The White House is considering Israel's request to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to salvage the latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel — and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — has been increasingly pushing for Pollard's release since the mid-1990s.
Successive administrations since Pollard's 1985 conviction have refused entreaties to release the former Navy intelligence officer who passed on huge amounts of classified documents to a foreign government, even an ally like Israel. The intelligence community has vehemently fought clemency for Pollard. At The Washington Post, Adam Taylor has a helpful synopsis of the Pollard case, what each side wants, and why.
But what would the U.S. get for releasing Pollard to Israel now? It appears, nothing more than a probable extension of peace talks after the April 29 end point. Specifically, it would encourage Netanyahu to release a fourth and final round of Palestinian prisoners from a group he agreed to release last summer. That seems like a poor trade-off.
"Some analysts questioned the wisdom of giving up one of the few leverage points the United States has when it is not clear it would gain more than an extension in the talks, much less a full-blown agreement," note Mark Landler and Michael R. Gordon in The New York Times. Former Mideast peace negotiator Aaron David Miller is blunter still. "If you can't get the deal without releasing Pollard, that's truly a catastrophe," he says.
Pollard is reportedly ill, and he is up for possible parole next year, putting a potential statute of limitations on his utility as a bargaining chip. But while a lasting Mideast peace agreement is an eminently worthy goal, it's also one that primarily helps Israel and the Palestinians; if they don't have enough urgency to continue talks without U.S. sweeteners, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry should probably move on to a more promising enterprise. Obama wouldn't be the first president to try and fail to broker peace in the long-festering conflict. --Peter Weber
The International Olympic Committee said Sunday that it will not completely ban Russia from competing at the Rio Olympics, Reuters reports. Instead, the IOC is putting the responsibility of deciding who can compete in the Games on the bodies that govern the individual sports.
The announcement comes after an independent report found evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping among Russian Olympic athletes. Competitors will need to meet a set of criteria to demonstrate they are clean, and anyone who has previously been caught doping will not be allowed to compete. Jessica Hullinger
German authorities say the gunman who opened fire at a Munich shopping center on Friday, killing 9 people and injuring 35 more, planned the attack for a year. On Sunday, Robert Heimberger, president of the Bavarian state criminal police office, said 18-year-old David Sonboly left a manifesto on his computer. "He appears to have planned this act since last summer," Heimberger said. "He completely occupied himself with this act of rampage."
In planning his attack, Sonboly, who authorities say was "obsessed" with mass shootings, visited the site of a previous school shooting and took pictures, The Associated Press reports. In 2015, Sonboly spent two months as an inpatient at a mental care facility, where he was treated for depression and a fear of contact with other people. He killed himself after the attack. Jessica Hullinger
On Sunday morning, Donald Trump, or whoever was running his Twitter feed, went on a rampage against Hillary Clinton's decision to pick Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) as her vice presidential nominee. Embedded amongst a flurry of exclamation points and all-caps accusations of "BAD JUDGMENT" was an error that's sure to needle grammar snobs: Where Trump should have used "their," he used "there" instead. And in the same breath — er, keystroke — instead of "waste," he used "waist."
Then again, what more do we expect from a presidential candidate who researchers say has the grammatical sophistication of an 11-year-old?
I know, I know. You miss Game of Thrones. And the recent news that season seven won't air until summer 2017 is probably only adding to your despair. But if you need a quick fix, this is it: HBO released a blooper reel from season six, and it is delightful. Let it be known: Dothraki is hard, but the word 'benevolent' is even harder. Watch below. Jessica Hullinger
Mary Commanday, the mother of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, has asked that the Donald Trump presidential campaign stop referencing her son in attacks on Hillary Clinton. In a letter to The New York Times, Commanday wrote, "I know for certain that Chris would not have wanted his name or memory used in that connection. I hope that there will be an immediate and permanent stop to this opportunistic and cynical use by the campaign." Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, which featured prominently at the Republican National Convention last week in speeches criticizing Clinton's leadership skills. Jessica Hullinger
The chief financial officer of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Marshall, apologized on Saturday after emails leaked by WikiLeaks showed the DNC had planned to attack Bernie Sanders on his religion. The emails did not mention Sanders, who is Jewish, by name, but said, "Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."
In a Facebook post, Marshall said, "I deeply regret that my insensitive, emotional emails would cause embarrassment to the DNC, the Chairwoman, and all of the staffers who worked hard to make the primary a fair and open process. The comments expressed do not reflect my beliefs nor do they reflect the beliefs of the DNC and its employees. I apologize to those I offended." Jessica Hullinger
In an article published Saturday, The New York Times reports that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton picked Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate to attract more white men to her campaign:
Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton, who told PBS that she was "afflicted with the responsibility gene," avoided taking a chance with a less experienced vice-presidential candidate and declined to push the historic nature of her candidacy by adding another woman or a minority to the ticket.
Instead, the campaign, which had become concerned about its deficit with white men, focused on Mr. Kaine and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and looked more closely at Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. [The New York Times]
Among white men, Republican Donald Trump leads Clinton 56 to 25 percent, according to a national Quinnipiac survey from the end of June.
Kaine has been described as "boring" following his addition to the ticket, a trope those close to the candidate say is unfair. "I just hate it," Beau Cribbs, Kaine’s former body man, told BuzzFeed News. "I think boring is a code for white and male, frankly." Bonnie Kristian