I went from hating BuzzFeed for its lowest-common-denominator clickbait, to grudging respect for the Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom its journalists built, to hating it again for gutting that newsroom and replacing human writers with chatbots that churn out pointless dreck. That's the media biz for you. - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
Gwyneth Paltrow Innocent; Grand Jury Indicts Trump
The New York Times got the scoop yesterday afternoon thanks to "four people with knowledge of the matter": the Manhattan grand jury convened by District Attorney Alvin Bragg has voted to indict Trump on more than 30 as-yet-unknown charges, which include felonies. The charges reportedly relate to the falsification of business records to cover up Trump's hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and perhaps another model he had a transactional arrangement with; we also know the star witness is likely to be Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, who arranged those payments. The Washington Post and the Associated Press quickly confirmed the Times report, and last night politicians across the spectrum rushed to respond to the much-anticipated news. It's the first time a former president has been criminally charged -- so really, this is a long time coming. As the Post says, some form of criminal charges against Trump have been 50 years in the making. And inshallah this is only the first indictment for Trump, who oversaw many potential crimes while in office, as the House Jan. 6 committee amply demonstrated, as well as in his prior life as an upstanding casino operator.
Bragg is currently negotiating for Trump's surrender, and the former crook-in-chief's lawyers indicated he will submit this coming Tuesday to arrest, fingerprinting, and the whole shebang, possibly including handcuffs – though Trump himself last night hung up the phone on an ABC News reporter who asked him whether he would turn himself in. The Times says in "the unlikely event" Trump refuses to surrender himself, his 2024 presidential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, might be required by law to extradite him to New York. Funny, life's twists and turns! DeSantis said on Twitter last night that Florida won't extradite Trump. The details of this process could get very interesting (and there's a reason Trump held his last rally in Waco, Texas).
Trump wrote last night that he had been unfairly "indicated," calling it "AN ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE." His die-hards online are predictably calling for extreme measures, but many others who supported Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, now fearful of the consequences, appear less than enthusiastic about a second insurrection.
In other Trumpdates:
- Stormy Daniels Says Trump Wasn't Being Sexual When He Spanked Her and Compared Her to His Daughter "I actually have to defend Trump on one thing," she said during a Q&A on OnlyFans. via Vice News.
- Trump's Party Is Lusting for War with Mexico A new policy paper by former Trump administration official Ken Cuccinelli, who now backs Ron DeSantis for president, "outlines possible justifications and procedures for the next Republican commander-in-chief to 'formally' declare "war against the cartels.'" via Rolling Stone.
- Steve Bannon's Chinese Fugitive Business Partner Sent Mobs to Harass Dissidents This profile reveals why Guo Wengui's "actions against Chinese dissidents fueled speculation that he was somehow working in concert with the Chinese government." via the New York Times.
- Pro-Trump Protester Released Without Bail After Pulling a Knife on Two Kids and Their Parents Aurora Rucker, 39, claimed she was acting in self-defense when she brandished a six-inch blade at a family with two children while defending Trump's pure, childlike innocence in Manhattan. via Politico.
Putin Claims an American Journalist as 'Hostage'
The Wall Street Journal reports that a member of its own Moscow bureau, Evan Gershkovich, a 31-year-old U.S. citizen who previously worked the for the Moscow Times, Agence France-Presse, and the New York Times, has been arrested and charged with espionage. It's the first time this has happened to an accredited American reporter in Russia since the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
The Journal says Gershkovich was detained while on a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg -- evidently nabbed from a restaurant, his face covered, and shoved into a waiting van. His purported crime? Doing his job as a journalist.
The Federal Security Bureau said Mr. Gershkovich, "acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex."
The Journal "vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter." The Guardian reports that prior to his arrest, "Gershkovich was reportedly working on a story about Wagner, the notionally private military group run by the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, which has done much of the fighting in Ukraine."
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged any U.S. citizens still living or traveling in Russia to "please leave immediately." Exiled Russian defense laywer Ivan Pavlov says, of Gershkovich's arrest, "it's clear that they've taken a hostage." The Kremlin says other foreign journalists in Russia will be allowed to continue working. That's yet another lie. Bless the reporters who do keep working even under the dangerous, intolerable conditions imposed by the Aspiring Tsar's "special military operation," and here's hoping for Gershkovich's speedy release.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Want to Fight Crime? Stop Evicting People.
Vice News reports on new research -- actually the latest of several similar studies focusing on different states -- linking rising eviction rates to crime. Cornell Unviersity researchers found that New York ZIP codes "with the highest eviction rates saw proportional decreases in social connectedness, and that there was 'a strong association between these two phenomena that cannot be explained by chance alone.'" The takeaway is that if lawmakers want to reduce crime, they should invest in housing. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports that a plainclothes private security officer, employed by a court-appointed law firm to conduct eviction lockouts, shot and killed a woman in her home.
- Finland Will Be Joining NATO "Turkey’s Parliament, in a session that went deep into the night, cast the last vote needed for Finland's entry into NATO, greatly enlarging the alliance's border with Russia." via the New York Times.
- Arizona Democrats Seek to Nullify Party Status of 'No Labels' Group The proudly unprincipled centrist nonprofit, which has allegedly failed to disclose its donors, has also qualified for the 2024 ballots in Oregon, Alaska and Colorado. via the Washington Post.
- Bay Area Cop Union Leader Is a Fentanyl Trafficker, Feds Say San Jose Police Officers' Association director Joanne Marian Segovia, 64, used police equipment to arrange drug shipments from overseas, according to the U.S. Attorney; she's now on paid leave. via the San Francisco Standard.
- Vatican Repudiates Doctrine That Justified Colonial Genocide "Indigenous leaders welcomed the statement, even though it continued to take some distance from acknowledging actual Vatican culpability." via the Associated Press.
- Black Church Hopes to Put Proud Boys Out of Business The historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., sued the fascist insurrectionist gang two years ago for $22 million over vandalism; the case is now in court and lawyers hope to crack open the Proud Boys' finances. via HuffPost.
That's how much profit Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer in the U.S., made in the last quarter thanks to unchecked price gouging, CNN reports. The company's profit was less than $40 million a year ago.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
3/24: It's Casual Friday! Sam and Emma host Mehdi Hasan, host of The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC and Peacock, to break down the week in news and discuss his recent book Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Sam interviews Michelle Eisen, organizing member of Starbucks Workers United.
Rogan is such a dunce, it's kind of sad.
"I shot him. He was a liar."
-- Derrick Miller, a legislative aide on military policy for creepy Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, explaining to colleagues in the National Guard why he murdered a 27-year-old civilian, Atta Mohammed, during an interrogation while on deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. After sitting on top of him and shooting him in the head, Miller dumped Mohammed's body in a latrine. Miller was court-martialed, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life in prison, but GOP lobbying secured his early release in 2019, The Intercept reports.
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