New year, new me! That means more caffeine in the afternoon. - Corey
THE BIG NEWS
More Bad News for 'Gold Bar' Bob Menendez
The criminal case against crooked New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who chaired the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee until his federal indictment in September, just gets tackier. Menendez, who already stands accused of taking bribes to benefit Egyptian power brokers, now faces fresh charges of pulling strings for a generous Qatari. The New York Times reports:
"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said that Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, exploited his Senate office to aid a prominent New Jersey developer in securing financial backing from an investment fund run by a Qatari sheikh in exchange for lucrative bribes. The alleged payoffs included cash, gold bars, Formula 1 tickets for a relative and an offer of a designer watch. ...
"In September 2021, Mr. Menendez and [his co-defendant, property developer Fred] Daibes attended a private event in Manhattan held by the Qatari government. A few days later, Mr. Daibes sent Mr. Menendez photographs of wristwatches with prices ranging from $9,990 to $23,990. 'How about one of these,' Mr. Daibes wrote, prosecutors said.
It's like I always say: never trust a man with a watch collection expensive enough to be used for money laundering!
The Bergen Record previously identified the Qatari investment fund mixed up with Daibes and Menendez as Heritage Advisors of London, founded by Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani. As Politico reports, "Menendez isnt the only Washington insider in hot water for his dealings with Qatar.
"Two longtime Republican political consultants who backed Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign admitted in court filings Tuesday to deceiving the Justice Department about their lobbying activities on behalf of the small but wealthy Arab nation.
"Barry Bennett and Doug Watts acknowledged they accepted funds from the Qatari government in exchange for promoting efforts to influence U.S. policy in the Middle East and engaged in a scheme to mislead investigators about those dealings."
Drain the swamp, indeed.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Federal Appeals Court Sides with Texas, Says Doctors Not Obliged to Perform Emergency Abortions to Save Women's Lives
Here's yet more proof that "pro-life" doesn't apply to women. NBC News reports:
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Texas can ban emergency abortions even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says a federal statute takes priority over state laws prohibiting the procedure.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court's ruling that sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The appeal was heard by Judge Leslie Southwick, an appointee of President George W. Bush, and Trump appointees Kurt Engelhardt and Cory Wilson.
Rochelle Garza, a Democrat who ran for Texas attorney general in 2022, calls the ruling "deeply disturbing." Meanwhile, a new study finds tens of thousands "of women who are not pregnant are ordering abortion pills just in case they might need them someday," the New York Times reports.
Elections Roundup: Republicans Swarm Iowa
- Assault on Colorado Supreme Court Building Said to Be Unrelated to Trump Ballot Decision Brandon Olsen, 44, allegedly stole a security guard's keys at gunpoint before starting a fire and firing shots on the seventh floor of the courthouse; his ex-wife suggests he "wanted to see his children and we didn't allow that and he just went a little crazy," and cops also claim it probably wasn't political. via the Denver Post and WestWord.
- Trump Appeals Maine Secretary of State's Decision Rendering Him Ineligible to Appear on Ballot "This is part of the process," Democrat Shenna Bellows says. "I have confidence in my decision and confidence in the rule of law." via the Associated Press.
- Nearly Twice as Many House Democrats Than Republicans Will Retire This Year The Republicans leaving office "generally represent districts that Democrats have little chance of flipping," whereas a few of the Democrats stepping down are in competitive districts. via the AP.
- RFK Jr. Picks Antivax Conspiracy Theorist as Campaign Spokesman Announcing his appointment, former former daytime television producer Del Bigtree asked supporters to "stop the globalist's [sic] New World Order" and "the dark forces of medical tyranny" with a $1,000 donation. via NBC News.
- Republicans Gloat Over Resignation of First Black Harvard President; Panel Finds No Misconduct Fascist party operative Christopher Rufo, who raised plagiarism allegations against Harvard Pressident Claudine Gay, and New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, who grilled her over campus protests against Israel's war in Gaza, both claimed credit for her ouster. via the Washington Post and Politico.
- All Japan Airlines Passengers Survive Flaming Wreck of Airbus That Struck Coast Guard Plane, Killing 5 Crew The coast guard aircraft, hit by the commercial plane as it landed in Tokyo, was heading to western Japan to deliver aid to survivors of Monday's earthquake. via NBC News.
- Hundreds of Sealed Court Papers on Jeffrey Epstein to Be Released This Week "Former President Clinton, who ABC News has learned is identified as 'Doe 36,' is mentioned in more than fifty of the redacted filings." via the New York Times.
- Search Warrant Shows Expanding Rape and Video Voyeurism Investigation Into Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler "will face GOP state and county leaders on Jan. 8 in Tallahassee, where members are expected to oust him from his post." via Politico.
That's how many Americans walked off the job in labor actions last year, according to a Bloomberg database via the Washington Post, which quotes an economist who calls 2023 "genuinely a banner year for the working class and low-paid workers."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
1/3: It's Hump Day! Sam and Emma speak with Trita Parsi, executive vice president at the Quincy Institute, to discuss the state of play in Israel/Gaza nearly 3 months after Oct. 7. Then, they're joined by Paul Ortiz, professor of history at the University of Florida, to discuss how unions in Florida have been pushing back against Gov. Ron DeSantis's draconian anti-labor policy in the state.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Emma speaks with historian Rebecca Jane Morgan about their recent book "Gender Heretics: Evangelicals, Feminists, and the Alliance against Trans Liberation."
Despite what some South Carolina voters think, it wasn't "a trick question."
"The issue we face with Israel-Gaza is not complicated. While we recognize that Hamas' barbaric terrorist attack began this war, we must also recognize that Israel's military response has been grossly disproportionate, immoral, and in violation of international law. ... Congress is working to pass a supplemental funding bill that includes $10 billion of unconditional military aid for the right-wing Netanyahu government to continue its brutal war against the Palestinian people. Enough is enough. Congress must reject that funding. The taxpayers of the United States must no longer be complicit in destroying the lives of innocent men, women, and children in Gaza."
-- Vermont Jewish socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a statement yesterday urging colleagues to vote against further unconditional military aid to Israel. The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 22,000.
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