Hate Speech A Major Concern After $ 44 Billion Acquisition Of Twitter By Musk

Problematic and hate content and formerly barred accounts have increased sharply in the short time since Elon Musk took over, researchers said, leading to serious troubles for Elon Musk and the popular Twitter platform. 

According to media reports, before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.

Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day. And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.

Picture : Montcalir State University

These findings — from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms — provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how conversations on Twitter have changed since Musk acquired the company in late October. 

Twitter has always been a bit chaotic, but new owner and CEO Elon Musk is taking it to a whole new level. He’s been making dramatic changes since he bought the company for $44 billion on Oct. 27, including laying off half the staff while changing moderation policies and unbanning extremist accounts while trying to figure out who will be verified.

While many advertisers have expressed concerns about the new status of Twitter and it’s impact on the social media, even with threats to withhold advertisements on Twitter, the European Union commissioner Thierry Breton made the comments in a meeting with Musk last week has said that the social media site would have to address issues such as content moderation, disinformation and targeted adverts. 

The back-and-forth comes as the new law is set to go into effect. Approved by the European Union earlier this year, the Digital Services Act is seen as the biggest overhaul of rules governing online activity in decades, imposing new obligations on companies to prevent abuse of their platforms. 

Major companies are expected to be in compliance with the law some time next year. If firms are found to be violation, they face fines of up to 6% of global turnover – or a ban in the case of repeated serious breaches.

Ad sales account for about 90% of Twitter’s revenue. Apple was consistently one of the top advertisers on the social network with an annual ad spend well above $100 million. In recent weeks, half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers from General Mills Inc to luxury automaker Audi of America have announced they are suspending or have otherwise “seemingly stopped advertising on Twitter”.

Musk tweeted that he met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and toured the iPhone maker’s headquarters. Musk has been criticizing Apple this week, alleging without offering evidence that the company censors voices, has a “secret 30% tax” on App Store purchases and threatened to withhold Twitter from the App store.

Elon Musk accused Apple Inc of threatening to block Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets. He also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social media platform following a poll that asked users about whether the iPhone maker should “publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers”.

Musk complained about over a 30% fee Apple collects on transactions via its App Store — the sole gateway for applications to get onto its billion plus mobile devices. Musk called Apple’s fee on transactions through its App Store a “secret 30% tax”.

Musk alleged Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands. After taking over Twitter in October, Musk has cut around half of Twitter’s workforce, including many employees tasked with fighting disinformation. An unknown number of others have voluntarily quit. He has also reinstated previously banned accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump.

Musk complained that though Apple threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, it “won’t tell us why”. Both Apple and Google require social networking services on their app stores to have effective systems for moderating harmful or abusive content. 

Since his takeover of Twitter last month, Musk has fired thousands of staff, reinstated formerly banned users such as Donald Trump and stopped enforcing other policies, such as rules aimed at stopping misleading information on coronavirus.

The moves have alarmed some civil rights groups, who have accused the billionaire of taking steps that will increase hate speech, misinformation and abuse. Some companies advertising on the platform have halted spending amid the concerns – a major blow to the company, which relies on such spending for most of its revenue.

Democrats Elect Next Generation Young Leaders To House Leadership Positions

(AP) — Emboldened House Democrats ushered in a new generation of leaders on Wednesday with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries elected to be the first Black American to head a major political party in Congress as long-serving Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team step aside next year.

Showing rare party unity after their midterm election losses, the House Democrats moved seamlessly from one history-making leader to another, choosing the 52-year-old New Yorker, who has vowed to “get things done,” even after Republicans won control of the chamber. The closed-door vote was unanimous, by acclamation.

“It’s a solemn responsibility that we are all inheriting,” Jeffries told reporters on the eve of the party meeting. “And the best thing that we can do as a result of the seriousness and solemnity of the moment is lean in hard and do the best damn job that we can for the people.”

It’s rare that a party that lost the midterm elections would so easily regroup and stands in stark contrast with the upheaval among Republicans, who are struggling to unite around GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House speaker as they prepare to take control when the new Congress convenes in January.

Wednesday’s internal Democratic caucus votes of Jeffries and the other top leaders came without challengers.

The trio led by Jeffries, who will become the Democratic minority leader in the new Congress, includes 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts as the Democratic whip and 43-year-old Rep. Pete Aguilar of California as caucus chairman. The new team of Democratic leaders is expected to slide into the slots held by Pelosi and her top lieutenants — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina — as the 80-something leaders make way for the next generation.

But in many ways, the trio has been transitioning in plain sight, as one aide put it — Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar working with Pelosi’s nod these past several years in lower-rung leadership roles as the first woman to have the speaker’s gavel prepared to step down. Pelosi, of California, has led the House Democrats for the past 20 years, and colleagues late Tuesday granted her the honorific title of “speaker emerita.”

“It an important moment for the caucus — that there’s a new generation of leadership,” said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., ahead of voting.

While Democrats will be relegated to the House minority in the new year, they will have a certain amount of leverage because the Republican majority is expected to be so slim and McCarthy’s hold on his party fragile.

The House’s two new potential leaders, Jeffries and McCarthy, are of the same generation but have almost no real relationship to speak of — in fact the Democrat is known for leveling political barbs at the Republican from afar, particularly over the GOP’s embrace of former President Donald Trump. Jeffries served as a House manager during Trump’s first impeachment.

“We’re still working through the implications of Trumpism,” Jeffries said, “and what it has meant, as a very destabilizing force for American democracy.”

Jeffries said he hopes to find “common ground when possible” with Republicans but will “oppose their extremism when we must.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Jeffries will have a partner in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as two New Yorkers are poised to helm the Democratic leadership in Congress. They live about a mile (1.6 kilometers) apart in Brooklyn.

“There are going to be a group, in my judgment, of mainstream Republicans who are not going to want to go in the MAGA direction, and Hakeem’s the ideal type guy to work with them,” Schumer said in an interview, referencing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Jeffries has sometimes been met with skepticism from party progressives, viewed as a more centrist figure among House Democrats.

But Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a progressive and part of the “squad” of liberal lawmakers, said she has been heartened by the way Jeffries and his team are reaching out, even though they face no challengers.

“There’s a genuine sense that he wants to develop relationships and working partnerships with many of us,” she said.

Clark, in the No. 2 spot, is seen as a coalition builder on the leadership team, while Aguilar, as the third-ranking leader, is known as a behind-the-scenes conduit to centrists and even Republicans.

Clyburn, now the highest-ranking Black American in Congress, will seek to become the assistant democratic leader, helping the new generation to transition.

The election for Clyburn’s post and several others are expected to be held Thursday.

Jeffries’ ascent comes as a milestone for Black Americans, the Capitol built with the labor of enslaved people and its dome later expanded during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency as a symbol the nation would stand during the Civil War.

“The thing about Pete, Katherine and myself is that we embrace what the House represents,” Jeffries said, calling it “the institution closest to the people.”

While the House Democrats are often a big, diverse, “noisy family,” he said, “it’s a good thing.” He said, “At the end of the day, we’re always committed to finding the highest common denominator in order to get big things done for everyday Americans.”

Rhodes, Leader Of Oath Keepers Is Guilty Of Jan. 6 Seditious Conspiracy

(AP) — Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn President Joe Biden’s election, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

A Washington, D.C., jury found Rhodes guilty of sedition after three days of deliberations in the nearly two-month-long trial that showcased the far-right extremist group’s efforts to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs.

Picture : Reuters

Rhodes was acquitted of two other conspiracy charges. A co-defendant — Kelly Meggs, who led the antigovernment group’s Florida chapter — was also convicted of seditious conspiracy, while three other associates were cleared of that charge. Jurors found all five defendants guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding: Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory.

The verdict, while mixed, marks a significant milestone for the Justice Department and is likely to clear the path for prosecutors to move ahead at full steam in upcoming trials of other extremists accused of sedition.

Rhodes and Meggs are the first people in nearly three decades to be found guilty at trial of seditious conspiracy — a rarely used Civil War-era charge that can be difficult to prove. The offense calls for up to 20 years behind bars.

It could embolden investigators, whose work has expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently named a veteran prosecutor, Jack Smith, to serve as special counsel to oversee key aspects of a probe into efforts to subvert the election as well as a separate investigation into the retention of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Garland said after the verdict that the Justice Department “is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021.”

“Democracy depends on the peaceful transfer of power. By attempting to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, the defendants flouted and trampled the rule of law,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, said in an emailed statement. “This case shows that force and violence are no match for our country’s justice system.”

Using dozens of encrypted messages, recordings and surveillance video, prosecutors made the case that Rhodes began shortly after the 2020 election to prepare an armed rebellion to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Over seven weeks of testimony, jurors heard how Rhodes rallied his followers to fight to defend Trump, discussed the prospect of a “bloody” civil war and warned the Oath Keepers may have to “rise up in insurrection” to defeat Biden if Trump didn’t act.

Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of twisting their clients’ words and insisted the Oath Keepers came to Washington only to provide security for figures such as Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally. The defense focused heavily on seeking to show that Rhodes’ rhetoric was just bluster and that the Oath Keepers had no plan before Jan. 6 to attack the Capitol.

Rhodes intends to appeal, defense attorney James Lee Bright told reporters. Another Rhodes lawyer, Ed Tarpley, described the verdict as a “mixed bag,” adding, “This is not a total victory for the government in any way, shape or form.”

“We feel like we presented a case that showed through evidence and testimony that Mr. Rhodes did not commit the crime of seditious conspiracy,” Tarpley said.

On trial alongside Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and Meggs, were Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group.

Caldwell was convicted on two counts and acquitted on three others, including seditious conspiracy. His attorney, David Fischer, called the verdict “major victory” for his client and a “major defeat” for the Justice Department. He also said he would appeal the two convictions.

Jury selection for a second group of Oath Keepers facing seditious conspiracy charges is scheduled to begin next week. Several members of the Proud Boys, including the former national chairman Enrique Tarrio, are also scheduled to go to trial on the sedition charge in December.

In an extraordinary move, Rhodes took the stand to tell jurors there was no plan to attack the Capitol and insist that his followers who went inside the building went rogue.

Rhodes testified that he had no idea that his followers were going to join the mob and storm the Capitol and said he was upset after he found out that some did. Rhodes said they were acting “stupid” and outside their mission for the day.

The National Christmas Tree Turns 100

Though the tree has not been lit every single year across the century, it is the second-oldest White House tradition after the Easter egg roll.

(RNS) — It was Christmas Eve in 1923. A church choir sang, Marine band members played and the president of the United States pressed a button to light the first National Christmas Tree under the gaze of thousands of onlookers.

For 100 years, the tree has represented a symbol of civil religion as Americans mark the Christmas season.

On Wednesday (Nov. 30), President Joe Biden is set to do the honors just as President Calvin Coolidge did at that first lighting, and contemporary gospel singer Yolanda Adams is slated to sing for the crowds gathered on the Ellipse in the shadow of the White House.

Though the tree was not lit from 1942 to 1944 — due to the Second World War — it is the second-oldest White House tradition, after the Easter Egg Roll, which began in 1878.

“A hundred years is a fairly significant milestone to reach for consistently practicing a tradition,” said Matthew Costello, senior historian of the nonprofit White House Historical Association. “This is really part of the customs and the traditions of the White House and living in the White House.”

Picture : Share America

Whether the tree will continue as a symbol of civil religion — a Christian tradition, yes, but also a generic celebration of the holiday known for Santa and reindeer — is an open question, said Boston University professor of religion Stephen Prothero. In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the tree’s intersection of politics and religion may be seen as too fraught.

“At this point, these Christian symbols in the public square feel very different to me and to many other Americans, than they have in the past,” he said. “And that’s precisely because of the increasing power of white Christian nationalism in American society.”

Already, the tree can seem like a relic of an America that is now past. “You would think, based on separation of church and state, that the federal government wouldn’t get into the Christmas tree business, but we have been doing these kinds of things for a long time,” Prothero said.

But the tree has always been part of America’s balancing act of alternately welcoming or rejecting religion in the public square. “It used to be that there was a kind of a gentleman’s agreement — and I say, gentleman on purpose, because it was men who were making this agreement — and the agreement was that you could have religious symbols in the public space, but that they would have to be generic, that they wouldn’t be explicitly Christian.”

Here are five faith facts related to the National Christmas Tree:

1. It’s been a place for God-talk by Democrats and Republicans.

In 1940, before the U.S. entered the conflict in Europe, Franklin D. Roosevelt used the tree lighting to condemn the war, referring to the Beatitudes of Christ, and urging “belligerent nations to read the Sermon on the Mount,” a National Park Service timeline notes.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan offered a different interpretation of the holiday. “For some Christmas just marks the birth of a great philosopher and prophet, a great and good man,” he said. “To others, it marks something still more: the pinnacle of all history, the moment when the God of all creation — in the words of the creed, God from God and light from light — humbled himself to become a baby crying in a manger.”

More recently, Barack Obama, referring to baby Jesus, said at a 2010 ceremony that “while this story may be a Christian one, its lesson is universal.”

Donald Trump said in 2017 that the “Christmas story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all, the gift of God’s love for all of humanity.”

2. The Christmas tree was joined by other symbols of faith.

At times, there has been a Nativity with life-sized figures near the National Christmas Tree. An Islamic star-and-crescent symbol also made a 1997 appearance on the National Mall not far from the White House but it was vandalized, losing its star.

“This year for the first time, an Islamic symbol was displayed along with the National Christmas Tree and the menorah,” said President Bill Clinton that year in a statement. “The desecration of that symbol is the embodiment of intolerance that strikes at the heart of what it means to be an American.”

A public menorah first appeared near the White House in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter walked to the ceremony in Lafayette Park. The candelabra moved to a location on the Ellipse in 1987, and a 30-foot National Menorah has continued to be lit annually as a project of American Friends of Lubavitch.

3. Its lighting continued amid difficult times.

Roosevelt lit the tree weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill standing behind him.

After the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his successor waited until a 30-day mourning period was over before lighting the tree. “Today we come to the end of a season of great national sorrow, and to the beginning of the season of great, eternal joy,” said Lyndon Johnson on Dec. 22 of that year.

A few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush rode in a motorcade to the nearby Ellipse for the ceremony.

Costello contrasted these “people-oriented” instances to the more “policy-oriented” rhetoric of State of the Union speeches.

“We see after these moments of national catastrophe, disaster, tragedy, where this can be a really uplifting time for presidents to deliver a message directly to the American people, to remind them about what the season is all about, but also forward-looking,” he said.

4. While it’s kept its name, others have switched to “holiday.”

The neighboring Capitol Christmas Tree was a Capitol Holiday Tree for a time. It reverted back to the “Christmas” title in 2005.

“The speaker believes a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, and it is as simple as that,” Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, told The Washington Times that year.

Matthew Evans, then landscape architect of the U.S. Capitol, told Religion News Service in 2001 that the tree is “intended for people of all faiths to gather round at a time of coming together and fellowship and celebration.”

Around that time, some state capitols and statehouses also opted to name their pines, firs and spruces “holiday trees” instead.

But the National Christmas Tree has retained its longtime imprimatur.

5. The tree ceremony is really about kids.

President Herbert Hoover and first lady Lou Hoover light the National Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve 1929. Photo courtesy of LOC/Creative Commons

An ailing 7-year-old girl asked that President Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan grant her “Make a Wish” program request that she join them for the tree lighting in 1983.

“The Christmas tree that lights up for our country must be seen all the way to heaven,” Amy Bentham wrote to the program, according to the NPS website. “I would wish so much to help the President turn on those Christmas lights.”

The Reagans granted her wish.

“The bottom line is what the president says and does, it matters; obviously, people listen,” Costello said. “But really, this is about kids, it’s about children and sort of the magical time of the year. And that was just one example, I think, that was especially poignant about why the ceremony matters.”

Republicans Win The House, US Will Have ‘Divided’ Government For Next 2 Years

The US will have a divided government for the next two years as the Republican party finally secured the House of Representatives last week after polling in midterm elections closed on November 8th, 2022. Democrats will control the Senate, which they secured last week, and the White House, which was not on the ballot.

Republicans were expected to win both chambers, especially the House and with a huge majority in keeping with history. The party in control of the White House has always lost the first midterm of the incumbent president’s first term, and by huge numbers. In 2010, President Barack Obama’s first midterm, Democrats lost the House by 63 seats; and in 2018, President Donald Trump’s first midterm, the Republicans lost the House by 41 seats.

The days of ambitious legislations such as those that marked the first two years of President Joe Biden’s term – infrastructure, climate change and healthcare extension, are over. There will be instead a litany of congressional investigations into the Biden administration and bitter confrontations between the White House and the Republican-controlled House.

These tensions will be exacerbated by the 2024 presidential elections that got underway with former President Donald Trump announcing his third bid for the White House – 2016 and 2020 were the earlier two – on Tuesday. It will only pick up more heat from hereon.

Picture : NBC News

For now, however, Biden, who takes pride in his ability to work with the other side drawing upon nearly 50 years of political experience as senator, vice-president and now president, congratulated the Republicans and promised to work with them. “I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families,” he said in a statement.

But he also reminded the Republicans of the midterm verdict, which spared the Democrats the kinds of searing defeats that parties in power have historically suffered in the first midterm election of the first term of their man (there hasn’t been a woman president yet in the US) in the White House. Former President Barack Obama called his first midterm verdict a “shellacking”.

Democrats did stunningly better than anticipated and lost the House by what is likely to be a very thin margin, and have retained the Senate (they have also flipped three states snatching their governorships from Republicans).

“In this election, voters spoke clearly about their concerns: the need to lower costs, protect the right to choose, and preserve our democracy,” Biden said, adding, “As I said last week, the future is too promising to be trapped in political warfare. The American people want us to get things done for them. They want us to focus on the issues that matter to them and on making their lives better. And I will work with anyone – Republican or Democrat – willing to work with me to deliver results for them.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement House Democrats “will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda – with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority.”

Democrats have been buoyed by voters’ repudiation of a string of far-right Republican candidates, most of them allies of Trump, including Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania’s Senate and governor’s races respectively, and Blake Masters in Arizona’s Senate contest.

Even though the expected “red wave” of House Republicans never reached shore, conservatives are sticking to their agenda. In retaliation for two impeachment efforts by Democrats against Trump, they are gearing up to investigate Biden administration officials and the president’s son Hunter’s past business dealings with China and other countries – and even Biden himself.

Republicans have threatened to launch congressional investigations into the Biden administration’s handling of the migrant crisis on the southern border and its handling of the Afghanistan exit. They also plan to probe his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings when the senior Biden was vice-president.

But the Republicans will also be under tremendous strain because of its razor-thin majority. It will face its first stress test on January 3 when Kevin McCathy, who was re-elected leader of the congressional caucus on Wednesday, seeks the speakership, a position that goes to the leader of the majority party. McCarthy will need 218 votes to win. He cannot afford defections, because he is unlikely to make up for their loss with Democratic crossovers.

More than 40 Republican lawmakers voted for Andy Biggs, the challenger for the majority leadership, all of whom from the party’s ultraconservative wing known as the Freedom Caucus, many of whose members are fiercely loyal to Trump, and their votes and congressional positions could be cued by the ups and downs of the presidential primaries.

Trump, who still polls as the top choice among Republicans for the party’s presidential nomination, nevertheless suffered a series of setbacks as far-right candidates he either recruited or became allied with performed poorly on Nov. 8. Some conservative Republican voters voiced fatigue with Trump.

Donald Trump Announces 2024 Presidential Run

Former US President Donald Trump has announced his fourth bid for the White House, kicking off the 2024 presidential election cycle. “To make America great again, I am today announcing my candidacy for the President of the US,” Trump said at an event on Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Shortly before his announcement, Trump also filed paperwork to officially run for President.
At the event, a voice over the loudspeaker introduced Trump as “the next president of the United States”, the BBC reported. He started his speech by digging into his successor President Joe Biden’s record and told supporters that “America’s comeback starts right now”.

Picture : Business Insider

Surrounded by allies, advisers, and conservative influencers, Trump delivered a relatively subdued speech, rife with spurious and exaggerated claims about his four years in office. Despite a historically divisive presidency and his own role in inciting an attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Trump aimed to evoke nostalgia for his time in office, frequently contrasting his first-term accomplishments with the Biden administration’s policies and the current economic climate.

Many of those perceived accomplishments – from strict immigration actions to corporate tax cuts and religious freedom initiatives – remain deeply polarizing to this day.

Touting his four years in office, the former President said: “In four short years, everyone was doing great… Everyone was thriving like never before.” He further claimed that the country’s economy was making a swift recovery when he left office, after falling during the coronavirus pandemic. “Now we are a nation in decline,” he said, citing high inflation rates.

Trump also said that Biden has brought the US to the brink of nuclear war with its handling of the conflict in Ukraine. “Even just today a missile sent in, probably by Russia, to Poland. The people are going absolutely wild and crazy and they’re not happy. They’re very very angry,” the BBC quoted the former President as saying.

Prior to his announcement on Tuesday, Trump had said that he would make an important announcement on November 15. In the recent months, he had been dropping hints about a potential third campaign for the White House, the BBC reported.

In October, he told a rally in Texas that he “will probably have to do it again”, while in September at an event in Pennsylvania, the former President said: “I may just have to do it again.” Just before the November 8 midterm elections, he told a Republican campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa, that he would “very, very, very probably” be running for the White House again.

On the heels of last week’s midterm elections, Trump has been blamed for elevating flawed candidates who spent too much time parroting his claims about election fraud, alienating key voters and ultimately leading to their defeats. He attempted to counter that criticism on Tuesday, noting that Republicans appear poised to retake the House majority and touting at least one Trump-endorsed candidate, Kevin Kiley of California. At one point, Trump appeared to blame his party’s midterm performance on voters not yet realizing “the total effect of the suffering” after two years of Democratic control in Washington.

“I have no doubt that by 2024, it will sadly be much worse and they will see clearly what has happened and is happening to our country – and the voting will be much different,” he claimed.

Various media outlets have said this is the third; however, they have not taken into account his bid in 1999-2000 after affiliating with the Reform Party. In October 1999, during an episode of Larry King Live, Trump had announced his candidacy for the Reform Party nomination. A few months later, however, he suspended his campaign. Trump’s four presidential runs were, therefore, in 2000 (suspended), 2016 (won), 2020 (lost) and now, in 2022 (just announced).

Musk Reopens Door To Twitter For Trump

Twitter CEO reversed the permanent ban on former President Donald Trump’s account Saturday, November 19th, but Trump has yet to return to his once-favored platform.

Instead, Trump doubled down on his commitment to remain on his own platform, Truth Social. At a virtual appearance before the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, he said he doesn’t see “any reason” to return to Twitter, and on Truth Social he told his followers “don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere.”

Even if Trump makes a Twitter return, he is contractually obligated to post on Truth Social six hours before making the same post on another platform, according to terms revealed in a regulatory filing in May.

In the meantime, Musk has seemingly nudged the former president, who is running for the Oval Office again in 2024, to return to by tweeting memes about the pull of Twitter.

As Musk awaits Trump’s potential return, he’s facing renewed backlash from civil rights and other advocacy groups over the decision to reinstate Trump’s account.

Trump’s account was banned by Twitter after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol after the platform determined his posts posted the risk of further inciting violence.

Trump was among a group of high-profile accounts reinstated by Elon Musk.  Among them, was the personal account for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). Greene had been banned in January over violating the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy.

Using her official congressional account, which was not banned by the platform, Greene urged her followers to head to her newly reinstated “unfiltered” personal account.

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, also had his account reinstated reversing the suspension made after he posted antisemitic comments.  “Don’t kill what ye hate Save what ye love,” Musk tweeted in response to the rapper’s first return tweet.

Groups including the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League and FreePress slammed Musk over decision, especially considering Musk told them earlier this month that he would form a council to make decisions on whether to reinstate accounts.

“As far as I can tell this new council doesn’t exist. It’s just one of the many bad-faith promises Musk has made civil-rights leaders and then tossed aside,” Free Press co-CEO Jessica González said in a statement.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that Musk’s decision to reinstate Trump is “dangerous and a treat to American democracy.”

Biden Administration Seeks Supreme Court Nod For Student Debt Plan

The Biden administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to clear one of the legal obstacles blocking its student debt relief program, as part of the administration’s broader legal effort to have the policy reinstated.

The administration is currently fending off two separate rulings issued over the last two weeks that have effectively halted President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which would give federal borrowers making less than $125,000 a year up to $10,000 debt relief.

In its Friday filing, the Department of Justice (DOJ), on behalf of the administration, urged the justices to lift a ruling issued Monday by the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that halted the loan relief program, saying its current legal status has left “vulnerable borrowers in untenable limbo.”

“The [8th Circuit’s] injunction thus frustrates the government’s ability to respond to the harmful economic consequences of a devastating pandemic with the policies it has determined are necessary,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the justices.

Biden’s policy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost about $400 billion over 30 years, has drawn numerous legal challenges. Its aim is to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those making under $125,000 annually and up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants, which assist students from lower-income families.

The administration’s move on Friday comes after a unanimous three-judge panel on the 8th Circuit halted Biden’s massive debt relief plan, which had already been blocked nationwide by a separate court ruling.

The panel, which comprised two Trump-appointed judges and one appointee of former President George W. Bush, said its order would remain in effect until further notice by the 8th Circuit or the Supreme Court.

The ruling was a win for six conservative-led states — Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina — that challenged the program on the grounds that they were harmed by a freeze on the collection of student loan payments and interest. The court’s six-page ruling singled out the impact on a large, Missouri-based holder of student loans called the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri.

“The equities strongly favor an injunction considering the irreversible impact the Secretary’s debt forgiveness action would have as compared to the lack of harm an injunction would presently impose,” the panel wrote. “Among the considerations is the fact that collection of student loan payments as well as accrual of interest on student loans have both been suspended.”

The White House, for its part, maintains that its policy is authorized by a 2003 federal law known as the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, which both the Trump and Biden administrations have drawn upon to alleviate student borrowers’ financial strain during the global pandemic.

In a related legal development last week, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas invalidated the program, saying the presidential action unlawfully encroached on Congress’s power. The Biden administration has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to halt that ruling while it mounts a formal appeal.

Several other similar challenges to Biden’s plan have so far proved unsuccessful. Among them were two cases that eventually sought emergency relief in the Supreme Court but were unilaterally rejected by Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The Supreme Court may be more inclined to intervene now that the U.S. government is the party seeking relief and as courts across the country reach different conclusions about the program’s lawfulness.

The DOJ, in its Friday filing, told the justices they could choose to construe the government’s request as a formal petition for appeal and place it on a procedural fast-track.

The DOJ filing comes as student loan borrowers are anxiously awaiting for payments to restart at the beginning of 2023.

Advocates have been pressuring the Biden administration to extend the pause on payments, which began at the beginning of the pandemic, while the debt relief program is going through the courts.

Before the legal challenges, millions of borrowers applied for the debt relief through an application on the Department of Education’s website. Borrowers were told to apply before Tuesday in order to have a chance at their debt being forgiven before the payments began.

Since then, the applications have been taken down, and borrowers could have to wait months to get a final decision on the legality of the program from the courts.

The Washington Post previously reported talks were happening in the White House to extend the payment pause again due to the court challenges, despite Biden telling borrowers there would be no more extensions.

However, there has been no official word from the White House on the issue with only a month and a half left before payments resume. (Courtesy: The Hill)

As Chinese Students Become Less, Indians Expected To Fill Universities Across USA

India is up. China is down. Very few U.S. students studied abroad during the first year of the pandemic.  Those three points, in a nutshell, represent key findings from recent data released jointly on Nov. 14, 2022, by the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education.

The “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange” is published each year at the start of International Education Week. It provides detailed insights regarding study abroad and international students.

Most source countries see a growth in students heading to the U.S., including India sending 19% more students, due to steady decline in Chinese students studying in the U.S., its largest group of foreign students, has opened up opportunities for Indian students as the top global destination for higher education seeks to fill the gap in international enrolments since COVID-19.

Though students from nearly all source countries saw a growth in the number of foreign students in the U.S. for the first time since the pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic session, China was among the few exceptions.

For the second consecutive year, Chinese students in the U.S. saw a decline of 8.6% in 2021-2022 at 2.9 lakh students, according the Open Doors 2022 report on international students released on Monday and brought out by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The student numbers from China are the lowest since 2014-2015. In 2020-2021, China reported a decline of 14.8%.

Overall, in 2021-2022, there were a total 9.48 lakh international students in the U.S. — an improvement of 4% over the previous year when students from across the world reported a sharp decline due to travel restrictions during COVID-19. But international student enrolments continue to be behind pre-pandemic level (2019-2020) by 11.8%.

This year’s report shows a 91% decline in the total number of U.S. students who studied abroad during the 2020-2021 academic year. The pandemic also led colleges to develop more online global learning opportunities. In fact, 62% of colleges offered virtual internships with multinational companies, collaborative online coursework with students abroad and other experiences. While the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a 45.6% decline in new international students in 2020, the latest data, covering the 2021-2022 academic year, indicates that the total number of international students in the U.S. – 948,519 – has started to recover. This can be seen in a 3.8% increase over the 914,095 international students in the U.S. in 2020. Still, the number is well below the nearly 1.1 million international students reported in 2018. Much of the recent growth is driven by an increase in the number of new international students – 261,961 – which is up 80% over the 145,528 from 2020 but still 2.14% below the 267,712 from 2019.

Students from China and India comprise more than half – 52% – of all international students. That isn’t anything new, but what is noteworthy is that during the 2021-2022 academic year, Chinese student enrollment fell 9% and the number of Indian students increased by 19% over the prior year. This has big implications for international diversity at U.S. colleges. This is because Chinese students tend to enroll in a range of majors, while most Indian students – 66.4% – study in just a handful of programs: engineering, math and computer science.

China and India each have around 1.4 billion people, but by 2023 the United Nations predicts that India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country. This continued growth will further strain India’s higher education system, leading to more students pursuing advanced degrees abroad. At the same time, poor job prospects at home are driving many Indian students to pursue academic and career pathways that lead away from India. This is especially true in high-paying, high-growth fields like computers and information technology.

Other contributing factors to the increase from India include a change in tone on the part of the U.S. government. The Biden administration is working to reestablish the U.S. as a welcoming destination for international students by enacting reversals of Trump-era immigration policies. Those policies caused uncertainty and fear among international students. The Biden administration has also prioritized the processing of student visas in India.

Asian Americans Form An Increasingly Important Voting Bloc

Asian Americans voted in record numbers in the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, as well as in the 2018 midterm elections.

They are also the fastest-growing racial group in the country, with the population increasing by 81% between 2000 and 2019.

(The Conversation) — Asian Americans voted in record numbers in the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, as well as in the 2018 midterm elections.

They are also the fastest-growing racial group in the country, with the population increasing by 81% between 2000 and 2019.

As political scientists who have written about electoral politics in America and abroad, we argue that the Asian American vote could have important ramifications for the 2022 midterms. That said, this group has historically not voted in lockstep but has shown a diversity of political preferences.

Asian Americans and the Democratic Party

Recent years have seen Asian Americans emerge as a Democratic voting bloc. This affinity for the Democratic Party manifests in public opinion polls, as well. In fact, the recent Asian American Voter Survey found that 56% of Asian Americans have either a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of President Joe Biden. By contrast, only 29% of Asian Americans had similar views of former President Donald Trump.

One potential reason for Asian Americans’ preference for the Democratic Party has to do with the demographics of Democratic candidates. Of the 20 Asian Americans currently serving in Congress, all but three are Democrats.

Picture : Las Vegas Sun

Political scientists have found evidence of Asian Americans’ desire for descriptive representation – a desire to see one’s race, ethnicity, gender or some other identity reflected in their member of Congress. In her recent analysis of state legislative elections, scholar Sara Sadhwani found that Asian American voter turnout increases when an Asian American is on the ballot, and Asian Americans make up a large proportion of the electorate.

On the other hand, Asian Americans may also be largely Democratic because of their policy preferences. A recent poll from Morning Consult, a public opinion outlet, found that only 23% of Asian Americans identified as ideologically conservative.

Not a monolith

Though Asian Americans are characterized by a general lean toward the Democratic Party, it would be misleading to refer to them as if they were a monolithic group. Indeed, despite a shared set of political views among these voters, there are also notable – and important – differences based upon Asian Americans’ particular ethnic identities.

This claim has a long history in political science scholarship. As scholar Wendy Cho argued nearly three decades ago, “the monolithic Asian group is heterogeneous in several respects” when it comes to voting patterns. Accordingly, her work emphasizes that a failure to examine the unique groups that compose the Asian American community can lead to misleading conclusions.

Consequently, breaking up these groups on the basis of ethnicity provides an extremely complex account of the likely voting preferences of Asian Americans.

For example, a recent comprehensive national survey revealed that only 25% of all Asian Americans intend to vote for a Republican as opposed to 54% for a Democrat.

However, broken down along ethnic lines, a more complex set of preferences emerges. As many as 37% of Vietnamese Americans are inclined to vote Republican while only 16% of Indian Americans have similar leanings. These statistics, it can be surmised, would provide a portrait of even greater complexity if they were broken down along sociodemographic lines such as gender and educational attainment.

Though a plurality of Asian Americans identifies with the Democratic Party, there is substantial variation along ethnic lines. When broken down in terms of ethnicity, the highest levels of support for the Democratic Party come from Indians (56%) and Japanese (57%); Vietnamese (23%) and Chinese (42%) Americans register the lowest levels of support for the Democratic Party.

With elections being decided by small swings from one party to the other, Asian American voters could play a key role in determining who obtains political power. The heterogeneous preferences of this group, often falling along ethnic lines, provide ample opportunities for both political parties.

Steven Webster does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

(Sumit Ganguly is a distinguished professor of political science and the Tagore chair in Indian cultures and civilizations at Indiana University, where Steven Webster is assistant professor of political science. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

Aruna Miller Elected Maryland’s Lt Governor

Indian-American Aruna Miller has been elected Lieutenant Governor of Maryland in the midterm elections in which the Democrats wrested the top spots in the state from the Republicans. She and the candidate for Governor Wes Moore won 59.3 per cent of the votes in Tuesday’s election.

They make history in the state, Miller as the first Indian-American or Asian American Lieutenant Governor, and Moore as the state’s first African-American Governor.

The Hyderabad-born Miller is also the first Indian-American to be elected a state Lieutenant Governor, although two Republicans from the community have been elected Governors, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

The 58-year-old immigrated to the US from India when she was seven.

In a series of tweets, Miller wrote: “Ever since I came to this country in 1972, I’ve never stopped being excited for the promise of America. I will never stop fighting to make sure that promise is available to everyone.

“And this promise begins with a commitment to deliver a Maryland where we Leave No One Behind.”

Thanking her voters, Miller said she wants to build a Maryland where people feel safe in their communities and in their skin.

“Before I ask you for anything, I want to thank you for everything. Thank you for being here today and for being a part of this moment. We need you. We need your hope, we need your stories, we need your partnership, and I can promise you this, we’re only just getting started.

Picture : OPB

“Maryland, tonight you showed the nation what a small but mighty state can do when democracy is on the ballot. You chose unity over division, expanding rights over restricting rights, hope over fear. You chose Wes Moore and me to be your next Governor and Lieutenant Governor,” she added.

Miller had served two terms as a member of the state’s House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the legislature, starting in 2010.

She tried to run for Congress in 2019 but lost the Democratic primary election for selecting the party’s candidate.

Miller has also served as an executive director of India Impact, an organisation that mobilises voters and candidates for offices and supports Asian American candidates.

Miller is married to her collegemate David Miller and they have three adult daughters.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology she worked in California, Hawaii and Virginia before moving to Maryland, where she was employed by the department of transportation of Montgomery county.

Governor Larry Hogan, a critic of former President Donald Trump, and Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford did not run for re-election.

The Republican Governor candidate Dan Cox is a Trump loyalist and he collected only 37 per cent of the votes, underperforming like many of the candidates backed by Trump. (IANS)

Democracy Triumphs Over Falsehood, Trumpism In US Midterms

“The American people proved once again that democracy is who we are. There was a strong rejection of election deniers at every level from those seeking to lead our states and those seeking to serve in Congress and also those seeking to oversee the elections,” President Joe Biden summarized the outcome of the Mid Term Elections 2022, during a news conference in Bali, Indonesia this week, where Biden sought to cast the election results seen so far as a victory for the future of American democracy – a matter he had said was at stake at the polls.

Picture : The New Arab

As the dust settled on a most unusual election, most signs point to a defeat of falsehood, strong rejection of political violence and voter intimidation. In the US Senate, Republicans fell short of their hopes, with control of the chamber staying with the Democrats. Vulnerable House Democratic incumbents held onto contested seats from Arizona to Nevada, while snatching victory in Pennsylvania. Several Governor’s races, including the victory in Arizona vindicated that the American people proved that “democracy is who we are” and sent a strong rejection to “election deniers” who were seeking state offices and congressional seats. The Democrats flipped governor’s mansions in Maryland and Massachusetts while thwarting challenges from Donald Trump acolytes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman defeated celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, taking a Senate seat previously in GOP hands. Democrats hung on in Senate races the Republicans targeted in New Hampshire, Colorado, Washington, and likely Arizona. The far-right GOP Congresswoman Lauren Boebert appeared in danger of a shocking loss in a deep-red Colorado district.

The ingredients had been there for a Republican rout: inflation at a four-decade high, real wages shrinking, gas prices up, an unpopular aging president. But the predicted red wave was barely a ripple. The abortion-rights side swept ballot initiatives in Michigan, Kentucky, California and Vermont.

Picture : PBS

After months of infighting, Biden’s legislative agenda revived, with bipartisan bills on infrastructure, veterans, China, NATO and even gun control, and a last-minute resurrection of his party-line climate-and-health-care bill, rebranded the Inflation Reduction Act. He succeeded in unifying the West against Russian aggression in Ukraine, bolstering the former Soviet state’s surprisingly effective resistance to Vladimir Putin.

While the balance of power in the Congress shifted in Republicans’ direction, their failure to capitalize on a favorable political environment will lead to more recriminations than celebrations. And while Democrats breathed a sigh of relief, voters’ dissatisfaction with the country’s direction was evident, particularly when it came to the economy and public safety. Caught between Democratic fecklessness and Republican lunacy, voters delivered a stalemate—not a vote of confidence, but a repudiation of sorts for both parties.

Despite the mixed verdict, messages emerged from the morass. Americans broadly support abortion rights and continue to consider them a high priority in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June overturning of Roe v. Wade. The electorate is angry, frustrated, pessimistic—and motivated, with turnout approaching 2018’s record levels. And in the first national election since Trump left office, his continued attempts to remake the GOP in his image appeared more poison pill than Midas touch, with Trumpist candidates underperforming across the map.

The mainstream Republicans who ignored Trump often prevailed, holding governorships in Georgia, Ohio and New Hampshire. Whether despite or because of panicked liberals’ insistence that democracy itself was under siege, election deniers were defeated in droves. Losing candidates conceded gracefully and election systems functioned as planned, bolstering confidence in institutions of governance. The two parties traded victories, but the election was a triumph for normal politics in abnormal times.

In the end, the U.S. midterm elections showed the strength and resiliency of U.S. democracy and was a rejection of so-called “election deniers” who have falsely argued the 2020 election was rigged. To quote President Biden, “What we saw was the strength and resilience of American democracy and we saw it in action.”

‘Samosa Caucus’ Expands To Five After US Midterm Election

The United States House ‘Samosa Caucus’ gained a new member after the Mid term election held on November 8, 2022 as Shri Thanedar, a Democrat, won a seat in Detroit, Michigan. The four Indian-American incumbents — Ami Bera and Ro Khanna (California), Pramila Jayapal (Washington state), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (Illinois) — have been re-elected to the the US House of Representatives.

Thanedar’s victory was sure on Tuesday night, as he amassed 72 percent of the votes, while his opponent Republican Martell Bivings received 23 percent of the votes polled.

The millionaire entrepreneur, who grew up in poverty in Belgaum, poured $10 million into his race. The Detroit Free Press noted that it would be the first time since 1955 that the majority Black city would not have a Black representative in the House.

Republican Ritesh Tandon, who ran against Ro Khanna in California, and Democrat Sandeep Srivastava in Texas have lost. Rishi Kuma, who is running against a fellow Democrat under California’s system is also trailing.

India’s “son-in-law” J.D. Vance, who is married to Usha Chilukuri, has won the Senate seat from Ohio. He is a Republican allied with former President Donald Trump.

An entrepreneur and self-made millionaire, Democrat Thanedar, 67, who was born in Belgaum in India, beat a Republican rival in Detroit in Michigan state. Thanedar, who is now a Michigan state legislator, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic party nomination for Governor in 2018.

He came to the US in 1979 and got his PhD in chemistry and an MBA. He took out loans to buy a company he worked for, Chemir, and built it from a $150,000 company to one with a revenue of $14 million before selling it for $26 million, according to his LinkedIn page.

He next started Avomeen Analytical Services, a chemical testing laboratory. He sold the majority stakes in it in 2016 and, according to his campaign bio, retired to get involved in public service to answer “the call to fight for social, racial and economic justice”.

Running in a constituency that covers a chunk of a city that is overwhelmingly African-American, Thanedar stressed in his campaign that he grew up in poverty in a family of ten in India and worked in odd jobs to support his family after his father retired.

“I’ll never forget what it’s like to live in poverty, and I’ll never stop working to lift Detroit families out of it,” he wrote on his campaign site. Thanedar is the seventh Indian-American to be ever elected to the House.

In Santa Clara County, Democrat Anna Eshoo, who has served in the House since 1993, held a respectable lead on election night against her challenger Rishi Kumar, a fellow Democrat. The race had not been called on Nov. 9 morning. With 49 percent of votes counted, Eshoo was leading by 58 percent.  This is also Eshoo and Kumar’s second face-off.

Picture : TheUNN

Another closely-watched House race, in Southern California, Dr. Asif Mahmood, a Democrat, is said to have lost to Republican incumbent Young Kim. Mahmood, a pulmonologist, earned the endorsement of Vice President Kamala Harris. “I am proud to endorse Dr. Asif Mahmood, who is part of an accomplished slate of Californians up and down the ballot who are committed to, along with our Administration, deliver results on behalf of working families, confronting the climate crisis, lowering health care costs, and other critical priorities,” wrote Harris. “The stakes are high this year and I am confident Dr. Asif Mahmood will stand up for the values we hold dear.”

Chennai-born Jayapal, 57, who was first elected in 2016 from Washington State, is the senior whip of the Democratic Party in the House and the chair of the influential leftist Congressional Progressive Caucus. She has been a strong critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In Washington state, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, thrashed her Republican challenger Cliff Moon, garnering 85 percent of all votes counted on election night. Jayapal is the first Indian American woman in the House, and chair of the House Progressive Caucus. She has served in Congress since 2017.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart to voters in #WA07 for re-electing me with such a huge margin to serve another term in the House! I am humbled, honored & I promise I will keep fighting for our freedoms, for our families & for opportunity for everyone to thrive,” tweeted Jayapal on election night.

Rep. Ro Khanna, who serves Fremont and portions of the Silicon Valley, handily beat off Republican challenger Ritesh Tandon. The race was called for Khanna on election night. With 42 percent of the vote counted, the Democrat who has served in Congress since 2017, held 70 percent of votes counted. Tandon had amassed 28, 212 votes at that point. Khanna and Tandon also faced off in 2020.

Khanna, 46, is also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Fox News reported that he is exploring a presidential run in 2024. He is close to Bernie Sanders, the leftist Senator who has unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Politico reported that top leaders from Sander’s camp have urged him to seek the Democratic Party nomination if President Joe Biden does not run again. A second-generation Indian American, he was born in Philadelphia and has a law degree from Yale University.

In Illinois, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, fended off Republican challenger Chris Dargis. With 93 percent of votes counted, Krishnamoorthi gained 112, 884 votes, 56 percent. Krishnamoorthi has held his seat since 2017. The incumbent was born in New Delhi, and immigrated to the US with his parents when he was just three months old.

Krishnamoorthi, 49, who was born in New Delhi is politically a centrist and was a technology entrepreneur. He has worked with former President Barack Obama’s campaigns for Senator and President. A second-generation Indian American born in Elks Groce, California, Bera, 57, is a doctor.

Rep. Ami Bera, a Democrat who represents portions of Sacramento in California’s District 6, is predicted to win. But his battle to fend off Republican challenger Tamika Hamilton has not yet been called decisively. Early Nov. 9 morning, with 26 percent of votes counted, Bera had amassed 56 percent of the vote, while Hamilton garnered 44 percent.

Bera has served in Congress since 2013. His races have often been nailbiters, with a decisive victory coming in several days after election night. The former physician serves as chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia.

The growing influence of the Indian community in US politics was evident from its victories across various levels of government. Aruna Miller, the Andhra Pradesh-born daughter of immigrants, was elected as the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, the second highest office in a crucial state adjoining the US capital of Washington DC.

Indian-Americans also did well in state races: In Illinois, 23-year old Nabeela Syed is set to become the youngest legislator in the state general assembly, and, in Pennsylvania, emergency physician Arvind Venkat is on his way to becoming a member of the state legislature.

A senior Indian-American political activist, who is with the Democratic Party but did not wish to be named, said, “We are playing an active role at three levels — as leaders, as donors, and as an active demographic bloc seen as a swing constituency. But while there may have been some shift towards Republicans in some states where the party is already dominant, Democrats, as the results show, have remained the natural home for the community’s political aspirations. The community’s values on social justice, equality and representation align with Democrats. All big Indian-American winners are Democrats.”

The midterms, which saw an especially diverse ballot this time, were also good for others of South Asian origin. Nabilah Islam, born to Bangladeshi immigrant parents, was elected to the Georgia State Senate, while Sarhana Shrestha of a Nepalese-origin, won a seat to the New York state legislature from upstate New York. Texas state legislature is going to have its first two Muslim representatives: Pakistani-American Salman Bhojani and physician Dr. Suleiman Lalani.

Why American Power Endures: The U.S.-Led Order Isn’t In Decline

For over a century, people around the world have lived through an American era: a period dominated by U.S. power, wealth, institutions, ideas, alliances, and partnerships. But many now believe this long epoch is drawing to a close. The U.S.-led world, they insist, is giving way to something new—a post-American, post-Western, postliberal order marked by great-power competition and the economic and geopolitical ascendance of China.

Some greet this prospect with joy, others with sorrow. But the story­line is the same. The United States is slowly losing its commanding position in the global distribution of power. The East now rivals the West in economic might and geopolitical heft, and countries in the global South are growing quickly and taking a larger role on the international stage. As others shine, the United States has lost its luster. Divided and beleaguered, melancholy Americans suspect that the country’s best days are behind it. Liberal societies everywhere are struggling. Nationalism and populism undercut the internationalism that once backed the United States’ global leadership. Sensing blood in the water, China and Russia have rushed forward to aggressively challenge U.S. hegemony, liberalism, and democracy. In February 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint declaration of principles for a “new era” when the United States does not lead the world: a shot across the bow of a sinking American ship.

But in truth, the United States is not foundering. The stark narrative of decline ignores deeper world-historical influences and circumstances that will continue to make the United States the dominant presence and organizer of world politics in the twenty-first century. To be sure, no one knows the future, and no one owns it. The coming world order will be shaped by complex, shifting, and difficult-to-grasp political forces and by choices made by people living in all parts of the world. Nonetheless, the deep sources of American power and influence in the world persist. Indeed, with the rise of the brazen illiberalism of China and Russia, these distinctive traits and capacities have come more clearly into view.

The mistake made by prophets of American decline is to see the United States and its liberal order as just another empire on the wane. The wheel of history turns, empires come and go—and now, they suggest, it is time for the United States to fade into senescence. Yes, the United States has at times resembled an old-style empire. But its role in the world rests on much more than its past imperial behavior; U.S. power draws not only on brute strength but also on ideas, institutions, and values that are complexly woven into the fabric of modernity. The global order the United States has built since the end of World War II is best seen not as an empire but as a world system, a sprawling multifaceted political formation, rich in vicissitudes, that creates opportunity for people across the planet.

Picture: FA

This world system whirred into action most recently in the global reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The struggle between the United States and its rivals China and Russia is a contest between two alternative logics of world order. The United States defends an international order it has led for three-quarters of a century—one that is open, multilateral, and anchored in security pacts and partnerships with other liberal democracies. China and Russia seek an international order that dethrones Western liberal values—one that is more hospitable to regional blocs, spheres of influence, and autocracy. The United States upholds an international order that protects and advances the interests of liberal democracy. China and Russia, each in its own way, hope to build an international order that protects authoritarian rule from the threatening forces of liberal modernity. The United States offers the world a vision of a postimperial global system. The current leaders of Russia and China increasingly craft foreign policies rooted in imperial nostalgia.

This struggle between liberal and illiberal world orders is an echo of the great contests of the twentieth century. In key earlier moments—after the conclusions of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War—the United States advanced a progressive agenda for world order. Its success rested somewhat on the blunt fact of American power, the country’s unrivaled economic, technological, and military capacities. The United States will remain at the center of the world system in part because of these material capabilities and its role as a pivot in the global balance of power. But the United States continues to matter for another reason: the appeal of its ideas, institutions, and capacities for building partnerships and alliances makes it an indispensable force in the years ahead. This has always been, and can remain, the secret of its power and influence.

The United States, despite repeated announcements of its demise as a world leader, has not truly declined. It has built a distinctive type of order in which it plays an integral role. And in the face of threatening illiberal rivals, that order remains widely in demand. The reason the United States does not decline is because large constituencies within the existing order have a stake in the United States remaining active and involved in maintaining that order. Even if U.S. material power diminishes relative to, say, China’s growing capabilities, the order the United States has built continues to reinforce its power and leadership. Power can create order, but the order over which Washington presides can also buttress American power.

Like an onion, the United States’ liberal internationalist order has several layers. At the outer layer are its liberal internationalist ideas and projects, through which the United States has provided the world a “third way” between the anarchy of states furiously competing with each other and the overweening hierarchy of imperial systems—an arrangement that has delivered more gains for more people than any prior alternative. Beneath the surface, the United States has benefited from its geography and its unique trajectory of political development. It stands oceans apart from the other great powers, its landmass faces both Asia and Europe, and it accrues influence by playing a unique role as a global power balancer. Adding to this, the United States has had critical opportunities following major conflicts in the twentieth century to build coalitions of like-minded states that shape and entrench global rules and institutions. As the current crisis in Ukraine shows, this ability to mobilize coalitions of democracies remains one of the United States’ essential assets. Beneath the realm of government and diplomacy, the United States’ domestic civil society—enriched by its multiracial and multicultural immigrant base—connects the country to the world in networks of influence unavailable to China, Russia, and other powers. Finally, at the core, one of the United States’ greatest strengths is its capacity to fail; as a liberal society, it can acknowledge its vulnerabilities and errors and seek to improve, a distinct advantage over its illiberal rivals in confronting crises and setbacks.

No other state has enjoyed such a comprehensive set of advantages in dealing with other countries. This is the reason that the United States has had such staying power for so long, despite periodic failures and disappointments. In today’s contest over world order, the United States should draw upon these advantages and its long history of building liberal order to again offer the world a global vision of an open and rules-based system in which people can work freely together to advance the human condition.

AMERICA’S THIRD WAY

For over a century, the United States has been the champion of a kind of order distinct from previous international orders. Washington’s liberal internationalism represents a “third way” between anarchy (orders premised on the balance of power between competing states) and hierarchy (orders that rest on the dominance of imperial powers). After World War II and again after the end of the Cold War, liberal internationalism came to dominate and define the modern logic of international relations through the construction of institutions such as the United Nations and alliances such as NATO. People across the world have connected to and built on these intergovernmental platforms to advance their interests. If China and Russia seek to usher in a new world order, they will need to offer something better—an onerous task indeed.

The first generation of liberal internationalists in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century were heirs to an Enlightenment vision, a belief that through reason, science, and measured self-interest, societies could build political orders that improved the human condition. They imagined that institutions and political orders could be devised to protect and advance liberal democracy. International order can be a forum not just for waging war and seeking security but also for collective problem solving. Liberal internationalists believed in peaceful change because they assumed that international society is, as Woodrow Wilson argued, “corrigible.” States could tame factious, belligerent power politics and build stable relations around the pursuit of mutual gains.

The essential goal of liberal order building has not changed: the creation of a cooperative ecosystem in which states, starting with liberal democracies, manage their mutual economic and security relations, balance their often conflicting values, and protect the rights and liberties of their citizens. The idea of building international order around rules and institutions is not unique to the United States, Western liberals, or the modern era. But U.S. order building is unique in putting these ideas at the center of the country’s efforts. What the United States has had to offer is a set of solutions to the most basic problems of international relations—namely, the problems of anarchy, hierarchy, and interdependence.

The prophets of American decline are wrong.

Realist thinkers claim that states exist in a fundamental condition of anarchy that sets limits on the possibilities for cooperation. No political authority exists above the state to enforce order or govern relations, and so states must fend for themselves. Liberal internationalists do not deny that states pursue their own interests, often through competitive means, but they believe that the anarchy of that competition can be limited. States, starting with liberal democracies, can use institutions as building blocks for cooperation and for the pursuit of joint gains. The twentieth century offers dramatic evidence of these sorts of liberal ordering arrangements. After World War II, in the shadow of the Cold War, the United States and its allies and partners established a complex and sprawling system of institutions that persist today, exemplified by the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, and multilateral regimes in diverse areas of trade, development, public health, the environment, and human rights. Grand shifts in the global distribution of power have occurred in the decades since 1945, but cooperation remains a core feature of the global system.

Picture: Foregin Afairs

The problems of hierarchy are the mirror opposite of the problems of anarchy. Hierarchy is political order maintained by the dominance of a leading state, and at the extreme, it is manifest as empire. The leading state worries about how it can stay on top, gain the cooperation of others, and exercise legitimate authority in shaping world politics. Weaker states and societies worry about being dominated, and they want to mitigate their disadvantages and the vulnerabilities of being powerless. In such circumstances, liberal internationalists argue that rules and institutions can simultaneously be protections for the weak and tools for the powerful. In a liberal order, the leading state consents to acting within an agreed-upon set of multilateral rules and institutions and not use its power to coerce other states. Rules and institutions allow it to signal restraint and commitment to weaker states that may fear its power. Weaker states also gain from this institutional bargain because it reduces the worst abuses of power that the hegemonic state might inflict on them, and it gives them some voice in how the order operates.

Unique in world history, the U.S.-led order that emerged after 1945 followed this logic. It is a hierarchical order with liberal characteristics. The United States has used its commanding position as the world’s leading economic and military power to provide the public goods of security protection, market openness, and sponsorship of rules and institutions. It has tied itself to allies and partners through alliances and multilateral organizations. In return, it invites participation and compliance by other states, starting with the subsystem of liberal democracies mostly in East Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The United States has frequently violated this bargain; the Iraq War is a particularly bitter and disastrous example of the United States undermining the very order it has built. The United States has used its privileged perch to bend multilateral rules in its favor and to act unilaterally for parochial economic and political gains. But despite such behavior, the overall logic of the order gives many countries around the world, particularly liberal democracies, incentives to join with rather than balance against the United States.

The problems of interdependence arise from the dangers and vulnerabilities that countries face as they become more entangled with each other. Starting in the nineteenth century, liberal democracies have responded to the opportunities and dangers of economic, security, and environmental interdependence by building an international infrastructure of rules and institutions to facilitate flows and transactions across borders. As global interdependence grows, so, too, does the need for the multilateral coordination of policies. Coordinating policies does entail some restrictions on national autonomy, but the gains from coordination increasingly outweigh these costs as interdependence intensifies. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt made this case in his appeal to the delegates grappling with postwar financial and monetary issues at the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944. Great gains could be obtained from trade and investment across borders, but domestic economies had to be protected from destabilizing economic actions taken by irresponsible governments. Such logic is in wide application today within the U.S.-led liberal order.

In each of these areas, the United States sits at the center of a liberal system of order that offers institutional solutions to the most basic problems of world politics. The United States has been an imperfect champion of these efforts to shape the operating environment of international relations. Indeed, a great deal of the criticism directed at the United States as a global leader stems from the perception that it has not done enough to move the world in this “third way” direction and that the order it presides over is too hierarchical. But that is precisely the point—if the world is to organize itself to address the problems of the twenty-first century, it will need to build on, not reject, this U.S.-led system. And if the world is to avoid the extremes of anarchy and hierarchy, it will need more, not less, liberal internationalism. China and Russia have themselves benefited from this system, and their reactionary vision of a post-American order looks more like a step backward than a step forward.

THE ANTI-IMPERIAL EMPIRE

The United States is a world power like no other before it, a peculiarity that owes much to the idiosyncratic nature of its rise. It alone among the great powers was born in the New World. Unlike the United States, the other great powers, including China and Russia, find themselves in crowded geopolitical neighborhoods, struggling for hegemonic space. From the very beginning of its career as a great power, the United States has existed far from its main rivals, and it has repeatedly found itself confronting dangerous and often violent efforts by the other great powers to expand their empires and regional spheres of influence. These circumstances have shaped the United States’ institutions, its way of thinking about international order, and its capacities for projecting power and influence.

Distance from other powers has long given the United States space to build a modern republican-style regime. The Founding Fathers were quite conscious of this uniqueness. With the European powers an ocean away, the American experiment in republican government could be safeguarded from foreign encroachments. In The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton argued that the United Kingdom owed its relatively liberal institutions to its location. “If Britain had been situated on the continent, and had been compelled . . . to make her military establishments at home co-extensive with the other great powers of Europe, she, like them, would in all probability be at this day a victim to the absolute power of a single man.” The United States was similarly lucky. Its European counterparts had to develop the robust state capacities to swiftly mobilize and command soldiers and materiel to wage the continent’s endless wars; the United States did not. Instead, it began as a fragile attempt to build a state that was institutionally weak and divided—by design—to prevent the rise of autocracy at home. The United States’ isolation gave it the opportunity to succeed.

More prosaically, the vast natural resources of the continent gave the United States the capacity to grow. By the turn of the twentieth century, the United States had joined the world of the great powers, a peer of its European counterparts. But it had become powerful at great remove, unimpeded by the acts of counterbalancing so frequently evident in the relations between rival powers in Europe and East Asia.

The United States’ sheltered experiment in republican rule invariably shaped its thinking about international order. One of the oldest worries in the liberal-republican tradition, noted by theorists across the ancient and modern eras, is the pernicious impact that war, power politics, and imperialism have on liberal institutions. Historically, republics have been vulnerable to the illiberal imperatives and impulses generated by war and geopolitical competition. Warfare and imperial expansion can lead to the militarization and regimentation of a society, opening the door to the “garrison state” and turning a would-be Athens into a Sparta. The cause of protecting national independence curtails liberties. Indeed, the American founders argued for union among the colonies by insisting that if left unbound, the postcolonial states would fear each other and militarize their societies.

This concern, of course, did not stop the United States from joining the world of great powers or from ultimately becoming the world’s largest military power. Nonetheless, this republican worry kept alive the liberal internationalist notion, dating back to Immanuel Kant and other Enlightenment thinkers, that societies can protect their way of life best by working together and creating zones of peace that push tyrannical and despotic states to the periphery.

Such an orientation helped shape the United States’ response to the geopolitical circumstances it faced as a rising great power in the early twentieth century in a world dominated by empires. The United States, for a time, was itself engaged in empire building in the Caribbean and the Pacific, in part to compete with its peers. Indeed, every one of the United States’ great-power peers during this era was pursuing empire in one way or another. This global system of empire reached its zenith in the late 1930s when Nazi Germany and imperial Japan embarked on wars of territorial aggression. Add to that the Soviet Union and the far-flung British Empire, and the future appeared as one in which the world would be permanently divided into blocs, spheres, and imperial zones.

In this bleak mid-twentieth-century setting, the United States was forced to contemplate what kind of order it wanted to bring into existence. The question that U.S. strategists grappled with, particularly during World War II, was whether the United States could operate as a great power in a world carved up by empires. If vast stretches of Eurasia were dominated by imperial blocs, could the United States be a great power while operating only within the Western Hemisphere? No, policymakers and analysts agreed, it could not. To be a global power, the United States would need to have access to markets and resources in all corners of the world. Economic and security imperatives, as much as lofty principles, drove this judgment. U.S. interests and ambitions pointed not to a world where the United States would simply join the other great powers in running an empire but to one where empires would be swept away and all regions would be opened up to multilateral access.

In this way, the United States was unique among its peers in using its power and position to undermine the imperial world system. It made alliances and bargains with imperial states at various moments and launched a short-lived career of empire at the turn of the twentieth century in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. But the dominant impulse of U.S. strategy across these decades was to seek a postimperial system of great power relations, to build an international order that would be open, friendly, and stable: open in the sense that trade and exchange were possible across regions; friendly in the sense that none of these regions would be dominated by a rival illiberal great power that sought to close off its sphere of influence to the outside world; and stable in the sense that this postimperial order would be anchored in a set of multilateral rules and institutions that would give it some broad legitimacy, the capacity to adapt to change, and the staying power to persist well into the future.

The United States’ geographic position and rise to power in a world of empires provided the setting for a distinctive strategy of order building. Its comparative advantage was its offshore location and its capacity for forging alliances and partnerships to undercut bids for dominance by autocratic, fascist, and authoritarian great powers in East Asia and Europe. Many countries in those regions now worry more about being abandoned by the United States than being dominated by it. As a result, alliances with fixed assets, such as military bases and forward troop deployments, provide partners with not just security but also greater certainty about U.S. commitment. This confluence of geographic circumstances and liberal political traits gives the United States a unique ability to work with other states. The United States has over 60 security partnerships in all regions of the world, while China has only a scattering of security relationships with Djibouti, North Korea, and a few other countries.

COLLECTIVE POWER

The merits of the U.S.-led order don’t just lie in what Washington made but in how it brought this order into being. The United States did not become a great power through conquest. Rather, it stepped opportunistically into geopolitical vacuums created at the ends of major wars to shape the peace. These moments occurred after the two world wars and the Cold War, when upheavals in great power relations left the global system and the old world of empires in tatters. At these junctures, the United States demonstrated the ability to build coalitions of states to hammer out the new terms of world order. During the twentieth century, this settlement-oriented, coalitional approach to order building overwhelmed the aggressive efforts of rival illiberal great powers to shape the future. The United States worked with other democracies to produce favorable geopolitical outcomes. This method of leadership continues to give the United States an edge in shaping the terms of world order today.

At three pivotal moments during the last century—after the end of World War I, again in the wake of World War II, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union—the United States found itself on the winning side of major conflicts. The old order was in ruins, and something new had to be built. In each case, Washington aimed to do more than merely restore the balance of power. The United States saw itself in a struggle with illiberal great-power aggressors, contesting world order principles and defending the liberal democratic way of life. In each case, the mobilization for war and great-power competition was framed as a contest of ideas and visions. U.S. leaders sent a message to their citizens: if you pay the price and bear the burdens of this struggle, we will endeavor to build a better United States—and a more hospitable world order. The United States sought to better organize the world when the world itself was turned upside down.

The world cannot afford the end of the American era.

The United States chose to exercise its power in these crucial moments by working with other democracies. In 1919, 1945, and 1989, the United States was the leading member of a coalition of states (the Allies, the United Nations, the “free world,” respectively) that won the war and negotiated the terms of the subsequent peace. The United States provided leadership and material power that turned the tide in each war. U.S. officials emphasized the importance of building and strengthening the coalition of liberal democracies. A slew of U.S. presidents, including Wilson, Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and George H. W. Bush, argued that the country’s survival and well-being had to be premised on building and maintaining a critical mass of similarly disposed partners and allies.

In a world of despotic, hostile, and powerful rivals, the United States and other liberal democracies have repeatedly concluded that they are safer working as a group than alone. As Roosevelt put it in January 1944, “We have joined with like-minded people in order to defend ourselves in a world that has been gravely threatened by gangster rule.” Of course, liberal states have always been willing to ally with nondemocracies within larger coalitions. During the Cold War and again today, the United States has allied itself and partnered with authoritarian client states around the world. Nonetheless, in these eras, the core impulse has been to build U.S. grand strategy around a dynamic core of liberal states in East Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania.

Democratic solidarity also creates a setting for generating progressive ideas and attracting global support. Collective security (defined by Wilson in his Fourteen Points speech as “mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike”), the Four Freedoms (Roosevelt’s goals for postwar order: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear), and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance, are all grand ideas forged out of great-power contests. The world order contest underway between the United States and its autocratic rivals China and Russia offers a new opportunity to advance liberal democratic principles around the world.

AT HOME IN THE WORLD

The United States is not just a unique great power, it is also a unique kind of society. Unlike its great-power rivals, the United States is a country of immigrants, multicultural and multiracial, or what the historian Frank Ninkovich has called a “global republic.” The world has come to the United States, and as a result, the United States is profoundly connected to all regions of the world through family, ethnic, and cultural ties. These complex and far-reaching ties, operating outside the realm of government and diplomacy, make the United States relevant and engaged across the world. The United States is more knowledgeable about the outside world, and the outside world has a greater stake in what happens in the United States.

The immigrant tradition in the United States has also paid dividends in building the country’s human capital base. Without this immigrant culture, the United States would be less affluent and distinguished in the leading fields of knowledge, including medicine, science, technology, commerce, and the arts. Of the 104 Americans who have been awarded Nobel Prizes in chemistry, medicine, and physics since 2000, 40 have been immigrants. Chinese students want to come to the United States for their university education; foreign students do not flock to Chinese universities at similar rates.

Just as the diversity of its population links it to the world, so, too, does the United States’ welter of civil society groups build an influential globe-spanning network. In the past century, U.S. civil society has increasingly become part of an expansive global civil society. This sprawling transnational civil society is an often overlooked source of American influence, fostering cooperation and solidarity across the liberal democratic world. China and Russia have their own political networks and diaspora communities, but global civil society tends to reinforce liberal principles, amplifying the United States’ centrality in global confrontations over world order.

Civil society comes in many guises, including nongovernmental organizations, universities, think tanks, professional associations, media organizations, philanthropies, and social and religious groups. In recent decades, civil society groups have proliferated and spread across the world. The most salient of these groups engage in transnational advocacy, focused on causes such as the environment, human rights, humanitarian assistance, the protection of minorities, citizenship education, and so forth. In fact, these activist groups are at least partially creatures of the postwar liberal international order. Operating in and around the United Nations and other global institutions, civil society groups have seized on the idealistic principles and norms espoused by liberal states—and endeavor to hold those states to account.

Global civic activism often targets Western governments, but with its focus on human rights and civic freedoms, autocratic and authoritarian governments find themselves most under pressure. By definition, civil society groups seek to function outside the reach of the state. Not surprisingly, both China and Russia have cracked down on the activities of international civil society groups within their borders. Under Putin, Russia has sought to extend state control over civil society, discrediting foreign-funded groups and using government tools to weaken civic actors and promote pro-government organizations. China has also acted aggressively to restrict the activities of civic groups and to crack down on democracy activists in Hong Kong. At the UN, China has used its membership on the Human Rights Council to block and weaken the role of NGO advocacy groups. Global civil society tends to stimulate reform within liberal democracies while threatening autocratic and authoritarian regimes.

A multicultural immigrant society is more complex and potentially unstable than more homogeneous societies such as China. But China is home to a number of ethnic and religious minorities, and despite the country’s putative communist commitment to egalitarianism and equality, such minorities suffer intense discrimination and repression. Even though the United States must work harder than China to be a stable and integrated society, the upside of its diversity is enormous in terms of creativity, collaboration, knowledge creation, and the attraction of the world’s talent. It is hard to imagine China, with a shrunken civil society that is closed to the world, as a future center of global order.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Given the country’s recent domestic convulsions, these exhortations for the centrality of the United States in the coming century might seem odd. Today, the United States looks more beset with problems than at any time since the 1930s. Amid the polarization and dysfunction that plague American society, it is easy to offer a narrative of U.S. decline. But what keeps the United States afloat, despite its travails, is its progressive impulses. It is the idea of the United States more than the country itself that has stirred the world over the last century. The country’s liberal ideals have inspired leaders of liberation movements elsewhere, from Mahatma Gandhi in India to Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Young people in Hong Kong protesting against the Chinese government have routinely waved U.S. flags. No other state aspiring to world power, including China, has advanced a more appealing vision of a society in which free individuals consent to their political institutions than has the United States.

The story that the United States presents to the world is one of an ongoing enterprise to confront and overcome painful impediments to a “more perfect union,” starting with its original sin of slavery. The United States is a constant work in progress. People around the world held their breath when Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election and again during the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. The global stakes of these moments were profound.

The United States is uniquely a global republic.

By contrast, in 2018, when Xi overturned the Chinese Communist Party’s long-standing rules and laid the groundwork to make him, in effect, dictator for life, the world simply shrugged. People across many parts of the world seem to expect more of the United States than they do of China, invariably measuring U.S. actions against the standard of avowed American principles and ideals. As the political scientist Samuel Huntington once observed: “America is not a lie, it is a disappointment. But it can be a disappointment only because it is also a hope.”

What will keep the United States at the center of world politics is its capacity to do better. The country has never fully lived up to its liberal ideals, and when it commends these ideals to others, it looks painfully hypocritical. But hypocrisy is a feature, not a bug, of liberal order, and need not be an impediment to making the liberal order better. The order over which the United States has presided since World War II has moved the world forward, and if people around the globe want a better world order that supports greater cooperation and social and economic advancement, they will want to improve on this U.S.-led system, not dispense with it.

The crises over Taiwan and Ukraine underline this fact. In both cases, China and Russia are seeking to draw unwilling open societies into their orbit. The people of Taiwan look at the plight of Hong Kong and, not surprisingly, are horrified at the prospect of being incorporated into a country ruled by a Chinese dictatorship. The people of an embattled democratic Ukraine see a brighter future in greater integration into the European Union and the West. That China is ramping up pressure on Taiwan and that Russia sought to yoke Ukraine to its sphere of influence does not suggest American decline or the collapse of liberal order. On the contrary, the crises exist because Taiwanese and Ukrainian societies want to be part of a global liberal system. Putin famously groused that the liberal idea is becoming obsolete. In reality, the liberal idea still has a long life ahead of it.

EMPIRE BY INVITATION

The United States enters today’s struggle to shape the twenty-first century with profound advantages. It still possesses the vast bulk of the material capabilities it had in earlier decades. It remains uniquely positioned geographically to play a great-power role in both East Asia and Europe. Its ability to work with other liberal democracies to shape global rules and institutions is already manifest in its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will stand it in good stead in any future collective response to Chinese aggression in East Asia. Although China and Russia seek to move the world in the direction of regional blocs and spheres of influence, the United States has offered a vision of world order based on a set of principles rather than competition over territory. Liberal international order is a way of organizing an interdependent world. It is, as the Norwegian historian Geir Lundestad called it, an “empire by invitation.” Its success depends on its legitimacy and appeal and not on the capacity of its patrons to force obedience. If the United States remains at the center of world politics in the decades to come, it will be because this type of order generates more supporters and fellow travelers around the world than that offered by China and Russia.

The U.S. confrontation with China and Russia in 2022 is an echo of the great-power upheavals of 1919, 1945, and 1989. As at these earlier moments, the United States finds itself working with other democracies in resisting the aggressive moves of illiberal great powers. The Russian war in Ukraine is about more than the future of Ukraine; it is also about the basic rules and norms of international relations. Putin’s gambit has placed the United States and democracies in Europe and elsewhere on the defensive. But it has also given the United States an opportunity to rethink and reargue its case for an open, multilateral system of world order. If the past is any guide, the United States should not try to simply consolidate the old order but to reimagine it. U.S. leaders should seek to broaden the democratic coalition, reaffirm basic values and interests, and offer a vision of a reformed international order that draws states and peoples together in new forms of cooperation, such as to solve problems of climate change, global public health, and sustainable

development. No other great power is better placed to build the necessary partnerships and lead the way in tackling the major problems of the twenty-first century. Other powers may be rising, but the world cannot afford the end of the American era. (Why American Power Endures: The U.S.-Led Order Isn’t in Decline (foreignaffairs.com))

Joe Biden’s Rising Approval Numbers Give Hope To Democrats In Mid Term Polls

There is no debate at this point that Joe Biden is in the midst of a political comeback. President Joe Biden’s popularity improved substantially from his lowest point this summer, but concerns about his handling of the economy persist, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

President Joe Biden’s popularity improved substantially from his lowest point this summer, but concerns about his handling of the economy persist, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Support for Biden recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%, driven in large part by a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before the November midterm elections. During a few bleak summer months when gasoline prices peaked and lawmakers appeared deadlocked, the Democrats faced the possibility of blowout losses against Republicans.

Their outlook appears better after notching a string of legislative successes that left more Americans ready to judge the Democratic president on his preferred terms: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”

From falling gas prices to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act to the re-emergence of Donald Trump as a 2022 campaign issue, things have been going very well for the President of late. This, from a New York Times/Siena College poll released Friday, is telling on that front:

“[The] shift in political momentum has helped boost, in just two months, the president’s approval rating by nine percentage points and doubled the share of Americans who believe the country is on the right track.” The poll found that 42% of registered voters nationally approve of Biden’s job performance, up from 33% in July.

And a look at the CNN Poll of Polls on Biden’s average approval rating makes clear that the Times/Siena poll is not a one-off. Biden’s numbers hit rock bottom around late July/early August at 36% and have been, generally speaking, on the rise since, up to 41% now.

The key question to ask now, then, is not whether Biden is on the comeback trail. He clearly is. The real question is: How high Biden’s numbers will get between now and Election Day?

Biden says railroad agreement is a ‘big win for America’ 02:05

“In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.”

As per Reuters, Biden has been plagued by 40-year highs in inflation, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine restricting global fuel supply and supply chains still constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid these troubles, Biden’s support within his own Democratic Party has declined somewhat.

This week, 79% of Democrats approved of his performance, compared to about 85% in August 2021. Biden’s approval rating has approached – but has yet to reach – the lowest levels of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had a 33% approval rating in December 2017.

Which is a pretty startling difference, right?

Now, it’s worth noting here that the margins in Congress are so tight that if even if Democrats lost 14 seats in the House this year, they would lose their majority. And if they lost even a single seat in the Senate, they would find themselves in the minority there, too.

That said, there’s no doubt that Biden at, say, 47% or 48% job approval, is a far better thing for Democrats than Biden at 37% or 38%. That’s particularly true if the trend line is, as it is right now, moving upward for Biden as the election approaches, helping provide Democrats with momentum where there was none before.

Still, the poll suggests Biden and his fellow Democrats are gaining momentum right as generating voter enthusiasm and turnout takes precedence. Can Biden get over the critical 50% barrier? It seems unlikely given that the election is now only 53 days away. The last time Biden’s job approval rating hit 50% in Gallup’s polling was more than a year ago — in July 2021.

Autocratic Leaders To Skip UN General Assembly

(IPS) – When the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly sessions begin September 20, the official list of speakers include 92 heads of state (HS) and 56 heads of government (HG).

But the “usual suspects,” mostly leaders of authoritarian regimes, are missing, including Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and the much-maligned military leaders of Myanmar.

Some of these autocrats stand accused of war crimes, genocide, human rights abuses, persecution of journalists and clamping down on gender empowerment and civil society organizations (CSOs)—all at cross purposes with the UN.

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the absentees as “a veritable political rogues gallery”.

And as world leaders gather, the UN will also go into a lockdown mode next week with movements within the Secretariat severely restricted—and the building a virtual “no-fly zone.”

Thomas G. Weiss, a distinguished scholar of international relations and global governance, with special expertise in the politics of the United Nations, told IPS: “I don’t believe you can read much into their absence as they have held forth in previous sessions.”

“The General Assembly is an equal opportunity forum—thugs and champions have the podium and need not respect time limits”, said Weiss, who has been Presidential Professor at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.

Other authoritarian leaders, who skipped the UN in a bygone era include Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Hafez al-Assad of Syria and the two Kims from North Korea: Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-Sung.

So did some leaders from the West, including Germany, which for unaccountable reasons skippedt he UN sessions and sent in their second-in-command.

But Fidel Castro of Cuba, Muammar el Qaddafi of Libya and Yasir Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) did address the General Assembly (GA) in the 1960s and 70s.

Samir Sanbar, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General and one-time head of the Department of Public Information told IPS the level of participation and the extent of coverage would reflect a degree of U.N. relevance at these uncertain times of perplexed international disorder.

He said “distinguished speakers would aim to present their national credentials to an international audience and display their international standing to their national audience.

“Despite political rhetoric, even heads of state with public criticism of the United Nations find a personal need to appear there,” he noted.

Sanbar pointed out that former US President Donald Trump, who had persistently attacked the UN, appeared at the main table of the GA opening luncheon.as head of the host country (and later welcomed a number of visiting heads of state at his nearby Trump Tower residence).

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil would seek to maintain his country’s habitual place as the first speaker. In the past, Libya’s Qaddafi marked his GA attendance by theatrically tearing the UN Charter. But still he sought to keep his delegate Abdel Salam Ali Treki as President of that same GA session.

“Let us hope that the attendance of so many heads of state and governments this session would draw more coverage and public interest than the past two years (when the UN suffered a pandemic lockdown).

“As you would recall, statements by over 90 heads of state at a previous session did not receive a single mention while a number of participant left for a “Global Concert” in Central Park, said Sanbar who had served under five different secretaries-generals during his UN career.

Andreas Bummel, Executive Director, Democracy Without Borders, told IPS it is sad that the UN is a stage for totalitarian autocrats to disseminate their propaganda.

“Whether or not they come to New York to do this each September can depend on many variables. Each case needs to be looked at separately. In general terms, if they stay away, I believe one should not read too much into it,” he noted.

UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters September 9 “the mood within the UN Secretariat is business like and very busy, as we do before any General Assembly. Of course, this is the first General Assembly we’ve had in person since 2019. So, it does create a sense of excitement and a return to in person.”

“I think the message is to look around and look at all the challenges that we face today. Not one of them can be solved unilaterally by one country. Whether you look at climate change, whether you look at conflict, hunger, which are all interlinked, I don’t know what more… what greater definition we can give than multilateral problems that need multilateral solutions,” he argued.

“And we hope that Member States will recommit to finding solutions for future generations and for these generations in an atmosphere of cooperation, even if they continue to disagree on many issues,” declared Dujarric.

Speaking at the closing of the 76th session of the General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the current session, like the previous one, was marked by a series of deepening challenges.

“Rising prices, the erosion of purchasing power, growing food insecurity and the gathering shadows of a global recession”, plus a “global pandemic that refused to be defeated — and the emergence of another health emergency in monkeypox”.

And deadly heatwaves, storms, floods and other natural disasters, he added.

But speaking of the coming 77th session, Guterres said it will continue to test the multilateral system like never before.

“And it will continue to test cohesion and trust among Member States. The road ahead will be challenging and unpredictable.”

“But by using the tools of our trade — diplomacy, negotiation and compromise — we can continue supporting people and communities around the world. We can pave the way to a better, more peaceful future for all people”.

“And we can renew faith in the United Nations and the multilateral system, which remain humanity’s best hope,” he declared.  (IPS UN Bureau Report)

King Charles III Formally Announced To Be Britain’s New Monarch In A Centuries-Old Accession Council Ceremony

King Charles III, the world’s newest monarch, was officially proclaimed sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Saturday morning in a constitutional ceremony that dates back hundreds of years. Almost 700 members of the current Accession Council, the oldest functioning part of Britain’s government, were called to convene Saturday, September 10th at St James’s Palace in London, the official residence of the U.K.’s kings and queens for centuries.

The council is comprised of Privy Counsellors, a select group of senior politicians, including new Prime Minister Liz Truss, religious figures from the Church of England, the Lord Mayor of London and a bevy of other top civil servants from across British society and the 14 other “realms,” or nations, for which the monarch serves as the official head of state.

While King Charles III immediately became the king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday after a record 70 years on the throne, it was the council’s role to formally acknowledge the passing of one monarch and to then proclaim the new one on behalf of the British government. It is part of Britain’s constitutional process.

Around 200 of the current Privy Counsellors attended the proceedings in London on Saturday, including many former prime ministers and other senior politicians. The Privy Council is the oldest functioning part of Britain’s government, dating back almost 1,000 years. For the first time in the Accession Council’s long history, the two-part ceremony was aired live on television Saturday.

The new British monarch, earlier known as Prince Charles, addressed the nation for the first time after assuming the mantle in the wake of the demise of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. While paying tribute to his mother, Charles named his eldest son William as Prince of Wales — a title Charles held earlier.

At 73 years, Charles will be the oldest person to be crowned King of the UK, though the date for his coronation hasn’t been fixed yet. He was also the first heir apparent to go to a regular school instead of being home tutored.

Abiding by past traditions, Prime Minister Liz Truss and other senior members of the government have taken oaths of loyalty to King Charles III in the House of Commons.

As required by Britain’s constitution, Charles also declared to serve loyally the Church of Scotland, of which he is also the formal leader. He was then first to sign two copies of that declaration, followed by his son and heir, William, Prince of Wales, and other witnesses.

Following the Accession Council proceedings, the proclamation of King Charles as the monarch was read out loud from the Proclamation Gallery, a balcony of St James’s Palace, by the Garter King of Arms, accompanied by other officials — all wearing traditional clothing. Trumpets blared as the Garter King of Arms prepared to read the proclamation.

In his first address to Britain as monarch, King Charles III expressed “profound sorrow” at the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II vowed to carry on the queen’s “lifelong service” to the nation. Mourners at the service included Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her government. Earlier on Friday, King Charles had also bestowed the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales on his eldest son William and his daughter-in-law Kate, who are the next in line for the throne.

Pledging to follow his mother’s “inspiring example,” Charles said he was “deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me.”

“I know how deeply you and the entire nation, and I think I may say the whole world, sympathize with me in this irreparable loss we have all suffered,” he said of the queen’s passing.

Protecting Democracy Is The Theme For Biden’s Mid Term Election Campaign

President Joe Biden issued a midterm-minded message on Thursday last week that America’s democratic values are at risk and that former President Trump and his most ardent backers are the chief reason why as his party seeks to continue momentum ahead of the November elections.

Biden charged in a prime-time address that the “extreme ideology” of Donald Trump and his adherents “threatens the very foundation of our republic,” as he summoned Americans of all stripes to help counter what he sketched as dark forces within the Republican Party trying to subvert democracy.

In his speech Thursday at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden unleashed the trappings of the presidency in an unusually strong and sweeping indictment of Trump and what he said has become the dominant strain of the opposition party. His broadside came barely two months before Americans head to the polls in bitterly contested midterm elections that Biden calls a crossroads for the nation.

“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” he said before an audience of hundreds, raising his voice over pro-Trump hecklers outside the building where the nation’s founding was debated. He said he wasn’t condemning the 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020, but added, “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” using the acronym for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Biden, speaking during a prime-time address to the nation from the perch of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, namechecked his 2020 general election opponent frequently as he sought to up the stakes for voters heading into the stretch run of the political season. During the 24-minute address, the president said that Trump “represents an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

But there’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” said Biden, who was flanked on stage by Marine guards. “And that is a threat to this country.”

White House officials insisted Thursday night’s speech would not be political in nature. However, that idea evaporated quickly as Biden levied multiple criticisms of his predecessor and Republicans, while rounding out the address by touting policy victories on issues such as on police funding and the pandemic.

The address came at a key time for Biden and Democrats. The party in power is on the upswing after a number of key wins over the past month — including two special election victories that have helped buoy the spirits of Democrats after spending much of the past year struggling to counter GOP messages on the economy and inflation.

Notably, the president has also grown more combative amid the Democratic resurgence. In recent weeks, he has called out “MAGA Republicans” on a number of occasions. The rhetoric hit a crescendo last week at a political rally in Maryland where he described the movement as akin to “semi-fascism” (The New York Times).

That remark has drawn rebukes from across the GOP spectrum. The latest came in a prebuttal speech on Thursday by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who said that the first line of Biden’s speech should have been an apology “for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists” (The Hill).

The explicit effort by Biden to marginalize Trump and his followers marks a sharp recent turn for the president, who preached his desire to bring about national unity in his Inaugural address.

Biden, who largely avoided even referring to “the former guy” by name during his first year in office, has grown increasingly vocal in calling out Trump personally. Now, emboldened by his party’s summertime legislative wins and wary of Trump’s return to the headlines, he has sharpened his attacks, last week likening the “MAGA philosophy” to “semi-fascism.”

Wading into risky political terrain, Biden strained to balance his criticism with an appeal to more traditional Republicans to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, GOP leaders swiftly accused him of only furthering political divisions.

President Biden has warned during a stump speech in Maryland that the country’s right-wing movement, which remains dominated by his predecessor, former president Donald Trump, has embraced “political violence” and no longer believes in democracy.

“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something — it’s like semi-fascism.”

Biden was gesturing to various ongoing Republican initiatives to restrict voting access as well as a slate of Republican midterm candidates who, to this day, deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. There’s also the tacit support of some Republicans for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the violent rhetoric that has emerged among some corners of the right in the wake of a publicized FBI investigation into classified documents Trump kept in his private Florida golf club residence.

The simple invocation of “fascism” elicited howls of outrage from Republicans and triggered a weekend of political chatter. A spokesman for the Republican National Committee described the president’s remarks as “despicable.” Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) said on CNN that it was “horribly inappropriate” to brand a segment of the U.S. population as “semi-fascist” and called on Biden to apologize.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted that “communists have always called their enemies ‘fascists.’” One historian of Latin America responded to Cruz, noting that, while communists had other names for their opponents before the rise of fascist parties in the 1920s, fascists have always used anti-communist hysteria to “stir violence” and “augment their power.” (Never mind the relative absurdity of casting a figure with as centrist a record as Biden as a “communist.”)

For his part, Trump posted Monday on his personal social media website another complaint about the 2020 election having been stolen from him and an unconstitutional demand that he be declared its victor, two years later. Over the weekend, leading Republican lawmakers warned of violence in the streets should the Justice Department move to prosecute as a number of investigations into his activities go forward.

Biden and his allies did not back down from the message. “You look at the definition of fascism and you think about what they’re doing in attacking our democracy, what they’re doing and taking away our freedoms, wanting to take away our rights, our voting rights ― I mean, that is what that is,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday. “It is very clear.”

American democracy sits at a crucial crossroads, argues Darrell West, vice president of Governance Studies at Brookings and author of the new Brookings Press book, “Power Politics: Trump and the Assault on American Democracy.” The rise of extremism and a decline of confidence in trusted institutions have created the perfect storm for illiberalism and authoritarianism to take root. While it is easy to blame Donald Trump for the sad state of our democracy, Trumpism is almost certainly likely to outlast Trump himself.

Donald Trump’s presidency merely exposed existing cracks in our democracy that are built into the foundations of elections, political institutions, and information ecosystem. ”Power Politics” is filled with a clear delineation of the problems and possible remedies for the threats drawn from West’s extensive experience in the D.C. policy world. West urges us to act now to protect our democracy—and provides a roadmap for how to strengthen our political system and civil society.

Colorado’s secretary of state, Jena Griswold, has said the fate of free and fair elections in the United States hangs in the balance in this November’s midterm contests. In many of the most competitive races for offices with authority over US elections, Republicans nominated candidates who have embraced or echoed Donald Trump’s myth of a stolen election in 2020.

Griswold, who chairs the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (Dass) and is running for re-election, is urging Americans to pay attention to the once-sleepy down-ballot contests for secretary of state – lest they lose their democracy.

“What we can expect from the extreme Republicans running across this country is to undermine free and fair elections for the American people, strip Americans of the right to vote, refuse to address security breaches and, unfortunately, be more beholden to Mar-a-Lago than the American people,” Griswold, 37, said in an interview with the Guardian. She added: “For us, we are trying to save democracy.”

Having failed to overturn the 2020 vote, Trump and his loyalists are now strategically targeting positions that will play a critical role in supervising the next presidential election, turning many of the 27 secretary of state contests this year into expensive, partisan showdowns.

“In 2020, you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy,” he reminded the crowd. “That’s why Donald Trump isn’t just a former president. He is a defeated former president.” As for the midterms, Biden declared, “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot, and it’s not hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.” He added, “Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even the democracy. Are you ready to fight for these things now?”

IAGB, Saheli, ISW and Other Asian Organizations Condemn Hate and Violence Against Indian Americans

A group of Indian American and Asian organizations such as India Association of Greater Boston and India Society of Worcester have condemned the rising hate and violence against Indian Americas in the United States.

In a statement titled Condemnation of Hate and Violence – From New England Asian American Organizations” and posted on ISW and IAGB websites, the representatives of these and other organizations said the following:

“We the representatives of Indian American organizations in New England and our allies, strongly condemn the recent act of anti-Asian violence in Plano, Texas. We are very disturbed by this and recently increased acts of violence and hate crimes against Indians, South Asians, and Asian Americans in general. We do commend the Plano Police department for responding to the incident with urgency and understanding.

Asian Americans, like all other immigrants, have made significant contributions to this great land despite facing ongoing prejudice based on accents, color, religion, or perceptions of leadership or other abilities.

We believe in the fair treatment of all human beings regardless of age, education level, race, ethnicity, gender expression and identity, nationality, national origin, creed, accent, physical and mental ability, political and religious stance, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, veteran status, profession, or any other human differences.

We unequivocally and unapologetically condemn the divisive forces of hate, inequity, and injustice. We stand united in love and peace and stand against racist, discriminatory, violent acts against any community.

Together, we say to those who are victims of such acts, “We see you; we hear you; we stand with you.”

President Biden dropped the f-word. He warned during a stump speech in Maryland that the country’s right-wing movement, which remains dominated by his predecessor, former president Donald Trump, has embraced “political violence” and no longer believes in democracy.

“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something — it’s like semi-fascism.”

Biden was gesturing to various ongoing Republican initiatives to restrict voting access as well as a slate of Republican midterm candidates who, to this day, deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. There’s also the tacit support of some Republicans for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the violent rhetoric that has emerged among some corners of the right in the wake of a publicized FBI investigation into classified documents Trump kept in his private Florida golf club residence.

The simple invocation of “fascism” elicited howls of outrage from Republicans and triggered a weekend of political chatter. A spokesman for the Republican National Committee described the president’s remarks as “despicable.” Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) said on CNN that it was “horribly inappropriate” to brand a segment of the U.S. population as “semi-fascist” and called on Biden to apologize.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted that “communists have always called their enemies ‘fascists.’” One historian of Latin America responded to Cruz, noting that, while communists had other names for their opponents before the rise of fascist parties in the 1920s, fascists have always used anti-communist hysteria to “stir violence” and “augment their power.” (Never mind the relative absurdity of casting a figure with as centrist a record as Biden as a “communist.”)

For his part, Trump posted Monday on his personal social media website another complaint about the 2020 election having been stolen from him and an unconstitutional demand that he be declared its victor, two years later. Over the weekend, leading Republican lawmakers warned of violence in the streets should the Justice Department move to prosecute as a number of investigations into his activities go forward.

Biden and his allies did not back down from the message. “You look at the definition of fascism and you think about what they’re doing in attacking our democracy, what they’re doing and taking away our freedoms, wanting to take away our rights, our voting rights ― I mean, that is what that is,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday. “It is very clear.”

There is no consensus in the U.S. political conversation on what “fascism” even is, let alone which set of political actors should earn its ignominious attribution. On the left, there’s a hardening belief that a Republican Party still captured by Trump is hostile to fair elections, bent on dismantling liberal democracy, and is taking its cues from more clear-cut would-be authoritarians like illiberal Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

On the right, there’s a parallel, if more histrionic, insistence that the Democrats and the liberal establishment comprise some sort of tyrannical front. That grievance has supercharged their long-running culture war and underlies recent moves by Republican state governments to ban certain books and censor what schools can teach about race, history and sexuality.

Numerous historians and political scientists have weighed in on the uses and misuses of forging analogies to the 1930s, when fascism took root in Europe. Experts in comparative politics have charted how the modern Republican Party has drifted toward the extremes of Western politics, even while the Democrats still occupy what can be broadly considered in Western democratic terms as the center.

Scholars of fascism see Trump’s political ideology and style not as a redux of the past, but a brand of far-right, pseudo-authoritarian for the present. Regular readers of Today’s WorldView for the past half decade will know that we have not been shy about invoking “fascism” in the American context as we parsed the tumult of the Trump yearsthe ultranationalism and nativism animating his supporters and his own conspiratorial demagoguery.

Biden’s decision to deploy the term may reflect a more aggressive stance ahead of a bruising midterm election cycle. That could be a tactic to gin up Democratic voters. “They have thought they weren’t seeing the strong fighter, the person they elected, and they attributed it to age and to weakness,” Celinda Lake, a longtime Democratic pollster, told my colleagues. “I hope we can anticipate more of this. People have been craving it.”

But the substantive claim Biden made is also important. The “semi-” in “semi-fascism” was doing a lot of rhetorical work for the U.S. president, who was not likening Trump and his movement to the genocidal monstrosity of the Third Reich. But his critics nevertheless seemed to suggest that was the subtext of his remarks, and dismissed the charge offhand.

So what may be a useful lens through which to see Biden’s invocation of fascism? Writer Jonathan Katz put forward a thorough analysis over the weekend, citing the work of Robert Paxton, a respected historian of Vichy France and author of the 2004 book, “The Anatomy of Fascism.”

Katz quoted Paxton at length: “Fascism in power is a compound, a powerful amalgam of different but marriageable conservative, national socialist, and radical right ingredients, bonded together by common enemies and common passions for a regenerated, energized and purified nation, whatever the cost to free institutions and the rule of law.”

All of that scans quite neatly onto the rhetoric and atmospherics of modern-day Republicanism, as Katz himself lays out in his essay.

“The danger is not that American fascism will necessarily or even probably turn out like Italian Fascism — or German, Syrian, Argentinian, or any other. We are not going to live a shot-for-shot remake of the Holocaust or the Second World War,” Katz wrote. Rather, he continued, “the danger would be in the triumph of an exclusionary, violent, anti-democratic cult of personality, which by definition will not be dislodged through elections, politics, or civil debate.”

American democracy sits at a crucial crossroads, argues Darrell West, vice president of Governance Studies at Brookings and author of the new Brookings Press book, “Power Politics: Trump and the Assault on American Democracy.” The rise of extremism and a decline of confidence in trusted institutions have created the perfect storm for illiberalism and authoritarianism to take root. While it is easy to blame Donald Trump for the sad state of our democracy, Trumpism is almost certainly likely to outlast Trump himself. Donald Trump’s presidency merely exposed existing cracks in our democracy that are built into the foundations of elections, political institutions, and information ecosystem. ”Power Politics” is filled with a clear delineation of the problems and possible remedies for the threats drawn from West’s extensive experience in the D.C. policy world. West urges us to act now to protect our democracy—and provides a roadmap for how to strengthen our political system and civil society.

On September 1, Brookings will host a virtual launch event for “Power Politics” where author Darrell West will engage in a fireside chat with USA Today’s Susan Page to discuss the current threats to American democracy and the solutions to help mitigate them.

Colorado’s secretary of state, Jena Griswold, has said the fate of free and fair elections in the United States hangs in the balance in this November’s midterm contests.

In many of the most competitive races for offices with authority over US elections, Republicans nominated candidates who have embraced or echoed Donald Trump’s myth of a stolen election in 2020.

Griswold, who chairs the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (Dass) and is running for re-election, is urging Americans to pay attention to the once-sleepy down-ballot contests for secretary of state – lest they lose their democracy.

“What we can expect from the extreme Republicans running across this country is to undermine free and fair elections for the American people, strip Americans of the right to vote, refuse to address security breaches and, unfortunately, be more beholden to Mar-a-Lago than the American people,” Griswold, 37, said in an interview with the Guardian.

She added: “For us, we are trying to save democracy.”

Having failed to overturn the 2020 vote, Trump and his loyalists are now strategically targeting positions that will play a critical role in supervising the next presidential election, turning many of the 27 secretary of state contests this year into expensive, partisan showdowns.

“In 2020, you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy,” he reminded the crowd. “That’s why Donald Trump isn’t just a former president. He is a defeated former president.” As for the midterms, Biden declared, “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot, and it’s not hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.” He added, “Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even the democracy. Are you ready to fight for these things now?”

Biden’s new midterm message: protect democracy

President Biden issued a midterm-minded message on Thursday that America’s democratic values are at risk and that former President Trump and his most ardent backers are the chief reason why as his party seeks to continue momentum ahead of the November elections.

Biden, speaking in prime-time from the perch of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, namechecked his 2020 general election opponent frequently as he sought to up the stakes for voters heading into the stretch run of the political season. During the 24-minute address, the president said that Trump “represents an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

“But there’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” said Biden, who was flanked on stage by Marine guards. “And that is a threat to this country.”

According to The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant, White House officials insisted Thursday night’s speech would not be political in nature. However, that idea evaporated quickly as Biden levied multiple criticisms of his predecessor and Republicans, while rounding out the address by touting policy victories on issues such as on police funding and the pandemic.

The address came at a key time for Biden and Democrats. The party in power is on the upswing after a number of key wins over the past month — including two special election victories that have helped buoy the spirits of Democrats after spending much of the past year struggling to counter GOP messages on the economy and inflation.

Notably, the president has also grown more combative amid the Democratic resurgence. In recent weeks, he has called out “MAGA Republicans” on a number of occasions. The rhetoric hit a crescendo last week at a political rally in Maryland where he described the movement as akin to “semi-fascism” (The New York Times).

That remark has drawn rebukes from across the GOP spectrum. The latest came in a prebuttal speech on Thursday by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who said that the first line of Biden’s speech should have been an apology “for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists” (The Hill).

President Joe Biden charged in a prime-time address that the “extreme ideology” of Donald Trump and his adherents “threatens the very foundation of our republic,” as he summoned Americans of all stripes to help counter what he sketched as dark forces within the Republican Party trying to subvert democracy.

In his speech Thursday at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden unleashed the trappings of the presidency in an unusually strong and sweeping indictment of Trump and what he said has become the dominant strain of the opposition party. His broadside came barely two months before Americans head to the polls in bitterly contested midterm elections that Biden calls a crossroads for the nation.

“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” he said before an audience of hundreds, raising his voice over pro-Trump hecklers outside the building where the nation’s founding was debated. He said he wasn’t condemning the 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020, but added, “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” using the acronym for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

The explicit effort by Biden to marginalize Trump and his followers marks a sharp recent turn for the president, who preached his desire to bring about national unity in his Inaugural address.

Biden, who largely avoided even referring to “the former guy” by name during his first year in office, has grown increasingly vocal in calling out Trump personally. Now, emboldened by his party’s summertime legislative wins and wary of Trump’s return to the headlines, he has sharpened his attacks, last week likening the “MAGA philosophy” to “semi-fascism.”

Wading into risky political terrain, Biden strained to balance his criticism with an appeal to more traditional Republicans to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, GOP leaders swiftly accused him of only furthering political divisions.

Delivering a preemptive rebuttal from Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said it is the Democratic president, not Republicans, trying to divide Americans.

Over 130 Indian-Americans Hold Key Jobs In Biden Administration

Shortly after winning the November 2020 US presidential polls, then president-elect Joseph Biden promised to pick a cabinet that will be “more representative of the American people than any other cabinet in history”. True to his word, Biden’s staffing decisions—both within and beyond the cabinet—reveal many firsts, such as the first Native American interior secretary and the first Black secretary of defense.

The growing clout of Indian Americans is visible more than ever as reports find, there are as many as 130 Indian Americans hold key roles and in many cases leading important departments in the US administration under Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Presidency.  In doing so he has not only fulfilled his promise to the community that he had made as a presidential candidate in 2020, but also shattered the record of his predecessor Donald Trump, who had appointed more than 80 Indian-Americans and his previous boss Barack Obama, who had appointed over 60 Indian-Americans to key positions during his eight years of presidency.

Described as the best representation from the community that makes up around one per cent of the American population, the important roles they occupy speak for their talents, skills, resourcefulness and the many ways they have come to be recognized as thoughtful leaders and partners in contributing to continuing to keep and make the United States, the adopted land of theirs a great nation.

More than 40 Indian-Americans has been elected at various state and federal levels including four in the U.S. House of Representatives. Not to miss the more than 20 Indian-Americans leading top U.S. companies.

While the first-ever presidential appointment was done during the time of Ronald Regan, this time Biden has appointed Indian-Americans to almost all departments and agencies of his administration.

“Indian-Americans have been imbued with the sense of seva (service) and this is reflected in their enthusiasm to pursue positions in public service instead of the private sector,” Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, philanthropist and venture capitalist M. R. Rangaswami told PTI.

“The Biden administration has now appointed or nominated the largest group to date and needless to say we are proud of our people and their accomplishments for the United States,” Mr. Rangaswami said. Mr. Rangaswami is founder and head of Indiaspora, a U.S.-based global organization for Indian-origin leaders. Indiaspora keeps a track of Indian-origin leaders.

Biden, who has maintained a close relationship with the community since his Senator days, often jokes around about his Indian relationship. He made history in 2020 by selecting Indian-origin Kamala Harris as his running mate.

The list of Indian-Americans in the White House reflects that there would be only a few meetings inside the White House or in Mr. Biden’s Oval Office that would not have an Indian-American presence.

His speech writer is Vinay Reddy, while his main advisor on COVID-19 is Dr. Ashish Jha, his advisor on climate policy is Sonia Aggarwal, special assistant on criminal justice is Chiraag Bains, Kiran Ahuja heads the Office of Personnel Management, Neera Tanden is his senior advisor, and Rahul Gupta is his drug czar.

Last week when India’s Ambassador to the U.S., Taranjit Singh Sandhu, hosted a reception at India House on the occasion of Independence Day, Indian-Americans from his administration were representing almost all major branches of the U.S. government.

Young Vedant Patel is now the Deputy Spokesperson at the Department of State, while Garima Verma is the Digital Director in the Office of the First Lady. Mr. Biden has also nominated several Indian-Americans to key ambassadorial positions.

Led by Indian-Americans Sunder Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, there are over two dozen Indian-Americans heading U.S. companies. Among others include Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, Vivek Lall of General Atomics, Punit Renjen of Deloitte, Raj Subramaniam of FedEx.

There are nearly 4 million people of Indian descent living in the United States; over 1% of the total population of the country as of 2018. Indians are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, and about 6% of the country’s foreign-born population is Indian, making them the second largest immigrant group in the country after Mexicans.

The very first Indians came to America when the British East India Company brought them over to the American colonies to work as servants. The next, more significant wave of Indians came in the 19th century, when a group of over 2,000 Sikhs came from both India and Canada for economic opportunities and to escape environmental, financial and racial issues, mostly settling in California.

Throughout the early 20th century, Indian and other Asian immigrants faced racial discrimination in the U.S., struggling to gain citizenship and property ownership rights. Indians began gaining social acceptance by pursuing higher education, gaining more employment opportunities and making their mark in various fields.

The largest wave of Indians immigrating to the US came with the new age of technology, with many Indians finding work in this sector, beginning in the 1990s when over 100,000 computer specialists from India came over to help with the Y2K concerns.

Being one of the largest immigrant populations in the United States, Indians have become a powerful force in various sectors, including tech, business and government. The prominence of Indians in the American political sphere is especially apparent this year, as Kamala Harris, a woman who is half Indian on her mother’s side, has become the Vice President of the United States.

However, it is not only in very recent years that Indians gained prominent government positions in the US. In 1956, Dalip Singh Saund, an Indian born American man, became the first person of Asian descent to be elected to Congress. According to reports, more than 40 Indian-Americans have been elected to various offices across the country. Four are in the House of Representatives — Dr. Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal. This includes four Mayors.

Half Of Fatal Cancer Cases Linked To Avoidable Risk Factors

Almost half of all cancers that lead to death can be attributed to risk factors that are avoidable, a new study found, with researchers advising that governments invest in supporting environments that minimize exposure to certain cancer risk factors.

The study, which looked at cancer cases from 2019 and was published in The Lancet, found that 44 percent of cancer deaths were what researchers referred to as risk-attributable cancer deaths, meaning cancers that could be linked to higher exposure to certain risk factors for the disease.

On a global scale, the leading risk factors were smoking, alcohol and high BMI in descending order. These risk factors were the same for both male and female patients.

The same study found that 42 percent of cancer-related disability-adjusted life-years — the number of years lost to not living at full health or with a disability — could be attributed to risk factors.

The burden of risk-attributable cancers varied across regions, with smoking, unsafe sex and alcohol being the leading risk factors in lower-income, socially disadvantaged countries. Higher-income countries tended to reflect the global risk factors, according to researchers.

“Although some cancer cases are not preventable, governments can work on a population level to support an environment that minimises exposure to known cancer risk factors,” researchers said.

COVID-19 associated with increased risk of brain disorders 2 years after infection: study Five things we learned this week about the FBI search of Trump’s home

“Primary prevention, or the prevention of a cancer developing, is a particularly cost-effective strategy, although it must be paired with more comprehensive efforts to address cancer burden, including secondary prevention initiatives, such as screening programmes, and ensuring effective capacity to diagnose and treat those with cancer.”

Researchers noted that “substantial progress” has been made in reducing tobacco exposure, particularly through interventions like taxation, regulations and smoke-free policies globally. Similar efforts have been made to address risks such as alcohol use and unsafe sex.

“Behavioural risk factors are strongly influenced by the environment in which people live and individuals with cancer should not be blamed for their disease,” said researchers.

Dr. Anthony Fauci To Step Down In December After More Than 50 Years Of Public Service

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president and longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said he will be leaving those positions to “pursue the next chapter in my career.” Fauci, 81, has led the NIAID for 38 years, and has advised every president since Ronald Reagan.

“While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring,” Fauci said in a statement Monday. “After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field.”

Fauci has become a household fixture during the Covid-19 pandemic, battling back misinformation — sometimes from the highest levels of government. His steadfast commitment to science, challenging former President Donald Trump on everything from the use of hydroxychloroquine to mask mandates, made him a quasi-celebrity in the process.

The 81-year-old has advised seven U.S. presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan through the HIV/AIDS epidemic, West Nile virus, the 2001 anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola, Zika and, most recently, Covid and monkeypox.

In a statement, President Biden praised Fauci as a dedicated public servant with a “steadying hand” who helped guide the country through some of “the most dangerous and challenging” public health crises.

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Fauci has been at the forefront of every new and re-emerging infectious disease threat the country has faced over the past four decades, including HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus, the 2001 anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, Ebola and Zika, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved. As he leaves his position in the U.S. Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next,” Biden said.

Biden worked closely with Fauci during the Zika and Ebola outbreaks when he was vice president, and has leaned heavily on Fauci’s expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden noted one of his first calls as president-elect was to ask Fauci to become his chief medical advisor.

Fauci previously said he does not plan to stay beyond the end of President Biden’s first term in 2025, but had yet to give a formal announcement.

“I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats,” Fauci said.

Fauci said he would use his remaining time in government to “continue to put my full effort, passion and commitment into my current responsibilities” and to help prepare his institute for a leadership transition.

Fauci has been one of the leading infectious diseases researchers for decades, but he became a household name at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic during the Trump administration as part of the White House pandemic response team.

It was in this role that Fauci became a political lightning rod. He fell out of favor with Trump after numerous public disagreements over unproven COVID-19 treatments as well as the level of danger posed by the virus.

Fauci’s embrace of mitigation measures like masks and temporary business closures early in the pandemic made him a villain to conservatives, who view him as a symbol of government overreach and “lockdown culture.”

Threats from the public led to Fauci needing a security detail. Fauci has clashed repeatedly with Republicans in Congress, who are are eagerly floating investigations into the Biden administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic if they win back control of the House or Senate in November’s midterm elections.

Fauci’s fiercest clashes have come against Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a libertarian ophthalmologist who has repeatedly antagonized Fauci over the benefits of masks, vaccinations and the origins of COVID-19.

“Fauci’s resignation will not prevent a full-throated investigation into the origins of the pandemic. He will be asked to testify under oath regarding any discussions he participated in concerning the lab leak,” Paul tweeted Monday.

Following Fauci’s announcement Monday, House Republicans also indicated Fauci’s decision to leave government won’t shield him from any potential investigations.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement Monday Fauci needs to answer questions about what he knows about the origins of the coronavirus, including whether the National Institutes of Health helped fund controversial research that led to the virus’s creation in a lab in Wuhan, China.

“Retirement can’t shield Dr. Fauci from congressional oversight,” Comer said. “The American people deserve transparency and accountability about how government officials used their taxpayer dollars, and Oversight Committee Republicans will deliver.”

The U.S. intelligence community has ruled out the possibility that COVID-19 was a bioweapon developed by China, but beyond that the origins of the virus are unclear.

Some scientists have said the idea that it escaped from a lab needs further investigation but acknowledge that won’t happen without China’s help. Many others think that it spilled into the human population from animals sold in a Wuhan market. Still, there is little evidence to suggest it was created in a lab or with funding help from the National Institutes of Health or Fauci.

Why FBI Searched Trump’s Home?

Former President Trump could be facing mounting legal troubles as new details emerge about the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that prompted an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Trump has called for the release of more information tied to the search, an effort that corresponds with bashing the agency for what he claims is a politically motivated attack.

Meanwhile, the DOJ has fought to limit how much information will come out about an ongoing investigation with Trump as its target.

Here’s what we’ve learned this week.  Trump eyed for “willful” violations of the Espionage Act

Although the most highly sensitive materials underlying the Mar-a-Lago search warrant remained under seal this week, the judge presiding over the case did make one court record newly available to the public. That document, known as a criminal cover sheet, provided additional insight into the nature of the crime under investigation, according to some legal experts.

It was already known that investigators believed the materials housed at Trump’s residence were linked to a likely violation of the Espionage Act, a WWI-era statute designed to help safeguard the country’s vital national security secrets. What the criminal cover sheet revealed, after it was unsealed Thursday, is that law enforcement had probable cause to think a “willful retention of national defense information” occurred.

That new detail appeared to lend further support to the theory — one that was already widely assumed — that Trump himself is the target of the investigation.

“This aligns with what we know so far from public media reporting, as well as the minimal information we have derived from the unsealed court filings,” Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer and partner in the law office of Mark S. Zaid, told The Hill in an email.

“All indications are that the government’s argument will amount to three things: (1) Trump took the properly marked classified records with him to Florida; (2) he left them in boxes in the basement; (3) when confronted about it, he willfully held onto records despite demands from NARA and later the FBI to return them,” he added, referring to the National Archives and Records Administration, which takes custody of White House records when a president leaves office.

DOJ appears to be investigating Trump’s claims around a “standing order”

In a sign the Department of Justice is not content to have simply secured the return of classified materials, its investigators appear to be contacting former Trump-era officials about his claims of having declassified the contents removed from his Florida home.

According to reporting from Rolling Stone, the FBI has thus far been conducting voluntary interviews with those who could have knowledge of such an order, including former staff on the National Security Council.

Shortly after the warrant was executed, Trump claimed the documents removed from his home were “all declassified.” He later elaborated in a statement to Fox News that he had “a standing order” to declassify any documents.

“If the DOJ was really focused on recovering the classified material and was not criminally investigating the former president, they would not be calling in former NSC officials to question them about Trump’s supposed “standing order” declassifying documents,” Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, wrote on Twitter.

National security law experts who previously spoke with The Hill noted that while Trump would have broad powers as president to declassify documents, such a practice is usually done on a  case-by-case basis, and also triggers notification to other agencies that hold classified information, so that they can reclassify them appropriately in their own system.

“Realistically, no one actually believes that Trump had such an order.  It was not written down anywhere, doesn’t make a lot of sense (as some of his own appointees have pointed out), and was never raised by Trump’s lawyers during their communications with DOJ,” Mariotti continued.

Even if Trump did declassify documents, that isn’t a defense for the Espionage Act, one of the three statutes cited in the warrant. That law only requires mishandling national defense information to trigger a violation.

Trump wants it all released

Former President Trump and his allies have responded to the government’s desire for redactions with calls for the release of the full document.

“Pres. Trump has made his view clear that the American people should be permitted to see the unredacted affidavit related to the raid and break-in of his home. Today, magistrate Judge Reinhard rejected the DOJ’s cynical attempt to hide the whole affidavit from Americans,” Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for the former president, said Thursday.

Trump separately posted on Truth Social, his social media platform, calling for the “immediate release” of the unredacted affidavit, citing the need for transparency. He also called for Reinhart to recuse himself from the case without giving a clear reason.

The former president and his allies have attacked the credibility of the FBI and DOJ ever since the search was executed earlier this month, pointing to the handling of the Russia investigation to allege it is the latest politically biased attack on Trump.

By calling for the unredacted affidavit to be released when the government opposes such a move, Trump will likely further fuel distrust in the Department of Justice among his supporters.

DOJ is working through redactions

The Department of Justice, however, does not want its affidavit for the warrant fully released.

The department argued that the affidavit should remain under seal in its entirety, saying the information it contained laid out a “roadmap” to its ongoing investigation, “highly sensitive information about witnesses,” and “specific investigative techniques.”

But a federal magistrate judge on Thursday dismissed efforts by the DOJ to maintain the affidavit entirely under seal.

“I find that on the present record the Government has not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed,” Judge Bruce Reinhart said in a brief order.

According to The New York Times, Reinhart said there were parts of the affidavit that “could be presumptively unsealed.”

The DOJ has until noon Thursday to submit their proposed redactions, after which Reinhart, who approved the initial warrant, will review them — meaning a redacted version of the affidavit could be released as early as next week.

What it means for Trump and 2024

Casting a cloud over the entire proceeding is the fact that Trump is likely to announce a 2024 White House bid in the coming months, though he may wait until after the midterm elections.

Trump denied in an interview last month with New York Magazine that any presidential run would be a way to insulate himself from criminal consequences as he faces investigations over election interference in Georgia, business dealings in New York, the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots and now his handling of classified information.

And while some experts believe it’s unlikely Trump will ultimately be indicted over the documents he kept at Mar-a-Lago, the political consequences could still loom large over his desire to return to the White House.

A Reuters-Ipsos poll conducted this week found that 54 percent of Republicans believe the FBI behaved irresponsibly following the Mar-a-Lago search, compared to 23 percent who said the agencies behaved responsibly.

Comparatively, 71 percent of Democrats felt law enforcement had acted responsibly, as did 50 percent of independent voters. It is the latter category that bears watching in determining how the search could swing Trump’s political fortunes.

Former President Trump has shifted his defenses for taking classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago residence in the wake of the FBI search of the estate last week, when agents seized 33 items including nearly a dozen sets of classified items.

Trump has ripped the FBI and Department of Justice while giving varying explanations for why he did nothing wrong.

On Monday, in an interview with Fox News he said the “temperature has to be brought down” but then added that his supporters would not “stand for another scam,” repeating his criticisms. Those statements came amid worries that law enforcement could come under attack given the fierce criticism of the FBI coming from some voices on the right.

An unsealed warrant shows the FBI executed the warrant while investigating whether the Espionage Act had been violated. Agents seized 11 sets of classified documents from the estate. The warrant was approved by a federal judge.

Here’s what Trump has said about the FBI’s actions and his shifting explanations about the documents. Trump told the world that the FBI had executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago home, calling it “not necessary or appropriate.”

He said at the time he had been “working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies” and described his home as “under siege” by FBI agents.

Investigators had provided Trump’s attorneys with their own copy of the search warrant and a receipt that would have itemized the materials seized during the search, which follows standard practice.

Trump at the time also decried the search as “political persecution” and included a link for donations to his political action committee in his statement. The investigation comes amid growing speculation over how soon the former president might announce he’s running again in 2024.

Trump and his supporters also in the days that followed floated a conspiracy theory that the FBI had planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s initial reaction led to a flurry of finger-pointing from his supporters, including Republican lawmakers who blamed President Biden and claimed the president had used the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) to go after his political opponent.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made his first public appearance since the search to say he personally made the decision to seek a warrant and that it was not done “lightly.” He announced at the time that the DOJ would move to unseal the warrant authorizing the search.

The Trump camp put out a statement later, saying “everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time” and that Trump would take documents, including classified documents, to his residence to “prepare for work the next day.”

“He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them,” the statement said.

The 33 items that were seized from the property included the executive order of clemency for longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, information regarding the “President of France,” binders of photographs, and a handwritten note. The FBI reportedly sought documents containing information about nuclear weapons in the search, but it’s unclear if such records were seized.

U.S. Allows Vaccinated Travelers from the E.U. and U.K

After nearly 18 months of barring almost all travelers who are foreign nationals from entering the country, U.S. travel restrictions are being rolled back. The U.S. said Sept. 20 it will ease airline restrictions this fall on travel to the country for people who have vaccination proof and a negative COVID-19 test, replacing a hodgepodge of rules that had kept out many non-citizens and irritated allies in Europe and beyond where virus cases are far lower. The changes, to take effect in November, will allow families and others who have been separated by the travel restrictions for 18 months to plan for long-awaited reunifications and allow foreigners with work permits to get back to their jobs in the U.S.

As per reports, fully vaccinated travelers from E.U. countries and the U.K. will be allowed to enter the U.S. by November, according to the Financial Times. The new travel policy also reportedly allows U.S. entry for travelers who are part of clinical trials for vaccines not yet approved in the U.K., the Times report says—a rule that would render about 40,000 additional people eligible for travel to the U.S.  The new E.U. and U.K. travel policies are expected to be part of larger sweeping changes to the travel bans that have disallowed most foreign national visitors to the U.S., with few exceptions made for the immediate families of American citizens, green card holders, and other select exemptions.

“In early November, we’ll be putting in place strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the United States by requiring that adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States be fully vaccinated,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a briefing on Monday. The U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed by former President Donald Trump in early 2020 as the coronavirus took hold in the country.

Two months after it green lit Americans for travel, the European Union has reverted its recommendation amid rising coronavirus cases. The decision to reopen U.S. borders to foreign visitors was applauded across the travel industry as a milestone on the path to restoring pre-pandemic operations. “This is a major turning point in the management of the virus and will accelerate the recovery of the millions of travel-related jobs that have been lost due to international travel restrictions,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.

U.S. airlines—one of the sectors hardest hit by the international travel restrictions—are “eager to safely reunite the countless families, friends, and colleagues who have not seen each other in nearly two years, if not longer,” Nicholas E. Calio, president of lobbying group Airlines for America, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement marks a positive step in our nation’s recovery, and we look forward to working with the Administration over the coming weeks to implement this new global system.”

Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, told NBC News that the vaccine requirement will eventually apply to all foreign nationals entering the U.S., who will also need to be tested for the virus three days before departing for the U.S. and show a negative test result upon arrival. Unvaccinated Americans will need to test one day before departure and be tested again upon arrival, the report says. Currently there are no plans for a vaccine requirement for domestic air travel, but according to NBC, Zients said nothing is off the table.  Last week, Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease doctor in the U.S., made a similar comment about a potential vaccine requirement for domestic air travel. “It’s on the table,” he said in a podcast interview. “We haven’t decided yet.”

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