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Cup of Joe – September 9, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II has died, according to Buckingham Palace, setting off an outpouring of grief in Britain for the 96-year-old monarch, who reigned for 70 years,” the New York Times reports.

“Her last public appearance was on Tuesday, when the queen, smiling and holding a walking stick, greeted Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, in the drawing room at Balmoral. Ms. Truss was the 15th British prime minister to have an audience with the queen upon taking office, a testament to the longevity of Elizabeth, who served for many Britons as a beacon of stability amid political instability, economic crisis, social unrest and war.”

Earlier in the day, the queen was reported to be under “medical supervision,” after months of declining mobility and missed engagements. Elizabeth’s family traveled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she has long spent her summers, as the news of her rapidly declining health emerged.

At the time Elizabeth was born, in 1926, her father was the Duke of York, but he took the throne after his older brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated. King George VI died in 1952, and his daughter became queen, and, eventually, the longest-reigning British monarch. Married for 73 years to Philip Mountbatten, she had four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Princess Anne; Prince Andrew; and Prince Edward. 

Until Queen Elizabeth’s interment, Biden has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at the White House, all federal buildings and military facilities and at U.S. embassies worldwide. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also ordered that flags be lowered at the Capitol in honor of the Queen’s death.

The BBC answers all the questions about the new British monarch, King Charles III.

Interesting fact: 90% of all living humans were born after Elizabeth became Queen.

The Bidens put out a statement in honor of the Queen, who “was more than a monarch. She defined an era.”

“Supported by her beloved Prince Philip for 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II led always with grace, an unwavering commitment to duty, and the incomparable power of her example,” they said. “She endured the dangers and deprivations of a world war alongside the British people and rallied them during the devastation of a global pandemic to look to better days ahead.”

The Bidens praised the Queen as “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.”

“She helped make our relationship special,” they said.

The queen’s death comes at a time of turmoil for Great Britain. Just this week, Liz Truss became prime minister after Boris Johnson was forced out by a series of scandals. Inflation is high in the United Kingdom, and expected to peak this fall. The country faces a major labor shortage. Whatever you think of monarchy in general or Britain’s in particular, Queen Elizabeth II has been a defining figure in the life of the nation for 70 years. 

The Royal Family issued a statement by the new King Charles III, the late Queen’s eldest son and former Prince of Wales:

“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” he said. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held,” he continued.

This Esquire article lays out the protocols set in place in the event of the Queen’s death; specifically, Operation London Bridge and Operation UNICORN.

Operation London Bridge is the plan for relaying the news of her death outside the royal family. Prime Minister Liz Truss will be the first official alerted, then the rest of the administration will receive the news, then it’ll eventually reach the public. Prince Charles, who’s next in line to the throne, will then give a televised speech, followed by a national moment of silence. Charles will be proclaimed the new reigning monarch the next day.

Operation UNICORN gets triggered if the Queen dies at her Scottish estate. The royal train will bring her coffin to London, and a funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey 10 days after her death. The Queen will finally be laid to rest in King George VI Memorial Chapel.

“The Justice Department said Thursday that it was appealing a judge’s decision granting the appointment of an independent arbiter to review records seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home,” the AP reports.

“The department also asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to put on hold her directive prohibiting it from using the seized records for investigative purposes while it contests her ruling to a federal appeals court.”

Washington Post: “The Justice Department wrote in a brief filing that it would be appealing the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Josh Marshall: “Wonderful news that the DOJ has decided to appeal Judge Cannon’s farcical decision is making clear that it cannot be that case that a former President “can successfully assert executive privilege to prevent the Executive Branch itself from reviewing and using its own records.”

“In his final days in the White House, Donald Trump told top advisers he needed to preserve certain Russia-related documents to keep his enemies from destroying them,” Rolling Stone reports.

“The documents related to the federal investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with Trump’s campaign. At the end of his presidency, Trump and his team pushed to declassify these so-called ‘Russiagate’ documents, believing they would expose a ‘Deep State’ plot against him.”

“Trump’s concern about preserving the Russia-related material is newly relevant after an FBI search turned up a trove of government documents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence.”

Stephen Collinson: “Republican defenders of Donald Trump won’t or can’t answer the questions that are at the root of the intrigue over why classified documents were at Mar-a-Lago and the troubling question of whether national security was put at risk.”

“The fact that top Senate Republicans are continuing to downplay Trump even having the documents, in favor of casting doubt on the conduct of the Justice Department and FBI, speaks to his enduring clout in the party, regardless of the depth of his legal issues and the potential national security implications for the country.”

“Stephen Bannon, who once served as top adviser to former President Donald Trump, surrendered to the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday and was expected to face charges later in the day,” the New York Times reports.

Steve Bannon “has been charged with money laundering and conspiracy in connection with the ‘We Build the Wall’ fundraising scheme, for which he received a presidential pardon during Donald Trump’s final days in office,” the Washington Post reports.

“Bannon’s three-count indictment, which was unsealed Thursday morning, includes charges of money laundering in the first and second degrees and conspiracy in the forth degree. On the top count he faces up to 15 years in prison but none of the counts carry a mandatory minimum term of incarceration upon conviction.”

“Less than a day after asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in the stabbing death of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, police arrested Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles on Wednesday on suspicion of murder,“ the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

“Hours earlier, Las Vegas police interviewed Telles and searched his home.”

“The morning search marked a stunning development in the police investigation because it indicated for the first time that the killing might be related to German’s work exposing public wrongdoing.”

“Authorities served search warrants Wednesday morning in connection with the slaying of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

“Around 7 a.m., reporters observed uniformed officers and police vehicles outside the home of Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles.”

“German spent months reporting on the turmoil surrounding Robert Telles’ oversight of the office. The 45-year-old Democrat lost his re-election bid in June’s primary after German’s findings were published.”

“A book by a former top federal prosecutor offers new details about how the Justice Department under President Donald Trump sought to use the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to support Mr. Trump politically and pursue his critics — even pushing the office to open a criminal investigation of former secretary of state John Kerry,” the New York Times reports.

“The prosecutor, Geoffrey S. Berman, was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for two and a half years until June 2020, when Mr. Trump fired him after he refused a request to resign by Attorney General William P. Barr, who sought to replace him with an administration ally.”

“Donald Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, is stupid, a liar, a bully and a thug, according to a hard-hitting new book by Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the southern district of New York whose firing Barr engineered in hugely controversial fashion in summer 2020,” The Guardian reports.

Just published: Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor by Andrew Kirtzman.

Vanity Fair: “The book is loaded with psychological and farcical detail, including Giuliani scrambling a 2020 presidential-debate prep session. It’s an unsparing portrait, but it isn’t an attack. Tying everything together is Kirtzman’s assessment of what has propelled both the successes and failures in his subject’s saga.”

Said Kirtzman: “Giuliani’s moral certitude has driven him all his life and continues to: He’s right, everyone else is wrong. This is a person who always saw himself as a man of destiny. And it led him to make a slew of decisions which helped destroy himself and harmed the country.”

“A federal grand jury investigating the activities leading up the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the push by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the result of the 2020 election has expanded its probe to include seeking information about Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America,” ABC News reports.

“The interest in the fundraising arm came to light as part of grand jury subpoenas seeking documents, records and testimony from potential witnesses.”

“The subpoenas, sent to several individuals in recent weeks, are specifically seeking to understand the timeline of Save America’s formation, the organization’s fundraising activities, and how money is both received and spent by the Trump-aligned PAC.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances “is ongoing,” according to District Attorney Alvin Bragg, CNN reports.

Donald Trump has at least 19 different attorneys dealing with at least eight different investigations into his dealings, Politico reports.

Jonathan Chait: “Last week, President Biden delivered a speech warning that Donald Trump’s authoritarian movement posed a threat to American democracy. The Republican response did more to confirm his point than anything he said.”

A few days a CNN anchor asked the White House press secretary whether President Biden planned to offer an apology for branding hardcore MAGA “semi-fascist”. To put this in perspective, this article about the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts provides some helpful context. Democrats have nominated Maura Healey. Republicans chose the far-right Trump-backed Geoff Diehl.

On a conference call with supporters Trump said of Diehl “he’ll rule your state with an iron fist.” Needless to say, free people don’t have their governors “rule” them. And one has to have a profound obliviousness to the dynamics of Bay State politics to think that Republican governors get elected – as they do with real frequency – to rule with an “iron fist”. Moderate Republicans like Charlie Baker get elected to provide an element of moderating ballast in a state in which total Democratic dominance isn’t really contested. But the comment, which sounds like a paean from one of Joseph Stalin’s toadies in the 1930s, really shows how apt the “semi-fascist” label is and how much Trump is increasingly leaning into it.

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Kyiv on Thursday as the Biden administration announced major new military aid worth more than $2 billion for Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia,” the AP reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet next week at a summit in Uzbekistan, the AP reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Early forecasts point to mild, dry weather during heating season, which could limit risk of fuel rationing due to Russian supply curbs.”

New York Times: “A detachment from the battle in Ukraine is exactly what President Vladimir Putin of Russia is counting on as he carries out a domestic strategy of shielding his people from hardships.”

“President Vladimir Putin on Monday approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a ‘Russian World,’ a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian-speakers,” Reuters reports.

“While presented as a kind of soft power strategy, it enshrines in official policy ideas around Russian politics and religion that some hardliners have used to justify Moscow’s occupation of parts of Ukraine and support for breakaway pro-Russian entities in the east of the country.”

“Not long after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, another mobilization began. European energy ministers and diplomats started jetting across the world and inking energy deals — racing to prepare for a rough winter should Russia choose to cut off its cheap gas in retaliation for Western sanctions,” the New York Times reports.

“Since then, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has fiddled with the gas tap to Europe repeatedly. Through Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled gas monopoly, Russia has vastly reduced supplies or suspended them for days at a time — until last week, when it announced that it would indefinitely halt flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that supplies Germany, and through it, much of Europe.”

“Yet when the blow finally came, it provoked more ridicule than outrage among European leaders, who say that by now they would expect nothing less from Mr. Putin and that they have accepted that the era of cheap Russian gas is over, unimaginable as that might have seemed just months ago.”

“Chuck Schumer said the Senate would vote on legislation to protect same-sex marriage in the coming weeks, forcing Republicans to take a stance ahead of the midterm elections,” Politico reports.

Los Angeles Times: “Bolsonaro had summoned tens of thousands of his supporters to this city’s signature Copacabana beach Wednesday to protest what he insisted was a rigged vote.”

“Never mind that the election hasn’t actually taken place yet.”

“For months, Bolsonaro has been preempting his own expected loss in October’s presidential vote by borrowing from the playbook of former President Trump, whom he describes as his ‘idol’ and with whom he shares several political advisors.”

“He has repeatedly criticized the integrity of Brazil’s voting system and has suggested that he may not accept the results of the election, which most polls predict he will lose decisively in a runoff with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula. Brazilian election officials and foreign governments including the United States insist that the voting system is sound. But Bolsonaro appears to be readying himself for a fight.”

Financial Times reports “Paratroopers landed on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach and air force jets flew over the waterfront in a spectacle ostensibly to mark Brazil’s bicentennial anniversary of independence, but which critics said was co-opted by the populist president to coincide with an election rally in the same location.”

“Brazilians go to the polls on October 2, with Bolsonaro trailing his main rival, leftwing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, by about 10 percentage points.”

“Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to a senior adviser to former President Donald Trump Wednesday afternoon as part of the probe into January 6, 2021, and the events leading up to the deadly riot at the US Capitol,” CNN reports.

“Early Wednesday, federal agents in Florida attempted to serve William Russell, a former White House special assistant and deputy director of presidential advance, at his home but were unable to reach anyone. He was served with the subpoena after that.”

“Russell was one of a few White House staffers to continue working for Trump after he left office.”

“A federal judge could rule soon on former White House chief of staff Mark Meadow’s legal challenge against subpoenas from the House select committee investigating January 6,” CNN reports.

House Republicans told the Department of Defense that they are “gravely concerned” about President Biden using Marines as “political props” during his Sept. 1 speech in Philadelphia, The Hill reports.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a proposed state constitutional amendment that would protect abortion rights should be placed on November’s ballot, NPR reports.

Washington Post: “The decision from the state’s highest court came after a four-member Michigan elections board deadlocked over whether to allow the initiative. Two Republican members on the Board of State Canvassers declined to certify the question, which required three votes, citing objections to the spacing and readability of the proposal text.”

The Economist: “Backlash is the prevailing force in midterm years. Members of the president’s party hunker down, and the opposition charges forward. Visit Michigan, however, and you will see the reverse. Democrats there are raging against a decision taken by the Supreme Court in June to overturn Roe v Wade, the ruling that declared abortion a constitutional right, which has left decisions on abortion to individual states. A dozen have already instituted near-total bans on the procedure.”

“In this final stretch before the midterm elections on November 8th, Republicans should be preparing to seize power amid deep discontent with President Joe Biden. Michigan, which went for Donald Trump in 2016, should be the least of their worries. Instead they are fretting that they could lose all three of the major statewide elections, as well as control of at least one state legislative chamber and some competitive congressional seats.”

A new YouGov poll finds just a quarter of British voters believe Liz Truss is the best prime minister, with the Labour Party maintaining a 15 point lead over the Tories.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blasted the side deal that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) struck earlier this summer to pass a controversial proposal to make it easier to develop fossil fuel-based energy projects, The Hill reports.

The Economist: “One thing upon which Joe Biden and Donald Trump agree is that the biggest issue confronting voters in the midterms this November is Donald Trump. The two men are locked in a dark contest, the likes of which no living American has witnessed between a sitting and former president. Mr Biden and Mr Trump are travelling to battleground states to warn of grievous threats from fellow Americans and to make the case, respectively, that Mr Trump is to blame, or that only he can save the country.”

“Apocalyptic warnings and divisive tactics are Mr Trump’s stock in trade. They are more surprising coming from Mr Biden. That he has felt it necessary to resort to them is yet another sick triumph for Mr Trump over what was once normal in American politics.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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