Cup of Joe – February 26, 2023

Mike Pence on Friday rebuked fellow Republicans who have given less-than-robust support for America’s defense of Ukraine — a group that includes potential presidential campaign rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, NBC News reports.

Said Pence: “I would say anyone that thinks that Vladimir Putin will stop at Ukraine is wrong.”

He added: “While some in my party have taken a somewhat different view, there can be no room in the leadership of the Republican Party for apologists for Putin.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday called on the international community not to let Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crimes “become our new normal” – and seemed to tacitly downplay a proposal by Beijing to bring an end to the war, CNN reports.

Blinken catalogued a litany of horrific actions committed by Russia over the past year, and spoke of the “inspiring unity” shown by Ukrainians “in helping one another endure Moscow’s relentless assault.”

“More than 271,000 Ukrainian refugees have been admitted to the United States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began one year ago, according to the Department of Homeland Security, far above President Joe Biden’s stated goal of admitting 100,000,” NBC News reports.

“Just over two-fifths, or more than 117,000, of those who were admitted came via the Biden administration’s ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ program, which allows Americans to sponsor Ukrainians to prove that they will be financially supported in the U.S.”

“Germany, France and Britain see stronger ties between NATO and Ukraine as a way to encourage Kyiv to start peace talks with Russia later this year, officials from the three governments said, as some of Kyiv’s Western partners have increasing doubts about its ability to reconquer all its territory,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“U.S. officials say China is considering delivering artillery and drones to Russian forces that could prolong the war, even as Beijing called for peace talks to end the fighting on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The officials said no weapons deliveries have yet taken place. But, if China were to go ahead and deliver lethal aid to Russia, the resulting tensions could shape Western relations with Beijing for years and potentially have profound consequences on the battlefield in Ukraine, at a point when both sides are gearing up for a spring offensive.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that if China provides lethal aid to Russia, it would be a “game-changer,” NBC News reports.

President Biden told ABC News the U.S. “would respond” if China were to supply Russia with lethal weapons in its war against Ukraine, although he said he didn’t “anticipate” China doing so, despite warnings from administration officials China may be considering the move.

Said Biden: “I don’t anticipate — we haven’t seen it yet, but I don’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China providing weaponry to Russia.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, blasted Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) over his comments this week questioning her loyalty to the U.S., NBC News reports.

Said Chu:”Rep. Gooden’s comments on Fox News questioning my loyalty to the USA is absolutely outrageous. It is based on false information spread by an extreme, right-wing website. Furthermore, it is racist. I very much doubt that he would be spreading these lies were I not of Chinese American descent.”

“The White House is vetting top labor official Julie Su and the president of the country’s largest flight attendants’ union, Sara Nelson, to lead the Department of Labor after Labor Secretary Marty Walsh steps down in March,” the Washington Post reports.

“Leaders of the organized labor movement have also recommended the outgoing executive director of the National Football League’s union, DeMaurice Smith, as a potential candidate to fill the position.”

A group of media organizations is demanding access to a tranche of surveillance and police videos from the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol that U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy provided to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, CBS News reports.

The letter was sent on behalf of CBS News, CNN, Politico, ProPublica ABC, Axios, Advance, Scripps, the Los Angeles Times, and Gannett.

“Never-before-seen footage shows in vivid new detail how congressional leaders fled the US Capitol on January 6 and transformed a nearby military base into a command center, where they frantically coordinated with Vice President Mike Pence and Trump Cabinet members to quell the insurrection and finish certifying the 2020 election,” CNN reports.

Former Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told Tulsa World that his decision to retire was due to the long-term effects of Covid-19, adding that certain symptoms were still affecting him day-to-day.  Said Inhofe: “Five or six others have long Covid, but I’m the only one who admits it.”

The HuffPost notes Inhofe voted against multiple coronavirus aid packages meant to help Americans at the height of the pandemic.

Bert Ellis, who was appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to the University of Virginia board of visitors, said in private text messages that he anticipates a “battle royale” over the soul of the University, the Cavalier Daily reports.

He said it would be “a microcosm of what must happen across America to save the soul of our country.”

“The superintendent of a Texas school district resigned after a third-grade student found his gun unattended in a school bathroom,” NBC News reports.

A man who was shot in the arm by Kyle Rittenhouse during the Kenosha riots in 2020 has filed a lawsuit against Rittenhouse and Wisconsin police and officials, Fox News reports.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) lied to a Seattle judge about working for Goldman Sachs while speaking at a 2017 bail hearing for a “family friend” who later pleaded guilty to fraud in an ATM skimming scheme, Politico reports.

“A Mexican restaurant is taking over a high-profile location in the town of Rifle, Colorado, where Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) Shooters Grill previously resided,” the Denver Post reports.

“Boebert was forced to close Shooters, a gun-themed eatery where the wait staff was encouraged to open carry, last summer after the building changed ownership.”

Six months after federal agents seized his phone as part of their investigation into false election fraud claims, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) will argue Thursday in front of a panel of three judges that the device cannot be searched,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Pennsylvania Republican is supported by bipartisan leadership in the House of Representatives as he argues that the ‘speech and debate’ clause of the Constitution protects him from the special counsel probe.”

“A Jan. 6 rioter who threatened Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on social media after participating in the attack on the Capitol was sentenced Wednesday to 38 months in prison,” NBC News reports.

“Donations from corporate and trade association PACs declined in the 2022 cycle by 10 percent to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election for President Joe Biden,” Roll Call reports.

A conservative non-profit group allied with former President Donald Trump urged “Hill staffers and their colleagues” to cut off meetings with any former Jan. 6 committee staffers who have since joined firms that lobby, Politico reports.

 “A three-judge federal appeals court panel wrestled Thursday with tangled questions about Congress’ immunity from criminal inquiries — and whether it might apply to efforts by Rep. Scott Perry to aid Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election,” Politico reports.

“Two of the three D.C. Circuit judges hearing the case appeared highly skeptical of the Justice Department’s narrow view of the Constitution’s ‘speech or debate’ protection for lawmakers, but it was unclear whether that disagreement would translate into a ruling that denies investigators access to the contents of a cell phone they seized from the Republican congressman in August.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted to punch protesters opposed to his coalition’s effort to overhaul the judiciary and compared the demonstrators to anti-vaxxers during a Friday meeting, the Times of Israel reports.

Said Netanyahu: “I want to give them a punch, to beat them.”

Senior aides of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been holding secret talks for almost two months in an effort to de-escalate rising tensions in the occupied West Bank, Axios reports.

President Joe Biden on Thursday nominated Ajay Banga, the former CEO of Mastercard, to lead the World Bank, Politico reports.

“An 11-year-old girl in Cambodia has died from bird flu in the country’s first known human H5N1 infection since 2014,” the AP reports.

 “The father of an 11-year-old girl who died from avian influenza in Cambodia this week has been diagnosed with the virus, officials said, stoking concerns about the possibility of another animal-borne virus affecting humans,” Bloomberg reports.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) “is seeking a review of what her office alleges was ‘likely unethical conduct’ by the state’s former attorney general, Mark Brnovich (R),” the Washington Post reports.

“A letter sent Friday from the governor’s office to the State Bar of Arizona follows the disclosure on Wednesday of records showing that Brnovich, a Republican, withheld findings by his own investigators refuting claims of fraud in the 2020 election and mischaracterized his office’s probe of voting in the state’s largest county.”

Donald Trump defended North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un while criticizing a U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise.

Said Trump: “Kim Jung Un of North Korea, who I got to know and got along with very well during my years as President, is not happy with the U.S. and South Korea doing big training and air exercises together. He feels threatened.”

He added: “Even I would constantly complain that South Korea pays us very little to do these extremely expensive and provocative drills. It’s really ridiculous.”

“Elon Musk announced during a joint press conference with California Gov. Gavin Newsom that Tesla would be returning its global engineering headquarters to California, two years after a dramatic exit that saw the electric car company leave the Golden State for a facility in Austin, Texas,” The Hill reports.

“Politicians haven’t stopped deleting some of their most cringeworthy tweets, but Politwoops, our project that has tracked and archived more than half a million deleted tweets from candidates and elected officials since 2012, is no longer able to track them,” ProPublica reports.

“Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, the platform has disabled the function we used to track deletions — and the new method that Twitter says should identify them appears to be broken.”

 “Last fall, Google’s Gmail created a special program allowing political fundraisers to bypass spam filters if they met certain qualifications and adhered to a set of industry standards,” FWIW reports.  “When that program ended on January 31st, the major campaigns that were enrolled saw their email deliverability plummet and online fundraising shrink.”

ABC News: “Within weeks, the currency’s value soared. Bannon and Epshteyn, two original architects of Donald Trump’s political operation, promoted it relentlessly on social media and on Bannon’s hit podcast, positioning it as a rejection of President Joe Biden and an alternative currency for conservatives that would support job creation and regularly donate to charities.”

“The name of the coin itself sought to capitalize on political divisions; dubbed $FJB, the currency takes its name from the shorthand version of the vulgar MAGA expression ‘Fuck Joe Biden.’”

“But now, thirteen months on, the cryptocurrency has fallen on hard times. $FJB, now officially said to stand for Freedom Jobs Business, has lost 95% of its value.”

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

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