Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a televised news conference on Saturday evening that Israeli forces had entered the Gaza Strip on Friday, beginning “the second stage of the war,” the New York Times reports.
He called the campaign “our second war of independence” and warned Israelis to expect a “long and difficult” campaign.
“The Israeli military launched an intense aerial bombardment on the Gaza Strip on Friday evening, employing missiles fired from warplanes and artillery,” the New York Times reports.
“The barrage came as Israeli leaders were deliberating how to conduct a ground invasion of Gaza with the aim of removing Hamas from power — and as diplomats conducted back-channel negotiations aimed at freeing some of the 229 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.”
“Almost half of Israelis want to hold off on any invasion of Gaza, according to a poll published on Friday, in what may indicate a dip in support for the planned next stage of the counter-offensive against Hamas militants holding some 200 hostages,” Reuters reports.
“Asked if the military should immediately escalate to a large-scale ground offensive, 29% of Israelis agreed while 49% said ‘it would be better to wait’ and 22% were undecided.”
“The Biden administration is urging Israel to rethink its plans for a major ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and instead to opt for a more ‘surgical’ operation using aircraft and special operations forces carrying out precise, targeted raids on high-value Hamas targets and infrastructure,” the Washington Post reports.
“Administration officials have become highly concerned about the potential repercussions of a full ground assault, the officials said, and they increasingly doubt that it would achieve Israel’s stated goal of eliminating Hamas.”
New York Times: “Saudi officials have firmly warned the United States in recent days that an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza could be catastrophic for the Middle East.”
“Cutting off an enemy’s communication lines is an ancient tool of war. But the near complete communications blackout in Gaza, as Israel expands its military campaign, has plunged residents into a deep digital darkness,” the Washington Post reports.
“Before Friday night — when phone and internet connections were abruptly severed — you could be poor in Gaza, you could struggle to charge a battery, but if you had a mobile phone with a few minutes of credit, you could still make a call. Now those minutes are useless.”
Meanwhile, Elon Musk says he will allow humanitarian groups in Gaza to use Starlink.
“Hamas has admitted surprise that its brutal attack on Israel this month prompted a muscular US response, with Washington deploying carrier strike groups, air-defense systems and thousands of troops to the region,” the Financial Times reports. Said Ali Barakeh, a senior member of Hamas’ political leadership in exile: “An Israeli response? Yes, we expected that. But what we’re seeing now is the entrance of the US into the battle, and this we didn’t count on.”
“Roughly 900 US troops have been deployed or are deploying to the Middle East amid heightened tensions in the region after a series of attacks on coalition bases that resulted in minor injuries for almost two dozen troops,” CNN reports.
Wall Street Journal: “For many House Republicans, all is right with the world, three weeks after the ouster of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with many brushing aside the existential fears that built during the party’s crisis.”
“The question is how long Johnson’s honeymoon period will last and whether the party could end up in a similar bind down the road: Republicans still have a thin 221-212 majority, sharp intraparty divisions and a rule allowing any single member to call a vote to remove the speaker.”
Said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY): “Mike Johnson has a grace period here. It’ll be at least 30 days before we get stabby again.”
“The judge overseeing the $250 million civil trial against Donald Trump and his company ordered the former president’s daughter Ivanka Trump to testify in the case,” CNBC reports.
“Donald Trump on Saturday unleashed a series of attacks on the judge overseeing his New York civil fraud trial after he issued a ruling requiring his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to testify,” Politico reports.
“In a post to Truth Social, the former president derided the judge, Arthur Engoron, as ‘unhinged’ and ‘an out of control ‘Nut Job,’’ contending that Ivanka Trump should not have to testify after she was dismissed as a defendant in June.”
He added: “I truly believe he is CRAZY, but certainly, at a minimum, CRAZED in his hatred of me.”
“Donald Trump is expected to take the witness stand on Nov. 6 in his civil fraud trial, the New York attorney general’s counsel said in court on Friday,” The Messenger reports. “His under-oath appearance is scheduled to take place exactly one year before Election Day 2024.”
Roula Khalaf: “That is the most sobering fact about America’s new second in line to be president. But we cannot overlook Johnson’s Christian fundamentalism. He is a sincere biblical literalist. As an active legal ally of the Southern Baptist Convention, and also as a Louisiana and now Washington legislator, Johnson has a 25-year record of Christian extremism.”
“He believes homosexuality is unnatural and should be illegal, he supports a federal outlawing of abortion in any circumstances (as co-author of the ‘life begins at conception’ bill before this Congress), he believes the US is a Christian nation founded on biblical principles, and he is a ‘Christian Zionist’ supporter of the politically philo-Semitic and theologically antisemitic view that the Book of Revelation will be fulfilled in modern-day Israel. Remember, that involves the second coming of Jesus in a prophesied rapture in which the righteous will ascend to heaven and the rest, including the Jews, will be slaughtered.”
“The wife of newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) runs a counseling business that advocates the belief that homosexuality is comparable to bestiality and incest,” the HuffPost reports.
New York Times: “Mr. Johnson, a mild-mannered conservative Republican from Louisiana whose elevation to the speakership on Wednesday followed weeks of chaos, is known for placing his evangelical Christianity at the center of his political life and policy positions. Now, as the most powerful Republican in Washington, he is in a position to inject it squarely into the national political discourse, where he has argued for years that it belongs.”
Rep. Mike Johnson, the newly elected Republican House speaker, used to conduct a seminar in churches premised on the idea that the United States is a “Christian nation,” Mother Jones reports.
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) “pleaded not guilty on Friday to a 23-count indictment accusing him of an array of corruption, including 10 felony counts that federal prosecutors added this month,” Reuters reports.
A trial is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2024.
Brian Beutler: “I do hope they understand there’s more to typecasting an opposition leader than issuing a few press releases, fanning out some juicy opposition research, and declaring the damage done. Johnson’s record—forget his record, actually; his name, his face, his job title—will not take root in the public imagination on its own. And without a sustained effort to make him famous, he can make himself seem innocuous simply by being a bit more demure than his peers.”
“Instilling an idea about a person in the social consciousness and making it stick is an unending and tedious process. Republicans didn’t define Al Gore as a wooden teller of Big Fish tales in one day, it required relentless scoffing; same with John Kerry as the out-of-touch cheese-eating surrender monkey, Hillary Clinton as Mrs. Emails. Nancy Pelosi as Mrs. San Francisco values, and so on.”
Harry Enten: “Republicans’ long public nightmare came to an end this past week when Louisiana’s Mike Johnson became the 56th speaker of the House. If you’re like most people who claim to be smart about politics, you immediately pretended to know who he was and then went to Google him.”
“This has led to a bit of a debate about Johnson’s ideological record. Just how conservative is he? A look at the data reveals that Johnson is most certainly well to the right of the median American voter. But he is actually fairly close to the center of a Republican Party that has shifted further right in recent years.”
Michael Tomasky: “In one way, you have to be impressed by the Republicans. They keep going further and further right, completely undeterred. They keep somehow finding these people. And they keep elevating them. And now, MAGA Mike Johnson—a hard-core theocrat who is, in terms of his obviously deeply held philosophical beliefs, to Jim Jordan’s right, and indeed perhaps well to Jim Jordan’s right—is two heartbeats away from the presidency, after having been elected House speaker.”
“No one except Capitol Hill reporters and people who are such serious politics junkies that they need help had heard of Johnson until this week. I sure hadn’t.”
Washington Post: “In two courtrooms 900 miles apart, judges next week will begin to weigh an unprecedented and historic question: Is former president Donald Trump eligible to run for office again given his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol?”
“Starting on Monday in Denver, a week-long hearing featuring witnesses and legal scholars will explore whether Jan. 6 qualified as an insurrection, which could bar Trump from the ballot in Colorado. On Thursday, the Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether an obscure part of the Constitution might keep Trump off the ballot there. In coming weeks, courts around the country might hold similar proceedings.”
“The legal strategy, pursued by an unusual mix of conservatives and liberals, is unlike any tried before against a candidate for president. Legal experts are deeply divided on the merit of the theory, but even its backers acknowledge they face stiff challenges.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson says it was the choice of his “adopted” Black son, Michael, to keep a low profile—right down to his absence from the congressman’s bio and family photos, the New York Times reports.
Michael was not formally adopted because the process was “difficult.”
“Republicans hoped Mike Johnson’s ascension marked a detente from the personal vitriol of a three-week speaker fight. That ceasefire appears to be over already,” Politico reports.
“Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the architect of ousting Kevin McCarthy from the speakership, is openly sparring with multiple members, including taking aim at a key committee chair. New York Republicans want to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the House, a vote with consequences for their thin majority. Former acting Speaker Patrick McHenry is venting to reporters about his ‘pure anger’ when McCarthy was booted.”
“And as Johnson settles into his new role atop the House, his fires don’t end there. A handful of conservatives are already signaling that they’re going to spur part two of a centrist vs. hardliner shutdown fight.”
“Donald Trump on Friday revived a two-week-old controversy over his description of Hezbollah terrorist attackers as ‘very smart,’ posting a column on social media that sought to defend his characterization of the group,” the Washington Post reports.
Politico: “The record shows Johnson’s ascent was no accident. It was the culmination of a deliberate series of moves aimed at positioning himself for greater power.”
“Since Johnson’s first run for Congress, the now four-term Louisianan has always ensured he is in line ideologically with the most conservative faction of the House GOP — without going to their tactical extremes.”
“More than three million borrowers have had $127 billion of their federal student loans flagged for cancellation, despite a Supreme Court ruling in June that blocked relief for millions more student-loan holders,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The high court ruled that the Biden administration couldn’t cancel hundreds of billions of dollars for tens millions of student-loan holders, reasoning that the authority for such a broad-based policy doesn’t exist under the law. While that closed one path, Biden tapped a variety of different tools that no previous president had ever used to this extent.”
Washington Post: “While the more than two dozen abortion bans enacted since the fall of Roe v. Wade all include some kind of exception for the mother’s life, the laws use ambiguous language, with many permitting abortions in a ‘medical emergency’ without offering a concrete definition of that term.”
“Prompted by numerous prominent cases in which women became critically ill after being turned away from hospitals, the issue has spawned debate in state legislatures, several high-profile lawsuits and a standoff with Biden administration officials who say the procedure should be covered by emergency care laws.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who has held up hundreds of military promotions in the Senate, told Newsmax the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East were “created” by Democrats. Said Tuberville: “They need to be worried about what’s going on in Ukraine, the Middle East, the wars that their side, the Democrats and Joe Biden, have created but you know, they want to circumvent the rules in the Senate.”
John Gruber: “This ‘now is not the time’ argument gets trotted out by Republicans after each and every gun massacre. Right after their tweets offering ‘thoughts and prayers.’ Bullshit. The aftermath of a massacre is the time to demand sane gun control measures. That’s when the issue is clarified. Would Republicans argue that October 8 was ‘not the right time’ for Israel to discuss Hamas terrorism? Was September 12, 2001 ‘not the right time’ to discuss Al-Qaeda? Should FDR have delivered an address to the nation on December 8, 1941, advising that we relax, let cooler heads prevail, because the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor ‘was not the time’ to consider retaliating?”
“Imagine a Venezuelan refugee illegally crosses the U.S.-Mexico border next week and kills 18 U.S. citizens with a bomb he carried across. Would Hannity have a guest on Fox News — say, Mike Johnson — arguing that ‘now is not the time, in the middle of the crisis, to talk about border security’?”
Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr knocked Donald Trump’s verbal skills in Friday comments, The Hill reports. Said Barr: “His verbal skills are limited.” He added: “If you get him away from ‘very, very, very,’ you know, the adjectives… they’re unfamiliar to him and they spill out, and he goes too far.”
“The Army has finished renaming nine installations that previously honored confederate generals with the redesignation Friday of Fort Gordon in Georgia to Fort Eisenhower,” CBS News reports.
Washington Post: “The number of people actively tweeting has dropped by more than 30 percent… and the company — which the entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX has renamed X — is hemorrhaging advertisers and revenue, interviews show.”
Just over 7% of adults and 2% of children in the United States have received the new Covid shots, the New York Times reports.
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to jail Alabama state Rep. John Rogers (D), who was charged with trying to obstruct an investigation into alleged kickbacks, the AP reports. They say he violated the conditions of his bond by attempting to contact a key witness in the case.