Most of Gaza’s people have been displaced and are experiencing acute shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel amid widespread destruction. The weeklong pause allowed more aid to reach the battered enclave than the trickle that had made it in before the truce. Nonetheless, the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office said that the aid was still “completely inadequate.”

“I deeply regret that military operations have started again in Gaza,” the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said in a statement on Friday. “The return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian cease-fire,” he added.

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ny times logoNew York Times, A Climate Summit Begins With Fossil Fuels, and Frustration, Going Strong, David Gelles, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). After decades of meetings, nations still haven’t agreed to curb the main driver of global warming.

As leaders from nearly every nation on the planet gather on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates to confront global warming, many are carrying a sense of disillusionment into the annual climate summit convened by the United Nations.

cop 208 uae logoCountries talk about the need to cut the pollution that is dangerously heating the planet, but emissions are reaching record highs this year. Rich countries have pledged to help poor countries transition away from coal, oil and gas, but have largely failed to fulfill their promises for financial aid. After 27 years of meetings, countries still can’t agree to stop burning fossil fuels, which scientists say is the main driver of climate change.

And this year, the hottest year in recorded history, the talks known as COP28 are being hosted by a country that is ramping up its production of oil and has been accused of using its position as facilitator of the summit to strike oil and gas deals on the sidelines.

“There is skepticism of this COP — where it is and who is running it,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

Certainly, progress has been made since 2015, when nations signed a watershed agreement in Paris to work to limit global warming to relatively safe levels. The United States, the countries of the European Union and other nations have reduced their emissions while increasing renewable energy, particularly when it comes to transportation and electricity. Global investment in new solar and wind energy projects soared to record levels in 2023.

But the United States is also producing a record amount of crude oil and was the world’s leading exporter of natural gas in the first six months of 2023. And while China has led the world in electric vehicle adoption and is investing heavily in renewable electricity, it is also building new coal-fired power plants as its emissions continue to rise.

The science is clear, researchers say: nations must sharply cut greenhouse gases this decade to avoid the most catastrophic impacts from climate change. The warning signs are all around. Extreme weather is ravaging every continent. Biodiversity is collapsing and glaciers are melting. Billion dollar disasters are occurring regularly.

ny times logoNew York Times, A new forecast shows where countries are — and aren’t — making progress on climate change, Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Emissions from electricity and transportation are projected to fall over time, a new report finds, but industry remains a major climate challenge.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hostages Freed From Gaza Recount Violence, Hunger and Fear, Katherine Rosman, Emma Bubola, Rachel Abrams and Russell Goldman, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Hostages who have returned to Israel in the past week have come home malnourished, ill, injured and bearing psychological wounds, their families said.

Israel FlagSome of the hostages were held in sweltering tunnels deep beneath Gaza, while others were squeezed into tight quarters with strangers or confined in isolation. There were children forced to appear in hostage videos, and others forced to watch gruesome footage of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack. They bore physical and psychological wounds.

palestinian flagAs some hostages captured that day in the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel have been released, they have relayed these and other stories of their captivity to family members. While their individual experiences differ in some details, their accounts share features that corroborate one another and suggest that Hamas and its allies planned to take hostages.

The New York Times interviewed the family members of 10 freed hostages, who spoke on behalf of their relatives to relay sensitive information.

The relatives who spoke to The Times described how the freed hostages, many of them children, were deprived of adequate food while in Gaza. Many said they had received just a single piece of bread per day for weeks. Others were fed small portions of rice, or pieces of cheese. The Red Cross said it was denied access to the hostages.

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel Knew Hamas’s Attack Plan More Than a Year Ago, Ronen Bergman and Adam Goldman, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). A blueprint reviewed by The Times laid out the attack in detail. Israeli officials dismissed it as aspirational and ignored specific warnings.

Israel FlagIsraeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out.

The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named “Jericho Wall,” outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people.

The translated document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases, including a division headquarters.

Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.

Destroying Democracies

Mississippi 'Goon Squad' Suspects: Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. All pleaded guilty this year to federal and state charges (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via Associated Press ).

Mississippi ‘Goon Squad’ Suspects: Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. All pleaded guilty this year to federal and state charges (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via Associated Press ).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How a ‘Goon Squad’ of Deputies Got Away With Years of Brutality, Brian Howey and Nate Rosenfield, Photographs by Rory Doyle, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). They barged into homes in the middle of the night, then held people down while they beat them, witnesses said. For years, signs of the violence in Mississippi went ignored.

For nearly two decades, a loose band of sheriff’s deputies roamed impoverished neighborhoods across a central Mississippi county, meting out their own version of justice.

Narcotics detectives and patrol officers, some who called themselves the Goon Squad, barged into homes in the middle of the night, accusing people inside of dealing drugs. Then they handcuffed or held them at gunpoint and tortured them into confessing or providing information, according to dozens of people who say they endured or witnessed the assaults.

They described violence that sometimes went on for hours and seemed intended to strike terror into the deputies’ targets.

In the pursuit of drug arrests, deputies of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department shocked Robert Jones with a Taser in 2018 while he lay submerged in a flooded ditch, then rammed a stick down his throat until he vomited blood, he said.

During a raid the same year, deputies choked Mitchell Hobson with a lamp cord and waterboarded him to simulate drowning, he said, then beat him until the walls were spattered with his blood. That raid took place at the home of Rick Loveday, a sheriff’s deputy in a neighboring county, who said he was dragged half-naked from his bed at gunpoint, before deputies jabbed a flashlight threateningly at his buttocks and then pummeled him relentlessly.

The string of violence might have continued unchecked if not for one near-fatal raid in January.

According to a Justice Department investigation, deputies broke into the home of two Black men, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, shocked them with Tasers and threatened to rape them. Deputy Hunter Elward shoved the barrel of a gun into Mr. Jenkins’s mouth, not realizing a bullet was in the chamber, and pulled the trigger. Mr. Jenkins was grievously injured, the incident was thrust into the national spotlight, and in August five deputies and a police officer pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

But an investigation by The New York Times and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today reveals a history of blatant and brutal incidents stretching back to at least 2004.

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending, Robert Kagan, right, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). There is a clear path robert kagan looking leftto dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day. So why is everyone behaving like normal?

Let’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day. In 13 weeks, Donald Trump will have locked up the Republican nomination. In the RealClearPolitics poll average (for the period from Nov. 9 to 20), Trump leads his nearest competitor by 47 points and leads the rest of the field combined by 27 points.

The idea that he is unelectable in the general election is nonsense — he is tied or ahead of President Biden in all the latest polls — stripping other Republican challengers of their own stated reasons for existence. The fact that many Americans might prefer other candidates, much ballyhooed by such political sages as Karl Rove, will soon become irrelevant when millions of Republican voters turn out to choose the person whom no one allegedly wants.

President Donald Trump officialFor many months now, we have been living in a world of self-delusion, rich with imagined possibilities. Maybe it will be Ron DeSantis, or maybe Nikki Haley. Maybe the myriad indictments of Trump will doom him with Republican suburbanites. Such hopeful speculation has allowed us to drift along passively, conducting business as usual, taking no dramatic action to change course, in the hope and expectation that something will happen. Like people on a riverboat, we have long known there is a waterfall ahead but assume we will somehow find our way to shore before we go over the edge. But now the actions required to get us to shore are looking harder and harder, if not downright impossible.

djt maga hatThe magical-thinking phase is ending. Barring some miracle, Trump will soon be the presumptive Republican nominee for president. When that happens, there will be a swift and dramatic shift in the political power dynamic, in his favor. Until now, Republicans and conservatives have enjoyed relative freedom to express anti-Trump sentiments, to speak openly and positively about alternative candidates, to vent criticisms of Trump’s behavior past and present. Donors who find Trump distasteful have been free to spread their money around to help his competitors. Establishment Republicans have made no secret of their hope that Trump will be convicted and thus removed from the equation without their having to take a stand against him.

Robert Kagan, a Post Opinions contributing editor, is the author of “Rebellion: How Antiliberalism Is Tearing America Apart — Again,” which will be published by Knopf in May.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. stops helping Big Tech spot foreign meddling amid GOP legal threats, Naomi Nix and Cat Zakrzewski, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Anthony Faiola, Stefano Pitrelli and Louisa Loveluck, Nov. 30, 2023. The federal government has stopped warning Meta about foreign influence campaigns amid a legal campaign against the Biden administration’s communication with tech firms.

meta logoThe U.S. federal government has stopped warning some social networks about foreign disinformation campaigns on their platforms, reversing a years-long approach to preventing Russia and other actors from interfering in American politics less than a year before the U.S. presidential elections, according to company officials.

Meta no longer receives notifications of global influence campaigns from the Biden administration, halting a prolonged partnership between the federal government and the world’s largest social media company, senior security officials said Wednesday. Federal agencies have also stopped communicating about political disinformation with Pinterest, according to the company.

The developments underscore the far-reaching impact of a conservative legal campaign against initiatives established to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election, when Russia manipulated social media in an attempt to sow chaos and swing the vote for Donald Trump.

For months, researchers in government and academia have warned that a barrage of lawsuits, congressional demands and online attacks are having a chilling effect on programs intended to combat health and election misinformation. But the shift in communications about foreign meddling signals how ongoing litigation and Republican probes in Congress are unwinding efforts once viewed as critical to protecting U.S. national security interests.

Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks

Ben Nimmo, chief of global threat intelligence for Meta, said government officials stopped communicating foreign election interference threats to the company in July.

That month, a federal judge limited the Biden administration’s communications with tech platforms in response to a lawsuit alleging such coordination ran afoul of the First Amendment by encouraging companies to remove falsehoods about covid-19 and the 2020 election. The decision included an exemption allowing the government to communicate with the companies about national security threats, specifically foreign interference in elections. The case, Missouri v. Biden, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has paused lower court restrictions while it reviews the matter.

The shift erodes a partnership considered crucial to the integrity of elections around the world — just months before voters head to the polls in Taiwan, the European Union, India and the United States. Ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential race, foreign actors such as China and Russia have become more aggressive at trying to exacerbate political tensions in the United States, while advanced artificial intelligence allows bad actors to easily create convincing political propaganda.

Sen. Mark R. Warner, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said “legal warfare by far-right actors” has led to a dire situation.

“We are seeing a potential scenario where all the major improvements in identifying, threat-sharing, and public exposure of foreign malign influence activity targeting U.S. elections have been systematically undermined,” the senator from Virginia said in a statement.

ny times logoNew York Times, 4,789 Facebook Accounts in China Impersonated Americans, Meta Says, Steven Lee Myers, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The company warned that the inauthentic accounts underscored the threat of foreign election interference in 2024.

Meta announced on Thursday that it had removed thousands of Facebook accounts based in China that were impersonating Americans debating political issues in the United States. The company warned that the campaign presaged coordinated international efforts to influence the 2024 presidential election.

The network of fake accounts — 4,789 in all — used names and photographs lifted from elsewhere on the internet and copied partisan political content from X, formerly known as Twitter, Meta said in its latest quarterly adversarial threat analysis. The copied material included posts by prominent Republican and Democratic politicians, the report said.

The campaign appeared intended not to favor one side or another but to highlight the deep divisions in American politics, a tactic that Russia’s influence campaigns have used for years in the United States and elsewhere.

Meta warned that the campaign underscored the threat facing a confluence of elections around the world in 2024 — from India in April to the United States in November.

“Foreign threat actors are attempting to reach audiences ahead of next year’s various elections, including in the U.S. and Europe,” the company’s report said, “and we need to remain alert to their evolving tactics and targeting across the internet.”

Although Meta did not attribute the latest campaign to China’s Communist government, it noted that the country had become the third-most-common geographic source for coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and other social media platforms, after Russia and Iran.

The Chinese network was the fifth that Meta has detected and taken down this year, more than in any other nation, suggesting that China is stepping up its covert influence efforts. While previous campaigns focused on Chinese issues, the latest ones have weighed more directly into domestic U.S. politics.

“This represents the most notable change in the threat landscape, when compared with the 2020 election cycle,” the company said in the threat report.

Meta’s report followed a series of disclosures about China’s global information operations, including a recent State Department report that accused China of spending billions on “deceptive and coercive methods” to shape the global information environment.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Takeaways From Liz Cheney’s Book Criticizing Trump and His ‘Enablers,’ Peter Baker, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The former Republican congresswoman’s memoir, to be published next week, is meant as a warning about returning Donald Trump to the presidency.

liz cheney oath coverIt was inevitable that Liz Cheney’s new memoir, right, would cause a splash. An outspoken Republican critic of former President Donald J. Trump in a party that he otherwise dominates, she has shown over the past three years that she is willing to say out loud what most other Republicans say only in private, if at all.

The memoir, Oath and Honor, arrives on bookshelves just as Mr. Trump is poised to reclaim the Republican presidential nomination in primaries beginning in a few weeks. It is meant as a five-alarm warning that returning him to power would endanger American democracy and a damning indictment of his “enablers” and “collaborators” in her own party.

But beyond its top-line arguments, the book offers a rare peek inside the Republican cloakroom at what Ms. Cheney, a former representative from Wyoming, heard from her colleagues about “the Orange Jesus,” as one wryly called Mr. Trump. Here are a half-dozen stories she tells in the book, a copy of which The New York Times obtained ahead of its publication on Tuesday by Little, Brown and Company.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why new Ariz. indictments are key in the fight against election subversion, Aaron Blake, right, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). There has been no aaron blakeshortage of brazen Republican efforts to question and overturn election results since November 2020 — efforts that despite the failure and fallout from the 2020 episode involving Donald Trump have continued. But the late-2022 attempt in Cochise County, Ariz., was subtly among the most potentially pivotal.

Now it’s leading to consequences — a pair of indictments — that could prove significant.

After some local Republican officials balked at certifying election results in President Biden’s 2020 victory, the Cochise County officials went even further in Arizona’s 2022 election. They blew through a Nov. 28, 2022, deadline to certify the county’s election results.

They did so not because they alleged something amiss in that rural county’s votes but apparently in protest over how the much more populous Maricopa County was handling its votes. (To date, there is no evidence of malfeasance in that county, either, and lawsuits have repeatedly failed.) The Cochise County Board of Supervisors ultimately relented and certified the votes on Dec. 1, but only after a court order forced it to.

The county supervisors made their play even as it was obviously legally problematic.Go ahead, go for it, arrest me,’ ” Lake said.

It turns out those officials effectively gave Lake what she wanted.

Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd and Terry Thomas “Tom” Crosby have now been indicted. They are each charged with a pair of Class 5 felonies for allegedly conspiring to delay the canvass of their county’s votes.

While the indictments are merely the latest in a long line over efforts to overturn elections — federally, in Michigan, in Georgia and now in Arizona — the threat of prosecution in this case could serve as a significant deterrent.

Despite the law often making such duties ministerial — in other words, not optional — refusal to certify has emerged as something of a last-ditch option to thwart election results when other efforts fail. Election deniers have waged often-successful efforts to take over local election administration. As episodes like one in 2020 in Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit, show, a small number of officials can have a big impact. And many state laws don’t contemplate what happens if local officials do such a thing. That can make the impulse to go rogue on election certification attractive and particularly fraught.

When the Cochise County officials were holding out, Tammy Patrick of the National Association of Election Officials told me, “It does open up this sort of playbook to play out not just in 2024, but also beyond.”

It remains to be seen how compelling the case against the officials is.

A lawyer for Crosby, Dennis Wilenchik, said there was no conspiracy to interfere in the election and that such an alleged conspiracy wouldn’t “be pursuant to any unlawful end even had it existed.” He said the fact that then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) ultimately met her own, later deadline to certify the statewide results — after the court order forced Cochise County’s hand — renders the claim of election interference “kind of nonsensical.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Antagonism flares as red states try to dictate how blue cities are run, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). Despite long advocating small government and local control, Republican governors and legislators across a significant swath of the country are increasingly overriding the actions of Democratic cities — removing elected district attorneys or threatening to strip them of power, taking over election offices and otherwise limiting local independence.

State lawmakers proposed nearly 700 bills this year to circumscribe what cities and counties can do, according to Katie Belanger, lead consultant for the Local Solutions Support Center, a national organization focused in part on ending the overreach it calls “abusive state preemption.”

The group’s tracking mostly found “conservative state legislatures responding to or anticipating actions of progressive cities,” she said, with many bills designed to bolster state restrictions on police defunding, abortion, and LGBTQ and voting rights. As of mid-October, at least 92 had passed.

In Florida, for instance, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed sweeping measures that empower the state attorney general to pursue election-related crimes and that require cities and counties to suspend a local ordinance if someone sues alleging it is preempted by state law. He has removed two elected Democratic prosecutors in as many years, including one who pledged not to charge people seeking abortions or transgender care.

More clashes are expected. Louisiana Gov.-elect Jeff Landry takes office in January and has promised to confront the state’s largest city, New Orleans. He already has created a committee led by a local GOP political donor and businessman to address public safety and other issues there. He has threatened to withhold state funding for the city’s water infrastructure until the DA agrees to prosecute women who violate the state’s abortion ban by seeking the procedure.

Given the presidential campaign that lies ahead in 2024, Belanger is concerned about states passing election-related laws that affect local authorities.

“Election administration has been a target for abusive preemption in the past,” she said, “and as we go into an election year, that is a trend that will grow.”

The antagonisms between red states and blue cities are all the more notable because the urban areas in the crosshairs are mostly majority-minority, with many mayors and district attorneys of color.

These actions go “squarely against the Republican philosophy of small government and more freedom,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, a Black Democrat who has struggled to pass local tobacco and gun control ordinances because of constraints enacted by Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature. “This is about common-sense democracy.”

Some of the fiercest standoffs have come in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed the most expansive preemption law in the country in June, barring cities and counties from passing an array of ordinances. Opponents condemned it as the “Death Star,” saying it would imperil local residents and block worker protections like mandatory water breaks during heat waves. Abbott defended the law as crucial to reducing business regulation.

Politico, Judge key to Jan. 6 cases warns US faces ‘authoritarian’ threat, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). Judge Beryl Howell sees “time of testing” for nation as facts are denied and disputed. The judge who spearheaded the judiciary’s response to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, blamed that event on “big lies” and warned that the country is in danger of turning toward authoritarianism.

politico CustomAs the federal court in Washington that Judge Beryl Howell, right, once oversaw prepares for a historic trial of former President Donald Trump on beryl howellcharges of attempting to fraudulently overturn the results of the 2020 election, the jurist used a rare public speech Tuesday to lament that many of those convicted for their actions on Jan. 6 fell under the sway of falsehoods.

“My D.C. judicial colleagues and I regularly see the impact of big lies at the sentencing of hundreds, hundreds of individuals who have been convicted for offense conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, when they disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election at the U.S. Capitol,” said Howell, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Howell, who served as chief judge of the District Court from 2016 until March and remains on the bench there, also suggested that the dangers evident on the day of the Capitol riot have not passed — in part because some Americans have become unmoored from facts.

“We are having a very surprising and downright troubling moment in this country when the very importance of facts is dismissed, or ignored,” Howell told the annual gala of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association at a downtown hotel. “That’s very risky business for all of us in our democracy. … The facts matter.”

Howell did not refer by name to Trump, who is currently the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination next year. She also made no mention of his trial set to open March 4 before one of her colleagues, Judge Tanya Chutkan.

However, Howell approvingly quoted Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson’s claim in her new book that the U.S. “is at a crossroads teetering on the brink of authoritarianism.” The judge also quoted and echoed Richardson’s warning that “Big lies are springboards for authoritarians.”

Howell received a “champion” award Tuesday night from the women lawyers group, which she urged to help preserve democratic traditions by calling attention to the facts at the center of their work.

Jonathan Braun, former President Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Braun’s wife pose for a picture on a golf course in front of palm trees. Mr. Trump is giving a thumbs up and wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, dark pants and a white polo shirt that says “President Donald Trump.”

Jonathan Braun, former President Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Braun’s wife pose for a picture on a golf course in front of palm trees. Mr. Trump is giving a thumbs up and wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, dark pants and a white polo shirt that says “President Donald Trump.”

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More On Israel’s War With Hamas

washington post logoWashington Post, In undisclosed call, Pope Francis warned Israel against committing ‘terror,’ Anthony Faiola, Stefano Pitrelli and Louisa Loveluck, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The call with President Isaac Herzog was felt to have gone so badly that Israel didn’t report it, signaling a widening rift between the Vatican and pope francis uncropped 3 13the Jewish state.

As bombs fell and tanks penetrated deep into Gaza in late October, Israeli President Isaac Herzog held a fraught phone call with Pope Francis. The Israeli head of state was describing his nation’s horror over the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 when the pope issued a blunt rejoinder.

It is “forbidden to respond to terror with terror,” Francis said, according to a senior Israeli official familiar with the call, which has not been previously reported.

Israel FlagHerzog protested, repeating the position that the Israeli government was doing what was needed in Gaza to defend its own people. The pope continued, saying those responsible should indeed be held accountable, but not civilians.

European bans on pro-Palestinian protests prompt claims of bias

That private call would inform Israeli interpretations of Francis’s polemic statement, at his Nov. 22 general audience in St. Peter’s Square, that the conflict had “gone beyond war. This is terrorism.” Taken with the diplomatic exchange — deemed so “bad” by the Israelis that they did not make it public — the implication seemed clear: The pope was calling their campaign in Gaza an act of terrorism.

Politico, Benny Gantz eyes his moment to topple Israel’s Netanyahu, Jamie Dettmer, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.).  Former defense minister is emerging as most likely candidate to call time on leader’s long political career. politico CustomAll eyes are on when retired general Benny Gantz, right, is going to make his move against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

benny grantz cropped flickr as israel defense forces chief of staffjpg SmallSince Hamas’ murderous attacks on October 7, Israelis have largely put partisan politics aside, but the strain for such a highly rambunctious nation is starting to show. With the first phase of action in Gaza coming to a close, the weeks ahead now look set to roll into a potential endgame for Netanyahu, as many Israelis blame him for last month’s catastrophic security blunder.

Gantz is the most likely challenger to step up and call time on Netanyahu’s long political career. Before the attacks, the former defense Israel Flagminister expressed concern over the dangerously “extremist” direction Netanyahu and his allies were taking the country but after October 7 he was still ready to join Netanyahu’s war cabinet for the sake of national unity. As he noted: “There is a time for peace and a time for war. Now is a time for war.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel-Hamas War: Blinken Returns to Middle East as U.S. Tries to Shape Next Phase of War, Michael Crowley, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met in Israel on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, as part of a diplomatic push by the Biden administration to extend Benjamin Netanyahu smile Twittera tenuous truce in Gaza and try to exert some influence over the next phase of Israel’s military offensive.

On his third swing through the Middle East since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel, Mr. Blinken planned to see other senior Israeli officials and visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank to meet with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. He was later expected to travel on to Dubai for a climate conference and meetings with Arab leaders.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Secretary of State went to Israel as part of a diplomatic push to extend a tenuous truce in Gaza and try to exert some influence over the next phase of Israel’s offensive.
  • The new phase of Israel’s offensive is expected to focus on southern Gaza.
  • Hamas releases two more female hostages, including one who was seen in a hostage video.
  • Mediators worked for days to extend the deal.
  • A shooting in Jerusalem kills at least 3 people, Israeli officials say.
  • The activist Ahed Tamimi is among the Palestinians freed in the latest exchange.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Michigan city with one of the highest percentages of Arab Americans in the U.S. is suffering, Kurt Streeter Dec. 1, 2023. Abdullah Hammoud, the 33-year-old mayor of Dearborn, Mich., feels the painful weight of a war being fought 6,000 miles away.

He feels it in every corner of his city. He feels it through anguished stories told as he eats breakfast at AlTayeb Restaurant, as he visits Ronnie Berry’s Halal Meats, and in late-night discussions with his closest friends.

“With the level of Islamophobia, parents are worried,” Mr. Hammoud says. “Many people are not in the mood to have a good time.”

He pauses for a moment. “Not when bombs are dropping in Gaza.”

Dearborn, a suburb of roughly 110,000 people bordering Detroit, has one of the highest percentages of Arab Americans among U.S. cities. Census figures show that it is roughly 54 percent Arab American, a figure experts believe is a significant undercount. When he took office in 2022, Mr. Hammoud — the son of Lebanese immigrants, raised in the city’s working-class east side — became the first Arab American Muslim mayor in Dearborn history.

But all is not well in Dearborn now. This is a community suffering intensely as it beholds the carnage wrought by the war between Israel and Hamas.

The recent pause in fighting brought a respite, but Mr. Hammoud, like many in Dearborn, believed it would only be temporary. And it sparked hard emotion, giving residents a chance to step back and more fully feel the weight of the calamity: the dead and the missing, the wounded and displaced. It also highlighted the potential of a diplomatic solution, which the mayor indignantly said should have been the focus all along.

“In this community, right now there is a lot of grief, anger and fear,” Mr. Hammoud said on a recent day, his voice sad and insistent, as he drove around Dearborn in his black Ford F-150 truck. “You can’t help but be anxious when the whole city tells you that they stay up every night following the news, trying to understand how much more death and destruction is happening.”

Destruction in Gaza (New York Times photo by Samar Abu Elouf).

Destruction in Gaza (New York Times photo above by Samar Abu Elouf). Shown below in a photograph released by Thailand’s foreign ministry on Saturday are freed Thai hostages and an official, wearing a vest, posing at the Shamir Medical Center in Israel (Photo via Thailand’s Foreign Ministry via Associated Press.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Congress Weighs Aid to Israel, Some Democrats Want Strings Attached, Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). Democrats are clashing with each other and the White House over adding conditions, including measures to avoid civilian casualties, to an infusion of aid.

Israel FlagDemocrats in Congress are clashing with each other and the Biden administration over a push from the left that would attach conditions to an emergency infusion of security aid for Israel during its war with Hamas, the latest reflection of a growing rift within the party over support for the Jewish state.

U.S. House logoThe debate is a striking departure from longstanding practice on Capitol Hill, where for decades, lawmakers have approved huge amounts of military funding for Israel with few strings attached. Now, as Israel battles Hamas in a conflict whose civilian death toll has soared, a growing number of Democrats are voicing worry about how American dollars will be used.

The issue could come to a head on the Senate floor as early as next week, when Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has said the chamber could begin work on a legislative package including the aid measure.

The disagreements among Democrats simmered behind closed doors on Capitol Hill and at the White House on Tuesday. At the White House, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, huddled with roughly 20 Democratic senators who have raised concerns about how Israel might use U.S. assistance on the battlefield. Later, at a private party lunch in the Capitol, several of the same Democrats argued to their colleagues that any aid package should increase humanitarian assistance to Gaza and ensure that Israel do more to avoid civilian casualties.

ny times logoNew York Times, In the West Bank, Release of Prisoners Deepens Support for Hamas, Christina Goldbaum and Hiba Yazbek, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). Frustration with the Palestinian Authority has been simmering, and some believe Hamas and other armed groups are the only ones they can trust to protect them.

palestinian flagIsrael’s bombardment of Gaza and the elation over the prisoners’ release have deepened support for Hamas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has administered cities and towns for more than two decades. Gaza, the other Palestinian enclave, has by contrast been controlled since 2007 by Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and other countries.

Now, as many in the West Bank fear the war could spread to the occupied territory, some believe Hamas and other armed groups are the only ones they can trust to protect them.

The Palestinian Authority — which is controlled by the Fatah political faction — is deeply unpopular and widely seen as a subcontractor to the Israeli occupation. Long-simmering frustrations with the authority’s leadership and accusations of corruption have been exacerbated in the past year by an uptick in violence by Israeli settlers.

For some Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, the freed prisoners have become a potent symbol of Hamas’s ability to achieve tangible results and its willingness to fight for the Palestinian cause. Each night in Ramallah, as new batches of prisoners were released, one refrain echoed across the crowds: “The people want Hamas! The people want Hamas!”

Pollsters and analysts caution that support for the group is limited to a minority of residents and tends to rise temporarily during conflicts in Gaza. But with fears that a wider war could break out in the West Bank, many say the growing support today has taken on a new quality.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Understanding the True Nature of the Hamas-Israel War, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). The reason the Hamas-tom friedman twitterIsrael war can be hard for outsiders to understand is that three wars are going on at the same time: a war between Israeli Jews and the Palestinians exacerbated by a terrorist group, a war within Israeli and Palestinian societies over the future, and a war between Iran and its proxies and America and its allies.

But before we dig into those wars, here’s the most important thing to keep in mind about them: There’s a single formula that can maximize the chances that the forces of decency can prevail in all three. It is the formula that I think President Biden is pushing, even if he can’t spell it all out publicly now — and we should all push it with him: You should want Hamas defeated; as many Gazan civilians as possible spared; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his extremist allies booted; all the hostages returned; Iran deterred; and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank reinvigorated in partnership with moderate Arab states.

Pay particular attention to that last point: a revamped Palestinian Authority is the keystone for the forces of moderation, coexistence and decency triumphing in all three wars. It is the keystone for reviving a two-state solution. It is the keystone for creating a stable foundation for the normalization of relations between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab-Muslim world. And it is the keystone for creating an alliance between Israel, moderate Arabs, the United States and NATO that can weaken Iran and its proxies Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis — all of whom are up to no good.

Unfortunately, as Haaretz’s military correspondent, Amos Harel, reported on Tuesday, Netanyahu “is locked in by the extreme right and the settlers, who are fighting an all-out war against the idea of any involvement of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza mainly out of fear that the United States and Saudi Arabia will exploit such a move to restart the political process and push for a two-state solution in a way that will require Israel to make concessions in the West Bank.” So, Netanyahu, “under pressure from his political partners, has banned any discussion of this option.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Israel keeps hundreds of Palestinians in detention without charge, Ishaan Tharoor, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). In lists distributed to media, Israeli authorities label all the prisoners up for release as “terrorists.” Some were convicted of crimes such as attempted murder; others were detained for activities like “throwing stones” or carrying knives. And a few, like 59-year-old Hanan Barghouti, the eldest female prisoner to be released, were in indefinite Israeli custody without any charge.

While there were scenes of jubilation in Ramallah in the West Bank as a group of released prisoners met their families over the weekend, Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, issued directives cracking down on such celebrations in East Jerusalem, where the Israeli police can directly operate. “My instructions are clear: there are to be no expressions of joy,” he said. “Expressions of joy are equivalent to backing terrorism, victory celebrations give backing to those human scum, for those Nazis.”

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, most of which is under Israel’s military administration, Israeli authorities have detained roughly as many Palestinians as have been released in the past few days. A post-Oct. 7 crackdown saw the Palestinian population in Israeli custody almost double, by some measures: According to Palestinian rights groups, more than 3,000 Palestinians, mostly in the West Bank, were swept up by Israeli security forces. The majority appear to be held in administrative detention — that is, a form of incarceration without charge or trial that authorities can renew indefinitely.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fearful, Humiliated and Desperate: Gazans Heading South Face Horrors, Yara Bayoumy, Samar Abu Elouf and Iyad Abuheweila, Photographs by Samar Abu Elouf, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). Tens of thousands of Gazans are making the most difficult of choices, leaving their homes behind to survive.

palestinian flagThey walked for hours, raising their hands when they encountered Israeli troops with guns trained on them to display their I.D. cards — or wave white rags. All around them was the sound of gunfire and the incessant buzzing of drones. Bodies littered rubble-filled streets.

For the tens of thousands of Gazans who have fled the northern part of the enclave where the heaviest fighting has been taking place, evacuating to the south has been a perilous journey, according to at least 10 Gazans that The New York Times spoke to on the ground and by phone. Even though a tenuous cease-fire in place since Friday has brought temporary relief from the bombardment, they face an uncertain future — and the threat the strikes will return, leaving them displaced yet again.

The Israeli military launched a deadly bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip after an attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7 in which, Israeli officials say, 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage. In the seven weeks since, Israel has pounded the tiny coastal enclave with the aim of destroying Hamas’s military capabilities. So far, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed as of Nov. 21, according to the Gazan health authorities.

For weeks, Israel has been urging Gazans living in northern towns to flee along Salah al-Din Street, the strip’s main north-south highway.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Has Warned Israel to Fight More Surgically in Gaza, Officials Say, Erica L. Green, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). American officials have told the Israelis that a major bombardment risks sparking a humanitarian crisis that overwhelms the world’s capacity to respond.

The United States has warned Israel that it must fight more surgically and avoid further mass displacement of Palestinians in its war against Hamas to avoid a humanitarian crisis that overwhelms the world’s ability to respond, according to senior Biden administration officials.

The White House has told Israel that replicating the scale of its bombardment in northern Gaza as it makes an expected push into southern Gaza once the recent pause in fighting ends would produce a crisis beyond the capacity of any humanitarian support network, the officials said on Monday night. The United Nations has said the fighting has already displaced most of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million.

The statements are the Biden administration’s strongest warning to Israeli officials to date about the next phase of their military operation. For weeks, the White House has been careful to say it does not dictate how Israel conducts its military operations, but President Biden and senior members of his staff have grown more vocal as the humanitarian crisis has unfolded.

They also come as the administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues, said they were ramping up humanitarian aid during the cease-fire that took effect last week, and expressed optimism that aid could continue even when fighting resumed.

Among other things, American officials have told the Israelis that any coming military operations should not hamper the flow of power and water or impede the work of humanitarian sites such as hospitals and U.N.-supported shelters in south and central Gaza.

The Israeli government was receptive to the requests, one official said.

The cease-fire, to allow for the exchange of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians taken prisoner by Israel, has allowed for the first extended break in the violence since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas gunmen and other militant groups killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel. Gazan health officials say at least 13,000 people were killed during the nearly 50-day Israeli bombardment and ground invasion that followed.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has made clear that he intends for Israel to continue fighting after the truce ends, though it was extended by two more days on Monday.

The Biden administration officials said the United States was planning to take advantage of the extra time. On Tuesday, the United States will begin deploying military relief flights to deliver medical items, food, winter items and other necessities for the civilian population to Egypt, which borders Gaza.

Extraordinary progress has already been made in aid delivery, the officials said, though they acknowledged that the level of assistance was not enough to support normal life in Gaza. The officials also said that the increase in aid, including much-needed fuel, was not contingent on hostage releases, offering hope that the shipments could continue when fighting resumed.

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gaza destruction Gaza civilians, under Israel’s bombardment, are being killed at a historic pace

ny times logoNew York Times, Gaza civilians, under Israel’s bombardment, are being killed at a historic pace, Lauren Leatherby, Nov. 26, 2023 (print ed.). In less than two months, more than twice as many women and children have been reported killed in Gaza than in Ukraine after two years of war.

More On Trump Battles, Crimes, Claims, Allies

djt indicted proof

Politico, New York court reinstates Trump’s gag orders in civil fraud case, Erica Orden, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The gag orders bar Trump and his lawyers from disparaging court staff. politico CustomA New York state appeals court on Thursday reinstated the gag orders issued by the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial, lifting a pause on the orders that was put into effect earlier this month by one of the court’s judges.

In its two-page order, the appeals court didn’t explain its decision for reinstating the gag orders, which bar Trump and his lawyers from commenting on staff working for the trial judge, Justice Arthur Engoron.

The gag orders have been a central focus of the two-month trial, often eclipsing even the testimony. The initial gag order came just days into the trial, after Trump posted a disparaging social media message about the judge’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield, who sits alongside the judge on the bench. Engoron found that Trump subsequently violated the gag order twice, issuing him two fines totaling $15,000.

washington post logoWashington Post, McCarthy privately recounts terse phone call with Trump after ouster, Jacqueline Alemany and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). During the call, former president detailed the reasons he hadn’t intervened during the effort to remove McCarthy as speaker.

kevin mccarthyIn the weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), right, traveled down to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and threw a lifeline to the former president, who was under a cloud of controversy for provoking the historic assault.

U.S. House logoThe fence-mending session between the two Republican leaders ended with a photo op of the two men, grinning side by side in a gilded, frescoed room. The stunning turnabout of the House GOP leader, who had previously blamed Trump for the deadly attack, paved the way for the former president’s return to de facto leader of the Republican Party.

When the tables were turned almost three years later, however, Trump did not return the favor.

During a phone call with McCarthy weeks after his historic Oct. 3 removal as House speaker, Trump detailed the reasons he had declined to ask Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and other hard-right lawmakers to back off their campaign to oust the California Republican from his leadership position, according to people familiar with the exchange who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose a private conversation.

During the call, Trump lambasted McCarthy for not expunging his two impeachments and not endorsing him in the 2024 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the conversation.

“F— you,” McCarthy claimed to have then told Trump, when he rehashed the call later to other people in two separate conversations, according to the people. A spokesperson for McCarthy said that he did not swear at the former president and that they have a good relationship. A spokesperson for Trump declined to comment.

The transactional — and at times tumultuous — relationship has seemingly endured despite McCarthy’s ouster. The two continue to speak and text, according to people with knowledge of the relationship.

McCarthy has previously grappled with discrepancies between his private, disparaging comments about Trump to others and his continued fealty to the former president. In her new book, former congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) accused McCarthy of repeatedly lying about his relationship with Trump after the Jan. 6 attack. Cheney writes that when she pressed McCarthy about why he visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago, McCarthy claimed that he was summoned by the former president’s staff out of concern for his well-being.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump co-defendant in Georgia who pleaded guilty could testify in other cases, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Amy Gardner, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.).  Prosecutors in Arizona and Nevada have reached out to Kenneth Chesebro, who helped organize pro-Trump electors in 2020.

kenneth chesebroKenneth Chesebro, right, one of former president Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election-interference case, plans to meet with investigators in Arizona and Nevada, where similar probes are underway, according to three individuals with knowledge of the arrangements.

Chesebro, who pleaded guilty in the Georgia case to a single felony count of participating in a conspiracy to file false documents, had been charged primarily related to his 2020 role in organizing slates of pro-Trump electors. Those electors met and voted in seven states where Joe Biden had won — actions that they hoped would allow Congress to award those states’ electoral votes to Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.

georgia mapAs part of his pleading, Chesebro avoids prison time but must testify in the case. Separately, he has also been approached by prosecutors in Arizona and Nevada, who are investigating whether the Trump slates of electors who gathered in those states broke any laws, said the individuals, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss secret or sensitive proceedings. One said a grand jury is examining the Nevada case and that Chesebro is expected to testify in front of that panel. He plans to travel to the state this week.

The offices of Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, both Democrats, are leading the respective investigations. Nevada investigators reached out to a Chesebro lawyer last week to arrange a sit-down, one of the individuals said; Arizona investigators plan to speak to Chesebro in the coming weeks, said two others.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lawyer Told Trump Defying Documents Subpoena Would Be a Crime, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Not long after federal prosecutors issued a subpoena last year for all the classified documents that former President Donald J. Trump took with him from the White House to his estate in southern Florida, one of his lawyers told him, in no uncertain terms, that it would be a crime if he did not comply with the demand, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The lawyer, Jennifer Little, this year related the account of her discussion with Mr. Trump to a grand jury overseen by the special counsel Jack Smith. She is one of several witnesses who prosecutors were told had advised Mr. Trump to cooperate.

A few months after Ms. Little testified to the grand jury, Mr. Smith charged Mr. Trump with violating the subpoena for the documents and obstructing the government’s repeated efforts to reclaim nearly three dozen classified documents that he removed from the White House.

As part of her grand jury appearance, Ms. Little told prosecutors that the former president clearly understood her warning, the person familiar with the matter said.

Her sworn testimony that Mr. Trump was aware that disregarding the subpoena would be a criminal offense could serve as significant evidence of his consciousness of guilt if she ends up being called as a witness when the case eventually goes in front of a jury.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Bankers Say His Exaggerated Net Worth Did Not Affect Loans, Jonah E. Bromwich and Kate Christobek, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.)  Bankers whom Donald J. Trump is accused of defrauding testified at his civil fraud trial this week that they did not rely on his embellished claims of wealth, lending support to the central plank of the former president’s defense.

The New York attorney general, Letitia James, sued Mr. Trump in 2022 for inflating his net worth on his annual financial statements to receive favorable loans from banks, notably including Deutsche Bank. Before the trial, the judge found that the statements were filled with examples of fraud; the trial will determine any consequences the former president may face.

Mr. Trump has protested the premise of the case, insisting that the banks did their own due diligence and that misstatements in the financial documents would not have affected the overall terms of the loans. It follows, his lawyers have argued, that the alleged fraud had no victim.

The bankers who testified this week supported that argument when asked about the loan process.

“We are expected to conduct some due diligence and verify the information provided, to the extent that is possible,” David Williams, a banker in the wealth management group at Deutsche Bank, said on Tuesday. He said repeatedly that the bank had performed that diligence and factored its own analysis into the relationship with Mr. Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lawyers seek to probe U.S. handling of 2020 election fraud claims, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Nov. 28, 2023. New court filing seeks evidence to relitigate debunked claims that election was ‘stolen,’ investigate DOJ communications with Biden, Biden’s son, and Mike Pence.

Attorneys for Donald Trump have asked a federal judge in Washington to allow them to investigate several U.S. government agencies about their handling of investigations into him and allegations of voter fraud three years ago as the former president moves to defend himself from charges that he criminally conspired to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

In court papers filed Monday, Trump’s legal team sought permission to compel prosecutors to turn over information about the FBI, national security and election integrity units of the Justice Department, as well as the intelligence community and Department of Homeland Security’s response to foreign interference and other threats to the 2020 election, in what appeared to be an attempt to resuscitate his unfounded allegation that President Biden’s election victory was “stolen.”

Whether Trump genuinely believed that allegation may be a matter for trial, his lawyers wrote, but prosecutors cannot “suppress and withhold from President Trump information that supports this defense and related arguments regarding good faith and the absence of [his] criminal intent.” It was “certainly not criminal,” they added, “for President Trump to disagree with officials now favored by the prosecution and to rely instead on the independent judgment that the American people elected him to use while leading the country.”

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More On U.S. National Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Donald Trump Still Wants to Kill Obamacare. Why? Paul Krugman, right, Dec. 1, 2023. Donald Trump hasn’t talked much about paul krugmanpolicy in this election cycle, except for vague assertions that he’ll somehow bring back low unemployment and low inflation — which, by the way, has already happened. (Unemployment has been at or below 4 percent for almost two years. Thursday’s report on consumer spending showed the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of underlying inflation getting close to its 2 percent target.)

Most of his energy seems to be devoted to the prospect of wreaking revenge on his political opponents, whom he promises to “root out” like “vermin.”

Nonetheless, over the past few days, Trump has declared that if he returns to the White House, he’ll once again seek to do away with the Affordable Care Act, the reform that has produced a significant decline in the number of Americans without health insurance.

Why this renewed assault? “Obamacare Sucks!!!” declared the former and possibly future president. For those offended by the language, these are Trump’s own words, and I think I owe it to my readers to report what he actually said, not sanitize it. Trump also promised to provide “MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE” without offering any specifics.

So let’s discuss substance here. Does Obamacare, in fact, suck? And can we believe Trump’s promise to offer something much better?

ny times logoNew York Times, The House will vote today on whether to expel George Santos, Michael Gold and Grace Ashford, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). House lawmakers debated for an hour on whether to expel the New York representative, who was the subject of a damning Ethics Committee report and has been charged with 23 felonies. Mr. Santos has refused to resign.

As the House of Representatives opened the floor on Thursday to debate the fate of George Santos, Republican of New York, the arguments over whether to expel him took an immediate and indecorous turn.

Mr. Santos’s use of Botox was invoked several times, even by those defending him. His detractors pointed to falsified ties to the Holocaust and to his claims, contradicted by paperwork, that his mother was at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The final speaker calling to expel Mr. Santos concluded with the briefest of remarks: “You, sir, are a crook.”

The dramatic floor debate was, perhaps, a fitting culmination to a political career that has been defined by spectacle, scandal and lies.

All that could come to an end on Friday, when the House is scheduled to vote on a resolution to expel Mr. Santos, 35, following the release of a damning and detailed report from the House Ethics Committee that found “substantial evidence” that he had violated federal law.

Mr. Santos offered a minimal defense, again refusing to provide evidence that would counter the laundry list of misdeeds and 23 criminal charges that Republicans and Democrats cited to support his removal.

Instead, as a group of lawmakers repeatedly cited the findings of the ethics report, Mr. Santos and his defenders argued that removing him before his criminal case is resolved could open the floodgates to a raft of frivolous expulsion efforts, overriding the will of voters.

“The expulsion of George Santos would set a new precedent,” Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida said, adding: “The problem is, it’s a lower standard for due process, without merit.”

  • New York Times, Santos Relishes the Limelight Even as His Show Looks Likely to Close, Dec. 1, 2023. Before the debate about his possible expulsion from Congress, George Santos seemed to embrace his starring role in a scandal of his own making.

Two side-by-side pictures of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, left, and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California speaking during their debate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, left, a Republican, and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, had feuded openly for months leading up to the debate (Photos via Fox News).

ny times logoNew York Times, 5 Takeaways From the DeSantis-Newsom Debate, Jonathan Weisman, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Ron DeSantis showed a feistier side, using a friendly moderator to go on offense. Gavin Newsom defended California and President Biden, and jabbed right back.

For an hour and a half on Thursday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California shouted at and interrupted each other, trying to leave an impression on Fox News viewers beyond the din of their slugfest.

The debate in Alpharetta, Ga., was a chance for Mr. DeSantis to hold the spotlight without other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination on the stage. It was a chance for Mr. Newsom to bring his smooth persona and quick wit to a national — and conservative — audience.

Here are five takeaways.

It was DeSantis and Hannity vs. Newsom and Biden. The debate’s moderator, Sean Hannity, wanted the night to be a showdown between the liberal governor of the most populous state in the nation and the conservative governor of the third most populous state over starkly different views of governance.

From the beginning, Mr. Hannity pressed Mr. Newsom on his state’s high tax rates, its loss of residents over the past two years and its relatively higher crime rate. And Mr. DeSantis backed up the moderator in his challenges to how California is run.

It was an odd, mismatched conversation, since Mr. Newsom, who is not running for president, tried hard to focus on the 2024 campaign in which Mr. DeSantis is currently running. Mr. Newsom talked up President Biden’s record on the economy, health care and immigration and took swipes at Mr. DeSantis’s flagging campaign in the face of former President Donald J. Trump’s dominance.

“We have one thing in common: Neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024,” Mr. Newsom said early in the debate, only to follow later with a left hook about Mr. Trump’s polling lead in Florida. “How’s that going for you, Ron?” he taunted. “You’re down 41 points in your own state.”

An exasperated Mr. Hannity asked Mr. Newsom at one point: “Is Joe Biden paying you tonight? I thought this was state versus state.”

DeSantis was far feistier than in the Republican debates.

Through three Republican primary debates, Mr. DeSantis has struggled to make an impression on a crowded stage with several deft campaigners. On Thursday night, a different Mr. DeSantis was onstage.

He kept Mr. Newsom on his heels for much of the night. With Mr. Hannity’s help, he hit Mr. Newsom on subject after subject: crime, immigration, taxes, education.

And he appeared prepared. When Mr. Newsom predictably brought up Mr. DeSantis’s fruitless war with Disney, the Florida governor didn’t defend his actions but went after his California counterpart over his Covid policies: “You had Disney closed inexplicably for more than a year,” he said.

Politico, The 543-word editorial that may have just upended the presidential campaign, Meridith McGraw and Adam Cancryn, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The post by Trump calling for Obamacare’s replacement has lit a fire under Biden’s slow burn campaign.

politico CustomRepublicans thought they were done with their Obamacare nightmare. Then Donald Trump read a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

It was an item by the paper’s editorial board that piqued the former president’s frustration — one focused on health care industry consolidation but touching enough on the Affordable Care Act to reignite grievances about failing to repeal the law. And so, he fired off a post on Truth Social saying he was Democratic-Republican Campaign logos“seriously looking at alternatives” and that 2017’s failed repeal and replace effort was “a low point for the Republican Party.”

In a click of a button, a long-dormant campaign fault line was reopened.

The post lit a fire under President Joe Biden’s slow burn campaign. Significant campaign resources were quickly mobilized in response. Groups began preparing new ads calling for Obamacare’s protection. GOP lawmakers on the Hill had to take cover from inquisitive reporters asking if they backed Trump’s call. Advocacy organizations dusted off old playbooks.

“It’s a story that tells itself,” said Leslie Dach, the chair of Democrat-aligned group Protect Our Care. “He’s opening up a Pandora’s box of hurt.”

The assumption among Trump advisers was that the primary reason he put out the social media missive was that he’d read that Journal editorial, which was included along with his post. But they noted health care policy had recently been top of mind — just the week before, Trump had lunch with former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, a surgeon, where they talked about health care, among other things, which prompted an endorsement.

 rosalynn carter 1927 2023s

Yahoo News via AOL.com, Rosalynn Carter funeral: Jimmy Carter and all 5 living first ladies attend service, Dylan Stableford, Nov. 28, 2023. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and all five living current and former first ladies — Jill Biden, Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton — gathered at a memorial on Tuesday for former first lady Rosalynn Carter in Atlanta.

ny times logoNew York Times, They Fled Climate Chaos. Asylum Law Made Decades Ago Might Not Help, Miriam Jordan, Nov. 28, 2023. The legal system for refugees at the U.S. border never envisioned the millions displaced by global warming. But some are testing a climate-based argument.

First came the hurricanes — two storms, two weeks apart in 2020 — that devastated Honduras and left the country’s most vulnerable in dire need. In distant villages inhabited by Indigenous people known as the Miskito, homes were leveled and growing fields were ravaged.

Then came the drug cartels, who stepped into the vacuum left by the Honduran government, ill-equipped to respond to the catastrophe. Violence soon followed.

“Everything changed after the hurricanes, and we need protection,” Cosmi, a 36-year-old father of two, said, adding that his uncle was killed after being ordered to abandon the family plot.

Cosmi, who asked to be identified only by his first name out of concern for his family’s safety and that of relatives left behind, was staying at a squalid encampment on a spit of dirt along the river that separates Mexico and Texas. Hundreds of other Miskito were alongside him in tiny tents, all hoping to claim asylum.

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Politico, Why Senate Dems are prepared to swallow a border policy compromise, Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). In addition to helping embattled US allies, Senate Dems believe changes could help cool border politics in battleground states ahead of 2024.

politico CustomA growing number of Senate Democrats appear open to making it harder for migrants to seek asylum in order to secure Republican support for senate democrats logoaiding Ukraine and Israel.

They are motivated not just by concern for America’s embattled allies. They also believe changes are needed to help a migration crisis that is growing more dire and to potentially dull the political sting of border politics in battleground states before the 2024 elections.

Politico, House GOP appears to have the votes to expel Santos, Olivia Beavers and Jordain Carney, Nov. 29, 2023. An internal POLITICO whip count found nearly 90 House Republicans say they plan or are likely to support voting to boot the New York Republican. That means it’s a near-certainty the indicted politico Customlawmaker will be out this week.

If all Democrats vote to boot him, as expected, then lawmakers will reach the two-thirds vote threshold required to remove the New York Republican from the House.

hunter biden joe biden

washington post logoWashington Post, Hunter Biden willing to testify publicly, lawyer says amid House GOP efforts to discredit him, Matt Viser, Nov. 28, 2023. Escalation of battle with House GOP comes in response to a subpoena for a closed-door session.

Hunter Biden, shown above right with his father in a file photo, is willing to testify in a public hearing before the House Oversight Committee, a lawyer for the president’s son said Tuesday.Abbe Lowell, a lawyer representing Hunter Biden, disclosed the offer in a letter in response to a subpoena this month that is seeking a deposition, which would take place behind closed doors. It is a striking escalation in the battle between the president’s son and congressional Republicans, who have focused on his past business dealings and have launched impeachment hearings aimed at President Biden.
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Lowell’s three-page letter cited past comments from Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the committee, that essentially dared Hunter Biden to come and testify in public.

“Mr. Chairman, we take you up on your offer,” Lowell wrote, in a copy of the letter reviewed by The Washington Post. “Accordingly, our client will get right to it by agreeing to answer any pertinent and relevant question you or your colleagues might have, but — rather than subscribing to your cloaked, one-sided process — he will appear at a public Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing.”

“A public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements,” Lowell added.

In a statement later Tuesday morning, Comer indicated that he would not comply with Biden’s request that the deposition be done in public.

“Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else,” he said. “That won’t stand with House Republicans.”

The committee expects Hunter Biden to appear for a closed-door deposition on Dec. 13, Comer said, adding that “Hunter Biden should have opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date.”

Much of the letter from Lowell is combative, citing past statements from Comer and noting that the chairman has never taken Lowell up on offers to hold a meeting.

“Your empty investigation has gone on too long wasting too many better-used resources. It should come to an end,” Lowell wrote. “Consequently, Mr. Biden will appear at such a public hearing on the date you noticed, December 13, or any date in December that we can arrange.”

The committee has asked James Biden to appear for an interview on Dec. 6 and Hunter Biden to appear on Dec. 13.

Relevant Recent Headlines

U.S. Military, Security, Intelligence, Foreign Policy, JFK Death

China's President Xi Jinping, right, listens to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 17, 2015. The death Wednesday of Mr. Kissinger — a centenarian, former secretary of state and figurehead of American power on the world stage — has sparked a wave of reaction across the globe to his polarizing legacy. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)

China’s President Xi Jinping, right, listens to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 17, 2015. The death Wednesday of Mr. Kissinger — a centenarian, former secretary of state and figurehead of American power on the world stage — has sparked a wave of reaction across the globe to his polarizing legacy. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)

ny times logoNew York Times, Henry Kissinger (1923-2023): A Player on the World Stage Until the Very End, Peter Baker, Dec. 1, 2023. He traveled the globe when contemporaries had died or retired. Capitals around the world were still open to him, and he remained the toast of Davos.

When China’s leaders wanted to send a message to the Biden administration last summer, they did what came naturally. They called Henry A. Kissinger.

Mr. Kissinger was 100 years old by then and had left the government 46 years earlier. But for as long as anyone could remember, the Chinese had venerated him as the secretary of state who forged the landmark diplomatic opening to Beijing. They had used him as a channel to Washington ever since.

Knowing him as they did, the Chinese played to his sense of self regard during his visit in July. They feted and flattered him. They put him up in the same guest quarters he had occupied during his historic visits in the 1970s. They hosted meetings in the same building where he had met their predecessors. And President Xi Jinping told Mr. Kissinger that his initial visits had led to 50 years of mostly stable relations and that he hoped this trip would usher in another 50 years.

That last part was the point. After months of friction over a spy balloon and other provocative actions, Mr. Xi was trying to make clear to President Biden’s administration that he wanted to put the tension behind them and repair ties with the United States. Mr. Kissinger returned home and dutifully filled in Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken by phone; met with William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director; and passed along his impressions to Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser.

The only thing unusual about the episode was how not unusual it was, at least for Mr. Kissinger. Until just weeks before he died on Wednesday, the centenarian diplomat was still a player on the world stage, still an occasional intermediary between governments, still a voice respected by the establishment of both parties, although not by his most virulent critics on the left and right.

He traveled the globe at an age when most of his contemporaries had either died or retreated to a retirement home. There were few if any doors in capitals around the world that did not open to him, although he always insisted he only met with heads of state at their invitation, not his own initiative. He was, at that late hour, still the toast of Davos.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Henry Kissinger, Who Shaped U.S. Cold War History, Is Dead at 100, David E. Sanger, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). The most powerful secretary of state of the postwar era, he was both celebrated and reviled. His legacy still resonates in U.S. international relations.

Henry A KissingerHenry A. Kissinger, right, the scholar-turned-diplomat who engineered the United States’ opening to China, negotiated its exit from Vietnam, and used cunning, ambition and intellect to remake American power relationships with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, sometimes trampling on democratic values to do so, died on Wednesday at his home in Kent, Conn. He was 100.

His death was announced in a statement by his consulting firm.

Few diplomats have been both celebrated and reviled with such passion as Mr. Kissinger. Considered the most powerful secretary of state in the post-World War II era, he was by turns hailed as an ultrarealist who reshaped diplomacy to reflect American interests and denounced as having abandoned American values, particularly in the arena of human rights, if he thought it served the nation’s purposes.

He advised 12 presidents — more than a quarter of those who have held the office — from John F. Kennedy to Joseph R. Biden Jr. With a scholar’s understanding of diplomatic history, a German-Jewish refugee’s drive to succeed in his adopted land, a deep well of insecurity and a lifelong Bavarian accent that sometimes added an indecipherable element to his pronouncements, he transformed almost every global relationship he touched.

At a critical moment in American history and diplomacy, he was second in power only to President Richard M. Nixon. He joined the Nixon White House in January 1969 as national security adviser and, after his appointment as secretary of state in 1973, kept both titles, a rarity. When Nixon resigned, he stayed on under President Gerald R. Ford.

ny times logoNew York Times, In a reflection of Henry Kissinger’s complicated legacy, his death elicited sharply divergent opinions, Michael D. Shear, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The death of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger on Wednesday, at the age of 100, prompted a surge of reaction, with historians and friends hailing his diplomatic achievements, and critics assailing his foreign policy actions in Vietnam and elsewhere around the globe as murderous.

The daughters of former President Richard M. Nixon called Mr. Kissinger “one of America’s most skilled diplomats” in a statement, adding that he had worked with their father in “a partnership that produced a generation of peace for our nation.”

Mr. Kissinger was Mr. Nixon’s chief diplomat at a time of deep division and strife in the United States over the war in Vietnam. His long career inspired decades of debate about the morality of his actions.

But critics of the former secretary of state also flooded X. Many accused Mr. Kissinger, who was also the national security adviser to Mr. Nixon and his successor, Gerald R. Ford, of advocating a foreign policy that led to death and war across the globe. More than a few posts expressed pleasure at his passing.

Such strong reactions to the news of his death probably would not have surprised Mr. Kissinger, since his long career has evoked sharply divergent opinions for decades.

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: Henry Kissinger, the Hypocrite, Nov. 30, 2023. Ben Rhodes (right, a former deputy national security adviser and author of “After benjamin rhodes othe Fall: The Rise of Authoritarianism in the World We’ve Made”), Henry Kissinger, who died on Wednesday, exemplified the gap between the story that America, the superpower, tells and the way that we can act in the world.

At turns opportunistic and reactive, his was a foreign policy enamored with the exercise of power and drained of concern for the human beings left in its wake. Precisely because his America was not the airbrushed version of a city on a hill, he never felt irrelevant: Ideas go in and out of style, but power does not.

From 1969 to 1977, Mr. Kissinger established himself as one of the most powerful functionaries in history. For a portion of that time, he was the only person ever to serve concurrently as national security adviser and secretary of state, two very different jobs that simultaneously made him responsible for shaping and carrying out American foreign policy. If his German Jewish origins and accented English set him apart, the ease with which he wielded power made him a natural avatar for an American national security state that grew and gained momentum through the 20th century, like an organism that survives by enlarging itself.

Thirty years after Mr. Kissinger retired into the comforts of the private sector, I served in a bigger post-Cold War, post-Sept. 11 national security apparatus. As a deputy national security adviser with responsibilities that included speech writing and communications, I often focused more on the story America told than the actions we took.

In the White House, you’re atop an establishment that includes the world’s most powerful military and economy while holding the rights to a radical story: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” But I was constantly confronted by the contradictions embedded in American leadership, the knowledge that our government arms autocrats while its rhetoric appeals to the dissidents trying to overthrow them or that our nation enforces rules — for the conduct of war, the resolution of disputes and the flow of commerce — while insisting that America be excused from following them when they become inconvenient.

Mr. Kissinger was not uncomfortable with that dynamic. For him, credibility was rooted in what you did more than what you stood for, even when those actions rendered American concepts of human rights and international law void. He helped extend the war in Vietnam and expand it to Cambodia and Laos, where the United States rained down more bombs than it dropped on Germany and Japan in World War II. That bombing — often indiscriminately massacring civilians — did nothing to improve the terms on which the Vietnam War ended; if anything, it just indicated the lengths to which the United States would go to express its displeasure at losing.

Axios Sneak Peek, White House treads careful line on Kissinger, Hans Nichols, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2023. White House treads careful line on Kissinger. The death of former Secretary State Henry Kissinger — arguably America’s most famous and divisive diplomat — has triggered an outpouring of remembrance, respect and revulsion from current and former U.S. officials.

State of play: Nearly 24 hours after news of Kissinger’s death broke, President Biden put out a statement this evening praising Kissinger’s “fierce intellect” but noting that “we often disagreed. And often strongly.”

• Biden said he’d never forget receiving his first briefing from Kissinger as a young senator. Some members of Biden’s administration, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken, continued to seek out Kissinger’s counsel.

• But Kissinger told the New York Post last year that Biden was the only president — dating back to his time as Richard Nixon’s national security adviser — who had not invited him to the White House.

What they’re saying: Historians, progressives and representatives of countries who suffered from the consequences of Kissinger’s policies — including U.S.-backed coups and bombing campaigns — did not mince words about his death.

• “A man has died whose historical brilliance never managed to conceal his profound moral misery,” tweeted Chile’s ambassador to the U.S. Juan Gabriel Valdés.

ap logoAssociated Press, U.S. authorities charge a man from India with a plot to kill a Sikh separatist leader in New York City, Ashok Sharma and Larry Neumeister, Nov. 29-30, 2023. U.S. authorities announced murder-for-hire charges Wednesday against a man from India who they say plotted to pay an assassin $100,000 to kill a prominent Sikh separatist leader living in New York City after the man advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs.

Justice Department log circularU.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced the charges against Nikhil Gupta, 52, an Indian national who had lived in India, as an indictment was unsealed in Manhattan federal court.

india flag map“As alleged, the defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a U.S. citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs, an ethnoreligious minority group in India,” he said in a release.

According to the release, Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30 in Czechoslovakia through a bilateral extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic. It was not immediately clear when he might be brought to the United States.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Foiled Plot’s Burning Question: Why Would India Take the Risk? Mujib Mashal and Hari Kumar, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.).  After an indictment accused an Indian official of ordering an assassination on U.S. soil, diplomats and experts debate how far up the chain the scheme went.

india flag mapIn page after page of fly-on-the-wall detail, the indictment unsealed in New York this week describes a chilling plot: A criminal operative, on orders from a government official in India, tried to arrange the killing of a Sikh American on U.S. soil.

As the scheme unfolded, court documents said, it grew only more brazen. When a prominent Sikh was gunned down in Canada in June in what prosecutors call a related assassination, the operative was told to speed up in New York, not slow down, the indictment says. And he was ordered to proceed even as India’s prime minister was on a red-carpet visit to Washington.

The plot was eventually foiled, the indictment says. But its damning narration leaves open a burning question: Why would the Indian government take such a gamble?

The Sikh secessionist movement targeted in the plot is a shadow of what it once was and poses no more than a minor threat to India’s national security, even if Indian officials see a new generation of Sikhs in the diaspora as more radicalized proponents of the cause. Pursuing a vocal American activist in the movement would seem a risk to the momentum in U.S.-India relations as New Delhi expands its trade and defense ties with Washington in unprecedented ways.

The United States’ intense courtship of India as a counter to China may give the Indian government the sense that there is little it could do to rupture ties. But many diplomats, former officials and analysts in New Delhi are looking at two other possible explanations for the plot: that it was either sanctioned from the top with an eye on India’s domestic political calendar, or was the work of a rogue government element seeking to fulfill the desire of political bosses. 

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Navy Rescues Ship From Pirate Attack in Gulf of Aden, Julian E. Barnes, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). The United States is investigating whether Iran was involved in the incident. Hours after the attack, two missiles were fired at the Navy ship involved in the rescue.

The U.S. Navy intervened to stop the hijacking of a commercial cargo ship by pirates in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia on Sunday, after which two ballistic missiles were fired from Yemen toward the Navy destroyer that responded to the incident, the U.S. military said.

The ballistic missiles were fired from the part of Yemen controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, according to a statement released by U.S. Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the region. If the missiles were meant to hit the U.S.S. Mason, a Navy destroyer, they fell well short of the mark: They landed in the Gulf of Aden 10 nautical miles from the American ship.

The U.S.S. Mason, and other ships from the U.S.-led counter-piracy task force that operates off the coast of Somalia, responded after the crew of the commercial ship, the Central Park, called for help. The Central Park crew reported they were under attack from an unknown entity, U.S. Central Command said.

When the coalition vessels arrived at the Central Park, they demanded the release of the ship. Five armed people fled from the ship and attempted to flee in the small boat they had used to attack the cargo ship. The U.S.S. Mason pursued the attackers and forced them to surrender, the news release said. Fox News reported the rescue earlier.

Later, at about 1:41 a.m. local time on Monday, more than 16 hours after the initial attack, two ballistic missiles were fired toward the U.S.S. Mason, which was “concluding its response” to the attack at the time.

U.S. officials would not say who was responsible for the attack and if the five-person group was acting under the orders of a state or group. But officials said that they are investigating whether Iran was involved, or if it was an attack unrelated to the regional tensions that have intensified since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which prompted Israel to launch a war against the militant group in Gaza.

Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran in the war in Yemen, attacked several commercial vessels last week in the Red Sea — a body of water next to the Gulf of Aden — including the Central Park. The Houthis and other groups backed by Iran, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, have increased attacks on Israel since Oct. 7.

Officials said it is not clear if the attackers were the same group that attempted to take the ship earlier. While the Houthi rebels struck in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden where the Central Park was attacked is far from their area of operations. One U.S. official and one former Pentagon official said Iranian involvement in the operation is being investigated.

Relevant Recent Headlines

U.S. 2024 Presidential Race

ny times logoNew York Times, Why a Major Primary Challenge to Joe Biden Is So Unlikely, Maggie Astor, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). It’s really hard to run against a sitting president. And beginning at this point, just two months before primary voting starts, wouldn’t be feasible anyhow.

The Democratic anxiety that has swirled around President Biden for over a year has kicked into overdrive in recent weeks, as his approval ratings have stayed stubbornly low and polls have shown the possibility of his losing to former President Donald J. Trump.

That anxiety has crystallized into one question, repeated like a drumbeat: Can’t some big-name Democrat challenge him? Someone more prominent than Marianne Williamson or Dean Phillips?

The answer: In theory, sure. In practice, the prospects are remote.

There are several reasons for that, most of which boil down to it being really hard to run a successful primary campaign against a sitting president. And doing so at this point, just two months before voting starts, wouldn’t be feasible anyhow.

Making things still more difficult for a would-be challenger is that Mr. Biden remains relatively popular among Democratic voters. According to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, 79 percent of party voters in six battleground states somewhat or strongly approve of his performance, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for another Democrat.

“Logistically, it’s impossible,” said Tim Hogan, a Democratic strategist who has worked for Hillary Clinton and Amy Klobuchar. “Politically, it’s a suicide mission.”

To appear on each state’s primary ballot, candidates must submit paperwork along with, in many cases, a hefty filing fee and hundreds or even thousands of voter signatures.

The deadlines for those submissions have already passed in South Carolina and Nevada, the first two states on the Democratic calendar; in New Hampshire, which is holding an unsanctioned primary in January; and in Alabama and Arkansas.

Michigan, another early-voting state, released its list of candidates this month. By mid-December, the window to get added to the ballot there will have closed. The deadline is similar for California, which will account for more delegates than any other state; and for Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

So even if a candidate entered the race tomorrow, they would be unable to get on the ballot in the first two primaries, and probably in a lot of others. It would be a tall order, for instance, to secure 26,000 signatures in California by its Dec. 15 deadline.

dean phillips campaign Politico, Florida Democrats plan to cancel presidential primary, enraging Dean Phillips’ campaign, Holly Otterbein and Gary Fineout, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The representative, shown above, says the state party has deliberately moved to keep him off the ballot. Florida Dems say he is acting “unbecoming.”

politico CustomFlorida appears poised to hold no presidential primary election for Democrats this cycle after the state party submitted only President Joe Biden’s name as a candidate up for the nomination.

The move to leave Rep. Dean Phillips off the primary ballot left the Minnesota Democrat enraged on Thursday. In a statement first provided to Politico, Phillips, who has launched a longshot primary bid against Biden, accused Florida Democratic Party officials of rigging the primary. He threatened a lawsuit and a convention fight if he didn’t win ballot access in the state.

“Americans would expect the absence of democracy in Tehran, not Tallahassee,” said Phillips. “The intentional disenfranchisement of voters runs counter to everything for which our Democratic Party and country stand. Our mission as Democrats is to defeat authoritarians, not become them.”

democratic donkey logoThe Phillips campaign’s complaint is rooted in the process by which candidates can get on the ballot in Florida. Under state law, it is left up to the parties to decide who makes the primary ballot. The deadline for parties to submit a list of approved candidates to state election officials is Thursday.

But Florida Democrats acted before then, sending a notice on Nov. 1 to the state that had Biden as the only primary candidate. Phillips had entered the race a few days earlier, and self-help guru Marianne Williamson had been campaigning for months by then. Under state law, if a party only signs off on one candidate for the primary ballot, the contest is not held.

Florida’s primary is held March 19, which puts it in line behind Super Tuesday and several other large states such as California and Texas. It is expected to allocate 250 delegates.

In his statement, Phillips called the handling of the process by the Florida Democrats a “blatant act of electoral corruption” and demanded Biden “condemn and immediately address” it.

Nikki Fried, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, contended the party followed its “standard process” that was outlined on its website.

“We are dismayed by Dean Phillps’ conspiratorial and inappropriate comments comparing the state of Florida to the Iranian regime as part of his knee-jerk reaction to long-established procedures,” Fried said. “This is unbecoming of someone running for higher office.”

In addition to considering a lawsuit against the Florida Democratic Party, Phillips’ campaign said that it is planning to take its fight to the Democratic National Committee.

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A DNC spokesperson said the committee offered to provide guidance to the Phillips campaign on state party processes weeks ago, but that the campaign did not take up the offer, and continues to be available to him and other Democratic candidates.

Phillips’ approach of attacking the primary process is reminiscent of the tactic adopted by insurgent presidential candidates in the past, most notably Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

ny times logoNew York Times, Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom are debating on Thursday night. Here’s what to watch for, Jonathan Weisman and Nicholas Nehamas, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The stakes are high for the governor of Florida as his polling sags fewer than seven weeks out from the Iowa caucuses.

Call it the “Debate Me Please” showdown.

Ron DeSantis of Florida, 45, and Gavin Newsom of California, 56, two relatively youthful governors adept at seeking — and finding — the spotlight, will square off at 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday in a nationally televised debate in Alpharetta, Ga., in suburban Atlanta. Both pleaded for this matchup, and now they have it.

Each has an agenda, both near-term and further out, as well as political challenges that they hope to address during their 90-minute encounter. Mr. DeSantis, the Republican, needs to lift his campaign for president a week ahead of the fourth Republican primary debate and under seven weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Mr. Newsom, the Democrat, needs to lift the fortunes of his president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and prove in the short run that he is a team player, and in the medium term that his appeal can reach beyond the liberal enclaves of the West Coast.

With Donald J. Trump still holding wide leads in the Republicans’ 2024 nominating contests, and Mr. Biden resolute on standing for re-election, both men could also be eyeing the 2028 presidential race, though neither would admit it. They have presented themselves as the fresh, new avatars of their respective ideologies and, potentially, the future of their political parties. Now, after they have used each other as foils for years, the debate could offer a culmination to their long-running public feud.

ny times logoNew York Times, Has No Labels Become a Stalking Horse for Trump? Thomas B. Edsall, right, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). No Labels, a Washington-based organization run thomas edsallby political and corporate insiders, finds itself in an awkward situation.

After its founding in 2010, the group was praised by moderates in both parties as a force for cooperation and consensus. Now however, No Labels is the target of criticism because of its plan to place a presidential and vice-presidential nominee of its own choosing on the 2024 ballot — a step that could tip the outcome in favor of Donald Trump, if he once again wins the Republican nomination.

No Labels officials contend that their polling suggests that their ticket could win.Numerous factors exacerbate the suspicion that whatever its intentions are (or were), the organization has functionally become an asset to the Trump campaign and a threat to the re-election of Joe Biden.

Leaks to the media that prominent Republican donors, including Harlan Crow, Justice Clarence Thomas’s benefactor, are contributing to No Labels — which is well on its way to raising $70 million — suggest that some major donors to No Labels see the organization as a means to promote Republican goals.

No Labels, in turn, has declined to disclose its donors and the secrecy has served to intensify the concern that some of its contributors are using the organization’s plan to run a third-party ticket to weaken the Biden campaign.

The founder and chief executive of No Labels, Nancy Jacobson, was previously a prominent Democratic fund-raiser. She is married to Mark Penn, a consultant and pollster for Bill and Hillary Clinton, from both of whom Penn eventually became alienated.

During the Trump presidency, Penn publicly voiced support for Trump’s policies on a number of key issues, in newspaper columns and during appearances on Fox News. Penn is chief executive and chairman of Stagwell Inc., which in turn owns a polling firm, HarrisX, that conducts surveys for No Labels. Penn says he has “no role, real or imagined, in this No Labels effort.”

The fear in many quarters — from Republican consultants who are members of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project to Democrats of all ideological stripes — is that if the No Labels’ third-party campaign is carried out, it will help elect Trump.

An NBC survey in September found that the presence of third-party candidates on the ballot would shift the outcome from a 46-46 tie to a three point 39-36 Trump advantage over Biden.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Haley, Rise in Polls Feeds Voter Enthusiasm on Trail, Jazmine Ulloa, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). The crowds are bigger and voters are warming up to her candidacy, but Nikki Haley still faces a daunting task in taking down the front-runner, Donald Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Koch Network Endorses Nikki Haley in Bid to Push G.O.P. Past Trump, Maggie Haberman, Shane Goldmacher and Jonathan Swan, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). The support will fortify Ms. Haley as she battles Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida for the No. 2 spot in the Republican presidential field.

nikki haley oThe political network founded by the Koch brothers is endorsing Nikki Haley, right, in the Republican presidential primary race, giving her organizational muscle and financial heft as she battles Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida for second place in Iowa.

The group announced its plans in a memo on Tuesday.

The commitment by the network, Americans for Prosperity Action, bolsters Ms. Haley as the campaign enters the final seven weeks before the first nominating contest. Since the first Republican primary debate, Ms. Haley has steadily climbed in polls, and is closely competing with Mr. DeSantis for the second-place slot in Iowa. Former President Donald J. Trump remains the dominant front-runner in the race.

Ms. Haley, who has described Mr. Trump’s time as past, has gained support from donors and her candidacy has received approval from elite opinion-makers, many of whom describe her as the best alternative to Mr. Trump.

Americans for Prosperity Action has been among the country’s largest spenders on anti-Trump material this year, buying online ads and sending mailers to voters in a number of states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. All told, the group has spent more than $9 million in independent expenditures opposing Mr. Trump.

One mailer in Iowa, paid for by AFP Action, shows images of Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden and reads, “You can stop Biden…by letting go of Trump.”

But so far none of that spending has benefited any of his rivals, who have been busily battling each other.

  • Washington Post, Biden highlights Trump’s renewed effort to shelve Affordable Care Act, Nov. 28, 2023.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: DeSantis PAC snips and clips its way to falsehood in attacking Haley, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 28, 2023. “We know her as ‘crooked Hillary.’ But to Nikki Haley, she’s her role model — the reason she ran for office.”

— voice-over from an attack ad aired by Fight Right, Inc., a new super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), aired Nov. 21
Keeping up with politics is easy with The 5-Minute Fix Newsletter, in your inbox weekdays.

With former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley rising in the polls to emerge as a (distant) second-place finisher in the Republican primaries behind former president Donald Trump, allies of DeSantis have begun to attack her as a Hillary Clinton-loving liberal.

This ad — with the tagline “Nikki’s not who she says” — is the first of what the group promises will be an effort “to shed light on the failed records and leadership of Governor DeSantis’s opponents.” The ad ends by urging viewers to visit TheRealNikki.com, a website paid for by the DeSantis campaign and claiming that Haley is “supportive of every liberal cause under the sun.”

That’s a stretch. When Haley was elected governor in 2011, she was perceived as a darling of the tea party, the conservative activists who paved the way for Trump to take over the GOP. She was also U.N. ambassador under Trump.

This ad is yet another example of how attack ads are crafted to present a misleading narrative. Haley has made no secret of the fact that an appearance by Clinton at a women’s professional event in Greenville, S.C., — at a time when, by her account, many people were giving Haley reasons not to seek public office — was a galvanizing event that gave her the confidence to enter politics.

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Global Disputes, Disasters, Human Rights

Argentine presidential candidates Sergio Massa, left, and Javier Milei (file photos).

Argentine presidential candidates Sergio Massa, left, and the winner, Javier Milei (file photos).

WhoWhatWhy, Commentary: The Fake Populists Who Serve Elites While Claiming to Stand for the People, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2023. Who better than a billionaire’s advisor to pose as the authentic voice of the have-nots?

whowhatwhy logoThe recent election of Javier Gerardo Milei as Argentina’s president adds another member to the tribe of fake populists. These are politicians who claim they represent “the people” against exploitative elites and foreign interests, but who often form part of that same cosmopolitan elite class.

Fake populists often vaunt credentials of national purity and launch campaigns to “drain the swamp” (a term invented by Benito Mussolini), but their “anti-corruption” campaigns often target those who might reveal their thievery.

Such strongmen scams recur throughout authoritarian history, not least because they are at the heart of autocratic personality cults that celebrate the leader as a man of the people. Speaking in the plain and blunt language of the truth-teller, such individuals pose as one of us — us being the pure expression of the nation, unadulterated by foreign origins or “globalist” affiliations.

Former president Donald Trump played this game well. A 2017 study found that his speech patterns matched those of fourth-graders, and the touching misspellings and capitalizations of his tweets, which shouted “notice me!,” helped to create his populist profile. Indian leader Narendra Modi’s I-am-everyman Instagram persona serves the same purpose.

Of course, that everyman is also the man above all other men, a dynamic being admired for his worldliness and glamor. Yet the faux populist presents any superior knowledge and wisdom he has gained in his life journey as benefiting the nation by preparing him for his mission of making his country great (again).

Put differently, unlike the elites who prey on the nation and do the bidding of unsavory foreign-linked forces, his expertise will be applied to repairing the nation’s ills.

The Wharton-educated billionaire and international capitalist Trump followed this tradition. Trump is one of the biggest “globalists” out there, given that the business model of the Trump Organization long included laundering money for foreigners and licensing his name abroad. As American Kleptocracy author Casey Michel told me, Trump is the first leader “to emerge globally, at least in a Western jurisdiction, from the supply side of [kleptocratic] services.”

Numerous cabinet officials of his America First administration, such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (who did business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law) and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were deeply enmeshed in networks of international capital.

Nor did owing millions to Chinese and German banks and being bankrolled by Russians (as per Eric Trump’s declaration) prevent Trump from styling himself as the man who would end America’s exploitation by foreigners and corrupt elites. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” said Donald Trump to his credulous audience as he accepted the GOP nomination in 2016, after arriving on a mist-filled stage like a rock star.
Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, 2016

It is too early to know what Milei will do in Argentina. Like Trump and Morawiecki, he comes from outside politics. But his borrowings of Trump’s slogans (“Make Argentina Great Again”), profane speech, rogue profile, and politics of threat are familiar, as are his rants against the “caste” of “corrupt politicians, businessmen, bribed journalists.” The chainsaw, deployed to indicate that drastic action is needed to help an economy plagued by inflation rates as high as 185 percent, is also a weapon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Declares Gay Rights Movement as ‘Extremist,’ Neil MacFarquhar, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared the international gay rights movement an “extremist organization,” another chilling crackdown on gay and transgender people whose rights have been scaled back drastically since the start of the war in Ukraine.

The court was acting on a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice requesting the designation. When it filed the case on Nov. 17, the ministry said the activities of the international L.G.B.T.Q. movement had exhibited “various signs and manifestations of an extremist orientation, including incitement of social and religious hatred.”

The ruling escalates the threat for gay communities inside Russia. Gay rights activists and other experts say the ruling will put gay people and their organizations at risk of being criminally prosecuted for something as simple as displaying symbols like the rainbow flag or for endorsing the statement “Gay rights are human rights.”

Experts said the decision would make the work of all L.G.B.T.Q. organizations, as well as any political activity, untenable.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coup Leader’s Return to Haiti Raises Concerns of More Turmoil, James Wagner, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Guy Philippe, who helped lead the coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, is back in the politically unstable country after serving time in a U.S. prison.

Guy Philippe, the former Haitian police commander, politician and rebel who staged a coup against his country’s then-president in 2004 and served six years in a U.S. federal prison for money laundering, was deported to Haiti on Thursday, according to one of his attorneys in Haiti, Emmanuel Jeanty.

The return of Mr. Philippe, 55, has fueled concerns that he will add to the turmoil in the Caribbean country, already in a fragile state because of political instability and a rise in killings as heavily armed gangs try to quell a citizen-led vigilante movement.

It was not immediately clear what the authorities’ plans were for handling Mr. Philippe’s potentially disruptive presence in Haiti.

Upon arriving at the airport in Port-au-Prince, where local media reports said some of his supporters where seen rallying, Mr. Philippe was taken by the Haitian authorities to the headquarters of the Judicial Police Department, which is responsible for investigating crimes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Gold Bars and Tokyo Apartments: How Money Is Flowing Out of China, Keith Bradsher and Joy Dong, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). Chinese families are sending money overseas, a sign of unease about the country’s economic and political future. A cheaper currency is also helping exports.

China FlagAffluent Chinese have moved hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country this year, seizing on the end of Covid precautions that had almost completely sealed China’s borders for nearly three years.

They are using their savings to buy overseas apartments, stocks and insurance policies. Able to fly again to Tokyo, London and New York, Chinese travelers have bought apartments in Japan and poured money into accounts in the United States or Europe that pay higher interest than in China, where rates are low and falling.

The outbound shift of money in part indicates unease inside China about the sputtering recovery after the pandemic as well as deeper problems, like an alarming slowdown in real estate, the main storehouse of wealth for families. For some people, it is also a reaction to fears about the direction of the economy under China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has cracked down on business and strengthened the government’s hand in many aspects of society.

In some cases, Chinese are improvising to get around China’s strict government controls on transferring money overseas. They have bought gold bars small enough to be scattered unobtrusively through carry-on luggage, as well as large stacks of foreign currency.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why are there only 350 Americans studying in China? Vivian Wang, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). The flow of students between the countries has been a mainstay of their relationship, even when ties have soured. Now these exchanges, too, are under threat.

On a cool Saturday morning, in a hotel basement in Beijing, throngs of young Chinese gathered to do what millions had done before them: dream of an American education.

China FlagAt a college fair organized by the United States Embassy, the students and their parents hovered over rows of booths advertising American universities. As a mascot of a bald eagle worked the crowd, they posed eagerly for photos.

But beneath the festive atmosphere thrummed a note of anxiety. Did America still want Chinese students? And were Chinese students sure they wanted to go to America?

“We see the negative news, so it’s better to be careful,” said Zhuang Tao, the father of a college senior considering graduate school in the United States, Australia and Britain. He had read the frequent headlines about gun violence, anti-Asian discrimination and, of course, tensions between the United States and China, at one of their highest levels in decades. “After all, the entire situation is a bit complicated.”

Students have been traveling between China and the United States for generations, propelled by ambition, curiosity and a belief that their time abroad could help them better their and their countries’ futures. The first Chinese student to graduate from an American university, Yung Wing, arrived at Yale in 1850 and later helped send 120 more students to America.

The trickle became a steady stream: For nearly the past two decades, Chinese students have made up the largest share of international students in the United States. And for Americans, until the coronavirus pandemic, China was the most popular destination for study abroad outside of Western Europe, according to an annual State Department-funded survey. Students have been an anchor in the two countries’ relations, even when political or economic ties have soured.

But that anchor is now under threat. For the last three years, the number of Chinese students in the United States has fallen, according to the State Department survey. The number of American students in China, meanwhile, plummeted during the pandemic to a mere 350 as of this year, the American Embassy has said, compared to more than 11,000 in 2019.

Both Beijing and Washington have acknowledged the importance of restoring exchanges. During his trip to San Francisco this month, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, declared that China was “ready to invite” 50,000 Americans to study in China over the next five years. The American ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, has insisted that the United States welcomes Chinese students.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stranded in Tunnel for 16 Days, Indian Workers Are Finally Rescued, Mujib Mashal and Suhasini Raj, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). After repeated mechanical setbacks, the operation turned to trained miners using manual tools to clear the final stretch of debris.

After a 16-day effort to free dozens of Indian construction workers trapped inside a Himalayan road tunnel, rescuers were finally preparing to pull the men out on Tuesday as diggers labored to clear a final stretch of debris by hand, the authorities said.

india flag mapThe rescue operation had hit repeated roadblocks, with officials ultimately trying multiple ways to reach the 41 stranded men. But a breakthrough came on Tuesday afternoon, as trained miners using hand tools made rapid progress after picking up at the point where a drilling machine had failed.

“The work of putting in the pipe to rescue the workers has been completed,” Pushkar Singh Dhami, the chief minister of the northern state of Uttarakhand, the site of the tunnel, said in a brief statement on social media. “Soon, all the worker brothers will be taken out.”

Syed Ata Hasnain, a member of India’s National Disaster Management Authority, gave a less definitive assessment and said that about two meters, or six feet, of drilling remained.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, he said at 4 p.m. local time, about two hours after the chief minister’s statement, that “we are near a breakthrough but not yet there.” The rescuers had moved close enough that the workers trapped inside could hear the preparations for their rescue, Mr. Hasnain said.

“In less than 24 hours, we have managed to dig 10 meters manually, which I would say is phenomenal,” he said. “There are 41 inside. Outside there are many more — the safety of those outside is as important as those inside, so we are not in a hurry.”

Once the rescue begins, he added, it will take about three or four hours to bring out all the workers through the inserted pipe, roughly three to five minutes for each one.

The workers’ ordeal, followed closely in India with regular updates on television and social media, put a spotlight on concerns long raised by environmental experts about large-scale construction in the fragile Himalayan mountain range. Experts say that the country’s procedures for environmental assessments of such projects are weak and prone to political interference.

The men were building a tunnel that is part of a major road project on a Hindu pilgrimage route when a landslide early on Nov. 12 trapped them behind about 60 meters, or about 195 feet, of debris.

ny times logoNew York Times, In a Shaky Oil Market, OPEC Has Bitter Decisions to Make, Stanley Reed, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). Anticipating a drop in demand for 2024, major producers, led by Saudi Arabia, are trying to reduce supply. These are tricky times for the world’s major oil producers: Prices are lower, the health of the global economy is uncertain, and, even as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries tries to cut output, supplies from other producers, notably the United States, are growing.

No wonder the group postponed its year-end meeting. Initially scheduled for last weekend in Vienna, the meeting is now planned for Thursday, barring another postponement. The agenda — whether to cut production further, and by how much — is likely to be unpalatable for many of the 23 members.

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, has fallen to about $82 a barrel, from a high of more than $96 this year and $128 at its height early in the Ukraine war.

It has dropped even as producers in OPEC Plus, a bigger group that includes Russia, have cut production, but the coming months seem unlikely to give oil producers a respite from this squeeze.

ap logoAssociated Press, Pope punishes leading critic Cardinal Burke in second action against conservative American prelates, Nicole Winfield, Nov. 28, 2023. Pope Francis met separately on Wednesday with relatives of Israeli hostages in Gaza and relatives of Palestinians currently in Gaza.

pope francis uncropped 3 13Pope Francis has decided to punish one of his highest-ranking critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke, by revoking his right to a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary in the second such radical action against a conservative American prelate this month, according to two people briefed on the measures.

Francis told a meeting of the heads of Vatican offices last week that he was moving against Burke because he was a source of “disunity” in the church, said one of the participants at the Nov. 20 meeting. The participant spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal the contents of the encounter.

Francis said he was removing Burke’s privileges of having a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary as a retired cardinal because he was using the privileges against the church, said another person who was subsequently briefed on the pope’s measures. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to reveal the details.

ny times logoNew York Times, Vietnam Is Jailing Environmentalists Who Helped It Secure Billions, Sui-Lee Wee, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). The government is preparing to present its energy transition plan at the U.N. climate talks as it intensifies a crackdown on environmental advocates.

vietnam flagWhen Vietnam was awarded a multibillion-dollar deal by a group of nine wealthy nations last year to work on reducing its use of coal, it agreed to regularly consult with nongovernmental organizations.

Instead, the government has arrested several prominent environmentalists from those organizations who shaped policies that helped secure the funding, prompting concerns over sending money to countries that have violated human rights.

As the country prepares to announce how it will spend the money at the United Nations climate talks that begin on Thursday, activists are saying that Vietnamese officials need to be held accountable for what they are calling a harsh crackdown against those who speak out about the country’s environmental woes.

Ngo Thi To Nhien, the director of an energy think tank, was the sixth environmental campaigner to be detained in the past two years.

wagner group logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Battle for Influence Rages in Heart of Wagner’s Operations in Africa, lian Peltier, Photographs by Jim Huylebroek, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). The death of the mercenary group’s leader has created a window of opportunity in the Central African Republic for Western powers to offer an alternative.

In palmier times, the leader of the Wagner group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, appeared at a Russian cultural center in the capital of the Central African Republic, sitting with schoolchildren and promising them free laptops.

But Mr. Prigozhin’s death in August has rattled the mercenary group’s once-cozy relations with the Central African Republic, which is now weighing offers from Russia and Western countries, including the United States, to replace Wagner as its primary security guarantor.

The outcome of this struggle could be a bellwether for the group’s future on the continent, where the Central African Republic is perhaps the most deeply enmeshed among the handful of African nations partnering with Wagner.

The Russian Defense Ministry has sought to absorb some of Wagner’s activities, while preserving its influence and maintaining its wealth of knowledge about the continent. But a senior Western diplomat said that the uncertainty around Wagner in the Central African Republic provided a “window of opportunity” for the United States and France to counter Russian influence.

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U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

Politico, Senate Judiciary issues subpoenas to Leo, Crow in SCOTUS ethics probe as Republicans boycott, Katherine Tully-McManus, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). No action was taken on nearly 200 amendments from Republicans.

politico CustomSenate Judiciary Republicans walked out of the committee to boycott a vote authorizing subpoenas for information from conservative activists and donors about their ties to conservative Supreme Court justices.

senate democrats logoThe panel voted 11-0 to authorize subpoenas for conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo and Texas billionaire Harlan Crow on their close personal and financial relationships with some justices, with no Republicans left in the room besides ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Graham exited once the vote was underway and did not vote.

“They think we’re gonna roll over and come back sometime later and try all over again and face the same limitations. You know, there reaches a point where there has to be a vote. They walked out on it. That’s their decision,” Durbin said.

The subpoenas are part of an ongoing investigation into ethics at the Supreme Court and how undisclosed gifts and personal ties between major activists, donors and justices may have granted access to individuals and groups with business before the court.

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justices Search for Middle Ground on Mandatory Sentences for Gun Crimes, Adam Liptak, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). A federal law imposes a mandatory 15-year sentence for possessing a gun after committing three serious drug offenses. But which offenses count? The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday over which drug offenses trigger mandatory 15-year sentences under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which is a kind of federal three-strikes law.

The justices had three choices. By the end of the arguments, most of them seemed to have settled on a middle ground.

The law imposes the mandatory sentences on people convicted of unlawfully possessing firearms if they had already committed three violent felonies or serious drug offenses. The question for the justices was how to determine which drug offenses count under the law, which refers to a schedule of controlled substances overseen by the attorney general.

That schedule is revised from time to time, giving rise to the puzzle in the case.

Depending on which version of the schedule applies, a state drug conviction may or may not count as a strike under the federal gun law. Lawyers in the two consolidated cases on Monday gave the justices three options for deciding which schedule applied: the one in force when the defendant committed the state drug offense, the one in place when the defendant committed the federal gun crime or the one that applied when the defendant was sentenced for the federal gun crime.

A federal appeals court ruled that the middle choice — the schedule in place when he committed the federal gun crime — was the one that counted, affirming the 15-year mandatory sentence.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court ruled that Arizona lawmakers must testify about state voting laws requiring proof of citizenship, Adam Liptak, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). Two Republican lawmakers had argued that they could not be questioned about their motives for supporting the laws, which require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that two Arizona lawmakers must testify about their reasons for supporting state laws requiring proof of citizenship for voting in federal elections.

The court’s brief order gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on emergency applications. No dissents were noted.

The Justice Department, the Democratic National Committee, civil rights groups and others had challenged the state laws, saying they violated federal laws and had been enacted with a discriminatory purpose.

After Arizona’s attorney general, Kris Mayes, a Democrat, declined to defend aspects of the laws, Ben Toma, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, and Warren Petersen, the president of the Arizona Senate, both Republicans, intervened to defend it.

Lawmakers are ordinarily shielded by a legislative privilege from inquiries into their motives for sponsoring or voting for legislation. In September, Judge Susan R. Bolton, of the Federal District Court in Arizona, ruled that a different analysis applied when lawmakers voluntarily injected themselves into a litigation.

“The speaker and president each waived their privilege by intervening to ‘fully defend’ the voting laws and putting their motives at issue,” Judge Bolton wrote, adding that the two legislators could be compelled to testify about their activities.

At first, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked Judge Bolton’s ruling but later lifted its stay, allowing depositions of the men to proceed. The lawmakers then asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

“Unless the court issues an immediate stay,” they told the justices in an emergency application, “the legislative leaders will quickly find themselves between the mythical Scylla and Charybdis: They’ll either need to submit to improper depositions or refuse to do so and expose themselves to potential sanctions and contempt charges. Either choice brings serious consequences that can’t be corrected.”
In response, lawyers for the Democratic National Committee wrote that the lawmakers were trying to have it both ways by arguing that the laws were not the product of discriminatory intent but refusing to be questioned about the matter. That, they wrote, is “wholly foreign to foundational principles of our adversarial judicial system, and to basic fairness.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Quiet Blockbuster at the Supreme Court That Could Impact All Americans, Kate Shaw, Nov. 22, 2023. Some Supreme Court terms are characterized by a single blockbuster case. This term largely revolves around a single blockbuster question: Will our government retain the capacity to address the most pressing issues of our time?

That’s what’s at stake in a group of cases involving the power, capacity and in some instances the very existence of federal agencies, the entities responsible for carrying out so much of the work of government.

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

Politico, Meta files suit to kneecap the FTC, Alfred Ng and Josh Sisco, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The tech giant argues in its suit that the agency has “structurally unconstitutional authority.”

politico CustomMeta is suing the Federal Trade Commission, challenging the constitutionality of its in-house enforcement powers in a bid to stop the agency from unilaterally changing the terms of a 2020 privacy settlement.

The tech giant argued in its suit filed late Wednesday that the agency has “structurally unconstitutional authority” in how it enforces cases against companies through its in-house administrative court.

On Monday, Meta lost a bid to bar the FTC from reopening a 2020 enforcement order against the company, in which the agency accused Meta of privacy violations against children. Meta filed an appeal to that decision on Tuesday. Meta is also seeking to pause the FTC’s case while its lawsuit and appeal play out.

As part of its 2020 settlement Meta paid a $5 billion fine and agreed to make major changes to its privacy practices.

“The FTC’s unilateral attempt to rewrite our privacy settlement agreement raises serious and important issues about the FTC’s constitutional authority and Meta’s due process rights,” Chris Sgro, a Meta spokesperson, said in a statement. “Monday’s ruling did not reach those issues and the Judge suggested that Meta raise them in a separate suit. The FTC shouldn’t be the prosecutor, judge, and jury in the same case.”

The FTC declined to comment.

The claims: The FTC is able to handle enforcement through two methods: By filing a lawsuit through a federal court, or bringing its case directly to a company through its “administrative process,” a structure created by Congress in the FTC Act of 1914.

Companies facing these in-house cases can either settle the charges or challenge the complaint with an administrative law judge, where the FTC commissioners vote on a final decision. At that point companies can appeal in a federal appellate court of their choice.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Defendant Who Opened Fire on Deputies Sentenced to Two Years, Lola Fadulu, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Nathan Donald Pelham, of Greenville, Texas, opened fire on deputies in April days before he was scheduled to surrender to the F.B.I. for his role in the U.S. Capitol attack.

Nathan Donald Pelham, a Texas man, was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in federal prison for shooting at local law enforcement officers days before he was scheduled to surrender to the F.B.I. for charges related to illegally entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

On April 12, an F.B.I. special agent called Mr. Pelham to tell him that there was a federal misdemeanor warrant for his arrest and that he needed to surrender on April 17, according to the criminal complaint. Mr. Pelham agreed to do so.

But later that day, Mr. Pelham’s father asked local police to check on his son because he had been threatening to kill himself and had a gun, according to the criminal complaint. When police arrived at Mr. Pelham’s home, it was dark and police soon heard a series of gunshots from inside the home.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Whistleblower alleges failures in medical care at U.S. border facilities, Nick Miroff, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). A Customs and Border Protection official filed a complaint with Congress alleging his supervisors failed to adequately monitor a medical services contractor.

A senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official Thursday filed a whistleblower complaint with Congress alleging his supervisors failed to adequately monitor the agency’s medical service contractor for staffing shortages, unsafe care and other problems before the May death of an 8-year-old girl in U.S. custody.

Attorneys for Troy Hendrickson, a 15-year CBP veteran, told lawmakers in a letter that their client was reassigned by supervisors after raising concerns about the track record of medical contractor Loyal Source Government Services. The company is a finalist for a new five-year, $1.5 billion CBP contract.

Hendrickson’s concerns about Loyal Source included what he described as 40 percent staffing deficits, employees working without proper clearances and licenses, and billing errors resulting in overpayments of millions of dollars, among other issues, according to his attorneys.

washington post logoWashington Post, Liz Whitmer Gereghty drops out of competitive New York congressional race, Maegan Vazquez, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Gereghty’s exit from the race gives a boost to Mondaire Jones, who previously represented the district.

democratic donkey logoLiz Whitmer Gereghty, a small-business founder and sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign for Congress in a competitive district in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Gereghty said in a statement that she remains “committed to doing everything possible to elect Democrats across the board in 2024” and endorsed former congressman Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) for the seat, saying that “uniting our party and focusing our resources on taking back the House is critical to fighting back against the radical extremism plaguing our politics.”

U.S. House logoDemocrats narrowly lost the seat in New York’s 17th Congressional District last year and see it as one of their best pickup opportunities in 2024.

Gereghty, who has lived in the Hudson Valley for more than 20 years, was new to congressional politics and during her campaign launch highlighted her service on the local school board.

Jones won the seat in 2020 but opted to run in a different district last year after redistricting in the state prompted then-Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) to run in the 17th District. Maloney narrowly lost to Michael Lawler (R-N.Y.).

Democratic groups see New York congressional districts like Lawler’s, which flipped for Republicans in 2022, as the key to regaining control of the House next year. They’ve invested early in the New York races — and invested more than in years past.

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Law Requires a Choice: Marijuana or a Gun? Serge F. Kovaleski, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). Legal challenges are pending across the country against a federal law that prevents medical marijuana users from buying or owning firearms.

There are relatively few limitations at the federal level on who is eligible to purchase or possess firearms and ammunition. The national background check system looks for issues like a criminal conviction, mental health problems, a dishonorable military discharge, unlawful immigration status or a domestic violence restraining order.

But even as a growing number of states have legalized marijuana, either for recreational or medical use, participating in a state’s medical marijuana system remains a barrier to gun ownership.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Chicken Tycoons vs. the Antitrust Hawks, H. Claire Brown, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). As part of a campaign against anticompetitive practices, the Biden administration has taken on the chicken industry. Why have the results been so paltry?

ny times logoNew York Times, Wife of Gilgo Beach Suspect Gets a Documentary Deal, Corey Kilgannon, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). Rex Heuermann is accused of killing three women. The commercialization of such a depraved case has rankled victims’ families.

After Rex Heuermann was arrested in July and accused of slaughtering women found bound in burlap and buried along a desolate stretch of Gilgo Beach, his family was left reeling and destitute.

With their dilapidated Massapequa Park ranch house turned inside out by investigators, Mr. Heuermann’s wife, Asa Ellerup, and their two grown children were left to sleep on mats and cook on a grill in the front yard in full view of news crews and true-crime gawkers. Things got so bad that the daughter of a West Coast serial killer created an online fund-raiser.

But where some saw evil, depravity and tragedy, media companies saw pay dirt, swooping in with lucrative bids to turn the whole thing into content.

Peacock, the streaming service owned by NBCUniversal, is paying the family to participate in a documentary series covering the family through Mr. Heuermann’s trial, which is likely to begin next year.

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Stabbing of Derek Chauvin Raises Questions About Inmate Safety, Glenn Thrush and Serge F. Kovaleski, Nov. 27, 2023 (print ed.). The ex-officer, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, was being held in a federal prison for high-profile inmates. He is said to be likely to survive.

The stabbing on Friday of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd in 2020, at a special unit inside a Tucson, Ariz., prison is the latest in a series of attacks against high-profile inmates in the troubled, short-staffed federal Bureau of Prisons.

The assault comes less than five months after Larry Nassar, the doctor convicted of sexually abusing young female gymnasts, was stabbed multiple times at the federal prison in Florida. It also follows the release of Justice Department reports detailing incompetence and mismanagement at federal detention centers that led to the deaths in recent years of James Bulger, the Boston gangster known as Whitey, and Jeffrey Epstein, who had been charged with sex trafficking.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that an inmate at the Tucson prison was stabbed around 12:30 p.m. on Friday, though the bureau did not identify Mr. Chauvin, 47, by name. The agency said in a statement that the inmate required “life-saving measures” before being rushed to a hospital emergency room nearby. The office of Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general who prosecuted the former police officer, identified the inmate as Mr. Chauvin.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Today’s Migrant Crisis Looks Like to a Holocaust Refugee, Joseph Berger, Nov. 27, 2023 (print ed.). Read a firsthand account of one of the 140,000 Jewish refugees who fled postwar Europe and arrived in New York City.

Even with New York’s complicated history as a port for new arrivals, the photographs this summer of more than a hundred migrants sleeping shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk outside the once-elegant Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan were shocking. So were scenes of young migrants idling on sidewalks, stoops and park benches, desperate to work but legally prohibited from doing so.

For those of us who were once part of such a moment, the scenes stirred up memories and reflections on how different some things were now for new arrivals and how much they were the same. I, too, was once part of a migrant influx.

In the years after the end of World War II, New York City absorbed a similar wave of immigrants — a large majority of the 140,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors who came to America between 1946 and 1953 — and it did so comparatively smoothly and uneventfully. These immigrants were eager to get on with their lives but were still in shock or heartbroken from the brutalities they had suffered, the parents and siblings they had lost, and the hometowns they could no longer return to.

Those who had no relatives to stay with were put up in 14 hotels that had seen better days as well as in a shelter hacked out of the former Astor Library on Lafayette Street, which is now the Public Theater.

My family was among those immigrants, having spent the previous four years waiting for visas to the United States while idling in two camps for so-called displaced persons in the American zone in occupied Germany. After a rocky voyage on a merchant marine vessel called the U.S.S. General A.W. Greely, my parents, my brother and I arrived on March 3, 1950, at a pier on West 21st Street. My brother Josh was not yet 3. I was 5.

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More On Disasters, Climate Change, Environment, Transportation

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ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Administration to Require Replacing of Lead Pipes Within 10 Years, Coral Davenport, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The proposal to rip out nine million pipes across the country could cost as much as $30 billion but would nearly eliminate the neurotoxin from drinking water.

The Biden administration is proposing new restrictions that would require the removal of virtually all lead water pipes across the country in an effort to prevent another public health catastrophe like the one that came to define Flint, Mich.

The proposal on Thursday from the Environmental Protection Agency would impose the strictest limits on lead in drinking water since federal standards were first set 30 years ago. It would affect about nine million pipes that snake throughout communities across the country.

“This is the strongest lead rule that the nation has ever seen,” Radhika Fox, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for water, said in an interview. “This is historic progress.”

Digging up and replacing lead pipes from coast to coast is no small undertaking. The E.P.A. estimates the price at $20 billion to $30 billion over the course of a decade. The rule would require the nation’s utilities — and most likely their ratepayers — to absorb most of that cost, but $15 billion is available from the 2021 infrastructure law to help them pay for it.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Happens When an Oil Cartel Walks Into a Climate Summit? Jim Tankersley, Dec. 1, 2023. OPEC is a participant at COP28. Unlike the United States, it is moving to cut production.

In a far corner of the temporary village housing the United Nations climate summit, the world’s largest cartel of fossil fuel producers plied skeptical young activists with chocolate and free pens.

It was Thursday afternoon. A continent away, in Vienna, the cartel’s members were voting to give the summit what amounts to another very small climate treat: at least a temporary reduction in oil and gas drilling. That’s the opposite of what President Biden, who has made climate policy a top priority during his administration, is delivering from the United States.

It was an opening-day irony for a COP28 summit that is already full of them, from its host country down to the so-called OPEC Pavilion in a building that is marked “Urbanisation & Indigenous Peoples” on the outside.

Tens of thousands of delegates are descending this month on Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and a major oil producer. Those delegates are celebrating an accelerating global transition toward low-emission sources of energy like wind and solar power. But expanding renewables is not enough to save the planet, scientists warn, so many delegates are demanding that the world rapidly phase out its use of fossil fuels.

ny times logoNew York Times, Disinformation is among the greatest obstacles facing leaders at the summit, Tiffany Hsu and Steven Lee Myers, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Online influencers, fossil fuel companies and some of the countries attending COP28 have nourished a feedback loop of falsehoods.

As the world’s leaders gather this week at a major summit to discuss ways to address the effects of global warming, one of the greatest obstacles they face is disinformation.

Among the biggest sources of false or misleading information about the world’s weather, according to a report released this week: influential nations, including Russia and China, whose diplomats will be attending. Others include the companies that extract fossil fuels and the online provocateurs who make money by sharing claims that global warming is a hoax.

They spread diverse and frequently debunked falsehoods: Humans are not responsible for climate change; recent wildfires were enabled by arson rather than hotter and drier conditions; the world is cooling; oil and gas giants are leading the charge toward carbon neutrality; and warnings about the environment are an excuse for authoritarian elites to destabilize the developing world and force everyone into lockdown and onto a diet of insects and lab-grown food.

Their efforts have already significantly eroded the public pressure and political will needed to prevent a dire future for the planet, experts said.

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More On Ukraine-Russian War, Russian Leadership

ny times logoNew York Times, A Russian Village Buries a Soldier, and Tries to Make Sense of the War, Valerie Hopkins, Photographs by Nanna Heitmann, Dec. 1, 2023. The war in Ukraine is felt profoundly in small communities, where a soldier’s burial elicits grief — and a yearning to find meaning in his death.

A cold wind was blowing across the steppe, but Sapura Kadyrova didn’t see the point in bundling up. She was waiting to greet her son, who was arriving home from the war in a crimson government-issued casket.

“So maybe I won’t be warm,” Ms. Kadyrova, 85, moaned. “Then just let me die.”

All day long, she and her daughters had been greeting relatives, friends and neighbors who had come to pay their respects to her son, Garipul S. Kadyrov, who was killed near the front line in Klishchiivka in eastern Ukraine.

“In February he would have turned 50, and he promised me he would be allowed to come home then,” Ms. Kadyrova told her guests. “Now I will only meet him in his grave.”

In Russia’s big cities, the war can feel like distant background noise, with the latest iPhones on sale and things looking pretty much the same as before — save for ubiquitous army recruitment posters. While as many as 80 percent of Ukrainians have a close friend or relative who was injured or killed in the war, many Russians in urban centers still feel insulated from it.

It is in villages like Ovsyanka, a former collective farm in southwestern Russia, where the pain and loss of the war are felt most profoundly. And as friends and neighbors gathered in Ms. Kadyrova’s small house, preparing food in the kitchen and sharing memories about the deceased, the grief mixed with a yearning to make sense of the loss of another soldier.

“He was sure he was doing the right thing,” said Mr. Kadyrov’s sister Lena Kabaeva, who said he “never complained” about conditions on the front and used his salary to buy presents for his nieces and nephews.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Court Extends Detention of U.S. Journalist, Ivan Nechepurenko, Dec. 1, 2023.  Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor who also holds Russian citizenship, was arrested in October on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent.

A Russian court on Friday extended the detention of an editor working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a broadcaster funded by the American government, who was arrested in October on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent.

A district court in Kazan, about 500 miles east of Moscow, ordered the editor, Alsu Kurmasheva, who holds both Russian and United States citizenship, to remain in custody until Feb. 5 as she awaits trial, Russian news agencies reported. Rim Sabirov, Ms. Kurmasheva’s lawyer, said he would appeal the ruling, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Ms. Kurmasheva is the second journalist holding American citizenship to be detained by Russia this year. In March, Russian special services arrested Evan Gershkovich, a Russia correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, on espionage charges, which he and The Journal have denied. He remains in a high-security prison in Moscow awaiting trial.

The arrests of the two journalists and other prior detentions of Americans in Russia have raised suspicions that the Kremlin now views U.S. citizens on its soil as assets who can be traded for high-value Russians held in custody in the West.

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Politico, NATO vows to stick with Ukraine ‘as long as it takes,’ Stuart Lau, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). We are pretty much becoming a de facto NATO army,” Ukraine’s foreign minister says in his first NATO-Ukraine Council meeting.

politico CustomNATO’s foreign ministers Wednesday agreed to step up work with Ukraine on a wide range of security issues, in a bid to show solidarity amid distractions from the war between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, NATO allies vowed to “remain steadfast in their commitment to further step up political and practical support to Ukraine” and said they “will continue their support for as long as it takes,” after a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels.

“We are increasing our interoperability with NATO,” Kuleba said, ahead of the first foreign ministerial-level NATO-Ukraine Council meeting. “We are pretty much becoming a de facto NATO army, in terms of our technical capacity, management approaches and principles of running an army.”

Politico, Sweden says Turkey pledges to ratify its NATO bid ‘within weeks,’ Stuart Lau, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). ‘There were no new demands from the Turkish government,’ says Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.

politico CustomTurkey has promised Sweden it will ratify its bid to join NATO “within weeks,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said Wednesday.

Referring to his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, with whom he spoke on Tuesday, Billström said: “He told me that he expected the ratification to take place within weeks. And of course, we don’t take anything for granted from the side of Sweden, but we look forward to this being completed.”

Swedish flagThe Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission recently abruptly postponed a session to vote on Sweden’s accession bid.

According to Billström, the top Turkish envoy didn’t put forward any new conditions in the conversation. “There were no new demands from the Turkish government, so we look [at] our part as being fulfilled,” he told reporters at the NATO foreign ministerial meeting.

Apart from Turkey, Hungary has also not ratified Sweden’s membership status in the alliance.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Women Protest Long Deployments for Soldiers in Ukraine, Neil MacFarquhar and Milana Mazaeva, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). “Make way for someone else,” a grass-roots movement demands as women challenge the argument that the mobilized troops are needed in combat indefinitely.

Russian FlagThe woman in the video, her face blurred, gave a blunt assessment of Russian military policy: Soldiers mobilized over a year ago to fight in Ukraine deserved to come home. Why weren’t they?

“Our mobilized became the best army in the world, but that doesn’t mean that this army should stay there to the last man,” she said. “If he did something heroic, spilled blood for his country sincerely, then maybe it was time to return to his family, make way for someone else, but that’s not happening.”

The speaker was part of a new, grass-roots movement that has been gathering steam in Russia over the past several weeks. Women in various cities are seeking to stage public protests, challenging the official argument that mobilized troops are needed in combat indefinitely to secure their Russian homeland.

ny times logoNew York Times, A massive storm battered southern Ukraine, causing havoc for civilians and soldiers, Marc Santora, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). Violent waves stirred by hurricane-force winds threatened to tear maritime mines from their moorings in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

A powerful wintry storm battered southern Ukraine on Monday, washing away Russian coastal defenses from some beaches on the occupied Crimean peninsula. The storm, which Ukrainian meteorologists said was among the most intense in decades, snarled supply routes for both countries’ armies and deepened the misery of tens of thousands of soldiers huddled in shallow trenches across the sprawling front line.

ukraine flagAs temperatures plunged below freezing across much of the country, hundreds of thousands of civilians were left without power in Russian-occupied territories and tens of thousands more lost power across southern Ukraine.

All the hardships that a winter storm typically delivers were compounded and complicated by the exigencies of war. A blizzard of snow, for example, stranded civilians on roads while complicating the movement of humanitarian aid to communities across Ukraine ravaged by fighting.

Violent waves stirred by hurricane-force winds threatened to tear maritime mines from their moorings in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea — as less violent storms have done in the past — complicating the navigation of already dangerous shipping lanes.

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U.S. Economy, Jobs, Consumers, High Tech

ny times logoNew York Times, The Fed’s Preferred Inflation Measure Eased in October, Jeanna Smialek, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Personal Consumption Expenditures price index continued to cool and consumer spending was moderate, good news for the Federal Reserve.

A closely watched measure of inflation showed continued signs of fading in October, encouraging news for the Federal Reserve as officials try to gauge whether they need to take further action in order to fully stamp out rapid price increases.

federal reserve system CustomThe Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation measure, which the Fed cites when it says it aims for 2 percent inflation on average over time, climbed by 3 percent in the year through October. That was down from 3.4 percent the previous month, and was in line with economist forecasts. Compared to the previous month, prices were flat.

After stripping out volatile food and fuel prices for a clearer look at underlying price pressures, inflation climbed by 3.5 percent over the year. That was down from 3.7 percent previously.

The latest evidence that price increases are slowing came alongside other positive news for Fed officials: Consumers are spending less robustly. A measure of personal consumption climbing by 0.2 percent from September, marking a slight slowdown from the previous month.

ny times logoNew York Times, They Charge $6 to Clean Your Shirt, and Make 13 Cents, Eliza Shapiro, Photographs by Lanna Apisukh, Dec. 1, 2023. The humble button-down helps power New York City, appearing in practically every office. But few people understand how it gets from dirty to clean.

The humble cotton button-down helps power New York City, through its presence in practically every office in town. But few people understand the shirt’s transformation from dirty to clean, which at Kingbridge Cleaners & Tailors will run you $6.

Kingbridge, with stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan, makes a profit of about 13 cents from a single laundered shirt, after the cost of labor, utilities, rent, insurance, supplies and administration, said Richard Aviles, its president. Mr. Aviles didn’t take a salary for about two years when the whole industry essentially shut down. Kingbridge’s sales are still about 15 percent lower than they were in 2019, he said, as many office workers spend at least part of the week in sweatshirts instead of suits.

Running a cleaning business in 2023, he said, means that “even though we’re not making money, if we can break even, then we’re staying ahead of the game.”

Politico, ‘Go f–k yourself!’ Elon Musk tells fleeing advertisers, Claudia Chiappa, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). ‘Is that clear? I hope it is,’ says X owner as companies pull ads from his platform.

politico CustomElon Musk has a message for advertisers who have left X en masse amid accusations of unchecked antisemitism on the social media platform: “Go fuck yourself.”

“If somebody has been trying to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself,” Musk said during an animated interview at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday.

Musk has faced criticism over the spread of disinformation and hate content on X since he bought the company formerly known as Twitter. That culminated in an advertiser exodus in recent weeks, as posts about the Israel-Hamas war spread.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk’s Warning to Advertisers, and Other DealBook Summit Highlights, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Ravi Mattu, Bernhard Warner, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Artificial intelligence, antisemitism, the 2024 presidential election, war in the Middle East and other big topics made headlines at this year’s event.

Coming into Wednesday’s DealBook Summit, few could predict what Elon Musk — whose SpaceX, Tesla and X are among the most consequential and talked-about companies in the world — would say. And the famously voluble billionaire delivered.

Yes, there was the moment when, using profane language, Musk denounced companies that had suspended advertising on X following his endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. (He did try to clear the air, saying he hadn’t meant to support bigots. “I’m quite sorry” if he had encouraged them, he said.)

But over a 90-minute conversation, Musk touched on much more, including what drives him, his fears about artificial intelligence and more.

“Don’t advertise.” Musk accused advertisers of trying to “blackmail” him over his remarks. (Bob Iger, Disney’s C.E.O., had said earlier that being associated with X and Musk was “not a positive” for his company.) After directing expletives at those businesses, Musk then cheekily added, “Hi, Bob, if you’re in the audience.” Linda Yaccarino, X’s C.E.O. whom Musk hired to win back advertisers (and who was at the summit), later posted a more conciliatory message.

“Do you want the best car, or do you not want the best car?” Whether people love Musk or hate him, the mogul boasted about the capabilities of Tesla vehicles and SpaceX rockets.

“A philosophy of curiosity.” Pressed on what drives him, Musk turned contemplative, speaking at length about a difficult childhood and how he has grappled with an existential crisis he first felt at age 12. His answer: Ensure humanity reaches the stars and settles other planets, hence his work at SpaceX. “If you’re a single-planet civilization,” he said, “something will happen to that planet, and you will die.”

“I’m quite concerned that there’s some dangerous element of A.I. that they’ve discovered.” Asked about the recent leadership shake-up at OpenAI, which he co-founded before leaving in 2019, Musk said that he was worried about the speed at which it had been pushing innovation. He predicted that the technology could reach the point of problem-solving like the human brain — so-called artificial general intelligence — in less than three years. (Jensen Huang, the C.E.O. of the A.I. chipmaker Nvidia, reckoned that milestone would take at least a decade.)

“I think I would not vote for [President] Biden.” Musk, who has turned politically conservative in recent years, criticized the president for snubbing Tesla in the company’s green-energy initiatives, despite its leadership in electric vehicles. The billionaire also said that liberals tended to embrace censorship now, anathema to the self-described free speech “absolutist.” But when asked if he would then vote for Donald Trump, Biden’s likely Republican opponent, Musk demurred, saying only, “this is definitely a difficult choice.”

  • New York Times, Opinion: How the Biden Administration Took the Pen Away From Meta, Google and Amazon, Nov. 30, 2023.

ny times logoNew York Times, Back at OpenAI, Sam Altman Outlines the Company’s Priorities, Cade Metz and Tripp Mickle, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). OpenAI said on Wednesday that it had completed the first phase of a new governance structure that added Microsoft as a nonvoting board member, as it works to end the divisions that fueled the ouster of Sam Altman as chief executive and sets itself up for a future as a bigger company.

In a blog post, Mr. Altman, who was rapidly reinstated last week, also outlined his priorities for OpenAI as he retakes the reins of the high-profile artificial intelligence start-up. He said the company would resume its work building safe A.I. systems and products that benefited its customers. He added that its board would focus on improving governance and overseeing an independent review of the events that led to and followed his removal as chief executive.

Microsoft expands a three-person board that OpenAI announced last week. The tech giant is one of OpenAI’s biggest investors, having committed $13 billion. Microsoft will be able to participate in OpenAI’s board meetings but not vote on business decisions.

“Part of what good governance means is that there’s more predictability, transparency and input from various stakeholders, and this seemed like a good way to get that from a very important one,” Mr. Altman said in an interview, referring to Microsoft.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike Changed the Labor Movement, Kurtis Lee, Nov. 27, 2023 (print ed.). The 1968 action led to greater economic mobility for Black workers. Today, union activists are trying to capture some of that spirit.

This article is from Headway, an initiative from The New York Times exploring the world’s challenges through the lens of progress. Headway looks for promising solutions, notable experiments and lessons from what has been tried.

Jack Walker is a union man. He drives a garbage truck in Memphis, where his route can take him barreling past shotgun-style houses along the Mississippi River and down the narrow alleyways near the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He is aware, always, of how his union protections are tied to Dr. King’s death and that of another man: his father.

Robert Walker, Mr. Walker’s father, was also a sanitation worker. On Feb. 1, 1968, he was collecting garbage when sheets of rain started pouring down. He and his colleague Echol Cole took shelter in the compactor of their truck. When a compressing piston malfunctioned, the two men were crushed. The city had no intention to pay death benefits, offering Robert Walker’s widow only $500 for funeral expenses, “if you need it,” as the official letter put it. She had five children, including Jack, and was pregnant with a sixth.

The tragedy was a culmination of slow-burning indignities for Black sanitation workers in Memphis. They earned low wages to lug heavy, open tubs of refuse to their trucks. Rotting garbage seeped onto their skin and clothes. Their white colleagues, who were often drivers, showered at the depot at the end of their shifts. But the Black collectors were forced to ride the bus or walk home in their dank clothes covered in flecks of trash and maggots.

Fed up, they called a strike. Roughly 1,300 sanitation workers began marching through the streets of Memphis. They carried signs that read “I Am a Man,” with the “Am” underlined. The strike stretched on for weeks. Even as trash began to accumulate on city streets, Memphis’s mayor wouldn’t entertain the strikers’ demands, instead sending in police officers with clubs and mace to break up marches.

The strikers’ mission and bravery spoke to Dr. King, who had embarked on a new economic justice effort, the Poor People’s Campaign. He came to Memphis in March and again in April, when, at a local church, he gave an impassioned speech that would turn out to be his last.

Two weeks after Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, the Memphis City Council voted to recognize the sanitation workers’ union, promising higher wages to the largely Black work force.

“It was a first step in getting them on their feet financially,” said Lee Saunders, the current president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “It was a huge deal.”

The strike in Memphis more than five decades ago “inspired a surge of organizing and strikes, not unlike what we see today,” said William P. Jones, a history professor at the University of Minnesota who has written on race and class.

Today’s resurgence in labor activism cuts across a broad range of industries. There have been recent labor fights at, among other places, rail yards, schools, hospitals, hotels, Hollywood studios and Starbucks stores. And the issues on the bargaining table include traditional demands, like higher wages and better staffing levels, as well as protections against replacement by artificial intelligence. Unions have had remarkable success in recent months, including securing a big pay raise for Las Vegas hospitality workers who merely threatened a strike.

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U.S. Abortion, Family Planning, #MeToo

christian ziegler bridget ziegler

Politico, Police investigating Florida Republican Party chair over alleged sexual assault, Kimberly Leonard and Andrew Atterbury, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). The Sarasota Police Department is investigating Florida Republican Party Chair Christian Ziegler, whose wife, Bridget Ziegler, shown above togther,  co-founded the conservative parents group Moms for Liberty, following allegations of sexual assault.

politico CustomAccording to a heavily redacted police report obtained by POLITICO through a public records request, the alleged incident took place on Oct. 2 at a home in Sarasota and the victim filed a complaint two days later. The documents omit details about the victim’s statement to authorities but include the words “rape” and “sexually battered.”

The Florida Trident, the news platform for the open government watchdog Florida Center for Government Accountability, was first to report on the news.

Ziegler, through his attorney, acknowledged the police were investigating him and said he’d been “fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota Police Department.”

“We are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be completely exonerated,” his attorney, Derek Byrd, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts that they did not commit whether it be for political purposes or financial gain. I would caution anyone to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded.”

Ziegler is married to Bridget Ziegler, a school board member in Sarasota County and Moms for Liberty co-founder. The group has risen to prominence in Florida under the DeSantis administration, which emphasizes rooting out any traces of liberal “indoctrination” — particularly on the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and race.

Bridget Ziegler did not respond to requests for comment.

The Trident article quotes anonymous sources who say the Zieglers were in a consensual three-way sexual relationship with the victim but that Bridget Ziegler wasn’t there when the alleged sexual assault happened. POLITICO was not immediately able to substantiate the claims.

Moms for Liberty on Thursday indicated that it was standing by Bridget Ziegler, saying in a statement that “we are confident she will get to tell her side of things to those who are interested in more than click bait.” The group added that Bridget Ziegler stepped back from the organization’s board in 2021.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top leaders, including Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., met with Moms for Liberty this year to plot out local school board candidates to oppose in 2024, following up on scores of endorsements and nominations in the 2022 cycle. Moms for Liberty has a growing national presence, with close to 300 chapters, while reporting more than $2 million in revenue for 2022.

DeSantis also appointed Bridget Ziegler to be one of the chairs for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, the governing board that DeSantis tapped to oversee the district surrounding Walt Disney World after a heated fight about LGBTQ+ topics in public schools.

News of the alleged incident broke just hours before DeSantis was set to appear in a highly advertised debate on Fox News against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who has criticized DeSantis for his policies on schools.

The Republican Party of Sarasota County said in a statement that it was “shocked and disappointed” about the reports regarding the Zieglers.

eric adams serious nydn

ny times logoNew York Times, A Final Wave of Sex-Abuse Lawsuits as One-Year Window Closes in New York, Hurubie Meko, Nov. 28, 2023 (print ed.). Since the Adult Survivors Act was passed, more than 3,000 civil suits have been filed, some aimed at politicians and others at institutions.

In the year since a one-time window opened in New York State allowing people to file sex-abuse lawsuits even after the statute of limitations had expired, more than 3,000 civil suits have been filed.

Before the deadline on Thanksgiving, a flurry of attention-grabbing suits were filed against politicians — like former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Eric Adams, the mayor of New York (shown above) — and celebrities, like Sean Combs, the producer and music mogul, who had just settled a separate suit filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan accusing him of rape.

But hundreds of people have also — collectively and separately — sued institutions, including the state’s prisons, jails and prominent hospitals, for abuses they said were systematically ignored and hidden for decades. At least 479 suits contain charges of abuse at Rikers Island.

As the legislation to allow the civil suits, known as the Adult Survivors Act, approached its sunset date, the number of lawsuits filed — both in State Supreme Court and in the Court of Claims — steadily increased after a campaign to alert people to the deadline. The number of cases filed in State Supreme Court alone rose from 803 on Oct. 31 to 1,397 as of Nov. 22.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a jury verdict that he sexually attacked her three decades ago.

Politico, Trump backs Adams, Cuomo in sexual misconduct lawsuits, Matt Berg, Nov. 29, 2023. Former President Donald Trump expressed his support for New York Mayor Eric Adams and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the pair face new lawsuits from women alleging sexual misconduct — in Adams’ case, a claim that dates back decades.

politico CustomOn Truth Social early Wednesday, Trump said he hopes Adams, Cuomo and “all of the others that got sued based on this ridiculous law where someone can be sued decades later, and with no proof, will fight it on being totally unfair and UNCONSTITUTIONAL.”

Trump was referencing Adult Survivors Act lawsuits, which surfaced last week as the New York legislation was expiring. The act gave victims of sexual assault two years to sue over past assaults that would previously have been barred by the statute of limitations.

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Pandemics, Public Health, Privacy 

washington post logoWashington Post, More people are dying in Puerto Rico as its health-care system crumbles, Omaya Sosa Pascual, Jeniffer Wiscovitch, Arelis R. Hernández, Andrew Ba Tran and Dylan Moriarty, Nov. 29, 2023 (print ed.). While the nation recovered from covid, the U.S. territory’s death rate increased, an investigation by The Washington Post and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism has found.

Puerto Rico, with a population of 3.3 million people, experienced more than 35,400 deaths last year. That’s nearly 3,300 more than researchers would ordinarily expect based on historic patterns, according to a statistical analysis by The Post and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI).

This “excess mortality” — a term scientists use to describe unusually high death counts from natural disasters, disease outbreaks or other factors — resulted in part from a covid spike early last year that killed more than 2,300 people, health data shows.

ny times logoNew York Times, Unvaccinated and Vulnerable: Children Drive Surge in Deadly Outbreaks, Stephanie Nolen, Nov. 27, 2023 (print ed.). About 60 million “zero-dose children” have not received any vaccines and have aged out of routine immunization programs. Protecting them will require a costly vaccination blitz. Large outbreaks of diseases that primarily kill children are spreading around the world, a grim legacy of disruptions to health systems during the Covid-19 pandemic that have left more than 60 million children without a single dose of standard childhood vaccines.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2By midway through this year, 47 countries were reporting serious measles outbreaks, compared with 16 countries in June 2020. Nigeria is currently facing the largest diphtheria outbreak in its history, with more than 17,000 suspected cases and nearly 600 deaths so far. Twelve countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, are reporting circulating polio virus.

Many of the children who missed their shots have now aged out of routine immunization programs. So-called “zero-dose children” account for nearly half of all child deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses, according to Gavi, the organization that helps fund vaccination in low- and middle-income countries.

An additional 85 million children are under-immunized as a result of the pandemic — that is, they received only part of the standard course of several shots required to be fully protected from a particular disease.

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Media, High Tech, Sports, Education, Free Speech, Culture 

Politico, ‘Go f–k yourself!’ Elon Musk tells fleeing advertisers, Claudia Chiappa, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). ‘Is that clear? I hope it is,’ says X owner as companies pull ads from his platform.

politico CustomElon Musk has a message for advertisers who have left X en masse amid accusations of unchecked antisemitism on the social media platform: “Go fuck yourself.”

“If somebody has been trying to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself,” Musk said during an animated interview at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday.

Musk has faced criticism over the spread of disinformation and hate content on X since he bought the company formerly known as Twitter. That culminated in an advertiser exodus in recent weeks, as posts about the Israel-Hamas war spread.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk’s Warning to Advertisers, and Other DealBook Summit Highlights, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Ravi Mattu, Bernhard Warner, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Artificial intelligence, antisemitism, the 2024 presidential election, war in the Middle East and other big topics made headlines at this year’s event.

Coming into Wednesday’s DealBook Summit, few could predict what Elon Musk — whose SpaceX, Tesla and X are among the most consequential and talked-about companies in the world — would say. And the famously voluble billionaire delivered.

Yes, there was the moment when, using profane language, Musk denounced companies that had suspended advertising on X following his endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. (He did try to clear the air, saying he hadn’t meant to support bigots. “I’m quite sorry” if he had encouraged them, he said.)

But over a 90-minute conversation, Musk touched on much more, including what drives him, his fears about artificial intelligence and more.

“Don’t advertise.” Musk accused advertisers of trying to “blackmail” him over his remarks. (Bob Iger, Disney’s C.E.O., had said earlier that being associated with X and Musk was “not a positive” for his company.) After directing expletives at those businesses, Musk then cheekily added, “Hi, Bob, if you’re in the audience.” Linda Yaccarino, X’s C.E.O. whom Musk hired to win back advertisers (and who was at the summit), later posted a more conciliatory message.

“Do you want the best car, or do you not want the best car?” Whether people love Musk or hate him, the mogul boasted about the capabilities of Tesla vehicles and SpaceX rockets.

“A philosophy of curiosity.” Pressed on what drives him, Musk turned contemplative, speaking at length about a difficult childhood and how he has grappled with an existential crisis he first felt at age 12. His answer: Ensure humanity reaches the stars and settles other planets, hence his work at SpaceX. “If you’re a single-planet civilization,” he said, “something will happen to that planet, and you will die.”

“I’m quite concerned that there’s some dangerous element of A.I. that they’ve discovered.” Asked about the recent leadership shake-up at OpenAI, which he co-founded before leaving in 2019, Musk said that he was worried about the speed at which it had been pushing innovation. He predicted that the technology could reach the point of problem-solving like the human brain — so-called artificial general intelligence — in less than three years. (Jensen Huang, the C.E.O. of the A.I. chipmaker Nvidia, reckoned that milestone would take at least a decade.)

“I think I would not vote for [President] Biden.” Musk, who has turned politically conservative in recent years, criticized the president for snubbing Tesla in the company’s green-energy initiatives, despite its leadership in electric vehicles. The billionaire also said that liberals tended to embrace censorship now, anathema to the self-described free speech “absolutist.” But when asked if he would then vote for Donald Trump, Biden’s likely Republican opponent, Musk demurred, saying only, “this is definitely a difficult choice.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Advertisers Say They Do Not Plan to Return to X After Musk’s Comments, Kate Conger and Tiffany Hsu, Dec. 1, 2023 (print ed.). Elon Musk, the owner of X, criticized advertisers with expletives on Wednesday at The New York Times’s DealBook Summit. Elon Musk, the owner of X, criticized advertisers with expletives on Wednesday at The New York Times’s DealBook Summit.

Advertisers said on Thursday that they did not plan to reopen their wallets anytime soon with X, the social media company formerly known as Twitter, after its owner, Elon Musk, insulted brands using an expletive and told them not to spend on the platform.

At least half a dozen marketing agencies said the brands they represent were standing firm against advertising on X, while others said they had advised advertisers to stop posting anything on the platform. Some temporary spending pauses that advertisers have enacted in recent weeks against X are likely to turn into permanent freezes, they added, with Mr. Musk’s comments giving them no incentive to return.

Advertisers are “not coming back” to X, said Lou Paskalis, the founder and chief executive of AJL Advisory, a marketing consultancy. “There is no advertising value that would offset the reputational risk of going back on the platform.”

Mr. Musk has repeatedly criticized and alienated advertisers since buying Twitter last year. At one point, he threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” against advertisers who paused their spending because they were concerned about his plans to loosen content moderation rules on X.

In recent weeks, more than 200 advertisers had halted their spending on X after Mr. Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory and researchers called attention to instances of ads appearing alongside pro-Nazi posts on the platform. The company, which has made most of its revenue from advertising, is at risk of losing up to $75 million this quarter as brands back away.

The situation was compounded on Wednesday when Mr. Musk made incendiary comments against advertisers at the DealBook Summit in New York. In a wide-ranging interview at the event, Mr. Musk apologized for the antisemitic post, calling it “one of the most foolish” he had ever published, but also said that advertisers were trying to “blackmail” him. He singled out Bob A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, who also attended the DealBook Summit.

“Don’t advertise,” Mr. Musk then said, using an expletive multiple times to emphasize his point.

Hours later, Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive, tried to mitigate the damage. In a post on X, she shifted attention to Mr. Musk’s apology for associating himself with antisemitism and appealed to advertisers to return.

“I will certainly not pander,” he said.

Mr. Musk’s dismissiveness of advertiser concerns has caused brands to view him as a risky partner, said Steve Boehler, the founder of the marketing management consultancy Mercer Island Group.

  • New York Times, Opinion: How the Biden Administration Took the Pen Away From Meta, Google and Amazon, Nov. 30, 2023.

ny times logoNew York Times, Back at OpenAI, Sam Altman Outlines the Company’s Priorities, Cade Metz and Tripp Mickle, Nov. 30, 2023 (print ed.). OpenAI said on Wednesday that it had completed the first phase of a new governance structure that added Microsoft as a nonvoting board member, as it works to end the divisions that fueled the ouster of Sam Altman as chief executive and sets itself up for a future as a bigger company.

In a blog post, Mr. Altman, who was rapidly reinstated last week, also outlined his priorities for OpenAI as he retakes the reins of the high-profile artificial intelligence start-up. He said the company would resume its work building safe A.I. systems and products that benefited its customers. He added that its board would focus on improving governance and overseeing an independent review of the events that led to and followed his removal as chief executive.

Microsoft expands a three-person board that OpenAI announced last week. The tech giant is one of OpenAI’s biggest investors, having committed $13 billion. Microsoft will be able to participate in OpenAI’s board meetings but not vote on business decisions.

“Part of what good governance means is that there’s more predictability, transparency and input from various stakeholders, and this seemed like a good way to get that from a very important one,” Mr. Altman said in an interview, referring to Microsoft.

Semafor, MSNBC cancels Mehdi Hasan’s show, Max Tani, Nov. 30, 2023. MSNBC is canceling outspoken opinion host Mehdi Hasan’s weekend program and show on the streaming service Peacock.

dan rather steady logoTwo people familiar with the move, which MSNBC privately announced to staff Thursday morning, told Semafor that Hasan will become an on-camera analyst and fill-in host. The network plans to expand host Ayman Mohyeldin’s weekend program to two hours to replace Hasan’s show.

Over the past several years, Hasan became a cult favorite online for his tough interview style and impassioned monologues. But these never translated to ratings successes on the weekends or during fill-in appearances on primetime shows.
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Variety reported that the move is part of a shakeup aimed at consolidating the network’s weekend schedule to give MSNBC more flexibility. The network also announced on Thursday that it would be launching a two hour morning panel show with Symone Sanders, Michael Steel, and Alicia Menendez. As “Decision 2024 ramps up, the show will provide thoughtful analysis and coverage on the state of our country from three trusted voices familiar to the MSNBC audience,” an MSNBC executive told Variety.

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