Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August-September 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Monday, 2 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Senators finish writing bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare weekend session, The New York Times, Monday, 2 August 2021:

The Big Money Behind the Big Lie. Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy are being promoted by rich and powerful conservative groups that are determined to win at all costs. The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Monday, 2 August 2021: “Although the Arizona audit may appear to be the product of local extremists, it has been fed by sophisticated, well-funded national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the country’s wealthiest and highest-profile conservatives. Dark-money organizations, sustained by undisclosed donors, have relentlessly promoted the myth that American elections are rife with fraud, and, according to leaked records of their internal deliberations, they have drafted, supported, and in some cases taken credit for state laws that make it harder to vote. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has tracked the flow of dark money in American politics, told me that a ‘flotilla of front groups’ once focussed on advancing such conservative causes as capturing the courts and opposing abortion have now ‘more or less shifted to work on the voter-suppression thing.’ These groups have cast their campaigns as high-minded attempts to maintain ‘election integrity,’ but Whitehouse believes that they are in fact tampering with the guardrails of democracy.”

Biden Administration to Keep Using Public Health Rule to Turn Away Migrants, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Monday, 2 August 2021: ‘With the number of migrants crossing the southern border surging and the pandemic proving to be far from over, the Biden administration has decided to leave in place for now the public health rule that has allowed it to turn away hundreds of thousands of migrants, officials said. The decision, confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, amounted to a shift by the administration, which had been working on plans to begin lifting the rule this summer, more than a year after it was imposed by the Trump administration. The C.D.C. said allowing noncitizens to come over the border from either Mexico or Canada ‘creates a serious danger’ of further spread of the coronavirus. President Biden has come under intense pressure for months from some Democrats and supporters of more liberal immigration policies to lift the rule, which critics say has been employed less to protect public health than as a politically defensible way to limit immigration.”

Congress Is Slashing a $30 Billion Plan to Fight the Next Pandemic. The proposal would overhaul America’s approach to tackling outbreaks, allowing scientists to develop vaccines in advance. But for now, Democrats are cutting it down. The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer, Monday, 2 August 2021: “President Joe Biden campaigned as America’s pandemic fighter. So it will be strange, to say the least, if his infrastructure bill fails to significantly increase the country’s pandemic-preparedness budget. But it could happen. Biden proposed $30 billion to address the issue, which advocates say could permanently mitigate the risks of future outbreaks. The investment would replenish medical stockpiles, proactively develop vaccines for major types of viruses, and ensure that the United States has a permanent production base of face masks and respirators. In effect, it would amount to an Apollo program–like push to guarantee that a global pandemic could never shut down the country again. Yet those funds have been slashed in the current negotiations over the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package as part of a push to slim it down, according to a source familiar with the situation. (I agreed not to name this person because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.) While the exact amount is still in flux, it is significantly less than requested. In the past week, public-health advocates and nonprofits have mobilized against the reduction, which Tom Frieden, a former CDC director who now runs the nonprofit Resolve to Save Livesfirst revealed earlier this month. But as the White House and Democrats in Congress discuss the package’s details, they may be locking in an outdated approach to tackling pandemics, quietly and out of public view.”

The route to stealing the 2024 election begins with a simple step, The Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Monday, 2 August 2021: “It seems increasingly plausible that we’ll see an effort to steal the 2024 presidential election if the Democratic candidate wins by a margin close enough to permit it. Indeed, whether this effort does or does not end up happening, a host of bad actors are already laying the groundwork for it right now, via the execution of a simple mission. That mission is to come up with new ways to discredit the very idea that our elections are capable of rendering procedurally legitimate outcomes. That is the necessary precondition for any future effort to overturn an outcome that doesn’t go to Republicans’ liking. This basic thought emerges from Jane Mayer’s New Yorker exposé of all the dark money funding the ongoing assault on democracy. Mayer shows how the money from ‘wealthy reactionaries’ who bankroll conservative causes is now funding efforts by right-wing groups to sow doubts about the U.S. electoral system, pass new voting restrictions and launch sham ‘audits’ of 2020 vote counts. But while the money angle is noteworthy, what also deserves attention is the core insight motivating these efforts. It’s that the question of whether voter fraud can or cannot be proved is irrelevant. Instead, those making such accusations need to create just enough confusion to enable well-placed Republicans to say the actual outcome of a given election is fundamentally unknowable. The coin of the realm is not concocted proof; it’s manufactured uncertainty. This is what will lay the groundwork for attempting to overturn a future election.”

 

Tuesday, 3 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: The Biden administration issues a new eviction moratorium as the virus surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would impose a 60-day ban on evictions in places hit hard by the Delta variant. The New York Times, Tuesday, 3 August 2021:

State attorney general report says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Sonia Moghe, and Kristina Sgueglia, Tuesday, 3 August 2021: “The New York attorney general’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo found that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday. The office found that Cuomo harassed current and former state employees, as well as a number of women outside of state government, James said, as the office released a lengthy report on the investigation. James said Tuesday that her investigation found that Cuomo engaged in ‘unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,’ and made comments of a ‘suggestive’ sexual nature. James said that the conduct created a ‘hostile work environment for women.’ Cuomo immediately faced mounting pressure from Democrats, including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York’s two US senators, to resign.”

Democratic Representative Cori Bush of Missouri steers progressives to win on eviction crisis. A new member of the liberal ‘Squad’ stepped to the forefront this week, leading a Capitol steps sit-in that forced the White House to act. Politico, Nicholas Wu, Heather Caygle, and Sarah Ferris, Tuesday, 3 August 2021: “Cori Bush arrived in Congress as an heir to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now the political neophyte is coming into her own. Bush has led a one-woman protest on the Capitol steps over the last several days that forced the eviction crisis to the top of the nation’s agenda even after the House left town without taking action on the issue. Under intense pressure from the left, President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon announced a short-term fix to prevent millions of families from losing their homes despite questioning the constitutionality of doing so.”

 

Wednesday, 4 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Senate panel votes to repeal 1991 and 2002 laws authorizing wars with Iraq. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-8 to repeal the authorizations. The resolution now goes to the full Senate. The New York Times, Wednesday, 4 August 2021:

Trump asks judge to block release of tax returns and blasts Biden Justice Department for authorizing release, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Wednesday, 4 August 2021: “Attorneys for former president Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted a Justice Department ruling that directed the Treasury Department to turn over his tax returns to Congress, formally asking a court to block their release and arguing that records of former presidents as well as presidents should be similarly protected from subpoenas by lawmakers.”

‘The stuff of which violent insurrections are made:’ Federal judge punishes Colorado lawyers for 2020 election lawsuit, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 4 August 2021: “A federal judge in Colorado has disciplined two lawyers who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election late last year, finding that the case was ‘frivolous,’ ‘not warranted by existing law’ and filed ‘in bad faith.’ In a scathing 68-page opinion, Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found that the lawyers made little effort to corroborate information they had included in the suit, which argued there had been a vast national conspiracy to steal the election from President Donald Trump.”

 

Thursday, 5 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Senators rush to pass infrastructure bill as new analysis shows it would add $256 billion to deficit over the next decade. Republicans and Democrats are racing to clear away the final obstacles to the legislation after the Congressional Budget Office rejected claims that it was fully paid for. The New York Times, Thursday, 5 August 2021:

Justice Department to Investigate Phoenix Police. The inquiry will look at whether the police discriminate against minorities or mistreat homeless people or disabled people. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Tim Arango, Thursday, 5 August 2021: “The Justice Department on Thursday announced a sweeping civil rights investigation into the Phoenix Police Department, marking the third such inquiry that the Biden administration has opened into abuse allegations against a major national police force. The investigation will examine whether the Phoenix police discriminate against minorities, use excessive force or retaliate against peaceful protesters. The inquiry will also scrutinize the department’s treatment of homeless people and disabled people, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in announcing the investigation at a news conference in Washington, emphasizing that police officers are often called upon to handle mental health emergencies and other social issues.” See also, Justice Department opens civil rights investigation into Phoenix police department, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Thursday, 5 August 2021: “The Justice Department on Thursday announced a sweeping civil rights investigation into the Phoenix police department’s use of force and its policies on dealing with homeless residents — the third federal probe of a local law enforcement agency launched since President Biden took office. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the pattern and practice investigation will seek to determine whether the Phoenix police engaged in excessive force or discriminatory behavior. He emphasized that investigators also will examine how the police department has treated residents with mental and physical disabilities and whether the agency unlawfully has disposed of the belongings of homeless residents — an issue that Garland did not mention when he began police investigations in Minneapolis and Louisville this spring.”

First Guilty Plea Is Set in January 6 Police Assault case. More than 100 suspects are accused of assaulting police officers during the violent attack on the Capitol in January. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 5 August 2021: “A New Jersey gym owner is set to plead guilty on Friday to assaulting a police officer during the storming of the Capitol in January, his lawyer said, the first time someone charged with attacking the police at the riot will accept responsibility for the crime. Under a deal with the government, the defendant, Scott Fairlamb, has agreed to accept a recommendation to be sentenced to 41 to 51 months in prison, according to his lawyer, Harley Breite. The sentencing proposal could be a guidepost for more than 100 other suspects accused of assaulting police officers on Jan. 6. A hulking, bearded man who once competed as a mixed martial artist, Mr. Fairlamb, 44, was caught on video stalking officers outside the Capitol as they made their way through an angry mob of pro-Trump protesters. At one point, he can be heard shouting at a Metropolitan Police Department officer, ‘Are you an American? Act like it!’ Then, unprompted, Mr. Fairlamb shoved the officer and hit him in the face.”

 

Friday, 6 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Biden administration extends a student loan payment pause, The New York Times, Friday, 6 August 2021:

Trump’s brazen attempt to overturn the 2020 election: A timeline, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 6 August 2021: “Congress will soon begin taking testimony from top officials who bore witness to President Donald Trump’s desperate efforts to commandeer the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election based upon lies and misinformation. Seven months after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we continue to learn many new details of those — and related — efforts. Those details paint an increasingly clear picture of a concerted effort to lay a predicate for overturning or halting Congress’s acceptance of the results, after Trump’s claims repeatedly and overwhelmingly failed in courts of law. The effort included attempts to politically weaponize the Justice Department and apply pressure on state and local officials in the service of that goal. The latest revelations: First, Justice Department officials rejected a highly unorthodox and far-flung effort by a Trump loyalist in their midst, acting assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark, to have Georgia’s state legislature call a special session to deal with supposed irregularities and potentially reverse Joe Biden’s win there. And second, Trump told Justice Department officials around the same time, according to notes from former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue, ‘just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen.’ Given how many moving parts are involved, it can be difficult to keep track of. So here is a timeline we’ll keep updating as we get new details.”

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott calls new special session to push voting restrictions Texas Democrats have blocked by fleeing state, The Washington Post, Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck, Friday, 6 August 2021: “Texas Republicans will redouble their efforts to pass new voting restrictions by convening a second special House session this weekend, hardening a stalemate with Democratic legislators whose exodus to Washington had left the bill in limbo while they push for federal voting rights legislation.”

 

Saturday, 7 August 2021:

 

Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen Testifies About Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election. The testimony highlights the former president’s desire to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Saturday, 7 August 2021: “Jeffrey A. Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Trump administration, has told the Justice Department watchdog and congressional investigators that one of his deputies tried to help former President Donald J. Trump subvert the results of the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the interviews. Mr. Rosen had a two-hour meeting on Friday with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general and provided closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday. The investigations were opened after a New York Times article that detailed efforts by Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, to push top leaders to falsely and publicly assert that continuing election fraud investigations cast doubt on the Electoral College results. That prompted Mr. Trump to consider ousting Mr. Rosen and installing Mr. Clark at the top of the department to carry out that plan. Mr. Trump never fired Mr. Rosen, but the plot highlights the former president’s desire to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda.”

 

Sunday, 8 August 2021:

 

Melissa DeRosa, top aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, resigns in wake of state attorney general’s report, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 8 August 2021: “The top aide to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo resigned on Sunday night after the release last week of a searing report by the state attorney general’s office that detailed her role in an effort to discredit a former aide who accused Cuomo of harassment. The departure of Melissa DeRosa, who held the title of secretary to the governor, represents a huge blow to Cuomo. She served as his fiercest defender and top aide since 2017, and was considered the ultimate loyalist after working for him for the past decade.”

 

Monday, 9 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Justice Department says it intends to release some secret 9/11 files on Saudi Arabia, The New York Times, Monday, 9 August 2021:

A Hotter Future Is Certain, Warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But How Hot Is Up to Us. The New York Times, Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain, Monday, 9 August 2021: “Nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, though there is still a short window to prevent the most harrowing future, a major new United Nations scientific report has concluded. Humans have already heated the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, largely by burning coal, oil and gas for energy. And the consequences can be felt across the globe: This summer alone, blistering heat waves have killed hundreds of people in the United States and Canada, floods have devastated Germany and China, and wildfires have raged out of control in Siberia, Turkey and Greece. But that’s only the beginning, according to the report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations. Even if nations started sharply cutting emissions today, total global warming is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades, a hotter future that is now essentially locked in. At 1.5 degrees of warming, scientists have found, the dangers grow considerably. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide could swelter in more frequent life-threatening heat waves. Hundreds of millions more would struggle for water because of severe droughts. Some animal and plant species alive today will be gone. Coral reefs, which sustain fisheries for large swaths of the globe, will suffer more frequent mass die-offs.” See also, Humans have pushed the climate into ‘unprecedented’ territory, landmark U.N. report finds. The U.N. chief called the findings ‘a code red for humanity’ with worse climate impacts to come unless greenhouse gas pollution falls dramatically. The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Sarah Kaplan, Monday, 9 August 2021: “More than three decades ago, a collection of scientists assembled by the United Nations first warned that humans were fueling a dangerous greenhouse effect and that if the world did not act collectively and deliberately to slow Earth’s warming, there could be ‘profound consequences’ for people and nature alike. The scientists were right. On Monday, that same body — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — described how humans have altered the environment at an ‘unprecedented’ pace and detailed how catastrophic impacts lie ahead unless the world rapidly and dramatically cuts greenhouse gas emissions. The landmark report states that there is no remaining scientific doubt that humans are fueling climate change. That much is ‘unequivocal.’ The only real uncertainty that remains, its authors say, is whether the world can muster the will to stave off a darker future than the one it already has carved in stone. The sprawling assessment, compiled by 234 authors relying on more than 14,000 studies from around the globe, bluntly lays out for policymakers and the public the most up-to-date understanding of the physical science on climate change. Released amid a summer of deadly firesfloods and heat waves, it arrives less than three months before a critical summit this November in Scotland, where world leaders face mounting pressure to move more urgently to slow the Earth’s warming.”

Senate Democrats unveil $3.5T budget for social and climate efforts, Associated Press, Alan Fram, Monday, 9 August 2021: “Senate Democrats unwrapped a budget resolution Monday envisioning a massive $3.5 trillion, 10-year cascade of federal resources, aiming historic sums at family support, health and education programs and an aggressive drive to heal the climate. The measure is a pivotal first step in what will likely be a tumultuous, months-long Democratic legislative march toward a progressive reshaping of the federal government that also hews to President Joe Biden’s top domestic policy ambitions. The blueprint reflects many Democrats’ tilt leftward in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency and bears the imprint of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a longtime progressive voice now at the hub of the Democratic Party’s power structure in Congress.”

Judge asks why Capitol rioters are paying just $1.5 million for attack, while U.S. taxpayers will pay more than $500 million, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 9 August 2021: “A federal judge on Monday questioned why U.S. prosecutors are asking Capitol riot defendants to pay only $1.5 million in restitution while American taxpayers are paying more than $500 million to cover the costs of the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington challenged the toughness of the Justice Department’s stance in a plea hearing for a Colorado Springs man who admitted to one of four nonviolent misdemeanor counts of picketing in the U.S. Capitol. Howell has already asked in another defendant’s plea hearing whether no-prison misdemeanor plea deals offered by the government are too lenient for individuals involved in ‘terrorizing members of Congress,’ asking pointedly whether the government had ‘any concern about deterrence?’ On Monday, she pressed the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington on why it was seeking to require only $2,000 in each felony case and $500 in each misdemeanor case.”

Cuomo accuser Brittany Commisso breaks her silence to detail groping allegations and says the governor is lying, CBS News, Monday, 9 August 2021: “In a damning report released last week by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing 11 women. In an exclusive interview with ‘CBS This Morning’ and the Times Union, one of those women, previously known only as Executive Assistant #1 is breaking her silence. Brittany Commisso began working as an executive assistant in the governor’s office in 2017. Now, she is speaking publicly for the first time since filing a criminal complaint against Cuomo last week — just days after the attorney general’s report was released. ‘To me this was a dream job. And it unfortunately turned into a nightmare,’ she said.”

Austin judge signs order to block arrests of Democrats who refuse to return to Texas Capitol for special session. A state district judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the arrest of House Democrats who have broken quorum, paving the way for those who remain outside the state to return home without threat of arrest. The Texas Tribune, James Barragán, Monday, 9 August 2021: “State District Judge Brad Urrutia, a Democrat, granted the temporary restraining order late Sunday night restricting Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan from ‘detaining, confining or otherwise restricting’ the free movement of House Democrats within the state or issuing any warrants ordering their confinement. The order expires in 14 days unless extended by Urrutia. The court will hear arguments on a temporary injunction on Aug. 20, and Abbott and Phelan must show why a temporary injunction should not be filed against them.”

 

Tuesday, 10 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Texas Republicans order the arrest of Democrats who fled to block Republican voting bill. After the vote, Dade Phelan, the speaker of the Texas House, signed 52 civil arrest warrants, his spokesman said. The New York Times, Tuesday, 10 August 2021:

 

Wednesday, 11 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Key Democrats say the price tag on the $4.5 trillion budget blueprint is too high. Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted to advance a budget blueprint through the legislative process but have signaled they want to see total cost drop. The New York Times, Wednesday, 11 August 2021:

YouTube suspends Republican Senator Rand Paul over a video falsely claiming masks are ineffective, NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, Wednesday, 11 August 2021: “YouTube suspended Sen. Rand Paul’s account on Tuesday for posting a video claiming cloth face masks are ineffective against the coronavirus. ‘A badge of honor … leftwing cretins at Youtube banning me for 7 days for a video that quotes 2 peer reviewed articles saying cloth masks don’t work,’ Paul, R-Ky., tweeted. Paul falsely claimed in the removed video, ‘Most of the masks you get over the counter don’t work. They don’t prevent infection,’ adding that ‘cloth masks don’t work.’ A spokesperson for YouTube told NBC News that the video violated company policy on Covid-19 misinformation, which includes ‘claims that wearing a mask is dangerous or causes negative physical health effects’ or that masks don’t play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19. ‘We removed content from Senator Paul’s channel for including claims that masks are ineffective in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19, in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies,’ the spokesperson said. ‘This resulted in a first strike on the channel, which means it can’t upload content for a week, per our longstanding three strikes policy.'”

Rudy Giuliani told federal agents it was okay to ‘throw a fake’ during political campaign, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 11 August 2021: “Rudolph W. Giuliani’s promise of a ‘big surprise’ to help Donald Trump’s election in October 2016 led to Democratic accusations the FBI was feeding him secrets about an investigation of Hillary Clinton. But a newly obtained transcript shows the former New York mayor told federal agents it was okay to ‘throw a fake’ when campaigning, to which his then-law partner added, ‘there’s no obligation to tell the truth.’ Giuliani’s comments came in a 2018 interview with agents for the Justice Department inspector general, conducted in a room at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington. The Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, sued for a copy of the interview transcript and provided it to The Washington Post on Wednesday.”

 

Thursday, 12 August 2021:

 

Daily Political Briefing: Biden presses Congress to move on price controls for prescription drugs. President Biden singled out drug prices as an issue he wanted to include in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social policy bill, including allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices. The New York Times, Thursday, 12 August 2021:

Census Updates: Survey Shows Which Cities Gained and Lost Population. The government released data from the 2020 census showing large increases in the populations of people who identify as Hispanic, Asian, and more than one race. The New York Times, Thursday, 12 August 2021:

  • No large city grew faster than Phoenix.

  • New York City adds 629,000 people, defying predictions of its decline.

  • The growth along the corridor between San Antonio and Austin is ‘kind of mind-blowing.’

  • Diversity rises in Georgia, with whites making up only half the state.

  • Boston grew swiftly over the decade, as its white population waned.

  • While Democrats eye urban gains, Republicans will rely on drawing favorable districts.

  • A rise in Hispanic and Asian population fuels U.S. growth, census reports.

  • Americans kept migrating to cities, leaving rural areas depopulated.

  • A fight over political redistricting looms, with control of Congress potentially hanging in the balance.

  • Some fear the pandemic and political turmoil may have affected the count.

  • Census confirms Hispanic residents are now the biggest ethnic group in California.
  • Here are the states and cities that grew the most.
  • Rising diversity might not help Democrats as much as they hope.

Census release shows the United States is more diverse and more multiracial than ever, CNN Politics, Janie Boschma, Daniel Wolfe, Priya Krishnakumar, Christopher Hickey, Meghna Maharishi, Renée Rigdon, John Keefe, and David Wright, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “The United States is more diverse and more multiracial than ever before, according to new 2020 Census data released on Thursday…. People of color represented 43% of the total US population in 2020, up from 34% in 2010. The non-Hispanic White share of the US population fell to 57% in 2020, shrinking by six percentage points since 2010, the largest decrease of any race or ethnicity. The share of those who identified as Hispanic or Latino or as multiracial grew the most.”

What Trump’s last Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told U.S. senators: Trump applied ‘persistent’ pressure to get Justice to discredit the 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “President Donald Trump’s last acting attorney general has told U.S. senators his boss was ‘persistent’ in trying to pressure the Justice Department to discredit the results of the 2020 election. In closed-door testimony Saturday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Rosen said he had to ‘persuade the president not to pursue a different path’ at a high-stakes January meeting in which Trump considered ousting Rosen as the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer. According to a person familiar with the testimony, Rosen’s opening statement also characterized as ‘inexplicable’ the actions of his Justice Department colleague, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to push Trump’s false claims of election fraud and whom Trump considered installing as acting attorney general to replace Rosen. The testimony — portions of which were previously reported by the New York Times — is part of a trove of information that congressional investigators are assembling about Trump’s frantic efforts to reverse his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden and use the Justice Department to stay in office.”

Texas Republicans ramp up push to enact voting restrictions, passing a bill in the Senate and moving to arrest House Democrats who staged walkout, The Washington Post, Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “Texas Republicans advanced their effort to enact new voting restrictions on Thursday, passing a far-reaching elections bill in the state Senate after a 15-hour Democratic filibuster and pursuing arrests of House Democrats who have refused to return to the state Capitol in an effort to deny the chamber a quorum. House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) deputized Texas law enforcement Thursday to arrest the absent Democrats, whose refusal to appear on the floor has stalled business in the chamber for weeks. A spokesman for Phelan, Enrique Marquez, declined to provide details about the move, and it was unclear as of late afternoon Thursday whether any lawmakers had been detained.” See also, Texas Senate outlasts 15-hour filibuster by Senator Carol Alvarado to pass Republican voting-restrictions bill, The Texas Tribune, Alexa Ura, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “Since before sunset Wednesday, state Sen. Carol Alvarado had been on her feet speaking, not allowed to sit or lean against her desk, on the Senate floor. Unable to take bathroom breaks or drink water, she had worn a back brace, eyeglasses and running shoes and talked slowly behind a desk stacked with papers and with a microphone in her hand as she mounted a 15-hour filibuster. The target of her efforts was Senate Bill 1, the GOP’s priority bill that would place new restrictions on voting that many opponents say would disproportionately suppress ballots from voters of color and disabled voters. But ultimately, her speaking marathon could only delay the passage of the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate. Shortly after she finally stepped away from her desk around 9 a.m., the Senate voted to advance the measure on an 18-11 party-line vote.”

The Coronavirus Outbreak: The Supreme Court won’t block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “The Supreme Court allowed Indiana University on Thursday to require students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Eight students had sued the university, saying the requirement violated their constitutional rights to ‘bodily integrity, autonomy and medical choice.’ But they conceded that exemptions to the requirement — for religious, ethical and medical reasons — ‘virtually guaranteed’ that anyone who sought an exemption would be granted one. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who oversees the federal appeals court in question, turned down the students’ request for emergency relief without comment, which is the court’s custom in ruling on emergency applications. She acted on her own, without referring the application to the full court, and she did not ask the university for a response. Both of those moves were indications that the application was not on solid legal footing.” See also, Supreme Court rejects challenge to Indiana University’s vaccination requirement. Eight students asked the court for an emergency order, arguing that the risks of vaccination outweigh potential benefits for those in their age group. NBC News, Pete Williams, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “The Supreme Court refused Thursday to block Indiana University’s requirement that students be vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend classes in the fall semester. It was the first legal test of a Covid vaccination mandate to come before the justices. A challenge to the policy was directed to Amy Coney Barrett, the justice in charge of that region of the country, who denied it. There were no noted dissents from other justices.”

Senator Rand Paul failed to disclose wife’s purchase of COVID-19 drugmaker’s shares, CBS News, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “Kentucky Senator Rand Paul waited more than a year to disclose that his wife purchased stock in a company that makes a COVID-19 treatment, an investment made after Congress was briefed on the threat of the virus but before the public was largely aware of its danger. The Republican filed a mandatory disclosure Wednesday revealing on Feb. 26, 2020 that Kelley Paul purchased somewhere between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of stock in Gilead, which makes the antiviral drug remdesivir. Under a 2012 law called the Stock Act, which was enacted to stop lawmakers from trading on insider information, any such sale should have been reported within 45 days. Word of the looming danger posed by the coronavirus began to spread through Congress in late January 2020, after members received the first of several briefings on the economic and public health threat that it posed.”

Fight for voting rights ramps up with nationwide marches planned on August 28, The Washington Post, Ellie Silverman, Thursday, 12 August 2021: “The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s eldest son is leading a movement of more than 100 organizations to unite behind voting rights, with a march scheduled in Washington and cities across the country Aug. 28, the 58th anniversary of his father’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Martin Luther King III and other civil rights leaders behind ‘March On for Voting Rights,’ including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Alejandro Chavez, the grandson of labor and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, are demanding that Congress pass legislation to protect and expand voting rights at a time when Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country have passed or introduced hundreds of new voting restrictions, which a Washington Post analysis found are likely to disproportionately affect Black voters.”

 

Friday, 13 August 2021:

 

New intelligence reports indicate fresh efforts by Russia to interfere in 2022 election, CNN Politics, Katie Bo Williams, Natasha Bertrand, and Alex Marquardt, Friday, 13 August 2021: “The Biden administration is receiving regular intelligence reports indicating Russian efforts to interfere in US elections are evolving and ongoing, current and former officials say, and in fact, never stopped, despite President Joe Biden’s warnings to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the summer and a new round of sanctions imposed in the spring. Biden made deliberate mention of Russia’s operations two weeks ago when he revealed in public remarks to the intelligence community that he had received fresh intelligence about “what Russia’s doing already about the 2022 election and misinformation” in his daily intelligence briefing that day. ‘It’s a pure violation of our sovereignty,’ Biden said at the time. One of the people familiar with the matter confirmed that there have been recent intelligence reports about what the Russians are up to, particularly their efforts to sow disinformation on social media and weaponize US media outlets for propaganda purposes. There are some indications that Moscow is now attempting to capitalize on the debate raging inside the US over vaccines and masking, other sources told CNN.”

Nine moderate House Democrats demand passage of infrastructure bill ahead of budget resolution, complicating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Tony Romm, Friday, 13 August 2021: “A group of nine moderate House Democrats told Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they will not vote for a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint until a Senate-approved infrastructure bill clears the chamber, a posture that underscored significant divisions within the party that could undermine President Biden’s economic agenda. The demand on Friday threatened to leave the House in a new political deadlock, roughly two weeks before lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol to begin debate. Liberal Democrats have demanded the opposite timeline, leaving Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a tough bind given that Democrats have a narrow majority and few votes to spare…. Earlier this spring, the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus issued the first ultimatum, telling Democratic leadership that its bloc would not vote to advance an infrastructure bill without first adopting the budget. The caucus has said the $1.2 trillion package falls far short of the spending they see as necessary to tackle issues including climate change, so they have insisted the House and Senate must begin its work by acting on the budget…. The letter, first reported by Punchbowl News, was signed by Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Tex.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Filemon Vela (D-Tex.).” See also, House Moderates Say They Won’t Back Budget Vote Until Infrastructure Bill Passes. The letter from nine Democrats, enough to block passage, threatens their party’s two-track plan to pass both a $3.5 trillion social policy budget blueprint and an infrastructure bill. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, Friday, 13 August 2021: “Nine moderate House Democrats told Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that they will not vote for a budget resolution meant to pave the way for the passage of a $3.5 trillion social policy package later this year until a Senate-approved infrastructure bill passes the House and is signed into law. The pledge, in a letter released early Friday, is a major rift that threatens the carefully choreographed, two-track effort by congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to enact both a trillion-dollar, bipartisan infrastructure deal and an even more ambitious — but partisan — social policy measure. The nine House members are more than enough to block consideration of the budget blueprint in a House where Democrats hold a three-seat majority.” See also, House Democratic moderates threaten Pelosi’s strategy and demand immediate vote on infrastructure bill, CNN Politics, Manu Raju and Daniella Diaz, Friday, 13 August 2021: “Nine Democratic House moderates are threatening to withhold their support for their party’s must-pass budget resolution until Speaker Nancy Pelosi changes course and instead allows their chamber to first vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan the Senate approved this week. The threat, outlined in a letter provided to CNN, could put Pelosi’s plans in jeopardy to advance the budget resolution later this month since she can only afford to lose three votes from her caucus in the chamber that they narrowly control. ‘We will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law,’ the letter to Pelosi said. Approving the budget resolution is essential to enacting President Joe Biden’s agenda. The resolution, which the Senate also approved this week, must be adopted by the House before both chambers are allowed to advance a sweeping economic package worth $3.5 trillion through a process that can be approved along straight party lines since it cannot be filibustered in the Senate. But Pelosi for weeks has made clear that the consensus within her caucus was to hold up the infrastructure bill until the Senate approves the larger Democratic-only bill, a move aimed at both pressuring moderate Senate Democrats to back the massive package but also ease concerns among House progressives that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure didn’t go far enough.”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy bought up to $305,000 in bonds from United States Postal Service (USPS) board chair’s investment firm. Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom, a managing partner at the firm, has backed DeJoy’s plans to slow mail delivery and raise prices. The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage and Douglas MacMillan, Friday, 13 August 2021: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy purchased up to $305,000 in bonds from an investment firm whose managing partner also chairs the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board, the independent body responsible for evaluating DeJoy’s performance. Between October and April, DeJoy purchased 11 bonds from Brookfield Asset Management each worth between $1,000 and $15,000, or $15,000 and $50,000, according to DeJoy’s financial disclosure paperwork. Ron Bloom, a Brookfield senior executive who manages the firm’s private equity division, has served on the postal board since 2019 and was elected its chairman in February.”

Inside Fox News, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is ‘the future of the party.’ And he’s taking advantage. Emails show De Santis is in high demand on the network–and gets his way. Tampa Bay Times, Steve Contorno, Friday, 13 August 2021: “The details of … staged news event[s] were captured in four months of emails between Fox and DeSantis’ office, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through a records request. The correspondences, which totaled 1,250 pages, lay bare how DeSantis has wielded the country’s largest conservative megaphone and show a striking effort by Fox to inflate the Republican’s profile. From the week of the 2020 election through February, the network asked DeSantis to appear on its airwaves 113 times, or nearly once a day. Sometimes, the requests came in bunches — four, five, even six emails in a matter of hours from producers who punctuated their overtures with flattery. (‘The governor spoke wonderfully at CPAC,’ one producer wrote in March.)… By turning to DeSantis to fill the many hours of airtime once devoted to former President Donald Trump, Fox has made Florida’s hard-charging leader one of the country’s most recognizable Republicans. That has given DeSantis a leg up on others who may seek the party’s nomination for president in 2024. A recent nationwide poll of Republican voters put DeSantis atop the field if Trump doesn’t run again. No other prospective candidate was close.”

 

Sunday, 15 August 2021:

 

U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan: 20-Year U.S. War Ending as It Began, With Taliban Ruling Afghanistan. As the Afghan president fled the country and the government crumbled, the U.S. military raced to evacuate diplomats and civilians from an increasingly panicked city. The New York Times, Sunday, 15 August 2021:

  • Kabul falls to the Taliban as the Afghan government collapses and the president flees.

  • Fear and confusion take hold in Kabul as the Taliban move in and the government crumbles.

  • Evacuation from Kabul falters as chaos at airport reigns.

  • In Washington, recriminations move as quickly as the Taliban.

  • Afghan Americans, angry over Taliban victory, protest in Washington.

  • The U.S. is not moving Afghan allies out fast enough to avoid reprisals, critics say.

Afghan government collapses as Taliban sweeps in and U.S. sends more troops to aid chaotic withdrawal, The Washington Post, Susannah George, Claire Parker, John Hudson, Karen DeYoung, Dan Lamothe, and Bryan Pietsch, Sunday, 15 August 2021: “Taliban fighters took control of Kabul on Sunday, delivering the militant Islamist group the prize it has long sought: authority over all of Afghanistan as the Western-backed government collapsed, President Ashraf Ghani fled, and the long-dominant American presence appeared to be coming to an abrupt and chaotic end after nearly 20 years. The takeover of the sprawling capital city had been years in the making, but was ultimately accomplished in a single day. Insurgent fighters, fresh off their conquests in each of Afghanistan’s provincial hubs over the previous week, faced little to no resistance as they entered the city through its major traffic arteries Sunday morning. By evening, the Taliban was giving television interviews in the lavish presidential palace, just hours after Ghani had departed Afghanistan. A desperate exodus was underway at the airport, with thousands of people clamoring to board flights. And the Pentagon was speeding in additional troops to assist with the withdrawal of U.S. personnel after the American flag was lowered from a now-abandoned embassy. The footage of rifle-toting Taliban fighters occupying the presidential palace and rolling up the Afghan national flag stood as a defining image of a failed U.S. effort to transform Afghan society at the cost of a trillion dollars and thousands of lives lost.” See also, Afghanistan Falls to the Taliban Again as the U.S.-Backed Government Collapses, NPR, Scott Neuman, Sunday, 15 August 2021: “Twenty years after being removed from power in a U.S.-led invasion, Taliban militiamen swept to into Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Sunday, facing little resistance from Afghan government forces. Within hours, Afghanistan’s Washington-backed president had left the country and the flag at the U.S. Embassy had been lowered amid a hasty evacuation of diplomatic personnel. Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president, said on Facebook that his was ‘a hard choice,’ but that he decided to leave to prevent bloodshed. He signed off his post with ‘Long Live Afghanistan.’ The Taliban released a statement saying they had entered the capital of 6 million people and were working to restore law and order.” See also, A timeline of the US withdrawal and Taliban recapture of Afghanistan, USA Today, Matthew Brown, Sunday, 15 August 2021: “Nearly two decades after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, the nation’s capital fell back under Taliban control. And just weeks ahead of the planned pullout of American troops, the American flag at the U.S. embassy in Kabul had been taken down and most embassy staff had been relocated to the city’s airport. The chaotic reports emerging from Kabul cap more than two decades of American efforts in the country to root out terrorism and transform the nation into a functioning democratic state. Thousands of American lives and nearly $830 billion in official spending, those efforts have resulted in failure.” See also, August 15, 2021, Afghanistan-Taliban news, CNN World, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Brad Lendon, and Joshua Berlinger, Sunday, 15 August 2021:

  • The Taliban have taken control of the presidential palace in Kabul after former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Earlier talks to form a transitional government appear to have been scuppered by Ghani’s departure.
  • The US defense secretary approved 1,000 more US troops into Afghanistan due to the deteriorating security situation, a defense official tells CNN, for a total of 6,000 US troops that will be in the country soon.
  • Earlier today, the US completed the evacuation of its embassy in Afghanistan and took down the American flag at the diplomatic compound.

Biden Administration Prompts Largest Permanent Increase in Food Stamps. The jump in benefits, the biggest in the program’s history, comes after a revision of the initiative’s nutrition standards that supporters say will reduce hunger and better reflect how Americans eat. The New York Times, Jason DeParle, Sunday, 15 August 2021: “The Biden administration has revised the nutrition standards of the food stamp program and prompted the largest permanent increase to benefits in the program’s history, a move that will give poor people more power to fill their grocery carts but add billions of dollars to the cost of a program that feeds one in eight Americans. Under rules to be announced on Monday and put in place in October, average benefits will rise more than 25 percent from prepandemic levels. All 42 million people in the program will receive additional aid. The move does not require congressional approval, and unlike the large pandemic-era expansions, which are starting to expire, the changes are intended to last. For at least a decade, critics of the benefits have said they were too low to provide an adequate diet. More than three-quarters of households exhaust their benefits in the first half of the monthly cycle, and researchers have linked subsequent food shortages to problems as diverse as increased hospital admissionsmore school suspensions and lower SAT scores. Under the new rules, average monthly benefits, $121 per person before the pandemic, will rise by $36. Although the increase may seem modest to middle-class families, proponents say it will reduce hunger, improve nutrition and lead to better health.” See also, Biden administration approves largest increase to food assistance benefits in SNAP program history. Benefits will rise by 25 percent on average, an infusion of cash that advocates say better reflects the modern cost of a basic diet. The Washington Post, Laura Reiley, Sunday, 15 August 2021: “The Biden administration has approved the largest increase to food assistance benefits in the history of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a move that will substantially retool the program to provide the targeted assistance advocates have long argued is desperately needed by poor families. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to announce Monday morning that benefit amounts for the program, formerly known as food stamps, will rise an average of 25 percent above pre-pandemic levels. First reported by the New York Times and confirmed by a spokeswoman at the Agriculture Department, average monthly benefits, which were $121 per person before the pandemic, will rise by $36 under the new rules. The increase is based on an update to the algorithm that governs the Thrifty Food Plan, which tracks the cost of 58 different categories of groceries needed to provide a budget-conscious diet for a family of four. ‘Plain and simple, this is totally a game-changing moment,’ said Jamie Bussel a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy focused on health. ‘The changes have enormous potential to reduce, and potentially eliminate, child hunger and poverty in this country. This will reflect much more accurately what food actually costs in communities.'”

 

Monday, 16 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Biden Defends Decision to Pull Out of Afghanistan. Conceding the fall of Kabul had been ‘hard and messy,’ Biden blamed the chaos on the failure of the Afghans to fight. ‘It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not,’ he said. The New York Times, Monday, 16 August 2021:

  • Biden stands behind Afghan withdrawal, despite ‘hard and messy’ final days.

  • Flights resume at Kabul’s airport after security breach.

  • The reaction from lawmakers over Afghanistan is bipartisan: anger.

  • The rushed evacuation in Kabul highlights a disconnect between diplomats and the reality on the ground.

  • Blinken says the Taliban moved faster than expected and defends the removal of U.S. troops.

  • Afghan Americans, angry over Taliban victory, protest in Washington.

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Fear Spreads in Kabul as Taliban Take Charge. The day after the Afghan president fled and the Taliban installed themselves in the presidential palace, uncertainty reigned. Kabul’s airport was reopened for evacuation flights. The New York Times, Monday, 16 August 2021:

  • With the Taliban in control, uncertainty and fear grip Afghanistan.

  • Afghans storm Kabul’s airport in a desperate bid to escape.

  • Flights resumed at Kabul’s airport after chaos earlier on Monday.

  • Biden stands by his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, despite ‘hard and messy’ final days.

  • Nations expect an outpouring of refugees as the Afghan crisis escalates.

  • The U.N. chief urges the Security Council to ‘use all tools’ to help Afghanistan.

  • European leaders hope to deflect an expected wave of Afghan migrants.

Biden defends decision to withdraw from Afghanistan after Taliban’s rapid return to power, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Katerina Ang, Erin Cunningham, Missy Ryan, Claire Parker, and Dan Lamothe, Monday, 16 August 2021: “President Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in remarks at the White House on Monday afternoon, blaming the Taliban’s takeover on the unwillingness of the Afghan army to fight the militant group and arguing that remaining in the country was not in the U.S. national interest. ‘American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,’ Biden said. Afghans faced scenes of chaos and an uncertain future Monday as their nation grappled with the stunning collapse of its Western-backed government and Taliban fighters again swept to power over the weekend. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin authorized the deployment of a third Army infantry battalion to Kabul airport, where thousands of Afghans have flocked in hope of fleeing the Taliban. The White House said late Monday that Biden had authorized up to $500 million in aid to support the needs of refugees and others ‘at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan.’ Military flights have been resumed at the airport, which U.S. forces have secured, after a pause Monday. Some significant developments:

  • Chaotic scenes at the airport contrasted with many parts of downtown Kabul, where Monday passed largely peacefully.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a potential influx of Afghan migrants into Europe, adding that European Union leaders are in contact to launch an initiative against irregular migration. He also added that France would welcome Afghans who had worked with its forces, as well as human rights activists.
  • President Biden defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in a speech at the White House on Monday afternoon, though he acknowledged that the Afghan government’s collapse took place more quickly than expected.
  • U.S. troops at Kabul’s international airport came under fire at least twice, and one American service member may have been wounded, the Pentagon said. By Tuesday morning, there could be up to 3,500 U.S. troops on the ground.

Biden blames others for swift collapse in Afghanistan and defends his decision to withdraw troops, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Monday, 16 August 2021: “President Biden on Monday acknowledged the ‘gut-wrenching’ spectacle of chaos and desperation in Afghanistan as Americans leave after 20 years, but said he is resolute in his decision to close down a war effort that had long ago lost its way. Biden largely blamed others for the departure debacle and said the stunning collapse of U.S.-backed Afghan leadership amid a Taliban blitz confirmed that he was right to order the United States out of the country, the focus of anti-terror and democratizing efforts since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He admitted that his administration was surprised by swift-moving events that have put the militia group in control, led to the shuttering of the U.S. Embassy and drove thousands to seek refuge by fleeing to the Kabul airport. Biden said he has no regrets. ‘I stand squarely behind my decision,’ he said during a hastily arranged speech from the White House, as more U.S. troops were ordered to Kabul to try to keep order amid scenes of despair and mayhem in the capital.” See also, Biden: ‘I Do Not Regret my Decision’ to Withdraw From Afghanistan, NPR, Monday, 16 August 2021: “President Biden on Monday defended his decision to withdraw the U.S. military from Afghanistan despite the swift Taliban takeover of the country and chaotic scenes unfolding in its capital of Kabul as people crowd the airport in an effort to flee. ‘I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me,’ he said. ‘I am deeply saddened by the facts we now face, but I do not regret my decision.’ Speaking about the Taliban’s sudden ousting of the U.S.-backed government, Biden acknowledged, ‘The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we anticipated,’ but he added he would not pass the war on to a fifth U.S. president or say that ‘a little more time’ in Afghanistan ‘will make all the difference.'”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seeks to advance bipartisan infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion budget plan at the same time, CBS News, Melissa Quinn, Monday, 16 August 2021: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she is looking to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broader $3.5 trillion budget framework simultaneously, an effort to keep House Democrats united as the chamber prepares to take up the plans. Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Sunday that she asked the House Rules Committee to ‘explore the possibility’ of a rule, which governs floor debate, that moves forward the budget resolution and bipartisan infrastructure bill. Both measures passed the Senate last week. ‘This will put us on a path to advance the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill,’ the California Democrat said.”

 

Tuesday, 17 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Reassurances From Taliban, but Fearful Afghans Look for the Exits. A surge of U.S. troops restored order at the Kabul airport a day after Afghans mobbed the runway in a frantic attempt to flee. Democrats in Congress pledged to investigate the chaotic U.S. withdrawal. The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 August 2021:

  • A race to aid Afghan allies, even as the Taliban seek to reassure the world.

  • Evacuation flights resume from Kabul’s airport as U.S. troop levels surge to 4,000.

  • Lawmakers urge Biden to postpone full troop withdrawal until Afghan allies are evacuated.

  • U.S. intelligence reports warned of a speedy collapse in Afghanistan.

  • Democratic senators pledge to investigate Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal.

  • Taliban spokesman, in first news conference in Kabul, pledges no reprisals.

  • U.S. moves to cut off the Taliban from Afghan central bank assets.

Taliban strikes conciliatory tone and consolidates power as de facto leader returns to the country, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Katerina Ang, Erin Cunningham, and Claire Parker, Tuesday, 17 August 2021: “At a wide-ranging news conference in Kabul on Tuesday, Taliban leaders in Afghanistan offered conciliatory messages, met with skepticism by experts, promising not to discriminate against women or seek to control the media, and suggesting that those who worked with the previous government and allied forces would be ‘pardoned.’ Taliban co-founder and de facto leader Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in the country Tuesday for the first time in more than a decade, returning to the group’s birthplace in the southern city of Kandahar just days after his fighters swept to power across the country. The United States and other countries have resumed military evacuation efforts for Afghan allies and other civilians. The Air Force said Tuesday that it is launching an investigation into the deaths of Afghan civilians related to a U.S. C-17 flight that departed Kabul, including reports of people falling from the airborne plane and human remains found later in a wheel well. Some significant developments:

  • The United States evacuated some 1,100 U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their families on Tuesday. Biden administration officials told Senate staffers that about 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan, according to two Senate aides.
  • The Taliban has sought to signal it has become more tolerant of women’s rights. Some Afghan women and their allies fear otherwise.
  • A group of Washington Post employees and their families safely departed Kabul for Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James Says the National Rifle Association (NRA) Must Be Dissolved After Failing to Clean Up Misconduct, Bloomberg, Neil Weinberg and David Voreacos, Tuesday, 17 August 2021: “The National Rifle Association hasn’t cleaned up rampant financial and managerial misconduct as it claimed over the past year, illustrating the need for the gun-rights group to be dissolved, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a court filing. A failed bid for bankruptcy protection earlier this year exposed the hollowness of the organization’s claim to have corrected the mismanagement, which included lavish spending by its longtime leader Wayne LaPierre and other serious lapses, James said in an amended lawsuit in New York state court. The attorney general said even the bankruptcy judge had cited the ‘shocking’ level of authority LaPierre exercised over the group. James, who sued to dissolve the New York-chartered nonprofit a year ago, said in her new complaint Monday that the NRA’s ‘evasion of accountability’ has ‘continued unabated.’ She said the organization’s leaders intentionally disregarded proper corporate governance, wasted charitable assets, falsely reported improper transactions, and allowed insiders to take advantage of the NRA.”

 

Wednesday, 18 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Biden Says U.S. Forces Will Stay in Kabul to Get All Americans Out. In an interview with ABC News, the president said he is open to extending the August 31 deadline for a total withdrawal from Afghanistan. The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 August 2021:

  • Biden says U.S. troops may stay longer if needed for evacuations.

  • An American couple filmed their desperate bid to escape Kabul.

  • Ashraf Ghani says he fled Afghanistan to avoid being lynched.

  • The Taliban intensify a search for people who worked with U.S. and British forces, a U.N. document says.

  • The Taliban respond with force to an outpouring of public anger.

  • An old bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment girds for a new fight.

  • Tough talk from European politicians fearful of a migrant wave from Afghanistan.

  • The Taliban say women will have rights. Early signs are mixed.

  • Intelligence officials did not predict the imminence of the Afghan government’s collapse, officials said.

U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until all American citizens are evacuated, Biden tells ABC News, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Erin Cunningham, Jennifer Hassan, and Claire Parker, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “President Biden said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Wednesday that U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31 if necessary to evacuate any remaining Americans who wish to leave the country. ‘If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,’ Biden said. The United States and other countries operated evacuation flights from Afghanistan into Wednesday, though not all those seeking to leave the country were able to reach Kabul’s international airport. The Taliban erected checkpoints throughout the capital and near the airport’s entrance, beating some Afghans who attempted to cross and intimidating others, according to reports and an eyewitness account. In one case, a former interpreter for the Australian army was shot by a Taliban fighter as many Afghans crowded at the airport gates. Days after fleeing Afghanistan, former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani surfaced in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, the Persian Gulf nation’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. He denied accusations that he fled the country with huge sums of cash. Some significant developments:

  • Thousands of U.S. troops have been flown into Kabul to protect evacuation efforts. Washington has moved some 5,000 people out so far, with an additional 2,000 Afghans relocated to the United States as special immigrants. About 11,000 people in Afghanistan have identified themselves as Americans, while more than 80,000 Afghans may need to be evacuated.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kabul released a statement warning that the U.S. government ‘cannot ensure safe passage’ to the airport in Kabul. The United States is in talks with the Taliban about securing pathways to the airport, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said.
  • Several people were killed and more than a dozen wounded in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday when Taliban gunmen fired on protesters attempting to raise Afghanistan’s national flag.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: The Biden administration will use a federal civil rights office to deter states from banning masks in classrooms, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Erica L. Green, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “President Biden, escalating his fight with Republican governors who are blocking local school districts from requiring masks to protect against the coronavirus, said Wednesday that his Education Department would use its broad powers — including taking possible legal action — to deter states from barring universal masking in classrooms. Mr. Biden said he had directed Miguel Cardona, his education secretary, ‘to take additional steps to protect our children,’ including against governors who he said are ‘setting a dangerous tone’ in issuing executive orders banning mask mandates and threatening to penalize school officials who defy them.” See also, Texas school district makes masks part of dress code to get around Governor Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates, NBC News, Phil Helsel, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “A small Texas school district has made facial coverings part of its dress code, in a bid to get around Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates. The board of the Paris Independent School District, which has about 4,000 students, said in a statement Tuesday that the governor’s order does not usurp its ability to manage schools. ‘The Board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues, and therefore has amended the PISD dress code to protect our students and employees,’ the district said. The measure — which read ‘For health reasons, masks are required for all employees and students to mitigate flu, cold, pandemic, and any other communicable diseases’ — will be revisited at every monthly trustee meeting and could be changed later, The Paris News newspaper reported. The vote was 5-1 to alter the dress code in the district, which will welcome back students on Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last month that all students in kindergarten through 12th grade wear masks when they return to classrooms, even those who have already been vaccinated.”

Biden says US will require nursing homes to get staff vaccinated or lose federal funds, CNN Politics, Jeremy Diamond and Tami Luhby, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he is directing all nursing homes to require their staff be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. Biden said he is directing the Department of Health and Human Services to draw up new regulations making employee vaccination a condition for nursing homes to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The decision on nursing home staff represents a significant escalation in Biden’s campaign to get Americans vaccinated and the tools he is willing to use, marking the first time he has threatened to withhold federal funds in order to get people vaccinated. ‘Now, if you visit, live or work at a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk of contracting Covid from unvaccinated employees. While I’m mindful that my authority at the federal government is limited, I’m going to continue to look for ways to keep people safe and increase vaccination rates,’ the President said during a speech at the White House.”

U.S. announces plan to offer boosters to all Americans starting in late September. The additional doses will be available to people eight months after they received their second dose. NBC News, Erika Edwards, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “Top U.S. health officials announced Wednesday that the country plans to start offering Covid-19 booster shots to all Americans beginning the third week of September, citing evidence that protection against infection is waning, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread. ‘Having reviewed the most current data, it is our clinical judgment that the time to lay out a plan for Covid-19 boosters is now,’ U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Wednesday during a briefing of the White House Covid-19 task force. Such data, unveiled Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stops short of proving that a third dose would be any more effective in preventing severe outcomes than the current two-dose series. But officials said the plan, backed by heads of the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, is designed more as an offensive move against Covid-19 in advance of winter.” See also, Vaccine effectiveness Against Infection May Wane, C.D.C. Studies Find. Federal health officials said the new data justify a campaign of booster shots. But some scientists disagree, saying not every American needs another dose. The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released three studies on Wednesday that federal officials said provided evidence that booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines would be needed in the coming months. But some experts said the new research did not back up the decision to recommend booster shots for all Americans. Taken together, the studies show that although the vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalizations and deaths, the bulwark they provide against infection with the virus has weakened in the past few months. The finding accords with early data from seven states, gathered this week by The New York Times, suggesting a rise in breakthrough infections and a smaller increase in hospitalizations among the vaccinated as the Delta variant spread in July. The decline in effectiveness against infection may result from waning vaccine immunity, a lapse in precautions like wearing masks or the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant, experts said — or a combination of all three.”

Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) Bans Pesticide Tied to Neurological Harm in Children. The agency will reverse a Trump-era decision to keep chlorpyrifos, one of the most common pesticides, in use. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it is banning a common pesticide, widely used since 1965 on fruits and vegetables, from use on food crops because it has been linked to neurological damage in children. The Environmental Protection Agency said this week it would publish a regulation to block the use of chlorpyrifos on food. One of the most widely used pesticides, chlorpyrifos is commonly applied to corn, soybeans, apples, broccoli, asparagus and other produce. The new rule, which will take effect in six months, follows an order in April by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that directed the E.P.A. to halt the agricultural use of the chemical unless it could demonstrate its safety. Labor and environmental advocacy groups estimate that the decision will eliminate more than 90 percent of chlorpyrifos use in the country. In an unusual move, the new chlorpyrifos policy will not be put in place via the standard regulatory process, under which the E.P.A. first publishes a draft rule, then takes public comment before publishing a final rule. Rather, in compliance with the court order, which noted that the science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage is over a decade old, the rule will be published in final form, without a draft or public comment period. The announcement is the latest in a series of moves by the Biden administration to re-create, strengthen or reinstate more than 100 environmental regulations.”

Federal Court Blocks a Vast Alaskan Drilling Project, Citing Climate Dangers. The multibillion-dollar ConocoPhillips plan, known as Willow, was approved under the Trump administration and then legally supported by the Biden administration. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday blocked construction permits for an expansive oil drilling project on the state’s North Slope that was designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years…. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the federal government had failed to take into account the effects that drilling would have on wildlife and that the burning of the oil would have on global warming. A federal judge has agreed.”

Georgia’s Republican-controlled State Election Board took a step Wednesday toward a possible takeover of elections in Fulton County, the latest example of Republican efforts to exert control over the administration of elections at the most local of levels, NBC News, Jane C. Timm and Teaganne Finn, Wednesday, 18 August 2021: “Republicans across the country have argued they need to restore faith in the election process after former President Donald Trump tried to overturn his defeat by insisting without evidence that the race was stolen through rampant fraud. But voting rights advocates fear the measures being taken are being pushed to correct nonexistent fraud and will instead undermine the process by giving partisan legislators undue influence and control. In Georgia, the board took aim at Fulton County, which delivered key wins for the Democratic party during the 2020 election cycle and has long been a target of Republican lawmakers. An independent monitor found no evidence of fraud or impropriety, but Republican lawmakers in the state nonetheless requested another review of the county’s election processes last month.”

 

Thursday, 19 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Protests Spread to Kabul as Taliban Struggle to Govern, The New York Times, Thursday, 19 August 2021:

  • As demonstrations spread, the Taliban face growing challenges in running the nation.

  • Video from outside Kabul’s airport shows a harrowing ordeal for people trying to escape.

  • A 17-year-old Afghan soccer player died falling from a U.S. evacuation plane.

  • An Afghan interpreter for U.S. troops got out just before Kabul fell. What now?

  • Afghan forces once backed by the U.S. are in hiding and hunted by the Taliban.

  • Here is how news organizations rescued their Afghan colleagues.

  • What is Shariah law, and what does it mean for Afghan women?

  • A diplomatic dilemma: Should nations recognize the Taliban as legitimate rulers?

Afghans defy Taliban rule with protests; State Department ramps up evacuation processing, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Rachel Pannett, and Claire Parker, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “Afghans waving the national flag staged protests in Kabul and other cities Thursday, challenging Taliban fighters in scattered demonstrations marking the anniversary of independence from British rule. In the capital, men and women carried the black, red and green flag of the Afghan Republic, chanting, ‘Our flag, our identity,’ according to videos posted online. In Asadabad in Konar province, several people were killed after the Taliban fired on a similar rally, Reuters reported, quoting a witness. The protests raised the specter of wider popular opposition to the group, which swept to power across Afghanistan in a stunning offensive this month and is pushing now to consolidate power and assume the reins of government. Meanwhile, the State Department said it is surging consular officers to Kabul to help with evacuation efforts.

  • Afghanistan’s economy faces calamity in the aftermath of the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, with the United States freezing the country’s financial reserves, residents unable to withdraw their money from bank accounts and billions of dollars of international aid put on hold.
  • A senior Taliban commander has said that Afghanistan will probably be governed by sharia law now that the group is back in power.
  • Since Saturday, 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan on flights operated by the U.S. military.
  • The United Nations’ food agency says millions in Afghanistan face severe hunger amid an extreme drought; many fearful residents are staying home from work; and numerous aid agencies have suspended activities because of the security situation.

Rain falls on peak of Greenland ice cap for first time on record. Precipitation was so unexpected, scientists had no gauges to measure it. The Guardian, Damian Carrington, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “Rain has fallen on the summit of Greenland’s huge ice cap for the first time on record. Temperatures are normally well below freezing on the 3,216-metre (10,551ft) peak, and the precipitation is a stark sign of the climate crisis. Scientists at the US National Science Foundation’s summit station saw rain falling throughout 14 August but had no gauges to measure the fall because the precipitation was so unexpected. Across Greenland, an estimated 7bn tonnes of water was released from the clouds. The rain fell during an exceptionally hot three days in Greenland when temperatures were 18C higher than average in places. As a result, melting was seen in most of Greenland, across an area about four times the size of the UK. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded it was ‘unequivocal’ that carbon emissions from human activities were heating the planet and causing impacts such as melting ice and rising sea level. In May, researchers reported that a significant part of the Greenland ice sheet was nearing a tipping point, after which accelerated melting would become inevitable even if global heating was halted.” See also, Rain falls at the summit of Greenland Ice Sheet for the first time on record. It occurred as Greenland experienced a major melting event again. The Washington Post, Kasha Patel, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “Greenland just experienced another massive melt event this year. But this time, something unusual happened. It also rained at the summit of the ice sheet, nearly two miles above sea level. Around 6 a.m. Saturday, staff at the National Science Foundation’s Summit Station woke up to raindrops and water beads condensed on the station’s windows. Rain occasionally falls on the ice sheet, but no staff member recalls rain — even a light drizzle — ever occurring at the summit before…. The rain coincided with warmer temperatures that caused extensive melting across the ice sheet. Some areas were more than 18 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature. At the summit, temperatures peaked at 33 degrees Fahrenheit — within a degree above freezing.” See also, It Rained at the summit of Greenland. That’s Never Happened Before. The rain is another troubling sign of a changing Arctic, which is warming faster than any other region on Earth. The New York Times, Henry Fountain, published on Friday, 20 August 2021: “Something extraordinary happened last Saturday at the frigid high point of the Greenland ice sheet, two miles in the sky and more than 500 miles above the Arctic Circle: It rained for the first time. The rain at a research station — not just a few drops or a drizzle but a stream for several hours, as temperatures rose slightly above freezing — is yet another troubling sign of a changing Arctic, which is warming faster than any other region on the planet.”

North Carolina man surrenders after Capitol Hill bomb threat that forced evacuation of surrounding area, CNBC, Dan Mangan and Kevin Breuninger, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “A North Carolina man surrendered Thursday afternoon to police, hours after telling them he had a bomb in his truck parked outside the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill. That threat by the suspect, Floyd Ray Roseberry, led to the evacuation of the library, the Supreme Court, the Cannon House Office Building and the offices of the Republican National Committee. It also sparked a massive police response to an area that seven months earlier saw the Capitol complex violently invaded by supporters of then-President Donald Trump…. Roseberry, who most recently lived in Grover, North Carolina, posted several videos on Facebook from his truck in the hours before he surrendered, directly addressed remarks to President Joe Biden, whose resignation he demanded. He also called for U.S. airstrikes on the Taliban in Afghanistan.” See also, After Capitol Hill bomb threat, Republican Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama is sympathetic to ‘anger directed at dictatorial Socialism,’ CNBC, Kevin Breuniger, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama on Thursday responded to a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of numerous buildings on Capitol Hill by saying he understands ‘citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism.’ The statement quickly drew heated criticism of Brooks, who voted to overturn the election of President Joe Biden and is facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who accuses him of helping to incite the deadly Capitol invasion on Jan. 6.”

Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado failed to disclose that her husband had made nearly $1 million in recent years as an energy consultant. Boebert pushed to loosen oil and gas drilling rules. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “When Lauren Boebert, the gun-toting Republican firebrand, was running for Congress last year, she traced her income to Shooters Grill, a restaurant she and her husband own in Rifle, Colo. She suggested her husband also did some consulting, listing ‘Boebert Consulting — spouse’ on her candidate form, but identified his income source as ‘N/A.’ Only now, with Boebert not just in Congress but on the House Natural Resources Committee, has she revealed that her husband made $478,000 last year working as a consultant for an energy firm. He made $460,000 the year before, she disclosed in a filing Tuesday with the House of Representatives. Her husband, Jayson Boebert, earned that income as a consultant for Terra Energy Productions, according to the filing. Boebert has been a staunch advocate for the energy industry during her first six months in office, introducing a bill in February seeking to bar the president from issuing moratoriums on oil and gas leasing and permitting on some federal land. Federal law requires members of Congress, as well as candidates, to file financial disclosure statements that include the income and assets of spouses and dependent children. Boebert’s failure to report her husband’s income from energy consulting plainly violates that requirement, said Kedric Payne, senior director of ethics for the Campaign Legal Center and a former deputy chief counsel in the Office of Congressional Ethics.”

Texas drops enforcement of Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, The New York Times, Ron DePasquale and Lauren Hard, Thursday, 19 August 2021: “The Texas Education Agency said it would temporarily stop enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates and the State Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing school districts to require face-coverings. Both decisions are temporary. The agency said in new guidance on Thursday that it would immediately stop enforcing the ban on mask mandates until litigations were resolved. In a reversal, the agency’s new guidance requires schools to notify their local health department if a student tests positive. The school must also notify students in the same classroom as well as those who share extracurricular activities.”

 

Friday, 20 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Amid Desperation at Kabul Airport, Evacuation Picks Up Pace. President Biden vowed not to leave Americans or their Afghan allies behind, but scenes of chaos and violence, seen around the world, sowed doubts. The New York Times, Friday, 20 August 2021:

  • Fear and confusion reign in Kabul despite American assurances.

  • A baby passed over a wall in Kabul is reunited with his family, the military says.

  • Khalil Haqqani, long on America’s terrorist list, is welcomed by cheering crowds in Kabul.

  • The U.S. military rescues Americans from a hotel in Kabul.

  • Videos show continued chaos at U.S. gate at Kabul airport.

  • Risking retaliation, an Afghan woman uses the national flag to protest the Taliban.

  • With a base in Qatar overwhelmed, U.S. flights are shifting to other countries.

  • On the ground: Kabul on edge.

  • NATO urges the Taliban to allow safe passage to the Kabul airport.
  • Some former Trump allies say his Taliban deal laid the groundwork for chaos.
  • In pictures: Global protests call for protection of Afghans.
  • How the Taliban are using social media to secure power.
  • Taliban threats to Afghan journalists are growing.

‘We will get you home,’ Biden promises Americans, amid effort to speed Afghanistan evacuations, The Washington Post, Katerina Ang, Jennifer Hassan, Erin Cunningham, Andrew Jeong, Sammy Westfall, Meryl Kornfield, and Dan Lamothe, Friday, 20 August 2021: “The United States has begun using additional bases for Afghanistan evacuations, U.S. Central Command confirmed Friday, after an air base in Qatar reached capacity, temporarily halting evacuation flights. Air Force officials said in a tweet on Friday that preparations also were underway to receive evacuees at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in coming days, and defense officials also are expecting to receive evacuees at bases in Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas. The Biden administration is under pressure to push its Afghanistan evacuation efforts beyond the Kabul airport after European forces crossed Taliban lines and entered the city to rescue civilians. Access to the airport has been heavily restricted by Taliban fighters who have beaten people trying to flee the country. President Biden said Friday that the United States has evacuated about 13,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14. ‘We will get you home. Make no mistake, this evacuation mission is dangerous and involves risks to our armed forces. And it’s being conducted under difficult circumstances. I cannot promise what the final outcome will be,’ the president said in remarks at the White House.

  • Daily mayhem at the airport continued into Friday as thousands of people attempting to board flights faced beatings by Taliban guards, the crush of heaving crowds, and endless dust and heat.
  • The Taliban is stepping up its hunt for Afghans who once worked for U.S. or NATO forces, warned a confidential threat assessment drafted for the United Nations. The report comes as German broadcaster Deutsche Welle says a relative of one of its journalists was shot dead.
  • As the Taliban swept into power across Afghanistan, it captured many millions, perhaps billions, of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment that had once belonged to Afghan forces.
  • After scenes of chaos and violence in Kabul, discussions at an emergency meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday turned to a sobering round of soul-searching, according to diplomats involved in the talks.
  • Biden assured key allies in June that the U.S. security presence would be maintained in Afghanistan as NATO troops withdrew, prompting Britain to believe it could maintain its Kabul embassy, according to a British diplomatic memo seen by Bloomberg.

Nearly 20 years of war, 10 days to fall: Afghanistan, by the numbers. The United States has spent an estimated $2,261,000,000,000, or more than $2 trillion, on the war effort. The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Friday, 20 August 2021: “President Biden struck a defiant tone as he defended the withdrawal of American troops after the Taliban’s lightning fast takeover of Afghanistan. ‘I stand squarely behind my decision,’ the president told the nation in a televised address from the White House on Monday. Still, Biden acknowledged the ‘gut-wrenching’ images emerging from the country where the United States has fought its longest foreign war. ‘After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces,’ he said. Here is a close look at the cost in lives, dollars and resources spent in Afghanistan over the last two decades.”

 

Saturday, 21 August 2021:

 

Afghanistan: U.S. May Seek to Compel Airlines’ Help in Evacuation Effort. The Pentagon is considering an order that would compel civilian airlines to airlift Afghan evacuees arriving at bases in the Middle East. The New York Times, Saturday, 21 August 2021:

  • U.S. seeks to compel airlines to provide planes to speed evacuation of Afghans.

  • A Taliban leader has arrived in Kabul, as the group aims to form a new government.

  • The U.S. cites ‘potential security threats’ near Kabul’s airport, including from ISIS.
  • A homeland security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence accused the Trump administration of distorting the truth about Afghan refugees, writing on Twitter that the former president and Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, sought to prevent the refugees from entering the United States. Olivia Troye … said the reductions in the refugee program during the Trump years hollowed out the government’s ability to bring the interpreters and others to the United States. ‘Now we are in this crisis and they are saying Trump would have evacuated them,’ Ms Troye said. ‘But he didn’t in four years. You don’t get to play revisionist history here. There are people who know what the situation is.’

  • Desperation sets in for Afghans after return of Taliban.

  • Evacuating Afghans is becoming a global effort, but not all countries are welcoming them.

  • The U.S. military rescues Americans from a hotel in Kabul near the airport.
  • The Taliban will be under pressure to keep Afghanistan’s fragile economy afloat.

  • The U.N. sounds the alarm about Afghanistan’s broader humanitarian crisis.

  • Khalil Haqqani, long on America’s terrorist list, is welcomed by cheering crowds in Kabul.
  • Was the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan doomed from the start?
  • How the Taliban came to be, and what they aim to achieve.

U.S. evacuations from Afghanistan face new roadblocks as Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar arrives in Kabul, The Washington Post, Jennifer Hassan, Sara Sorcher, Helier Cheung, Ruby Mellen, Haq Nawaz Khan, and Meryl Kornfield, Saturday, 21 August 2021: “Abdul Ghani Baradar, considered the Taliban’s top political leader, arrived in Kabul on Saturday as the Islamist group eyes the formation of a new government. Baradar, who served as a negotiator for peace talks in Doha, Qatar, and is the likely next leader of Afghanistan, is in the capital to consult with ‘his friends’ about ‘what type of government will be in Kabul,’ Taliban official Zabiullah Mujahid told The Washington Post, adding that no decision has yet been made about what form it will take. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a security warning Saturday, urging Americans ‘to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative,’ and the Pentagon hinted at the possibility of expanded evacuation operations beyond the airport perimeter. Officials fear the threat of an Islamic State attack targeting evacuation efforts, the Associated Press reported.

  • President Biden met with his national security team Saturday to discuss evacuation logistics and security threats, including the Islamic State, according to a White House official.
  • Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the toppled government, met the acting Taliban governor of Kabul on Saturday.
  • At the Kabul airport, chaotic and violent scenes continue to unfold as thousands attempt to evacuate the country despite Taliban fighters blocking their path. Read a Post reporter’s account of the treacherous escape.

Miscue After Miscue, U.S. Exit Plan from Afghanistan Unravels, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, David E. Sanger, Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Julian E. Barnes, and Lara Jakes, Saturday, 21 August 2021: “The nation’s top national security officials assembled at the Pentagon early on April 24 for a secret meeting to plan the final withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. It was two weeks after President Biden had announced the exit over the objection of his generals, but now they were carrying out his orders. In a secure room in the building’s ‘extreme basement,’ two floors below ground level, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with top White House and intelligence officials. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken joined by video conference. After four hours, two things were clear. First, Pentagon officials said they could pull out the remaining 3,500 American troops, almost all deployed at Bagram Air Base, by July 4 — two months earlier than the Sept. 11 deadline Mr. Biden had set. The plan would mean closing the airfield that was the American military hub in Afghanistan, but Defense Department officials did not want a dwindling, vulnerable force and the risks of service members dying in a war declared lost. Second, State Department officials said they would keep the American Embassy open, with more than 1,400 remaining Americans protected by 650 Marines and soldiers. An intelligence assessment presented at the meeting estimated that Afghan forces could hold off the Taliban for one to two years. There was brief talk of an emergency evacuation plan — helicopters would ferry Americans to the civilian airport in Kabul, the capital — but no one raised, let alone imagined, what the United States would do if the Taliban gained control of access to that airport, the only safe way in and out of the country once Bagram closed. The plan was a good one, the group concluded. Four months later, the plan is in shambles as Mr. Biden struggles to explain how a withdrawal most Americans supported went so badly wrong in its execution. On Friday, as scenes of continuing chaos and suffering at the airport were broadcast around the world, Mr. Biden went so far as to say that ‘I cannot promise what the final outcome will be, or what it will be that it will be without risk of loss.'”

Supreme Court temporarily blocks reinstatement of Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Maria Sacchetti, Saturday, 21 August 2021: “The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily halted a federal judge’s order to reinstate the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which under the previous administration meant asylum seekers needed to wait outside of the United States for their cases to be decided. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. issued the order late Friday, granting a temporary stay until Tuesday night so the full court can consider the case. A federal judge had ordered on Aug. 13 that the program, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, be reinstated Saturday. Biden administration officials appealed the decision, but a federal appellate court on Thursday refused to grant a delay. Shortly after taking office, President Biden used executive orders to suspend ‘Remain in Mexico’ and other Trump-era immigration policies that he believed to be ‘counterproductive’ to an ‘orderly and humane immigration system. I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,’ Biden said then.”

 

Sunday, 22 August 2021:

 

U.S. Considers Afghanistan Evacuations Beyond August 31. President Biden defended efforts to get Americans and Afghans out of Kabul and said he would guarantee a home in the United States for all evacuated Afghan allies. The New York Times, Sunday, 22 August 2021:

  • Biden says the Afghan evacuation deadline may be extended.

  • The U.S. orders six commercial airlines to help transport Afghan evacuees.

  • The situation grows increasingly dire at Kabul’s airport.

  • Two Republicans clash with the G.O.P. over Afghan refugees.

  • U.N. staff say threat to Afghan workers, especially women, is growing.

  • G7 leaders will meet virtually on Tuesday to discuss Afghanistan.

  • How many Americans are waiting to leave Afghanistan? The U.S. isn’t sure.

Biden says move out of Afghanistan could be extended beyond August 31, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Sammy Westfall, and Paulina Villegas, Sunday, 22 August 2021: “President Biden said Sunday that he is having ‘discussions’ about extending the deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which had been scheduled for Aug. 31. The United States and its partners have evacuated nearly 28,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14, including 11,000 this weekend, Biden said during a Sunday news conference at the White House. He said U.S.-led forces have expanded the perimeter of and ‘increased access’ to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where people await clearance to board flights as they seek to flee an Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban, which took control of the country last weekend. The Taliban has been ‘cooperative in extending the perimeter,’ Biden said. ‘The Taliban has not taken action against U.S. forces’ since it overran the Afghan capital, the president said, adding that a local cell of the Islamic State militant group could ‘seek to exploit’ the chaos. Biden said last month that the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan would end Aug. 31, but he said Sunday that the Taliban’s takeover may force that date to be pushed back. In his news conference, Biden thanked refugee support groups and others who were helping to rescue and acclimate people who had fled Afghanistan in recent days, and he stressed that those leaving the country would be vetted. ‘Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check,’ Biden said, reiterating that planes would not fly directly between Kabul and U.S. airports.

  • Seven Afghan civilians, including a toddler, were killed outside the Kabul airport.
  • Abdul Ghani Baradar, considered the Taliban’s top political leader, arrived in Kabul over the weekend as the Islamist group eyes the formation of a new government.
  • Afghans in airport hangars in Qatar and elsewhere are beginning to ponder their next steps now that they’re out of the country.

 

Monday, 23 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Some Afghan military interpreters and other close U.S. allies, a stated priority group for evacuation from Afghanistan, are being turned away from the Kabul airport by American officials in order to give priority to U.S. citizens and green card holders, a State Department official said on Monday. On Monday night, the State Department denied the accounts of Afghans’ being turned away. The New York Times, Monday, 23 August 2021:

  • U.S. is turning some Afghan allies away from the Kabul airport, an official says.

  • The Pentagon deploys helicopters and special forces in Kabul for evacuations.

  • The violence at Kabul’s airport fuels calls to prolong the U.S. withdrawal.

  • The top U.S. officer in Afghanistan talks with the Taliban almost every day.

  • ‘No home to return to’: Fear, shock and displacement for one Afghan who escaped.

  • The Taliban holds first meeting of religious leaders since taking Kabul.

  • Videos show a rush to destroy U.S. equipment as Kabul fell.

  • Forced to leave his home, former President Hamid Karzai remains in Kabul despite the risks.

  • Kamala Harris stresses Southeast Asia ties on an overseas trip, but the focus returns to Afghanistan.
  • Commercial airlines start evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from bases in the Middle East, fulfilling a commitment to aid the military in emergencies.
  • Covid concerns in Kabul are an afterthought amid evacuation.
  • Afghan refugees find a harshly guarded Turkish border.
  • NATO allies, upset by the withdrawal from Afghanistan, again find themselves following a U.S. lead they dislike.
  • Would the U.S. have been better off making a deal with the Taliban 20 years ago?
  • The Taliban pledge inclusivity as transition talks begin, but doubts persist.

Biden under pressure to stay in Kabul past August 31 deadline, the Taliban’s ‘red line,’ The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Haq Nawaz Khan, Erin Cunningham, and Claire Parker, Monday, 23 August 2021: “As the Taliban holds transition talks, part of efforts to form a new government for Afghanistan, the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to remain in Kabul past its declared Aug. 31 deadline. With tens of thousands of Afghans waiting to evacuate amid ongoing scenes of chaos at the Kabul airport, U.S. allies have begun to voice concerns that the departures will require more time. A Taliban spokesman warned that the United States would be crossing a ‘red line’ if the Biden administration keeps troops on the ground beyond the end of the month. British media reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is widely expected to ask President Biden to extend the deadline at Tuesday’s meeting of the Group of Seven nations. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his government was ‘concerned’ about the deadline. Biden has said the United States may push back its Aug. 31 deadline to facilitate more evacuations, adding that ‘our hope is we will not have to extend.’ The United States and its allies have evacuated about 48,000 people since the militants swept through the country this month on the heels of the U.S. military withdrawal.

  • A firefight erupted Monday involving U.S. and German troops, unidentified gunmen and Afghan guards at Kabul airport, where heaving crowds have clamored to get on flights out of the country since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
  • Americans from both parties overwhelmingly support helping Afghan translators and others who aided the war effort enter the United States, a CBS News-YouGov poll found.
  • The Taliban has sent hundreds of fighters to surround the Panjshir Valley, the last significant outpost in Afghanistan not controlled by the Islamist militant group.
  • Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that a second group of Americans in Kabul was airlifted to Hamid Karzai International Airport and that rescue operations were being employed ‘as needed’ to bring more inside the perimeter.

House committee plans to seek phone records in probe of January 6, including from members of Congress, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, and Whitney Wild, Monday, 23 August 2021: “The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot is poised to send notices to various telecommunications companies requesting that they preserve the phone records of several people, including members of Congress, multiple sources tell CNN. Preserving communications records is the first step in an investigatory process that could eventually lead to witness testimony. The notices are set to go out as soon as this week and provide the first window into the kinds of information the committee plans to pursue.”

The Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine, clearing path for more vaccine mandates, CNBC, Berkeley Lovelace Jr, Monday, 23 August 2021: “The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine – becoming the first in the U.S. to win the coveted designation and giving even more businesses, schools and universities greater confidence to adopt vaccine mandates. Up until now, the mRNA vaccine, which will be marketed as Comirnaty, was on the U.S. market under an emergency use authorization that was granted by the FDA in December. Since then, more than 204 million of the Pfizer shots have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal health officials had been under mounting pressure from the scientific community and advocacy groups to fully approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine ever since the drugmakers submitted their application to the agency in early May. The companies submitted a Biologics License Application, which secures full approval, to the FDA on May 7 for patients age 16 and up. FDA scientists evaluated ‘hundreds of thousands of pages’ of vaccine data from 40,000 trial participants, according to the U.S. agency. The vaccine was found to be 91% effective in preventing Covid – slightly lower than the 95% efficacy rate trial data showed when the shot was authorized late last year and before the delta variant took hold in the U.S.” See also, Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Fully Approves Pfizer-BioNTech’s Vaccine, a First for a Covid-19 Shot. The move was expected to kick off a round of new vaccination mandates from hospitals, schools, and private companies. The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, Monday, 23 August 2021: “The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, a decision that is likely to set off a cascade of vaccine requirements by hospitals, colleges and universities, corporations and other organizations. Within hours, the Pentagon, CVS, the State University of New York system and the New York City school system, among others, announced that they would enforce mandates they had prepared but made contingent on the F.D.A.’s action. The approval came as the nation’s fight against the pandemic has intensified again, with the highly infectious Delta variant biting deeply into the progress that the country had made over the first half of the year. The Biden administration hopes the development will motivate at least some of the roughly 85 million Americans who are eligible for shots but have so far rejected them to change their minds.”

New York City mandates vaccinations for public school teachers and staff, Associated Press, Jennifer Peltz, Monday, 23 August 2021: “All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials said Monday, ramping up pandemic protections as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month. The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first no-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the nation’s most populous city, though Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that coaches and students in football, basketball and other ‘high-risk’ sports would have to get inoculated before play begins. Unions bristled at the new requirement, saying the city needed to negotiate, not dictate. Two big city workers’ groups were planning to file a labor complaint or take legal action. About 148,000 school employees — and contractors who work in schools — will have to get at least a first dose by Sept. 27, according to an announcement from the Democratic mayor and the city health and education departments.”

As Democrats run away from Biden over Afghanistan, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, gets it right, The Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Monday, 23 August 2021: “Let’s keep two ideas in our heads at the same time. The first is that President Biden deserves serious scrutiny over the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and congressional hearings should examine it. The second is that no such accounting will be remotely complete if it doesn’t also examine how the current debacle is the outgrowth of 20 years of catastrophically wrongheaded thinking and decision-making spanning four administrations. Oddly, many Democrats criticizing Biden over the withdrawal seem stuck on the first, and are dancing gingerly around the second. It’s hard to avoid concluding that they are cowed by Republican criticism of Biden and a relentlessly narrow media framing that lends support to the GOP position. Sen. Chris Murphy has avoided this fallacy. The Connecticut Democrat is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has announced hearings into Biden’s ‘flawed’ withdrawal, which may include a look at his predecessor’s negotiations with the Taliban leading up to this point. But in an interview, Murphy said he will call on the committee to broaden out their investigation. ‘We should be doing a full, comprehensive review of how we got to this moment,’ Murphy told me. ‘You cannot tell the story of what happened around the airport in Kabul without reviewing the decisions made over the last 20 years.'”

A judicial panel declared on Monday that tens of thousands of North Carolina residents convicted of felonies but whose current punishments don’t include prison time can register to vote and cast ballots, The Washington Post, Gary D. Robertson | Associated Press, Monday, 23 August 2021: “Several civil rights groups and ex-offenders who sued legislative leaders and state officials in 2019 argue the current 1973 law is unconstitutional by denying the right vote to people who have completed their active sentences or received no such sentence, such as people on probation. They said the rules disproportionately affect Black residents and originated from an era of white supremacy in the 19th century. In a brief hearing following a trial last week challenging the state’s voting restrictions upon felons, Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell said two judges on the three-judge panel have agreed they would issue a formal order soon allowing more felony offenders to register. The judges are acting before issuing a final trial ruling, as voting in October municipal elections begins next month. Roughly 56,000 more people would now be allowed to vote, based on estimates. One lawyer said it represents the largest expansion of North Carolina voting rights since the 1960s.” See also, A North Carolina court panel expands voting rights for parolees and people on probation, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Monday, 23 August 2021: “North Carolina must immediately allow felons who are on parole, probation or supervised release to register to vote, a three-judge panel in a state court said Monday. The 2-1 ruling, in a state Superior Court in Raleigh, restores voting rights to a disproportionately Black group of roughly 56,000 people who are out of prison but are under some sort of supervision. Black North Carolinians make up 21 percent of the state’s population, but 42 percent of those on parole or supervised release. The judges said they would issue a formal ruling explaining their decision later. Both the Republican-controlled State General Assembly and the State Board of Elections, which had defended the law in court, said they would await the court’s written opinion before deciding whether to appeal the decision.”

Report on Arizona ballot review is delayed after Cyber Ninjas chief and colleagues test positive for coronavirus, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Monday, 23 August 2021: “The report detailing the conclusions of a GOP-backed review of ballots cast last year in Arizona has been delayed after the chief executive of the private company conducting the widely pilloried audit and two other members of his team tested positive for the coronavirus. Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) announced the delay Monday, saying that Doug Logan, chief executive of the Florida firm Cyber Ninjas, and two other members of the audit team had been infected and were ‘quite sick.'” See also, A Covid outbreak delays a draft report on Arizona Republicans’ widely criticized election review, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Monday, 23 August 2021: “A draft report on a much-ridiculed review of the 2020 election results in Arizona’s largest county has been delayed by a Covid-19 outbreak on the team preparing the analysis, the Republican president of the Arizona State Senate said on Monday.”

Capitol Police clear officer who shot rioter, saying he may have saved lives, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Monday, 23 August 2021: “The U.S. Capitol Police announced on Monday that they had cleared a lieutenant who fatally shot a rioter inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, after an extensive investigation found that he acted lawfully and potentially saved lawmakers and aides from serious harm or death. The department’s decision to formally close the case followed a determination in April by the Justice Department that charges against the officer were not warranted in the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, on Jan. 6. Ms. Babbitt was among a throng of Trump supporters that began smashing its way through the entrance to the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway just off the House floor, while officers were evacuating lawmakers from the chamber. According to video of the encounter, as people in the mob shattered the lobby’s glass doors, Ms. Babbitt tried to climb through a hole in the glass and a police lieutenant on the other side fired a single shot, hitting her in the left shoulder. After being taken to a hospital, she died.”

 

Tuesday, 24 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Biden Says U.S. Is on Track to Finish Afghan Evacuation by Deadline. The president said the risk of a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport was growing with every day U.S. forces are on the ground. The New York Times, Tuesday, 24 August 2021:

  • Biden says the U.S. is poised to meet the Afghan withdrawal deadline, at least for now.

  • Republican and Democratic lawmakers urge Biden to extend the troop withdrawal deadline.

  • A Taliban spokesman urges women to stay home because fighters haven’t been trained to respect them.

  • Two House members secretly flew to Kabul on an unauthorized oversight mission.

  • G7 leaders didn’t persuade Biden to extend his Afghanistan evacuation timeline.

  • The U.S. military begins winding down its presence at Kabul’s airport.

  • The Taliban block Afghans’ access to Kabul’s airport and reject any delay of the U.S. withdrawal.

  • The C.I.A. director visited Kabul for secret talks with the Taliban.

Military begins reducing presence in Kabul; Biden says U.S. is ‘on pace’ to meet August 31 deadline, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Adam Taylor, Sean Sullivan, and Claire Parker, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The United States has begun to reduce its military presence at the Kabul airport as President Biden seeks to stick to an Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing from Afghanistan. Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that the United States is on track to leave Afghanistan by that date. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday evening that the formal process for withdrawing troops had not been ordered but that hundreds of U.S. troops with ‘enabling functions’ had been ordered to depart. Kirby said their departures would have ‘no impact on the mission at hand.’ The United States has sent thousands of additional troops to Kabul this month to assist with evacuating Americans and Afghan allies. Some U.S. allies have expressed concern about the Aug. 31 deadline, and Biden said he has asked officials to prepare plans ‘to adjust the timetable, should that become necessary.’ He earlier suggested that the United States might extend its stay, though the Taliban has rejected that idea.

  • Fighters holed up in the northern Panjshir Valley, the last part of Afghanistan still outside Taliban control, want a negotiated resolution to the standoff, an aide in the anti-Taliban stronghold said. Delegations from the two sides met Tuesday, according to another person in the fighters’ camp.
  • The United States and allied countries flew nearly 21,700 people out of Kabul in a 24-hour window ending Tuesday, the White House said. Since Aug. 14, the United States has helped evacuate 70,700 people.
  • The Taliban is still allowing foreign nationals to leave Kabul, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, but is stopping Afghan nationals from reaching the airport.

Daily Political Briefing: House narrowly passes $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, paving the way to enact Biden’s expansive agenda. The plan allows Democrats to start work on a wide-ranging reconciliation package. Moderates agreed to support it only after exacting a promise for a vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. The New York Times, Tuesday, 24 August 2021:

House Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan for Vast Expansion of Safety Net. Democratic leaders had to haggle their way to passage, committing to moderates that there would be a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan by September 27. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “A divided House on Tuesday approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would pave the way for a vast expansion of social safety net and climate programs, as Democrats overcame sharp internal rifts to advance a critical piece of President Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda. Approving the budget was a major step in Democrats’ drive to enact their top priorities — including huge investments in education, child care, health care, paid leave, and tax increases on wealthy people and corporations — over united Republican opposition. With a single vote on Tuesday, they laid the groundwork to move quickly on legislation that would accomplish those goals, setting a late September deadline for action on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. But it came only after leaders stamped out a revolt among conservative-leaning Democrats, who withheld their votes until they extracted a promise to vote on the infrastructure bill by Sept. 27. The breakthrough came after a pressure campaign by the White House, outside progressive groups and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who haggled and cajoled her way to unanimous Democratic support for a measure that had been stalled mere hours before. The vote was 220 to 212 on party lines to approve the budget plan and allow future votes on both the infrastructure bill and a voting rights measure that the House passed soon after.”

House Passes a Voting Rights Bill, but a Republican Blockade Awaits in the Senate. Named for the civil rights icon John Lewis, the bill is narrower than the Democrats’ sweeping elections overhaul that has stalled in the Senate, but faces similar obstacles. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The House voted on Tuesday to restore federal oversight of state election laws under the 1965 Voting Rights Act and expand its reach, as Democrats moved to strengthen a crowning legislative achievement of the civil rights era amid a renewed national fight over access to the ballot box. The legislation, named after Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon who died last year, is a linchpin of the party’s strategy to combat voting restrictions in Republican-led states. It would reverse two Supreme Court rulings that gutted the statute, reviving the power of the Justice Department to bar some discriminatory election changes from taking effect and easing the path to challenge others in court. Up against urgent deadlines before next year’s midterm elections, Democrats voted along party lines to adopt the bill 219 to 212 in a rare August session, just days after it was introduced. But stiff Republican opposition awaits in the Senate, where a likely filibuster threatens to sink it before it can reach President Biden’s desk. That outcome is becoming familiar this summer, as Democrats on Capitol Hill try to use their party’s control of Congress and the White House to lock in watershed election changes — only to be blocked by their Republican counterparts. In the meantime, more than a dozen G.O.P.-led states have already enacted more than 30 laws this year making it harder to vote.” See also, House passes bill to strengthen Voting Rights Act in face of new restrictions in Republican-led states, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The House passed legislation Tuesday that supporters said would restore key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013 in a controversial decision derided by civil rights groups. Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.) introduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act earlier this month amid ongoing efforts by Republican-led state legislatures across the country to put new laws in place that critics say will make it more difficult to vote, particularly for communities of color, people with disabilities and Americans living in poorer areas. The bill was passed on a 219-to-212 party-line vote. Though the latest efforts from GOP state leaders are largely a response to the 2020 election and former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen, activists have been focused on expanding voting rights since the 2013 Supreme Court decision. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court’s conservative majority ruled that the law’s provision for determining voter discrimination was outdated — a decision that greatly curtailed the ability of the federal government to monitor the election processes of states with a history of racism.”

Supreme Court Allows Revival of Trump-Era ‘Remain in Mexico’ Asylum Policy. The court’s unsigned order refused to stay a ruling from a federal judge in Texas forbidding the Biden administration from ending the policy. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a ruling from a federal judge in Texas requiring the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era immigration program that forces asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico. The court’s brief unsigned order said that the administration had appeared to act arbitrarily and capriciously in rescinding the program, citing a decision last year refusing to let the Trump administration rescind the Obama-era program protecting the young immigrants known as dreamers. The court’s three more liberal members — Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — said they would have granted a stay of the trial judge’s ruling. They did not give reasons. The case will now be heard by an appeals court and may return to the Supreme Court.” See also, Supreme Court says Biden administration must comply with a lower court’s ruling to reinstate Trump’s policy that required many asylum seekers to wait outside the United States for their cases to be decided, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The administration had asked the court to put on hold a federal judge’s order that the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) had to be immediately reimplemented. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled earlier this month that the Biden administration did not provide an adequate reason for getting rid of the policy and that its procedures regarding asylum seekers who enter the country were unlawful. Over the objections of the three liberal justices, the court’s conservative majority agreed that the administration had not done enough to justify changing the policy.”

Biden receives inconclusive intelligence report on covid origins. The report falls short of concluding whether the coronavirus jumped from animal to human, or might have accidentally escaped from a lab in China. The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, Wednesday, 24 August 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday received a classified report from the intelligence community that was inconclusive about the origins of the novel coronavirus, including whether the pathogen jumped from an animal to a human as part of a natural process, or escaped from a lab in central China, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The intelligence community will seek within days to declassify elements of the report for potential public release, officials said. The assessment is the result of a 90-day sprint after Biden tasked his intelligence agencies in May to produce a report ‘that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion’ on the origins of a virus that has killed more than 4 million people globally and wrecked national economies. But despite analyzing a raft of existing intelligence and searching for new clues, intelligence officials fell short of a consensus, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report is not yet public. The debate over the virus’s origins has become increasingly rancorous since former president Donald Trump said last year that the virus originated in a Chinese lab. Efforts to understand the virus’s provenance have been complicated by Chinese authorities’ steadfast refusal to allow a more intensive inquiry by international investigators.” See also, U.S. intelligence agencies delivered a report to Biden on the coronavirus’s origins, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The director of national intelligence delivered a report to President Biden on Tuesday on the origins of the coronavirus epidemic, according to U.S. officials, but the nation’s spy agencies have not yet concluded whether the disease was the result of an accidental leak from a lab or if it emerged naturally in a spillover from animals to humans. Mr. Biden had ordered the nation’s intelligence agencies three months ago to draft a report on the origins of the virus, which has been the subject of an intensifying debate, in part to give the agencies a chance to examine a trove of data that had not been fully exploited. But the inquiry, which examined data collected from a virology research institute in Wuhan, China, the city where the virus first spread, has yet to answer the biggest outstanding question about where it came from. Its absence of conclusions underscores the difficulty of pinpointing the source of the virus, particularly given China’s refusal to continue to cooperate with international investigations into the origin the coronavirus.”

Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) proposes fining conservative activists $5 million for false mail voting robocalls. The calls lied about mail voting in the run-up to the 2020 election. NBC News, Jane C. Timm, Tuesday, 24 August 2021: “The Federal Communications Commission proposed a $5.1 million fine against conservative activists Jacob Wohl and John Burkman and J.M. Burkman & Associates for making 1,141 unlawful robocalls that made false claims about mail voting, the agency said Tuesday. ‘Did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts?’ the call said, before also erroneously claiming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might use such data to enforce mandatory vaccinations. Thousands of voters received such calls in New York, Ohio and Michigan, according to state prosecutors, who say it was an attempt to suppress Black voters. The activists face criminal charges for their role in spreading the disinformation, and New York Attorney General Letitia James is attempting to force the men to pay up to $2.7 million in penalties for the calls.”

 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Security Threats at Kabul Airport Prompt Multiple Warnings. The U.S., U.K., and Australia warned of an unspecified threat outside the Kabul airport and told citizens to stay away. The warnings came in the last days of the U.S. evacuation, as thousands of desperate foreigners and Afghans tried to escape Taliban rule. The New York Times, Wednesday, 25 August 2021:

  • Some 1,500 Americans still in Afghanistan in last days of U.S. evacuation.

  • Dozens of California students and parents are trapped in Afghanistan.

  • The Taliban wants to forget the past, a leader tells The Times, but there will be some restrictions.

  • Life in Kabul transforms once again under Taliban rule.

  • An Islamic State affiliate poses the biggest threat to the U.S. airlift in Kabul.

  • Merkel calls for talks with the Taliban to preserve progress made for Afghans.

  • A group of Afghans who worked for The New York Times lands safely in Mexico.

  • Biden’s team compares the evacuation of Kabul to the Berlin airlift.
  • U.N. has failed its Afghan employees, staff unions say.
  • A Taliban spokesman urges women to stay home because fighters haven’t been trained to respect them.
  • A group of Afghans who worked for The New York Times lands safely in Mexico.

State Department says up to 1,500 Americans still seek to leave Afghanistan as deadline looms, The Washington Post, Ellen Francis, Rachel Pannett, Sammy Westfall, John Hudson, and Claire Parker, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that there could be as many as 1,500 Americans in Afghanistan still seeking to leave as U.S. officials continue to move personnel out of the country ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline. At least 4,500 Americans have been evacuated from the country since Aug. 14, he said. U.S. diplomats have been in touch with about 500 Americans still seeking to leave Afghanistan, and were ‘aggressively reaching out’ to 1,000 more, ‘multiple times a day through multiple channels,’ Blinken said. In a leaked recording, administration officials told congressional staff members Wednesday that some Americans have told the State Department that they do not plan to evacuate from Afghanistan unless they can bring Afghan family members with them — a demand that may challenge the Biden administration’s airlift mission. The United States and allied countries flew about 19,000 people out of Kabul in a 24-hour window ending early Wednesday, the White House said. Since Aug. 14, the United States has helped evacuate more than 80,000 people.

  • President Biden reaffirmed his intent to complete the U.S. evacuation mission by Aug. 31. But he has been briefed on contingency plans and the military withdrawal depends on conditions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
  • Canadian officials said Wednesday that their country must cease its efforts to evacuate civilians and withdraw its military personnel from Afghanistan before the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. troops to leave, acknowledging the possibility that Canada won’t be able to evacuate everyone it wants to before then.
  • Kabul residents, meanwhile struggled to find money Wednesday even after the Taliban ordered banks to reopen for the first time in more than a week amid rising prices and uncertainty. Many ATMs are empty in the capital, and people have had to wait hours to take out money in recent days.
  • ‘Leave immediately,’ U.S. tells citizens at some airport gates as allies warn of ‘very high’ threat.

About 89% of Rental Assistance Funds Have Not Been Distributed, Figures Show. Just $1.7 billion in funds intended to prevent eviction were disbursed in July as the White House braces for a Supreme Court decision that could strike down its eviction moratorium. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Alan Rappeport, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “The $46.5 billion rental aid program created to pay rent accrued during the pandemic continues to disburse money at a slow pace, as the White House braces for a Supreme Court order that could strike down a new national moratorium on evictions. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, funded in the two federal pandemic relief packages passed over the last year, sputtered along in July, with just $1.7 billion being distributed by state and local governments, according to the Treasury Department, which oversees the program. The money meted out was a modest increase from the prior month. That cash was slated to be spent over three years, but White House officials — who have spent months pressuring local officials and tweaking the program to make access easier — had hoped states would have spent much more by now.”

Trump makes executive privilege threat as House committee seeks documents from agencies on January 6 attack on the Capitol, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, and Whitney Wild, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to invoke executive privilege in an effort to block the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot from obtaining a massive tranche of documents it’s demanding from several US government agencies, despite his successor having the ultimate say over whether the information can be shared. ‘Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of my Administration and the Patriots who worked beside me, but on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our Nation,’ Trump said in a statement, without detailing how such an effort would be conducted. The Biden administration has already declined to assert executive privilege over some testimony related to January 6, telling former Justice Department officials that they were free to provide ‘unrestricted testimony.’ But the administration has not weighed in on whether the committee should have unrestricted access to records and documents from the Trump White House. The document requests from the House select committee echo those previously issued by other House committees in the aftermath of the January 6 riot, while significantly broadening the search to other areas and people inside and outside government. Specifically, the select committee is asking for records from the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security and, perhaps most importantly, the National Archives — the custodian of the Trump administration White House records.” See also, House panel investigating January 6 attack seeks records from agencies on insurrection and on Trump in first request for information, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued its first sweeping requests Wednesday for records from federal agencies pertaining to the attack on the Capitol and President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the election. In letters demanding materials from the National Archives and seven other agencies, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, signaled that an expansive investigation is underway, touching not only on what happened Jan. 6 but also on matters such as ‘the former President’s knowledge of the election results and what he communicated to the American people about the election.'” See also, House Panel Demands Records of Trump’s Movements on January 6. The request was part of a far-reaching set of documents the select committee sought from seven federal agencies, which suggested the inquiry was focusing on the former president’s role. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “The select committee scrutinizing the Jan. 6 Capitol riot demanded detailed records on Wednesday about Donald J. Trump’s every movement and meeting on the day of the assault, in a series of requests to federal agencies that suggested it was focusing on any ties the former president may have had to the attack’s planning or execution. The committee’s demands, sent to the National Archives and Records Administration and six other agencies, show that as they ramp up their inquiry, investigators are looking closely at efforts by the former president to overturn the results of the 2020 election and any connections he or his administration had to the rioters. They are also looking into the potential involvement of at least one top aide to a Republican member of Congress who helped publicize the ‘Stop the Steal’ rallies, which drew Mr. Trump’s supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the election outcome. The panel sought communications among top Trump administration officials about attempts to place politically loyal personnel in senior positions as Mr. Trump sought to invalidate President Biden’s victory in the run-up to the attack. Investigators are also focused on the planning, organization and funding of pro-Trump rallies on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 and other attempts to stop or slow the process of Mr. Trump handing over the presidency to Mr. Biden.”

Secret Service warned Capitol Police about violent threats 1 day before January 6, Politico, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Nicholas Wu, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “Just a day before the Jan. 6 riot, the Secret Service warned the U.S. Capitol Police that their officers could face violence at the hands of supporters of former President Donald Trump, according to new documents reviewed by POLITICO. The Secret Service’s emails shed light on intelligence lapses by the Capitol Police previously highlighted by both the department’s inspector general and a bipartisan report by Senate committees. Since then, the Hill’s law enforcement agency has pledged reform and said it has made changes to ensure the effective sharing of intelligence.”

Federal judge in Michigan orders pro-Trump lawyers disciplined over lawsuit seeking to overturn 2020 election, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “A federal judge in Michigan has ordered that Sidney Powell, L. Lin Wood and seven other attorneys who filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election be disciplined, calling the suit ‘a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.’ In a scathing 110-page opinion, Federal District Judge Linda V. Parker wrote that the lawyers had made assertions in court that were not backed by evidence and had failed to do the due diligence required by legal rules before alleging mass fraud in the Michigan vote. ‘This case was never about fraud,’ she wrote. ‘It was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.’ She ordered the lawyers to pay the attorney’s fees for their opponents in the case — the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. She also wrote that she will require them to attend legal education classes. And she referred the group to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, as well as attorney disciplinary committees in the states where each attorney is licensed, which could initiate proceedings that could result in the lawyer’s being disbarred.”

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott bans government mandates on COVID-19 vaccines regardless of whether they have full FDA approval, The Texas Tribune, Patrick Svitek, Wednesday, 25 August 2021: “Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced an executive order banning government COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Texas regardless of a vaccine’s approval status with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He also said he was adding the issue to the agenda for the current special session of the Texas Legislature. The order comes two days after the FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. That raised questions about the fate of a previous Abbott order that prohibited vaccine mandates, but only for those under emergency authorization.”

 

Thursday, 26 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: ‘We Will Not Forgive,’ Biden Says, Vowing Retaliation for Kabul Attack. The president spoke out after the attack that killed scores at the Kabul airport, among them 13 U.S. service members. He vowed to continue the evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan. The New York Times, Thursday, 26 August 2021:

  • President Biden condemns terrorist attack and vows to hunt down those responsible.

  • Bombs strike Kabul airport, killing at least 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghan civilians.

  • Scenes of chaos after blasts rock area around Kabul airport.

  • The Kabul attack recalls the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, a decade ago.

  • After blasts, experts see a fertile ground for terrorists.

  • Most remaining American citizens prepare to evacuate.

  • A former U.S. general makes it his mission to help vulnerable Afghans evacuate.

  • Devastation at one airport left many fearful at another across the world.

  • Some countries had halted evacuations before the blasts.

Biden vows retribution after 13 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan bombing, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Karoun Demirjian, John Hudson, Paulina Villegas, and Claire Parker, Thursday, 26 August 2021: “In a speech Thursday in which he said the United States would punish the Islamic State for a deadly attack on American service members and Afghans in Kabul, President Biden said he would send additional troops to aid Americans in Afghanistan if his military advisers ask. ‘We will hunt you down and make you pay,’ Biden said in the White House speech, calling those military members who died ‘heroes who’ve been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others.’ Biden said military leaders were standing by their Aug. 31 deadline to exit Afghanistan, though he left open the possibility that more troops may be sent there. American officials are bracing for the possibility of future attacks, including possible car bombs or rockets being fired at the airport, as the evacuation continues. Marine Gen. Kenneth ‘Frank’ McKenzie, chief of U.S. Central Command, said at a news briefing Thursday that the risk of an attack from Islamic State persists alongside other threats. After an explosion at the airport’s Abbey Gate, where Americans were searching potential Afghan evacuees, gunmen opened fire, McKenzie said. Another blast later occurred at a hotel outside the airport. He attributed the attack to the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility, and indicated that U.S. military action in response is possible. The toll of dead and wounded remained uncertain late Thursday. One person with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said 40 were killed and 120 injured. Other reports put the tally far higher. It’s unclear whether those figures included the 12 U.S. service members.”

Supreme Court strikes down Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) national eviction moratorium despite delta’s rise, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Rachel Siegel, and Jonathan O’Connell, Thursday, 26 August 2021: “A divided Supreme Court has ended a national moratorium on evictions in parts of the country ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, removing protections for millions of Americans who have not been able to make rent payments. A coalition of landlords and real estate trade groups in Alabama and Georgia challenged the latest extension of a moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued Aug. 3 and intended to run through Oct. 3. In an unsigned opinion released Thursday night, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority agreed that the federal agency did not have the power to order such a ban. ‘It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant,’ the majority’s eight-page opinion said. ‘But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends. . . . It is up to Congress, not the CDC, to decide whether the public interest merits further action here.'” See also, Supreme Court throws out Biden administration eviction moratorium, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, published on Friday, 27 August 2021: “The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s Covid-related eviction moratorium. ‘Congress was on notice that a further extension would almost surely require new legislation, yet it failed to act in the several weeks leading up to the moratorium’s expiration,’ the court wrote in an unsigned, eight-page opinion. ‘If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,’ the court said. The three liberal justices dissented publicly, citing the spike in Covid-19 cases and the Delta variant.”

Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump and Allies Over Election Lies and January 6 violent attack on the Capitol. The suit, which takes a broad view of the riot’s origins, was the latest effort to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for the Capitol attack. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 28 August 2021: “A group of seven Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing former President Donald J. Trump and nearly 20 members of far-right extremist groups and political organizations of a plot to disrupt the peaceful transition of power during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. The suit, which implicated members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers militia and Trump associates like Roger J. Stone Jr., was arguably the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable for the storming of the Capitol. While three other similar lawsuits were filed in recent months, the suit on Thursday was the first to allege that Mr. Trump worked in concert with both far-right extremists and political organizers promoting his baseless lies that the presidential election was marred by fraud. ‘This is probably the most comprehensive account of Jan. 6 in terms of civil cases,’ said Edward Caspar, a lawyer who is leading the suit for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. ‘It spans from the former president to militants around him to his campaign supporters.'” See also, Seven Capitol Police officers sue Trump and far-right groups over injuries from January 6 violent attack on the Capitol, The Washington Post, Paul Duggan and Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 26 August 2021: “Seven U.S. Capitol Police officers on Thursday sued former president Donald Trump and more than a dozen alleged participants in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, saying the defendants are responsible for the officers being ‘violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives.’ The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, alleges that Trump, by falsely claiming the presidential election was rigged, incited a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from confirming President Biden’s victory. The complaint describes an array of abuse endured by the seven officers, who collectively ‘have dedicated more than 150 years’ to protecting Congress ‘so that it can carry out its constitutional responsibilities safely and openly.'”

How a Defunct Federal Provision Helped Pave the Way for New Voting Restrictions. Curbs on drop boxes, tougher ID requirements and purges of voter rolls would have been weakened, or never even passed, if a federal oversight system had been in place. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Thursday, 26 August 2021: “Georgia toughened identification requirements for absentee voting. Arizona authorized removing voters from the rolls if they do not cast a ballot at least once every two years. Florida and Georgia cut back sharply the use of drop boxes for mail-in ballots. All of these new voting restrictions would have been rejected or at least softened if a federal civil rights protection from the 1960s were still intact, experts in election law said. For decades, the heart of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a practice known as preclearance, largely detailed under Section 5 of the statute. It forced states with a history of racial discrimination to seek approval from the Department of Justice before enacting new voting laws. Through preclearance, thousands of proposed voting changes were blocked by Justice Department lawyers in both Democratic and Republican administrations. In 2013, however, Section 5 was hollowed out by the Supreme Court, as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a majority opinion that racial discrimination in voting no longer constituted a significant threat. As Republican-led state legislatures have tightened voting rules after the 2020 election, new restrictions have been enacted or proposed in four states that are no longer required to seek approval before changing voting laws: Georgia, Arizona, Texas and Florida. Those new restrictions would almost certainly have been halted, stalled or altered had Section 5 still been in use, according to interviews with former federal prosecutors and a review by The New York Times of past civil rights actions by the Justice Department.”

 

Friday, 27 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: U.S. Forces Destroy C.I.A. Base In Controlled Detonation. the destruction of the base was intended to ensure the Taliban would not gain access to any equipment or information left behind. The New York Times, Friday, 27 August 2021:

  • A heavily fortified C.I.A. base in Kabul is destroyed.

  • The U.S. launches a reprisal strike and warns Americans to leave the Kabul airport.

  • ‘We’re nearing the end.’ The British will soon stop evacuating Afghan allies from Kabul.

  • Former Afghan government officials say Taliban fighters are searching for them.

  • He was a baby on 9/11. Now he’s one of the last casualties of America’s longest war.

  • Chaos and community mingle in a Kabul hospital.

  • With the airport blocked, Afghan refugees stream into Pakistan.

  • How strong are ISIS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan?

U.S. says drone strike killed 2 Islamic State targets; evacuations near end, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Danielle Paquette, Steve Hendrix, Derek Hawkins, Dan Lamothe, and Sammy Westfall, Friday, 27 August and Saturday, 28 August 2021: “The U.S. military drone strike in Afghanistan killed two ‘high profile’ Islamic State militants, Pentagon officials said Saturday, the first retaliatory action following an attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 American service members and at least 170 other people. Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, a senior U.S. military official, described the people killed as ‘facilitators’ and ‘planners,’ but declined to say whether they were involved in the attack. ‘We’re not going to go into that,’ he said. The terrorist group, known as Islamic State-Khorasan or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the Thursday suicide bombing, and President Biden told the extremists that U.S. forces would ‘hunt you down and make you pay.’ Many of the slain U.S. service members were in their infancy in 2001, the year the 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered the U.S. war in Afghanistan, their lives bookended by the violent start and conclusion of America’s longest war. Evacuation efforts are steadily coming to a close. Pentagon officials reported the number departing Afghanistan with U.S. assistance has slowed dramatically, with approximately 6,800 people carted out of the country in the 24 hours before 3 a.m. Saturday morning. The United Kingdom’s last flight for civilians has left Kabul, officials said.

  • Authorities are notifying families of the 13 service members who were killed in Thursday’s attack. These are some of their names.
  • The Taliban has requested that the United States keep a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan beyond the Aug. 31 withdrawal of U.S. military forces, the State Department said.
  • A Washington Post review of dozens of photos and videos, satellite imagery and interviews with witnesses to the Aug. 26 Kabul airport bombing reveals a complex web of checkpoints and visualizes a chaotic scene in the wake of the attack.
  • As NATO allies end their evacuations, thousands of Afghan interpreters, embassy staffers and drivers are being left behind.

Texas House passes Republican voting restrictions that Democrats had blocked for weeks by fleeing the state, The Washington Post, Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck, Friday, 27 August 2021: “Defying a months-long Democratic protest, the Texas House on Friday passed wide-ranging voting restrictions that opponents say will make casting ballots and administering elections harder in the state. Elections bill S.B. 1 passed 80 to 41 mostly along party lines, with one Republican voting against the measure. Democrats — who broke quorum for weeks, fleeing Texas and facing the threat of arrest to stave off passage of the measure this summer — did not have the numbers to overcome the chamber’s GOP majority. The House’s passage of the measure is a victory for Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and the latest example of Republican state legislators adopting voting restrictions in the wake of the 2020 election…. Democrats and advocates for voting rights argue that proposals such as S.B. 1 use the false specter of voter fraud to create hurdles that undermine the right to vote, particularly for voters of color. The Texas bill restricts methods of voting, tightens the rules around mail ballots, empowers partisan poll-watchers, and creates new rules and penalties for mistakes by election officials and people helping others vote.” See also, Texas House Passes Voting Bill as Republicans Near a Hard-Fought Victory, The New York Times, J. David Goodman and Reid J. Epstein, Friday, 27 August 2021: “The Texas House of Representatives passed a sweeping election overhaul bill on Friday, clearing a major hurdle in a monthslong push by Republicans to introduce a host of new voting rules. The passage of the bill came a week after a handful of Democrats returned to the State Capitol, effectively ending a 38-day walkout that included the flight of much of the party’s State House delegation to Washington and drew national attention to the fight over voting rights in Texas. It signaled the end stages in the most protracted battle in a nationwide Republican campaign to harden election rules in response to false claims about the integrity of the 2020 presidential contest…. The bill would ban voting changes that were introduced last year by local officials, like drive-through polling places and 24-hour voting; greatly empower partisan poll watchers; limit the mailing of absentee ballot applications; and increase civil and criminal penalties for voter fraud and for election officials who run afoul of the election code.”

Florida court rejects effort by Governor Ron DeSantis to ban mask mandates, The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei, Friday, 27 August 2021: “A Florida court on Friday rejected an effort by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials to prevent mask mandates in schools during the state’s worst Covid-19 outbreak yet. Judge John C. Cooper of the state’s Second Judicial Circuit said that Florida’s school districts may impose strict mask mandates on students to curb the spread of the coronavirus, handing a defeat to Governor DeSantis, whose administration has vehemently insisted on leaving masking decisions to children’s parents. In a lengthy ruling from the bench, Judge Cooper sided with parents of students in various school districts who had argued that Florida’s Constitution requires keeping schoolchildren safe and secure, and masks would help accomplish that in a pandemic. Florida had previously indicated that it would appeal any adverse ruling to a more conservative appellate court.” See also, Judge rules against Florida Governor DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools, CNN, Leyla Santiago and Sara Weisfeldt, Friday, 27 August 2021: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools will not remain in place, Leon County’s 2nd Judicial Circuit Court Judge John Cooper ruled Friday. The court said that under the law the defendants ‘did not have the authority for a blanket mandatory ban against face mask policy, that does not provide a parental opt-out. They simply do not have that authority,’ the judge said…. Judge Cooper cited evidence presented, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for universal masking of students and teachers. He called the health care agency ‘the gold standard’ as part of his decision. ‘I have heard significant evidence concerning the medical and scientific basis for face mask policies and I conclude this evidence demonstrates that face mask policies that follow CDC guidance at this point in time are reasonable,’ he said.”

House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection seeks information from tech giants regarding attack on Capitol and attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post, Dave Clarke and Tom Hamburger, Friday, 27 August 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection asked technology giants Friday for information that could be helpful to its probe as it prepares to tell telecommunications companies early next week to retain relevant phone and text records, including for some members of Congress. The letters sent Friday went out to Facebook, Twitter, Google and several other tech titans. The committee requested ‘all reviews, studies, reports, data, analyses, and communications’ regarding misinformation generated by foreign and U.S. actors, ‘domestic violent extremists’ associated with the attack, and other efforts to overturn the election results. In addition, the committee said it is focusing on how social media companies policed their own platforms, such as whether their algorithms helped speed the spread of misinformation, how they identified which posts to take down and what information has already been requested by law enforcement agencies. Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) gave the companies a two-week deadline to produce materials.”

U.S. intelligence agencies rule out possibility the coronavirus was created as a bioweapon and say origin will stay unknown without China’s help, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Joel Achenbach, Friday, 27 August 2021: “The U.S. intelligence community has ruled out the possibility that the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 4 million people globally was developed as a bioweapon by China, but the agencies failed to reach consensus on the virus origin, according to key takeaways from a classified report delivered to President Biden this week. The report, the result of a 90-day sprint ordered by Biden, also found that the agencies are unlikely to reach a conclusion about the virus’s origins without cooperation from the Chinese government, which is unlikely, according to a summary of the takeaways released Friday.” See also, Intelligence Review Yields No Firm Conclusion on Origins of Virus. Declassified portions of a report presented to President Biden revealed divisions among federal agencies over whether the virus came from a lab leak or natural processes. The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Friday, 27 August 2021: “American intelligence agencies have not been able to determine if the coronavirus pandemic was the result of an accidental leak from a lab or if it emerged more naturally, according to declassified portions of a report to the White House released on Friday. The nation’s spy agencies, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said, are unlikely to reach a conclusion without more cooperation from China or new source of information. In a statement, President Biden said the United States would continue working to understand the origins of the virus and he called on China to be more transparent about what led to the virus emerging there in late 2019 before spreading rapidly across the globe.”

Biden’s child tax credit kept 3 million children out of poverty in just its first round of payments, Business Insider, Madison Hoff, Friday, 27 August 2021: “The monthly payments the government started sending out to eligible families in July are already saving three million children from falling below the poverty line — and that’s just with one payment. New research from Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy finds that the first child tax credit payment has already contributed to the child poverty rate dropping from 15.8% in June to 11.9% in July, or a decline of 25%. The authors note that this monthly decline was driven by the first advance child tax credit payment where the credit alone kept about three million children out of poverty. Families getting advance monthly payments are receiving up to $250 a month per child for children between 6 to 17 and up to $300 a month per child for children under 6 years old. Coronavirus relief measures altogether seem to have been effective in reducing child poverty, keeping 6 million children out of poverty in just July.”

 

Saturday, 28 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: U.S. Embassy Cites ‘Specific’ Kabul Airport Threat, Hours After Biden’s warning, The New York Times, Saturday, 28 August 2021:

  • U.S. officials warn Americans again to leave the Kabul airport after Biden says a new attack is ‘highly likely.’

  • A reprisal strike killed two ISIS militants and wounded another.

  • Turkey, Qatar and G7 to discuss the future of Kabul airport.

  • ‘Heartbreaking and terrifying.’ Two nonprofit groups are making a last-minute attempt to help Afghan women escape.

  • With cash scarce, protesters in Kabul demand that banks reopen.

  • In pictures: Funeral for an Afghan killed in the airport attack.

  • What we know about the 13 U.S. service members killed in the Kabul attack.

  • Unlike his predecessor, President Biden saw no middle ground in Afghanistan.

  • In all, over a dozen countries have evacuated 240,000 people from Afghanistan.
  • The Taliban and U.S., once enemies, are now uneasy partners.

 

Sunday, 29 August 2021:

 

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Rockets Launched at Kabul Airport After U.S. Strikes. There were no casualties after the airport was defended by a counter-rocket system. On Sunday, a U.S. military drone blew up a vehicle full of explosives in Kabul. The New York Times, Sunday, 29 August 2021:

  • U.S. shoots down rockets aimed at Kabul’s airport.

  • U.S. diplomats are unlikely to stay in Afghanistan after troops leave.

  • Biden witnesses the return of service members killed in the Kabul airport bombing.

  • American University of Afghanistan students and relatives trying to flee were sent home.

  • An Afghan family struggles to reunite after being separated by the Kabul airport attack.

  • Two of the U.S. service members killed in the Kabul attack were women.

  • Dozens of countries say they will accept Afghan refugees after Aug. 31.

Military carries out strike in Kabul as slain service members are returned to U.S., The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Kareem Fahim, Miriam Berger, Paulina Firozi, Dan Lamothe, and Sean Sullivan, Sunday, 29 August 2021: “The U.S. military carried out a strike Sunday on a vehicle that posed an ‘imminent’ Islamic State threat to Kabul’s international airport, an official said, as the remains of 13 slain service members arrived at Dover Air Force Base. The second U.S. strike on an Islamic State target in the aftermath of last week’s suicide bombing at the airport, which killed the troops and at least 170 others, comes as evacuation efforts are winding to a close. President Biden spoke to relatives of the slain U.S. troops and participated in a ‘dignified transfer’ — in which the remains of fallen service members are returned to the United States in flag-draped cases. The Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the Afghanistan and Pakistan arm of the militant group, asserted responsibility for the airport attack.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied that the United States has given a ‘kill list’ of American citizens and Afghan allies to the Taliban, pushing back on such allegations as ‘simply wrong.’
  • A U.S. strike on a target a mile from the Kabul airport killed civilians, including children, according to officials in Afghanistan.
  • France and Britain plan to seek a resolution by the United Nations to designate a safe zone in Kabul to protect those who are trying to leave Afghanistan.
  • The Biden administration has not made a final decision about what a future presence in Kabul might look like.

98 Countries Pledge to Accept Afghans After U.S. Military Departs. A joint statement from the United States and other countries said that they had ‘received assurances from the Taliban’ that people with travel documents showing they were clear to enter any of those countries could safely depart. The New York Times, Sunday, 29 August 2021: “The United States and 97 other countries said on Sunday that they would continue to take in people fleeing Afghanistan after the American military departs next week and had secured an agreement with the Taliban to allow safe passage for those who are leaving. The Taliban’s chief negotiator, Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, had announced on Friday that the group would not stop people from departing, no matter their nationality or whether they had worked for the United States during the 20-year war. The joint statement released on Sunday on behalf of more than half of the world’s governments and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said that they had ‘received assurances from the Taliban’ that people with travel documents showing they were clear to enter any of those countries could safely depart.”

 

Monday, 30 August 2021:

 

Afghanistan Updates: The U.S. Occupation Is Over, Ending America’s Longest War. Twenty years after the U.S. invaded, the last military flight took off from Kabul airport. The withdrawal came after a last spasm of violence. Now the Taliban are in charge again. The New York Times, Monday, 30 August 2021:

  • The U.S. military finishes its evacuation, and an era ends in Afghanistan.

  • A family says 10 of its members were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul.

  • In a final blow of the 20-year war, U.S. envoys close their embassy and exit Kabul.

  • She was lauded for challenging a Taliban member on live TV. Then she fled.

  • A planeload of sorely needed medical supplies lands in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Afghanistan: Last U.S. military flight leaves Kabul; Biden to address nation on Tuesday, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Susannah George, Miriam Berger, and Paulina Villegas, Monday, 30 August 2021: “The Pentagon said Monday that the United States had pulled out the last of its troops from Afghanistan and that the evacuation operation at Kabul’s international airport had ended. The departure caps a chaotic withdrawal that was rushed by the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country and scarred by a suicide attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 other people. More than 120,000 people had been evacuated since Aug. 14, amounting to one of the largest airlifts in history, but the deteriorating security and chaos at the airport resulted in some Americans and thousands of Afghan allies being left behind. In a news conference, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie announced ‘the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans.’ President Biden said later that there was unanimity among military leaders to end the airlift mission as planned. He praised U.S. forces for evacuating more than 120,000 Americans and allies. The president said in a statement that he will address the nation Tuesday on his decision not to extend operations beyond then, but that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all commanders on the ground agreed that ending the military mission was ‘the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead.’ Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid celebrated the news Monday evening. ‘The last American occupier withdrew from (Kabul Airport) at 12 o’clock, and our country gained its full independence,’ he tweeted. ‘Praise and gratitude be to God.’ The Taliban has agreed to allow foreign nationals and Afghans with relevant travel documents to leave the country safely after the international rescue mission ends Tuesday, the United States and dozens of other countries said Sunday.

  • No American civilians were on the last five flights, McKenzie said.
  • A U.S. drone strike targeting Islamic State militants killed 10 civilians over the weekend, family members said Monday.
  • The United Nations pleaded with the international community Monday to remain focused on the plight of Afghan civilians, warning that ‘a far greater humanitarian crisis is just beginning’ as evacuations from Afghanistan end.
  • Five rockets were fired at the Kabul airport early Monday, one of which was intercepted by a missile defense system, according to the Pentagon.

Biden administration opens civil rights investigations into five states over bans on school mask mandates, The Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Monday, 30 August 2021: “The Education Department opened civil rights investigations Monday into five states for policies banning school districts from requiring masks, upping the Biden administration’s battle with Republican governors over pandemic policies for schools. Letters were sent to education officials in Iowa, South Carolina, Utah, Oklahoma and Tennessee, all of which bar local districts from mandating masks. They allege that these states may be preventing districts from meeting the needs of students with disabilities who are at heightened risk for severe illness should they contract the coronavirus. The Education Department did not open investigations in Florida, Texas, Arkansas or Arizona, all of which have tried to ban such mandates as well, because the policies there are not being enforced as a result of court orders or other state actions, the agency said.”

The House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol asks telecommunications companies to preserve phone records of people, including members of Congress, who participated in ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, CNN Politics, Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer, and Whitney Wild, Monday, 30 August 2021: The House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 riot has requested that a group of telecommunications companies preserve the phone records of a group of GOP members of Congress and former President Donald Trump, as well as members of the Trump family, who played some role in the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally that served as the prelude to the Capitol insurrection. The records request is the first step in the committee’s investigatory process and could signal the direction they plan to go when they call witnesses. It is unclear what means the committee will use to compel the telecommunications companies to cooperate with their request. The committee does have subpoena power, but requesting the information — especially from members of Congress — could lead to a lengthy legal battle. The committee did not make public the names of the lawmakers whose records they are targeting. But multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work have confirmed for CNN at least part of list including many of the members of Congress included in the request…. The list is said to be evolving and could be added to as the investigation steps up. As of now it includes Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Paul Gosar also of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jody Hice of Georgia and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.”

Federal Judge Strikes Down Trump Rule Governing Water Pollution. The rule allowed fertilizers, pesticides, and industrial chemicals to flow into small streams, marshes, and wetlands. The judge warned of environmental harm. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 30 August 2021: “A federal judge on Monday struck down a Trump-era environmental rule that drastically limited federal restrictions against pollution of millions of streams, wetlands and marshes across the country. The Biden administration had already begun the lengthy process of undoing the policy, which President Donald J. Trump established in 2020 after farmers, real estate developers and fossil fuel producers complained that Obama-era rules had saddled them with onerous regulatory burdens. Mr. Trump’s policy allowed the discharge of pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and industrial chemicals into smaller streams and wetlands. But on Monday, Judge Rosemary Márquez of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona found ‘fundamental, substantive flaws’ with the Trump administration’s policy and said that it was in conflict with the 1972 Clean Water Act. She warned of the ‘possibility of serious environmental harm’ if the Trump rule remained in place.” See also, Federal judge throws out Trump administration rule allowing the draining and filling of streams, marshes, and wetlands. Many farm and business groups backed the rule, but a U.S. district judge ruled it could lead to ‘serious environmental harm.’ The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “A federal judge Monday threw out a major Trump administration rule that scaled back federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States, reversing one of the previous administration’s most significant environmental rollbacks. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez wrote that Trump officials committed serious errors while writing the regulation, finalized last year, and that leaving it in place could lead to ‘serious environmental harm.’… The ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, which applies nationwide, will afford new protections for drinking-water supplies for millions of Americans, as well as for thousands of wildlife species that depend on America’s wetland acreage.”

Capitol riot defendants’ lawyer apparently hospitalized with covid leaves clients without counsel, prosecutors say, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Monday, 30 August 2021: “An attorney who represents the largest number of defendants charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and who has criticized vaccine mandates has dropped out of sight amid conflicting statements by associates over whether he has been hospitalized with covid-19, U.S. prosecutors told judges Monday. John M. Pierce of Los Angeles has been incommunicado for the past seven days, leaving 17 clients effectively without defense counsel, prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington said.”

 

Tuesday, 31 August 2021:

 

Afghanistan Updates: Biden Defends U.S. Withdrawal After Taliban Declare Victory, The New York Times, Tuesday, 31 August 2021:

  • Biden defends his decisions in Afghanistan.

  • With Afghanistan fully controlled by the Taliban, daunting challenges lie ahead.

  • With U.S. forces out, the Taliban take Kabul’s airport.

  • To avert a migration wave, the E.U. says it will help refugees in Afghanistan and neighboring nations.

  • U.S. residents left in Kabul feel they have run out of options.

  • The U.S. faces a series of dilemmas in dealing with a Taliban government.

  • In a final blow of the 20-year war, U.S. envoys close their embassy and exit Kabul.

Afghanistan updates: Biden defends U.S. departure, saying ‘It was time to end this war,’ The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Miriam Berger, Paulina Villegas, and Sammy Westfall, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday defended the U.S. evacuation effort in Afghanistan, which was capped with the Taliban taking control of the Kabul airport after the last American military flight left the country. ‘The United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history,’ Biden said during an address at the White House in which he praised praised the efforts to get more than 120,000 Americans and allies evacuated to safety. ‘And still, the women and men of the United States military, our diplomatic corps and intelligence professionals did their job and did it well. It was time to end this war,’ Biden said. Biden’s comments came after celebratory gunfire from the Taliban echoed across Kabul, capping the militant group’s victory in a 20-year war with the United States. The Taliban’s senior leadership has held multiday talks as the group works to form a government.

  • The White House said that officials are still in touch with Americans who have remained in Afghanistan and would be available to assist them if they wanted to leave.
  • Celebrating the completion of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan, Taliban supporters gathered to hold a mock funeral procession alongside makeshift coffins draped in American flags, Reuters reported.
  • A recent survey showed divided views on U.S. troop withdrawal. Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults said the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was the right one, while 42 percent say it was the wrong decision, a recent Pew Research Center report showed.
  • The United States will maintain ‘robust counterterrorism capabilities’ in the region, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. There is broad skepticism that the Taliban will keep its promise to stop the country from serving as a breeding ground for groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, whose local affiliate killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 civilians outside Kabul airport last week.

Biden Defends Afghan Pullout and Declares an End to Nation-Building. The president offered a glimpse of a different U.S. foreign policy in the post-9/11 world, one that he said would be guided more by competition with China and Russia. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Jim Tankersley, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday forcefully rejected criticism of his decision to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, hailing what he called the ‘extraordinary success’ of the evacuation of Kabul and declaring the end of an era in which the United States uses military power ‘to remake other countries.’ Speaking to the nation less than a week after a terrorist bombing killed 13 service members at the Kabul airport during a chaotic rush to leave the country, Mr. Biden said the costs to the United States would have been even higher if he had allowed the nation to remain mired for years in a civil war that has dragged on for decades. In blunt terms, he claimed the only alternative to the departure he oversaw was another escalation of the war…. The president delivered his remarks just shy of 20 years after the United States ousted the Taliban from power in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, and just a day after the last American troops and diplomats departed the country, which is once again under Taliban rule.” See also, Declaring Afghan war over, Biden defends evacuation efforts, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Anne Gearan, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “President Biden declared Tuesday that ‘the war in Afghanistan is now over’ in an address that was less a celebration of a mission accomplished than a somber eulogy for a 20-year endeavor that cost the country much but whose burden was borne by few. From the White House, Biden gave a grim speech to mark the conclusion of a grim conflict, alternately offering explanation, defiance and justification as he reiterated that ‘it was time to end this war’ and promising anyone who attacks Americans that ‘we will hunt you down.’ But Biden also recognized the criticism that accompanied the war’s chaotic ending, taking pains to reject the contention that in orchestrating a frenzied exit, he had abandoned Americans and vulnerable Afghans to the mercies of the Taliban. Speaking in the midafternoon, rather than a prime-time slot that might have been expected to mark the end of a two-decade war, Biden argued that President Donald Trump, in signing the initial withdrawal deal with the Taliban, had left him only two options: honoring that deal or reneging and sending in thousands more troops.”

Texas Republicans Pass Election Bill, Raising Voting Barriers Even Higher. The bill, which will tighten what were already some of the nation’s strictest voting rules, represents a major victory for Republicans in their nationwide push to overhaul elections. The New York Times, J. David Goodman, Nick Corasaniti, and Reid J. Epstein, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature on Tuesday passed a major bill overhauling the state’s elections, overcoming a six-week walkout by Democrats to cement Texas as one of the most difficult states in the country in which to vote. The voting restrictions were a capstone victory in Republicans’ national push to tighten voting rules and alter the administration of elections in the wake of false claims about the integrity of the 2020 presidential contest. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, vowed on Tuesday to sign the bill. The legislation takes aim in particular at Harris County, a growing Democratic bastion that includes Houston and is the nation’s third most populous county. The legislation forbids balloting methods that the county introduced last year to make voting easier during the pandemic, including drive-through polling places and 24-hour voting, as well as temporary voting locations. It also bars election officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications and from promoting the use of vote by mail. The bill greatly empowers partisan poll watchers, creates new criminal and civil penalties for poll workers and erects new barriers for those looking to help voters who need assistance, such as with translations. It requires large Texas counties — where Democrats perform better — to provide livestreaming video at ballot-counting locations. Including Texas, 18 states across the country have passed more than 30 bills this year restricting voting, one of the greatest contractions of access to the ballot since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. The relentless pace of these voting laws has raised pressure on Democrats in Congress, where a stalemate in a narrowly divided Senate has left them with little hope of passing federal voting legislation that would combat the new restrictions.” See also, Here’s how the new Texas voting bill will affect access to the polls. The measure targets several methods of voting that were implemented in the state during the pandemic to help people cast ballots safely, banning drive-through and 24-hour voting. The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck and Eva Ruth Moravec, Tuesday, 31 August 2021.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens technology companies that comply with the House Select Committee’s requests for phone records. Congressional committees have routinely subpoenaed data from private companies, but the House minority leader says a future Republican majority ‘will not forget.’ Politico, Myah Ward, published on Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday threatened to use a future GOP majority to punish companies that comply with the House’s Jan. 6 investigators, warning that ‘a Republican majority will not forget.’ McCarthy called out Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for what he called ‘attempts to strong-arm private companies to turn over individuals’ private data.’ He asserted that such a forfeiture of information would ‘put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democrat politicians.’ The select panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection took its first step in obtaining phone records on Monday, asking an array of telecommunications companies to save records relevant to the attack — a request that could include records from some lawmakers. More than 30 companies, including Apple, AT&T and Verizon, received a request for records from April 1, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021. ‘The Select Committee is investigating the violent attack on the Capitol and attempt to overturn the results of last year’s election,’ a committee spokesperson said in a statement, responding to McCarthy’s threat. ‘We’ve asked companies not to destroy records that may help answer questions for the American people. The committee’s efforts won’t be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation.'” See also, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy Threatens Technology Firms That Comply With the Congressional Committee Investigating the January 6 Riot, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, published on 1 September 2021: “Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, has threatened to retaliate against any company that complies with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, after the panel asked dozens of firms to preserve the phone and social media records of 11 far-right members of Congress who pushed to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Mr. McCarthy’s warning was an escalation of his efforts to thwart a full accounting of the deadly attack at the Capitol carried out by a pro-Trump mob, and his latest attempt to insulate the former president and Republican lawmakers from scrutiny of any ties to the violence. It came after he led the G.O.P. opposition to the creation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the riot, and then pulled five Republican congressmen from the select committee that Democrats created on their own, boycotting the proceedings. In preservation orders the special committee sent to 35 technology firms this week, members of the panel included the names of hundreds of people whose records they might want to review, among them some of Donald J. Trump’s most ardent allies in Congress, according to several people familiar with the documents who were not authorized to speak about their contents.” 

Ted Budd, Trump’s pick in a key Senate race in North Carolina, touts his agriculture ties. He Doesn’t mention his role in a bankruptcy that cost farmers millions. The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “As Rep. Ted Budd launched his campaign for a pivotal U.S. Senate seat earlier this year, the North Carolina Republican pitched himself as a staunch ally of farmers. He recalled growing up on a family farm and described working in the agriculture business with his father. Budd’s life story has helped him win two crucial pillars of support in a race that could determine which party controls the Senate after the 2022 midterms: Former president Donald Trump unexpectedly endorsed him minutes after daughter-in-law Lara Trump told him she wouldn’t enter her home-state race, and the Club for Growth, a conservative political committee, has vowed to spend a record $10 million on his campaign. But as Budd has told his narrative in a state where agriculture is the largest business, he omitted a key chapter. He made no mention of his role in his family’s calamitous involvement in a company called AgriBioTech, which ended in a bankruptcy case that cost farmers millions of dollars in losses.”

Florida man Stephen Alford charged with attempting to defraud Representative Matt Gaetz’s family over sex-crimes investigation, CNN Politics, Paula Reid and Tierney Sneed, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “The Justice Department on Tuesday unveiled a grand jury indictment against a Florida man for his alleged role in a scheme to defraud the family of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz out of $25 million. Stephen Alford, 62, of Fort Walton Beach, faces charges including wire fraud, according to the Justice Department. The congressman is not identified by name in the indictment, but a source familiar with the matter says this case stems from a scheme targeting the Gaetz family. CNN has reported that federal investigators are examining whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking, prostitution and public corruption laws and whether he had sex with a minor who was 17 at the time. CNN also has reported that the Justice Department is investigating potential obstruction of justice connected to the ongoing probe.” See also, Florida man Stephen Alford charged in connection with overture to Matt Gaetz’s father about the investigation of his son, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “The Justice Department on Tuesday arrested a Florida man over a scheme that involved seeking money from Florida Republican Don Gaetz to help halt the sex-trafficking investigation of his son, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), according to court records and a person familiar with the matter. Stephen M. Alford, 62, was charged with wire fraud in connection with the alleged $25 million plot, which famously came to light months ago — shortly after the revelation that Matt Gaetz was under investigation. In response to the reporting on that probe in March, the congressman said his family had been cooperating with an FBI investigation of people trying use the investigation of his alleged conduct to extort his father. His father, Matt Gaetz said, had even been wearing a wire for investigators.” See also, Florida Real Estate Developer Stephen Alford Charged in Scheme to Bilk Matt Gaetz’s Family. The Justice Department arrested the man for seeking $25 million for a presidential pardon that would have purportedly ended a sex trafficking investigation into Mr. Gaetz. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 31 August 2021: “A Florida real estate developer was arrested on Tuesday by the Justice Department for his role in a scheme to bilk $25 million from the family of Representative Matt Gaetz in exchange for a purported presidential pardon that would have ended a sex trafficking investigation into Mr. Gaetz. The real estate developer, Stephen Alford, and his business associate claimed to Mr. Gaetz’s father, Don, that President Biden would pardon Mr. Gaetz, the Florida Republican and close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, if they gave them $25 million to help secure the release of an American being held hostage in Iran. At the time of the overtures, Matt Gaetz knew that he was under investigation by federal authorities for paying a 17-year-old girl for sex. Don Gaetz, a former president of the Florida State Senate, alerted the F.B.I., which later determined that Mr. Alford and his associates were falsely representing that they could secure the pardon. Matt Gaetz had earlier unsuccessfully sought a pardon from Mr. Trump before Mr. Trump left office.”

 

Wednesday, 1 September 2021:

 

Supreme Court, Breaking Silence, Won’t Block Texas Abortion Law. The law, which prohibits most abortions after six weeks and went into effect on Wednesday, was drafted by Texas lawmakers with the goal of frustrating efforts to challenge it in federal court. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, J.David Goodman, and Sabrina Tavernise, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “The Supreme Court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions, less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The majority opinion was unsigned and consisted of a single long paragraph. It said the abortion providers who had challenged the law in an emergency application to the court had not made their case in the face of ‘complex and novel’ procedural questions. The majority stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law and did not mean to limit ‘procedurally proper challenges’ to it. But the ruling was certain to fuel the hopes of abortion opponents and fears of abortion rights advocates as the court takes up a separate case in its new term this fall to decide whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to the procedure, should be overruled. It also left Texas abortion providers turning away patients as they scrambled to comply with the law, which prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks. All four dissenting justices filed opinions.” See also, Supreme Court refuses to block Texas law banning abortions at six weeks, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Ann E. Marimow, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, and Caroline Kitchener, published on Thursday, 2 September 2021: “A divided Supreme Court late Wednesday refused to block one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws, a unique Texas statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Because the court did not act earlier in the day, the law already had taken effect, and clinics in Texas said they had stopped providing abortions starting at six weeks after a woman’s last period. The court’s five most consistent conservatives — Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., plus President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — said they would let the law stand while the legal battle over it continues. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s three liberals to say he would have kept the law from being implemented while the legality of the law was weighed in court. He described the Texas statute’s enforcement plan as ‘not only unusual, but unprecedented’ and said it deserved more exacting judicial scrutiny. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was more heated in her dissent: ‘The Court’s order is stunning,’ she wrote. ‘Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.’ Abortion providers say the ban — which relies on private citizens to sue people who help women get forbidden abortions — effectively eliminates the guarantee in Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that women have a right to end their pregnancies before viability, and that states may not impose undue burdens on that decision. It was specifically designed to turn away pre-enforcement challenges in federal courts. With the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene, the most likely challenge will come after the law is used by a private citizen. Then the person sued could contest the constitutionality of the law, with the backing of abortion providers and abortion rights groups.” See also, Texas’ 6-week abortion ban lets private citizens sue in an unprecedented legal approach, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “A Texas state law that bans abortion after as early as six weeks into the pregnancy could provide the playbook for red states to pass extreme abortion restrictions — without having to wait for the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade. The measure — signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May — prohibits abortion providers from conducting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It would effectively outlaw at least 85% of the abortions sought in the state, according to opponents of the law, since that point is around six weeks into the pregnancy, before some women know they’re pregnant. The law took effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court did not rule on attempts to block it. It was passed amid a slew of restrictions that were approved by GOP legislatures across the country this year, after the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett jerked the Supreme Court further to the right and made it more likely that the court will scale back or reverse entirely Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that enshrined a constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus is viable. But among those restrictions, the Texas bill stands out for the novel approach it takes in curtailing the procedure. Rather than imposing a criminal or regulatory punishment for those who conduct abortions after the point in the pregnancy, the state law created a so-called ‘private right of action’ to enforce the restriction. Essentially, the legislature deputized private citizens to bring civil litigation — with the threat of $10,000 or more in damages — against providers or even anyone who helped a woman access an abortion after six weeks. ‘The way the bill is structured incentivizes vigilante lawsuits that will harass abortion providers and those who support providing abortions in Texas,’ Adriana Piñon, an attorney at the Texas chapter of ACLU, told CNN.” See also, Biden says Texas law prohibiting most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy ‘blatantly violates’ constitutional right, The Washington Post, Donna Cassata, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “President Biden called a Texas law prohibiting most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy a blatant violation of a woman’s constitutional right to abortion established under the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. In a statement Wednesday, the president said his administration is committed to Roe v. Wade and will ‘protect and defend that right.’ The Texas law that went into effect Wednesday makes no exception for incest or rape while allowing private citizens to file civil suits against individuals who help a woman seeking an abortion. ‘This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,’ Biden said. The president said the law will ‘significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes. And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual.'” See also, Biden blasts Texas’ 6-week abortion ban as ‘extreme’ and a violation of a constitutional right, CNN Politics, Kate Sullivan, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “President Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted the Texas state law that bans abortion after as early as six weeks into pregnancy as ‘extreme’ and said it ‘blatantly violates’ a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, as affirmed by the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.” See also, Answers to Questions About the Texas Abortion Law. The law prohibits abortions before many women even know they’re pregnant, and it will be hard to challenge in the courts. The New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “A Texas law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday, despite the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to the procedure, making the state the most restrictive in the nation in terms of access to abortion services. Other states have passed similar laws, but those measures face legal challenges. The Texas law is the first to be implemented. On a vote of 5 to 4, the court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block the law. Because of the way the law was written, it may be difficult to challenge in court, representing a sea change in the battle over abortion rights and inviting imitation by other jurisdictions seeking to tamp down access to abortion.” See also, What to know about the Texas abortion law, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “Overnight Wednesday, Texas became the state with the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. The Supreme Court is allowing the law to stay in effect while the battle over its legality continues, which surprised abortion-rights advocates who argue the law is clearly unconstitutional. What does the statute mean for legalized abortion in Texas, and what are the ramifications for the rest of America?

  • What does the Texas abortion law say?
  • What did the Supreme Court do to keep the law in place?
  • What does this mean for abortion restrictions in other states?
  • Could Roe v. Wade still stand a chance?
  • Where do things stand right now in Texas for abortion providers and women seeking abortions?
  • What happens next in the courts?

Afghanistan Updates: U.S. Military Wary of Working With Taliban Against ISIS-K, The New York Times, Wednesday, 1 September 2021:

  • Will the Pentagon keep coordinating with the Taliban? ‘It’s possible.’

  • The Taliban are poised to name a supreme leader and map out their government.

  • Afghan siblings recount the perils of the first day of Taliban rule.

  • Food aid to Afghans will be gone in a month, U.N. warns.

  • Few options remain for Afghans seeking to leave.

  • On Afghan withdrawal, Biden bucks the consensus of the foreign policy elite.

  • In photos: A view from Afghanistan before the fall.

Afghanistan Updates: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defended U.S. drone strike in Kabul despite reported civilian casualties, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Haq Hawaz Khan, Miriam Berger, and Sammy Westfall, Wednesday, 1 September 2021: “The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday defended Sunday’s U.S. drone strike in Kabul that appears to have caused civilian casualties. The strike, targeting an ‘imminent’ threat posed by the Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan, was ‘righteous,’ Gen. Mark A. Milley said, and through a ‘variety of means,’ military officials know that at least one Islamic State member, whom they have declined to name, was killed. ‘At the time — and I think this is still valid — we had very good intelligence that ISIS-K was preparing a specific type of vehicle at a specific type of location,’ he said. ‘We monitored that through various means and all of the engagement criteria were being met. We went through the same level of rigor that we’ve done for years, and we took a strike.’ Ten civilians in a northwestern Kabul neighborhood — eight of them children 18 and under — were killed in the attack, family members told The Washington Post on Monday. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport last week, which killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 civilians trying to flee the country.

  • Heavy fighting erupted in pockets of northern Afghanistan on Tuesday night in what may be some of the final clashes between Taliban and resistance fighters as the Islamist group tries to consolidate its hold on the country.
  • U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned that Afghanistan faces an impending ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ after the departure of U.S. forces, and he urged countries to help the people of Afghanistan as they face ‘their darkest hour of need.’
  • The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan ‘was not responsible and not orderly,’ Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Wednesday, and it amounted to the ‘abandonment of the Afghan people.’

 

Thursday, 2 September 2021:

 

Afghanistan Updates: Pentagon Says Working With Taliban Against ISIS-K Is ‘Possible,’ The New York Times, Thursday, 2 September 2021:

  • U.S. leaves the possibility of cooperating with the Taliban open, as Afghans face a growing crisis.

  • ‘Don’t be afraid,’ women chant on Afghanistan’s streets in protest against the Taliban.

  • As Afghan evacuees are screened for security risks, very few have raised concerns, the military says.

  • Short on money, legal or otherwise, the Taliban face a crisis.

  • Western Union resumes remittances, restarting a potential financial lifeline for Afghans.

  • The White House rejects easing sanctions on the Taliban.

  • Afghan siblings recount the perils of the first day of Taliban rule.

  • The last U.S. diplomat to leave Kabul has tested positive for the virus.

  • Qatar is in talks with the Taliban to help reopen Kabul’s airport.
  • Dozens of prominent Republicans, eager to damage Biden, have flip-flopped on the pullout from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Updates: Pentagon says it is ‘possible’ the U.S. could work with Taliban against terrorists, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, Miriam Berger, Sammy Westfall, and Paulina Villegas, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “The top U.S. military official said it is ‘possible’ the United States will coordinate with the Taliban in the fight against the Islamic State, although he declined to make predictions about potential collaboration with Afghanistan’s new rulers, who could announce a new government as early as Thursday. ‘We don’t know what the future of the Taliban is, but I can tell you from personal experience that this is a ruthless group from the past, and whether or not they change remains to be seen,’ Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Wednesday. ‘In war, you do what you must,’ he added, even if it is ‘not what you necessarily want to do.’ American commanders worked with the Taliban to facilitate the evacuation of more than 124,000 people from Afghanistan in recent weeks. Both the United States and the Taliban share a common threat in the Islamic State, which was responsible for an attack outside Kabul airport last week that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 civilians.

  • President Biden made an unscheduled trip Thursday evening to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, where members of the Marine Corps injured in the attack at Kabul airport last week are receiving treatment.
  • Despite the dangers, dozens of Afghan women took to the streets in western Afghanistan on Thursday in a rare public demonstration against Taliban restrictions on their right to work and seek education.
  • The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, operated by the World Food Program, is set to resume flights in Afghanistan, allowing 160 humanitarian organizations to continue their work in the country.
  • More than 31,000 of the roughly 124,000 evacuees from Afghanistan arrived in the United States between Aug. 17 and Aug. 31. That figure included nearly 24,000 ‘Afghans at risk,’ the State Department said.

The Afghan evacuation and the war–by the numbers, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “There have been a lot of numbers used by public officials and the news media in recent days about the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Here they are all in one place — and which numbers are missing. Where possible, the source of the information is included. We will update this as appropriate as more information becomes available, including noting whether numbers previously provided turned out to be false.”

Federal judge says forcing asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico is illegal. Ruling says the practice violates constitutional rights to due process and a federal law requiring officials to screen anyone who shows up seeking asylum. NBC News/The Associated Press, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “A federal judge ruled Thursday that the U.S. government’s practice of denying migrants a chance to apply for asylum on the Mexican border until space opens up to process claims is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant’s ruling has no immediate impact but could prevent the government from limiting entry for asylum-seekers because it says it lacks resources. It could also bring relief to some of the tens of thousands of people who put their names on unofficial waiting lists in Mexican border towns.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia Jolts Democrats by Urging ‘Pause’ on $3.5 Trillion Bill, Bloomberg, Laura Litvan, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “Senator Joe Manchin is demanding a ‘strategic pause’ in action on President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, potentially imperiling the $3.5 trillion tax and spending package that Democratic leaders plan to push through Congress this fall. The West Virginia Democrat, a linchpin vote in the evenly divided Senate, said at an event in his home state on Wednesday and in a Thursday Wall Street Journal op-ed that rising inflation and a soaring national debt necessitate a go-slow approach and a ‘significantly’ smaller plan than the one Democratic leaders and the White House have endorsed.”

Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming is appointed vice chair of House select committee investigating January 6 violent attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has been appointed as vice chair of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, according to a statement Thursday from the panel. ‘Every member of this committee is dedicated to conducting a non-partisan, professional, and thorough investigation of all the relevant facts regarding January 6th and the threat to our Constitution we faced that day,’ Cheney said in a statement. ‘I have accepted the position of Vice Chair of the committee to assure that we achieve that goal.’ The move further cements Cheney as a major player in the investigation. She was originally tapped to join the committee in July, after she was ousted by fellow House Republicans from her leadership position in May over her challenge of President Donald Trump’s false claim that the presidential election was stolen. Cheney’s position will boost Democrats’ arguments the probe is bipartisan even as many Republicans oppose it — with some GOP lawmakers going so far as to threaten telecommunications and social media companies that comply with the committee’s requests.”

Virginia Supreme Court Rules the State Can Remove Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, NPR, The Associated Press, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that the state can take down an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that became widely seen as a symbol of racial injustice as it towered over Monument Avenue in the state’s capital for more than a century. The high court’s ruling came in two lawsuits filed by Virginia residents who attempted to block removal of the 21-foot (6-meter) bronze equestrian sculpture, which shows Lee in military attire atop a 40-foot (12-meter) pedestal. The court found that ‘restrictive covenants’ in the 1887 and 1890 deeds that transferred the statue to the state no longer apply. ‘Those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel government speech, by forcing the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees,’ the justices wrote.” See also, Virginia Supreme Court Clears Path for Removal of Robert E. Lee Statue. Two unanimous rulings allow Governor Ralph Northam to remove the statue from its prominent spot on Monument Avenue in Richmond. The New York Times, Vimal Patel, Thursday, 2 September 2021: “Virginia’s Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously affirmed the power of Gov. Ralph Northam to remove an imposing statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, a symbol that had become a target of demonstrators after the death of George Floyd last year. Mr. Northam had announced his intention to have the 60-foot statue removed from Monument Avenue in June 2020, less than two weeks after Mr. Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis. Defenders of the 130-year-old monument challenged Mr. Northam in court, arguing that his order violated Virginia’s Constitution by encroaching on the legislature’s powers and that it defied agreements dating to the late 1880s that guaranteed the statue would remain in a public space.”

 

Friday, 3 September 2021:

 

‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley pleads guilty to felony in US Capitol riot, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Friday, 3 September 2021: “The so-called ‘QAnon Shaman’ who stormed the US Capitol in a horned bearskin outfit pleaded guilty Friday to a felony for obstructing the Electoral College proceedings on January 6. The defendant, Jacob Chansley of Arizona, is a well-known figure in the QAnon movement. He went viral after the January 6 attack because of the bizarre outfit he wore while rummaging through the Capitol. He made his way to the Senate dais that was hastily vacated earlier by Vice President Mike Pence — someone Chansley falsely claimed was a ‘child-trafficking traitor.’ He pleaded guilty Friday during a virtual hearing in DC District Court. The guilty plea was made as part of a deal with prosecutors, and it was accepted by District Judge Royce Lamberth.”

 

Sunday, 5 September 2021:

 

Republican wins on abortion, voting, and guns cap their banner 2021, with Democratic goals in ‘dire’ danger despite power in Washington, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Sunday, 5 September 2021: “The imperfect American commitment to majority rule has come into stark relief in recent decades as the nation’s politics have polarized along geographic and educational lines. Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last nine presidential contests. In that same period, Republican presidents have appointed six of the nine justices who now sit on the Supreme Court, thanks to two Republican victors in the electoral college who received fewer total popular votes than their opponents. The 50 Republican senators, who tend to hail from smaller states than Democrats, received 63 million votes in their most recent elections, while the 50 Democratic senators were the preference of 87 million voters, according to a calculation by Michael Ettlinger, the director of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. The disparity between popular vote and governing power has also shown up in state and federal legislative bodies. Republicans have won the national popular vote in eight of the last 15 congressional campaigns. But they have controlled House after 10 of those elections because they won more districts despite getting fewer total votes nationally in both 1996 and 2012.”

Trump’s Long Campaign to Steal the Presidency: A Timeline. The insurrection was a complex, yearslong plot, not a one-day event. And it isn’t over. New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore, Sunday, 5 September 2021: “The House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol Riot and the various media ticktocks explaining what Donald Trump and his allies were doing in the days immediately leading up to it are casting new light on an important threat to American democracy. But the intense focus on a few wild days in Washington can be misleading as well. Trump’s campaign to steal the 2020 presidential election began shortly after the 2016 election, and arguably the moment of peak peril for Joe Biden’s inauguration had already passed by the time Trump addressed the Stop the Steal rally on January 6. A full timeline of the attempted insurrection is helpful in putting Trump’s frantic, last-minute schemes into the proper context and countering the false impression that January 6 was an improvised, impossible-to-replicate event, rather than one part of an ongoing campaign. If Congress fails to seize its brief opportunity to reform our electoral system, the danger could recur in future elections — perhaps with a different, catastrophic outcome.”

 

Monday, 6 September 2021:

 

Justice Department to protect women seeking an abortion in Texas, The Washington Post, Hamza Shaban, Monday, 6 September 2021: “The Justice Department is exploring ‘all options’ to challenge Texas’s restrictive abortion law, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday, as he vowed to provide support to abortion clinics that are ‘under attack’ in the state and to protect those seeking and providing reproductive health services. The move by the nation’s top law enforcement official comes just days after the Supreme Court refused to block a Texas abortion statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The court’s action stands as the most serious threat to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling establishing a right to abortion, in nearly 50 years. President Biden, who has sharply criticized the high court’s decision, had asked the Justice Department to explore ways to contest the Texas law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has pledged to call a vote later this month on legislation that would enshrine the right to an abortion into federal law.” See also, Justice Department Says U.S. Will ‘Protect Texas Women Seeking Abortions. The statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland did not directly challenge a new Texas law that banned nearly all abortions in the state. The New York Times, Aishvarya Kavi, Monday, 6 September 2021: “Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said on Monday that the Justice Department would continue to protect women who seek an abortion in Texas, days after a state law enacting a near-complete ban on the procedure went in effect. ‘We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services,’ Mr. Garland said in a statement. ‘The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack.'”

From Cradle to Grave, Democrats Move to Expand Social Safety Net. The $3.5 trillion social policy bill that lawmakers begin drafting this week would touch virtually every American, at every point in life, from conception to old age. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, Monday, 6 September 2021: “When congressional committees meet this week to begin formally drafting Democrats’ ambitious social policy plan, they will be undertaking the most significant expansion of the nation’s safety net since the war on poverty in the 1960s, devising legislation that would touch virtually every American’s life, from conception to aged infirmity. Passage of the bill, which could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade, is anything but certain. President Biden, who has staked much of his domestic legacy on the measure’s enactment, will need the vote of every single Democrat in the Senate, and virtually every one in the House, to secure it. And with two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, saying they would not accept such a costly plan, it will challenge Democratic unity like nothing has since the Affordable Care Act.”

 

Tuesday, 7 September 2021:

 

Afghanistan News: Old Taliban Figures Make a Return to Power as Protests Roil Kabul. The Taliban, who promised an inclusive leadership, drew from its own ranks to fill key government positions. For the second time in less than a week, protests that included hundreds of women were crushed. The New York Times, Tuesday, 7 September 2021:

  • Hard-liners predominate as the Taliban begins filling the government.

  • Women peacefully protesting in Kabul were beaten by the Taliban.

  • Blinken says the U.S. is working to get remaining Americans out of Afghanistan.

  • Aided by international partners, the Taliban are working to restore operations at the Kabul airport.

  • What do rebels like to do after gaining power? Consolidate it, history shows.

  • Qatar is uniquely positioned as intermediary between West and Taliban.

  • In pictures: A Taliban crackdown as protesters take to the streets.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs Texas Election Law, Ending a Fierce Voting Rights Battle. Abbott called the law, which will sharply curtail access to the ballot in Texas, a ‘paradigm’ for other states looking to pass election bills. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Tuesday, 7 September 2021: “Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Tuesday signed a sweeping bill overhauling the state’s elections, capping a dramatic, monthslong national saga over voting rights with a new Republican-led law that will sharply restrict voting across the nation’s second-biggest state…. [T]he legislation … contains numerous measures that will make voting harder. In particular, it bans balloting methods that Harris County, which includes the Democratic bastion of Houston, introduced last year to make voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic, including drive-through polling places and 24-hour voting. The law, which will apply to next year’s elections in the state, will further restrict absentee voting. One provision bars election officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications and from promoting the use of vote by mail, and another further limits the use of drop boxes. The law also greatly empowers partisan poll watchers; creates new criminal and civil penalties for poll workers who fall afoul of the rules; and erects new barriers for those looking to assist voters who need help, such as with translations. Under complete Republican control, the Texas Legislature has taken a sharp right turn this year, enacting a lengthy list of conservative priorities on abortion, transgender rights, teaching about racism in schools and voting. But the election bill in particular follows a national trend, with Republican-controlled legislatures in 18 states having passed more than 30 laws this year restricting access to voting.” See also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs law creating new voting restrictions as opponents sue, The Washington Post, Eva Ruth Moravec, Tuesday, 7 September 2021: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill that creates strict new voting rules in the state, ending a months-long effort by Democrats to stall the legislation by denying Republicans a quorum in the House. But the law already faces at least five challenges in state and federal courts, with dozens of organizations and individuals suing Texas GOP leaders and local elections officials. Abbott said he did not think the legal challenges would derail the legislation.”

Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi L. Noem issues order restricting abortion medications, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Tuesday, 7 September 2021: “South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) on Tuesday issued an executive order restricting telemedicine abortions and abortion medications, days after she called for a review of the state’s abortion laws. The order mandates that abortion medication can be prescribed or dispensed only after an in-person examination by a doctor licensed in South Dakota. It also bans abortion medication from ‘being provided via courier, delivery, telemedicine, or mail service,’ as well as on state grounds or in schools. Social conservatives like Noem have been emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision last week to not block a Texas law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, or before many people know they are pregnant. In Texas, another bill that has been sent to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for his approval also restricts abortion medications.”

White House seeking an extra $30 billion for disaster recovery and Afghan resettlement. The funding would help pay for the resettlement of 64,000 Afghans in the U.S. by the end of the month, an official said. NBC News, Shannon Pettypiece, Tuesday, 7 September 2021: “The White House is asking Congress for at least $30 billion to help fund the resettlement of tens of thousands of Afghans and to pay for the recovery from Hurricane Ida and other recent natural disasters. The short-term budgetary request to Congress, called a continuing resolution, includes $6.4 billion to help fund the processing and resettlement of Afghan refugees, at least $10 billion for recovery from Hurricane Ida and $14 billion for other natural disasters, an administration official said on a call with reporters.

 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021:

 

From 4% to 45 %: Energy Department Lays Out Ambitious Blueprint for Solar Power. The department’s analysis provides only a broad outline, and many of the details will be decided by congressional lawmakers. The New York Times, Ivan Penn, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “The Biden administration on Wednesday released a blueprint showing how the nation could move toward producing almost half of its electricity from the sun by 2050 — a potentially big step toward fighting climate change but one that would require vast upgrades to the electric grid. There is little historical precedent for expanding solar energy, which contributed less than 4 percent of the country’s electricity last year, as quickly as the Energy Department outlined in a new report. To achieve that growth, the country would have to double the amount of solar energy installed every year over the next four years and then double it again by 2030. Such a large increase, laid out in the report, is in line with what most climate scientists say is needed to stave off the worst effects of global warming. It would require a vast transformation in technology, the energy industry and the way people live.” See also, Biden administration says solar energy has the potential to power 40% of US electricity by 2035, CNN Politics, Ella Nilsen, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “A new blueprint from the Biden administration shows how solar energy could play a massive role in transitioning the United States’ power sector to clean energy, and achieve the President’s ambitious goals to decarbonize the US economy. The Solar Futures Study from the Department of Energy, released Wednesday, shows that by 2035, solar energy has the potential to power 40% of the nation’s electricity and employ as many as 1.5 million people — without raising electricity costs for consumers. Though the report shows reaching 40% solar is possible, that goal is contingent on Congress passing legislation that incentivizes renewable energy as well as the widespread adoption of solar power. Congressional Democrats are currently negotiating a $3.5 trillion spending bill that includes tax credits for wind and solar power, but it faces a tough fight this fall.”

The Wealthiest 1% of U.S. Taxpayers Are Evading $163 Billion a Year in Taxes, the Treasury Department Finds, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans are the nation’s most egregious tax evaders, failing to pay as much as $163 billion in owed taxes per year, according to a new Treasury Department report released on Wednesday. The analysis comes as the Biden administration is pushing lawmakers to embrace its ambitious proposal to invest in beefing up the Internal Revenue Service to narrow the ‘tax gap,’ which it estimates amounts to $7 trillion in unpaid taxes over a decade. The White House has proposed investing $80 billion in the tax collection agency over the next 10 years to hire more enforcement staff, overhaul its technology and usher in new information-reporting requirements that would give the government greater insight into tax evasion schemes. The proposals have been met with deep skepticism from Republicans and business lobbyists who argue that the I.R.S. cannot be trusted with more power and that the proposals are an invasion of privacy. Democrats are counting on raising money by collecting more unpaid taxes to help pay for the $3.5 trillion spending package they are in the process of drafting. The Treasury Department estimates that its tax gap proposals could raise $700 billion over a decade.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says participants in September 18 Capitol rally are ‘coming back to praise the people who were out to kill’ during the January 6 insurrection by a pro-Trump mob, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Ellie Silverman, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday sharply condemned those who are planning to take part in a Sept. 18 rally outside the U.S. Capitol, accusing them of ‘coming back to praise the people who were out to kill’ during the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob. In response to a question at her weekly news conference, Pelosi said the House Administration Committee is holding briefings related to the upcoming rally and that she will make an announcement on the topic soon. Supporters of former president Donald Trump are planning to rally outside the Capitol to argue that the hundreds of people charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection are political prisoners, an assertion that has exploded beyond far-right rallying cries and into mainstream conservatism.”

Biden administration tells ex-Trump officials to resign from military academy advisory boards or be dismissed, CNN Politics, Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “The Biden administration has told 11 officials appointed to military service academy advisory boards by former President Donald Trump to resign or be dismissed, a source familiar with the situation tells CNN’s KFile. The officials asked to resign include prominent former Trump officials like former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former senior counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster. They were appointed to the advisory boards of the Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and West Point respectively.”

Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is removed in Richmond, ex-capital of Confederacy, after months of protests and legal resistance, The Washington Post, Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “Workers have removed Virginia’s biggest statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its towering stone base and cut it into two pieces, ending the monument’s 131-year reign embodying this city’s mythology as the former capital of the Confederacy. Lee’s surrender came so fast — after less than an hour of work Wednesday — that hundreds of onlookers were caught by surprise. Workers who had affixed slings to the statue from a cherry picker began waving their arms, urging the crowd to cheer, and one of the workers held up five fingers, then four, then three, two, one, and a crane lifted the statue from its base.” See also, Virginia Removes Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee From State Capital. The Confederate memorial was erected in 1890, the first of six monuments that became symbols of white power along the main boulevard in Richmond. The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise, Wednesday, 8 September 2021: “One of the nation’s largest Confederate monuments — a soaring statue of Robert E. Lee, the South’s Civil War general — was hoisted off its pedestal in downtown Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, bringing to an end the era of Confederate statues in the city that is best known for them. It was an emotional and deeply symbolic moment for a city that was once the capital of the Confederacy. The Lee statue was erected in 1890, the first of six Confederate monuments — symbols of white power — to dot Monument Avenue, a grassy boulevard that was a proud feature of the city’s architecture and a coveted address. On Wednesday, it became the last of them to be removed, opening up the story of this city to all of its residents to write.”

 

Thursday, 9 September 2021:

 

Afghanistan Update: Passenger Flight Arrives in Doha, First From Afghanistan Since Evacuation. The plane included U.S. citizens and permanent residents as well as passengers from Canada, Britain, and other countries. But there was no indication about whether Afghan citizens could also leave. The New York Times, Thursday, 9 September 2021:

  • Scenes of relief replace images of desperation at the Kabul airport.

  • More Americans are expected to exit Kabul in the coming days.

  • Video shows Taliban fighters living inside a former warlord’s mansion.

  • Afghanistan is at risk of ‘universal poverty’ by mid-2022, U.N. warns.

  • A handful of international aid groups have decided to stay in Afghanistan and seek a way forward.

  • In a cautious overture, China pledges $30 million in aid to Afghanistan.

Biden is requiring the vast majority of federal workers to get vaccinated or face disciplinary measures, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Katie Rogers, Thursday, 9 September 2021: “President Biden on Thursday used the full force of his presidency to push two-thirds of American workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, reaching into the private sector to mandate that all companies with more than 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing. Mr. Biden also moved to mandate shots for health care workers, federal contractors and the vast majority of federal workers, who could face disciplinary measures if they refuse. The sweeping actions, which the president announced in a White House speech, are the most expansive actions he has taken to control the pandemic since he assumed the presidency in January, and will affect almost every aspect of American society. They also reflect Mr. Biden’s deep frustration with the roughly 80 million Americans who are eligible for the shots but have not been vaccinated.” See also, Biden announces sweeping new vaccine mandates for businesses and federal workers, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Seung Min Kim, and Lisa Rein, Thursday, 9 September 2021: “President Biden announced sweeping new coronavirus vaccine mandates Thursday designed to affect tens of millions of Americans, ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be immunized or face weekly testing. Biden also said that he would require most health-care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to vaccinate their employees, which the White House believes will cover 50,000 locations. And the president signed an executive order compelling all federal employees to get vaccinated — without an option for those who prefer to be regularly tested instead — in an effort to create a model he hopes state governments will embrace. He is also ordering all staffers in Head Start programs, along with Defense Department and federally operated schools for Native Americans, to be vaccinated.”

The Justice Department sues Texas over its new restrictive abortion law, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 9 September 2021: “The Justice Department sued Texas on Thursday over its recently enacted law that prohibits nearly all abortions in the state, the first significant step by the Biden administration to fight the nation’s most restrictive ban on abortion and a move that could once again put the statute before the Supreme Court. The department argued that the law was unconstitutional because it allowed Texas to essentially prohibit abortion while technically complying with Supreme Court rulings that forbid such a ban by deputizing private parties to enforce the new restrictions. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called Texas’ enforcement mechanism ‘an unprecedented’ effort whose ‘obvious and expressly acknowledged intention’ was to prevent women from exercising their constitutionally protected right to have abortions. ‘This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans — whatever their politics or party — should fear,’ Mr. Garland said in a news conference at the Justice Department. ‘If it prevails, it may become a model for action in other areas, by other states, and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents.’ The Justice Department is seeking an injunction that would prohibit enforcement of the Texas law. ‘It is settled constitutional law that a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability,’ the lawsuit said. ‘But Texas has done just that.'” See also, Justice Department sues Texas to block six-week abortion ban, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Ann E. Marimow, published on Friday, 10 September 2021: “The Biden administration sued Texas on Thursday to try to block the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy and allows private citizens to take legal action against anyone who helps a woman terminate her pregnancy. The law took effect Sept. 1, effectively ending most abortions in the nation’s second-most-populous state, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The suit filed by the Justice Department in federal court in Austin asks a judge to ‘protect the rights that Texas has violated’ by declaring the abortion law unconstitutional and issuing an injunction blocking its enforcement. At a news conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the ban ‘is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent.'” See also, Here’s What the Texas Abortion Law Says. We took an up-close look at the text of S.B. 8, which bans almost all abortions in Texas and delegates enforcement responsibility to citizens. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Thursday, 9 September 2021: “A new Texas law that the Supreme Court did not block last week has made abortion functionally illegal in the state. Several other states have tried over the years to limit or ban abortions before fetal viability but have not managed to maneuver past the courts. Texas lawmakers did so through a unique legal approach. The law, Senate Bill 8, bans most abortions after about six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant — and authorizes citizens to enforce it. Abortion providers in Texas said that 85 to 90 percent of the procedures they previously performed were after the six-week mark. To better understand what S.B. 8 says and does, I read the law in its entirety and consulted with two professors who have expertise in abortion jurisprudence — Mary Ziegler of Florida State University, who has written several books on abortion law, including ‘Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present,’ and Melissa Murray of New York University, who co-wrote the first casebook on reproductive law and is a host of ‘Strict Scrutiny,’ a podcast about the Supreme Court. Professor Murray cautioned that parts of the law were written so vaguely that they ‘could reasonably be subject to a wide range of interpretations.'”

A Judge Has Blocked the ‘Anti-Riot Law Passed in Florida After George Floyd Protests, NPR, The Associated Press, Thursday, 9 September 2021: “Florida’s new ‘anti-riot’ law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as a way to quell violent protests is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, a federal judge ruled Thursday. The 90-page decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee found the recently-enacted law ‘vague and overbroad’ and amounted to an assault on First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly as well as the Constitution’s due process protections. People engaged in peaceful protest or innocently in the same area when a demonstration turned violent could face criminal charges and stiff penalties under the law, the judge said. A key issue is defining what the word ‘riot’ means in the statute. Walker noted that past Florida laws sought to prevent demonstrations that could threaten segregationist Jim Crow-era practices.”

 

Friday, 10 September 2021:

 

Harvard Says It Will Not Invest in Fossil Fuels. The announcement is a major victory for the climate change movement and marks a striking change in tone for the university. The New York Times, Anemona Hartocollis, Friday, 10 September 2021: “Harvard University has announced that it ‘does not intend’ to make any future investments in fossil fuels, and is winding down its legacy investments because, the university’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, said in an email to the Harvard community, ‘climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity.’ The announcement, sent out on Thursday, is a major victory for the climate change movement, given Harvard’s $42 billion endowment and prestigious reputation, and a striking change in tone for the school, which has resisted putting its full weight behind such a declaration during years of lobbying by student, faculty and alumni activists. Since last year, the activism has succeeded in getting four pro-divestment candidates elected to Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the first candidates elected through a petition campaign since 1989, when anti-apartheid activists seeking divestment in South Africa put Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the panel, which helps set strategy for the school.” See also, Harvard, America’s richest university, will divest from fossil fuels. The move marks a victory for climate change activists and could trigger action across higher education and beyond. The Washington Post, Nick Anderson and Michael Birnbaum, Friday, 10 September 2021: “Harvard University said this week that it will end all of its investments in fossil fuels, a landmark victory for climate activists who have lobbied major colleges and universities to stop funding activities that help drive global warming. The action is likely to have ripple effects in higher education and beyond, given Harvard’s $41 billion endowment and its iconic status among American institutions. For years, Harvard resisted calls to cut off funding for oil and gas firms despite demands from many students, alumni and outside advocates.”

Biden administration appeals a Texas court ruling that found DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) unlawful, CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez, Friday, 10 September 2021: “The Biden administration appealed on Friday a Texas court ruling that found the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program unlawful — injecting fresh uncertainty into the lives of thousands of immigrants. The Justice Department filed a notice to appeal US District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling, kicking off the appeals process in the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, an extremely conservative appeals court. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing a group of DACA recipients who are defending the program, also filed a notice to appeal.”

Florida appeals court rules in favor of DeSantis, allowing his ban on mask mandates in schools to stand, CNN US, Melissa Alonso, Friday, 10 September 2021: “Florida’s 1st District Court on Friday reinstated a stay on mask mandates in schools, blocking local school requirements for now, court documents show. Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis filed the emergency appeal after a judge ruled on Wednesday that the state must stop its enforcement of a mask ban. The latest court ruling comes amid a showdown between the state and some local school districts that have insisted on requiring students to wear masks as Covid-19 infections surge. The civil rights enforcement arm of the US Department of Education added to the issue Friday, saying it is opening an investigation into whether the Florida education department ‘may be preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities’ with the mask mandate ban.”

Millions of workers and businesses face Biden’s new coronavirus vaccine and testing rules, The Washington Post, Rachel Siegel, Eli Rosenberg, Hamza Shaban, and Annabelle Timsit, Friday, 10 September 2021: “The Biden administration’s attempt to compel private companies to require vaccinations or rigorous testing drew stern rebukes from conservatives Friday, split the business community and raised new questions about the federal government’s ability to carry out such a massive mandate. Republican governors from Texas to Missouri to Georgia have threatened to fight back against the move to force companies with more than 100 employees to require coronavirus vaccinations or regular testing. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called the mandates ‘an assault on private businesses’ and said the state is ‘already working to halt this power grab.’ The employer mandates, which the White House estimates could reach as many as 80 million people, or two-thirds of U.S. workers, would be the most extensive government intervention into private companies and employer practices since the pandemic began. The plan, announced Thursday, comes as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has led to a surge of more than 150,000 new cases a day, mostly among the unvaccinated, while also weighing on the economy. Companies that ignore the policy could face penalties of up to $14,000 for each violation, according to a senior administration official. Also, companies would be required to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated.”

The Texas Abortion Law Creates a Kind of Bounty Hunter. Here’s How It Works. There is little precedent for the provision that deputizes ordinary citizens to enforce an effective ban on abortions–and offers them a financial incentive to do so. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 10 September 2021: “The new law in Texas effectively banning most abortions has ignited widespread controversy and debate, in part because of the mechanism it uses to enforce the restrictions: deputizing ordinary people to sue those involved in performing abortions and giving them a financial incentive to do so. The law establishes a kind of bounty system. If these vigilante plaintiffs are successful, the law allows them to collect cash judgments of $10,000 — and their legal fees — from those they sue. If they lose, they do not have to pay the defendants’ legal costs. The Supreme Court declined to stop the legislation from taking effect, and so far, no one has brought a suit against an abortion provider because clinics in the state have chosen to abide by the law, which effectively bars abortions starting around the sixth week of pregnancy.”

 

Saturday, 11 September 2021:

 

Man With Assault Rifle Pleads Guilty to Threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. wrote the day after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that he would put ‘a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.’ The New York Times, Vimal Patel, Saturday, 11 September 2021: “A Georgia man who had an assault rifle and was headed to Washington for the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol pleaded guilty on Friday to sending threatening text messages about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The man, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., wrote to an acquaintance the day after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol that he would put ‘a bullet in her noggin on Live TV’ and included a purple devil emoji, the federal authorities said. In other messages, he said he would run over Ms. Pelosi…. Mr. Meredith had been staying at a Holiday Inn in Washington and had weapons in his camper-style trailer, including a Glock handgun, a Tavor X95 assault rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to court records. Mr. Meredith was one of the first 13 people charged in federal court after a mob in support of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol. He was charged in January with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, according to court records. Mr. Meredith pleaded guilty to the interstate communications charge and faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”

 

Sunday, 12 September 2021:

 

For Many Businesses, Resistance to Tax Increases Outweighs the Appeal of a $3.5 Trillion Bill Containing Child Care Credits and Other Items That Corporations Embrace, The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, Sunday, 12 September 2021: “The far-reaching social policy bill under construction in Congress has much that corporate America has long sought from Washington. Federal funding for family leave would ease the burden of businesses that currently pay for it while helping those that cannot afford it compete for workers. Child care tax credits would get women back in the work force. Income supports for young families could ease upward pressure on wages. But the bill also contains plenty for corporate America to dislike — particularly the tax increases that would pay for it — and in the cold calculus of corporate lobbying, industries are working hard to bring the whole enterprise down.”

House Democrats circulate new tax plan as the party seeks unity on key economic package, The Washington Post, Tony Romm and Jeff Stein, Sunday, 12 September 2021: “A powerful panel of House Democrats on Sunday circulated a draft plan that would raise $2.9 trillion in new taxes and revenue predominantly targeted toward wealthy Americans, corporations and investors, as party lawmakers continued to spar in public over the size and scope of their new tax-and-spending package. The new proposal includes many measures Democrats are widely expected to embrace, such as increasing the top tax rate on Americans earning over $435,000 from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. It also calls for a new corporate tax rate of 26.5 percent for large profitable businesses, up from the current rate of 21 percent but lower than President Biden’s original proposal of 28 percent. Some smaller firms would see their taxes stay the same or even cut under the plan. Many items in the new draft scale back the more ambitious tax increases sought by Biden earlier this year. But the ideas taken together amount to a significant unwinding of the tax cuts enacted by Republicans under former president Donald Trump four years ago, drawing praise from the White House on Sunday.” See also, House Democrats Outline Tax Increases for Wealthy Businesses and Individuals, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Sunday, 12 September 2021: “Senior House Democrats are coalescing around a draft proposal that could raise as much as $2.9 trillion to pay for most of President Biden’s sweeping expansion of the social safety net by increasing taxes on the wealthiest corporations and individuals. The preliminary proposal, which circulated on and off Capitol Hill on Sunday, would raise the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent for the richest businesses and impose an additional surtax on individuals who make more than $5 million. The plan could be a critical step for advancing the $3.5 trillion package, which is expected to include federally funded paid family leave, address climate change and expand public education. While it is unclear whether the entire House tax-writing committee supports the proposal, it suggests plans to undo key components of the 2017 Republican tax law, although some provisions fall short of what Mr. Biden proposed earlier this year. But the revenue provisions outlined in a document obtained by The New York Times and reported earlier by The Washington Post fall short of fully financing the entire package Democrats are cobbling together, despite promises by Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders that it would be fully paid for in order to assuage concerns from moderates in their caucus. People briefed on the details cautioned that the plan was still in flux.”

 

Monday, 13 September 2021:

 

Democrats Release Details of Proposed Tax Increase. Lawmakers plan to vote this week in the House Ways and Means Committee on the proposals. The Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, Monday, 13 September 2021: “House Democrats spelled out their proposed tax increases on Monday, pushing higher rates on corporations, investors and high-income business owners as they try to piece together enough votes for legislation to expand the social safety net and combat climate change. The plan would increase the top corporate tax rate to 26.5% from 21%, impose a 3-percentage-point surtax on people making over $5 million and raise capital-gains taxes—but without the changes to taxation at death sought by the Biden administration. The tax increase details were the last major missing piece in the Democratic agenda, and their release will accelerate lawmakers’ negotiations over which new spending to give priority to and which tax increases they find acceptable. Democrats have few votes to spare in the House and none in the Senate, and moderate Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), have called for a narrower proposal with smaller tax hikes than the ones outlined Monday. Republicans are expected to mount unanimous opposition to the proposal, which would reverse many of the GOP tax cuts from 2017.”

Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt. A program known as XCheck has given millions of celebrities, politicians, and other high-profile users special treatment, a privilege many abuse. ‘We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly.’ The Wall Street Journal, Jeff Horwitz, Monday, 13 September 2021: “Mark Zuckerberg has publicly said Facebook Inc. allows its more than three billion users to speak on equal footing with the elites of politics, culture and journalism, and that its standards of behavior apply to everyone, no matter their status or fame. In private, the company has built a system that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules, according to company documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The program, known as ‘cross check’ or ‘XCheck,’ was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are ‘whitelisted’—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come. At times, the documents show, XCheck has protected public figures whose posts contain harassment or incitement to violence, violations that would typically lead to sanctions for regular users.”

 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021:

 

Political Briefing: Democratic fractures on taxes and drug prices emerge ahead of a Wednesday deadline. Progressive senators pushed back hard on the decision by senior Democrats to focus a $2.1 trillion package of tax increases on income, not wealth. The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 September 2021:

Democrats propose a compromise bill on voting rights, The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “Senate Democrats united on Tuesday around a pared-down voting rights bill, escalating their efforts to build a case for aggressive action by Congress to push past Republican opposition and counter a rash of new G.O.P.-written ballot restrictions in states around the country…. The measure, hammered out in talks overseen by Mr. Schumer, was built on principles put forward by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the lone Democrat who refused to endorse an earlier, much more sweeping piece of legislation called the For the People Act. In introducing a scaled-back version, Democrats hoped to demonstrate to Mr. Manchin — now deeply invested in the measure as one of the chief authors — that Republicans would never sign on to a voting rights bill and, in doing so, wear down his opposition to weakening the filibuster.” See also, Revised Democratic voting bill drops controversial provisions and tweaks others as pressure for action mounts, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “A group of Democratic senators — including key centrist Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — introduced a pared-down voting rights, campaign finance and government ethics bill Tuesday in hopes of building momentum for its passage through a closely divided Senate. The new Freedom to Vote Act retains significant portions of the For the People Act, Democrats’ marquee voting legislation that passed the House this year but was blocked by a Republican filibuster in June. Those include mandating national minimum standards for early voting and vote-by-mail, establishing Election Day as a national holiday, and creating new disclosure requirements for ‘dark money’ groups that are not now required to disclose their donors. But it also discards significant pieces and tweaks others, largely in an effort to placate Manchin and indulge his hopes of building enough Republican support to pass the bill. Overcoming a filibuster absent a rules change would require the support of 10 Republicans in addition to the 50 members of the Democratic caucus.”

Top general Mark A. Milley was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart, new book says. ‘Peril,’ by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reveals that General Mark A. Milley called his Chinese counterpart before the election and after January 6 in a bid to avert armed conflict. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict. In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.” See also, Fears That Trump Might Launch a Strike Prompted General Mark Milley to Reassure China, Book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa Says. In a sign of his concerns, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer also gathered commanders to remind them of the safeguards in the nuclear launch procedures. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff twice called his Chinese counterpart in the final months of the Trump administration to reassure him that Donald J. Trump had no plans to attack China in an effort to remain in power and that the United States was not collapsing, according to ‘Peril,’ a new book by the Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa…. Yet despite his assurances, General Milley was so concerned about Mr. Trump that later that day he convened a meeting with top commanders to remind them that the procedures for launching a nuclear weapon called for his involvement in such a decision. The book also reveals how Vice President Mike Pence struggled more than was publicly known over how to navigate Mr. Trump’s demands that he upend the election certification. Speaking privately to former Vice President Dan Quayle, who oversaw the certification of the 1992 election in which he was on the losing ticket, Mr. Pence appeared open to going along with Mr. Trump’s plan, pushed the false claim that Arizona’s voting results were wrong and asked whether there was any way he could delay certification.” See also, Woodward/Costa book: Worried Trump could ‘go rogue,’ General Mark Milley took secret action to protect nuclear weapons, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Elizabeth Stuart, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “Two days after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, President Donald Trump’s top military adviser, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, single-handedly took secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons, according to ‘Peril,’ a new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward and veteran Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. Woodward and Costa write that Milley, deeply shaken by the assault, ‘was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.’… ‘Peril’ is based on more than 200 interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses, and it paints a chilling picture of Trump’s final days in office. The book, Woodward’s third on the Trump presidency, recounts behind-the-scenes moments of a commander in chief unhinged and explosive, yelling at senior advisers and aides as he desperately sought to cling to power. It also includes exclusive reporting on the events leading up to January 6 and Trump’s reaction to the insurrection, as well as newly revealed details about Trump’s January 5 Oval Office showdown with his vice president, Mike Pence. Woodward and Costa obtained documents, calendars, diaries, emails, meeting notes, transcripts and other records.”

Justice Department Asks Judge to Block Texas’ Restrictive Abortion Law. The department sued Texas last week over its recently enacted law, which prohibits nearly all abortions in the state. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “The Justice Department asked a federal judge late Tuesday to issue an order that would prevent Texas from enforcing a law that prohibits nearly all abortions, ratcheting up a fight between the Biden administration and the state’s Republican leaders. The Justice Department argued in its emergency motion that the state adopted the law, known as Senate Bill 8, ‘to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights,’ reiterating an argument the department made last week when it sued Texas to prohibit enforcement of the contentious new legislation. ‘It is settled constitutional law that a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability,’ the department said in the lawsuit. ‘But Texas has done just that.'” See also, Department of Justice asks federal judge to halt enforcement of Texas abortion law, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “In its boldest move to date, the Department of Justice asked a federal judge on Tuesday to issue a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of a controversial Texas law that bars abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. ‘The United States has the authority to seek redress from this Court against the State of Texas, particularly in light of the procedural obstacles that Texas erected to shield S.B. 8 from judicial scrutiny in suits by directly affected persons,’ government lawyers argued in briefs filed late Tuesday. They said the law has ‘gravely and irreparably impaired women’s ability to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion across the State.'” See also, In asking for emergency halt on Texas abortion ban, the Justice Department describes women and girls desperately seeking abortions out of state, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Caroline Kitchener, published on Wednesday, 15 September 2021: “One woman piled her children into the car and drove more than 15 hours overnight from Texas to Kansas to obtain an abortion using medication. A minor from Galveston, who was raped by a family member, traveled eight hours to Oklahoma to terminate her pregnancy. Another patient made the six-hour trek for an out-of-state abortion alone, fearing that anyone who joined her in the car could face legal liability under Texas’s new abortion ban. The testimonials from providers about the impact of the nation’s most restrictive abortion law were included in the Biden administration’s emergency request to a federal judge in Austin to immediately block enforcement of the law, which bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy and makes no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse or incest. The request was filed late Tuesday night.”

U.S. poverty declined overall last year due to pandemic relief, the U.S. Census Bureau says, NBC News, Teaganne Finn, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “The number of Americans living in poverty declined overall during the Covid pandemic due to the massive stimulus relief measures Congress enacted at the beginning of the crisis, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday…. After accounting for all the government aid payments, the Census’ supplemental poverty measure showed a decline from 11.8 percent in 2019 to 9.1 percent in 2020.” See also, Census data shows U.S. government aid helped reduce poverty in 2020, Reuters, Jonnelle Marte, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “Direct cash payments to households and generous unemployment benefits helped to keep millions of Americans out of poverty after the coronavirus pandemic severely disrupted the U.S. economy and pushed people out of work, according to a government survey released on Tuesday. The stimulus payments the federal government sent out to most U.S. households in the middle of the pandemic helped to lift 11.7 million people out of poverty last year, the U.S. Census Bureau said. Support offered through jobless benefits, which were enhanced with federal funds, also helped as unemployment soared because of the crisis, the report showed. ‘I think this really shows the importance of the social safety net,’ said Liana Fox, chief of the Census Bureau’s poverty statistics branch. The poverty rate dropped to 9.1% in 2020 from 11.8% in 2019, according to a measure that takes into account government support offered through programs such as food assistance and the stimulus checks.”

The Department of Justice announced new restrictions for some federal law enforcement, including bans on carotid restraints and chokeholds except in the case of deadly force. Politico, Claire Rafford, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a ban on carotid restraints, chokeholds and ‘no-knock’ entries for its law enforcement agencies unless the use of deadly force is authorized. The new directive applies only to law enforcement overseen by the department, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals Service. The policy does not apply to immigration enforcement agencies, which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, nor does it apply to state and local law enforcement.”

Company Documents Show Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls. Its own in-depth research shows a significant teen mental-health issue that Facebook plays down in public. The Wall Street Journal, Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz, and Deepa Seetharaman, Tuesday, 14 September 2021: “For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls. ‘We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,’ said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues. ‘Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,’ said another slide. ‘This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.’ Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram, one presentation showed.”

 

Wednesday, 15 September 2021:

 

Political Briefing: Biden Announces Defense Deal With Australia in a Bid to Counter China. President Biden said the United States and Britain would help Australia to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, adding to the Western presence in the region. The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 September 2021:

California Governor Gavin Newsom defeats the recall effort to remove him from office, The Washington Post, Scott Wilson and David Weigel, Wednesday, 15 September 2021: “California Gov. Gavin New­som (D) defeated a recall campaign against him Tuesday thanks to a large Democratic turnout and broad fears within the state over the surging coronavirus pandemic. Newsom rode a large Democratic turnout, which he and his proxies worked on ensuring for months in this very blue state. Even more important were public fears over the new wave of coronavirus cases. He has been among the most aggressive governors in the nation in demanding vaccinations and mask-wearing, policies his Republican rivals opposed.”

The pandemic marks another grim milestone: 1 in 500 US residents have died of covid-19, The Washington Post, Dan Keating, Akilah Johnson, and Monica Ulmanu, Wednesday, 15 September 2021: “Given the mortality rate from covid and our nation’s population size, ‘we’re kind of where we predicted we would be with completely uncontrolled spread of infection,’ said Jeffrey D. Klausner, clinical professor of medicine, population and public health sciences at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine…. The goal of testing, mask-wearing, keeping six feet apart and limiting gatherings was to slow the spread of the highly infectious virus until a vaccine could stamp it out. The vaccines came but not enough people have been immunized, and the triumph of science waned as mass death and disease remain. The result: As the nation’s covid death toll exceeded 663,000 this week, it meant roughly 1 in every 500 Americans had succumbed to the disease caused by the coronavirus. People older than 85 make up only 2 percent of the population, but a quarter of the total death toll. One in 35 people 85 or older died of covid, compared with 1 in 780 people age 40-64. While covid’s death toll overwhelms the imagination, even more stunning is the deadly efficiency with which it has targeted Black, Latino, and American Indian and Alaska Native people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.” See also, 1 in every 500 US residents have died of Covid-19, CNN Health, Madeline Holcombe, published on Thursday, 16 September 2021: “The United States has reached another grim milestone in its fight against the devastating Covid-19 pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans have died from coronavirus since the nation’s first reported infection. As of Tuesday night, 663,913 people in the US have died of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data. According to the US Census Bureau, the US population as of April 2020 was 331.4 million. It’s a sobering toll that comes as hospitals in the US are struggling to keep up with the volume of patients and more children are grappling with the virus. In hopes of managing the spread and preventing more unnecessary deaths, officials are implementing mandates for vaccinations in workplaces and masking in schools.”

Gymnasts Blast the FBI’s Mishandling of Their Allegations About the Sexual Abuse They Suffered by Former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar, NPR, Brian Naylor, Wednesday, 15 September 2021: “In vivid and emotional testimony at a Senate hearing Wednesday, four elite American gymnasts testified about the abuse they had suffered by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and their feelings of betrayal by investigators, including from the FBI which they say let them down. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles tearfully said she blames Nassar and also ‘an entire system that allowed his abuse,’ including USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. ‘The scars of this horrific abuse continue,’ Biles testified, saying that ‘the impact of this man’s abuse will never be over.’ McKayla Maroney said Nassar ‘turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor.’ She recalled sitting on her bedroom floor in 2015 telling the FBI on the phone ‘all of my molestations in extreme detail.’ She said that after describing instances of abuse by Nassar, including before her winning the team gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012, ‘I cried, and there was just silence’  on the part of the FBI agent. She said the FBI then falsified her statement, said the agents involved should be indicted and criticized Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco for not appearing at the hearing. ‘I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing,’ Maroney said. Advocates for the women say as many as 120 athletes may have been abused by Nassar after the FBI first heard of the charges against him.”

Federal judge denies Trump’s request to stop E. Jean Carroll lawsuit from moving forward, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Wednesday, 15 September 2021: “A federal judge overseeing columnist E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump has denied Trump’s request to stop the case from moving forward as they await an appeals court decision. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday entered a minute entry on the court docket indicating that he was denying Trump’s request for a ‘stay’ of his ruling last year, which rejected Trump’s effort to substitute the Justice Department as the defendant — a move that would essentially kill the lawsuit. Judge Kaplan’s sudden decision revives the case, which has been on hold for nearly a year while Trump and the Department of Justice pursued an appeal. The ruling could pave the way for Carroll’s attorneys to pursue subpoenas for documents, records and a DNA sample from the former President to prove her claims of sexual assault. Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. Trump has denied the claims, saying Carroll wasn’t his type and that she fabricated the allegation to boost sales of her book. Carroll sued Trump for defamation.”

 

Thursday, 16 September 2021:

 

Political Briefing: The United States says it gave France only a few hours’ notice of defense deal with Australia that Paris called a ‘knife in the back.’ The degree of French anger recalled the acrimonious rift between Paris and Washington in 2003 over the Iraq war and involved language not seen since then. The New York Times, Thursday, 16 September 2021:

Justice Department to Review Enforcement of Civil Rights Protections in Grants. The review, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to make preserving civil rights protections a priority, applies to federal funding for local law enforcement agencies. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 16 September 2021: “The Justice Department will review how it enforces prohibitions on racial discrimination by law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding, according to a department memo, a move that could broaden the Biden administration’s efforts to combat systemic racism in policing, prisons and courts. While the review concerns law enforcement funding, it could affect how the federal government oversees grant recipients in transportation, health care, education and other sectors that receive federal money. The issue of racial discrimination in policing came to a head last year after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, who died when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, setting off months of nationwide protests. The Biden Justice Department has made civil rights enforcement a priority, opening investigations into allegations of systemic racial discrimination by police forces in Minneapolis, Louisville, Ky., and Phoenix as well as the state prisons in Georgia. It has placed some troubled law enforcement organizations under consent decrees, a court-overseen overhaul plan. In a memo on Wednesday written by Vanita Gupta, the associate attorney general, and obtained by The New York Times, the Justice Department announced a 90-day review that will examine whether it was doing enough to ensure that federal funds were not distributed to law enforcement organizations that engage in discrimination.”

House Oversight Committee Expands Inquiry Into Climate Disinformation by Oil Giants. Executives from Exxon, Shell, BP, and others are being called to testify in Congress next month after a secret recording this year exposed an Exxon official boasting of such efforts. The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, Thursday, 16 September 2021: “The House Oversight Committee has widened its inquiry into the oil and gas industry’s role in spreading disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming, calling on top executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the lobby groups American Petroleum Institute and the United States Chamber of Commerce, to testify before Congress next month. The move comes as Washington is wrestling with major climate legislation intended to slash the nation’s reliance on oil and gas, and in a year of climate disasters that have affected millions of Americans. Raging wildfires in the West burned more than two million acres, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States left a path of destruction from Louisiana to New York City, and heat waves smashed records and delivered life-threatening conditions to regions unaccustomed to extreme heat. Thursday’s demands from the powerful Oversight Committee put senior executives from some of the world’s largest oil companies at the center of an investigation into the role their industry has played in undermining the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is a root cause of global warming.” See also, Lawmakers launch investigation into climate crisis disinformation by fossil fuel industry, CNN Politics, Ella Nilsen, Thursday, 16 September 2021: “The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced Thursday it is launching an investigation into fossil fuel industry disinformation on the climate crisis. The committee invited the heads of six oil companies and major lobbying groups to testify in front of the committee next month. The announcement comes after reports the fossil fuel industry has participated in campaigns aimed at creating confusion about the cause of the climate crisis, or sowing skepticism in the science. An undercover video released this summer appeared to show an ExxonMobil lobbyist admitting the company fought climate policy and the science behind it.”

Ohio Representative Anthony Gonzalez, One of the 10 House Republicans Who Voted to Impeach Donald Trump, Bows Out of 2022, Calling Trump ‘a Cancer for the Country.’ Representative Gonzalez said he had faced threats and had taken additional security measures since his vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump after the Capitol riot. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Thursday, 16 September 2021: “Calling former President Donald J. Trump ‘a cancer for the country,’ Representative Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, said in an interview on Thursday that he would not run for re-election in 2022, ceding his seat after just two terms in Congress rather than compete against a Trump-backed primary opponent. Mr. Gonzalez is the first, but perhaps not the last, of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to retire rather than face ferocious primaries next year in a party still in thrall to the former president. The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.” See also, Ohio Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez, who voted to impeach Trump, announces he won’t seek reelection, citing ‘toxic dynamics inside our own party,’ The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Thursday, 16 September 2021: “Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump, on Thursday announced he will not seek reelection in 2022, citing a desire to ‘build a fuller family life’ as well as ‘the toxic dynamics inside our own party.’ Gonzalez, a former professional football player, was once seen as a rising star within the GOP, before his vote to impeach Trump incurred the wrath of the former president and his supporters. Gonzalez was facing a tumultuous primary against Max Miller, an aide to the former president, whom Trump endorsed in February. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday and has two children, said in a statement Thursday that his decision was based on concerns about the toll the job was taking on his young family, as well as the state of the Republican Party.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the Trump administration is no longer in power, I plan to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period in US history. I will try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the new Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post investigative/muckraking journalism going back to the 19th century, and I hope to return to this activity in the near future. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Aftermath of the Trump Administration, June-July 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Tuesday, 1 June 2021:

 

Biden Visits Site of Tulsa Massacre a Century Later and Promises Massacre Survivors Their Story ‘Would be Known in Full View,’ The New York Times, Tuesday, 1 June 2021:

  • Biden promises Tulsa massacre survivors their story ‘would be known in full view.’

  • The White House plans to suspend Arctic drilling leases that were issued during the last days of Trump’s term.

  • Biden says Harris will lead Democrats in pushing for voting rights bill in Congress.

  • A tabloid publisher will pay a $187,500 F.E.C. penalty for its Trump hush-money payment.

  • Michael Flynn suggested at a QAnon-affiliated event that a coup should happen in the U.S.

  • Biden officially recognizes June as Pride Month and vows to fight for L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

  • Florida’s Democratic agricultural commissioner, Nikki Fried, announces her bid for governor.

  • Texas Democrats killed a bill restricting voting by staging a walkout, escalating their fight with the governor.
  • A New Mexico House race is testing the Republican’s focus on crime.
  • Biden unveiled a plan to help Black businesses and homeowners during his visit to Tulsa.
  • Democrats want to pass a major voting rights overhaul, but the filibuster stands in the way.
  • The Supreme Court issued unanimous rulings on immigration and tribal policing.

Biden commemorates the 100th anniversary of Tulsa race massacre, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Tuesday, 1 June 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, the ravaging of a once-prosperous Black business district and neighborhood by a White mob. ‘As painful as it is, only in remembrance do wounds heal. We just have to choose to remember, memorialize what happened here in Tulsa, so it can’t be erased,’ the president said of the massacre, which stands as one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. While in Oklahoma, Biden promoted initiatives to reduce the Black-White wealth gap and said he had tapped Vice President Harris to lead the push for voting rights in response to states imposing ballot restrictions. In New Mexico, voters will elect a new member of Congress, filling an Albuquerque seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland when she joined Biden’s Cabinet.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Anthony S. Fauci’s emails obtained by The Washington Post show how the nation’s top infectious-disease expert was struggling to bring coherence to the Trump administration’s chaotic pandemic response.
  • All White House staff will return to work on campus in July as the Biden administration continues to phase out remote working prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Interior Department will suspend several oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, overturning one of Donald Trump’s most significant environmental acts during his last days in office.
  • Biden will welcome Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) to the White House on Wednesday to continue negotiations over a jobs and infrastructure package.
  • Biden issued a proclamation Tuesday designating June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month, resuming a tradition that had been abandoned while Trump was president.
  • The Federal Election Commission (F.E.C.) spares Trump but fines tabloid publisher for hush-money payment to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal who claimed affair with him.

Biden Promises Tulsa Massacre Survivors Their Story Will Be ‘Known in Full View.’ The president, who has made racial equity and justice central themes of his administration, was in Tulsa, Okla., to commemorate a painful part of the country’s history. The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 1 June 2021: “A century after a white mob destroyed a vibrant African American community in Tulsa, Okla., torching hundreds of homes and indiscriminately shooting people in the streets, President Biden told a crowd of survivors and their families that the story of the massacre ‘will be known in full view.’ It was the first time a president visited the area to address what had happened in Greenwood, a prosperous African American community, which was one of the worst outbreaks of racist violence in the United States but was largely ignored in history books.” See also, Telling the Story of the Tulsa Massacre. An array of TV documentaries mark the centennial of one of America’s deadliest outbreaks of racist violence. The New York Times, Mike Hale, published on Sunday, 30 May 2021: “The Tulsa race massacre of June 1, 1921, has gone from virtually unknown to emblematic with impressive speed, propelled by the national reckoning with racism and specifically with sanctioned violence against Black Americans. That awareness is reflected in the spate of new television documentaries on the occasion of the massacre’s 100th anniversary. ‘Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre’ (Sunday on History), ‘Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street’ (Monday on CNN) and ‘Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten’ (Monday on PBS) tell overlapping stories of the horrific day when a white mob stormed through the prosperous Greenwood District of Tulsa, Okla. Triggered by a confrontation between white men planning a lynching and Black men intent on stopping it, the 16-hour spasm of violence left 100 to 300 people dead and most of Greenwood, including more than 1,250 houses, burned to the ground.” See also, 3 Documentaries to Watch About the Tulsa Race Massacre, NPR, Eric Deggans, published on Sunday, 30 May 2021: “If all you know about the Tulsa Race Massacre is the re-creations of the attack featured in HBO series like Watchmen and Lovecraft Country, prepare yourself for a serious education over the next few weeks. Monday marks the 100th anniversary for one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history, the Tulsa Race Massacre. Back in 1921, a mob of white people tore down and burned the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Okla. — a segregated part of the city so prosperous and bustling, it was known as Black Wall Street.” See also, The Women Who Preserved the Story of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Two pioneering Black writers, Mary E. Jones Parrish and Eddie Faye Gates, have not received the recognition they deserve for chronicling one of the country’s gravest crimes. The New Yorker, Victor Luckerson, published on Friday, 28 May 2021: “As the centennial of the [Tulsa] race massacre approaches, a raft of documentaries, along with a new thirty-million-dollar museum, are poised to make the story of Greenwood more widely known—and financially lucrative—than it has ever been. But the Black Tulsans who preserved the community’s history risk being forgotten, particularly the women who did the foundational heavy lifting. It’s not just [Mary E. Jones] Parrish—Eddie Faye Gates, an Oklahoma native and longtime Tulsa educator, continued Parrish’s work by interviewing massacre survivors more than seventy years later, recording their perspectives in books and video testimonials.” See also, George Floyd, The Tulsa Massacre, and Memorial Days, The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb, published on Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “This year, Memorial Day, the national holiday on which we commemorate the men and women of the American military who died in the course of war, falls on May 31st, a date that marks the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, a racial pogrom in which the Black population of the prosperous Greenwood District of that city was attacked, murdered, and terrorized, leaving as many as three hundred dead. Last year, Memorial Day fell on May 25th, the day that George Floyd died, in the custody of a white Minneapolis police officer; the ineffable terribleness of the video depicting his death soon launched a wave of chaos and fury that swept across the nation. The massacre in Greenwood was just one outrage among a cluster of racially motivated eruptions that began in the aftermath of the First World War—the bloodletting in mid-1919 was so commonplace that the period came to be known as the Red Summer. The protracted brutality of Floyd’s death sparked protests and uprisings in more than three hundred and fifty cities in the United States. These two Memorial Days point inescapably not only to those who have died on battlefields abroad but to the theatres of conflict at home and the freighted politics of race, grief, and culpability.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, June 2021:

Continue reading…

Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Saturday, 1 May 2021:

 

Republicans Seek to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Saturday, 1 May 2021: “As Republican lawmakers in major battleground states seek to make voting harder and more confusing through a web of new election laws, they are simultaneously making a concerted legislative push to grant more autonomy and access to partisan poll watchers — citizens trained by a campaign or a party and authorized by local election officials to observe the electoral process. This effort has alarmed election officials and voting rights activists alike: There is a long history of poll watchers being used to intimidate voters and harass election workers, often in ways that target Democratic-leaning communities of color and stoke fears that have the overall effect of voter suppression. During the 2020 election, President Donald J. Trump’s campaign repeatedly promoted its ‘army’ of poll watchers as he publicly implored supporters to venture into heavily Black and Latino cities and hunt for voter fraud.”

Trump’s Secret Rules for Drone Strikes Outside War Zones Are Disclosed. The release of the 2017 policy — with redactions — stemmed from open-records lawsuits by The Times and the A.C.L.U. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Saturday, 1 May 2021: “The Biden administration has disclosed a set of rules secretly issued by President Donald J. Trump in 2017 for counterterrorism ‘direct action’ operations — like drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional war zones — which the White House has suspended as it weighs whether and how to tighten the guidelines. While the Biden administration censored some passages, the visible portions show that in the Trump era, commanders in the field were given latitude to make decisions about attacks so long as they fit within broad sets of ‘operating principles,’ including that there should be ‘near certainty’ that civilians ‘will not be injured or killed in the course of operations.’ At the same time, however, the Trump-era rules were flexible about permitting exceptions to that and other standards, saying that ‘variations’ could be made ‘where necessary’ so long as certain bureaucratic procedures were followed in approving them.”

 

Sunday, 2 May 2021:

 

The Republican politicians who tried to overturn an election–and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it, The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Sunday, 2 May 2021: “The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago. They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism. They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election. Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Thursday, 1 April 2021:

 

Biden Convenes Cabinet for First Meeting, Tapping 5 Secretaries With Selling His Infrastructure Plan. The secretaries would “engage the public in selling the plan and help work out the details as we refine it and move forward,” President Biden said. A watchdog report found problems with a global aid program championed by Ivanka Trump. The New York Times, Thursday, 1 April 2021:

  • Biden holds his first cabinet meeting — but not in the usual spot.

  • Texas lawmakers advance a bill that would make voting more difficult, drawing comparisons to Georgia.

  • A global aid program championed by Ivanka Trump has serious problems, a report finds.

  • The Interior Department’s chief of staff shifts jobs after ignoring coronavirus guidance and planning an indoor party.

  • Biden is seeking to use his infrastructure plan to address racial inequities.

  • Biden joins calls for M.L.B. to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta.

  • Billions in new Obamacare benefits are now available on Healthcare.gov.

  • Delta and Coca-Cola face backlash from Republicans after opposing Georgia voting law.

At first Cabinet meeting, Biden gives five secretaries a ‘special responsibility’ on jobs plan, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “President Biden convened his first full Cabinet meeting Thursday, bringing together 25 top administration officials for a socially distanced gathering in the East Room of the White House that lasted about two hours. He announced he was giving five secretaries a ‘special responsibility’ in promoting his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan to the public. Earlier, Vice President Harris addressed a virtual gathering of the Covid-19 Community Corps, a coalition launched by the Biden administration to encourage coronavirus vaccinations.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain suggested Thursday that the administration is willing to advance its $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan with no Republican support.
  • The Biden administration is unveiling its first television advertisements to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
  • Democrat Rita Hart dropped her challenge in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District election, asking the House to no longer consider an investigation into the outcome of her race against Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) after intense Republican pushback.
  • Hunter Biden says in a memoir that he should not have joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company that President Donald Trump targeted in his effort to tarnish Joe Biden in 2019.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: ‘I Thought He Was Dead,’ Says a Paramedic Who Treated George Floyd. The paramedics who tried to revive Mr. Floyd described their futile attempts to jurors, and a police supervisor provided insight about Mr. Chauvin’s actions and response after the confrontation. The New York Times, Thursday, 1 April 2021:

  • ‘He seemed like a regular guy, like us. Longtime residents reflect on George Floyd’s death.
  • Officers should have stopped restraining George Floyd sooner, a former supervisor of Derek Chauvin testified.
  • Takeaways from Day 4 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Scenes from Minneapolis on Day 4 of the Chauvin trial.
  • Here’s how the local news media is covering the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • George Floyd was dead by the time medical help arrived, a paramedic testified.
  • Lawyers for George Floyd’s family say jurors should look past his drug use after hearing testimony about his addiction.
  • With several lawyers rotating before the court, here’s a guide to who is prosecuting the case against Derek Chauvin.
  • George Floyd’s girlfriend described their relationship: A shared struggle with addiction, their first kiss, a ‘dad selfie.’
  • What we know about Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s former girlfriend.
  • Hennepin County’s courthouse is experiencing a high-profile case like few other courthouses do.
  • Jurors are gaining new understanding of the day George Floyd died.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2021:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Monday, 1 March 2021:

 

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are Moving Toward Confirmation as Senate Gears Up for Stimulus Vote, The New York Times, Monday, 1 March 2021:

  • Miguel A. Cardona is confirmed as education secretary.

  • A key Senate panel voted to recommend Merrick Garland’s confirmation.

  • Trump and his wife received coronavirus vaccine before leaving the White House.

  • Elizabeth Warren introduces a wealth tax for individuals worth over $50 million.

  • Protests by Native Americans lead to a delay in Arizona copper mine project.

  • The Capitol Police union endorses recommendations for adding officers, fencing, and an urgent response force.
  • Biden expresses solidarity with Alabama workers attempting to unionize an Amazon warehouse.
  • The White House says it may allow families separated at the border to stay in the U.S.
  • The Washington Post’s publisher accuses Biden of giving the Saudis a ‘one free murder’ pass in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden meets virtually with Mexico’s leader as Senate continues to scrutinize his Cabinet choices, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Monday, 1 March 2021: “After returning to Washington from Delaware on Monday, President Biden met virtually with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with migration and the coronavirus pandemic among the topics on their agenda. ‘The United States and Mexico are stronger when we stand together,’ Biden said. ‘There’s a long and complicated history between our nations that haven’t always been perfect neighbors with one another. But we have seen over and over again the power and the purpose when we cooperate. And we’re safer when we work together.’ On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as Biden’s education secretary, while a committee is expected to advance the nomination of Merrick Garland as attorney general.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Senate Democrats and the White House are retreating on efforts to include a $15 minimum wage increase in Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill as they aim to move the package forward this week in the Senate.
  • Former president Donald Trump declared that he is considering a presidential run in 2024, has ruled out forming a third party, and will devote himself to building up Republican efforts to take on Democrats and others he claimed have targeted his movement.
  • Facing fresh allegations of sexual harassment and mounting political pressure, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) apologized if anything he said may ‘have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,’ but denied he inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone in his office.

How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot. On social media, on cable networks and even in the halls of Congress, supporters of Donald J. Trump tried to rewrite history in real time, pushing the fiction that left-wing agitators were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6. The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Davey Alba, and Reid J. Epstein, Monday, 1 March 2021: “At 1:51 p.m. on Jan. 6, a right-wing radio host named Michael D. Brown wrote on Twitter that rioters had breached the United States Capitol — and immediately speculated about who was really to blame. ‘Antifa or BLM or other insurgents could be doing it disguised as Trump supporters,’ Mr. Brown wrote, using shorthand for Black Lives Matter. ‘Come on, man, have you never heard of psyops?’ Only 13,000 people follow Mr. Brown on Twitter, but his tweet caught the attention of another conservative pundit: Todd Herman, who was guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh’s national radio program. Minutes later, he repeated Mr. Brown’s baseless claim to Mr. Limbaugh’s throngs of listeners: ‘It’s probably not Trump supporters who would do that. Antifa, BLM, that’s what they do. Right?’ What happened over the next 12 hours illustrated the speed and the scale of a right-wing disinformation machine primed to seize on a lie that served its political interests and quickly spread it as truth to a receptive audience. The weekslong fiction about a stolen election that President Donald J. Trump pushed to his millions of supporters had set the stage for a new and equally false iteration: that left-wing agitators were responsible for the attack on the Capitol. In fact, the rioters breaking into the citadel of American democracy that day were acolytes of Mr. Trump, intent on stopping Congress from certifying his electoral defeat. Subsequent arrests and investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the insurrection. But even as Americans watched live images of rioters wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump flags breach the Capitol — egged on only minutes earlier by a president who falsely denounced a rigged election and exhorted his followers to fight for justice — history was being rewritten in real time.” See also, Rewriting January 6th: Republicans push false and misleading accounts of Capitol riot, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Jeremy Barr, Monday, 1 March 2021: “Instead of an attempt to overturn the election by radicalized Donald Trump supporters, it was a choreographed attack staged by antifa provocateurs. Rather than an armed insurrection, it was a good-natured protest spoiled by a few troublemakers. And instead of a deadly event that put the lives of hundreds of lawmakers, police officers and others at risk, the riot was no big deal at all. A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged from video and photo evidence, law enforcement officials, journalistic accounts and the testimonials of the rioters themselves: that a pro-Trump mob, mobilized by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election, stormed the seat of American government to keep Trump in power through violent means. Six weeks after the attack, some are taking advantage of fading memories and unanswered questions to portray the riot in a different, more benign light.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March & April 2021:  

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, Including the Impeachment Trial (January – February 2021)

 

Now that the Biden administration is settling into Washington, D.C. (late January 2021), my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is coming to an end. I will post a few important articles that are published between now and the impeachment trial and cover the trial, of course. Then I hope to return to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy.

 

Thursday, 21 January 2021:

 

The New Washington: Biden Signs Executive Orders for Covid Response. President Biden signed a series of executive orders, including ones on mask wearing and international travelers, and is aiming for 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days. The New York Times, Thursday, 21 January 2021:

  • Biden rolls out ‘full-scale, wartime’ coronavirus strategy, including requiring masks on some planes, trains and buses.

  • Fauci warns of virus variant risks, but voices confidence in vaccines.

  • McConnell plans to ask for impeachment trial delay to allow Trump’s legal team time to prepare a defense.

  • The No. 2 official at the F.B.I. is departing.

  • For the impeachment trial, Trump settles on a South Carolina lawyer arranged through Lindsey Graham.

  • National Guard troops who protected the Capitol for Biden’s Inauguration were told to sleep in a parking garage.

  • Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act. Here’s what that means.

  • Avril Haines is the only member of Biden’s cabinet approved so far.

  • Congress granted a waiver to allow Austin to serve as defense secretary, clearing the way for confirmation Friday of the first Black American to hold the job.

  • Kamala Harris’s rise is celebrated in India, especially in her ancestral village.

  • Biden plans to hold a ‘Climate Leaders’ Summit’ on Earth Day.
  • Here’s how the Biden administration began addressing key issues with executive actions.
  • In his Senate confirmation hearing, Pete Buttigieg urges ‘generational’ opportunity to transform transportation.
  • Charlottesville, which inspired Biden’s presidential run, has a message for him as he calls for unity.
  • Federal authorities have charged a man they say beat officers with a hockey stick during the Capitol riot.
  • Trump extends Secret Service protection for his children, cabinet secretaries, and chief of staff.

First 100 Days: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seeks to delay Trump impeachment trial until February; Congress approves waiver for Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Seung Min Kim, and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 21 January 2021: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is proposing to delay the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial until February to give the former president’s lawyers more time to prepare, saying in a statement that the Senate, the presidency and Trump ‘deserve a full and fair process.’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says her chamber is ready to send an article of impeachment to the Senate as soon as it is ready to hold a trial. Separately, Congress approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin to lead the Defense Department, paving the way for the retired Army general’s historic confirmation. Austin, who would become the first Black defense secretary, requires an exemption because he has not been retired from active military service for the seven years stipulated by law. President Biden, as he rolled out a new coronavirus plan Thursday, said that the death toll from the pandemic will probably top 500,000 next month and that it will take months ‘for us to turn things around.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Pete Buttigieg, a young, former Midwestern mayor with a national profile, made his pitch to a Senate committee weighing his nomination to become Biden’s transportation secretary.
  • Seven Democratic senators lodged an ethics complaint against two of their Republican colleagues, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, over their actions ahead of the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
  • Biden is seeking a five-year extension with Russia on the only remaining treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals just days before it expires, said two senior U.S. officials.
  • Democrats claimed control of the Senate on Wednesday by the thinnest possible margin as Vice President Harris swore in three new Democratic senators, bringing Republicans and Democrats to a 50-50 split in the chamber, with Harris as the tiebreaker.

Joe Biden marks start of presidency with flurry of executive orders. Some orders undo significant actions from the Trump administration, including the Paris climate agreement, while others address Covid. The Guardian, Sam Levine, Thursday, 21 January 2021: “Joe Biden has marked the start of his presidency by signing a flurry of executive orders on a suite of issues, including Covid-19, the environment, immigration and ethics. Some of the executive actions undo significant actions from Donald Trump’s administration, including halting the travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, and ending the declaration of a national emergency used to justify funding construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border. He also signed an order allowing the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and end the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census data used to determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, Including the Impeachment Trial (January – February 2021):

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Trump Administration, Week 209: Friday, 15 January – Wednesday, 20 January 2021 (Days 1,456-1,461)

 

 

 

“Trump: A Daily Chronicle” is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process. Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always.

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Friday, 15 January 2021, Day 1,456:

 

The Presidential Transition: The Capitol Police Are Investigating Whether Members of Congress Gave Rioters Tours of Capitol Before the Siege, The New York Times, Friday, 15 January 2021:

  • The Capitol Police are investigating whether lawmakers gave pre-riot building tours, as Pelosi names leader of security review.

  • Top lawmakers were not told of police request for backup before Capitol riot.

  • Pelosi says impeachment managers are preparing for Senate trial, but declines to offer timeline.

  • Joe Biden plans a vaccination blitz, but supplies are scarce.

  • Prosecutors unseal chilling accounts of violence at the Capitol.

  • The National Mall, focus of Trump’s grievances and marching orders, will be off limits for Biden’s inauguration.

  • Photos capture notes from Trump ally leaving the White House on Friday.

  • Biden names more administration picks, including a FEMA head and deputy director of the C.I.A.

  • Gun safety group calls for a ban on guns in ‘sensitive’ government buildings.
  • Justice Department closes an investigation of nine military ballots, citing ‘insufficient evidence’ of any criminal activity.
  • The F.B.I. questions dozens in the killing of a Capitol Police officer and other assaults by a pro-Trump mob.
  • In sharply worded departure letter, Alex Azar, the health secretary, tries to distance himself from Trump.

Transfer of Presidential Power: Biden unveils plans for expanded access to the coronavirus vaccine, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 15 January 2021: “President-elect Joe Biden on Friday offered a sober assessment of the nation’s ability to conquer the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country remains ‘in a very dark winter’ as the number of dead approaches 400,000. Biden unveiled his incoming administration’s plan to get Americans vaccinated. Vice President Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris to congratulate her Thursday, more than two months after she and Biden won the November election and just five days before the new Democratic administration takes office. President Trump plans to leave Washington on Wednesday morning before Biden is sworn in, according to a senior administration official. Trump had previously announced he would not attend his successor’s inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, breaking with decades of tradition.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden is seeking to keep a focus on combating the coronavirus with his speech in Wilmington, Del., a day after he called the rollout by Trump’s administration a ‘dismal failure.’ ‘Things will get worse before they get better. I told you I would always level with you,’ Biden said Friday.
  • The vast majority of Americans say they oppose the actions of the rioters who stormed and ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, while smaller majorities say Trump bears responsibility for the attack and that he should be removed from office and disqualified from serving again, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
  • A hearing scheduled for Biden’s nominee to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official, Avril D. Haines, has been postponed until next week, according to leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol came perilously close to Pence, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber until about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex.

How the rioters who stormed the Capitol came dangerously close to Pence, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Paul Kane, and Emma Brown, Friday, 15 January 2021: “The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came perilously close to Vice President Pence, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex — enough time for the marauders to rush inside the building and approach his location, according to law enforcement officials and video footage from that day. Secret Service officers eventually spirited Pence to a room off the Senate floor with his wife and daughter after rioters began to pour into the Capitol, many loudly denouncing the vice president as a traitor as they marched through the first floor below the Senate chamber. About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate. Pence and his family had just ducked into a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing, according to three people familiar with his whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the pro-Trump mob had arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been in eyesight of the vice president as he was rushed across a reception hall into the office. The proximity of the Jan. 6 mob to the vice president and the delay in evacuating him from the chamber — which have not been previously reported — raise questions about why the Secret Service did not move him earlier and underscore the jeopardy that top government leaders faced during the siege.”

Continue reading Week 209, Friday, 15 January  – Wednesday, 20 January 2021 (Days 1,456-1,461):

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Trump Administration, Week 208: Friday, 8 January – Thursday, 14 January 2021 (Days 1,449-1,455)

 

 

Much of Our History and Our Current Moment Reflected in a Single Photo, The Atlantic, Clint Smith, Thursday, 8 January 2021: “On Wednesday afternoon, as insurrectionists assaulted the Capitol, a man wearing a brown vest over a black sweatshirt walked through the halls of Congress with the Confederate battle flag hanging over his shoulder. One widely circulated photo, taken by Mike Theiler of Reuters, captured him mid-stride, part of the flag almost glowing with the light coming from the hallway to his left. Just above and behind him is a painting of Charles Sumner, the ardent abolitionist senator from Massachusetts…. Also behind the man in Wednesday’s photo, partially obscured by the rebel flag, is a portrait of John C. Calhoun. A senator from South Carolina and the vice president under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, Calhoun wrote in 1837: ‘I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good—a positive good.’ The fact that this photo was taken the day after voters in Georgia chose the first Black person and the first Jewish person in the history of that state to serve in the Senate; that it shows a man walking past the portrait of a vice president who urged the country to sustain human bondage and another portrait of a senator who was nearly beaten to death for standing up to the slavocracy; that it portrays a man walking with a Confederate flag while a mob of insurrectionists pushed past police, broke windows, vandalized offices, stole property, and strolled through the halls of Congress for hours, forcing senators and representatives into hiding and stopping the certification of the electoral process—it is almost difficult to believe that so much of our history, and our current moment, was reflected in a single photograph.”

“Trump: A Daily Chronicle” is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process. Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always.

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Friday, 8 January 2021, Day 1,449:

 

Presidential Transition Highlights: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Threatens Impeachment if Trump Doesn’t Resign ‘Immediately’; Twitter Permanently Suspends Trump. Senator Lisa Murkowski Becomes the First Republican Senator to call for President Trump’s Resignation. The New York Times, Friday, 8 January 2021:

  • Pelosi threatens House could move to impeach Trump if he doesn’t resign ‘immediately.’

  • Trump briefly reappears on @POTUS handle hours after Twitter permanently suspends his personal account.

  • Murkowski is the first Republican senator to say Trump should resign: ‘I want him out.’

  • Setting his sights on the inauguration, Biden says impeachment is up to Congress.

  • Read the draft of a leading article of impeachment against Trump.

  • Justice Dept. backs off the prospect of charging Trump for inciting a riot.

  • More national security officials resign from a White House in turmoil.

  • A judge has blocked Trump’s sweeping restrictions on asylum applications.

  • ‘Traitor!’ Dozens of Trump supporters heckle Lindsey Graham for breaking with the president.

  • Josh Hawley faces blowback for role in spurious challenge of election results.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Presidential Transfer of Power: ‘I want him out:’ Lisa Murkowski becomes the first Senate Republican to call for Trump to resign, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 8 January 2021: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) became the first Senate Republican to call for President Trump to resign, telling the Anchorage Daily News: ‘I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage.’ Her comments Friday came on the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told colleagues in a letter that she has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, about keeping an ‘unstable president’ from accessing the nuclear codes. Pelosi also threatened impeachment if Trump didn’t resign ‘immediately.’ Her letter came shortly after Trump tweeted that he would not attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, breaking with a long-standing tradition of outgoing presidents attending the swearing-in ceremony of their successors. Biden told reporters that he agreed with Trump’s decision to skip the ceremony, though he would welcome Vice President Pence.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • A growing corps of House Democrats, furious over the invasion of the Capitol, is pushing to rapidly impeach the president a second time — hoping to force Trump from office even a few days early rather than allow him to leave on his own terms.
  • In addition to calling on Trump to resign, Murkowski questioned whether she has a future in the Republican Party. ‘If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,’ she said.
  • A 42-year-old Capitol Police officer who was injured amid Wednesday’s takeover of the Capitol died Thursday night, according to a statement from his department.
  • Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who remained a staunch Trump supporter during her four-year tenure, was reelected unanimously Friday at an RNC meeting in Florida.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao are among the latest Trump administration officials to announce their resignations in the wake of the assault on the Capitol.

Democrats Ready Impeachment Charge Against Trump for Inciting Capitol Mob. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened decisive action against the president for his role in the insurrection against Congress if he refused to resign. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Maggie Haberman, and Luke Broadwater, Friday, 8 January 2021: “Democrats laid the groundwork on Friday for impeaching President Trump a second time, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California threatened to bring him up on formal charges if he did not resign ‘immediately’ over his role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week. The threat was part of an all-out effort by furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans, to pressure Mr. Trump to leave office in disgrace after the hourslong siege by his supporters on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Although he has only 12 days left in the White House, they argued he was a direct danger to the nation. Ms. Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders continued to press Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to wrest power from Mr. Trump, though Mr. Pence was said to be against it. The speaker urged Republican lawmakers to pressure the president to resign immediately. And she took the unusual step of calling Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss how to limit Mr. Trump’s access to the nation’s nuclear codes and then publicized it. ‘If the president does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,’ Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. At least one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, followed Ms. Pelosi’s lead and told The Anchorage Daily News that she was considering leaving the Republican Party altogether because of Mr. Trump. ‘I want him out,’ she said. ‘He has caused enough damage.'” See also, House Democrats move rapidly toward impeaching Trump a second time, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 8 January 2021: “A growing corps of House Democrats, furious over the invasion of the Capitol on Wednesday by a mob inspired and encouraged by President Trump, is pushing to rapidly impeach the president a second time — hoping to force Trump from office even a few days early rather than allow him to leave on his own terms. Removing Trump by constitutional means is a tall order for the 12 days remaining in his presidency, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not made a formal determination to move forward with a second impeachment. But outrage over Wednesday’s events has grown to the point that it could be impossible for Pelosi to ignore, prompting a rapid vote as soon as early next week, according to interviews with House Democratic members and aides.” See also, Democratic momentum builds for potential fast-track impeachment next week, CNN Politics, Lauren Fox, Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb, and Daniella Diaz, Friday, 8 January 2021: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday Democrats are prepared to move forward with impeachment next week if President Donald Trump doesn’t resign, as momentum quickly built among House Democrats furious with Trump to hold an impeachment vote. Following a Democratic caucus call earlier in the afternoon, Pelosi said in a statement that the House would ‘preserve every option,’ including legislation to establish a commission under the 25th Amendment that could recommend Trump’s removal, in addition to impeachment. Final decisions on whether to impeach have not yet been made, Democratic sources said. ‘It is the hope of Members that the President will immediately resign. But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment,’ Pelosi said. ‘Accordingly, the House will preserve every option — including the 25th Amendment, a motion to impeach or a privileged resolution for impeachment.’ House Democrats plan to introduce their impeachment resolution on Monday, when the House next comes into session. The latest draft of the impeachment resolution, obtained by CNN, includes one article of impeachment for ‘incitement of insurrection.’ The House Rules Committee is expected to meet Monday or Tuesday to approve a rule that would govern floor debate for an impeachment resolution and Raskin’s bill to create a new mechanism to invoke the 25th Amendment. Under that timeline, an impeachment vote is possible by the middle of next week.”

Continue reading Week 208, Friday, 8 January  – Thursday, 14 January 2021 (Days 1,449-1,455):

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Trump Administration, Week 207: Friday, 1 January – Thursday, 7 January 2021 (Days 1,442-1,448)

 

 

This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process. Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always.

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Friday, 1 January 2021, Day 1,442:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 1 January 2021: 32 More Countries Have Found the New Covid-19 Variant First Seen in Britain. The U.S. vaccination campaign is plagued by delays, mistakes and, in one Wisconsin hospital, deliberate sabotage. The New York Times, Friday, 1 January 2021:

  • Britain authorizes mix-and-match vaccinations, but experts warn vaccines may not be interchangeable.

  • Dr. Fauci advises against the British approach of delaying a second dose of vaccine.

  • Tokyo asks for a national state of emergency, and other news around the world.

  • The New Orleans Saints’ star running back, Alvin Kamara, is placed on the N.F.L.’s Covid reserve list.

  • A Virginia state senator, Ben Chafin, has died from Covid-19-related causes.

  • Trump left town, but New Year’s festivities continued at Mar-a-Lago, indoors and without masks.

  • An inoculation ends with a marriage proposal for a South Dakota nurse.

  • N.Y.C. sheriff’s deputies break up secret New Year’s Eve parties across the city.

  • France couldn’t stop the New Year’s parties. One rave drew 2,500 people who fought off the police.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 1 January 2021: Third state identifies more-transmissible coronavirus variant as U.S. cases surpass 20 million, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati and Reis Thebault, Friday, 1 January 2021: “Florida on Thursday became the third state to identify a case of the coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom, a reminder that the pandemic remains a formidable foe as infections in the United States surpass 20 million. The latest instance of the variant was found in a man in his 20s with no recent travel history, health officials said. The more-transmissible version of the virus has also been reported in California and Colorado, and experts expect it to be identified in additional states.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The virus, spreading largely unchecked in much of the country, forced most people to have quieter New Year’s Eve celebrations. No one was likely to kiss a stranger at the annual ball drop in Manhattan’s Times Square, attended by only a few hundred front-line workers.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said the United States would not follow Britain’s lead in prioritizing first doses of the vaccine, potentially delaying administration of the second dose.
  • British officials are shutting London’s primary schools and reactivating field hospitals to handle a surge of patients as the new variant spreads. The nation’s rolling average of new cases per capita has increased by 23 percent in the past week.
  • California on Friday reported 535 deaths from covid-19, the state’s single-day record, topped only by those New York set in mid-April.
  • A fired Wisconsin pharmacist was arrested Thursday on accusations of deliberately spoiling more than 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, which is available in limited supply and being rationed for high-risk people.
  • At a vaccination clinic in West Virginia, more than 40 people were accidentally given an antibody treatment for the virus, instead of Moderna’s vaccine. The West Virginia National Guard, which is assisting with inoculations, said those people were at no risk of harm.

How Trump Tried, but Largely Failed, to Derail America’s Top Climate Report. The White House repeatedly attempted to thwart the country’s premier climate science document, one meant to steer policy for years. Scientists got in the way. The New York Times, Christopher Flavelle, Friday, 1 January 2021: “The National Climate Assessment, America’s premier contribution to climate knowledge, stands out for many reasons: Hundreds of scientists across the federal government and academia join forces to compile the best insights available on climate change. The results, released just twice a decade or so, shape years of government decisions. Now, as the clock runs down on President Trump’s time in office, the climate assessment has gained a new distinction: It is one of the few major U.S. climate initiatives that his administration tried, yet largely failed, to undermine. How the Trump White House attempted to put its mark on the report, and why those efforts stumbled, demonstrates the resilience of federal climate science despite the administration’s haphazard efforts to impede it. This article is based on interviews with nearly a dozen current and former government officials and others familiar with the process. In November, the administration removed the person responsible for the next edition of the report and replaced him with someone who has downplayed climate science, though at this point it seems to be too little, too late. But the efforts started back in 2018, when officials pushed out a top official and leaned on scientists to soften their conclusions — the scientists refused — and then later tried to bury the report, which didn’t work either.”

Continue reading Week 207, Friday, 1 January  – Thursday, 7 January 2021 (Days 1,442-1,448):

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Trump Administration, Week 206: Friday, 25 December – Thursday, 31 December 2020 (Days 1,435-1,441)

 

This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process. Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always.

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.

 

Friday, 25 December 2020, Day 1,435:

 

Some Global Updates for the Coronavirus on Friday, 25 December 2020: Dreading the Next ‘Code Blue’ as California Hospitals Fill to Overflowing, The New York Times, Friday, 25 December 2020:

  • In Southern California’s hospitals, Christmas this year is anything but a silent night.

  • Remote learning risks widening the achievement gap for disadvantaged U.S. students.

  • The relief bill’s fate is uncertain as the clock runs down on unemployment aid.

  • Duke women’s basketball is ending its season early because of Covid concerns.

  • A Texas funeral home director learns the hard way to ‘never let your guard down.’

  • In a first for the Moderna vaccine, a doctor in Boston reported suffering a severe allergic reaction.

  • Six states in the South are overwhelmed by virus cases after dodging the fall surge.

  • In his annual Christmas address, Pope Francis urges equitable vaccine access for ‘the health of humanity.’

  • France and Japan report cases of the virus variant that prompted lockdowns in Britain.

  • ‘Just maintain status quo and survive’: U.S. ski resorts brace for another season of big losses.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Unemployment Aid Set to Lapse Saturday as Trump’s Plans for Relief Bill Remain Unclear. At least a temporary lapse in expanded unemployment benefits for millions of Americans is now inevitable because of President Trump’s delay in signing a $900 billion pandemic relief bill. The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Friday, 25 December 2020: “Expanded unemployment benefits were set to lapse for millions of struggling Americans on Saturday, a day after President Trump expressed more criticism of a $900 billion pandemic relief bill that was awaiting his signature and would extend them. The sprawling economic relief package that Congress passed with overwhelming bipartisan support would extend the amount of time that people can collect unemployment benefits until March and revive supplemental unemployment benefits for millions of Americans at $300 a week on top of the usual state benefit. If Mr. Trump signs the bill on Saturday, states will still need time to reprogram their computer systems to account for the new law, according to Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Projectbut unemployed workers would still be able to claim the benefits.”

 

Saturday, 26 December 2020, Day 1,436:

 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) failed race against covid-19: A threat underestimated and a test overcomplicated, The Washington Post, David Willman, Saturday, 26 December 2020: “A new virus was exploding in Wuhan, a Chinese city with 11 million people connected by its airport to destinations around the world. In the United States, doctors and hospitals were waiting for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a test to detect the threat. On Jan. 13, the World Health Organization had made public a recipe for how to configure such a test, and several countries wasted no time getting started: Within hours, scientists in Thailand used the instructions to deploy a new test. The CDC would not roll out one that worked for 46 more days. Inside the 15-acre campus of the CDC in northeast Atlanta, the senior scientists developing the coronavirus test were fighting and losing the battle against time. The agency squandered weeks as it pursued a test design far more complicated than the WHO version and as its scientists wrestled with failures that regulators would later trace to a contaminated lab. The Washington Post reviewed internal documents and interviewed more than 30 government scientists and others with knowledge of the events to understand more fully the missteps in those early weeks as the coronavirus began to spread unchecked across the nation. Most spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to do so publicly. This account reveals new details about how an overly ambitious test design and laboratory contamination caused the CDC’s delay, and describes previously unreported challenges that confronted the agency scientists assigned to carry out the work.”

Continue reading Week 206, Friday, 25 December  – Thursday, 31 December 2020 (Days 1,435-1,441):

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