September 2022

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September 26:

In a “test of planetary defense” Nasa crashed a small spacecraft into an asteroid’s moonlet in an attempt to redirect it. It will apparently take a few days to determine whether the test was successful.

On Earth, Florida is preparing for the impact of the anti-climactically named Hurricane Ian.

In almost outer-space meanwhile, there have been some revealing responses to the election of Giorgia Meloni, the heir to Mussolini’s far-right grouping in Italy.

Prime Minister Truss probably has other more pressing things to worry about.

The defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves were at the White House being congratulated by President Biden, who – unlike the team – had cheered the removal of last year’s MLB All-Star Game from the city in protest over Georgia’s new voting laws.

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September 25:

Italy elected its most right-wing government since Mussolini, with Giorgia Meloni – a recent speaker at CPAC – set to become the country’s first female Prime Minister.

Russia continues its point-of-a-gun process of “referendums” as part of a move to annex areas within Ukraine – the results are expected to be announced on Tuesday – while there are growing protests in places like Dagestan against the forced mobilizations.

In the US, with the next, crucial session of the Jan 6th Committee set for Wednesday, signs of specific linkage between the Trump White House with the insurrectionists and those determined to overturn the election result appear to be firming up.

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Doesn’t look like The Rapture happened. Again.

Aaron Judge’s pursuit of Roger Maris’s HR record* heads to Toronto after a rain-shortened game in the Bronx Sunday night. While ESPN are still happy to cut to him and force everyone to watch every at-bat, you get the feeling no-one wants this thing to be over more than the copy editors at the New York Post, who you suspect have now officially exhausted their supply of legal puns.

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September 24:

Gov Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of Florida’s 67 counties as residents prepared for the likely impact of a strengthening tropical storm. The forecast for the coming week led Nasa to again delay the launch of the Artemis rocket and its mission to the Moon.

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Last night…

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September 23:

Fallout continues (no pun intended) from Vladimir Putin’s plan to mobilize 300,000 “troops” to fight in Ukraine. With border crossings packed and flights out of the country disrupted, to some observers it feels like an act of desperation that could backfire on the Russian leader.

Protests continue in Iran after a crackdown by the state’s so-called “morality police”. Eight people have reportedly been killed so far and the government was set to impose restrictions on internet access.

In US politics, the Special Master’s patience appears to be wearing thin with the former president’s legal manoeuvering, giving his legal team a week to back up claims that the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago, or that Trump was able to declassify documents “just by thinking about it.”

Meanwhile, as with pretty much everything in politics since Trump, it’s all about the money; especially heading down the road to the midterms. Enthusiasm among voters for the impending elections is surging, according to polls.

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September 21:

Not a good day for the former President.

Meanwhile…

Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of Russian reservists and warned the West of his apparent willingness to use nuclear weapons.

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September 20:

It’s Voter Registration Day and with seven weeks to go to the midterms, big galvanizing themes are likely to include “Roevember,” climate change and the continuing legal issues for the former President.

Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News

On the economy, Democrats should have something of a success story to tell, but their messaging needs to be more focused to overcome perceptions. With the House set to vote tomorrow on reforms to the Electoral Count Act Biden pressed for action on Dark Money (knowing there is little chance of any legislation moving forward).

Today’s much-anticipated Special Master ruling in the Mar-a-Lago documents case began in chaos and seemed to quickly get even worse for Donald Trump’s lawyers.

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The Mets, Astros and Braves all clinched post-season spots, while the Yankees’ Aaron Judge is on the brink of breaking Roger Maris’s AL HR record.

Great Britain Baseball qualified for the final stages of next year’s World Baseball Classic for the first time.

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September 19:

The Second Elizabethan Age ends and the Carolean Age begins. Good luck with that.

After Hurricane Fiona moved out to sea having caused “catastrophic” damage on Puerto Rico, a tsunami warning was issued after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck in Mexico, ironically on the anniversary of two previous earthquakes.

An apparently increasingly-desperate Donald Trump is agitating his base ahead of the next development in potential legal escalation against him, and as leverage with the GOP ahead of the Midterms.

Oh, and, as of today, technically the two frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 are under investigation.

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September 18:

President Biden – who may or may not have “made news” on the season premiere of 60 Minutes tonight – and other world leaders have been heading to London for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II (apparently “the most important event the world will ever see”  according to the not-at-all prone to hyperbole Speaker of the House of Commons).

The President’s planned meeting with Prime Minister Liz Truss was moved to Wednesday following reports that she was supposedly about to “put her foot down” on the NI Protocol. But it could also be related to a strange story about her chief of staff…

Talking of strange, there were some unsettling visuals out of former President Trump’s rally in Youngstown last night. You can’t help but think his strategy of embracing Q Anon is increasingly to try to deter any prosecution by warning of the reaction it could cause.

Certainly puts the recent story into perspective about threats to democracy being the most important concern for some voters in a recent poll.

A sobering paper this week by Rachel Kleinfeld – and doesn’t it seem like pretty much everything is “sobering” these days? – for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says:

“America is in a vicious cycle, and it is speeding up. Severe polarization is rapidly narrowing the available solution sets. The moment is serious and dire.”

Meanwhile, of perhaps more immediate seriousness yet downplayed in the media because of distance and repetition.

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September 17:

The Justice Department filed a federal appeal against the ruling which blocks investigators from accessing national security-related documents recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Meanwhile, fallout intensified over the transportation of Venezuelan migrants from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard and from Texas to, well, pretty much anywhere in pursuit of that solid political strategy of “owning the libs”.

And something else that’s hardly surprising but that we’ll probably hear plenty more about…

An investigation into alleged misuse of welfare funds in Mississippi has become a high-profile story due to the involvement of favorite son of the state, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre.

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Albert Pujols continues to close in on 700 Home Runs.

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September 16:

More confusion – and delay – over the legal situation surrounding the “classified” nature of documents found during this month’s search at Mar-a-Lago, after Judge Aileen Cannon rejected a DOJ motion for a partial stay of her original ruling requiring a halt to the investigation. She also appointed a Special Master to review the material, giving him until Nov 30 – after the midterms – to complete his review. The DOJ seems set to appeal.

Meanwhile, there has apparently been quite a remarkable turnaround in President Biden’s approval numbers among younger voters…

The key now is to get them to turn out.

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The first meeting between the leaders of Russia and China since the former’s invasion of Ukraine took place in Uzbekistan. (Thread here).

Meanwhile,

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September 15:

Big problems for him, certainly…

Elsewhere…

Meanwhile, after almost a full day of negotiations, a deal was agreed between rail operators and transport unions, averting a strike which threatened to disrupt supply chains.

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On Roberto Clemente day, the Tampa Bay Rays fielded MLB’s first all-Latino starting lineup. They defeated the Blue Jays 11-0 in Toronto.

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September 14:

A car carrying Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was involved in a traffic accident in Kyiv, but he was not seriously hurt, according to reports. The incident came after the President had visited some of the areas liberated by Ukrainian forces in the recent counter-offensive.

At home, it turns out – as many people had speculated since he wasn’t being prosecuted – that former WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has been “complying” with the DOJ.

Yet more revelations from yet more books… you get the feeling that this will go for a while.

As for the former President’s political legacy…

In a typical stunt, apparently for the benefit of Fox News, Florida Gov Ron De Santis sent two planes full of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which clearly amused some like-minded folks.

Meanwhile, the wrangling between Trump and the GOP over cash for Senate candidates looks likely to continue up to the midterms.

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September 13:

A hectic day of potential political upheaval, but with speculation growing over events in Ukraine, Russia and the future of President Vladimir Putin, this became likely the most important story of the day, as CIA Director William Burns – who a couple of days ago had said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “failure” – arriving at the Capitol in the evening to brief leading members of Congress.

It also emerged – hardly surprisingly – that Russia had been funnelling cash to foreign political campaigns.

Domestically, things seem to be happening fast. After 40 subpoenas were issued to Trump associates reportedly related to events around Jan 6 (perhaps a fallout from the dump of Alex Jones’s phone that his lawyers “accidentally” sent to prosecutors?) Yesterday Trump and his associates held a “meeting” at his golf course, then Pillow Guy says his phone was seized by the FBI.

Elsewhere, former SDNY prosecutor Geoffrey Berman’s new book seems to have halted the Bill Barr Reputation Rehab Tour in its tracks.

Meanwhile, in an apparent about-turn on previous statements, Sen Lindsey Graham introduced legislation that would impose a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks. Having seen potential voter engagement spike on the pro-choice side, the aim here may be a strategic plan to galvanize anti-choice voters behind specific legislation. Not all on the GOP side see it that way

Graham’s announcement distracted from an awkward split-screen for President Biden, with the stock market declining sharply on the back of inflation data as he celebrated the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Tuesday was the final round of primaries before the midterms.

(Full Primary Coverage from the New York Times here)

Finally, Ken Starr, the special prosecutor whose investigation of President Bill Clinton in 1994 led to his impeachment, died aged 76.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the NL West – their ninth divisional title in ten years (a period that includes only one World Series championship).

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September 12:

The successful Ukrainian counter-offensive is apparently causing significant ramifications within Russia’s political class. In a televised address today, President Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s forces had liberated more than 6,000 sq km in the east and south of the country since the start of September.

Former President Donald Trump apparently flew into Washington DC last night with little indication why and – inevitably – speculation filling the silence.

Meanwhile…

At the Kennedy Library in Boston today – the 60th anniversary of JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech, President Biden launched his own ‘moonshot’ aimed at ending cancer as we know it.

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September 11:

9/11 front pages from all 50 states plus Washington DC (via Reddit)

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Excellent piece in today’s New York Times on the life and work of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German who was murdered last week.

“The killing has rattled and outraged the readers, journalists and sources who had grown to trust Mr. German’s brand of shoe leather reporting in a town where little is to be trusted, from the glittering billboards to the gamblers across poker tables.

“[He] endured a changing industry, going from typewriters to Twitter, from one struggling newspaper to another. As news organizations across the country lost money, laid off reporters and found it harder to keep up with corruption, Mr. German continued to expose malfeasance at a remarkable pace.”

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September 10:

The Ukrainian counter-offensive currently under way appears to be quite remarkable, according to reports from the front lines. In Eastern Ukraine, territory that took Russian forces weeks to capture has apparently fallen with some ease within the past few days.

Meanwhile…

To be “fair” to the former President (admittedly an unfamiliar concept) he was in the middle of preparing for NYAG Letitia James’ deposition – but it doesn’t require a lot of preparation to take the Fifth hundreds of times. The other event missing from that timeline is of course the LIV Golf Tour at Bedminster in July.

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In Baseball, on Sept 10, 1963, Stan Musial became the first grandfather to hit a home run in the major leagues. In that game, the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson not only  threw a complete-game, six-hit shutout, but also dinged a three-run home run.

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September 9:

And so, naturally…

Meanwhile, the DOJ apparently steps up its determination to follow the money. Because it is usually always about the money…

In fairness, he may not have pocketed “every dollar” he raised…

As they say, it’s always about the money. This is a real head-shaker of a story that flies under the radar a bit…

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September 8:

Queen Elizabeth’s reign spanned 14 US presidencies – nearly 30% of American history. The only one she did not meet was LBJ.

The first – and only – MLB game the Queen is known to have attended (the Naked Gun doesn’t count) was in May 1991 when she accompanied President George HW Bush to Memorial Stadium in Baltimore to watch a few innings of the O’s-A’s game. (It would have just been too perfect if they’d been playing the Royals).

Oakland won 6-3.

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In other, less-historic events today, the DOJ appealed against the ‘Special Master’ ruling; former President Trump’s PAC is under investigation, and you were in luck if you wanted to see Steve Bannon in handcuffs…

It’s sixty days until the midterms.

Finally, another great loss…

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September 7:

As the DOJ weighed the practical effect on the Mar-a-Lago investigation of an appeal against the Special Master ruling, it emerged that the documents in the former President’s possession were related to information on an unnamed country’s nuclear capability. Some of the material apparently was so restricted that even the FBI agents who discovered it did not have security clearance to actually read it.

You have to ask, though, if the documents are as serious as they appear, why did the government wait more than a year to do something about it? Also, if they *didn’t* know the stuff was missing, why admit that now to our adversaries? Whatever happens with the DOJ investigation, that should be part of the review by the ODNI.

A judge in New Mexico ruled that a local official who took part in the Jan 6th insurrection should be removed from office, effective immediately. It’s the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a local politician for violating their oath to protect the Constitution.

Steve Bannon could be indicted tomorrow on federal charges “mirroring” the federal case for which he was eventually pardoned by Trump. He’s not taking it well.

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In the UK, meanwhile, the era of “Britain Trump” Boris Johnson came to an end – at least for now – as Liz Truss became the fourth Conservative Prime Minister since Brexit, further heralding Britain’s apparent political transformation into Italy.

There are plenty to choose from, but this, in The Grauniad’s letters page, will probably always be my favorite comment on his time in office.

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September 6:

“Give it to a kid” Part 94…

Obviously we don’t know the context beyond the isolated clip here, but it’s weird to watch how this clip divided opinion (actually, it’s probably not that weird, since everything these days has to be both-sided)…

It’s rare these days that I go to a game and sit where I’m likely to snag a ball – fair or foul -but just out of habit as I’m settling in, I tend to look around my section and see who I’d give the ball to if I caught one.

Because I tend to sit in cheaper seats, there are always families around and if a kid looks like it might be his or her first game, or they have a mitt with them, that’s usually who I’d pick if the situation arose.

As yet, it’s never happened, and I’ve only come away from a game with a ball from play one time.  When I was younger, it helped to know the outfielders’ first names and match them up to their shirt numbers  – particularly at minor league parks – and an outfielder for the Charleston River Dogs tossed me a ball over the fence by the dugout at the end of an inning after I called out to him.

In a more uplifting video about the game, though, this great piece of broadcast banter in Cincinnati last week – and it’s definitely worth watching the full segment – was brilliantly transformed to a new, Field of Dreams-esque level by Reds historian and film-maker Cam Miller.

(I spoke via email with Cam on Opening Day this season and hope to catch up with him for a longer chat soon).

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September 5:

Amid the potential delays to the investigation – although it was technically ‘on hold’ anyway until after the midterms – legal commentators, and the rest of us, grasped to understand the implications of the ruling, for this case and for precedent. The two sides must submit a list of potential special masters by the end of this week, but they both must also agree on the appointment, which would appear unlikely.

Meanwhile, while neither President Biden or his predecessor are on the ballot this coming November, they’re both campaigning as if they are. Biden spent Labor Day campaigning in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with different outcomes in terms of which Democratic candidates would appear alongside him.

Trump, again, took to social media to demand that he be reinstated as President

The Senate returns from its summer recess tomorrow, beginning a potential legislative sprint to the midterms, including movement on same-sex marriage protections, insulin costs and possible reform to the Electoral Count Act.

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September 4:

The fallout continues from President Biden’s speech in Philadelphia on Thursday night, with debate raging over staging and optics to the use of the military, the tone of the media coverage, oh, and, the speech’s actual content.

CNN’s John Harwood used his final day on the job to send a message:

Harwood’s on-air language had echoes of the final broadcast by CNN’s Brian Stelter, the media critic whose Reliable Sources show was axed last month.

https://twitter.com/ParkerMolloy/status/1565586637396103168

Former President Trump, meanwhile, is apparently plotting an “aggressive strategy” going into the midterms and kicked off with a rally in Wilkes-Barre PA on Saturday. Meanwhile, his lawyers continue to face off with the DOJ over next steps in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

Finally…

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September 2:

President Biden kicked off the campaign for November’s midterms with a powerful speech last night that revisited his “battle for the soul of the nation” theme from the 2020 presidential contest. His attempt to separate “MAGA Republicans” from what’s left of the party’s mainstream is an approach that will resonate through November and – depending on the fate of Biden’s predecessor – into the 2024 cycle.

Earlier, as a court handed down the longest prison sentence yet for a participant in the January 6th insurrection, former President Donald Trump said that he was “financially supporting” some of those involved and, were he to be re-elected, he would consider pardoning them, something he has also said on previous occasions.

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